chocolate pecan candy three heart platter
Chocolate Pecan Candy- My Aunt’s Recipe

My aunt and uncle had a huge pecan tree in their yard- which was always nice for those of us who love pecans! Even better, my aunt would take those pecans and make a really simple but delicious pecan candy for us.

chocolate pecan candy my aunts recipe
chocolate pecan candy on heart platter

My kids and their cousins always loved climbing the tree, picking the pecans, and using the fancy rolling pecan picker that completely fascinated them. We all loved it that the kids would enjoy playing outside and picking what felt like a million pecans! The payment for their work was often chocolate pecan candy.

chocolate pecan candy three heart platter

This recipe is easy and makes a perfect candy for gifting or for serving. I hope you enjoy this simple treat that my aunt always made for us!

chocolate pecan candy being picked up from plate

Chocolate Pecan Candy Recipe

Lydia Menzies

Ingredients
  

  • 1 lb. coarsely chopped pecans (or 16 oz.)
  • 2 cups Ghirardelli chocolate chips (I use half semi-sweet and half milk chocolate chips)
  • 1 stick butter (½ cup)
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil (optional)
  • coarse sea salt

Instructions
 

  • Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  • Spread pecan pieces evenly across baking sheet.
  • Slice butter and add pats of butter scattered around the pecans.
  • Heat oven to 250 degrees (F).
  • Place pecans and butter in oven and toast for 5 minutes.
  • Using a spatula, turn pecans and the melted butter, being sure to coat the pecans.
  • Bake for 5 minutes and then carefully stir pecans, turning them so that they are evenly toasted.
  • Repeat this step until pecans are toasted- this takes about 20 minutes total. Watch pecans carefully, as ovens vary, and remember to turn the pecans every 5 minutes.
  • After pecans are toasted, remove from oven and let cool.
  • After pecans have cooled enough to handle, melt chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl. I typically melt chocolate chips for 30 seconds at a time, stirring in between, until chocolate is melted and smooth.
  • (Optional step) If you prefer, add 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil to the melted chocolate and stir until well mixed. The oil helps the chocolate have a smoother finish, but I usually leave out this step.
  • Stir toasted pecans and melted chocolate together in bowl and mix until pecans are well-coated.
  • Using a tablespoon, spoon out individual servings of the pecan mixture onto waxed paper.
  • Sprinkle salt onto the candy. I usually leave some unsalted for those who prefer no salt (such as my children).
  • Let set.
  • Transfer to a serving dish or box/bag for gifting.

So simple and so tasty!

I hope you enoy!

chocolate pecan candy being picked up from plate

ENJOY!

Cheers xo,

Lydia

supper club fondue night fun do sign
Supper Club ~ Hosting a Fondue Night

Hosting a Supper Club is always a fun way to gather friends and enjoy a meal together. My daughter and I began hosting a Supper Club together for her friends, and it has become one of our favorite activities. We have lots of ideas and themes for Supper Clubs here at The Party Wagon. This Supper Club night was especially fun with fondue as the theme!

Fondue Supper Club for winter with icicle lights and silver fondue pots
supper club fondue night fun do sign

This Supper Club was hosted in January and so we went with a wintry theme. The warmth of fondue felt like a perfect meal to enjoy on a really cold night. We hung icicle lights along the walls in the dining room and snowflake lights on the tables. The lights on the tables are battery-operated so that they can be used without needing an electrical outlet.

supper club tablesetting with fondue pots as centerpiece chaffing dishes in line

As you can see in the photos, I used paper plates on top of a charger. I knew the girls might need to be able to move their plates closer as they were dipping their fondue sticks into the cheese, and so I decided to make it easier to manage with paper plates. It added a casual feel to the dinner, which is also one of my goals when we host these get-togethers. I like for each dinner to feel special without feeling overly-formal or stuffy. Relaxed fun is what I’m going for, with a few out-of-the ordinary details thrown in to make it special.

supper club table and room decor with lights and fondue

For the color scheme, we wanted to use shades of blue to go with the wintry theme. Fondue is a Swiss creation, and so I wanted to create a snowy feel with white tablecloths. I bunched sheer fabric around the tables to mimic snow drifts. Fireside is usually where Swiss families would enjoy fondue during the winter, and so I aimed to give that effect of warmth from the glow of lights.

supper club chafing dishes as fondue pots in center of table

To add a youthful feel to the party, I used a polka dot center runner of fabric. I went with dots because I kept thinking of Swiss dot fabric, but I wanted a more visual pattern. I also think it would be so fun to use Swiss folk art designs for this theme. I couldn’t find what I needed that would arrive in time for the party, and so I stuck with what was available locally. Nordic/alpine sweaters often have blues, pinks, and greens in them, and so we added those colors in small doses with the details.

fondue dipping sticks wooden skewers with straw flags and ribbon

I asked Loralee Lewis if she would design straw flags to be used on fondue sticks. I wanted each guest to have her own set of fondue sticks, and so I added the names to the skewers with straw flags. I then bundled a set of 3 wooden skewers with a ribbon and had them ready for the girls to use with their fondue. They turned out perfectly!

supper club fondue skewers with names and ribbon

I actually loved how pretty they all looked stacked on a plate, and so I placed them on the serving table just like this. The girls enjoyed finding their bundle of skewers in place of typical utensils.

supper club stack of wooden skewers with names for fondue

It was a little hard to take photos in the dim light, but I love the glow!

supper club cheese fondue and friends

The fondue was an activity all in itself, but we added in one special activity for the girls to do before they went home for the night. Each guest was asked to randomly choose an envelope. Inside each envelope was a name of one of the girls with a message explaining to “spread kindness like confetti” by doing random acts of kindness for your secret person through the month. When we met back at Supper Club again the next month, each girl revealed their secret person with a small gift. We made a game out of it by having each girl try to guess who they thought their secret person was before the gifts were given. It was a fun way to help remind them to think of others and to remember to be kind to each other.

supper club activity throw kindness like confetti
supper club fondue night with friends
supper club fondue night with friends big

I actually didn’t get a photo of our dessert, but it was a huge hit (which is why I didn’t get photos!). They loved it! At our kitchen table and kitchen island, I plugged in electric fondue pots and melted chocolate. We served a platter full of fruits, pretzels, chips, and marshmallows. Hint: It would be such a fun idea for a Valentine’s Day party!

Supper Club Tips and Notes for Fondue

  1. Because I could not plug in as many fondue pots as needed for hosting close to 20 seated guests, I served fondue from chafing dishes. This was convenient and pretty- but please note that you must be extra careful with the flame coming into contact with anything on the table. The girls are old enough to handle the chafing dish set-up, but I still worried about it. For this reason, I recommend traditional fondue pots. I definitely would not recommend fondue for young kids without constant supervision. These girls handled it like pros, but I just want to be very transparent at the risks of using chafing dishes with table linens, crowded tables, etc. Also, if you use chafing dishes be sure to know how to extinguish Sterno flames properly (save the top of the Sterno can or use a flat, wide metal spatula to extinguish). Extinguish the flame before you pick up the dish for cleaning.
  2. When making fondue, use quality cheeses. I bought all of mine at Trader Joe’s.
  3. When melting the cheeses to serve, be sure to grate the cheese rather than chop the cheese. Grating keeps the cheese smooth. Which leads to the next tip…
  4. Toss the cheese with cornstarch to keep it from clumping together.
  5. Slowly, slowly melt the cheeses together. Add a little cheese at a time and melt it. If you pour in large amounts at a time, the cheese will stick together and be very difficult to manage.
  6. Stir the cheeses constantly when making the fondue.
  7. You can use substitute chicken broth or beer for the dry white wine that is used in the recipe.
supper club fondue night fun do sign

Supper Club Fondue Recipe

Lydia Menzies

Ingredients
  

  • cup Gruyere Cheese
  • cup Emmental Cheese
  • cup Monterrey Jack Cheese (if you prefer more authentic Swiss flavor, use ½ cup Gruyere and ½ cup Emmental and omit the Jack cheese)
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • ¼ tsp Worcestershire Sauce (optional)

Instructions
 

  • Grate the cheeses into a bowl and add the cornstarch. Toss to evenly coat.
  • In a saucepan, over low heat, simmer the wine and lemon juice.
  • Slowly add the cheeses (one small handful at a time) and stir constantly.
  • As you very slowly melt and stir the cheeses, continue to stir so that the cheese mixture will be smooth. Be patient on this step so that your cheese does not become a ball.
  • When cheese mixture is melted and smooth, stir in the mustard and the splash of Worcestershire Sauce.
  • Transfer fondue to a fondue pot and keep warm.

Prepare a platter of choices for dipping before cooking the fondue. When the cheeses are melted and ready for the fondue pot, you will be ready to eat! We served…

carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, asparagus, grape tomatoes, red peppers, orange peppers, yellow peppers, black olives, snow peas, red-skin potatoes

chicken bites

Granny Smith apples

bread, pretzels

I hope you enjoy a fondue party as much as we did! I can’t wait to do it again soon!

Cheers xo,

Lydia

banana pudding recipe with meringue
My Favorite Banana Pudding Recipe
banana pudding recipe with meringue

Banana Pudding has always been a staple at southern gatherings, and so I grew up seeing it served on holiday dessert tables. I have to admit, as a child, I was never a big banana pudding fan. And then, I discovered the old-fashioned way of making pudding from scratch, thanks to Southern Living magazine. I have been using this recipe from the Southern Living Annual Recipes Cookbook for the year 2000 (page 334) for 20 years now. I tried to find it online to link to it, but this Southern Living Banana Pudding recipe is as close as I could find. I only make the one written below.

This recipe is basically homemade vanilla pudding with layers of bananas and Nilla wafer cookies- and then topped with a fluffy meringue. It is a recipe with simple ingredients that combine to create a rich and flavorful dessert that keeps everyone going back for seconds (and asking for the recipe!).

Banana Pudding has become a tradition for our family on New Year’s Day. It is a perfect ending to a southern -style meal that we look forward to each January 1st. Luckily, this dessert works for any time of the year, and so keep it handy by Pinning it! It’s a delicious indulgence, and I hope you enjoy every bite!

To make this homemade, homestyle, old-fashioned, made-from-scratch banana pudding recipe, you will only need 9 ingredients. Follow along below for step by step instructions…

banana pudding recipe with meringue

My Favorite Banana Pudding Recipe

Ingredients
  

  • 6 large ripe bananas
  • 1 12 oz. box of Nilla Wafers
  • cup sugar
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 14 oz. can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 ½ cups milk
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Meringue Topping

  • This is when you will use the egg whites
  • cup sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract

Instructions
 

How to Make Banana Pudding

  • Mix flour, 2/3 cup of sugar, and pinch of salt in a bowl.
  • In a medium sized pot, whisk egg yolks and both types of milks.
  • Add the flour mixture to the milk mixture and whisk constantly over low-medium heat. Whisk mixture for about 15 minutes until the pudding is smooth and thickened.
  • Remove from heat and stir in 2 teaspoons of vanilla.

How to Assemble Banana Pudding

  • Place 1/3 of Nilla wafers in the bottom of a 3-quart baking dish. Slice 2 bananas over the wafers and then add a layer of pudding. Repeat layering 2 sliced bananas and pudding two times. I also add Nilla wafers around sides and edges as the banana pudding gets taller in the dish. Simply push the wafers down into the mixture along the edges.
  • Next, prepare the meringue…
  • Beat egg whites at high speed with an electric mixer until they are foamy.
  • Using a tablespoon at a time, add the 1/3 cup of sugar to the egg whites and continue beating until stiff peaks appear and the sugar dissolves.
  • Mix in vanilla extract and then spread meringue mixture over top of pudding. Seal to the edges of the dish.
  • Bake at 325 degrees (F) until top is golden brown (about 20-25 mins.)
  • Let pudding set and cool. Place in refrigerator until ready to serve.
  • This banana pudding recipe yields 8-10 servings.

Here is a quick video I made on IGTV

I am grateful for my southern roots and for having Southern Living as a guide to so many delicious recipes. If you prefer a boxed pudding version, you can substitute boxed vanilla pudding for the homemade vanilla pudding- but I really think the homemade pudding is what makes this recipe shine!

For more banana-inspired posts, visit these fun ideas from The Party Wagon…

Gigantic Banana Split

Curious George at the Drive-In Party

Thanks for being here!

Cheers,

Lydia xo

tailgate with plaid tablecloth hydrangeas in a retro plaid cooler and cheese tray
Tailgate Food Ideas
tailgate with plaid tablecloth hydrangeas in a retro plaid cooler and cheese tray

Football Season has always been synonymous with Fall at my house. Growing up, my mom and dad took us to college football games every Saturday. My dad played football in high school and received a football scholarship to Auburn University…and so I grew up knowing and loving football! We had season tickets which basically equated to a load of my childhood memories created with my parents, sister, and family friends. SEC Football is full of excitement- from making the drive to the game and passing all of the other fans on the way…we’d shake our orange and blue shakers at them…friendly car horns would say hello…and lots of exchanges of “War Eagle” and “Go Tigers”. Now, as an adult and a mom, I am amazed that my mother packed up a tailgate spread each Fall Saturday and loaded us in the car for the hour and a half trip. I am going to share some of the tips and recipes that I’ve learned from my mom along with ideas from some of my favorite blogging friends– with hopes it helps you plan your tailgate parties that you host at home or at the games!

  1. GRAZING BOARDS
large cheese board with fruit and crackers

My mom always had crackers and cheese to stave off any overly-hungry kids (or adults). The typical crackers and cheese dish from my childhood has definitely grown with more options available in our grocery stores. Cheese boards and grazing boards (also known as charcuterie boards) have become all the rage for good reason. You can stack a platter full of delicious options and feed a crowd for what feels like days. After you decide on a variety of cheese and crackers, add in fruits, vegetables, and even deli meats. Group larger, like foods together to start and then add smaller items to fill in where needed. This makes for a pretty presentation and an easy way to see what you may want to replenish (if you have extra).

My mom also always had dips for us eat- you can add them to the cheese board or let them stand out on their own. Below, I am showing you one of my favorite recipes from my friend at Bird’s Party

2. FOOTBALL CHEESE DIP (click for recipe)

football shaped cheese dip on wooden board with crackers pretzels and vegetables

For game days, my mom kept it simple by adding in our favorite chips or salty snacks. Sometimes she would combine them to make a party mix, which is always a hit. Snack mixes or party mixes make great tailgate food ideas because you end up with a big batch to feed a crowd- and there is something for everyone in the mixes! Below, I am adding one of my favorite tailgate snack mixes from my blogging friend at An Affair from the Heart...I think I like this one a little extra because it has my childhood favorite~ Bugles! Did anyone else love Bugles?

3. TOUCHDOWN SNACK MIX (click for recipe)

snack mix for parties with bugles goldfish chex cereal

And, this next recipe reminds me so much of my childhood. I just bought a bag of these crackers to make this and it made me reminisce a little. I used to love it when my mom made these- and they are very simple!

4. RANCH AND DILL OYSTER CRACKERS (click for recipe)

oyster crackers with dried ranch dressing and dill

Another part of my mom’s tailgate formula for success was to have sandwiches cut in half and placed on a platter. She often rotated between pimento cheese sandwiches and cream cheese and pineapple sandwiches. That second combo was such an odd one to me when I was a kid (it still seems a little different to me as an adult), but I loved it. I have always wondered if that was more common than I realize! Now, sliders are a popular choice and they are simple to make, too! Below, I am sharing my friend Courtney’s (Pizzazzerie) recipe for chicken sliders…

5. CHICKEN SLIDERS . (click for recipe)

tailgate-food-ideas-sliders-pizzazzerie

If you like to offer traditional tailgate fare with a twist, check out this brat recipe from Cheese Curd in Paradise, another food blogging friend…

6. WISCONSIN BEER BRATS (click for recipe)

wisconsin beer brats

For those of you who like to add a veggie sandwich option to your menu should try out this Po’ Boy from my friend, Molly, at Easy Cooking with Molly.

7. VEGGIE PO’ BOY (click for recipe)

veggie po boy sandwich

Side salads were also always on the menu for a tailgate when I was growing up. It differed depending on my mom’s choice of the week, but I mostly remember red potato salad being a go-to . My favorite side salad to make for my family is Chick Pea Salad. Everyone seems to like it, and it is healthy and fresh. I make this recipe for lots of occasions -it’s a great one for summer get-togethers, too.

8. CHICKPEA SALAD WITH MOZZARELLA BALLS (recipe below)

overhead view of individual servings of chick pea salad with tomatoes cucumbers black olives and cheese
overhead view of individual servings of chick pea salad with tomatoes cucumbers black olives and cheese

Chickpea Salad Recipe

Lydia Menzies

Ingredients
  

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 15. oz cans of chickpeas rinsed and drained
  • 2 small cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and chopped
  • 1 can small black olives, rinsed and drained
  • 1 pkg. grape tomatoes, sliced into halves
  • 1 small package of mini mozzarella balls, gently separated
  • ¼ cup chopped, fresh parsley
  • ½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese for topping/garnish
  • fresh ground pepper for garnish

Instructions
 

  • Whisk together oil, vinegar, and salt in large bowl.
  • Combine chickpeas and next five ingredients in the large bowl.
  • Toss ingredients with oil mixture in the bowl.
  • When ready to serve, garnish with freshly ground pepper and shredded Parmesan cheese.
  • You can serve in one large bowl or serve individually in small cups or bowls.
  • Serves 6-8.

If you would like to serve a Chickpea Salad with more fall flavors and colors, try this one by my blogging friend, Gloria, at Homemade and Yummy…

9. CHICKPEA SALAD WITH APPLES AND PUMPKIN SEEDS (click for recipe)

chickpea salad with apples and pumpkin seeds

Now that we have ideas for the bulk of the tailgate food, we can talk about dessert and drink ideas…

Sweets such as brownies, or other easy to slice desserts, are always a great choice. They may seem over-used, but you can dress up brownies in cute ways if you want…see these football shaped brownies by Bird’s Party…

10. FOOTBALL BROWNIES (click for recipe)

brownies shaped like footballs with white icing for the seams

Or, you can do like I did here and bake chocolate chip brownies or muffins from a mix (I use Ghirardelli) and add a cupcake topper…

11. CHOCOLATE CHIP MUFFINS OR BROWNIES

chocolate chip brownie muffins with powdered sugar on top and a football cupcake topper

For drinks, I like to make a signature cocktail for those that enjoy a specialty drink. Making a drink to go along with the team colors adds to the spirit of the day. Here I made a red and black cocktail for Bulldawg Illustrated and The Southern Coterie…

12. TEAM SPIRIT COCKTAIL

signature cocktail for the university of georgia

If you prefer to stick with beer, Bird makes a mean FRUITY Beer Cocktail for something different…

13. FRUITY BEER COCKTAIL (click for recipe)

fruity beer cocktail with football coaster diy

For non-alcoholic drinks, I like to have a stock of water- flat water, sparkling water, and also a selection of BODYARMOR. My daughter got us hooked on BODYARMOR for flavored water – and we had a chance to sample several flavors when BODYARMOR asked if they could send us a variety of their drinks. I am especially happy with the natural ingredients of the products- along with the electrolytes when needed. Some of those college football games in the south get really hot and active- even for the spectators! Lol Load up a cooler or display the drinks in a spirited way and keep everyone properly hydrated!

14. BODYARMOR (click for flavor choices)

football player holding helmet full of bodyarmor sports drinks

Luckily, we live within walking distance of some of the best match-ups of SEC games. We get to enjoy the excitement of game days and the tailgate food that is part of the tradition. Some people love football simply for the tailgate, and so it is fun to provide a pre-game meal that feeds a hungry crowd. I hope you use these recipes at your tailgate parties and beyond. And, if you would like more football party inspiration, click on these football birthday party ideas, football tailgate birthday party ideas, and pee wee football party ideas.

Thanks for reading and enjoy your game days and parties!

Cheers xo,

Lydia

Disclaimer: I received BodyArmor drinks to review but the opinions and words are all my own. I actually agreed to try more flavors of BODYARMOR because it was already a staple in our home, and I knew we liked it! For us, it is our favorite choice of hydrating drinks.

skull cookies with bright colors and flowers painted on them for day of the dead
Day of the Dead Cake and Cookies by “For Heaven Bakes”

Today, I am bringing back one of my favorite cake and cookie designers to help teach us all a little more about creating show-stopping desserts! I asked my friend, Julie, of For Heaven Bakes, to share tips that we regular folks could use to up our decorating game.

Skull cookie being painted with paint brush with bright colors and flowers
Cookie and Tutorial by Julie of For Heaven Bakes/ Photo by Abby Murphy Photos

Julie created a jaw dropping (LOL) dessert and she is going to tell you all about it! Read on to hear from Julie…and to see how she created the cookies to complement this cake (insert that jaw drop here)…

Lady in purple holding Day of the Dead Skull cake
Cake by Julie McAllister of For Heaven Bakes/ Photo by Abby Murphy

Julie says…

For Halloween this year, I wanted to do a cake that was fun and colorful, and not just limiting the colors to the traditional orange and black. A Day of the Dead-themed party cake and cookies were perfect for this!

Day of the Dead Skull Cake with flowers
Cake by Julie McAllister of For Heaven Bakes/ Photo by Abby Murphy

The skull was sculpted from 5 cake layers (yes, he’s entirely edible!) and vanilla buttercream, then covered in fondant and topped with gum paste flowers. The skull design was entirely hand-painted, which took more than 3 hours to paint the whole head.

side view of day of dead skull cake handpainted with bright colors
Cake by Julie McAllister of For Heaven Bakes/ Photo by Abby Murphy

To make the party dessert setup complete, I wanted to add some fun cookies—these mini Day of the Dead skulls were the perfect complement to the cake!

hand painted skull cookies for day of the dead
Cookies by Julie of For Heaven Bakes/ Photo by Abby Murphy

My goal was to show a couple of different ways to decorate Day of the Dead cookies that a baker of any skill level could use as inspiration. Both designs use a combination of royal icing and fondant, and the general steps are outlined below. 

skull cookies with bright colors and flowers painted on them for day of the dead
Cookies by Julie of For Heaven Bakes/ Photo by Abby Murphy
cookie artist painting day of the dead skull cookies with brush

How to Hand-Paint Skull Cookies

Ingredients
  

  • Skull-shaped sugar cookies, baked and cooled
  • Skull-shaped cookie cutter (same that you used for the cookies)
  • small liner and wide paint brushes (I like Wilton's cake brush sets)
  • corn syrup
  • assortment of gel food clothing (I used sky blue, mint green, rose pink, orange, and black)
  • 1-2 tsp vodka

Instructions
 

  • Roll out your homemade or pre-made fondant until it’s about 1/8″ thick.
  • Using your skull-shaped cookie cutter, cut out as many skulls as you have cookies. (Optional: If your cutter is also a cookie stamp, stamp the design into the fondant after it’s cutout.)
  • Using your wide paint brush, lightly brush a small amount of corn syrup onto the cookie, then place the cutout fondant skull onto the cookie. Using your fingers, smooth out any bumps.
  • Place 1-2 drops of each gel food coloring you’re using into separate small ramekins (or a ceramic egg holder works great for this!), then add 1 drop of vodka to each color. Wait a few seconds, then mix together with a paint brush. Do this for every color (the vodka allows the food coloring to dry quickly). 
  • Time to start decorating! I find it’s easiest to paint your “anchors” first, which are the eyes, nose and mouth. The great thing about Day of the Dead designs are that they are very unique and personal, and there are no wrong options! Using your different colors, try painting different swirls, flowers and dots all around the face until you’re happy with your design.
  • Set cookies on a cooling rack to dry. Enjoy! 🙂
baker pressing skull cookie cutter into white fondant
Photo by Abby Murphy
day-of-the-dead-skull-cookie-fondant-corn-syrup
Photo by Abby Murphy
baker smoothing white fondant on top of skull cookie
Photo by Abby Murphy
cookie artist painting day of the dead skull cookies with brush
Cookie by Julie of For Heaven Bakes/ Photo by Abby Murphy
Cookie by Julie of For Heaven Bakes/ Photo by Abby Murphy
day-of-the-dead-skull-cookies-with royal icing being decorated

How to Decorate Skull Cookies Using Fondant

Ingredients
  

  • Skull-shaped sugar cookies, baked and cooled
  • Royal icing
  • Homemade or pre-made fondant
  • Assortment of gel food coloring (I used sky blue, mint green, rose pink, orange and black)
  • 1-2 tsp vodka
  • Small liner paint brushes (I like Wilton’s cake brush sets)
  • Any standard piping tip (you’ll be using the wide base and not the tip itself)
  • Small heart cookie cutter
  • Small rectangle cookie cutter
  • Assortment of flower fondant stamps
  • X-acto knife

Instructions
 

  • Outline your skull cookies with royal icing and allow to dry. Once set, flood your royal icing and fill each outline. Allow at least 5 hours to fully dry, but I find it works best to let dry overnight. 
  • Using your various food coloring, color a small amount of fondant for each different color.
  • Roll out your homemade or pre-made fondant until it’s about 1/8″ thick.
  • As with the first design, I find it’s easiest to start with your “anchors” first, which are the eyes, nose and mouth. And as I mentioned above, the great thing about Day of the Dead designs are that they are very unique and personal, and there are no wrong options!
  • For the eyes, use the base of your piping tip to cutout two circles (I used black for this).
  • Using a different color, cutout two flowers, using one of your flower stamps. Using your paint brush, add a small dab of royal icing to the back of each flower and then adhere to the cutout circles. Set aside to dry and firm up. Do two of these for every skull cookie you have.
  • Using your small heart cookie cutter, cutout a “nose” for each cookie. Set aside to dry and firm up.
  • Using the rest of your colored fondant and flower stamps, continue to cutout various flowers in different sizes and colors. Set aside to dry and firm up.
  • Once all of your fondant toppers are firm, adhere to each cookie by placing a small dab of royal icing on your paint brush and then placing onto each cookie. 
  • Set cookies aside on a cooling rack so royal icing can fully dry. Enjoy! 🙂
day-of-the-dead-skull-cookies-fondant-only
Cookies by Julie of For Heaven Bakes/ Photo by Abby Murphy
day-of-the-dead-skull-cookies-with royal icing being decorated
Cookies by Julie of For Heaven Bakes/ Photo by Abby Murphy
cookie decorator adding nost to skull cookie for day of the dead
Cookies by Julie of For Heaven Bakes/ Photo by Abby Murphy
cake stand with day of dead skull cookies in two different styles
Cookies by Julie of For Heaven Bakes/ Photo by Abby Murphy

Julie! Thank you for teaching us your techniques for decorating skull cookies for Day of the Dead. These are incredible! Okay, Friends, it is time for us to have a go. Which ones would you try to make first? I think I would go with the fondant covered cookies while I learn how to make and flood royal icing. I am guessing all of it would be a huge hit. And, I am still amazed by that cake!! Julie- you have so much talent!! You can see more of Julie’s talent here (you really should go see what she makes!).

3 photos combined to show baker holding day of dead skull cake
Julie McAllister/For Heaven Bakes/ Photo by Abby Murphy


ice cream sandwiches dressed up for halloween with candy eyes and witch hats
8 of My Favorite Halloween Food Ideas

Fun or spooky? Cute or creepy? Which is your favorite way to celebrate Halloween? These Halloween food ideas fit more in the fun and cute camp and they were so much fun to create! One of my favorite ways to decorate food for Halloween is by using candy eyes…the eyes make everything more fun. Take a look at the following treats that I made for my own kids and let me know what you think! I have more eye-deas than I can put on one page, but let’s just say that candy eyes bring out all the fun ways to play on words!

  1. Halloween Ice Cream Sand-witches (and Mummies and Monsters)
ice cream sandwiches dressed up for halloween with candy eyes and witch hats
Halloween Ice Cream Sandwiches by Lydia Menzies at The Party Wagon

These are about as easy as it gets to make! To make the “Mummy” simply tear a piece of the wrapper from around the ice cream sandwich to allow a place to add the candy eyes. Use a drop of frosting or peanut butter to attach the eyes to the ice cream sandwich. To make the “Frankenstein” monster, break a mint-flavored ice cream sandwich in half and add the candy eyes with frosting or peanut butter. And, for the witch…simply add candy eyes in the middle of the ice cream sandwich and then add a witch hat by inserting a toothpick in the top of the ice cream and then adding the hat. You can find witch hats (at my affiliate link) on Amazon here.

Halloween ice cream sandwiches decorated to look like mummy witch and frankenstein
Halloween Ice Cream Sandwiches by Lydia Menzies at The Party Wagon

2. EYE SCream Sandwich Ghosts

Ice Cream Sandwiches with candy eyes in the ice cream to look like ghosts
Halloween Ghost Ice Cream Sandwiches by Lydia Menzies of The Party Wagon

For these Ice Cream Sandwich Ghosts, I used Fat Boy ice cream sandwiches because there is more ice cream in the middle than the average ice cream sandwich. This makes it easier to make the eyes peep out from the ice cream. To make the eyes stick, add them to the slightly softened ice cream and then put them back in the freezer immediately.

ice cream sandwich ghosts with candy eyes peeping out from the ice cream
Ice Cream Sandwich Ghosts with Candy Eyes by Lydia Menzies of The Party Wagon

3. Halloween Brownie Tr(EYE)-fle

Halloween brownie trifle with whipped cream and eyeball gumballs
Brownie Tr(EYE)-fle by Lydia Menzies of The Party Wagon

For this brownie trifle, I put ping pong balls with eyes in the very bottom of the trifle dish and added battery-operated lights to make it all glow. Next, I placed a few layers of plastic wrap over the balls and lights and then started adding the brownies. I layered chocolate pudding, Cool Whip, and crushed Oreos and then repeated the brownies, pudding, Cool Whip and Oreos. For the top layer, I added gum balls that were eyeballs (typically available at Halloween) and I even sprinkled in a few small, candy eyes. I can’t even tell you how fast this disappeared!

Brownie Trifle with gumball eyeballs on the top
Brownie Trifle by Lydia Menzies at The Party Wagon

4. Individual Brownie Tr(EYE)-fles

Individual servings of brownie trifles with candy eyes and gold spoons
Mini Brownie Trifles Tr(EYE)fles by Lydia Menzies of The Party Wagon

Same eye-dea, just served individually in small jars or cups. For this brownie trifle, I used jumbo candy eyes for the topper and simply layered brownies, chocolate pudding, and Cool Whip inside the jars. You can definitely add a spoonful of crushed Oreos if you like! These are a huge hit in a small package!

5. L(EYE)ME- ADE

Limeade in glass bottles with straws and eyeball ping pong balls
Limeade served with EYES by Lydia Menzies of The Party Wagon. Straws and Straw Flags by Loralee Lewis

This one is pretty self-explanatory, but here I served Simply Limeade in glass bottles and added a straw and straw flag from Loralee Lewis. I topped the bottles with eyeball ping pong balls that I found at Michael’s. The ball rested perfectly against the straw and didn’t roll off or fall down into the bottle- it made a very fun presentation!

L(EYE)me-ade by Lydia Menzies of The Party Wagon

And then here is another version of how I have served Limeade to be L(EYE)m-ade…I actually really love this one because the kids like wearing the eyeball rings…

Halloween drinks served in glass bottles with spooky eye rings and halloween straws
Limeade aka L(EYE)me-ade by Lydia Menzies of The Party Wagon

6. EYES-cubes ~ (Ice Cubes) for Eyes Tea

Ice cubes made with eyeball ping pong balls
Eyes-cubes made by Lydia Menzies at The Party Wagon

For this fun idea, I used silicone cupcake molds to make ice cubes and added an eyeball ping pong ball on top. The balls did not freeze into the ice, but made a divot in the ice so that the ball could stay on top of it. I floated these ice cubes in a punch bowl of sweet tea to serve EYES TEA (iced tea).

Iced Tea in a punch bowl with floating eyeball ice cubes
Iced Tea Punch/ EYES TEA with EYES CUBES by Lydia Menzies at The Party Wagon

7. WITCH WARTS

small glass jars filled with green candies and candy eyes topped with a witch hat and mini broom
Witch Warts Party Favors by Lydia Menzies at The Party Wagon

Candy eyes give this “Witch Warts” party favor extra personality! To make this gift for your party guests or friends, use a small, clear plastic jar and fill with your favorite green candy. I used green sprinkles. Slide candy eyes into the jar so that they are facing out. Put the jar top on and add a mini witch hat- secure the hat with glue dots or double-sided tape. I wrapped a green ribbon around the outside of the jar top and tied a bow. Add a mini broom stick to finish off the look of the witch! This gift is sure to get a smile!

Witch wart party favor green candy in clear jar with mini witch hat and mini broom
Witch Warts Party Favors by Lydia Menzies at The Party Wagon

8. EYE-SCREAM BATH BOMBS

Display of halloween bath bombs with candy eyes inside of ice cream cones
EYE-Scream Bath Bombs by Sun Basil Soaps- styled by Lydia at The Party Wagon

Although this is not edible, I couldn’t help but share it with you guys! These bath bombs are bomb, as you can see. Here is another party favor idea for you for a fun Halloween take away! My friend, Lauren, at Sun Basil Soap made these for us, and I displayed them in ice cream cones and candy cups to make them look like ice cream to go along with the eye-scream theme. They were so cute and unique. Candy eyes really do make everything a little more fun!

Display of monster mash candy eye bath bombs displayed in ice cream cones
Eye-Scream Bath Bombs by Sun Basil Soaps and styled by Lydia Menzies at The Party Wagon

I hope these eye-deas jumpstart your creative juices for Halloween! The eyes definitely have it when it comes to a fun and not-so spooky Halloween. Here’s to making, baking, and celebrating!! Enjoy!

Cheers xo,

Lydia

charcuterie board with cheese meat and fruit on boat with wine and flowers
Nantucket Charter Boat Harbor Cruise with Shearwater Excursions

There is something special about being on a boat in the water, but add some of your family and friends, and it turns into an extra-special time together! I was so happy to have the chance to sail the Nantucket Harbor on the cutest boat called the Minke. Minke is owned by the Perkins Family of Shearwater Excursions. This easy-going boat party turned out to be such a collaborative effort, and I can’t wait to show you what was created for the fun cruise around the harbor!

The first thing I noticed about the Minke was its red and white stripe top- she is a beautiful boat that is perfect for a small group or a big celebration! I was thrilled to work with Rachael of Shearwater Excursions to arrange a beautiful night on the water in Nantucket Harbor. Our family friends, Lance, David and Thomas, joined us on the sunset cruise. Our cruise was scheduled for an hour and a half, and it started at 6:00 p.m. Knowing that we would all be hungry, Lance and I set out to find appetizers that would be perfect to serve on a boat. We decided on a charcuterie board so that it would cater to a variety of tastes with different cheeses, meats, fruits, veggies, breads, and crackers.

charcuterie board with cheese meat and fruit on boat with wine and flowers

The boat is named Minke after the owners’ favorite whale that they see on their trips with their company, Shearwater Excursions.

orange life preserver with minke printed on it in black

Because Nantucket history centers on whaling and because of the name of the boat, I really wanted to make the charcuterie appetizer in the shape of a whale.

charcuterie board with food in shape of a whale outlined with blueberries

To make the whale shape, I first outlined a whale shape on a piece of paper and cut out the shape. Next, I placed the paper shape on a wooden cutting board (or you can use a platter of your choice). I put cream cheese in a Ziploc bag and let it soften a little bit. When the cream cheese is soft enough to squeeze from the bag, snip a small hole in a bottom corner of the bag. Squeeze the cream cheese from the bag as you would frosting from a frosting bag. Outline the whale shape around the paper and then remove the paper from the board before adding the food to the whale shape. Next, Lance and I used blueberries to define the shape of the whale by placing them in the cream cheese. We ended up with two rows of blueberries around the entire whale shape. The next step was to fill in the whale shape with crackers, cheese, sliced meat, fruits, and vegetables. Lance is really great at making charcuterie boards, and he says the trick is to group like items together. Make it visually appealing by stacking the items in interesting ways. Lance worked his magic on placing everything just so. We added fresh herbs to different places around the board- and we used 2 small bowls to mimic the eye and the spout.

Cheese board charcuterie with nantucket basket full of pink blue green and purple hydrangeas with red and white striped fork

I placed a customized wooden fork in the center of the tray for easy pick up and had several others on hand, when needed. The forks were made by When I Was Your Age on Etsy and were purchased in town at the shop named ACK 4170 (those letters and numbers represent the airport call letters and longitude/latitude of Nantucket.) The cups, straws, and plates were also from the same talented ladies- the plates were boat shaped trays and they all had the pattern with red and white stripes. And, the flowers were straight from the yard! David so kindly cut and arranged the hydrangeas. The different colors of the blooms are so gorgeous- I love them mixed in the same arrangement.

pink blue purple limelight hydrangeas in nantucket basket ice bucket
Nantucket Basket Ice Bucket from Maizie Clarke Designs

I can’t tell you how much I love the Nantucket Basket ice bucket that Maizie Clarke sent me while I was on Nantucket. It is so beautifully hand painted and mimics the weave of a basket so perfectly. The ice bucket is made of porcelain with a woven handle. The top is also a perfect match to a Nantucket Basket. It is so well done by Maizie! We debated on using it for ice or fruit, but, as you can see, we used it as a vase to hold the beautiful hydrangeas. I will link you to the ice bucket here so that you can have one, too (also-the last time I looked, it was on sale!)!! Before we climbed aboard the Minke, I snapped a few photos of the flowers and bucket on the Straight Wharf dock…

white cake with daisies on vintage pink porcelain cake stand with hydrangeas in nantucket basket and with bar towel

And, that fantastic bar towel is also by Maizie Clarke! Maizie hand-draws each piece of art and then creates beautiful items for your home. I really love being able to use these towels in our kitchen, and I am so grateful to Maizie for such a thoughtful gift. I will enjoy these for years to come!

Cake with fondant daisies on pink cake stand with nantucket basket dish towel and ice bucket with hydrangeas
Nantucket Basket Dishtowel/ Bar Towel by Maizie Clarke

And, I am really loving the cake stand that Lance picked up at the Hospital Thrift Shop (all proceeds go to the Nantucket Cottage Hospital) on Nantucket. I learned the hard way that if you see something that you like, you better grab it quickly! I am glad that Lance snagged this beautiful pink, blue, white, and gold piece as his souvenir from his trip. I may have to ask to borrow it sometime! 🙂

underside of a Vintage cake stand in bright pink and white with designs in blue and gold

The gorgeous cake is from 45 Surfside Bakery and Cafe on Nantucket…they were so kind to create a cake with daisies to mimic another island favorite. Daisies grow wild around the island- I have always loved them lining the bike paths- and so we had a beautifully decorated white cake with fondant daisies and more blueberries!

party-ideas-nantucket-harbor-cruise-daisy-blueberry-cake

After Captain John invited us all onto the boat, he set sail around the Nantucket Harbor and gave us a narrated tour of the different landmarks and boats. It was so fun to hear his stories and interesting facts- he was a great host and captain!

Captain John on the Minke boat in Nantucket Harbor

To go with our cheese/ charcuterie board, we brought along some Prosecco, juices, and waters. We were treated to these fabulous MINKE acrylic wine tumblers from The Preppy Stitch!

Bottle of Prosecco with three acrylic wine tumblers customized with Minke and Nantucket Island

The Preppy Stitch is owned by Gabrielle Rogers- she and I met at The Southern C Summit in Sea Island this past February. It was so surprising to find that we had a Nantucket connection! I was thrilled to get to see Gabrielle while we were both on the island- and so excited to know that Gabi could whip up these customized glasses for us just for our harbor cruise! I love how they turned out with the shape of the island and the name of the boat! We gifted a set to the Minke, so be sure to look for them if you charter a cruise on this adorable boat!

Bottle of Prosecco with acrylic wine glass in front of man with Nantucket Reds

Lance and David enjoying a little wine and charcuterie while Captain John guides us around the Harbor…

two men on a boat one pouring wine into a glass

The views from the boat are so beautiful – it is fun to be up-close to the yachts and sailboats that are docked and moored in the Nantucket Harbor. It is also so relaxing and calming to just enjoy the breeze along with friends, family, and food!

red and white nantucket sailboat without sails

We chose the Sunset Cruise for our adventure around the harbor, but Shearwater Excursions has many options to suit different interests.

Nantucket sunset cruise aboard the Minke boat with red and white striped top
sunset in nantucket harbor with sailboat in photo
man on boat with sunglasses and navy blue shirt smiling and holding stemless wineglass
red cooler with shearwater excursions logo in the corner and the name of the boat Minke written in black ink
Photo by Lance Jackson of Parker Kennedy Living
Family with husband wife daughter son on Nantucket harbor cruise aboard Minke boat
Necklace by Cara Brown Designs
American flag on front of boat with sunset behind it

When you book with Shearwater, you can choose from a variety of options to help you see and experience Nantucket from the water.

Nantucket Harbor Cruise Options

  1. For the younger crew…I would suggest the ice cream cruise or the children’s fishing cruise. For the ice cream cruise, Shearwater provides the ice cream and offers a narrated tour of the Nantucket Harbor. My daughter has already said that is the one she wants to do next year. 🙂 . Such a perfect way to let the kids enjoy a fun boating trip! The cruise lasts 1 1/2 hours.
  2. If you are interested in seeing whales, Shearwater Excursions offers a Whale Watching trip- it is a 6-hour-excursion with the most breathtaking sightings (the whale sightings are guaranteed)!
  3. A Seal Excursion is another fabulous option- it is also an eco-tour and so you learn so much about the ecos of Nantucket. You see many, many seals on this tour.
  4. A Sunset Cruise is probably my absolute favorite- sunsets are always special- and they are made more special by being on the water with Shearwater’s Minke.
  5. The Cocktail Cruise is quite popular- many celebrations are hosted on this cruise with Shearwater. What a fun way to toast a bride-to-be, a birthday honoree, an anniversary, a new job, or other exciting milestone. All passengers must be 21 or older on this cruise.
  6. Shearwater also offers a clamming trip- learn something new or go dig for dinner! This sounds like an adventurous trip- I would love to give it a try!
  7. For you history buffs, take the Whaling History Excursion and learn about Nantucket’s robust whaling days. I am always fascinated by the courage of these captains and sailors who struck out to find whales in so much unchartered territory.
  8. You can also explore up the Harbor with Shearwater Excursions- they offer an eco-tour and they teach about the ecosystems around the island and how best to protect and preserve them.
  9. Private Charters are a really fun option for a Nantucket Harbor Cruise- these adventures are wonderful for family reunions, college reunions, wedding parties, birthday parties, anniversary parties, corporate parties, and more. You can work with Rachael to plan what you would like to host for your private charter. This one has an endless amount of options!

Shearwater has been recognized by Yankee Magazine and the New York Times for the services they provide their customers. I can tell you from experience, they are a wonderful family company with a heart for maintaining a healthy home for sealife while helping visitors to the island enjoy and appreciate the beautiful place we find so appealing and charming.

a black bottle of prosecco with a monogrammed wine glass on a sunset cruise aboard the Minke

Cheers to the Perkins Family for offering so many wonderful ways to enjoy Nantucket- and for treating us to such a wonderful night on the Minke! I love making memories that are special and unique with each trip! Thank you!

You can read more about our Nantucket adventures here, here, here, and here. Enjoy!

Cheers and XO,

Lydia

watermelon pizza sliced in a circle and cut into triangles topped with berries and feta cheese
15 Best Watermelon Recipes and Party Ideas

Summer is always a little sweeter with watermelon! As we savor all that summer has to offer (right down to the last little bit the season), it is always a great idea to take advantage of this seasonal fruit. I am sharing some of my all-time favorite watermelon recipes and party ideas that put watermelon center-stage! You can find even more recipe ideas here!

  1. Watermelon Pizza – this is one of my very favorites that I love to make for my family. It is also great to serve at a barbecue, cookout, or any type of group gathering. There are lots of versions, but here is the one that I make most often…
watermelon pizza sliced in a circle and cut into triangles topped with berries and feta cheese

Directions for making it are easy! Simply buy a round watermelon and slice it so that you have a circle shape. Cut the circle in fourths and then cut each fourth in half to make eight pieces. Add blueberries, chopped strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and cherries. Sprinkle crumbled Feta cheese over the top, if desired. You can also use a dollop of whipped cream if you would like- this will also hold the toppings in place better. Kids usually like whipped cream and adults usually like the cheese. You can also add your favorite herbs- such as basil or mint to give the recipe an extra dash of flavor!

Watermelon pizza with one slice being picked up

2. Fresh Watermelon Cake by Sprinklebakes

fresh watermelon cake with white frosting and watermelon balls and herbs on top

Oh, my goodness! This is such an interesting way to make a cake! I love that you can also frost it with whipped cream if you prefer- and I love that it definitely has a surprise inside than your typical cake. You can find the instructions over at Sprinklebakes.

slice of fresh watermelon cake with fork stuck in the watermelon

3. Mini Watermelon Cake from Pizzazzerie

watermelon cake in mini mason jars with pink icing and chocolate chips for seeds tied with raffia ribbon

If you would rather have cake that looks like watermelon instead of watermelon that looks like cake, you should try this mini watermelon cake in a jar from Pizzazzerie! The single-sized serving makes this recipe a great one for a party- and you can make it ahead of time and keep in the refrigerator!

mini watermelon cake in mason jar with layers of green cake and pink frosting with chocolate chips for seeds

4. Watermelon Sherbet Pie from Make and Takes

slice of watermelon sherbet pie with chocolate chips for seeds

This pie is cute and refreshing! It looks best when sliced and served because you can see the watermelon details even better. This is simple to make with easy instructions at Make and Takes.

5. Watermelon Cake from Cake Central

This cake from Lovemyhusband on Cake Central looks like the real thing until you slice into it and see the fluffy cake with chocolate seeds. This is fun inspiration if you are feeling creative! You can add watermelon flavoring it you want to be as close to the real thing as possible!

6. Cute Watermelon Party and Cookies from Sweet Peach Paperie found at The Party Wagon

red green dress cookie with black dots for watermelon seeds

These cookies remind me of a Lilly Pulitzer shift- they are so cute for a kids’ party or even for a summer picnic with all ages. This entire party photoshoot has so many pretty ideas and special touches!

7. Watermelon Ginger Mojitos from Southern Living

This adult-only cocktail is so delicious on a hot summer day! I especially love the extra flavor of ginger! Southern Living totally gets what we need during the dog days of summer. What a perfect party drink!

two glasses of watermelon ginger mojitos with ice and mint garnish
Photographer Antonis Achilleos, Prop Stylist :Kay Clarke, Food Stylist :Torie Cox

8. Watermelon with Potted Plant by Creative Orchard at The Party Wagon

Simply hollow out a watermelon and remove as much pulp as possible (use it to make one of the other recipes on this list) and then drop in a potted plant.

watermelon hollowed out and used as a vase for plant with red flowers

9. DIY Watermelon Balloons- also by The Creative Orchard featured at The Party Wagon

green balloons and red balloons with black seeds drawn on them to look like a bouquet of watermelon balloons

This is one of my favorite ways to add personality to balloons at a picnic or cookout- the seeds are drawn with a Sharpie Marker- so easy! This entire Watermelon Picnic is adorable!!

10. Watermelon Feta Guacamole from Two Peas and Their Pod

guacamole made with watermelon with tortilla chip

I’m a sucker for interesting combinations, and this guacamole lured me right in! It is definitely a twist on the traditional, but I really love the flavors. It is a fun dish to serve friends and family so that everyone can try something new! It has been a hit at our house! I hope you like it, too!!

11. Watermelon Feta Appetizers from Pizzazzerie

watermelon feta and basil on a wooden skewer

If you prefer a similar taste but individual servings, go with this recipe from Courtney at Pizzazzerie. Stack watermelon, feta, and basil and secure with a wooden skewer for serving- and then you are all set with a fabulous appetizer (and it is healthy)!

12. Fabulous Balloon Garland from Happy Wish Company

How stunning is this watermelon colored balloon garland? Such a beautiful decoration with so much wow-factor!

red pink green clear balloons with confetti drape to make a balloon garland

13. Watermelon Jolly Rancher Birthday Cake from Frosted Cakery

watermelon birthday cake with green white and pink and black seeds

If you need a fancy cake for a watermelon theme, this one is especially perfect for the candy lover in your life! With Jolly Rancher candy watermelon slices on top, it is definitely two favorites in one. I love the frosting stacks on top!

14. Watermelon and Arugula Salad from Barefoot Contessa

There is nothing better than the taste combination of arugula and watermelon, topped with shaved parmesan cheese and a fantastic dressing from Ina Garten!

arugula watermelon parmesan cheese salad

15. Watermelon Paper Cups with Gold Foil from Amazon

These pink cups with gold foil “seeds” and a two-toned green rind are my favorite watermelon cups for a party. Don’t you think they are too cute?

pink watermelon cups with gold foil seeds

This watermelon roundup is a fabulous way to find a range of party ideas and recipes to enjoy the oh-so-seasonal treat of a watermelon. If you find yourself wanting more ideas on where to find party goods to complete your look for a watermelon party, see my personal picks below. I included my Amazon affiliate links here to help you shop more quickly and easily!

WATERMELON DRINK UMBRELLAS

WATERMELON PAPER STRAWS

WATERMELON BALLOON SET

WATERMELON BALLOON GARLAND KIT

WATERMELON SLICE PINATA

WATERMELON POOL FLOAT

WATERMELON SPRINKLER BALL

ONE IN A MELON BALLOON SET

Cheers and XO,

Lydia

Recipe for Monster Cookies

Mmmm…peanut butter, M&M’s, chocolate chips, and oats combine to make the richest and most satisfying cookies you have ever had! Monster Cookies get their name from the large size of the cookie and the massive amount of deliciousness in each one! I keep this recipe in strong rotation, and I am always asked if I will share the recipe.

Recipe for Monster Cookies

You can serve a crowd with this recipe and so I often make these monster cookies for potluck gatherings, tailgate parties, summer get-togethers with friends, and as treat to share with teachers or family and friends. The oatmeal and peanut butter make them a hearty sweet treat- they seem almost like a meal in itself! :). I definitely suggest a glass of milk to go with it! These cookies are fully-loaded and so, so good!

Recipe for Monster Cookies

I actually just made these as a “Back to School” treat for my kids- they will be a great pick-me-up to pack in their lunches for school. A special little perk to look forward to and enjoy while they are also trying to get their school groove back in gear. My kids always seem to have a little bit of an adjustment from the summer freedom of eating when you’re hungry to the school year scheduled eating times. My son, especially, eats so much more during the days at home than he can when he’s at school. I am glad this is filling- it will help him get through that first week!

Recipe for Monster Cookies

I love being able to share the recipe for these super-popular cookies! My friend, Heather, introduced me to them so long ago~ and they have been a staple in our house ever since. I hope you enjoy them, too!! Here is a quick photo of the ingredients that we gather before we start (my kids love helping me make these- and now can actually make them all on their own).

Recipe for Monster Cookies

MONSTER COOKIES

Lydia Menzies

Ingredients
  

  • 1 CUP BUTTER (Softened)
  • 3 CUPS PEANUT BUTTER
  • 2 CUPS WHITE SUGAR
  • 1/4 CUP LIGHT KARO SYRUP
  • 4 teaspoons BAKING SODA
  • 1/4 teaspoon SALT
  • 2 teaspoons VANILLA
  • 6 EGGS
  • CREAM ALL INGREDIENTS AND ADD~
  • 8-10 CUPS OATS I suggest Quaker Old Fashioned Oats instead of Quick Oats
  • 12 OZ. CHOCOLATE CHIPS
  • 12 OZ. M &M s

Instructions
 

  • Scoop 1/4 cup for each cookie and drop on cookie sheet.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Depending on your oven, you may need to cook longer. The tops and edges should be golden brown when the cookies are done. Don’t overcook – the cookies will be dry.
  • Enjoy!

Here are a couple of other photos that I took when I served them- I have these small and really great wicker trays from Society Social that I use when I want to serve the kids something and make it a little more special. Anything works- but I also love these trays because they can bring all of the dishes to the sink and dishwasher at once when it is time to clean up! That way, nothing is “accidentally” forgotten when they put away their dishes. 🙂 I used flowers and lots of colors for my daughter and then used red, blue, and yellow for my son. He probably doesn’t notice that I change it for him, because the cookies are all he really cares about! Ha! I can’t blame him!

Recipe for Monster Cookies

You can also see how I used this recipe for a Fourth of July picnic here. It was one of my very first recipes I shared when I started blogging- so beware…it is equal parts funny and cringe -y (as my kids would say) to see the original posts on my blog. I love to see the progress this little blog has made over the years. Lol! Thank you for being here and for helping me grow! I really hope you love what you find here at The Party Wagon!

Recipe for Monster Cookies

Also, these cookies freeze well! If you make more than you need, or if you just want to save some for later…you can freeze these for a few months. Just take out to thaw and then enjoy all over again! Cheers, Friends!

Recipe for Monster Cookies

XO,

Lydia

Easy Mermaid Summer Frose’

A hot summer day is made better with something cool- whether you need this for a mermaid party idea or just a cool treat while you hang out poolside with your friends! There’s nothing quite like combining the flavors of Rose’ wine with Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams sorbet. Of course, it is perfect on its own… but I love to add a little something extra. Garnish it with something fun and summery, and it becomes the easiest treat with very little effort!

Isn’t that so cute and easy? All you need to “make” this Frose’ Fun is

1 Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams Frose’ Sorbet

2. Sprinkles of your choice (I found mine in the baking section at Hobby Lobby). I mixed confetti sprinkles with pink and blue sugar pearls.

3. Sugar Mermaid Tail (optional) – I found these mermaid tails at Hobby Lobby in the baking section.

4. Mini gold spoons- I find the mini spoons at Hobby Lobby, Michael’s Craft Stores, or Party City.

5. Serve on a pretty platter! Prissy Plates sent me this bright and happy platter (as a gift) to use for my summer parties, and I LOVE IT! The bright yellow is a like a dose of sunshine, and the ribbons are inter-changeable. Prissy Plates sent me the pink ribbon with a starfish print on it and also the same print in royal blue! The platter makes summer serving easier and prettier! I also. love how, with a change of ribbon, I can use the yellow into fall and then again for spring. And, one of my very favorite parts about the ribbons is the fact that the bow comes pre-tied for us! All you have to do is weave the long ribbon through the spaces on the platter and then use the ends to secure the bow in place. They make it so user-friendly. You can find this exact serving platter here (plus several other styles and colors)!

So, I have to tell you this is one of the easiest dessert ideas for summer- and the sorbet is sooooo good!! It is a grown-up version of the Cherry Berry ice creams I remember getting at Six Flags Over Georgia when I was a kid! Lol! Those were my favorite treat in the summers- how nice to find one that makes us feel like a kid again while having Jeni’s signature natural flavors and colors.

If you aren’t able to find the mermaid tails, simply use your favorite sprinkles. And, one of my best tips for keeping it frozen in the summer heat… garnish the Frose’ Sorbet ahead of time and place back in the freezer to let it all set.

If you take the sorbet out of the freezer, decorate, and serve right away, it may start to melt on you. It really depends on how many you need to make at one time. If you have several to make, I would suggest making them ahead and putting them back in the freezer! If you’re only making one or two..go for it! It is the best sorbet I have ever had! I hope you love it, too! Here’s to making a splash at your next bash!

For more mermaid and “Under the Sea” party ideas, check out this fabulous party!

Still want more mermaid fun? Go here,

There is also more here,

and here!

xo,

Lydia

Colorful Fun Food

Making food look appetizing is always a goal, but making it beautiful, fun, and interesting adds an extra element of enjoyment! It is actually easy, too! I was so happy to discover fruit powders (I order from Suncore Foods) and to learn more about their superfood status and health benefits. It takes smoothies and parfaits to another level! I have made gorgeous yogurt parfaits for adults and adorable unicorn parfaits for kids- read on to see those and more!

My absolute favorite (so far) is the Pitaya Powder. Pitaya is pink dragon fruit- and so the bright, pink color comes naturally. Pitaya powder is full of vitamin C, protein, fiber, and essential amino fatty acids- along with several of the B vitamins.

For this parfait, I layered Greek yogurt mixed with blueberry fruit powder, plain Greek yogurt, yogurt mixed with hibiscus powder, and then the top is yogurt mixed with pitaya fruit powder. I used 3 different medium sized bowls to mix the yogurt with the 3 different powders. Blueberry was my second favorite choice, and hibiscus was my third favorite. Hibiscus is very tart and so be sure to use a smaller amount. I would suggest starting with 1/4 teaspoon of a fruit powder mixed with 1/4 cup yogurt. Add more or less according to your taste preferences. I always end up adding a little more pitaya. You can see the layers in the photo below…

I also love to garnish desserts with edible rose petals, and I find those at Suncore Foods, too. You can see them scattered here and on top of the parfait beside the blackberry. What you can’t see is the fruit that is in the parfait- but it is there! I love berries and chopped apples in between the layers of yogurt.

Another way to use fruit powder is to make a colorful fruit dip. Here I filled a platter with a rainbow of fruit and added small ramekins filled with fruit dip. The dip is a simple combination of whipping cream and lemon curd- and then I added a 1/4 teaspoon of different fruit powders to make each one have a different flavor…

To make the different flavored dips, I ordered a bundle pack that included 4 choices. I chose Butterfly Pea, Pitaya, Blueberry, and Hibiscus (clockwise from top in the photo above). You can see more of the choices in the photo below…

Easy Lemon Fruit Dip

Lydia Menzies

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • ½ cup lemon curd (you can find in grocery store pre-made or make your own)
  • ¼ tsp fruit powders separated

Instructions
 

  • Pour whipping cream into a bowl (cold, metal bowl works best if you have it).
  • Beat until cream is thickened and then add lemon curd.
  • Whip until soft peaks form.
  • Separate dip into 4 bowls and add desired amount of fruit powder and stir.
  • Refrigerate and serve with your favorite fruits.
lemon fruit dip with platter of berries kiwi oranges starfruit


UNICORN PARFAITS

My third suggestion for how to get creative using food powders is to surprise your favorite littles with a Unicorn Parfait! The parfait part is made in the same way as described at the top of this post. Simply mix your favorite yogurt with 1/4 teaspoon of fruit powder (each flavor in a different bowl). Layer each flavor of the parfait in a small clear glass or bowl so that the colors show, adding blueberries and/or strawberries between each layer.

For a little extra fun, I added a layer of sprinkles between the white and pink layers. The fresh fruit is also in there between the layers of yogurt. The marshmallow unicorn face is easy to make using edible markers and premade sugar flowers found at Michael’s. I used a toothpick dipped in frosting and then rolled in sprinkles to make the unicorn horn. Attach the horn by pushing it into the top of the marshmallow. The ears are snips of marshmallow made by cutting the top of a marshmallow horizontally and then cutting that piece in half. You can use frosting to attach the ears. Simply draw on the eyes, nose, and cheeks using an edible marker.

And then, the easiest part of all is to place the marshmallow unicorn on top of the layers of fruit and yogurt. Serve and watch those eyes light up with excitement!

If you want the unicorns to stand tall, just put the marshmallow on a tall wooden skewer or straw (or a wooden skewer covered with a straw). These are really fun to serve for a special breakfast or birthday treat. I hope you enjoy all of these ideas!

XO,

Lydia

dog themed party idea
Stay Golden Supper Club- Dog Party Ideas

Hi Friends! I get a lot of questions about the Supper Clubs that I host at our home for my teenage daughter and her friends. It is one of my favorite things that we do, and I am happy to share the ideas with you! My daughter and I usually come up with a theme together- and this one came about soon after we adopted our 2 Golden Doodles…

Photo by Lydia Menzies

It was an easy theme to choose and the details were fun to plan! We knew we wanted to use balloon animal dogs in the decorations because it was just too cute and perfect. Camille made all of the balloon dogs for us!

I often have to be careful about using flowers in our home because my son is very allergic to certain ones. I decided to try to make the balloon dogs look like they were running through grass instead of adding the balloon animals to flower arrangements. When I went to Lowe’s to find grass that I could use, it was very expensive…and so I decided to go with potted lettuce instead. I had gold glitter balls that I tucked in the grass to give the effect of the dogs chasing the (golden) balls.

I left the lettuce in the pots that I bought them in and placed them in a lined, wooden tray- which meant I needed to find a way to hide the pots. I found a colorful puppy dog printed fabric at Hobby Lobby and used it to cover all of the unattractive pots. I love how the fabric added an extra layer of interest and color to the main centerpiece on the table. I also really like the texture of the lettuce! On the second table that we set, the table was much narrower than the other table. Instead of a large centerpiece, I used individual pots of lettuce leaves down the center and added a balloon animal dog to each one by gently using a wooden skewer- be sure to place the pointed tip in the pot and the dull end on the balloon.

I transferred the potted lettuce from the original plastic container into a terra cotta pot and wrapped the colorful dog fabric around each one. I secured the fabric by tying a ribbon around the fabric. You can also see that the table was set with a white tablecloth and a fabric topper with golden polka dots. I used colorful plates on top of white chargers and matched each cup color to the plate color. The dessert cups were actually white with gold metallic dots, but the plate under the dessert cup reflected onto the metallic dots and made each cup look like it matched the plate. That was a cool but unintended detail. I will show you a photo later in the post that shows the gold color of the dessert cups so that you can see what I mean!

For dessert, we had 2 options. Camille made “Puppy Chow” that we put in the cups with a DIG IN sign. We topped the Puppy Chow with Scooby Snack graham crackers shaped like bones. It was such an easy recipe to use to tie in the theme. We used the recipe that I always made for my roommates in college- I think it came straight from the Crispix cereal box, but I am not sure where I got the first recipe. (As a side note, this recipe is also one that my kids make every year when we decorate our Christmas tree- we just rename it “Snowflakes”. It has also been a favorite of our elves and Santa Claus through the years! You should bookmark it for Christmas, minus the dog bones, of course!)

Crispix “Puppy Chow”

Lydia Menzies

Ingredients
  

  • 6 cups Crispix cereal
  • ¼ cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup powdered sugar (add a little more if needed)

Instructions
 

  • In a large, microwave-safe bowl, melt chocolate on high for 1 minute. Stir and heat another 30 seconds on high or until melted.
  • Stir peanut butter into melted chocolate.
  • Add Crispix cereal into mixture and stir gently until cereal is well-coated.
  • Pour powdered sugar into a 2-gallon ziplock bag and then add cereal mixture into powdered sugar. Gently toss the cereal and sugar mixture until well-coated.
  • Store in airtight bag or container and place in the refrigerator or freezer (we prefer keeping it in the freezer).
  • Serve after candy has chilled and set.

If you prefer, you can use a double boiler to melt the chocolate instead of the microwave.

The other adorable option we had for dessert…cookies from Tara of Bambella Cookies. Tara wows me every single time I order from her! I sent her a photo of our pups, Tuck and Blue, and asked her to put their faces on cookies. She did, and they turned out to be so cute! I also wanted to incorporate “Stay Golden” onto the cookies, and so Tara whipped up some fancy writing in gold, of course!

Of course, we didn’t only have dessert to eat! We couldn’t pass up the chance to have a “DOODLE DINER” and serve hot dogs with fun names for each hot dog… we served this as a hot dog bar.

DOODLE DINER MENU

TODAY’S SPECIAL- GOLDEN DOODLE HOT DOG (Just Mustard)

THE BULLDOG (because we live in Athens, home of University of Georgia Bulldogs) Ketchup with Black Olives

THE DACHSHUND- Just the Weiner!

THE HUSKY- Chili Dog

THE CHIHUAHUA- Salsa Dog

THE GREAT DANE- A Hot Dog with Everything

SIDES~ CURLY FRIES (because Doodles are curly)

GOLDEN NOODLES- Pasta Salad

DRINKS- WATER AND SODA PUP

DESSERT- PUPPY CHOW AND DOG TREATS (COOKIES WITH DOGS ON THEM)

We also decorated with gold balloons that light up- they cast a pretty golden glow on the serving table. One other simple detail that I quickly made was a welcome sign for the front door using typical dog commands…

COME (In)

SIT (Anywhere)

STAY (Golden)

As always, we enjoyed hosting everyone and look forward to the next time! We took a group photo after it was dark, but I am just happy we remembered to take one!

If you have questions that you would like to ask about how we plan our Supper Clubs, please let me know! I am happy to share! Thank you for reading- and stay golden! 🙂

xo,

Lydia