Thursday, October 30, 2014

How to DIY Your Halloween Dessert Table + FREE Printables

Halloween has never been big with my family.  I already wrote about it here how our celebrations are usually limited to DIY costumes whenever the kids are invited to go trick or treating with their friends. But this year, OREO made Halloween special for all the SoMoms and the SoKids!

Since Halloween is really all treats and more treats, it's the perfect holiday for a dessert buffet table! When my fellow SoMom, Mish asked me to collaborate with her by designing graphics for our dessert table, the design lover in me couldn't say no. So for this OREO Halloween Trip & Treats event, I teamed up with the talented home-baker/party-planner/tablescape-stylist Mish Aventajado, and with creative paper-decorator/Paper Chic Studio owner, Cai Sio to create a Halloween dessert table filled with everyone's favorite Spookie Cookie, OREOs.
Here's Mish, Cai and Me posing beside the finished dessert table.  Photo courtesy of Mish Aventajado.

I am still having a serious case of design-crush with the centerpiece I designed. I love how it pops out from the black background, and how it creates a different level of visual interest.

Of course the star of the Halloween dessert table were the OREOs!  Look at what Mish did with them:
So creatively done, di ba? I love baking, but I haven't tried baking this large number of sweets - for a single event. When we were still conceptualizing everything, and I saw her list of things to bake, I already knew she took Halloween very, very seriously.

Here are some more of the scrumptious sweets and treats:
Photo courtesy of Michelle Lim

Mish also made sure there were lootbags for all the kids to bring home!
This lootbag topper I got here.

How cute are these mummy milk bottles made by Cai!!! She made sure the color of the paper straws match with the theme, too!
Photo courtesy of Michelle Lim

Custom-made BOO! sign made by Cai entirely out of OREOs.
Photo courtesy of Michelle Lim

Didi of Candishhh Tales also brought Halloweenn-themed sugar cookies from the commissary of her sister-in-law who supplies S&R all the cookies and cakes.
Photo courtesy of Michelle Lim

Here's the SoMoms' resident master party planner, Mish, putting the final touches on the table.

Everyone knows that in a party people always look forward to the dessert table, so here I am sharing with you a few ideas for an easy to do and inexpensive DIY Halloween dessert table:
1. Don’t do it alone. Ask friends and family to help out. This could mean breaking down the tasks like what we did - Mish took care of all the sweets and treats, Cai did the paper buntings and decors, while I designed the graphics used for the dessert table. But let me just stress that "collaborate" is a term I use loosely here because it was really Mish who created the moodboard, designed the table vignette, and baked ALL the sweets! She has the most amazing ideas for the dessert table, and it was really her enthusiasm that rubbed off on everyone else.
2Set a realistic expectation. DIY is really about finding your boundaries, what you can and cannot do. Be prepared to order your sweets if you are not an expert home-baker. You can order cupcakes from your favorite neighborhood bakery and print out some Halloween-themed cupcake toppers to make it all tie-up together. Lucky for you that I am sharing some FREE printables here! You can find them at the end of this post.
3. Decide on theme & colors. We decided to focus on the Halloween colors of chartreuse, orange, purple and black, so all the graphics I designed just used those four colors. Sticking to a color scheme will help make your design look cohesive. Make a mood board to help you keep your ideas together.
4. Make food tent cards. Dessert labels are not only necessary for your guests to distinguish the sweets, it's also a great way to get creative and personalize your dessert table. You can download the custom-designed printables I made to save costs on printers. Just download and print on board paper.
5. Style Your Table.  When you design your table make sure to get creative and use crates, boxes or cake stands to create different levels and areas of interest. Add any decorative item that matches with your theme, or even some custom signs like the witch centerpiece featured below.

The centerpiece is one of the first things people see on the table, so make sure that the desert centerpiece is standing high on the table to make it visually powerful.

Spooky eats and sweet treats? Yes, of course!

Here are some of the Halloween graphics I designed for the SoMoms' Halloween Dessert Table, and I am sharing these printables right here!
{ Download Witch Buffet Centerpiece 11" x 17" }

You can still DIY your own Halloween dessert table! Just download the printables in this post to make your table preparation easier. If you are really pressed for time, nothing bad with ordering ready-made sweets, too!
Photo courtesy of Mish Aventajado.
For extra inspiration, head over to Momma 'N Manila as Mish shares more of how she did the sweets and her inspiration for the tablescape.  Then get the how-to for the paper decor from Cai in her blog, Apples & Dumplings.


Monday, October 27, 2014

{Phenomenal Tip}: How to DIY A Luke Skywalker Costume... On A Budget!

As you may very well know, my family is not really big on Halloween. I do not really prepare costumes for the kids, not unless they are invited by friends to go trick or treating, then we make an easy DIY costume of their choice.  It just so happened that this year, my son's school required their grade level to dress up as their favorite "abstract noun" for the "Jazz Up Your WORDrobe Literacy Parade," which coincided with Halloween.
If there's anything that my son is crazy about right now, it is his love for Legos and Star Wars.  My son naturally decided that he wanted to go as Luke Skywalker.  And now while he is a big Star Wars fan, I am not, and had to go to Pinterest to search for a simple DIY Luke Skywalker costume.

I am intentional that my kids see how we can create wonderful things with materials that are already in our house, using a little creativity and some effort. This is one costume that is so easy to make and came out very cheap, too!  If you are still looking for ideas for a Halloween costume, then this could be the one for you... easy and cheap!  I don't know what else to say to convince you!:)

I know that Luke Skywalker is the Jedi hero in the Star Wars movies. However, I did not know that he had many looks throughout the course of the trilogy, and that the color of his light saber meant something, too. For me, Luke's most recognizable costume is the white and khaki colored one.

Anyhow, he was specific that the color of his light saber should be blue.  Horrors! I initially wanted to use a red masking tape for his light saber, but he educated me on the world of Star Wars... kay Darth Vadar pala yung red!

Jedi Padawan Costume How-To
What I used for the Jedi costume:
1. white robe or a taekwondo/karate uniform
2. slim cut khaki pants
3. khaki colored belt (borrowed from my closet)
4. khaki or cream colored shoes (we used his khaki colored Sanuks)

Jedi Light Saber How-To:
What I used for the Light Saber:
1. a pool noodle (can be bought at any toy store for less than a P100)
2. tissue paper cardboard roll
3. colored masking tape
4. black electrical tape

As you can see from the photo above, our pool noodle came in the shape of a sword, instead of the usual round one like the one in this tutorial right here. My Star Wars aficionado will not allow me to make a Light Saber that is not cyclindrical because "it's not a Light Saber anymore if it's not cylindrical!" Fine then!

So I just took several tissue cardboard rolls and taped them together and inserted the pool noodle inside it, leaving just a few inches for the handle.

Buy colored masking tape in green or blue (blue for this costume; green when using the all-black Jedi costume).

There you go!


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Japanese-style Potato Salad Recipe

My kids have a new-found fondness for Japanese style potato salad.  They love the creaminess of the potatoes, the crunchiness of the carrots and cucumbers when mixed with Japanese mayo.  And they have been numerous requests for me to make more, more, more!

On the other hand, I have never been fond of savoury and creamy salads.  I prefer tossed greens (arugula, for the most part) with a simple balsamic vinaigrette.  Even if I do not share their appetite for this carbohydrate-rich salad, I cannot say no to their request.

My version of the potato salad skips over some of the usual suspects.  For instance, I just use half of the recommended amount of Japanese mayo, and substitute it with plain yogurt.  My family never notices.

Without the heavy toppings, the potato contains no fat or cholesterol and is a healthy choice in any diet. The potato is a complex carbohydrate. Foods that contain added sugars--such as soft drinks, fruit drinks, candy, baked goods and dairy-based desserts--are simple carbohydrates.

Japanese potato salad has a mild, creamy flavor; unlike American or German style potato salads, no acid/vinegar is used. It's seasoned only with salt and a little pepper, and lots and lots of mayonnaise, Japanese brand of mayo, of course.
Japanese-style Potato Salad
8 medium sized potatoes
1 medium sized carrot
1 medium sized Japanese cucumber (if I don't have cucumber on hand, I sometimes substitute with apple or pear)
6 hard boiled eggs, chopped
1 cup Japanese mayo (I use the Kewpie brand) You can add a little more mayonnaise if the dressing is too stiff to mix well
pinch of salt and pepper

*I refuse to serve that much mayo to my kids, so I have to compromise; instead of 1 cup of mayo, I use 1/2 cup mayo and 1 full sized single serve container plain yogurt. 

1 tsp black sesame seeds, toasted
Spring onions, chopped

Wash the potatoes then peel, and rinse in cold water.
Cut into about 1 inch by 1 inch cubes and rinse again.
Bring a large pot of water to a full boil, add 1/2 teaspoon salt and the cubed potatoes (add 2 cubed carrots now if desired).
Boil until semi tender (fork passes through with slight resistance).
Drain and let cool.

Make the dressing
In a medium mixing bowl mash the 1/2 cup eggs and 1/2 cup potato cubes together.
Add the mayonnaise. (finely chop 2 green onions then add now if desired)
Add the salt and pepper (start with smaller amounts and add to taste) then mix well.
Dressing should have a stiff texture.

Final Mix
Add dressing to potato mix and stir until well mixed
If desired garnish with one or two finely chopped green onions and or toasted sesame seed.
Chill and serve cold or at room temperature.

Sometimes, when I feel like indulging the kids, I add some kani cubes and bacon bits in the salad.  It makes me the "best mom ever" of course!:)