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Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Bright and Cheerful Woodland-Foresty-Garden Birthday Party!

A glistening gumdrop cake with a little nature mixed in.  Why not!

The owl took center stage.

Chalkboards with their ages written on.  They sat in the two chairs there behind the cake to blow out their candles, and the chalkboards were a fun addition to their photo's together.  I will also not have any problem guessing which birthday it was!

So, this is the table centerpiece.

 The larger view - the bugs remain in the chandelier from Easter.

Place settings.  The garden  markers worked out really well for name tags.  Names were written in chalk.  After the party I just wiped the names off with a damp cloth.   They are ready to be used again and again.
I sat half of the kids out at the deck table and half inside.  The weather was too nice to not be outside.  Michigan has been so cold and we are back to cold and rainy again - this was the one sunny and warm day.  All of the kids even ended up swimming in the super chilly pool.

The menu was simple:
Pizza from one of our favorite pizza shops
Antipasto salad
Veggies and dip
Strawberry Pretzel dish

cake and cupcakes
chocolate and/or vanilla ice cream with a bowl of bananas and peaches cut up small for topping

To make the cake topper I used a flat razor blade knife to free the owls feet from the camp sign.  
I then hot glued the owl to a stick I found on our back steps.

Next, I attached the owl to a green polka dot paper and tulle medallion.  After that I covered a very long sucker stick with butchers twine.  A little hot glue at the top and bottom of the stick held the twine in place very neatly.  Then I just hot glued the stick to the back of the medallion.  After the party it happily went home with my sweet little niece Bella.

Martha Stewart paper borders were wrapped around jelly jars just to dress them up a bit.

  Little woodland stickers were added to the ice cream cups.

I forgot to take photo's of that!

I also made some cupcakes from the babycakes cookbook.  The cakes were good - the frosting couldn't even be qualified as frosting - I followed directions to the letter so I have no idea what happened!  I had to run out last minute, and I was really happy to find some sugar free frosting.  I think it was new from Pillsbury and it was really quite good!  Has anyone else made anything from the babycakes cookbook?  I'm curious as to how your baked goods turned out.

SO MANY candles !!!
The boys enjoy the smoke after they blow out the flames.  
Luckily the owl didn't catch on fire!

Hopefully everyone is having a relaxing holiday weekend.
We have been busy - but good busy.
I saw the movie Bridesmaids, and laughed so hard I cried.  The character played by Melissa McCarthy was my favorite.  My goodness was she funny!
Noah has played some baseball - the boys in my house went to the Tiger's game while I was at the movies.  Josh's official birthday is also this weekend.
All is good - I just haven't taken any chances I have had to use the computer.

Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Birthday Party Inspiration

 With all of 20 minutes to gather supplies to decorate for the party this is what I came up with. 
(If only I hadn't gone in Home Goods first thinking they might have something I could use.  I wasted too much time in there!) 
Since the invitations had mushrooms on them I decided to shoot for woodland - forest.  I really like the cute owl!

The ice cream cups look small, but actually held so much ice cream!  I was surprised by how much they held.

I picked up the gumdrops at Trader Joe's the day before my craft shopping.  I thought they might be useful.

Here is the general idea ...

and a little sneak peek at the table decor.  

I'll be back soon - I hope - to show you how everything turned out.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Vanilla Sauce For Pancakes - Oh So Good!

Oh my, was this sauce ever good!

Vanilla-Scented Sauce
1 cup ricotta cheese (I used part-skim)
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt

Mix all of the ingredients until smooth in a small mixing bowl.  For a really smooth sauce, blend in a blender or food processor.  Refrigerate until needed.  Thin with 1 tablespoon milk or cream if sauce is too thick.

I made normal box pancakes this past Sunday morning - my intention was to make the real deal, but I was unaware until the last minute that I didn't have enough flour.  My family loves chocolate chips in their pancakes so I poured the batter onto the griddle and then scattered semi-sweet chips on top. 

I had just made the vanilla sauce for the other pancake recipe I was going to try so I decided I would use it anyway.  I made a half batch of sauce which was enough for the four of us - I also used a food processor to make it smooth.  Blackberries and sliced strawberries were the final touch.  This was seriously so good I cannot wait to make it again.  I felt like I had just ordered something fantastic at one of my favorite breakfast spots!  

If you try it please let me know what you think! 

Recipe is from an old Baker's Companion magazine.  Spring 2007.  Everything I have made from it has been delicious.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Mushroom and Polka Dot Party Invitations

My little men both turn another year older this month!  They are growing up, and this year they didn't have a theme they wanted - no inspiration colors for me to use - nada - so I'm choosing cheerful and springy with some nature wrapped in.  I got inspired by two things - mushrooms and faux bois.

This paper has a texture on it that completely reminds me of faux bois.  It reminds me of my Sophie Conran plates.  Too bad that the texture probably won't show up on the computer.  I printed 6 invites per 8 1/2 by 11 sheet.  My next step was to get out the paper reinforcement circles.  I used this same idea many years ago but in super miniature version.

Here is  how I add color to the circles.  Decorating chalks work really well, and you can blend the colors for the look you want. I used the q-tips to apply the color, but cotton balls can come in handy as well.

Here are how my layers worked.  From left to right - first a touch of aqua, second I added a little kelly green, and third more aqua was dusted on top.

They end up having a soft appearance and are really quick to finish.

I used the aqua that is all broken up and the kelly green two spots over.  If you use just a little bit the color stays soft.

So, I placed the colored circle where I wanted it on the invitation, and then punched a hole in the center of the circle.

Next, I wanted to add a tab.  Something to pull.  I just cut out strips of patterned paper, lined them up against the invite, and when it looked good I made a hole punch through that paper.  I left enough room for a mounting square, and then trimmed the excess paper off.

This is the back of the invite after everything was lined up and stuck together.

The simple finished look.  This invite would be so easy to make in any color combination - and I choose my patterned paper quickly from something lying around, but I can only imagine if I had time I could have picked out a really fun paper.  This was just a super quick assembly.

Close up. 

I tucked each invite into a white paper bag that I trimmed to the right size.  The bags that I purchased were originally 3 1/2 inches wide by 6 3/4 inches tall.  I trimmed about 2 inches off of the top of the bag using my paper cutter and a decorative edge.

The polka dot rectangle was cut from fabric paper that has adhesive backing.  It cut just fine with the paper cutter and was easy to attach.  I like the addition of fabric to the mix as well.

A mushroom decoration was the final touch.

I'm happy with how they turned out.  Now I'm leaning towards gnomes, owls, wood, moss.  Not all of those - that is just my general thought process.  Maybe some mini terrarium making.  Painting?  Old fashioned lawn games?  We will see what happens.  I need my final guest list and I will go from there.

I did pick up some springy colored plates and napkins along with garden markers to label each child's place at the table.

It's fun to see how one choice leads to the next.  Stay tuned for the results.  Hopefully they will be good!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

A Nice Little Gift - Plus Wrap

Hello again!  
My priorities have been in other places this past week.  I have a whole list of things to post so I'm hoping to put more focus on this blog of mine!

This is a gift that we gave to the mom's - wrapped up in tissue and butchers twine.  Something simple that maybe they can tuck into their gift from last year.  Mother's Day was busy.  With Noah having a baseball game in the middle of the day we ended up splitting things up.  Josh and I enjoyed brunch in the morning at my mom's house.  My sister and her boyfriend whipped up some delicious baked french toast, bacon, and fruit.  Later in the day the other half of the family took my husbands mom to dinner.

The clutches and notebooks are both from Target.  I made the ribbon roses  for a little something extra and handmade.  Plus, they made the wrap look cute.

Add a little gift card to the inside if you wish.  This would be a nice simple gift for any of the girls in your life.  I had a hard time not indulging in one myself.

The gifts are both a little bit different.  This is the flower and wrap for my mom.  Kind of looks like a prize winning ribbon.

Her clutch is a simple cream.  She wears a lot of denim and I thought this would look great with denim. 

A London notebook.  The notebooks come in a set of 3 - Paris, London, and New York.

Closeup of the flower.  This ended up looking so good in my house it was one of those very hard to give away gifts.  Don't you always feel good though when you actually give that kind of gift up.  Now that's really the spirit of giving!  The best part is that it looks really nice against her felted bag that is red and burnt orange.  Really good contrast - so I think it already has a permanent home.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Nonna's Lemon Ricotta Biscuits - A Giada Recipe

Mother's Day is just around the corner and I was thinking to myself how good this recipe from Giada would be as part of a Mother's Day brunch.  I have been making her recipe for a couple of years now, and they are a hit with everyone who has had a taste.  They are very dense - kind of a cross between a muffin and a biscuit -  and the lemon/almond flavor is just so good.  I made a batch Monday night and they had vanished by Tuesday afternoon. 


Nonna's Lemon Ricotta Biscuits
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar or more as needed for sprinkling
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest (from 2 lemons)
  • 1 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced almonds
Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
 Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl to blend. 
 Using an electric mixer, beat 1 cup sugar, butter, and lemon zest in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in the ricotta. Beat in the egg, lemon juice, and almond extract. Add the dry ingredients and stir just until blended (the batter will be thick and fluffy).
 Divide the batter among the prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle the almonds and then the remaining 1 teaspoon of sugar over the muffins. Bake until the muffins just become pale golden on top, about 20 minutes. Cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Voice - Elenowen

Did you happen to watch The Voice last week?  Josh and I did and we both really enjoyed it.  One of my favorites from the night were a husband/wife duo - Elenowen.  Here is a video from The Voice - it will give you an idea of what the show is like. 

The voice is on tonight, and there was a lot of talent on night one - the coaches are still building their teams.  I know we are looking forward tuning in!