Suburban Soiree

Movie Night: Spookley the Square Pumpkin

Amy Wiley4 Comments

This movie is just too cute.  It suitable for any age and it has a great message.  Around here, we love Spookley the Square Pumpkin!

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For the table I ordered a plush Spookley from trusty old Amazon.  The ceramic square pumpkins are from Hobby Lobby.  Before and after movie night they've been mixed in with the other Halloween decor around the house and I love them.  I've had the little glass candy corn table scatters forever.  I'm pretty sure I called ON THE PHONE and gave someone a CATALOG ORDER NUMBER.  I might has well have brought them west with me on a covered wagon.

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The tablecloth is one I've had for years from Pottery Barn.

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I also had the orange square plates and I used a simple green paper napkin for the "stem."

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I simply folded it lengthwise twice and tucked under the plates.

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I made fun little appetizers from a photo I saw on Pinterest.

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I used peanut butter sandwich crackers, a green Airhead, black icing for the smiles, and white icing to attach the "stems" and candy eyes.   A "stickier" icing probably would have worked better, but it was what I had on hand.

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I count any day I break out the candy eyes as a success!

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These little Spookleys look so cute and happy!  They are not perfect but you guys... neither was Spookley and he taught us THAT'S OK.

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Obviously I'm not a very skilled piper.  Which makes me think of this...

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Oh, I crack myself up.

Dinner was a simple one but still went with the pumpkin theme.  This pasta from Trader Joe's is so pretty.

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I added TJ's Autumnal Harvest sauce, sausage, a little Parmesan.  I served it with a quick Caesar salad and bread.

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Trader Joe's also made our dessert!  

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I'll leave you with a little bonus tip since this movie is great for preschoolers.  If your kiddos are at an age where it's hard for you to get dinner on the table because they are so "busy"... you can often find free coloring sheets related to the movie to print off on Pinterest or just by googling it.  I did this a lot when my kids were smaller (with various movie nights) and it helps keep them busy while you prep and gets them excited for the movie.

If you haven't seen this one yet, you can catch it on The Disney Channel this time of year.  Dare to be square!

Spiced Iced Tea: A Neiman's Knock-off

Amy Wiley2 Comments

One of my favorite girly pleasures is to have lunch at a department store.  I frequent The Nordstrom Grill near my home and while traveling I love to eat at Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman, etc.  I think it's just too fun to do a little shopping and then pause for a ladylike meal. Our Denver Neiman's does not have a restaurant, so whenever I'm near one that does I try to stop in for a popover and a glass of their delicious spiced iced tea.  

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Years ago I scoured the internet to find a recipe.  I don't have the original source I used, but a recent search shows many similar versions are floating around Pinterest now.  I tend to make this in the fall so I thought I would share it with you.  I've modified the quantities of the recipe I originally found because we tend to drink iced tea by the gallon.

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I was surprised to find the secret ingredient is Tang!  If you ever have an astronaut over for dinner, you could really dazzle them with this one. Ha!  A dear friend brought me the tin of tea from London.

print recipe
Spiced Iced Tea: A Neiman's Knock-off
A homemade version of the department store favorite from www.suburbansoiree.com
Ingredients
  • 12 inches worth Cinnamon Sticks
  • 6 Whole Cloves
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Nutmeg
  • 8 English Breakfast Teabags
  • 1/2 cup Tang
  • 1/2 tsp Almond Extract
  • Orange Slices for garnish
Instructions
Pour 13 cups of water into a large pot. Add the cinnamon sticks, cloves and nutmeg and bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes. Take the pot off the heat and add teabags. Steep for 5 minutes. Strain into a large pitcher. Add Tang and almond extract. Let cool then refrigerate. Enjoy over ice, garnished with orange slices.
Yield: About a gallon
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While I'm not a fan of knock-offs when it comes to handbags or Southern accents, I do love to recreate restaurant favorites that aren't available to me where I live.   I'm a Dallas native living in Denver, so this tides me over between visits to Texas.  Now if I could just nail down the Houston's spinach and artichoke dip, I'd have it made.  We do have a Hillstone here, but I don't get there enough!

Movie Night: It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

Amy Wiley2 Comments

As much as I enjoy Halloween, I'm pretty picky about Halloween movies for my kids.  We want to stay away from sorcery, spells and anything too creepy.  (I'm looking at you, Spooky Buddies.)  We do have a few favorites we watch year after year.  Our first one up this October is It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.

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I found the little wooden tag at Joann Fabrics a while back.  It's perfect to hang on a pumpkin for the table.  One of my go-to moves is to buy a yard of fabric and just "scrunch" it under a centerpiece.  It's quick and easy.

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The plastic cups are from the "party and cards" aisle at my grocery store.  The figurines are from Zulily.  My kids both love little characters like this.

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This movie night tends to look basically the same every year, but I do switch it up slightly.   Sometimes we use the cups for candied popcorn.  

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Another time I made little pumpkin cheeseballs.

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I had a lot of themed food that night... and it was clearly back in the sippy cup days.  Sigh.

This year I served barbecue nachos for dinner. That has nothing to do with the movie, nachos are just delicious.

For dessert, we had these darling cookies from Trader Joe's.

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Another time I scored some Great Pumpkin crunch bars!

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I love when I find coordinating paper products for a movie night.  

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Even better is finding "permanent" items... especially for those movies you watch year after year.  I've got my eye on the new Peanuts Collection at Pottery Barn Kids.

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I need these plates, right?

It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown isn't exactly action-packed, but it's a classic.  My kids laugh every time Charlie Brown gets rocks!

Eye Love Halloween

HalloweenAmy WileyComment

My mom always laughs about the time I told her I have more Halloween decorations than any Christian girl really should.  It's true... I love Halloween.  I'm not into creepy, nasty Halloween, though.  I'm in it for the cute kids in costumes, smiley Jack-o-lanterns, whimsy, and of course... the candy.  When I see Halloween items start to show up at Homegoods, I hyperventilate a little.  It's just fun!

I've collected my decorations over many years and I always enjoy finding a few new items each year.  This time around I've noticed I'm drawn to eyeballs.  That's right, eyeballs!  They are in the "cute not creepy" category.  Trust me.

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A couple of years ago I bought four "eyes" at Target to hang from my breakfast nook chandelier.  This year I found glittery eyeball garlands at Hobby Lobby to add to them.

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I picked up this little canister at my grocery store of all places.  My eye was drawn to it.  Ha.  It holds my Dove dark chocolate pumpkins... or as my kids call them, "Mommy chocolates."

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These eyeball magnets are from Target too.  Nothing like having your fridge stare back at you!

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I love the little eyes on this vase.  It's from the Target Dollar Spot a couple of years ago.  I have two of them and use them for candy or flowers too.

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Zulily strikes again with this eye-catching bracelet.

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Also at the grocery store, eyeballs you freeze and put in your drink!

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I'll use these for a little cousin party we're throwing along with these...

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Are the gummy eyeballs a bit much?  "A bit much" is just right for me!

Movie Night: Eloise at the Plaza

Movie NightAmy WileyComment

My husband and I just returned from a trip to New York City to celebrate my 40th birthday.  One of our many stops was The Plaza Hotel where we enjoyed a cupcake and popped into the Eloise store.  It was right there, perusing all the darling pink merchandise, that our next movie night idea was born.  My daughter enjoys the Eloise books, so I knew this one would be a hit.  Eloise at the Plaza called for all things girly and fun.

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We ate in the dining room for this one, which always feels like a treat.  My table is an antique that belonged to my grandmother and is a unique size.  Taking out the leaf, it's more suitable for our family of four and fits more of the tablecloths I acquired before the table became ours.

So, I put down a black tablecloth and went to my wrapping paper stash for a splash of pink.  This striped paper is from IKEA.  I planned to use it as more of a runner across the length of the table, but this was all I had left.  It worked just fine.  I grabbed pink chargers, white plates, and looked through my collection of girly dessert plates.  I pulled out this set which dates back to my newlywed days.  

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On a different day or in a different mood I might have chosen to donate these plates since they are a little outdated.   This day I was happy to have them!  As Eloise would say, they looked "rawther fancy."

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For the centerpiece I love to use the DVD if we have it.  I grabbed the tray off my kitchen table and used a pink vase I had to hold hot pink roses.  I felt like this movie night table called for flowers and we enjoyed them throughout the following week.

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For dinner, I did my best to make it both easy and elegant.  On this particular afternoon we had a school event and my son had soccer practice.  I had a brisket with bacon cooking in the slow cooker all day (not fancy but delicious).  I served it with roasted brussels sprouts and these colorful carrots I found at Trader Joe's.  I thought the carrots were so pretty.

I've had these little poofy coaster things forever and they added a flair that is surely Eloise-approved.  My kids had Shirley Temples to drink and the color fit perfectly!

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While I was running around that day I picked up these mini cupcakes at the grocery store.  I served them on these NYC map napkins I brought home from my trip.

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The movie was cute and funny.  We all truly enjoyed Eloise and her antics in the hotel.  The only thing is that Eloise says, "oh my lord," which I could do without.  

As a side note, I have both a daughter and a son.  Sometimes we do really girly movie nights, sometimes we do really boyish ones.  I don't stress about perfectly catering to everyone every time and they don't complain.  

Thank you for joining me today!

Movie Night: The Basics

Movie NightAmy Wiley2 Comments
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We started our movie nights many years ago and they quickly became a family favorite.  Around Tuesday of each week the kids start asking, “What’s our movie night this week?”  Sometimes I tell them; sometimes I let them be surprised when they get home from school on Friday afternoon.  They’ll run in to look at how the table is set up.  That’s my favorite way to reveal the movie.  I’m not exaggerating when I say they usually squeal with delight!

Although watching a movie as a family to start the weekend isn’t some sort of groundbreaking idea, I want to share the details how we do this because it’s been so fun.  If you don’t have a similar activity in your household, I’d encourage you to start.  

  • Step one:  Pick a night a start planning

Maybe it’s Friday night, maybe it’s Saturday afternoon, maybe it’s every third Tuesday.  If you’re looking to do something consistently I suggest scheduling it in.  I usually look ahead at the start of the month and plan movie nights for all available Fridays.  Sometimes we have other plans or things come up, but if at all possible we do our best to “protect” our Friday evenings. I find that if we don’t do this, our potential movie nights can give way to other things.  So if friends want to get together, we aim for Saturday if possible.  We also keep movie night to just our family of four.

  • Step two:  Pick a movie

You can re-watch a family favorite or order a newly-released movie on demand.  I always keep a running list of family-friendly movies.  Pluggedin.com is a great resource to make sure the content is safe for your family.  IMDB.com also offers parental guides.  Many times family movies (even super old ones) will have previews that can spark your next movie night.  Although we do enjoy a trip to the movie theater, most of our movies are at home on Friday nights.  It saves money and we get to be as relaxed as we want.

  • Step three:  Get creative

Not only is it predictable, protected family time for us, movie night is a great creative outlet for me as a mom.  While I’m shopping for groceries, for instance, I’ll spot a cute snack or dessert that goes with our theme.  Or when I’m parked and waiting in the carpool line I’ll search Pinterest for ideas related to our movie. It just adds a mini project for the week that allows me to have some fun and get a smile out of my family.  It's also my speed.  While I’m not the type to make 25 individually hand-crafted desserts for a birthday party, for example, I’m totally game to make four of just about anything!

Dino dirt cups for The Good Dinosaur 

Dino dirt cups for The Good Dinosaur 

Our movie night dinners are usually a splurge for us… both in cost and calories.  This is the night we’re more likely to grill steaks, have dessert, or spend extra time prepping something unique.  I often create a meal that somehow coincides with our movie.  For instance, we ordered in sushi for Mulan.  I realize that isn’t perfectly culturally accurate, but you get the idea.

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That said, some weeks are just too hectic to pull off much more than ordering pizza and sending the kids to the basement to pick out a DVD they can agree on.  I highly agree with planning and crafting to the level that your schedule and sanity allow.  The goal is to make the evening a little (or a lot) out of the ordinary.   A simple pack of cute paper napkins is an easy, affordable way to create your theme. 

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I know that if I'm stressing about it, I'm going about it the wrong way.  Way back when we first started movie night and my kids were really little, I was prepping for the original Cinderella.  I remember asking everyone to “leave me alone!” while I tried to make little mice out of cheese.  I quickly realized I’d missed the point.  Have fun with it, that's the whole idea!  A little creativity goes a long way and perfection is not the goal.

I’ll share a new movie night with you each Friday… so pop some popcorn, put on your jammies, and get ready for some fun with your fam!

Movie Night: Teacher's Pet

Movie NightAmy Wiley3 Comments
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Around here, Friday night is movie night.  It's something we look forward to all week.  The start of a new school year inspired this movie selection, Teacher's Pet

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I always decorate the house a little for "back to school" so I pulled from those items for the table.  I love the thought of freshly-sharpened pencils, new school supplies, and the primary colors associated with a new school year.  Teacher supply stores are a great place to find decorations like this.  I think my little school bus flower pot is from Zulily.

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These pencils are actually Christmas ornaments that live in my school decor stash.

As for the movie, it was a silly one.  The kids loved it.  It's not exactly destined to be a cherished family favorite, but fit the bill for a relaxing movie night after our first week back in the grind.  We all got a kick out of it!

In the coming weeks I'll share how I plan our movie nights, find family-friendly movies, and why it's so important to us.  Spoiler alert... it's all about keeping it simple and fun.

Welcome!

Amy Wiley

Hello, and welcome to Suburban Soiree.  I'm so happy you're here!  I'm a wife and mom of two elementary-school-aged kids, a boy and a girl.  One of our family's favorite things is movie night on Fridays.  I'll show you how I pull those off each week, along with other ways we celebrate life's little joys.  

This won't be a blog about perfectly staged parties with rented furniture where no one's really eating the food.  It's real-life, fun little celebrations you can create for your family.  It's all about making a splash in the middle of our busy lives.

Whether it's setting a pretty table for my book club, putting something in my kids' lunches to make them smile, or turning a boring meeting into a social affair, I believe in having fun whenever possible.

Join me as we explore all the fun to be had!