Party like an Oscar nominee with these "INSIDER" OSCAR Party tips (Part 1 of 4)

Here are some “official” Oscar tips from the party pros who plan Oscar Night. And, check back to this blog for my three "Party-to-go" ideas using themes based on the Best Picture Nominees; Avatar, The Blind Side and Up In The Air, so you can have your own fabulous bash. See video here.

This year the florals for the official Oscar after party, The Governor’s Ball, are all shades of purple. Cool water lavender roses- Deep purple calla lilies- Purple Orchids. You can substitute that look at home with purple hyacinth and tulips.

Maybe you don't have an invite to the Vanity Fair party, but who says you can’t have the inside scoop? You can sip at home like the celebrities with the official Oscar cocktail and Moet and Chandon champagne featured at this HOT post-Oscar bash.

The Moet and Chandon Golden Glamour
4oz Moet Imperial
.25oz Navan
1.5oz Passion Fruit Juice
Served in a coupe or Martini Glass with sprig of mint has a fantastic website with some at home tips too:
Hosts print you’re your Oscar ballots from the official party site
I recommend printing on nice card stock and having plenty of pens around for your guests!

Wolfgang Puck is the official caterer of the OSCARS and he has some tasty recipes he’ll serve the celebs Sunday. I tried out the Smoked Salmon Bilini's and added my own twist. If you are tight on time you can subsitute home made Bilini's with frozen ones or frozen perogies. It is all about presentation. I chose to serve mine on blue polished sea glass and square Hoya Crystal plates.

The best gift to bring to an Oscar Party, this year, is the Moet Party Pack. Created just for the Oscars, it is four mini Moet Imperials, 4 toppers (you can drink right from their cleaverly provided topper, no glass needed). No mess party planning may not exactly be a celebrity tip, but is sure is one of mine!

Stay online as my Avatar Inspired Party Ideas are next, tomorrow.

And, tune in. You can watch the Riva Events OSCAR Party E! News Segment at 7:00PM Eastern March 3, 2010

Mooooove on down to Moomah Cafe a new, hip, kid restaurant and art center in New York City

Moomah Cafe is my discovery of the week. Thanks to my new, talented friend, Lara Paul, who created a really helpful i phone app called ikidny, that allows you to find any NYC kid friendly spot (including subways with elevators), I found a wonderful, inventive restaurant for my daughter and me on this rainy Tuesday in New York City.

Moomah is a delight for adults and children. The cafe features kid friendly foods like the Froggy Dipper and the seasonal Super Tryer. The Froggy Dipper is guacamole decorated as a frog face and served with blue corn tortilla chips. The Super Tryer features any 6 awesome offerings such as: chicken, cheddar cheese, Greek yogurt, cucumbers, dates, apples, bananas... the list goes on and on.

In addition to being a cafe, it is also a great spot to do arts and crafts. You can choose from a variety of art offerings to create at their mini art stations. Riley liked making the placemat and tiger out of construction paper! Next time we go back we'll find out more about the name Moomah too. Riley and I did buy a small cow, and now its name is Moomah...

My favorite part was the high tech Funky Forrest! Every Friday and Saturday kids can learn about how to make a forest grow by actually doing it themselves via a giant computer projected wall that responds to heat and movement. Kids have to water the trees to make them grow. The cool water, which is actually light projected onto the floor, actually moves when kids scoop it towards the tree roots. This is super high tech and LOADS of fun!

Moomah Cafe is located at 161 Hudson in New York City. It is open 7 days a week and the hours are online. I recommended mooooving it to the top of your NYC to-do list!

Looking for a Wedding Gift? Colin Cowie, Jeff Leatham and Daniel Boulud team up to launch Dom Perignon's new "Wedding Case" today in NYC

Today I had the pleasure of attending a launch party for a genius wedding gift. Dom Perignon designed a bottle that can be personalized with your friends names, for any occasion. The DP unique and famous shield is engravable, something never before done, with the exception of Prince Charles and Lady Diana's wedding. Good company to be in, if you ask me.

The PR force, Nadine Johnson, along with DP communications director, Nicole Ruvo, pulled together a dream team of designers to launch the delicious gift. Colin Cowie created a bubbly, beautiful table with vases of mirror, inspired by the DP bottle itself. Floral designer, Jeff Leatham, dreamed up gorgeous calla lilies and Chef Daniel Boulud designed a menu paired with the champagne to bring delight to all guests.

Jeff Leatham (look for his show Flowers Un Cut on TLC March 5)

Daniel Boulud's amazing wedding cake dessert

Colin Cowie was a true gentleman and gracious host

The table had clear glass "bubbles". The details were perfect.

The case of champagne is only available at select stores. It can be found at Crush Wine and Spirits. Click to purchase. The special bottle takes about two weeks to engrave. This gift is great if you decide to go in with another couple to afford. It is a little over $160 a bottle for a full case, including an additional bottle with the special engraving on the the iconic shield.

D-I-Y Indoor Fun with kids of all ages

D-I-Y Stay at Home Fun
For more info and other kid friendly ideas go to

As featured on GOOD DAY NY Monday, February 14th around 9:40 AM EST

Indoor Picnic Puppet Theatre
Items needed for picnic:
Picnic blanket, old sheet or large towel
Snack items: Popcorn, Annie’s bunnies, carrot sticks and veggie dip, homemade cookies and Zen Soy pudding
Recycled utensils/plates/cups
Puppet Show Items:
Paper bags
Construction paper
Self-adhesive Googley eyes

You will need a few books. Use a book about Presidents or story from one of your favorite bedtime books. Since it is President’s Day we decided to take a trip thru history and make Abe and Mary Todd Lincoln puppets.
Make the puppets together with the stories in mind. Create characters that your kids really enjoy reading about. Have the puppets act out a story line in the book.

Serve snacks at this festive, indoor picnic show hosted in your own living room!

Hands on activities

Make your own hot chocolate stand-indoors
Using boxes or pre-made stand from cardboard design you can create your very own hot chocolate stand.
Items needed:
(We used dot stickers from
Acrylic Paint
Cardboard boxes or design from Cardboard design
Hot chocolate
Fake money and a shoebox cash register

How to Make A Recycled Shoe Box Cash Register
Paint the shoebox desired color, and let dry or cover with a large sheet of construction paper found at
If covering with construction paper, use a ruler and pencil, measure and trace a gray piece of paper to fit the sides, top and bottom of the box. Use a piece of card stock and create a triangle to fit on top of the shoe box. Attach with double stick tape. Cut out the cash register numbers by tracing a circle. (Use the bottom of a small glass to trace perfect circles). Write in your numbers 0-9 and glue onto the box.
Cut letters to spell cash register from magazines and glue to these letters next to the opening of the shoebox
Use crayons to draw dollar signs on the top center of the shoebox.
For this activity kids can learn about the exchange of goods and services and denominations of money.

Activities 9-12

Science experiment--LED Flowers
Compliments of Sony Wonder Lab

Items needed (found at hardware store)
High intensity LEDs (one per project)
6-8 fiber plastic cable (mimcs fiber optics) shrink tubed to each LED
Colored cellophane sheets
Scotch tape
3V battery holder and connector
Wire strippers and wire cutters
Pipe cleaners (preferably green)
Plastic cups with precut hole in center of bottom base
Electrical tape

Begin project by having kids choose which color flowers they’d like to make. Cut 8x 10 sheet in half-length wise into 4x5 sheets. Fold 4x5 sheets in 4 and snip the corner edge to reveal a hole in the center when the cellophane is unfolded. Children may also opt to add leave on the base using the same process with green cellophane.
Explain the structure of the LED/ fiber optic assembly. LEDs are an energy efficient and “green” light source lasting infinitely longer than incandescent light and requiring far less energy to power. Electricity in an LED flows from the anode (positive end) to the cathode (negative end)- the longer leg of the LED is usually the anode making the shorter leg the cathode. You can use this configuration to connect the power source accurately. Red wire is anode while black is cathode.
Have kids carefully slip LEDs into the hole at the base of the cup. LED leads should be positioned straight down neatly so as to slide easily into the hole. Put the cup aside.
Have kids take a wire stripper to strip the battery connector wires and wind them around the appropriate legs of the LED. Before wrapping ensure the LED leads are spread far apart from each other and that the battery wires are not touching- or the circuit may short and burn out the LED. Make sure kids work neatly and carefully here as the LED leads can snap off easily if they are bent back and forth too frequently.
Give each kid 2 AA batteries and have them insert them into the battery holder. Be sure they follow the indications for positive and negative terminal placement.
Connect the battery holder to the LED to see if it works and the light turns on. If there are issues- check to make sure the connection is correct and that the wires are making good contact with the LED leads. Sometimes the wires are marked incorrectly on the battery connectors so try switching the connections. Other issues may be that the batteries are dead or improperly placed in holder. Also damage may have occurred to the LED leads or the LED itself may have shorted or malfunctioned.
Once the LED is connected and lit properly- tape the battery holder with the connector side facing down to the inside of the cup using electrical tape. Cover the base of the cup with a piece of cardboard or poster board cut in a circle and tape to the sides of the cup.
After the base is properly positioned you may want to wind a piece of pipe cleaner around the base to keep the fiber optics from falling over. Tape can also be used in place of pipe cleaners. If leaves are desired thread them through the top of the fiber optic cables to the base and then wind pipe cleaners around to hold them in place.
Now to make the flowers- choose two fiber optic threads and slip the cellophane pieces over to the desired spot. Have some scotch tape strips ready and tape the base of the cellophane to the fiber optics. Cellophane can be folded any way desired. Repeat for all fiber optic cables using 2 per flower.
The final step is to clip the ends of the fiber optics per flower. One suggestion is to make them varying lengths. Kids can also take their scissors and gently press the cables in varying spots (without fully cutting them) to allow light to pass. In essence this is “damaging” the cable allowing light to escape before it reaches the tip. TIP: When cutting tips of cable- try to create a clean flat cut (no angles) so light passes through easily.

Eat Your Heart Out...

Here are a few crafty edibles that you can make this weekend with your honey, sweet child or best friend in celebration of Valentine's Day and the Chinese New Year.
As seen on WNBC's LXTV Monday Segment

Gifts don’t always have to be expensive, just thoughtful. And, with these crafts I encourage you to partner with a friend or your child to create. Sometimes the true gift is time spent together one-on-one. Food for thought...

Heart Shaped Brownie or chocolate cookie pops on a "bed of roses". Take brownie mix and use a cupcake mold. Once cupcakes are cooled and taken out of mold add baker sticks and that's all you need for this quick indoor treat.

Roses Picture Frame- hand made using an old frame and dried flowers left over from Valentine's Day. I took a hot glue gun, and after I trimmed the rose heads off the stems, I attached them to the frame.

Crazyoleez heart crayons- This is great new gift idea instead of a cards. It is multi purpose and super fun. It is all the colors of a crayon box in one crayon. We used it to make our hand made cards.

Pink and Red Mini Heart Shaped Sugar Cookies in a mason jar (great for a gift to give to teachers). I found a super tiny heart mold and we made sugar cookies and sprinkled them with red and pink sugar crystals. We placed them in a mason jar and tied a red and white ribbon around the lid.

Hand Made Cards from ribbon and paper. We used the 3-D foam tape to give our hearts a true lift. Also, we took some left over holiday decor and made new cards for this Valentine's Day.

The Be Mine Card is a heart collage of family photos –it is so easy now to print out your digital photos and this is a great gift for the grandparents and friends.

Personalized photo stamps from add a nice finished touch. They have Chinese New Year Heart stamps too. Zazzle also creates almost anything in a personalized form. Check out the iphone cases! Super cool.

Michaels Arts and Crafts sells the Frog mail box for cards.

A rock and roll heart bedazzled jacket that kids and moms can do as a fun craft together with just beads and glue and an old jean jacket. The one here is from Nimbus Nine Fashions in Long Island.

Heart Sandwiches with heart healthy bread- Williams Sonoma makes a heart shaped sandwich cutter that is a treat! We used Spelt and walnut, cranberry bread.

And, as we celebrate our love for family this Valentine’s Day, send some love to others in need:
in the spirit of love I thought I'd mention some really awesome local things kids can do to give back more love to their community.

The comedy hall of fame is based in Long Island and teaches laughter in underprivileged schools, they need donations. based in New Jersey- Their mission is to underwrite a one of its kind cell therapy lab at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center dedicated to treating and researching pediatric cancers. The Max Cure Foundation was established in honor of their then four year old son Max who was diagnosed with cancer in 2007. Thankfully, Max is in remission today, but the crusade of The Max Cure Foundation has just begun. If you would like to donate to Team Max Cure, please go to

And to find out some places your children can volunteer please check out (they are a great organization!)

(Almost guilt free) Valentine's Day Desserts

Make me a great dessert and I’ll show you the way to my heart! Here we have a decadent dessert list that will steal your heart, but not your waistline this Valentine’s Day.
Decadent Desserts (that are not so decadent) as featured on E! News.

Two Layer Chocolate Pudding Cake with Zen Soy Pudding Icing
(125 calories per slice or if you use a pudding layer between each cake 135 calories) VS 235 per average chocolate cake with chocolate icing

There is no dairy in the recipe, this cuts calories. And, we used zen soy pudding to ice and layer the cake.

1 1/2 Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cocoa
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon vinegar
6 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup cold water
6 four packs of ZenSoy Organic Chocolate Pudding for layers and on top of cake.

Preheat your oven to 350°F.__Measure all the dry ingredients into an 8 or 9-inch round or square cake pan. Blend these together thoroughly with a fork and scoop out three holes, or indentations.__Pour the vanilla into the first hole, the vinegar into the second, and the vegetable oil into the third.__Take the cup of cold water and pour it directly over everything in the pan. Stir all the ingredients together with your fork until they are well blended.__Bake for 30 to 40 minutes.
Once cooled, Use 6 four-packs of super-rich, low-fat ZenSoy Organic Chocolate Soy Pudding to create dramatic layers & ice the deceptively sinful cake!

Irresistible Dulce de Leche Cheesecake
200 calories per slice vs range of 257-582 calories for regular cheesecake

We used Reduced Fat Cream Cheese and Splenda instead of sugar.

1 cup graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons butter, melted
3 (8 ounce) packages reduced fat cheese
1 cup SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, Granulated
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 eggs
1/2 cup reduced fat milk
1/2 cup dulce de leche

Serves: 1 (9 inch) cheesecake
Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Cook Time: 1 Hour 5 Minutes

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Mix crust ingredients together, and press into a 9-inch springform pan. Place pan on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and cool to room temperature.
Reset oven temperature to 325 degrees F.
Beat cream cheese, SPLENDA® Granulated Sweetener and flour together until well mixed and smooth. Add vanilla and mix until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix until smooth. Add milk and mix until well blended.
Measure _ cup of the cheesecake batter and pour into a small bowl. Add dulce de leche and stir until well combined.
Pour plain batter over crust. Top with dulce de leche batter by placing rounded spoonfuls over the cheesecake batter and gently swirl into plain batter with the tip of knife or spatula.
Bake 45-55 minutes or until center is almost set. Remove from oven and gently run metal spatula around rim of pan to loosen cheesecake (this helps prevent cracking). Let cool 20-25 minutes before covering and placing in the refrigerator. Refrigerate 4- 6 hours or overnight before serving.

Almost No Fat Tiramisu
265 calories per serving vs 602 in a normal tiramisu

Coffee and Vanilla yogurt are used in place of the traditional recipe's egg yolks.

Coffee Low Fat Yogurt, 8-ounce container
Vanilla Low Fat Yogurt, 8-ounce container
Whipped Cream Cheese, 2 ounces (half of a 4-ounce container)
Confectioners' Sugar, 1 tbs
Sponge type Ladyfingers, 3-to 4 (1/2 ounce package)
Coffee Flavor Liquor (optional), 2 tbs
Instant Espresso Coffee Powder, 2 tsp
AMARETTI Cookies, 3/4 cup (6 pairs of cookies) coarsely crushed
Frozen light whipped topping, 1-1/2 cups thawed (about _ of an 8-ounce container)
Unsweetened cocoa for garnish

In small bowl, with rubber spatula, mix coffee and vanilla yogurts.
Place large paper coffee filter in small metal strainer set over small bowl.
Spoon yogurt mixture into coffee filter; place in refrigerator.
Let yogurt mixture stand 2 hours (whey will drip into bowl and yogurt will be slightly thickened).
Remove yogurt mixture from refrigerator and discard liquid in bowl.
Spoon yogurt mixture into bowl.
Stir in whipped cream cheese and 1/3 cup confectioners' sugar until well blended. Set aside.
Separate ladyfingers into halves.
Cut each half crosswise in half and place in jelly-roll pan.
In small bowl, stir together coffee-flavor liqueur, instant espresso-coffee powder, 1/4 cup hot tap water, and 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar (if not using coffee-flavor liqueur, increase hot tap water to 1/3 cup and espresso-coffee powder to 1 tablespoon).
Brush ladyfingers on both sides with espresso mixture.
In each of six 8-ounce parfait glasses, layer 4 pieces of ladyfinger, 1 scant tablespoon crushed amoretti cookies, 2 tablespoons yogurt mixture, and 1 heaping tablespoon whipped topping.
Repeat layering one more time.
Sprinkle with cocoa if you like.
Refrigerate at least 30 minutes or until ready to serve.

Banana Delight
140 calories per serving vs Bananas Foster at 355 calories

Portion size. We used half a banana and kept it simple. This is a big favorite from the Weight Watchers Diet Plan used by big name celebrities.

1/2 Banana
1 Tablespoon of your favorite light butter
1 Teaspoon of Sugar
Vanilla, caramel or rum
Melt the butter and sugar in a fry pan until blended (but not burnt).
Cut the banana in half long way and sauté each side until just light brown.
Put the sautéed bananas on a plate.
In another plate mix the sauce and add 3 drops of vanilla (or caramel, or rum) to the sauce.
Pour the sauce over the banana.

If you can, this Valentine's Day, give your loved ones the gift of a home made dessert. It is thoughtful, often less processed and can be heart healthy, especially if you make it with your kids!

Please share your favorite Valentine's Day food stories with me, both past and present! I'd love to hear them. Bon Appetit!