Ideas for Friends

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Spend Valentine's Day with Friends! Some Ideas..

Spend Valentine's Day with Friends! Some Ideas..

Ways to Spend Valentine's Day with Friends

Valentine's Day might make you think of chocolate, flowers, cards and dinners, but this holiday can also be a really wonderful excuse to have fun and get together with your friends!

Here are some things you can do with your friends this Valentine's Day.  What did we miss? Chime in below!

Get Crafty!

Get together and make some of those beautiful diy Valentine's decorations you always see on Pinterest.
It's fun to get creative with friends, and you can pull out your creations year after year and remember your lovely time with your friends.

Bake up a Storm

Join forces and make a giant batch of gorgeous sugar cookies with a friend - give extra cookies to your sweetie or surprise a neighbor or friend in need with a batch.

Coffee + Desserts

We can be so busy during the day.  But it's easy to make time to get together for coffee and dessert after dinner. Go out to a restaurant with your gals or do coffee and homemade dessert in the living room.
So simple, there's lots of time to chat and catch up.

Spa Time

Treat yourself without the sweets! White bathrobes. Face masks. Steam. A Turkish hammam is ideal, but a diy day with homemade concoctions is also fun. Gather your pals and unwind with spa time.

Go Dancing

You don't have a date night planned, but you still want to wear something red and dress up? Go dancing! Lots of clubs have Valentine's Day specials, it's a great way to have fun and hit the town with your friends on Valentine's Day.

Take a Group Class at the Gym

Zumba or yoga, whatever new class you might want to try - drag a friend and have twice the fun! Perfect before that tasty discount chocolate!   

 

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Ways to Spend Halloween with Friends! When trick or treating is no longer an option..

Ways to Spend Halloween with Friends! When trick or treating is no longer an option..

Do your neighbours give you funny looks when you try trick or treating? 

If you're all grown up, but young at heart when it comes to Halloween, there's good  news!

There are lots of ways to celebrate Halloween with friends as grownups, when you're too old to trick or treat.

Here's some of our ideas! Got more ideas? Share below in the comments!

 

 

Get Crafty!

Get together and create a Halloween craft (see our post Crafting with Cocktails for ideas!). This can be as simple as carving a couple of pumpkins, or do what we all do - find something elaborate on Pinterest to replicate!

 

 

Have a Halloween-themed Potluck

Encourage everyone to stick to the theme for a memorable dinner party. This also works great for an appetizers and dessert party. Costumes optional!

 

 

Horror and classic Halloween movie marathon

There are so many good horrors to choose from, from classic Alfred Hitchcock and Stephen King movies to modern trilogies like Saw or Paranormal Activity, or just play a marathon of the Simpsons Treehouse of Horror episodes if you like your horror served lightly with comedic relief!

 

 

Go for a Walk 

On Halloween, there is an extra energy in the air. In many areas, the air is just a bit crisp, and houses and neighbourhoods are brightly lit and inviting, the excitement of so many costumed kids (and grownups!) adds a real air of festivity to the evening. 

If you miss the days when you could go trick or treating, you can still experience the energy of Halloween by taking a walk with a friend. You'll enjoy the sights and sounds while getting a nice workout and good company.  If you're feeling really brave, visit your nearest historic cemetery!

After the walk, treat yourselves to some chocolate from the candy bowl or go for coffee! 

 

Take a Ghost Tour

There are so many of these around, there is probably one in your neighborhood.

Not only are these tours a fun way to celebrate the season, they usually highlight the most interesting local history that you probably never learned in school!  

Kick off your tour with warming cocktails or cap it off with hot chocolate or a pint at the nearest haunted pub.

 

Team up with Friends and Make the Ultimate Haunted House!

Remember that one house on the block as a kid, the one that went all out on Halloween? The fog, the sound effects, the costumed adult jumping out at you?

As an adult, you now have the power to be that person!

If you love Halloween, horror, and getting creative, team up with a friend or friends and create the ultimate trick or treating experience at one of your houses. When the trick or treating is done, kick back with some well-earned snacks, drinks, a horror flick, and leftover candy of course!

 

 

Throw a Halloween Party

This option is always on the table! It's probably one of the easiest parties to throw - just carve some pumpkins, make punch, throw on the horror sounds background and put your costume on!

 

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Crafting with Cocktails: Fall Fun Day!

Crafting with Cocktails: Fall Fun Day!

Crafting with Cocktails

In this series, we suggest cocktail and craft pairings – because getting your hands dirty and being creative is a wonderful outlet from the stresses of adulting! And getting together with your friends and a couple of cocktails makes it even better.

 

Fall craft idea – Glitter and painted pumpkins

This craft is so easy to do, not even mimosas will cramp your style!  All it takes is a coat of spray paint to transform your pumpkin – and you can use any type of paint or colour, making it easy to create a décor scheme or coordinate with other decorations.

The effect is gorgeous – get ready to gain major crafting street-cred and lots of compliments!

The drink is the ultimate fall crafting cocktail – all the fun and bubbles of champagne infused with the fall flavors of pear, ginger and sage.  It’s perfect for day drinking, and it can be prepped ahead of time so you can put all the focus on your crafterpieces!

Get your bubbles and your spray paint and let’s get started!

 

Supplies:

Protect your clothes – old sheets work great!

Spray paint – any colours you want.

Pumpkins!

Embellishments – gemstones or stencils

 

Instructions:

It’s so easy, you could even do it after a couple of cocktails!

  1. Lay assorted pumpkins or squashes down newspaper
  2. Put clothing-protectors on. (We used old sheets with holes cut out - classic ghost costume!)
  3. Pour Pear Ginger Sage Champagne Cocktails.
  4. Spray paint those pumpkins! Don’t forget the stem!

Optional – Add glitter, or gemstones, or stencil on patterns.

  1. Pour more cocktails while painted pumpkins dry.  Nibble on autumn-inspired hors d'oeuvres.

Food and Drink Suggestions:

Sipping:

Pear Ginger Sage Champage Cocktails

Get this fabulous seasonal cocktail recipe here from Dishing Up the Dirt.

(It's FriendMatch Test-Kitchen approved!)

Nibbling:

Make use of what's fresh and seasonal. Lots of beautiful vegetables are available now fresh and locally, so take advantage - sprinkling fresh herbs also on everything when possible.

Try grilled cheese-stuffed peppers, use a mix of sweet peppers and jalepenos, stuff them with soft cheese, (goat cheese or cream cheese will do nicely), then drizzle in honey and sprinkled with thyme.

What's Gaby Cooking! breaks down how to serve a gorgeous crudité platter, a beautiful way to make use of fresh veggies. Check out her tips here.

If you're looking for something more filling, a cheese plate, rounded out with fresh seasonal fruits, local honeys, nuts and seeds, is another good option.  We love the Cheese platter from Seven Layer Charlotte - check out her tips on perfecting the cheese tray here

 

 

 

More Fall Crafts Inspiration

 

Want to do something different with your beautiful pumpkins?  

Try stacking them into a pumpkin-witch, or make some creative jack-o-lanterns.   

The spa-day pumpkin, the shark pumpkin, and the hamburger pumpkin were all on display at a Halloween event at the Grand Wailea Resort in Maui, but you could replicate them at home! 

 

 Pin it!

 

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Plan a Grownup Birthday Party

 

A birthday party is the perfect excuse to invite friends over for a fun celebration and make the birthday man or lady feel extra special on their day, so don't miss out on this opportunity!

Whether you throw a party for yourself or for a dear friend, here are some ideas to make birthday celebrations special, even after the candles start crowding that cake!

 

Choose a Theme

All your party elements - food, decorations, activity - pull together in a delightful way when your party has some kind of underlying theme or "raison d'etre".

The theme can be all-out, like, "Hawaiian Luau", but it can also be just as effective to have a theme that is more subtle, like, "Classic Birthday Party with a Grownup Twist" (see below for ideas on this theme.)

 

Here are some more examples of easy theme ideas for adult birthday parties:

Pink

Fuchsia theme. Get napkins, balloons, and flowers in this color. Create a punch or signature cocktail to match. Make birthday cake, cupcakes or cookies with icing in the same color.  

Nature-Lover

Woodsy theme. Sprigs of wildflowers in mason jars. Those tree-stump cake stands. Chili bar with fixins'. Ask your guests to wear plaid.

 

 

 

 Fiesta Birthday

So much fun as an adult - hello big batch margaritas! 

Make margaritas, set up a taco bar, and make sure there's lots of guacamole.

Buy (or make!) a pinata and stuff it with candy. Throw some posters of Mexico up on the walls if it's cold or go out on the deck or yard if it's nice out. 

 

 

Set the Mood 

 

Your theme will inspire you with ideas. Decorations, music, and even real invitations can set the tone for your wonderful party.

Putting up decorations is of course completely trivial and not necessary.  THAT'S WHY IT'S SO MUCH FUN! ;)

Birthdays are special occasions, even if you are throwing the party for yourself, show yourself and your guests some love with fresh flowers on the table, or balloons up on the wall!

 

 

Plan your Menu

A theme can help you pull a menu together. 

Depending on the nature of your party, it's nice to have:

  • A signature drink
  • Appetizers
  • A main course 
  • A Birthday cake

Especially a birthday cake. It's so essential. Don't forget the candles!

If your guests offer to bring something, let them! Ask them to bring an appetizer, a side, or even the cake, and let them know about your theme. There, one less thing for you to do!

 

 

Add special touches

Even if you're throwing your own birthday party, elevate it from regular get-together level to "special birthday party level" by throwing in a special touch.

It's not very often as an adult that you get an opportunity to "play", or to be creative for no reason beyond having a few laughs. Take your birthday party as an opportunity to do something fun or creative.

Make a craft, do a painting, or set up a photo booth - because why should kids have all the fun?

 

Some of our Grownup Birthday Party Ideas:

 

Classic Birthday Party with a Grownup Twist

Remember the standard birthday party when you were a kid? So simple and fun!

Balloons, streamers, pizza, pop, and that standard birthday cake.

Take this this idea and elevate it to adult levels with minor changes:

Keep the balloons and streamers. Set up an Italian soda bar or a signature drink in place of the pop. 

Like this Birthday Cake Martini:

 

Keep the pizza on the menu - but make homemade pizzas with gourmet toppings.  Or fire up your own pizza oven!

Get the prettiest, tastiest birthday cake that you can find homemade or from a special bakery, and remember the candles.

 

Send your friends home with grown-up goody bags and good memories, old and new!

 

Paint Night

You can host your very own paint night at home!

For this party, nurture creativity and bright colors in your party accents. 

Grab small canvases and paints for cheap from the dollar store or that big-box store that has everything - get kids paints, they're cheap and they'll do the job, after all it's mostly for fun!

Set up YouTube on your TV in front of the painting station - you can watch full episodes of the ultimate paint-along guide, Bob Ross, and try out this drinking game...

Set your table with big blossoms for that colorful feeling, or set the whole theme based on the painting you do. (Mountain cabin in the woods?)

 

Have you ever celebrated with a unique birthday party?

 

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Yearly social calendar for couples

Yearly social calendar for couples

Do you know that problem you have as a couple where you just can't find something to watch on Netflix?

Wait a minute!  Maybe it's time to call up some mutual friends and go out! (With any luck, your friends will have some suggestions for new shows to watch..)

If you're wondering what a healthy, active and fun-filled social life might look like for a married couple, here is an infographic that can help you plan your free time and social life as a couple. 

What do you think of this schedule? Is it realistic for you?  Chime in below!

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How to Host a Raw, Vegan Thanksgiving for Friends

How to Host a Raw, Vegan Thanksgiving for Friends

This year for Thanksgiving, why not fit in an extra celebration with friends?

Instead of repeating the traditional feast, (turkey burnout!?) make it a culinary adventure with this exciting and healthy raw plant-based menu. It's high in vitamins and low on calories, so there's more room for extra (organic) wine and pumpkin pie topped with coconut whipped cream! 

This is the raw menu from the cookbook, "Living Raw Food," by Chef Sarma Melngailis.  

This Thanksgiving menu was also served at Sarma's raw restaurant in New York City for Thanksgiving. 

Note that you need a food dehydrator to make the recipes. 

 

The Menu

Serves 10 - 12 guests

Marinated mushrooms (can use dark and light for two-toned "meat")

Mashed root vegetables

Stuffing

Cranberry sauce

Brussels sprouts

Organic red and white wine

Vegan pumpkin pie with raw vegan whipped cream

 

 

The Scene

Think natural as a decor theme. Set your table with seasonal produce and simple candles in mismatched-sized jars. Decorate your house with a generous number of wildflower bouquets, and be sure to mix grasses, cat tails, and berry branches into the bouquets if you can. With all the time saved on cooking this meal, you will extra time to go for a nature walk and gather these supplies!  (Or your nearest farmer's market.)

 

The Recipes

From the cookbook, "Living Raw Food."

You can make all of these recipes one day ahead, and just warm everything up in your dehyrdrator 30-40 minutes before serving!

 

Marinated Mushrooms

1 medium onion, diced

2 cups olive oil

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons minced rosemary

3 tablespoons each, minced sage and thyme

1 tablespoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

10-12 large portobello mushroom caps, cleaned and sliced thick on the diagonal

4-5 large king oyster mushroom stems, sliced thick on the diagonal (use extra portobellos if unavailable)

Combine all ingredients except mushrooms in a large bowl, whisk til well mixed.

Add mushrooms to the marinade and coat well. Set aside to marinate for 10-15 minutes. 

Place mushrooms on a teflex-lined sheet in your dehyrdator and allow to dehyrdate until the mushrooms become tender and look roasted, 1-2 hours. 

 

Mashed Root Vegetables

4 cups pine nuts, soaked 1 hour or more

2 cups water

4 cups celeriac, peeled and chopped

5 cups jicama, peeled and chopped

1.5 cups parsnips, peeled and chopped

2 cups olive oil

4 tablespoons nutritional yeast

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons truffle oil

1 cup scallions, white and pale green parts, chopped

20 turns fresh ground pepper

2 teaspoons sea salt

 

In a blender, puree the pine nuts and water until smooth and creamy.

Place the puree in a large bowl, add all the remaining ingredients, mix well.

Pour 1 cup pine nut cream and 3-4 cups of the vegetable mixture into a food processor and process until smooth. Set aside in a large bowl and continue with the remaining pine nut cream and vegetable mixture. 

Stir the mixture well and let sit for at least 2 hours to allow any liquid that forms to pool on top.

Pour off the liquid. If it's still a bit runny, place the mixture on a clean kitchen towel and gently squeeze out any excess liquid. Transfer to a bowl and season with additional sea salt to taste.

 

Brussels Sprouts

1/4 cup pistachio oil

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 cup maple syrup

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon fresh ground pink pepper

5 cups Brussels sprouts

In a large bowl, whisk together the oils, maple syrup, salt and pepper.

Remove discolored outer leaves from the Brussels sprouts, and cut off the hard stems. 

Some leaves will separate from the core. Continue cutting away the hard interior until the sprout is entirely separated into individual leaves, placing the leaves into the oil mixture as you separate them. Repeat with the remaining Brussels sprouts

Toss the sprouts mixture and marinate for at least 30 minutes. Alternatively, for more tender Brussels sprouts, place them on a Teflex-lined tray in the dehyrdator for up to 45 minutes. You can also do this just before serving so that they will be warm.

 

 Stuffing

4 cups chopped cauliflower florets

2 tablespoons olive oil

sea salt

8 cups ground pecans, ground to a crumbly texture in the food processor

2 cups carrots, peeled and diced small

2 cups celery, diced small

2 cup onion, peeled, diced small

1 teaspoon truffle oil

2 tablespoons rosemary, minced

3 tablespoons thyme, minced

freshly ground black pepper

Place cauliflower in food processor and process until it has a texture similar to sesame seeds, with no large pieces.

Add the olive oil and a pinch of sea salt and process just until mixed.

Spread the mixture on a Teflex sheet and dehyrdate for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, mix the other ingredients in a large bowl.

Remove the cauliflower from the dehydrator, mix with the remaining ingredients, and season to taste with salt and pepper. 

 

Cranberry Sauce

8 ounces fresh cranberries

1/2 cup filtered water

1/4 agave nectar

2 strips orange zest

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

about 2 cups Irish Moss, soaked in hot water for 10 minutes or more, drained

In a high-speed blender, puree all the ingredients except for the Irish moss until very smooth. 

Add the Irish moss to the blender and mix at high speed until the mixture heats up to about 115 degrees Farenheit.

Pour the mixture into a bowl or shallow pan and refrigerate at least 2 hours.

 

 

 

Dessert:

Raw, Vegan Pumpkin Pie - Recipe available at the Real Foods Witch blog.

Top it with raw whipping cream: 

Refrigerate full-fat coconut milk until chilled, then whip until fluffy! Add a bit of your favourite sweetner and vanilla if you'd like. 

Mmmm!

 

 

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Clothing Swap Party Plan + Punch Recipe

Clothing Swap Party Plan + Punch Recipe

Here is a perfect activity for today's budget-minded world: host a clothing swap party with your friends!

Just because your designer top doesn't fit you right anymore, doesn't mean it has to be a total loss- why not trade it for your friend's leather skirt- the one she never wears.
 
It's so nice to organize your closet, and a good chance to get rid of clothes you just don't wear, clothes you bought and regretted, or, sadly, (sometimes happily!), clothing that no longer fits.

Everyone has these issues, so get the gang together and agree to bring all your unwanted clothes for a great exchange. You get the chance to gain new pieces for your wardrobe- new to you- for no cost.

It's a win-win! Here are our suggestions for pulling off a great clothing swap:

 

How to:


1. Invite as many friends as you can- the more clothes, the better! It's also a nice icebreaker if you want to introduce different friends to each other. You can find cute invitations online to make it extra special.


2. Set up a big space so that there's lots of room to put everyone's clothes on display. When guests arrive, you might want to let each guest display their clothes in her own spot.
 

3. Once everyone has arrived and set up, serve champagne punch, (it won’t stain anything if it spills!) and let the swapping begin! Anything goes- shoes, jewelry, work clothes, party clothes, whatever! Allow everyone to swap between themselves. Money saving fun!
 

4. For food and drinks, a potluck of snacks is one great way to tie in to the community theme. Otherwise, a nice idea would be to go for some nice, light snacks, because no one wants to feel weighed down when they get new clothes! Tea or Iced tea, punch (recipe below), fruit and veggie platters, and
 lemon cupcakes is a nice balance of treats and eats. 

 



Strawberry Champagne Punch


This one is easy and refreshing! You can play around with the portions and still it will turn out great!

1- extra large bottle of champagne or sparkling wine
 
1- bag of frozen strawberries
1 -2 litre bottle of ginger ale.

Mix all the ingredients together in a punch bowl and enjoy! Couldn't be easier!

 

 

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Ten simple low-cost ways to spend more time with Friends

Ten simple low-cost ways to spend more time with Friends

 

Go For a Walk

It doesn’t cost anything, it’s good for your health and the changing environment and cardio activity will help your conversation flow. You can walk around in your neighborhood, a different neighborhood, a park, just about anywhere! A bike ride is also beneficial and fun!

 

Work Out

Kind of similar to the above. If you’re going to work out or go to the gym anyway, you might as well do it with a friend! The time will fly by, and as a bonus, having someone else working out might help inspire you to complete your full workout. After all, it’s harder to slack off if you think someone else will notice!

Hit up a Coffee Shop

Frothy cappuccinos, seasonally spiced lattés, couches, music- forget the new Starbucks drive-thru, coffee shops were made for hanging out! A good dimly lit coffee shop and good tunes is the perfect mix of relaxation and stimulation for chilling with friends! Take two hours to sip espresso and foamed milk and cinnamon while catching up with a friend, or a group of friends.

Cook

This is a fun activity to do with friends! Save on the pricey restaurant bill and hit up the nearest market for some fresh foods to cook at home. You can share a favorite recipe with your friends, or tackle a bigger, more complicated recipe together! With everyone assigned to chopping or mixing, or pouring of wine, you will develop a real sense of camaraderie and teamwork together- and in the end you can all sit down to a great home cooked meal! No tipping required.

Go for Dessert

So you’ve had your dinner already with your spouse or partner, and now are settling into routine. That leaves room for dessert! Head to the trendiest place in town, even a pricey dessert will only be a fraction of the cost of a meal out. Order the yummiest thing on the menu plus some coffee or herbal tea, and revel in the fact that if you share, you’re sharing the calories too. Scrumptious.

Help Each Other

Go to your friend’s house and help him paint his fence. Next weekend, he’s coming to your place to stain your deck. For the price of beers you have extra labour and the encouragement to get lots more done. You’re both happy because you get to cross things off your list, and chores never seem so hard when you’re hanging out with friends. Everybody wins!

Game Night!

Gather a couple of friends, or a couple of couples, and invest in a board game. There are so many out there now. Some classics are charades, Taboo, Scattegories. There are great newer games out there too, like Cranium, and several hilarious “Battle of the Sexes” games. Or go all out and get a Murder Mystery game, costumes and all. Snacks can be as casual as a couple bowls of chips and some pop to as elaborate as an appetizer potluck.

Do Your Grocery Shopping Together

This is better with just one friend otherwise it could get a little chaotic. Ever feel like you’re always coming home with the same things? So what if you have your grocery shopping down to a lean routine? Getting the task done with your friend can introduce you to new foods, and maybe even some tips and tricks. It’s also a neat chance to learn more about your friend. What kinds of meals does your friend plan? What great deals can you learn about? You might pick up ingredients for your classic steak marinade, and your friend might try it too. Maybe he has a favorite brand of yogurt you didn’t know about it. Maybe she has a healthy go-to snack you could try. At the very least it could offer some new insights on your own shopping habits. And isn’t self-discovery fun too?

Have a Spa Day

OK, admittedly, this one is probably more appealing to the ladies. Gather around at a friend’s. Bring your bathrobes and slippers and concoct your own beauty treatments- there are tons of home-made face masks, scrubs, and creams on the Internet, like these. Munch on healthy spa food an apple ginger cooler or grilled veggie wrap found here. Don’t forget the cucumber slices for the eyes!

Bowling

Why? Because almost anyone of any age can do it, the food is cheap and so are the drinks, and it’s fun! So there you have it, some ideas to get you started. More activity ideas

 

Have a Bonfire

I'm pretty sure this simple pleasure has been enjoyable for thousands of years by us humans!  It's a great way to connect, and easy to do! Pass the marshmallows!

 

Go to the Beach

Guaranteed fun!  Who doesn't love the beach? Fill a beach bag with sunscreen, waters, snacks, and a frisbee, a soccer ball, or a bocce ball set and you'll be entertained for hours!

 

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