Simply Sweet Home

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Sunday, June 29, 2008

Menu Plan Monday for June 30

Monday - Garlic Chicken & Pasta (Campbell's Supper Bake)
Tuesday - Jambalaya
Wednesday - Creamy Mustard Pork chops
Thursday - Leftover buffet
Friday - Hamburgers & hot dogs
Saturday -Eat out
Sunday - Slow Cooker Roast Chicken & Vegetables

If you'd like to join the fun of MPM, check out for details.


Friday, June 27, 2008

Recipe of the Week: Flag Cake

This week's recipe comes from Duncan Hines. It's a very festive and patriotic looking cake that would be perfect for the Fourth of July. It's a fairly light dessert that will add color and style to your buffet or dinner table, and it's sure to taste great!

• 1 White Cake Mix
• 1 (3 oz) pkg red flavor gelatin
• 1 (8 oz) container whipped topping
• 1 cup boiling water
• 1/2 cup cold water
• 1 pint strawberries
• 1 cup blueberries
• 1 cup miniature marshmallows
• aluminum foil/fancy foil - color of your choice
• star shaped stickers
• miniature American candy flags

Baking Instructions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 °F. Grease and flour a 13x9-inch pan.
2. Prepare, bake and cool cake according to package directions.
3. Use a large fork to make holes in the cake about every 1/2-inch.
4. Pour gelatin into a large bowl. Add boiling water and mix until gelatin is completely dissolved. Stir in cold water. Pour gelatin over the cake allowing it to run into the holes.
5. Refigerate cake for 3 to 4 hours before serving.
6. Cover a cake tray with aluminum foil then place on tray to decorate.
7. Frost the sides and top with whipped topping. Then arrange strawberries, blueberries and marshmallows on the cake to create a 'stars & stripes' pattern. Use the blueberries to create a blue background in the upper left hand corner.
8. Take your foil stars and minature American flags and decorate the sides of the cake. Once you have finished decorating the cake, place in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve it.

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Sweet Thursday: 4th of July Edition

I haven't done a Sweet Thursday post in quite a while, so I thought this would be a great time for it, particularly since the 4th of July is next Friday. So I found a handful of recipes that looked good to me. Here I've included the pictures along with links to the recipes.

If you're having a 4th of July party, or you're going to a party and need to bring a dish, you should check these out. These recipes are all very easy to make, and they'd all look great on your buffet.

Very cute presentation to replace your average "fruit tray."

Lady Liberty Cupcakes
Something a little different, a cute & creative treat that the kids will love.

Poundcake, fruity pie filling, and little whipped topping adds up to a light & yummy treat.

Frozen Uncle Sams

Another cute (& easy) treat that you can make for the kids. Very festive!

Red, White, & Blue Mold

Another light & sweet treat that's easy to make.

Patriotic Cookie Pizza
Presentation is everything with this cookie & fruit pizza. Very pretty!

Red, White, & Blue Dessert

This trifle made from cream cheese, whipped cream, and fruit will not only taste delicious, but it will look fabulous on the dessert table at your 4th of July party. And you can have it ready in 20 minutes!

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Monday, June 23, 2008

Tips & Strategies for Vacation Savings, Part 2

Here's the second half of my list of tips for saving money on your vacations this summer. If you have any tips or suggestions of your own that you'd like to share, I'd love to hear them,
  • Check your hotel lobby for brochures and coupons. You should be able to find coupons for local attractions and activities, as well as food coupons for resturants that are close to your hotel. You can check the rest stops and welcome centers for these as well.
  • Eat out at less expensive restuarants. (perhaps fast food for lunch and something a little nicer for dinner) Or go to a nice place for lunch, since lunch menus are generally less expensive.
  • Stay at a hotel that includes a complimentary breakfast.
  • Pick a hotel that's close shopping and food establishments so that you can walk. (in some cases this conflicts with the idea of staying at a hotel that is away from popular attractions, but in some cases you should be able to stay outside the "major" center and still be close resturants, etc.)
  • Before going on your trip find out if they have any of the following: walking tours, bus tours, or metro station.
  • Drive at night to avoid heavy (even stand still) traffic and save on gas.
  • Carry snacks & drinks in a cooler in the car, to avoid having to spend money at a gas station or rest stop. (this will also come in handy when your in the hotel room)
  • Spend less on souvenirs. Don't spend all your money on items that you could buy just as easily at home (unless it's cheaper at your vacation destination). And avoid over-priced gift shops and boutiques. (you know, the ones with normal every day stuff that you could find anywhere, yet they cost 2 or 3 times as much.)
  • Set a budget ahead of time for eating out, buying souvenirs. It's very easy to get carried away with spending when your on vacation. While it's okay to splurge a little, try to set a spending limit ahead of time and be more selective about what you spend your money on.


Sunday, June 22, 2008

Menu Plan Monday for June 23

Hello all. I decided to postpone my trip this weekend, which gave me a lot of time to clean up in the house, make a huge shopping trip, and of course plan this week's menu. I got enough groceries to last about 2 weeks (with the exception of drinks, which we seem to always need more of), and now my husband is talking about making some changes in his it looks like I'll be going back to the store....oh's my menu for the week. I've also included 2 recipes. Happy Monday!

Monday - Crispy Ranch Chicken (recipe below) w/ corn & green beans
Tuesday - leftovers
Wednesday - Tuna filets with steamed veggies & long grain rice
Thursday - Tator Tot Casserole (recipe below) & black eyed peas
Friday - Chicken salad
Saturday - Leftovers from Thursday
Sunday - Chicken Cordon Blue

Crispy Ranch Chicken
About 4 boneless chicken breasts
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup of milk
1 envelope of Ranch salad dressing mix
Tortilla chips

1. Mix milk, soup, and salad dressing mix together. Spoon part of the mixture onto a bowl or plate (leaving plenty to use to put on top of chicken later. Roll chicken around on plate or in bowl with mixture until well coated.
2. Take 2 or 3 handfuls of chips (or more if desired), and crush them. Sprinkle the chip crumbs all over the chicken until well coated, or place the crumbs and chicken in a bag and shake until well coated.
3. Place chicken on a greased casserole dish or baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.
4. Just before chicken is done baking, heat the soup mixture through on the stove. Spoon remaining soup onto chicken when serving.

Tator Tot Casserole
1/2 -1 lb beef
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of celery soup
Tator tots or diced potatoes (enough to cover the top of the meat)
Shredded cheddar cheese

1. Brown the beef and drain off the grease. Place the beef into the bottom of a 13x9x2 in. casserole/baking dish.
2. If using potatoes, boil them for 20 minutes or so (so they'll be soft) Then mix soups and potatoes together, and pour over mixture.
If using tator tots, arrange them on top of meat and then pour mixture of the soups on top.
3. Top with cheese.
4. Bake covered in a 350°F oven for 20-25 minutes, or until Tator-tots are lightly browned.
5. For extra cheesiness, top with more cheese and bake uncovered for an extra 5 minutes (optional)

To view other menus and recipe, visit

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Saturday, June 21, 2008

Tips & Strategies for Vacation Savings, Part 1

Nearly everyone is looking for ways to save money on their family vacations this year. And since I'm always looking to save money myself, I put together a list of money saving tips for vacations. Here's the first half of the list. Look for the 2nd half in the next day or two. Hope you're all having a great weekend!
  1. Plan, plan, plan. Check the internet to learn all about the place your going for vacation, or get the information mailed to you. If you know about all the attractions ahead of time, and how much each activity costs, you can plan a more organized itenirary and it's easier for you to create and stick to a budget.
  2. Don't go out of town for major holidays.
  3. Travel to a destination that's closer to home to save on gas.
  4. For better hotel rates, take trips in the middle of the week rather than going on the weekend.
  5. Don't stay at hotels that are within big cities and close to major tourist attractions. Last year we visited Gettysburg, and we stayed outside of the town, around 15 to 20 minutes away, and we paid 25-50% less than what we would have paid to stay in town.
  6. If you plan to fly, book your flights at least several weeks (if not months) in advance.
  7. If you don't have school kids, then plan your vacation for another time of year besides summer. The idea of taking a vacation in January may not sound too pleasing, but there are plenty of destinations that have perfect weather in January, whether you like the snow or the beach, and fairs and hotel rates will be cheaper during this time.
  8. Before booking flights and hotels, check several leading travel websites to compare prices, and also consider calling the hotel you're considering for further information and perhaps a better price.
  9. Beware of sites that offer a free gas card for booking your hotel with them. Often certain restrictions apply, (ie - you have to stay on a particular weekend when the hotel price is higher...therefore, you don't actually save anything)
  10. Rather than opting for a big expensive vacation, do some research to find a less expensive destination. There are plenty of fun and interesting places to see that don't cost an arm and a leg.


Friday, June 20, 2008

Recipe of the Week: Orange Cream Cake

For this week's recipe, I chose a very yummy cake recipe from Taste of Home. Orange is one of few flavors that I call a favorite. I love orange muffins, dream bars and pies, and this cream cake is definitely no exception. It is extremely moist and flavorful, and it's a great dessert for a hot summer day. Enjoy!

1 package (18-1/4 ounces) lemon cake mix
1 envelope unsweetened orange soft drink mix
1 cup water
3 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 packages (3 ounces each) orange gelatin, divided
1 cup boiling water
1 cup cold water
1 cup cold milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pacakge (3.4 ounces) instant vanilla pudding mix
1 carton (8 ounces) frozen Cool Whip® whipped topping, thawed

In a large bowl, combine cake mix, drink mixes, water, eggs and oil; beat on low speed for 30 seconds. Beat on medium for 2 minutes.
Pour into an ungreased 13-in. x 9-in. x 2-in. baking pan. Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Using a meat fork or wooden skewer, poke holes in cake. Cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, dissolve one package of gelatin in boiling water. Stir in cold water. Pour over cake. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.
In a large bowl, combine the milk, vanilla, pudding mix and remaining gelatin; beat on low for 2 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes; fold in whipped topping. Frost cake. Refrigerate leftovers. Yield: 12-15 servings.

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Find Fun Right Around the Corner and Save (on gas and money)

On Saturday my husband and I went down a Resident Appreciation Luau at our apartment complex. In addition to getting a free lunch of grilled chicken & hot dogs, my husband was one of the lucky winners of a door prize. He won a $25 gas car....not exactly a gold mine, considering it cost $40 to fill up my car this morning, but it is 25 dollars more than what we had when we went down there, and that's something to cheer about.

If you're like us, you're probably saving money on gas by simply not going anywhere. Luckily, my husband is doing 2 directed study classes this summer, which means that he does his assignments and meets with this professors one on one, on his own schedule. So he's only having to drive over there once every two weeks. And he's actually in the process of finding a job that's closer to our home, as his delivery business has become less profitable as gas prices have gone up and the delivery rates of the company have works for have stayed the same.

So we basically we drive when we have to do, to go to the store and run errands; otherwise, we've been staying home. We're eating out less and spending less on extra clothes and entertainment that are not neccessities. But we don't like to let gas prices keep us from having fun either, so what to do? Well, the beach is about 30 minutes away from our home, and it's totally free, so we've gone down there a few times for a little r&r. We also enjoy playing disc golf, so we sometimes go down to the park and do that for free.

So while we may not be able to directly control gas prices (& my husband and I couldn't possibly consume less), we've been able to find fun activities that are either free or cost very little, to sort of make up for the high fuel costs.

I think a lot of times we live in an area for so long that we forget what's right in our back yard, and we miss out on a lot of fun activities. Think of what you have in your own area: Perhaps there's a museum you can take your kids to, or you could take the kids to the local pool or skating rink or have a picnic in the park. When I was a kid, we had a park in our area where you could feed the fish & ducks, and they had a little train to ride, putt putt golf, and other activities for kids. I took my neice and nephew there last summer, and they loved it. Or go to annual festivals that are held in your area or free concerts in the park.

You can also check out your local library. They feature summer reading programs for kids, and they often have puppet shows and other activities scheduled for kids during the summer. Local civic centers may also have activities that you can sign your kids up for, for a modest fee.

Check the internet and ask around, and I'm sure you'll find a whole wide world of activities right in your own back yard.


Monday, June 16, 2008

Our New Additions: Rebel & Dixie

I just had to do a post on our new kitty cats. My mom's cat had 4 kittens at the end of March, and we decided to take a couple off of her hands. I was unsure about getting them at first because we live in an apartment, and I've never had an inside cat, but my husband convinced me that I'd love it. So I picked out the gray cat. Then on the night we came over to get him, we were watching them all play, and my husband convinced me that we really needed 2, because if we just took one, it would have nobody to play with. So he got his pick of the litter too. (I think he's gone soft!)

So here are Rebel (left) and Dixie (right). As you know, we're both into history. And my husband thought it would be funny to name the cat Johnny Reb because of his gray color. Then I suggested that we just call him Rebel for short. On the way home, were talking about what to call the other cat, and I suggested that we call her Dixie/Dixie Belle. Ya know, so their names would go together.

They love to play together and fight all over the house. Though in this picture, they almost look like their sharing a laugh and a hug. Dixie's a lot smaller than Rebel, but she's feisty and fearless.

Dixie is the ultimate lap kitty. Whenever she gets tired, she finds the nearest lap to sit in and get petted, and if you aren't sitting down, she will follow you around, stare at you, and give you the "broken meow" until she can convince you to do what she wants.

She's also just a little bit stingy. She likes to take the toys away from Rebel, and the other night my husband was petting Rebel, and she swatted at his hands, and then laid across Rebel, so that she could be petted instead of him. But she's a very playful and sweet Kitty too.

Here she is kissing my husband. Yes, she is doing this voluntarily. Sometimes my husband puckers up first, and other times she actually climbs on him and starts licking his lips. It is so cute and funny. If I can get a good video of it, I'll post it here.

Rebel "loves" the camera. Well, maybe he doesn't love it, but he does seem very photogenic. He was the Mama's boy of the litter and kind of a "scaredy cat." He was often found hiding in a corner. In fact, he was terrified the night we brought him home with us, but he's adjusted very well. He seems to love it here, and he is becoming quite the adventurer.

When Rebel's not fighting with Dixie or playing Kitty Soccer, he is pretty much a self-entertainer. Here he shows us his self-entertaining skills, playing with a toy mouse. He's also fascinated by books, newspapers, and the golf channel.

Here he is sleeping. He's not as much of a lap kitty as his sister, but he does like to be close to someone when he goes to sleep. Tonight he actually went to sleep with his paws wrapped around my husband's finger. Isn't he sweet?

Well, that's all for now. Sorry if you don't like cats, but I just love these guys and had to share them!

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Sunday, June 15, 2008

Menu Plan Monday for June 16

My menu for the end of the week is kind of "up in the air." I'm supposed to go out of town this weekend. I have a dental appointment back home, that is scheduled for next Monday, but if decide to go I'd have to leave on Friday, because Saturday traffic is unpredictable, and on Sunday the traffic will be crazy, as people will be driving home from the beach (the same direction I'd be coming from). I also have some other business to tend to back home (though it doesn't have to be done this week).

The only thing is that my husband can't go this time, and I hate making the drive by myself. I've done it several times before, but I don't like doing it. Plus, I hate being away for a long weekend, because it always puts me behind. So I'm still thinking about whether I want to go for sure, or whether I'd rather cancel my appointment and go another time. Either way, we'll probably just go out to eat this weekend or have something simple like sandwiches or hamburgers.

Here's what else I'm planning:

Monday - Leftovers from Last week
Tuesday - Chicken, cooked w/ chili powder & topped with cheese. With rice, beans, and nachos.
Wednesday - Hamburger steak w/ gravy, mashed potatoes, peas, and biscuits
Thursday - Eating out - probably pizza
Friday-Sunday - not sure

Have a great week!


Saturday, June 14, 2008

Recipe of the Week: Banana Cream Trifle

For this week's recipe I wanted to feature a trifle. These are great for any time of the year, but I think they're especially great for a cool summer time treat. I'm used to seeing either a chocolate trifle or a strawberry trifle, but this one offers a little something's like banana pudding with a twist. The recipe comes from Betty Crocker. They suggest using a frozen bread loaf, but you may prefer to bake your own. And if you don't do homemade bread, then you can make it easily from a mix. Pillsbury has a line of quick bread mixes that are very good, and Martha White muffin mixes are great as well. If you love banana, this one is a must try!

1 package (4-serving size) vanilla instant pudding and pie filling mix
2 cups cold milk
1 package (16 ounces) frozen banana breakfast quick bread loaf, thawed and cut into 1-inch cubes (6 cups) (or use banana nut bread or muffin mix and bake as directed)
3 medium bananas, sliced
1 container (8 ounces) frozen whipped topping, thawed

1. Make pudding mix in large bowl as directed on package for pudding, using 2 cups milk.
2. Layer half of the bread cubes, pudding, banana slices and whipped topping in 2-quart serving bowl; repeat.
3. Cover and refrigerate until serving but no longer than 24 hours. Store covered in refrigerator.

My Tip - Southern Banana pudding wouldn't be the same without Nila wafers, and I think they'd also make a great addition to the recipe. You can layer them with the rest of the ingredients and then end with them on top. Yum!

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Friday, June 13, 2008

Tips & Must Haves for the Perfect Summer Party, Part 2

As promised, here is a list of food and drink tips for your barbecues and backyard summer parties.

  • Never underestimate the amount of time it will take to grill. If you are having a lot of people over, do the majority of the grilling early so that it will be ready as the guests arrive.
  • If you're having a lot of guests, you may want to ask a friend to bring over an extra grill for you to use. (and if someone asks you if you need help grilling or cooking, don't be too proud to accept their assistance)
  • Do your cooking the night before in order to avoid having a hot kitchen on the day of the event, and this way, on the day of the party you can focus on some last minute tidying and placing your food out to serve.
  • Avoid making too many casseroles and heavy foods. Instead try salads, fresh fruit, and chips & veggies with dip.
  • Also, try some simple side items like mac & cheese, baked beans, cole slaw, corn on the cob, and potato salad.
  • For dessert, keep it light. Trifles are easy to make, and they look and taste great. Banana pudding is another great choice, or try a little key lime or lemon icebox pie. Homemade ice cream would also be a big hit.
  • Be sure that you have plenty of ice on hand.
  • You can never have enough drinks either. Be sure you have plenty of ice tea and bottled water. Also, have a good selection of regular and diet drinks. Lemonade or punch is also great for a hot summer day. And consider serving Kool Aid, Powerade, or juice boxes to the kids.
  • Be sure that you have plenty of coolers so that you can keep the drinks on ice, so that they won't fill up your refrigerator, and so that everyone can grab a drink at his/her convenience.
  • To save money, make it a potluck dinner.
  • Decide ahead of time if you would like to serve alcohol at the party so that you can put it in your budget. I was reading a tip in a magazine that suggested to make one specialty drink for your guests like pina coladas or some other cocktail. Other than that, if you're having a backyard barbecue, most people will bring their alcohol if they desire.
  • While you may be tempted to leave the food out so that people can come back for seconds, it would be better to put the food away in the fridge or in a cooler, in order to prevent spoiling. Just let your guests know what you're doing so that they can get seconds if they like. Also, consider having your buffet inside the house, to further prevent spoiling and to keep bugs out of the food.
  • If you're going to serve outside. Salads, fruits, and dessert items should remain inside until time to serve so that they can maintain the proper temperature.
    If you're not much of a cook, try going to local resturant to have your party catered. You can get a large pan of pork barbecue, ribs, or wings & chicken fingers for everyone at a fairly good price. And you can sometimes get a good deal on side items too.
  • Even if you're not doing a potluck, someone will most likely call and ask if they can bring something. While a simple "No thank you" is an okay response, most of the time these people will bring something anyway, so you may as well suggest something simple for them to bring, (ie - a dessert of their choice, chips, or a package of rolls) And if you're grilling out, don't be surprised if someone brings over some extra meat to put on the grill.

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Tips & Must Haves for the Perfect Summer Party, Part 1

It takes proper planning and organization to have a successful party at any time of the year. But no matter how much planning we do, there's always a chance that we'll forget something. So I'm making a list of tips and must haves for your summer parties and backyard barbecues. Part one will have some general tips, and part 2 will having some tips concerning food and drinks.

  • Try to place chairs in a shaded area under some trees, or set up a big tent, canopy, or an umbrella to provide shade.
  • Make sure you have plenty of chairs. It's much better to have extra chairs than to not have enough. Consider renting some chairs, or check out the selection at the local dollar store. Or ask some of your guests to bring extra chairs to the party.
  • If your party will be held outside, purchase a couple of electric fans to create a nice breeze.
  • Be sure to turn on ceiling fans and turn the thermostat down in the house for people who want to sit inside. Homes are always hotter when there's a lot of people inside, especially if you've been cooking. Not to mention, people will be going in and out the door, letting the hot air in.
  • Be sure to purchase plenty of ice and have plenty of drinks on hand, especially bottled water, tea, or lemonade/punch. I also recommend Kool Aid, Powerade, or juice boxes for the kids.
  • Use Off candles, mosquito coils, and other repellants to keep bugs away.
  • As the party host, it is your obligation to have things on hand that your guests may need. Make sure that you have the following: Off bug repellent, OTC pain relievers, sunscreen, band-aids and other first aid items, Benadryl/corizone cream for bug bites, and a sting kit.
  • If you're having a family party, be sure that you have a kick ball or some other recreational equipment for the kids to play with so that the adults can talk.

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Fun Outdoor Party Games & Activities for Kids

As of late, I've been making a lot of lists on here, and here's another. Summer time is such a great time for kids to have parties...think school field day, VBS recreation time, and the ever popular end of the year school party. Even if you're on a budget, you can still plan a fun party for your kids. There are a number of games and activities that you can plan that are cheap or cost nothing at all. Here's a list of ideas for you...

Flag football
Capture the Flag
Scavenger Hunt
Ring Toss
Flashlight tag or freeze tag
Dodge Ball
Four Square
Red Rover
Create a obstacle course
Hide & Seek
Red light green light
Mother, May I
Simon Says
Disc golf or Frisbee golf
Water balloon fight
Water gun fight
Watermelon seed spitting contest
Slip & Slide
Inflatable jump toys or mazes
Sack race
Three-legged race
Wheelbarrow race
Tug of War
Potato & Spoon race
Jump the Brook
Chinese jump rope
Jump rope contest
Ladder golf
Bean bag toss
lawn bowling

And here's a few links for you....

Pool Games
Pool toys & games
Water Games
99 Days of Summer Games
Recreation & field day equipment

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Sunday, June 8, 2008

Menu Plan Monday for June 9

Monday - Roast beef & gravy, mashed potatoes, green beans, biscuits
Tuesday -breakfast for supper - pancakes, bacon, eggs, grits
Wednesday - grilled chicken salad
Thursday - Ham & Cheese pasta (courtesy of Laura at orgjunkie)
Friday - Pizza & bread sticks
Saturday - Creamy Chicken Enchiladas
Sunday - Beef stroganoff

For other recipes and menu ideas, visit

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Friday, June 6, 2008

Recipe of the Week: Under the Sea Cake

Here's a really cute cake for summer from Kraft. They also have a recipe for video for a similar recipe called Dive On in Cake. Kids of all ages will love these.

1 pkg. (2-layer size) white cake mix, any flavor
2 cups thawed COOL WHIP Whipped Topping, divided
3/4 cup boiling water
1 pkg. (4-serving size) JELL-O Brand Berry Blue Flavor Gelatin
2 cups ice cubes
10 NILLA Wafers, crushed
2 chewy fruit snack rolls
15 jelly beans
4 TEDDY GRAHAMS Honey Graham Snacks
decorating gel
7 bite-size fish-shaped chewy fruit snacks

PREPARE and bake cake batter in greased foil-lined 13x9-inch baking pan as directed on package. Cool completely. Invert cake onto large platter; remove pan and foil. Use a serrated knife to cut 1/2-inch-wide strip off each side of cake. Cut each strip in half lengthwise; set aside.
SPREAD cake with 1-1/2 cups of the whipped topping. Stack cake strips around outside edges of cake to make a rim. Spread rim with remaining 1/2 cup whipped topping. Refrigerate until ready to use.

STIR boiling water into dry gelatin mix in large bowl at least 2 min. until completely dissolved. Add ice cubes; stir until gelatin begins to thicken. Remove any unmelted ice. Pour thickened gelatin into center of cake as shown in photo. Refrigerate 4 hours or until gelatin is set. Decorate with remaining ingredients to resemble an aquarium. Store in refrigerator.

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Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Party Themes, Decorations, & Supplies

Summer is a great time for kid & adult parties and family reunions. Decorations, party favors, and a theme can make the party very fun, especially for kids.

Some popular themes include:

Hawaiin Luau
Under the Sea
Flip Flops
Fiesta/South of the Border
Finding Nemo
Little Mermaid
Lion King

You can buy party supplies & decorations for fairly cheap at party supply store, the dollar store, or online, and you can make great use of every day items for decorations, as well.

Consider decorating with the following:

Palm Trees
Flower Leis
Beach Balls
"Donut"/"Lifesaver" Floats
Strings of lights
Balloons & streamers
Sand buckets & shovels
treasure chest
beaded curtains

Here a few links some summer party ideas & supplies:

Celebrate Express - They have supplies for various party themes, including Hula, Flip Flop Fun, Sunny Days, Luau, Ocean, etc.

MN International - Supplies for a variety of party themes from Patriotic to Luau, Safari, and Western Themes

Shindigzparty Blog - Party ideas & tips for just about any party theme

Oriental Trading - A ton of summer party supplies

Oriental Trading - Fourth of July Party supplies

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Monday, June 2, 2008

Lighting for Your Backyard Parties

I've been looking up different party ideas when I found these really cool solar lanterns. These look very nice, and unlike a lot of alternatives, you don't have to deal with bunch of ugly wires, and you don't have to go through a huge installation process. You simply hang these outside in the sun so that they can charge, and when the sun goes down these handy little lanterns will give off a nice glow.

But if you live in a shaded area, or you're just looking for something of a different style,there are a lot of great choices when it comes to lighting for your outdoor party. Some popular choices include Candles, Flaming Torches, Strings of Christmas lights or novelty lights, Electric wall laterns & post lanterns, strings of paper lanterns, etc.

Here are a couple of cute choices, followed by some links:

Flower Lights

Flipflop Lights

Sunsetter Patio Lights

Colored Lights

Cherry Blossom Lanterns

If your in the market for some party lights, here a few links you may be interested in:

Ivillage - for more info on solar lights - They have a fun variety of light strings

Nextag - cool lights here

Japanese Lantern lights

If you get creative with the lighting and decor, you can create a fun & unique atmosphere for your summer barbecue or pool party. And if you shop around, you can usually find some good deals on this stuff too! Have a good day!

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