Food, family, and fitness... all with a bit of style.

Weekend Wrap Up #4 Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween friends! We had a fun weekend doing all things Halloween! Friday was part of our school spirit week. The theme for Friday was promoting team spirit and wear your favorite team jersey. Luke went with his Panthers jersey and Ella went with team Halloween.
Actually her class was doing some fun Halloween activities and they were encouraged to wear orange and black.
At dinner Friday night, Luke came up with this idea...."I'm going to go trick or treating in my skeleton costume and then come home and change and go again in a different costume.  Double candy!"  Solid idea Luke....but no.
We had plans on Saturday night to carve our pumpkins. The kids faces as they pulled out the inside was priceless! 

This was the first year they both actually pulled out the inside stuff without getting freaked out about how it felt or lose interest after one handful. We are not fancy carvers....pretty standard here. It's probably Paul's least favorite holiday tradition...he's just not that into it. Anyway- Luke wanted a scary face and Ella wanted a classic. So this is what we got....
I mean I can host a fun party and decorate all day.....but this carving thing....blah!

 I thought mini caramel apples would be a fun treat to have after carving.  I have come across the idea on Facebook and Pinterest and thought they would be fun to make.  The process seemed simple...peel an apple and use a melon baller to make mini apple balls. We put them on a stick and dipped in melted caramel. We used orange sprinkles, melted chocolate and chopped Snickers to decorate. I put them in the fridge to chill while we carved the pumpkins.
Once I pulled them out of fridge the caramel seemed to melt off the apple. Needless to say they did not look great after 15-20 minutes. They tasted yummy though and that's all that mattered to the kids. I would not classify it as a #pinterestfail but I definitely need to do some research before we make these again!

Sunday brought the Bills game....and we won't say anymore. We moved onto something a little more entertaining.The kids love watching Halloween Baking Championship on the Food Network. So I let them do some of their own decorating for a little treat. I had some skeleton cookies and baked some vanilla cupcakes. I gave them frosting, sprinkles, gummies and let them do their thing!
They came up with some scary creations!
While they decorated I put together a little something for their teachers. I found the cutest free printable to put on the bags. You can find it here.
This is our pic from last year......
Looking forward to sending my crew off for Halloween fun at school, a spooky dinner and a rain free night of Trick or Treating! I hope you all have a spooktacular night! Join us this week as we kick off November with our family's thankful tree and share pics from our Halloween night....there's always room for one more at our family table.

Halloween Food

TGIF!!! What a busy week! I am looking forward to the weekend and all things Halloween!!! I love making the holidays fun with my kids....especially with food! I thought I would share some of my ideas for celebrating Halloween with each meal of the day!
My kids love waffles from the waffle maker....I mean who doesn't? They turn out so light and fluffy! So for Halloween breakfast (or Halloween weekend breakfast) I make "Candy Corn Waffles".  Not with actual candy corn....they just look like it! I use a box pancake mix. I love this one pictured below. I know all of the ingredients and they are loaded with protein which is a great way to start off the day.
I make the batter (adding in a splash of vanilla extract) and separate into three dishes. I leave one as is, and use food coloring to make one yellow and one orange. Once the waffle maker is preheated, put a circle of white in the middle, then circle with orange and then yellow.  Slice the waffle into quarters and each piece will resemble candy corn!
I serve them with ghost milk. Use a little chocolate syrup to make a ghost face inside the glass and fill with milk!
                                                                   Now onto lunch!
 I pack a Halloween lunch for the kids each year. This was last year's.
1. I use my pumpkin and ghost cutter for their sandwiches.
2. I used mini cutters for cheese.
3. Plastic spiders are always fun!
4. Peel a clementine and add a stem- you can use a piece of pepper, celery or in this case I put a green candy!
5. My kids always take water for lunch in their reusable bottles, but for fun I put disposable bottles in and make a Halloween label for them.
6. Halloween pretzels in monster packaging.
7. A ghost peep.. I put it on stick!
8. Halloween napkin 
Ella and Luke love their Halloween lunch each year!

Now to fill those bellies with dinner before Trick or Treating. 
It's a busy time leading up to Trick or Treating, so I keep the meal simple! 
First up is our Frankenstein salad. I arranged some salad greens on a square platter and laid black olives along the top for his "hair". I used a hardboiled egg cut in half, along with some olive slices for the eyes. You can use whatever veggies you have on hand for the mouth, etc. You can make this earlier in the day and it's such a fun way to eat a salad!
Along with salad we have our "Mummy Pizzas", "Witch Fingers", and "Vampire Teeth". I use thin sliced cheese cut into strips to make the mummy wrap and olive slices for the eyes. After steaming the asparagus, I lay the spears on a platter and top with some almond halves. The "vampire teeth" are made using apple slices, peanut butter and yogurt raisins. You could also use mini marshmallows or almonds for the teeth. 
We have also done the "Mummy Dogs"....the kids really love those, and we always serve our Halloween dinner with "Bug Juice". I  freeze some plastic bugs/spiders in an ice cube tray and then add into a pitcher of lemonade. I add in a few drops of food coloring to make it some crazy color too!
Here's to a fun Halloween weekend! We are looking forward to pumpkin carving, seed roasting and a little Halloween baking. I'll be sharing pics of the kids' costumes this year and looking back on some fun costumes too on Monday's blog. Be sure to stop by and check them out.....there's always room for one more at our family table!

Halloween Parties!!!

I can't believe Halloween is on Monday! Kind of bummed it is on a Monday night...those poor teachers in school! Not only dealing with Monday, but a room full of  little superheroes, princesses, ghosts and witches all itching to collect candy! And then Tuesday....ugh...tired and running on candy! Next week is going to be a looooong week!

But let's talk about all the fun stuff!!! This weekend will probably be filled with Halloween parties and activities so I thought I would share a few fun ideas from our Halloween party last year.

I was never a huge Halloween person. I LOVE Christmas, Thanksgiving,4th of July.....but Halloween was never my thing. Then I had kids.....and Halloween is super fun!!
Last year we had a neighborhood Halloween party after Trick or Treating. Being in Buffalo the weather can be a toss up come late can have 65 and sunny or a snowy Halloween! There were times growing up that I had to have a winter coat on under my costume. Now when I help my kids choose their costumes I am always thinking "What if it's 30 degrees?" Anyway, last year the weather was awesome and Halloween fell on a Saturday...PERFECT! We kept the party outside...Paul built a great fire and we opened up our garage space for games and food.
I love throwing parties and you will find that out as you follow me. Having a house full of family and friends makes my heart happy! I do love getting creative with how I decorate to keep it on a budget and hope to pass on some tips to you! 

The garage was looking...well.. garage like. I grabbed some black and orange table cloths and hung them on the walls. I also grabbed some "spider web" and plastic spiders.  I got a few cute Halloween banners from the dollar section at Target.

I just hung table cloths as back drops and put up some spider web and the signs from Target.

We did not do a ton of food, as everyone had already eaten dinner and the kids were looking forward to candy. We did make some "snakes" out of green grapes. We threaded the grapes on a skewer and used a dollop of frosting to put one candy eye on the front. You can see them in the lower right hand picture above.
We did make some fun drinks! I have a large punch bowl that we filled with lemonade and added a few drops of green food coloring to make it a wild lime color. Then we froze some black plastic spiders in ice cubes, added them to the lemonade and called it "Spider Juice"! It was a hit with the kids. For the adults we had pitchers of Blood Orange Margaritas. I mixed some Blood Orange soda with tequila and club was so good!!
Our beverage bar!

I had a couple activities for the kids to do....
Of course we had to have hands free donut eating! Tie a donut from a string.. hands behind back....powdered donuts are the way to go!
Make your friend a mummy.....back to the dollar store for rolls of TP..let the kids roll each other into mummies!
I didn't get a good pic of this, but you get the idea!

What's in the bag?? This was such a hit! In the picture below you can see the brown paper bags......
I labelled them as scary Halloween things and filled them with items that might feel like those things.
Monster brains (cooked spaghetti noodles). Put noodles in a plastic bag first.
Skeleton teeth (uncooked popcorn kernels)
Vampire eyeballs (peeled grapes)
Witch ears (dried mangoes)
I held each bag and made up a story about it and let the kids reach inside to feel (no peeking!). There faces and guesses of what was inside was so fun. This was probably the most favorite thing...they were asking for more bags when we finished!

My skeleton crew and I had so much fun at our Halloween party! 
Be sure to check back on Friday. We will be talking fun Halloween food for breakfast, lunch and dinner!! I hope you'll join us....there's always room for one more at our family table!

Weekend Wrap Up #3

Happy Monday friends! Kind of a low key weekend for us..and that was just fine with me! Kids and I spent most of Friday night organizing our office/playroom. It had been neglected as we enjoyed such a beautiful summer. It felt good to clean out and donate some old toys/games. The kids think it's a whole new room and were excited to find craft supplies they had forgotten about!

I left for Dallas on Sunday afternoon for work conferences this week. I spent my Sunday morning packing. I am always proud of myself when I can plan it right and fit my clothes into a carryon! I am notorious for overpacking.. I have had to pay the overage charge for my checked bag more times than I care to admit.. so accomplishing this carry-on is huge for me!

It's Meatless Monday! I have the perfect recipe for a cool fall day...Black Bean Soup! It's creamy and flavorful and a fan favorite in our house. We pair it with some fresh peppers or sometimes I'll make a simple cheese quesadilla to dip! Click on the pic below for the recipe.

Thankful for my mom holding down the fort this week while I am gone. Paul is knee deep in a huge project and has had a crazy schedule. Wednesday we will be sharing lots of ideas for hosting a post Trick or Treating party! I hope you'll join us....there's always room for one more at our family table.


Black Bean Soup

This is a delicious recipe for fall and winter...creamy and full of flavor! It comes together quickly and requires some pretty basic staples.

2-3TBSP olive oil
1 small onion chopped
4-5 carrots chopped
1-2 cloves of garlic chopped
1 TBSP cumin
2 cans of black beans (rinsed)
2 cups vegetable broth (can also use chicken broth)
Salt & Pepper to taste

In a large stock pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and carrots and cook until softened, about 5-6 minutes. Add the garlic and cumin and cook for another minute. Add the black beans, broth and salt & pepper. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 25 minutes. Using an immersion blender, blend the soup until creamy. You can also put the soup into the blender in small batches if you do not have an immersion blender. If you prefer your soup on the spicier side, you can sprinkle in some crushed red pepper flakes before blending.
We like to top ours with plain Greek yogurt, scallions, tomato, avocado and a sprinkle of cheese. Serve with some tortilla chips, fresh red peppers or cheese quesadillas. Enjoy!

Ella turns 9.....Hollywood Style!

Happy Friday friends!!  Last month we celebrated Ella's 9th birthday with a fun Hollywood themed party. Why Hollywood? Well, 2 years ago she had a Hawaiian themed Luau party, and last year was a Paris themed art party. So when we were thinking of ideas, she was set on having the party set in a city/country, because she said "each year we celebrate in a different place". Our wheels were turning and I was trying to think of somewhere or something that went with the number 9. And we came up with....

"Dress to the Nines to celebrate Ella turning 9!"

A Hollywood style sleepover! Such a fun theme! Some may think I go overboard for a party....but I truly love doing it! I don't get stressed over the's fun for me! And I certainly don't go over budget. This party was less than a quarter of what you might pay to go to a kids' activity center to host a party. 

Here's a few tips on keeping your party cost low.

1. I get a lot of inspiration from Pinterest & Instagram. There are always lots of DIY ideas. Just put your theme or idea in the search and it's amazing what is out there!
2. Think of things you can reuse...most of the decorations I used for this party was stuff I had for New Years Eve parties. Last year Luke had a football party and again- I had stuff from previous SuperBowl parties.
3. The Target dollar section and the local dollar stores are great spots to find inexpensive decor items for your parties.
4. Wrapping paper is a great tool to decorate with. I use pieces as table runners and also use it to cover up pictures that I have hanging to make them part of the party decor. 
5. Skip party favors or try to keep them as part of the party. At last years art party each girl painted their own initial during the party and that was what they took home.

Now back to the Hollywood party. As I mentioned in my tips, I used a lot of my decor from previous New Year's parties. We had a black, gold and silver theme. I picked up black & gold tablecloths at the dollar store, along with some plastic "fancy glasses". I put glue on the stems of the glasses and sprinkled with gold glitter. 

Now it wouldn't be Hollywood without a red carpet entrance! I found the coolest idea on Pinterest - cut the Hollywood letters out of posterboard. I was able to get two letters from each posterboard (which of course I got at the dollar store 2 for $1!) and held them into the ground with paint stirrers! I cut out a star for each girl, wrote their name and sprinkled with glitter....add in a $5 red carpet from Party City and our entrance was so fun!

Dinner was a make your own pizza bar. We called it "You're a Star Pizza Bar". Just used some flatbreads and put out the toppings and the girls went to town building their pizzas!
My "red carpet" is some pieces of felt from the craft store.

While the girls ate their dinner and sipped on fancy pink lemonade, they answered "Ella Trivia". My mom did this for my sister's birthday last year and it was a hit. I just made up 10 random questions about Ella...some of the girls' answers were hysterical! This is such a fun I will do for future birthdays for sure! Ella loved it!

Of course we needed to do a "photo booth"....

I have a chocolate fountain and we thought that would be so much fun to do instead of cake. The girls loved it and thought it was so fancy!
Here's an example of one of my inexpensive decorating tips. That polka dot decor in the middle is a framed picture that hangs in my dining room and I covered it with wrapping paper to make it go with our theme! On either side are just .99cent rolls of streamers. You tape one piece to the top of the wall an twist it a few times, then tape at the bottom. It adds a really cool effect to the party! 
Over on the left is some popcorn and licorice for watching the movie.... Beverly Hills Chihuahua!

The girls all camped out in our family room for the night. In the morning, our pizza bar became a waffle bar...thanks to a dry erase marker!

We sent the girls home with a favor of a new toothbrush, holder and toothpaste. I printed a cute tag and tied together with ribbon.

It was such a fun party! Ella, her friends and I all had a blast!
And of course.....Ella and I are already dreaming up where we will "travel" to celebrate 10! 

Next week we will be sharing a new recipe for Meatless Monday- Black Bean Soup and of course lots of fun ideas for Halloween! I hope you will join us....there's always room for one more at our Family Table.

Why start a blog?

I have often thought of starting a blog, but was never sure the "right" way to start. I thought "what do I have to give or say that isn't already out there"?  So I figured I'll just start and see where it takes me. If people choose to follow along, they will. If not, I'll still have fun documenting the things that make me and my family happy.

I decided to call this blog The Family Table for a host of reasons...all of which have a common foundation around our Family Table. Growing up we had dinner every night at the family table... early by most families standards at 4:30pm....but we were always together with my parents, my younger brother, Ian and my younger sister, Emma. We had a big family table with benches built into the walls....those benches held so many memories over the years. It was the place where we were nourished not only through our meals but in our hearts too. We chatted and laughed about our days....talked about hopes and dreams... sought comfort during tough times... celebrated countless birthdays...hundreds of friends and family joined us at that table while growing up.

Fast forward to my current life...I have been married to my husband Paul for 16 years. We have a daughter, Ella (9) and a son, Luke (7).

We also have a one year old puppy, Maddie... that whole "puppy" phase can be its own blog!

When I became a mom, I  knew I  wanted my kids to have those same memories and that same foundation around the family table. From the time Ella was big enough to sit in a highchair she was joining Paul and I for dinner. She may have been eating pureed peas while we ate grilled salmon, but the point was to establish that foundation early. Over the past 9 years that has remained a constant. We always come together for dinner each night. The kids eat what we special requests... unless it's your birthday! I'm happy with the healthy relationships our kids have with us and with food because we have made this a priority. So that's the basic story behind the blog's title.

This blog is devoted to things I love... my family....

eating well.....

living healthy....

theme parties...

a little fashion...

and having fun with all of it!

My goal is to share ideas for making life healthy and fun with your families. I hope you enjoy reading! Please click on the link at the bottom to join us for new posts. You can also follow us on Facebook or Instagram. And please...invite your friends to follow along too.....there's always room for one more at our family table!

ps- Be sure to check in on Friday for the fun details on Ella's Hollywood themed birthday party! I'll be sharing ideas on how to get creative in your decorating without spending a lot!

Weekend Wrap Up #2!

Another fun fall weekend in the books!
Friday was a beautiful day here in Buffalo! The kids rode their bikes to their friends' house up the street and were happy to play outside until dark....kind of bummed it's getting dark so early! I snapped a fun pic of them climbing the tree after school.

On Thursday night, we had gotten "Booed" by our neighbors. This is one of our favorite traditions this time of year. The door bell rang and when we went to look there was a monster basket filled with cinnamon sugar donuts and apple cider. Such a fun change from candy! So Friday night we were off to "Boo" another neighbor. While the kids love getting "booed", I think they are even more excited to do it to someone else! We loaded up a basket with some glow sticks, snacks and Halloween rings.
You can find the printable tag here.

I got to thinking....why let the kids have all the fun? So I found this fun tag saying "We've been boozed". I tied it to a pumpkin beer and I was off on Saturday night to start a new neighborhood tradition!
Click here for this tag.

Sunday we were off to visit Pumpkinville. It was a beautiful morning... near 70 degrees! The kids each picked their pumpkins and we got a family pic! Happy Mama!

Luke was proud to be the wheelbarrow driver!!

Wearing our Bills colors!!

After picking pumpkins we went into the town of Ellicottville to the Sky High Adventure Park.  They have this awesome roller coaster that you can ride though a trail in the woods. It's so fun! You can also ride a chair lift up the ski hills, go zip lining, or climb a ropes course. Check our their website here.
Paul loves it just as much as the kids! I went down with each of them too...just didn't get pics!

A beautiful fall day!

Finished up the weekend with a Bills win! Doesn't get much better. Click on the pic below to link up to a great recipe for your Meatless Monday. 

I hope to see you next time.....there's always room for one more at our Family Table.

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