Keri’s first day of 3rd grade

School is here!  I say that as a negative and positive thing.. negative in the way that we have had a wonderful summer together!  We have gone to Sea World, swimming, playdates, sleep overs, and spent lots of time together – it has been wonderful!  So, boo to school.  But, positive in the way that Keri gets to see her school friends that she hasnt seen all summer (she is very excited to see them!!), and also I get to start making Bento lunches again, YES!  This year will be different, however.  First, I now work PRN.  So, I work roughly 8 shift per month (minimum of 8, but I can work more and have worked more when needed).  This is because working full time was too difficult to do with school!  I am still in graduate school too – but no matter, I can handle my schedule a lot more easily now.. a lot less stressful compared to the beginning of this year!  Anyways, back to the bento lunches.  Keri put a few stipulations on the bento lunches.  First, she said absolutely no cookie cutters other than a cat, dog, or bird.  Awesome.  Not. But okay, I’ll respect that.. maybe.  I asked her about an Apple Lunch, she said no.. but.. it was too cute.. so.. I did it anyways.. and she was kinda sorta upset the first morning of school (oops).  I didnt mention this, btw, she is in 3rd grade – ACK!  This will be the 4th year I’ll be doing bento lunches for her 🙂  I’ll switch in between the Yubo and Planet Box, just fyi.

So, the first lunch was an apple lunch on 08/25/14.  It was a big apple sandwich with mini apple sandwiches, homemade caramel dipping sauce for her freshly cut apples (dunked in apple juice to prevent browning), apple balls (prepackaged, didnt make those), and homemade apple shaped cinnamon honey graham crackers.

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Here is a picture of Keri with her Bento lunch:

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Okay.. and because I have to (cant resist), here are two pictures of Keri’s first day back to school.. Third Grade!

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And.. of course the puppy.  Oh.. the puppy.  This was a picture of Keri and Kali (puppy) before Kali got a haircut.

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Back to the Bentos!  This is Tuesday, 08/26/14’s lunch: A bird lunch!  Nothing too special here – birdy sandwiches, berry mix for the fruit, mini bird homemade graham crackers, yogurt, and circle cheese.

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Next, Wednesday, 08/27/14 lunch:  Beef bites.  These were suppose to be made with pork or sausage or turkey.. I got the wrong thing.. oops.  So, I’m calling them crescent beef bites b/c I used ground beef and cream cheese.  Keri loved them!  In all fairness, there was suppose to be homemade potato chips there too.. but I forgot the potato.  Oops.  So, instead, pringles (which.. she didnt eat, I might add).  Then some crackers and cheese, and berries.

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This last lunch, Thursday, 08/28/14 is my pride and joy lunch.. Homemade Spaghettios!  They are healthy, actually!  I made a big pot of them, and it was enough for today’s lunch plus 4 to freeze.. YES!  Jackpot, b/c Keri LOVED them!  I was so happy.. they have purred carrots in them.. ssssshhh – dont tell my daughter that 🙂  The spaghettios and turkey meatballs were 100% homemade.  I had to buy the noodles off Amazon, b/c I didnt know where there were any European stores near me, so probably spent too much on the noodles than necessary, but that is okay, it was worth it!  The turkey meatballs – I used the recipe linked up above, but used flax seed in replace of the egg.  They worked out beautifully!  I made mini turkey meatballs, and Keri said she loved the meatballs in particular – so yay!

turkey meatballs

homemade spaghettios

And here is her lunch that day:  Homemade spaghettios with turkey meatballs, mixed fruit, cheese pretzels and yogurt.  Huge hit!  And, I have four more in the freezer.. ready to go 🙂  Yay!

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Week one.. done.  So, what you can expect this year as far as Bentos go.  Well, I’ve been “forbidden” to do cute kind of lunches.  I’ll try to squeeze some in there every now and then when I think Keri is okay with it (i.e. wont get that mad at me.. ha!) – but she loves the hot lunches.  So, I plan on making a whole bunch of new bento recipes to try out for her.  I’ve already pinned several recipes regarding soups, and different things I can freeze – make a big pot of it.. and boom, several lunches!  So, look for those.  I’m so happy she has access to use a microwave.. dont know what I’d do without it!  But, that is the first week in a wrap for Keri’s bento lunches – welcome to Third Grade Keri.. so proud of you!!

Fudge-Mania!

Mmmmm.. FUDGE!  I had a Christmas party for a few friends of mine with a special guest (SANTA!) coming, and I wanted to do something special for them.  Normally, cupcakes are my specialty, but I just wanted to do something different.  So, I made 12 different kinds of fudge.  Yep, you heard that right.. 12.  (12 days of Christmas.. 12 types of fudge.. get it?  No?  They were all delicious!)

1.  Chocolate Fudge – This is my fool proof chocolate fudge recipe that I use every single year from Eagle Brand.  It is the best chocolate fudge, hands down!  I make it with Hershey chocolate chips, and it is so delicious!

fudge - chocolate

2.  Cookie Dough Fudge – This recipe took me a while to find.  I wanted to find an eggless cookie dough fudge recipe that my daughter could have.  Was so happy to find this one!  It tasted like cookie dough too.  It was a little difficult to make, but Keri liked it!

fudge - cookie dough

3.  Peanut Butter Fudge – This fudge was my favorite out of all 12.. it was so delicious!!  Initially, I wanted to make White Chocolate Reeses Fudge, but I searched everywhere and couldnt find any white chocolate peanut butter cups!  So.. searched for a new recipe, found this one, and so glad I did.  Only change I made was using Reeses peanut butter instead of Jif.  This was seriously some of the best fudge I’ve ever had – Try this recipe!

fudge - peanut butter

4.  Strawberry Fudge – This is an extremely simply recipe!  It was good, but it was very frosting-y.  Yes, I know that strawberry frosting is the main ingredient in this fudge.. obviously.. but still, it was a little over the top to me – I still ate it, dont get me wrong, I love the taste of frosting, but it wasnt really fudge fudge.. it just tasted like hardened strawberry frosting!

fudge - strawberry

5.  Butterscotch Fudge – If you like butterscotch.. you will really like this fudge!  This fudge is rich – it has a very rich butterscotch flavor to it.  It was a little overpowering for me, but good nevertheless.

fudge - butterscotch

6.  Chocolate Mint Fudge – This fudge was a huge hit.  I changed it slightly.. didnt do 3 layers (b/c this fudge is a lot of work to actually make), only did two layers.  I did the bottom layer of chocolate, the top layer of mint.  It was very good!

fudge - chocolate mint

7.  Cookies And Cream Fudge – My daughter loved this fudge!  It was her favorite.  And, it really did taste like cookies and cream!

fudge - cookies and cream

8.  Egg Nog Fudge – We really like egg nog in this house!  Well, we dont drink it all the time, but on Christmas and special occasions.  Lets just say I really like egg nog on occasion – non-alcoholic though!  So, I really wanted to make egg nog fudge.  The recipe just intrigued me.  This fudge is rich.  You can definitely taste the egg nog in this fudge!  My husband, who is also an egg nog fan, didnt really care for this fudge – he said there was something “off” with it.  Yeah, I can see what he means.  You are use to drinking egg nog.. not eating it.  Still pretty good fudge though, if you like egg nog!

fudge - eggnog

9.  Vanilla Bean Fudge – This was another fudge that was good.. but just a little “off” tasting wise.  It wasnt that huge of a hit with my guests either – they all liked it.. but I think with the huge variety of fudge, it just wasnt one they were navigating towards!

fudge - vanilla bean

10.  Chocolate Salted Caramel Fudge – My husband really enjoyed this one.  Me?  I thought it was just okay.  It was very easy to make – one of the easiest out of the 12, but I think of caramel of having that gooey texture – this is fudge, obviously.  So, just didnt set well with me!

fudge - caramel

11.  Buttercream Fudge – This fudge is delicious!  I have made it for a few years now, and love it.  It uses frosting as well, but it is very, very good!  The only thing I do differently is use vanilla instead of the butter extract.  Very good fudge!

fudge - buttercream

12.  Peppermint Fudge – Mmmm!  Peppermint!  Loved this fudge – it was very delicious!  Just note that this fudge will only keep for a day or so until the peppermints start to “melt”.  Very delicious fudge!!

fudge - peppermint

Now – I had 12 different kinds of fudge.  I had to organize them in some way!  But.. how?  Well, I tried very, very hard to have a variety of fudge that my daughter could sample.  There were only 3 out of the 12 that she could not have:  peanut butter, eggnog and vanilla bean.  So, I put all three of these on the same plate – also notice how the cards also have a little green brad instead of red.  Keri was told that these three she could not have – but the ones with the red brad, she could have.

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Spread 2 consists of peppermint, cookies and cream and salted caramel.  As mentioned, the cookies and cream fudge was a hit with the kids!

fudge - spread 2

Spread 3 was the basics – this was honestly my favorite fudge (in addition to the peanut butter!!).  Had to combine the best fudge all on one plate!!  Below is Chocolate, Strawberry and Buttercream fudge.

fudge - spread 3

Spread 4, the last spread consists of cookie dough, chocolate mint and butterscotch fudge.

fudge - spread 4

Notice the little cards that I made for each fudge?  Thought they were cute too 🙂  Love doing this sort of stuff!  You can compare all my pictures to the pictures of the actual recipes all in one spot on my Pinterest Board:  Fudge.  Probably wont make any fudge until next Christmas.. so, until then, enjoy all the delicious recipes wrapped up in one post!

Since this party was all about a Christmas Party.. and Santa.. I think it is appropriate to include a picture of my beautiful little girl with Santa himself!  And yeah.. she eventually came around after seeing all her friends and talked with Santa for a bit 🙂  Was able to get some amazing pictures of Keri and Santa together!

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M&M Chocolate Marshmallow Cupcakes

Today was dinner at a friend’s house!  We went over for some fun, swimming, dinner.. and of course, CUPCAKES!  I wanted something fun for the kids, semi-new, and delicious.  So, I settled on a recipe I found on Pinterest, but changed it up just a bit.

Here is the original pin:  M&M Cupcakes.  Lets get to the changes that I made though!

Cupcakes:  The recipe used on the website was the Hershey cupcakes (located on the back of the Hershey cocoa box).  Pretty simple recipe, and makes decent chocolate cupcakes!

Eggless Cake:  Keri needed a cupcake too!  So, I made the Hershey cupcakes with eggs for everyone, and Crazy Cake (a vegan cake from Allrecipes) for Keri.

Ganache:  The original recipe states the ganache as just being melted bittersweet chocolate.  Boring!  I used the same ganache I used for the Black Cherry Cupcakes – it was a delicious ganache!

Frosting:  Followed recipe exactly.  However, for Keri’s frosting, I used Chocolate Frosting from Allrecipes.  And since there was so much chocolate frosting.. I decided to fill these cupcakes too!

On to the baking!  (I’m only showing pictures of the cupcakes that have eggs in it – You’ll see Keri’s final eggless cupcake at the end).  Here were the delicious looking cupcakes out of the oven cooling:

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Next, the filling!  I used the chocolate frosting, the icing pipe tip, and just piped icing into the cupcakes.  Can you say yummy?!

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Next.. the marshmallow frosting!!  NOTE:  If you are new to making marshmallow frosting, I will give you a tip.  You need a stand alone mixer!  I think you could technically make this frosting with a hand mixer.. but the one time I tried, I was whipping it for 30 minutes.. and still failed.  You really do need a stand alone mixer!  Marshmallow frosting is so easy to make once you have a stand alone mixer, and so delicious!  (My favorite part of the cupcake was the frosting!!)

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Next, take the cupcake and dip it into the ganache, then pipe a little bit more frosting on top of the ganache.  (Make sure you refrigerate in between to hardened the ganache!)  And the final product looks like this:

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How delicious do those look!?  YUMMY!  And they were, of course!  All very simple recipes that I have made before, but combining them all together just makes them even more amazing!  And as promised, here is a picture of Keri’s – just slightly different (Eggless, of course!)

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Keri loved her cupcake too.   And I admit, it was hard to let Keri have her pure chocolate cupcake.. I mean, it was like triple chocolate!  Chocolate cake, chocolate frosting filling, chocolate frosting dipped in chocolate ganache and more chocolate frosting!  So much chocolate!

Changes:  As always, I learn from my cupcakes.  There are two changes I would make – so if you ever make these.. make these changes!  First, be generous on the chocolate frosting filling!  Don’t be afraid to put more in there!!  Second, there wasnt enough marshmallow frosting for all the cupcakes.. even when I took two away for Keri!  (only frosted 22 cupcakes with the marshmallow frosting to provide room in the container for the 2 I made Keri).  I would definitely double the marshmallow frosting – It is lacking for sure!

Last picture.. Keri and her cupcake.  Enjoy!!

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Kitty Cat Birthday Party: Food Table

My pride and joy.. my little girl.. and the food 🙂  I LOVE baking!  I did a lot of baking for Keri’s birthday party.  In fact, I spent from 7:00am – 9:00pm on Saturday (day before her party) baking!  Loved every moment of it.  Here is a wide view of the food table.. then I’ll break down what exactly is on it! IMG_2326 Well, that shows everything but what is on the right of the table.. the most prized food items, in my opinion.  But, it does show the strawberries and fruit dip there.  This was something that was unexpected to make.  I did not, and was not, planning to make this or include it (it is RED!  Not pink / purple!  Yes, I’m that weird) – but my husband requested that fruit dip.  I am so glad that I made that fruit dip because it was the most complemented item on that table!  And, here is the recipe if you want it:  Cream Cheese Fruit Dip. The next complimented item was the homemade kitty marshmallows.  I used this recipe:  Homemade Marshmallows – and cut the marshmallows using a little kitty cat cookie cutter.  Everyone loved them! IMG_2318 Notice the little food cards?  They are so cute!!  Love those little cards.  Next, I made homemade cat graham crackers.  A lot of them.  They are delicious!  Recipe:  Graham Crackers. IMG_2319 To keep with the health items.. I made homemade chocolate chip & marshmallow granola bars.  I was so happy these were a huge hit!  Recipe:  Granola Bars (I used mini chocolate chips and those itty bitty marshmallows like you put in hot chocolate instead of raisins). IMG_2317 Next, candied popcorn!  This recipe I made just a couple hours before the party.  It was easy to make, and I thought it tasted good, but it wasn’t exactly a big hit at the party for some reason.  I’m not sure if this because it was sticky or chewy, or not sure.  But, still looked cute!  I got the little purple popcorn boxes from Oriental Trading.  Recipe: Candied Popcorn IMG_2323 More semi-healthy food.. that of course, match the color scheme, is yogurt covered pretzels.  These are available at a store right down the street from me, and the kids always seem to like these! IMG_2244 Next, chocolate kitties!  Well, not exactly chocolate, but they are the vanilla candy melts – I just bought pink and purple.. and a kitten mold, and made my own!  Of course the kids devoured these: IMG_2247 Lastly, fruit.  (Not exactly lastly, you can see all the cakes here:  Kitty Cat Birthday:  Cakes).  I had my step son and his girlfriend cut the watermelon into thin slices and with the kitty cat mini cookie cutter and a mini flower cookie cutter cut a bunch of shapes out.  So, we had strawberries, fruit dip, watermelon and grapes! IMG_2314 The food table was quite pretty – I really liked this one!  But now you have the drinks.  I did not make the labels on the bottled water – A seller from Etsy made them for me.  They were definitely complimented, and many thought that I made them myself since I made the zhu zhu ones last year!  But, I didnt have time to make it this year, so had to buy them.  Think they are cute! IMG_2325 Lastly.. kitty milk!!  Now, this picture doesnt show the milk in the bottles, but that is on purpose.  I did not fill the bottles up with milk until right before I gave the drinks to the kids.  But, Keri’s favorite drink is milk (by a landslide!) and kitties drink milk.. hence, milk instead of juice boxes!  I tied on a ribbon to the bottle and added those paper straws that you can buy from Etsy.  Very very cute set up – love it! IMG_2333 And just a silly picture of me and my birthday girl.. I was trying so hard to get a picture of me and her – and she was just soooo excited!  This picture is a cute one – and shows us in front of the food table!

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All that is to talk about now are the cakes!  Kitty Cat Birthday Party:  Cakes

Hubby’s Birthday

It’s my husband’s birthday!  Well, almost.  He will be in England for his actual birthday.. so.. celebrating early 🙂

I thought I would surprise him with his favorite.. peanut butter!!  This is a brand new recipe that I am doing.  And yes.. I’ll admit.  Had one earlier.. delicious!!!  Absolutely amazing recipe!

Recipe is from Bakerella, check it out:  Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes  And then.. look at these beautiful cupcakes!

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And look how pretty those flowers are!  Another post about those flowers.. 🙂  Probably should have taken out the Reese peanut butter jar.. but that’s okay.  Still some beautiful and yummy cupcakes!!

Cupcakes, done.  Now.. what about a present?  Well, I dont have a lot of money.  I wanted to get something special for him that would be practical.  I started to just google pilot gifts.. and it dawned on me.  He travels a lot for his work so bought some new suit cases.  But, despite traveling a lot, he uses the paper luggage tags from the air port.. I mean, really?!  So, I found a wonderful gift from the seller ThreeBoysWish from Etsy.  She worked with  me on the charm since my husband is a private pilot (in his free / spare time, that is) and put two airplane charms on it.. and it is amazing!  

keychain edit

Look how beautiful this gift is!!  I am really hoping he loves it.  I think he will.  

Gift, done.  Now.. a card!  He doesnt do sentimental cards very much.. and why make them for him?  He looks at them once.. and then who knows what happens to them.  BUT, if Keri makes one.. we keep it forever!  So, of course Keri made daddy a card – an airplane card.  Here is the final card, and inside (not picture), she wrote “Happy Birthday Daddy, I Love You” – and drew lots of pictures of cats, Ha!  Love it!  

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Even though he will be in England for his birthday.. I sure hope he enjoys what we have done for him 🙂  We celebrate tomorrow, so Keri is excited to sing Happy Birthday to daddy!  And even though my husband will probably never read this.. Happy Birthday to the love of my life, my best friend.. my husband 🙂

 

Becca’s Baby Shower

Baby Time!  A very good friend of mine is expecting her third child shortly.. and I had the wonderful honor of throwing her a baby shower 🙂  I must admit, it was a little difficult to pull this off while attending nursing school.. but I started early, had a wonderful co-host and my vision came through.. it turned out so beautiful!

Another few views of the dessert table.. which was the highlight of the event 🙂

 

 

Details!  Everything was in the details.. and I have a few people in particular to thank, so first.. my lovely co-host, Jeanette!  She was amazing during this baby shower!  I was (am) in Nursing School and only had a few days to do stuff on my own in between semesters, so I bombarded my friend with tons to do.. and she pulled it off 🙂  Thank You so much to an awesome friend for all her help in making this shower happen!

So, what all did we do?  LOTS!  We will start with the crafts!

Notice the backdrop?  I owe that to my awesome husband!  He built a backdrop based on this pin I found off Pinterest:  Building A Backdrop.  However, my husband decided to build it with PVC pipes rather than wood so it would be easily transportable to and from the baby shower (it was!) – we made it 6 feet tall and 8 feet wide.  He drilled a hole a few inches from the top, tied a rope from one end to another and that is how we secured the King Size sheet to the backdrop.  For the decorations, I cut out 4 inch circles from my Cricut (George & Basic Shapes cartridge), used the twine rope to hot glue them into a a banner type thing and secured it to the back where the sheet was held by alligator clips.  Beautiful backdrop!  Thank you hubby, love you!!

 

For the island – I wanted to decorate that a bit.. so, Jeanette had a couple cans that I decorated with scrapbook paper, tied some twine rope on it.. and instant hold for the silverware!  It is elegant, simple, and so beautiful.. took less than 5 minutes to make both of them – awesome!  And the background has the vases that I painted white.  I used acrylic paint – poured some inside, turned the vases upside down to let the paint drip out.. and beautiful effect!  Fake flowers in the vases from hobby lobby 🙂

 

Also on the island were the dessert boxes to go.  You didnt expect all 16 guests to eat everything on that dessert table.. did you?!? Of course not!  Dessert to go boxes 🙂  I bought these boxes a long time ago.. for my daughter’s 5th birthday (about 15 months ago).  I still had 18ish of them.  They would not disappear!  So.. lets make them disappear 🙂  I bought labels at Office Depot, used a foot stamp I bought from Hobby Lobby and decorated the boxes.  This is what I came up with:

For the dining room table, I didnt want a lot on there.  I wanted it to be simple:  simple blue table cloths, baby confetti, and in the center is a beautiful ribbon topiary!  I have made these before.. and love making them, but they are very time consuming!  So, Jeanette did the ribbon part of the ball!  For the bottom – it is simply a flower pot with scrapbooking paper cut and modge podged on.  I used moss for the inside.  Beautiful!

Lets talk about the presents!  In particular, the diaper carried cake.  I found this amazing You Tube Video giving step by step directions on how to make it, and knew I wanted to do it!  It was so easy and only took about 45 minutes to make – beautiful!  I just wanted to do something different.. b/c for Leia and Jeanette’s baby showers, I made diaper cakes – I wanted something new and different.. so hence this 🙂  Included in this diaper carriage cake is 82 size 1 diapers, baby washcloths, onesie, bib, puppy dog lovey, receiving blanket and a big fuzzy blanket.

Lets talk about the onesie bouquets!  My inspiration is this beautiful artist on Etsy – check out her store and what she sells:  Baby Blossom Co.  I did not order these that I made from her, but used her creations as my inspirations – so she deserves full credit her!  Mine were no where near the beauty and elegant (or sturdy!) as hers.. but I tried 🙂  Took forever too!  Huge thanks to Jeanette for helping out with the blankets and clothes used in this project and the diaper carriage cake!

 

Notice those cute little favor boxes there in the above picture?  Lets talk about those!  Those party favors.. oh my.  Will save you the long story, but they turned out beautiful!  And, btw, a few have asked where to get the burlap at, which is at Hobby Lobby.  It is in the fabric section, and expensive (use a coupon!) – but that is where I got it at.  I used my cricut to cut out the tags, stamps to stamp “Thank You” on one side and the date “09-01-12” on the other.  Hot glued everything together.. and beautiful!  Whats inside?  Onesie bird feeders 🙂  Soo cute!  Recipe for the onesie bird feeder is here:  Homemade Bird Feeders.

 

And.. just a shot of the table with the baby Trent banner!  (Note:  On the table to the right are wrapped gifts in brown paper – these are the “sibling” gifts.  Wont give any details about those gifts here, but will try to update that post giving credits soon.  The kids havent opened these gifts yet so do not want to give anything away!)

 

Lastly.. FOOD!  What was on the dessert table you asked?  Well.. okay.. guess I’ll reveal everything 🙂  I made homemade cards for all the items, which are adorable, and all the recipes were amazing too.  Will list the items along with the recipes and pictures (and necessary inspirations / credits) below!  First.. lets start with the cake!

This was a simple white cake with a strawberry cream cheese frosting (frosting recipe on here, cut down on powdered sugar and sub vanilla with strawberry extract) with homemade marshmallow fondant.  The inspiration came from this post:  Baby Shower Cake.  I havent worked with fondant in a while (6+ months), so had some difficulty with the fondant since I was rusty.. but turned out okay.. I guess.. 🙂

 

Cupcakes!  Becca’s favorite cupcakes are chocolate peanut butter 🙂  I found this recipe off Annie’s Eats for Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes, and have made this recipe several times.  The chocolate cake in this particular recipe is dry – I do not recommend it.  Made the recipe twice using that chocolate cake.. and both times it was just so dry.  So, I changed up the cake and used this recipe from Annie’s Eats:  Chocolate Cake.  It was delicious!  Inspiration for the toppers came from here:  Cupcake toppers.  I used fondant to make the flowers and blue colored chips and footprint molds to make the feet.  Cute!

btw – the cupcake wrappers were made using scrapbooking paper and the cupcake wrapper cartridge with my cricut!  Also used them for the fruit cups.  Speaking of which.. the fruit cups 🙂

 

Lets see.. chocolate lollipops!  Loved how this was displayed!  Got the inspiration of using the jelly beans from this post and knew I had to do it.  Found these yellow pails at Target’s dollar section, decorated them, and loved the result!  The chocolate lollipops are just used making the chocolate molds and footprint molds with regular chocolate.

 

Brownie Batter – mmmmm!  This was such a good recipe!  Found the recipe off Pinterest:  Brownie Batter, and knew I had to have it!  It was very good 🙂

 

The homemade onesie graham crackers were also a hit.  Always amazed how well these things are received!

 

Beside the graham crackers were yogurt covered pretzels.  Nope, I didnt make these.. not even going to try 😉  Bought these from Greenfields down the street!

 

Sugar cookies!  Ack!  These things were annoying!  I wanted to do homemade.  I didnt have time.  Jeanette tried them, made them, turned out beautiful, husband ate them all,  told me she didnt have time to make them for the shower, so.. what to do?  Lily’s cookies (who made the zhu zhu cookies for Keri’s birthday), were too expensive.  Just couldnt do it..  did not need 24 cookies!  (They have a minimum order for custom cookies).  So.. what to do.  Sugar cookie bars!  Found this recipe.. tried it.. meh, it was okay.  They were really dense in my opinion, but a few seemed to like them.. so be it 🙂  Not sure I’ll make these again though.. we’ll see!

 

Lets get to a couple things that Jeanette helped me out with, shall we?!  I didnt bake everything.. just not enough time!  So, Jeanette helped me out by baking these delicious lemon cookies.  They are always so yummy.. and so easy to make!!

 

And what is lemon cookies without lemonade?!  Have to have the homemade lemonade!  Jeanette made the lemonade from a true tried recipe – delicious stuff!  Now, this was my pride and joy.. the lemonade bottles!! (Bought Here).  HAD to have these!  I’ve always wanted these.. had to get them!  They are beautiful!!  And of course my inspiration for the lemonade bottles / tags is here – beautiful display!  The 10.5 inch straws were bought from the Esty Store:  Isakay Boutique.  I made the tags myself.  LOVE my lemonade bottles!!

 

Speaking of Etsy.. lets talk about the water bottles.  I did not have the time to make water bottle labels this time!  So.. Etsy to the rescue 🙂  I contacted Modern Beautiful off Esty and they made these water bottle labels for me.  Love them!!

Back to Jeanette!  And.. something healthy, I think.  Cucumber bites!  The colors matched what I needed.. and I needed something healthy to put on the table.  So, found this recipe and Jeanette made them for me!  Turned out so lovely!

 

Back to the sweets.  Last one.. Oreo Truffles.  Mmmmm!  These things are so addicting!

 

And.. thats the important stuff.. oh, one more thing.. the most important thing of all – the guest of honor 🙂  Becca and I at the shower.  It was such an awesome experience doing this for her, loved every moment of it and hoping everyone else loved it to!

 

 

 

Peep Bar

My daughter loves peeps.. bleh!  Its just marshmallow with sugar on it.. not my favorite, but she loves them.  So.. I had an idea for our upcoming Easter Egg Hunt with our playgroup.. a peep bar!

This idea is so incredibly simple – anyone can do it.  And of course the kids will go crazy for this little display because it combines 3 basic things:  peeps, syrup and sprinkles.. ah, to be a kid again!

First – the basic decorations.  I found this banner on Pinterest on how to make a peep banner.  I loved it!  I knew I had to make this for my display.. but how?  I dont sew!  Out of all the things I do (you know, scrapbooking, photography, being crafty, baking.. the simple stuff) – I do not sew!  Cant do it.  (perhaps its because I dont iron either..?  Seriously – I dont iron.. doesnt sewing involve ironing?) – who knows.  Anyhow – I was determined to make this peep banner.  Instead of fabric, I just use pink cardstock and cut out the peep bunnies.  Next, I used a pencil eraser to make the eyes and nose – using the eraser end of the pencil, I pressed down in a brown ink pad for my scrapbooking and ta-da 🙂  A Peep Banner:

Next, I needed something simple for the center of the table.. just to emphasize what this is.  I have seen the peep centerpieces floating around Pinterest, but didnt want to spend too much money buying all those jelly beans / m&ms, flowers and peeps.  So, I did something incredibly simple (probably too simple), and for the kids.. it serves the purpose 🙂  Using a small vase I have, I filled it up with jelly beans (took about 3/4ths of a bag – wouldnt think it would have taken that much being that small!), and stuck a peep on a stick, added a sign, and you have yourself a peep bar sign.  If I had more money to spend, I would have done something a little bit more extravagant!

The first treat I worked on were with the original peep birds.  I just had to incorporate these somehow into the display.. so I decided to make little nests.  In the past, I have made chocolate bird nests for Easter, but with this egg hunt being outside.. I didnt want chocolate to get everywhere (its low 80s here.. chocolate will melt!) – so I found this recipe:  Birds Nests that uses pretzels and marshmallows – awesome!  So that is exactly what I made for the kids. I used the edible green grass you buy at the stores instead of coconut (as my daughter personally doesnt like coconut!), and jelly beans as the eggs.

Now.. the main attractions – the one thing the kids will go bonkers over.. the fun part 🙂

I bought all the colors I could find of the peep bunnies, tore them apart, and set them nicely on a display plate.

Next, the syrups and sprinkles!  I had three syrups – chocolate, caramel and strawberry.  And of course the sprinkles – there were 4 sugar coated sprinkles and one multi colored one.  (Because you need more sugar with peeps, right?)

And there you have it.. a peep bar – And yes, the kiddos loved it as expected 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

Will leave this post with the peep that Keri chose to decorate.. so much fun!

Menu Board

A friend of mine a while back posted a Menu Board picture on Pinterest.. and I loved the idea 🙂  This is right up my alley, and more importantly, I needed something to organize meals for when I’m at nursing school as I wont be arriving home until quite late in the evenings.

My inspiration came from this blog:  Menu Board   – I loved the design of the menu board!  I’ve seen quite a few on Pinterest that are the same as this one, and so this is my version 🙂

I used mini cereal boxes for the boxes rather than crayon boxes. I decorated them with flowers I already have for my scrapbooking, which added a beautiful touch.

I printed out each meal on white cardstock.  But.. that was too dull.  So, I digged in my scrap drawer and found various colors that matched to put the cardstock on.

I didnt think the cardstock would hold up though.. so, I used contact paper to protect them – it is a cheaper and easier way than laminating!  Keri helped me out doing this:

For the clothespins – I had mini clothes pins that I covered with scrapbooking paper.  Using a flower cut out, I cut out various flowers and in the center to hold the day of the week.  I cut out a bunch of circles, colored them with chalk, and used letter rub-ons for the letters for the days of the week.  I loved how they turned out!

And everything else just kind of came together.. loving the new menu board and hoping it does what I imagined.. helping plan dinners for when I’m in nursing school!

Keri thought the board was pretty and loved helping me make it.. and I also love the final result!

My next project will be making my Recipe Box that contains all the recipes for the menu cards!

Homemade S’mores and Hot Chocolate

Years ago, my husband decided to buy me a smores making kit as a present.  This was roughly 7 or so years ago, although I dont recall if it was for my birthday or Christmas.  I thought I would never use the thing.. I mean, really?  A Smores making kit??  Then.. we had a daughter and I started getting heavily active in a playgroup.  Since then, we have done several smores playdates and I am so grateful that my husband bought me this thing!

I have always wanted to do homemade smores.  How neat would it be to have homemade graham crackers, homemade marshmallows and your own specialty chocolate to make smores with?!  I wanted to do it.. and so, we did it!

First, I started with the graham crackers.  These are the Honey Graham Crackers by Allrecipes – although, I added a bit of cinnamon & sugar to the top prior to baking to get a little bit more flavor.  These are thin – as I learned the hard way that if you do not thin out your dough enough, you will end up with graham cookies rather than crackers.. and that would not be good for the smores!  So, I made heart graham crackers:

Next I did the chocolate hearts.  I have a chocolate mold that worked perfectly to make the chocolate hearts, so I used that alongside ghirardelli chocolate chips (an excellent chocolate brand!)  These were incredibly simple to make and obviously go with the heart graham crackers very well!

Lastly.. marshmallows!  First, I had to find an eggless marshmallow recipe.  I have come across several that have egg whites / meringue powder in them.. but I cant use that due to Keri’s egg allergy.  So, I found this recipe:  Homemade Marshmallows by the Food Network.  Now, although I’m not thrilled with using gelatin.. it was my only option since I couldnt use egg whites. I followed the recipe exactly and only had one small mishap… boiling!  The mixture boiled over and made the house smell lovely with a burnt sugar smell that lingered the rest of the afternoon.. but thats okay!  They were so well worth it.. check this out:

Look how pretty they turned out!  And, more importantly, they actually taste like marshmallows (and are quite yummy!) – I did it!  I was so tickled that my marshmallows turned out so well!

So now I have the homemade heart graham crackers.. heart shaped chocolate.. and heart shaped marshmallows.. that only means one thing:  its smores time!

Okay, so.. we have smores, but dont we need something to drink with it..?  What goes with smores to drink?  YES!  Hot Chocolate!

Ilove hot chocolate.. (okay, I love anything that is chocolate..!) – so I wanted to compliment the smores by making some homemade hot chocolate!  It had been a while since I’ve made this, but I decided to go with the hot chocolate recipe on the side of the Hershey cocoa box.  It is delicious!  I combined all ingredients on the stove top (doubled it), and made some delicious hot chocolate for everyone.

And why yes, those are mini homemade heart marshmallows in the hot chocolate..! 🙂  They are so cute!  Mmmm-Hmmm!

May seem like a lot of work.. but so well worth it – once you taste how yummy everything is together.. all that work making it just disappears and you can indulge yourself in the yumminess!

And my beautiful little girl enjoying her100% homemade heart smore and hot chocolate 🙂

Yummy!

Teacher Treats: Valentine Themed

Every year at registration, there is a sign up list for what the school calls “Teacher Treats” – Every Wednesday, a volunteer offers to bring the staff of 50 at the Montessori School a little something special.  Iloved doing it last year!  This year, I signed up for 2 days.  The first was last semester while I was a full time student in school.. not much baking was able to get done, unfortunately.  I felt horrible!  I didnt even post pictures of what I brought because (in my opinion), the teacher treats were definitely below bar of what I did for the treats last year.  But, there was a problem.. my second day to deliver teacher treats was after I started nursing school in May – this would not work!

Everything happens for a reason, right?  Right.  I’m in charge of the reminder emails to parents for the teacher treats – something I dont mind doing at all.  But I send out the reminders every Sunday to the parents to remind them of their date as well as a monthly email to the month ahead.  One parent was going out of town Feb 15th and needed to switch.  This was my chance to switch my date from May!  I asked her about it, and we made the switch.

February 15th.. could this day be anymore perfect?!  This is the day after Valentine’s Day.. oh my, wait, Valentine’s Day.. YES!  I’m totally doing a Valentine’s Day themed teacher treats.. 🙂

The first item I made were the heart mints.  These are a mint recipe from Allrecipes:  Cream Cheese Mints.  These things are so easy to make.. why havent I made these sooner?!  It took longer for me to cut out the little hearts than it did to make the recipe!  They are incredibly delicious and very addictive – will definitely make again.  Regarding the recipe itself, I had to add an additional 1/2 cup of powdered sugar and I used 1/2 tsp of peppermint extract.  Mmmm!

Next I made the cinnamon chips and fruit salsa.  This recipe also comes from Allrecipes:  Fruit Salsa.  I used flour tortillas and shaped them into hearts for the chips.  I used significantly more cinnamon sugar than what the recipe calls for however.  For the salsa, I used strawberries, grapes, blueberries and raspberries.  Nice valentine’s day compliment to the other goodies!

Next I made the fruit dip, heart fruit kabobs and heart strawberries.  The fruit dip comes from Allrecipes:  Fruit Dip.  This fruit dip is beyond delicious.. something you can the whole bowl of!  The fruit kabobs was from an inspiration I saw off Pinterest:  Fruit Kabobs. For the fruit, I used watermelon, honeydew, pineapple and cantalupe.  I used two small heart cookie cutters to cut the hearts – I think they turned out pretty good!   The strawberries – my wonderful husband helped me wash and cut the strawberries into cute little hearts.  These add a nice touch of healthiness to the treat table!

To compliment the fruit dip, I also did heart strawberries (actually, my husband cut these for me!) – loved how they turned out:

Next was the cupcakes.  I made a vanilla bean cupcake from Annie’s Eats that has long been in my recipe box – this vanilla cupcake is so delicious!  For the frosting, I made a strawberry Swiss Meringue frosting, which is to die for!  This frosting far exceeded my expectations and I’m so pleased with how delicious this frosting was!  It complimented the vanilla bean cupcakes perfectly.  The little hearts are made from marshmallow fondant from Allrecipes.  Yummy!

Lastly, the heart sandwiches.  We made these the morning of, and they turned out so cute!  I saw this idea on Pinterest about the heart sandwiches and knew I had to include them for the teachers.  I made various sandwiches with turkey and ham meats and swiss, mozzarella and cheddar cheese.

I also made Keri’s teacher individual plates to ensure that they received a little bit of everything from the treat table:

Thinking the teachers loved their Valentine’s Day treats, they deserve it!

Happy Valentine’s Day 🙂

Picture is of Keri outside in our backyard – she had to show me how she can do the monkey bars.. right in the middle of me baking / preparing all the delicious treats.  Of course I happily agreed and took a few minutes to go outside with her.. beautiful day and beautiful girl!