Monday, March 31, 2014

RE-pranking: 10 Cute and Harmless April Fools Pranks

April Fool's Day is a good excuse to insert a little extra fun into your life. Unfortunately, April Fool pranks can sometimes cause a lot of trouble and hurt feelings when they get out of hand. I've collected 10 easy, fun and harmless April Fool Day Pranks in case you're looking for some "gotcha's" both the prankster and prankee can enjoy.

1.  MODEL PARENT.  Ever feel ignored in your household? Well, use those skills you honed back in high school to sneak out of your house to set a trap to see if anyone notices you've been replaced by the "model parent." You know the drill.  Set up a body form to be you by getting some of your pants, stuff them with a pillow and put old newspaper in the legs. Place some of your shoes at the base of the pants, set it all up in a chair you like and tape or staple a newspaper in place to cover the upper half of the model parent.   If your kids notice, you'll share a laugh. If they don't, then you've discovered a way to sneak out of your house again but now without paying a babysitter. ;) Just kidding. IDEA SOURCE:

2. BATHROOM BANKROLL.  Tape a few $1 bills to the prankee's toilet paper roll.  They will be pleasantly surprised. IDEA SOURCE:

3.  BREAKFAST PRANK.  Replace a normal egg with vanilla yogurt swirled on a plate with half a canned peach turned upside down and placed in the middle.  While not what is expected, it will still be a perfectly fine breakfast.  IDEA SOURCE:

4. BREAKFAST PRANK FOR THE BACON LOVER.  Microwave caramels and tootsie rolls and form them into "bacon" to add to the breakfast prank.    IDEA SOURCE:

5. Murder at the Office.  Sometimes, the workplace doesn't allow for frivolity, but if yours does, then this prank won't disturb work too much.  Arrive early and place tape in the outline of a person and get police tape at a party store to place around your workspace. 

6.  SNACK SWITCHEROO.  This gotcha works for a packed lunch or an office break room gag.  Carefully open up a  bag of chips from the bottom, replace the chips with carrots and reseal the bottom with hot glue.  IDEA SOURCE:
8.  THE CLASSIC.  Have any fake bugs left over from Halloween?  Maybe you can pick up some gummy worms at the grocery store?  If so, this is a pretty easy way to add an April Fool's Day spin to any packed lunch. IDEA SOURCE:

9. FAKE SPILL ON COMPUTER.  There are lots of computer based April Fool Day pranks, but to me, a lot of them take too much effort and time to undo.   This one doesn't, but is still a good "gotcha." 

10.  CUPCAKES FOR DINNER AND GRILLED CHEESE FOR DESSERT.  Shock your kids by offering them cupcakes for dinner and watch as they are shocked again when they figure out the "cupcakes" are made of beef and potatoes.IDEA SOURCE:
You can make up for the letdown of the cupcakes for dinner being real food by offering them grilled cheese for dessert in which the bread is actually Sara Lee pound cake and the cheese is actually vanilla cake icing mixed with food coloring.  IDEA SOURCE:|ivl|fd|aprilfoolsfood|


Friday, March 28, 2014

RE-CEIVING GUESTS: A Graceful Dinner

JUST THE RIGHT MIX.  My friend Grace hosted our book club for dinner at her house on Wednesday night.  We were all especially looking forward to the evening because Grace recently completed a major renovation to her house.  We all were treated to a home tour, a delicious meal and lots of great conversation.  Grace's home mixes traditional, mid-century modern and farm house elements and her table likewise combined several different styles to set a colorful and casual backdrop for our evening.  The menu was salmon appetizers, goat cheese and olive tray, Chicken Marsala, mixed green salad, quinoa and rice casserole and fruit sorbet. Everything was yummy, but the salad dressing especially stood out so my friend, Martha and I asked for the recipe.  Grace pulled out a recipe notebook she keeps in her kitchen with plastic sheet covers to slip in any good recipes she finds in newspapers and magazines.  Sidenote: I thought this was a much handier way to organize recipes than the recipe boxes I've seen other cooks maintain.  I snapped a pic of the recipe on my iphone and I've included it at the bottom of this entry if you're interested.  After dinner, we stood around the kitchen island talking and eating the salad and goat cheese/olive tray leftovers until the dishes were clean.   I mean not a morsel was left.  If we had stayed any later, there might have been licking of the bowls.  Seriously scrumptious.

RETRO COLORS.  In her dining room, Grace has a collection of vintage glass containers in amber, cobalt, orange and jade green displayed in a tray on her mid-century sideboard.  Her plates, place mats, napkins and glassware are similar colors and carried this color scheme onto her table and over to her kitchen.  If you visit the Houzz house tour of her home linked below, you'll notice that whether it comes from a piece of artwork or a throw pillow, there are pops of one or more of these same bright, fun colors in all the other rooms of the house.  The walls are generally neutrals so these accessories give the house a vibrant and fun vibe which reflects the owners' personalities.

The vintage glassware caught my eye because I'd like to find glasses in similar colors for my living room bar.  Grace volunteered that her blue decanter was from Crate and Barrel which you can find online HERE

I thought Grace's renovation was flawless.  She and her husband had an older home and they made tons of  thoughtful, green choices to renovate it but keep a strong connection to its origins. Some of their first floor bedroom was given over to create a larger bathroom so they recycled the removed original hardwood flooring over to the new staircase leading up to their second story addition.  This allowed all their first level flooring to match exactly.  They also recycled clapboard which was removed from their living room walls into other parts of their house so many of their new additions were done with original materials.  Additionally, my friends and I noticed that the small mosaic tiles Grace and her husband chose for the bathrooms could easily pass for original tile work which made all the new bathrooms seem like they had always been there. 

The nice four photos above are from a feature about Grace's renovation on Houzz called "Playing with Good Tension in Austin,"  You may see many lovely before and after pictures provided by the architect firm and more details about her renovation by clicking HERE.   I included a few pics above to tease the feature and to give you the gist of her dining room space which is in a pass through room between the living room and kitchen.   I like the flow created by this layout.  I remember Reba had a similar layout in her first house.  I know you'll enjoy all the other pics on Houzz.  I'm only sorry there isn't a picture of a new balcony that Grace and her husband included in their second floor addition.  Grace's backyard has gorgeous mature trees and one grows near the house beside the new balcony making it  feel like a tree house.  Additionally, the second floor balcony gave the house a view to the downtown area of Austin so when you are standing on the balcony it is like you're looking at the city nightscape from your tree house hideaway. Very cool and so very Austin. 

Thanks to Grace for giving me permission to share the pics I took of her dining room.  I have a bunch of other posts that I need to edit photos and copy to post so hopefully I'll have another update soon.  Hope you are having a great week.  And last, as promised, the awesome dressing recipe.

This is the salad dressing recipe which Grace used for our dinner.   I've had many salads with this exact combination before, as you may have as well.  But trust me, this one did taste different so I have to believe Martha's deduction that it was the honey that gave Grace's salad the extra flavor is correct.  Good going Diane Rossen, whoever you are.