A Very Harry Potter Halloween

I love Harry Potter. I really do. I’ve been reading it since I was a kid, I have countless copies, in electronic, paperback, hardcover, and several copies of each book.

Thankfully I’m not the only one who feels this way and we were able to pull off an amazing party.

We went at it with my 4 favorite categories:

Hover over the picture to learn how to do it yourself!

Food: So by food… I really mean candy… It is Halloween after all…

Drinks: We didn’t make these up, we found them online, but Brett was able to whip them up for us. They were such a big hit and super easy to make.

Drinks!

Drinks!

Decor: This is when we really kicked it into high gear.

Dress Code: Well this one isn’t hard! It was a Harry Potter Halloween so the hosts made sure to wear Harry Potter themed things!

xoxo Hannah

How to Host the Perfect Party

We like parties. Getting together, same people, new people, it’s all fun times. There is one thing we like more than parties. Themed Parties. From the typical New Years bash with gold and black accents everywhere to the more obscure Gnome-themed birthday party we like to get into it.

To date we have celebrated:

  • Gnome birthday
  • Justin Bieber birthday
  • New Years Eve
  • Harry Potter Halloween
  • Nutflakes (Christmas/Hanukkah/Winter Solstice)
  • Dinosaur birthday
  • Friendsgiving
  • Dress like the boys birthday
  • And endless more.

We think any good party should have some kind of theme involved. Regardless if you plan on creating a party where the decorations involve sticking spiders all over the walls, or just a theme throughout the apartment.

A good theme is able to engage the guests as well as provide them with a structure so they know what to expect when they show up.

  1. Provide a clear invitation so people know what they are getting into is happening.
  2. Provide visuals in the home so that the guests feel inspired by the theme regardless of where they are.
  3. Encourage a dress code; wizard, plaid, or just plain fancy.
  4. Provide appropriate nourishment that goes with your theme. Again the goal is to provide your guest with inspiration for your theme.
  5. Themed drinks are never a bad idea. Especially if you have a fun drink menu to accompany them.

We are in agreement that this all makes sense. But how do you pull it off?

ORGANIZATION

Seriously. We planned for over a month for the Harry Potter Halloween. Google docs, floor plans, shopping lists, hourly countdown, we had it all.

When planning a party we usually go through the following steps.

  1. Find an excuse, sorry I mean, a reason for a party. Birthdays, holidays, graduations, births, acceptance letters, Saturdays. 
  2. Play around with themes. Think about different aspects of the person or thing you are celebrating. Take Rocky, Devlin’s dog and official mascot for the group. When celebrating his birthday do we go with a dog theme? Or do we go with a costume party since he owns so many outfits? Is the theme flurry things since he is so fluffy? Is it rock themed due his name? Is it Dorothy themed due to his Kansas origins? Is it a cheese themed party since he enjoys eating cheese so much?There are so many options.  
  3. Once you pick a theme it is broken down into 4 categories: 1.  Food 2. Drinks 3. Decor 4. Dress code.
  4. They should all reflect the theme. Is it the rock theme?
    1. Food should not be in liquid form- no soups. Rock candy is a must.
    2. Drinks should be on the rocks! Stock up on ice.
    3. Pebbles in dishes and paper mâché rocks hung from the ceiling.
    4. Dress code should involve a bunch of grey and jewelry with rocks. Think geodes.
  5. Now that you have a plan. Start figuring things out in three categories. Needs to be done in advance, day of, and just before. Advance things tend to be decorative. Make them now so you don’t have to worry about cleaning up the crafts mess. Day of tends to be setting up. Just before is pretty much always food. (Unless it’s rock candy. Then that is advance or day of) make a list- sorting everything you will need to do into these three categories.
  6. Don’t forget to take pictures!!! Something this amazing you will want to preserve. Although you might leave some of the decorations up after the party- since they look so great. 
  7. Last bit of advice. Incorporate a photo booth with props as often as possible. You and your guests will appreciate it. 

xoxo Hannah

The PurlBee’s DIY Citrus Coasters

I made these sweet coasters using a tutorial from The PurlBee, and they’re great!  On top of looking adorable, they are very straightforward and a great activity for those of us who like to have something to work on while unwinding after a long day.  For a complete rundown, and the pattern for cutting out the felt pieces, check out the original tutorial here:

What you’ll need:

  • citrus-colored felt (I was easily able to find yellow, orange, green, a blood-orange red, and a hot pink)
  • white felt
  • white embroidery floss (I went with this for a chunkier look than the original one)
  • a big, sharp needle
  • sharp scissors
  • for best results, I recommend adding a glass of wine
  • this pattern from The PurlBee

Then:

  1. I found it most helpful to cut out as many pieces ahead of time as possible, so I wouldn’t need to keep going back and forth from cutting to sewing.
  2. It would be redundant for me to rehash all the steps from The PurlBee, but I will add a couple tips:
    • You should be prepared to wing it a bit!  The pieces don’t always line up exactly how you want them to, which is tricky because you’re trying to form a little circle out of wedge-shapes, so be prepared to have to trim them as you go!
    • The pieces may shift around a bit while you’re sewing them, even if you’re able to pin them down.  I found it worked fine (and was maybe easier) to lay the pieces out to start, then set all but one wedge aside and just sew one at a time.  There are fewer pins to accidentally jab yourself with that way.
    • Experiment and have fun!

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Health Cookies

I’m serious – health cookies! When I’m really on my game I like to make a batch of these on sunday night for some healthy start of the week snacking (they don’t usually last all the way through the week). They are *so simple* to make and you can add as many chocolate chips as it takes for you to feel indulgent (they are more health than cookie, to be fair… but still good!). I don’t remember where I got the recipe from but these babies are all over pinterest so I’m going to credit the blogosphere as a whole.

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Turkey Meatballs

With approximately three hours before a marathon six-hour meeting with my capstone team last night (my Master’s thesis is a group consulting project known as “capstone”) I decided it would be a great idea to make a bunch of meatballs for the first time. Just another typical, hyper-glamorous grad school saturday.

While I surely could have used those three hours to fit in a little more research (or call my mom or do my laundry… hmmm) I have no regrets because these meatballs were super easy to make and also delicious, filling, and healthy. Also now I’ve got a few meals covered for the week!

Down to business. I adapted a recipe from The Bossy Italian Wife – you can find the original here.

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Challah!

A few years ago I started learning how to bake bread. I loved it. The sciencey part of equal parts and perfect temperature, and the love part of a nice loaf of bread coming out of an oven. I immediately fell in love with making challah, I loved eating it so I thought I would love making it. I did.

The funny part began when a few years ago I came up with the brilliant idea of dyeing different strands of the dough different colors. So when cut, it would be all swirled on the inside. So Easter Challah was born. (As a pretty unreligious person the hilarity of Easter Challah was later pointed out to me.

I’ve done it every year since though, as well as a 4th of July one. Spiraled Challah is one of my favorite things to make now…


Recipe:

Ingredients

  • 3⁄4 cup plus 2 tbsp Milk, heated
  • 1⁄4 cup plus 2tsp Sugar
  • 1 packet of Yeast
  • 4 tbsp unsalted Butter, melted
  • 2 Eggs
  • 4 cups of Flour
  • 1 1⁄2 tsp Salt
  • 1 Egg Yolk

Step One

Stir Milk, 1 tsp Sugar, and Yeast into a bowl; sit for 10 minutes. Meanwhile whisk Eggs and Butter. Add to Yeast mixture and combine. Add Flour and the rest of the Sugar and Salt and stir until dough forms. Knead for about 8 minutes, move to greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap 1 hour. Then uncover, punch down and rise another 30 minutes.

Step Two

Uncover dough, braid it (here you can dye the different strands if so inclined), and put it on a parchment lined baking sheet and cover it with plastic wrap for 1 hour.

Step Three

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Stir the egg yolk and some water and brush it over the loaf, sprinkle with course salt. Bake until brown 30 minutes.

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xoxo Hannah