craziest, creepiest party game ever? zombie pinata

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It’s a little early (or late) for Halloween, but perhaps you need a pinata for an Oscar party? (Were any zombie movies nominated?) Or maybe you just want to own this disturbingly lifelike — I mean, undeadlike — zombie pinata by Etsy seller Tom Deadstuff. I saw it on this Etsy blog post, and was stunned by how amazing Tom Deadstuff’s zombies are — and only $45! That may be a lot for something you intend to destroy, but as an art piece, that’s a shockingly low price. See all of Tom Deadstuff’s demented offerings here. (Angela, is this on your wishlist yet?) — Mary T. You know you want to see it! Click to see: (more…)

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real life test kitchen: chocolate cupcakes with marshmallow icing

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Cupcakes are one of those things, like Chinese food, I never actually make myself. With so many awesome bakeries around (our new favorite is the Cupcake Corral in Maplewood, NJ), I am perfectly satisfied with the occasional one-off indulgence. But when our daughter’s 3rd birthday (Yes, 3! Can you believe it!) came round, we needed enough to feed a large a crowd and they needed to be made with love. Selfishly, we aimed to please our palettes, and went for a Devil’s Food Cake batter from Martha Stewart. With sour cream added in, they are extra moist and rich. For the frosting, I found this how-to recipe for marshmallow icing from Tribeca Treats over at Daily Candy. (Did you know that Daily Candy has some great recipe videos? Buried treasure.) It was insanely easy to make: beat four sticks of butter, with two cups of Fluff spread (don’t read the nutrition label, you’ll feel guilty forever) and a cup and half of confectioner’s sugar. Whip it into a white and creamy fluff and squirt. Ours were topped with some red sprinkles, but crumbled graham crackers would turn it into a s’more like treat. Adults to toddlers were so impressed with the results of ours, they kept suggesting we open our shop, but we’ll save our skills for birthday number four next year. — Angela M.

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custom baby showers made easy: polka dot design

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When I received the invitation to the upcoming baby shower of one of my dearest old friends, I was delighted — due not only to the prospect of spending quality time with the mom-to-be and some of our old crew, but also because the invitation itself was breathtaking. Her mom had the invites printed at Polka Dot Design, a site specializing in custom stationery and gifts in fun, modern designs. Of course they’ve got everything from kids birthdays to weddings, but I was really impressed with the assortment of helpful personalized party collections for baby showers, like the fabulous, Mardi Gras inspired Festival du Bebe collection seen above. These coordinated accessories (like monogrammed napkin rings, favor tags, and thank you notes) are a super-simple and affordable way to add a touch of polish to that special day. — Megan B.

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want it now: the butter bell

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I like to make grilled cheese sandwiches. A LOT. And it really helps to have nice, soft, spreadable butter to smear on your bread before grilling. I’ve been really coveting one of these ingenious Butter Bell crocks to keep my sticks spreadin’ easy. Here’s how it works: flip the lid up to reveal the bell, and fill with a stick of semi-soft butter. Fill the crock with cold water, and pop the lid on. The water forms a seal that protects the flavor and freshness of the butter while keeping it at the optimum temperature for slathering on toast. There are designs for just about every decor, but I like the simple, retro crock (of course) in matte black. At $19.95, it’s an affordable risk, but I’m wondering if it works as great as I’ve read. Have you tried it? — Megan B.

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real life test kitchen: chocolate fire cake

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Spice up your Valentine’s day… with chocolate fire cake! I love savory, brightly-spiced foods. So, when it came to making a dessert for my Valentine’s dinner party last year, I wanted to make something with an unexpected flavorful twist. So, I took my favorite Bon Appetit chocolate spice Bundt cake recipe – and added cayenne pepper to it! The pepper and cinnamon gave the cake a great fiery kick without being overpowering. I served it with a nice full-bodied red wine, and it was a huge hit with my dinner guests. This would also be great served with a brandied whipped cream, or ice cream. — Rebecca F.
Click for more fire, and the recipe, after the jump! (more…)

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