The Gingerbread House Party

Gingerbread House Food Shop

The Food Spread

I guess it’s official.

I have an annual Christmas Holiday Event.

Year 2 of the Gingerbread House Party and I am already plotting for next year.

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The Calm Before The Storm

IMG_3111 The Candy Line UpIMG_3109

Candy Land

Georgia

Georgia & M ‘n M’s

This year it was a bit different, we held the event in our school auditorium.

It was scheduled to rain and the stress of checking the weather report got the best of me and I just made the call.

Of course the day was sunny and rain free.

It turned out that  I loved having the event at the school and not in my home.

Last year I discovered candy in various nooks and cranny’s for months.

.  Clean up was easier, the house was intact and the kids had a whole play yard to work off the sugar high.

Win-Win

Making a House

Marie & Nick

Not just for kids

Drynan

Gus working hard!

Gingerbread House 1

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Eamon's House

A “blizzard” of icing hit this house.

Plymouth Gang Before Sugar

The Plymouth Gang Before Sugar

After Sugar

 And After 

The End Result?

200 pounds of candy

40 Gingerbread Houses

7 boxes of wipes

A million smiles.

A annual tradition indeed.

Merry Christmas!

xoxo Carrie

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Fall Decor Galore

I love fall.

It has always been my favorite season.

Pumpkins, Gords, Cider, Ghosts and Ghouls.

Sweater Weather

Football

Colorful leaves

Soup

Halloween!

Our neighborhood goes crazy on Halloween. Neighbors set up a huge Bouncy House,  show Horror Movies in the Driveway,  there’s an outside bar for parents where they can grab a roadie while the trick or treat with the kids.  I have a ton of people over, swing open the front door, order a ton of pizza and stock the bar and everyone uses our house as home base.

              Last year we went through 18 pounds of a candy.

This year I jumped the gun a bit on the decorating and had the house done by October 1st.

Perhaps I was rebelling against the heat wave outside hoping that the thermometer would dip below 70.

I hit the bank busting Mr. Bones Pumpkin Patch and the galley of paparazzi waiting to catch a celeb buying a pumpkin.

It’s a bit over the top.

But Caroline loves it and so do I.

And yes, I bought a $50 pumpkin.

I also love baking with Pumpkin this time of year.

I love pumpkin bread and muffins.

Pumpkin Pancakes.

Pumpkin Filled Ravioli with Fried Sage Butter.

 Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Soup.

Put a little Creme Fraiche and Caramelized Pepitas on top and it is delicious.

I also love the Pumpkin Ice Cream Pie recipe from the Seriously Simple Holidays Cookboook.

You can find Pumpkin Ice Cream seasonally and as soon as it has hit the freezer I create a reason to make this pie.

It is so easy and so simple.

Just like a lazy fall day.

How do you celebrate the season?

xoxox Carrie

Summer Entertaining

I love summer entertaining.

 Eating outdoors, long evenings, no school, and the laid back attitude that accompanies summer entertaining totally suits me.

Summer cooking is my favorite and I always look forward to the bounty of produce that shows up this time of year.

www.icedevents.com

Photo: www.acottageindustry.typepad.com

Cocktails and cool drinks infused with fresh herbs or seasonal fruits. I love the cute patterned cupcake liner turned upside down with a hole punched in it for the straw….figures it is a Martha Stewart idea.

Rose and Whites.

I have some go to recipes that have been in my summertime rotation for years.

Photo: www.marthastewart.com

This first recipe always make people question my sanity.

The dish is called Indiana Blueberry Pork.  Blueberries, onions, tomato and pork. Huh?

I swear it’s delicious and I have only heard raves about the dish.

I got it from an old issue of Midwest Living and I love that the recipe was taken from the Marshall, Indiana Blueberry Festival.

I loved Amanda Hesser’s, “Cooking for Mr. Latte”.  I was dating and falling in love with Adam around the time the book came out so I related to many of the stories.  One recipe from the book that I go back to over and over is her Green Bean Succotash Recipe.

For summer desserts I am a Strawberry Shortcake gal.  I love it when it is made with a scone like biscuit and globs of fresh whipped cream and berries.

Photo: www.savorynotebook.blogspot.com

I like to send people off with a little gift when I entertain.  An idea I’ve used on a number of occasions is to give each guest a little flower-pot with their name on a place card stuck into the pot with a flower card holder (you can get at your local floral supply company or florist) or plant marker.  An all-purpose item…place card/table decor/and parting gift. And it’s green too.

And if you are a guest at a dinner party, here’s a great hostess gift.  I am stealing this for sure!

Outdoor lantern, cocktail fixings, adorable straw & napkins.

What are your summer entertaining ideas?  Please share!

xoxo Carrie

Top Photo: Peter Dunham/Hollywood At Home

What’s For Dinner?

I love the recipes in Sunset Magazine.

Tonight I  finally got around to trying out some recipes from the June issue. I decided on the

Grilled Chicken, Corn, and Spinach Salad with Smoky Paprika Dressing recipe.

  It did not disappoint. I dove right in and devoured my meal before I could shoot a photo.

Quick, Easy, Delicious.

I had all the items on hand with the exception of the Portobello Mushrooms, a quick dash to Whole Foods and I was good to go.

This dish is a perfect midweek meal, yet still appropriate for a casual dinner party.

Per Adam’s request, I have put it in the summer dinner rotation.

Get the recipe here:    www.myrecipes.com

Try it out and let me know what you think.

                       Happy Cooking!

                   xoxo Carrie

Fourth of July Traditions

I love traditions especially the ones we had as a family growing up.

The Fourth of July in Central Illinois

went like this….

Parade downtown where we tried to scoop up as much candy as we could.

I loved the The Shriners in their little cars, always a highlight.

Then off to our Club for Water Games in the pool.

Then a picnic dinner in the Grove at our Club.

Same menu year after year and it never got old.

Fried chicken, baked beans, potato salad, deviled eggs and Texas Sheet Cake

Then Sparklers and Snakes before the main event.

Then the big show!

What are your 4th of July Traditions?

Have a Great Day!

xoxo Carrie

Cooking Club

Tonight’s Table

Way back when I was single, had roommates, and worked as a talent agent I decided to start a cooking club with my friend Cornelia. I remember we were sitting in a now defunct restaurant in Hollywood drinking wine, out much later than we should have been on a work night.  Besides having the prerequisite single girls conversation; fashion, boys and work, we found we both had a yearning to become better cooks and entertainers.  We already entertained quite a bit but we wanted to learn more, to master things we were afraid of (for me it was bread dough) and to also create an opportunity to carve out some quality time with good girl friends who were of like mind and wanted to learn some things in the kitchen. And so the Cooking Club was born.

I hosted the first cooking club in my tiny apartment kitchen that I shared with my dear friend Interior Designer Mary Luby and Yoga Booty Ballet Creator Gillian Martloth. I prepared cornish game hens and a wild rice dish.  It was all about quick, simple, sure to wow recipes. We drank too much and though the food was delicious, the evening was more like me conducting a cooking lesson on the Foodnetwork. We have learned a lot in the 10 years the Cooking Club has been in existence and now our get togethers are collborative and themed based.

Sally’s Spread for Spanish Cooking Club

(she had the items sent from Spain)

Alix working on her Biscotti for Italian Night

Stacy and Vanessa cooking up Garlic Flavored Oil for Broccolini

Toppings and Fresh Pizza Dough for our Pizza Night

Lettuce Wraps

Jessica and Clarke Sporting Bindi’s for Indian Night

Indian Night Table @ Alix’s House

Celebrating Lulu’s Book “Lulu Powers, Food to Flowers” with a Table Scape Using Some of her Tips

Our group now consists of some professionals in the food biz which has put the cooking on a much higher level.  We “tease” when someone hasn’t put much time into a dish or if they make the same thing numerous times, but we are all quite serious about our cooking.  Most of us have had a big flop (except the fabulous Caterer Lulu Powers) and great successess.  We have bumped it up even more now by taking special care in our tablescapes.

Lulu’s Summer Table

Clarke’s Favorite Things Dinner

Malibu Beach Food @ Sally’s

The members have changed through the years, but we now have a core group that has been going strong for years. There are some ladies I only see when we get together, others that I see more often, but I adore each and every member and learn so much (not just in cooking but in life). There have been weddings, babies, divorces, job losses, and career changes.  We have lost parents and pets. Members have moved away.  We have even been in national magazines and on television. But the desire to learn, cook, to be wonderful hosts and entertainers is still what drives us all.

Some of the other Cooking Club members have blogs you should check out!

Sally Horchow “Very Good Looking”

Lulu Powers    “Living La Lulu”

Heather Fogarty  “The Foodinista”

I am hosting tonight, so off to go do a little prep.

Happy Cooking Everyone!

xoxo Carrie

Pretty Pitchers

I am a collector.

Fornasetti, McCoy Pottery, Shoes, Cloisonne

and Pitchers.

I can’t seem to get enough.

 I love them and have them stored and also displayed throughout my house.

I love pitchers over flowing with flowers.

I love this table scape.

Photo: www.ornari.com

I think this is my favorite pitcher of all time.

I bought it at a great antique store in Bloomington, Illinois and hand carried it back to Los Angeles.  It has found a forever home with me.

I also love Mexican Handcrafted Pitchers.

Beautiful craftsmanship and beyond gorgeous.

I am coveting this pitcher by Salvador Teran

I need to start saving!

Photo: Vintage & Modern

Photo: johnsmitchell.photoshelter.com

I have wanted these pitchers ever since spying one at my friend Alexis’s house.

The lapis parrots are to die for.

Yet another Mexican Pitcher I am eyeing.

Photo:  www.decorativeobjects.oneofakindantiques.com

My collecting began over 20 years ago when I bought the all familiar Italian Rooster Pitcher.

The famous Italian Ceramic Italian Rooster Pitcher symbolizes “Good Fortune” and/or “Good Luck” and is believed to protect one from dangers.   It is an Italian tradition to give a ceramic Italian rooster pitcher to a friend or relative, ideally as a housewarming or wedding gift.

Photo: Anthropologie

Anthropologie always has a selection of great pitchers.

 I always wait for their sales and have managed to score some at great prices.

Photo: Crate & Barrel

The Crate & Barrel Ona Pitcher is staple in a lot of homes.  It’s modern lines makes it the perfect dinner party water pitcher.

I have four at home.  When I am hosting a large dinner I can put one on every table.  And the $26 price point makes it not only good-looking but affordable.

Whether the pitcher is useful, pretty,necessary, extravagant, or practical, I will always have room for another.

What do you collect? Do tell.

xoxo Carrie