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New Years Eve on the Cheap

29 Dec

New Years is one of the few things celebrated by all cultures, ages, places. The way it is celebrated is as varied as the human species but it is definitely one of those celebrations that can easily add up. Between the dress and the shoes, the drinks and the transportation you can shell out well over a few pennies for what is essentially a night out.

I have a few suggestions being someone who both loves to have a good time AND save my money.

1) Let Sparks Fly

As we know, many places set off fireworks on NYE and depending on how close you are you can enjoy the light show for free. Find a great look out spot for fireworks e.g a beach, a park, a friend’s backyard.

Put on a jacket, round up your squad and pack a bottle of wine and bag of chips. Get there a couple hours before the light show and have a chill nighttime picnic that ends with fireworks.

2) Hotel Hoopla

A beautiful luxurious hotel room with a balcony with a view and a Jacuzzi can rob you of a significant portion of your paycheck…IF you book it by yourself and IF you book for many nights. 

However, IF you and your crew put together and pay for one night it suddenly becomes a lot more affordable. Be sure to get a room where the amount in your party are allowed to be at one time and ensure the noise level rules are complied with. Everyone brings a bottle and the fun can begin.

3) Burger Queen

Another great NYE activity is to go out for dinner. Usually, you have to book well ahead of time, contend with a crowd and pay through your nose. You can still have a nice dinner in your best dress just as someplace with a few less frills.

The clan and you decide on a clean, safe and extremely affordable spot and agree to meet up wearing something nice.  Being dressed up in a casual setting will definitely make it feel more special.

4) Lucky Lady

Casinos can be a place of indulgence and decadence and financial ruin, but it need not be. Find a casino without a cover charge and grab your gals and guys and go . Decide on a low spending limit e.g $20 and spend it slowly. Order a drink or two and your night is made.

5) Night In

Have a proper night in. Decide whose home will be host to your group. Everyone brings their pjs and a snack. Binge watch a series and play monopoly. Then in the morning everyone helps cook up a casual brunch. So little money spent, so much fun had.

If you’re looking for good clean cheap fun, hopefully something here has given you am idea or two. Have an awesome day and an awesome NYE!

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Ginger Pear Moscow Mule

17 Dec

Today I bring you a festive cocktail; a ginger pear Moscow Mule.

WHAT YOU NEED 

Prosecco

Pear nectar

Ginger beer

Can of pears

Fresh pear- I got a red pear

WHAT TO DO 

Muddle a pear half and place in the bottom of the mug

Pour pear nectar over pear

Pour ginger beer and prosecco 

Garnish with a slice of fresh pear

This is a delicious drink. It’s slightly fizzy with mild but complimentary flavours. A great option for a festive event!

Have an awesome day!

Easter Brunch

14 Apr

I love Easter. It always makes me think of new beginnings, a fresh start and of course, Cadbury creme eggs (lots of them).

Today I bring an Easter Brunch inspiration. I think brunch is a fantastic meal to have at Easter time. Everyone has time to go to church or sleep in late and then afterwards a no hassle relaxed brunch. For brunch there are usually lots of options; pastries, omlettes, cakes, cheese boards…the works. I chose three recipes I think would add a great touch to a brunch menu. They are all simple and affordable. I also laid out an Easter/Spring tablescape and added a delicious cocktail.

ON THE MENU

Deviled eggs

Stuffed mushrooms

Fruit Fluff

Peach “mimosa”



Deviled Eggs

This is a brunch staple and of course well suited for Easter. Deviled eggs turn simple boiled eggs into a creamy flavourful treat.

WHAT YOU NEED 

Makes 6

Eggs -The number of eggs you use will give double that number of deviled eggs as they are served as halves. I used 3 eggs so I got 6(only 4 shown)

1 tbsp Mustard– I used a spicy mustard

1 tbsp Mayonnaise– This is optional but it does add a certain creaminess

Spices– I used salt, black pepper and paprika, just a pinch of each.

Deviled eggs ingredients 




WHAT TO DO 

1) Hard boil eggs, let cool and remove shells.

2) Cut eggs in half and gently remove yolks. Set whites aside.

3) Add condiments and spices and mix until a smooth paste forms.




4) Place paste into piping bag (you can use a zip lock and snip the end) and pipe into egg whites.



Deviled eggs 


Stuffed mushrooms 

I remember the first time I had this version of stuffed mushrooms. My mother brought them home from a local Italian bistro and my life was changed. Something about soft, tart cream cheese against the crunch of a fresh mushroom is a perfect match.

WHAT YOU NEED 

Mushrooms– I used 8 medium sized ones (they were unfortunately a bit bruised)

Cream cheese– The amount you use depends on the number and size of the mushrooms but about 2 tbsp fill 8 medium sized mushrooms.

Spices– I used lemon pepper and some oregano.

Mushrooms and cream cheese 


WHAT TO DO 

1) Add spices to softened cream cheese and mix.

2) Place in a piping bag and pipe into mushrooms. 

Mushrooms and cream cheese mixture



3 )Top with oregano 


Stuffed mushrooms 



Fruit Fluff 

This is my take on an Ambrosia salad. I substituted cool whip with Greek yogurt for a healthier twist and a more “brunchy” feel.

WHAT YOU NEED 

I used arbitrary amounts, a little bit of each. The amounts you use depends on how much you plan to make.

Greek yogurt- The one I used is plain combined with honey so it’s already sweet. A great alternative is vanilla but really any flavour you prefer can be used.

Fruit– I used  mixture of frozen fruit (cherries, strawberries, lingonberries) and fresh  (strawberries and blueberries)

Mini marshmallows

Fruit Fluff mixture

WHAT TO DO

Mix altogether and keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

Peach “Mimosas”

What’s the best part about brunch? The fact that you get to splash your juice with wine. Lol. Now mimosas traditionally consist of wine and citrus juice hence my use of air quotes. Technically this is a peach cocktail but when doing brunch, we call it a mimosa.

WHAT YOU NEED 

White wine

Peach juice

Canned peaches

Peach mimosa ingredients 




WHAT TO DO 

1) Place 1 or 2 peach slices in the bottom of the glass and muddle it a bit (mash it with a spoon if you don’t have a muddler, which I don’t)

2 ) Fill glass halfway with wine.

3) Top off with peach juice and add a straw.

Peach “mimosas”



Tablescape

An important part of entertaining is creating ambience. For this I chose a simple, clean fresh look in keeping with the idea of a relaxed yet sophisticated setting.

This tablescape employed some crafty skills but all were simple. My colour scheme was pink, white and gold.

Table runner

I made a table runner of sorts by overlapping lots of doilies along the Centre of the table. I added a touch of gold by swiping gold paint over them in a random fashion.

Table runner from doilies




Flowers

I went with pink and white carnations. Carnations are often a very affordable option from the florist costing only a few dollars. I used about 4 bunches in all keeping  the look minimal.

I swished some of the same gold paint onto the flower petals to keep with the theme and placed them in jelly jars.

Flowers




Centre piece 

My “Centre piece” began with ambition. In fact, the failure of this centrepiece led to the final colour scheme, so maybe it was for the best.

For the centerpiece of an Easter Brunch I had to incorporate eggs somehow. I decided to dye some eggs. People have different methods of doing this. The best way I’ve found is using regular food and egg dye and a bit of vinegar to allow for better uptake of colour.

I removed the contents of the eggs by making a small hole at one end and simply allowing it to run out, gently shaking if you need to. Don’t waste your egg ! I put mine in the refrigerator and made omelet the next day.

I mixed the dye, vinegar and water in a mug. I find you get a more even coating if you use a mug.

As it happened the only colour that worked out was the pink (the yellow one broke and the purple came out streaky)

Once my one surviving egg was dry I splattered it with the by now ubiquitous gold paint. I displayed it in a mini jelly jar on a bed of Easter egg shaped jelly beans.

Centre piece




I placed the flowers and Centre piece on the table runner and laid the table with simple white plates and bowls.

The tablescape and settings

Table with food

Deviled eggs 


Stuffed mushrooms



Fruit Fluff



Peach mimosa


Easy breezy Easter Brunch. Hopefully some of these ideas will inspire you if you plan on doing brunch for Easter or any other occasion. Have a happy Easter and an awesome day!

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FESTIVE DRINK -Hot (Chocolate) Shot

15 Dec

BLOG-Mas DAY 15

It’s the 15th day of Blogmas and we’re rounding out the Christmas drinks with a chocolate shot. 

WHAT YOU NEED 

1) Vodka-Regular or flavoured; this one happens to be chocolate flavored because it happened to be on sale but a marshmallow or vanilla flavored one would work too. 

2) Chocolate milk– Or chocolate almond/cashew/soy milk.

3) Mini Marshmallows – for topping.

4) Brown sugar– For the rim

5) Shot glass.



The ingredients 


WHAT TO DO 




1) Rim glass with using simple syrup (white sugar dissolved into water) then coat with brown sugar.

Glass rimmed with sugar



2) Pour shot glass 2/3 way with chocolate milk.

Milk



3) Fill remainder of glass with vodka and top with 3 mini marshmallows.

Vodka and marshmallows


4) Toast marshmallows- I used a long handled lighter. Be sure to let the flame touch the Marshmallows but not the shot itself (unless you want it flaming!)

Toasted marshmallows



Finished shot




The toasted marshmallows smell so good  (it’s fine with untoasted marshmallows as well). The rich chocolate flavour goes smoothly with the vodka. This a great little drink to get your guests in a party mood and it looks like hard work but is so easy and quick to do.

Thank you for reading and have an awesome day.

FESTIVE DRINK -Spiced Apple Rum Punch

14 Dec

BLOG-Mas DAY 14

On the 14th day of Blogmas we continue with festive drinks. This one is a punch with rum as the base along with apple and spices

.
WHAT YOU NEED
 

1) Brown rum– 16floz/500mL

2) Apple juice-32floz/1L

3) 1 large apple -or more if you like.

4) 2tbsp ground Cinnamon -or stick

5) 1 fruit teabag -I used a redfruits tea, you can use apricot, peach etc.

6) A punch bowl– I have none so I used a mixing bowl  (:

7) Glasses 

8) Yellow or orange sugar for rim.


Rum and apple juice



Sugar, apple, cinnamon, glass and bowl




WHAT TO DO 

PART 1- Prep the glass (es)

1) Choose a wide mouthed glass for easy filling with spoon.

2) Coat rim of glass with simple syrup  (white sugar dissolved in small amount of water) 

3)Coat rim with sugar– you can use orange or yellow  or even brown sugar. If you don’t have a specific colour, you can make it yourself using a bit of food dye and white sugar.

Syrup and sugar


Decorated rim

PART 2- “Spice the Rum”

1) Pour rum into microwave safe bowl or place in saucepan over low heat.

2) Add cinnamon-as much as you wish depending on how spiced you want it.


Rum and cinnamon 


3) Add apple slices and teabag

Added ingredients 


4) Heat for 3 minutes in microwave or simmer until apple slices are softened .

5) Remove and allow to cool for a few minutes . 


PART 3- Mix and garnish 

6) Pour apple juice into punch bowl adding cooled rum concoction to it and stirring to mix.

7) Cut an apple slice into quarters then make a slit wide enough to sit snug onto the edge of the glass.

8) Fill with punch and drink ! 


Finished drink




This drink is warm and comforting, the apple blends with the rum and the cinnamon and teabag add that extra flavour making it taste like no other rum punch you’ve ever had.

This is an ideal drink to serve at a party because its a real money saver. The priciest thing is the one or two bottles of rum you’ll use (depending on the size of your guest list or your penchant for rum!)

I also think this kind of punch could work well with cranberry or grape juice. What other spices and flavours would you add?

Thanks for reading, remember to always drink responsibly and have an awesome day ! 

FESTIVE DRINK- Red Cocktail 

14 Dec

BLOG-Mas DAY 13

Hello and welcome to Day 13 of Blogmas. Today I bring you a festive red cocktail that’s great for a Christmas soiree.

WHAT YOU NEED

(This makes one 12 oz/400mL drink)

1) 1 cup/250mL of wine – A sweet Blush or Rose works best.

2) 1/2 cup/125mL cranberry juice -or any other redberry juice.

3) 2 tbsp/30mL grenadine syrup

4) Wine glass (12 oz or bigger)

Grendine syrup, wine and cranberry juice


5) Red maraschino cherries 

6) Dried cranberries (for garnishing )

7) Red sugar (for rim)

8) Toothpick (for garnish)

  Red sugar, dried cranberries ,  red maraschino cherries


WHAT TO DO 

1) Rim the glass with the coloured sugar– you can use simple syrup(sugar dissolved into small amount of water) or  a bit of water to moisten the glass. Then dip it into your sugar. If you’re like me and don’t have red or pink sugar you can make your own, I did this in my 10 Baking hacks post.

Syrup and sugar


Rim in syrup 


Rim in sugar


2) Add 2 or 3 cherries along with their syrup to the bottom of the glass.


Cherries in glass


3) Add wine and juice to glass.


4) Skewer a few dried cranberries along with a maraschino cherry and place on top.

Completed cocktail
And there it is! A cheerful holiday drink. A sweeter wine pairs well with the cranberry juice which is a bit sharp and the syrup adds more sweetness as well as some substance to the drink. The sugar and garnish make it look festive.
Enjoy! and have an awesome day!

How to Entertain on the Cheap

27 Nov

Signature cocktail and simple decor
Hello

The Holiday season is fast approaching and this means entertaining and lots of it . As someone who does her fair share of soirees I know it can run you ragged; physically , emotionally and of course financially . 
Often, what begins as an intimate gathering with close loved ones can snowball into an all out zoo scene and that cute budget you set goes up in proverbial smoke . 

Here are some tips I often consider when planning to entertain:

1) Plan a menu around items you already have

Don’t go out and spend a fortune on a massive turkey if you already have piece if lamb in the freezer. Decide what you make using whatever you have sitting in your cupboard . 

2) Make the most of your menu

Try to get as much out of the items you do buy. For example , if you buy a pumpkin, use it in as many dishes as you can; pumpkin soup, roasted pumpkin, pumpkin pie etc. Do this rather than buying dozens of different items to make different dishes. 

3) Be selective with your invites

The way of the world of entertaining is such that some of the persons you invite won’t come while others will show up with extra guests. Be sure to invite reliable friends asking them to RSVP and make it clear whether or not they are allowed to bring guests.

4) Do potluck 

This is an oldie but a goodie. I am guilty of telling people not to bring anything when I entertain because I somehow feel it is in poor taste. It doesn’t have to be, we all have those friends who always offer to bring something so engage them. Also, people like to feel useful, why deprive your cousin of making his world famous sweet potato pie?

5) Make a punch/cocktail

It can be expensive to purchase multiple bottles of wine, vodka, brandy, scotch, rum and so on. It is far more cost effective to purchase one type of alcohol in bulk and make a punch or signature drink from it. 

6) Keep decorations simple

We all love our homes to look beautiful and festive. This means trees and wreaths and tablesscapes and railing and mantle piece decor, new curtains, new cushions… I could go on. The costs of these things really add up! Focus on a few things e.g the tree and tablesscapes. Chose items that can mix and match and be reused in the future.

I hope some of these tips help to allay the anxiety that can often come with entertaining, I also hope I listen to my own advice. Have an awesome day!

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