Planning the Princess Birthday, the Perfect Project for a Glitter Mama

A dream is a wish your heart makes.

~ Cinderella

My baby girl is turning 5!!!

She’s telling me that I don’t get to call her the “baby” anymore…yea, right…she’s still my baby ūüôā

And because she is a Princess, you know, I get to have the most fun prepping for her birthday gathering on Monday.

I used to be one of those gals that would run up (or send Christopher up to) the party store, gather all of the trappings of a boxed birthday party, blow up balloons, and call it done.  Well, we also usually make some kind of crazy cake.  But the rest has been more of a boxed sort of birthday plan.

The more I art, and the more I collect stuff, the more I get away from the boxed approach and go more towards a do-it-yourself approach.

This birthday, Bella’s 5th, is coming together really really super-sweet!! ¬†And cuz she’s all girl, a true Princess, I get to decorate in pink and shiny and flowers and glitter and all of the trappings of girlie stuff, perfect for a glitter gal like myself. ¬†It’s better than Happy I Love You Day! ¬†Along with the lovelies for the cake and the decorations, Bella’s getting some new tutus and dress-up pretties, and I’ve made some cute little packing tape artsy journals and favor bags for the kidlets, that will be tucked in with candy.

I’ll have pics of the interesting swags that I’m making, once I get it hung up and installed. ¬†I put up some kind of Birthday Banner for each of their birthdays, they range from paper flags, to butterflies with words on them, to paper chains. ¬†This one is a yellow and pink and fringe and lace thing. ¬†And they all seem to think that I’ve upped the bar, since I had the sewing machine out for this one. ¬†They’ve all started putting in their orders for their next birthday soirees!

And when I’m back, I’ll show you what we come up with for the custom birthday cake. ¬†We have made quite the assortment of cakes over the years, some of them are total masterpieces, while others are, uhm, well, embarassing, heehee.

Here’s a fun look at some of our past cakes to tide you over till then. ¬†These are quite the memories in our little fam, the kids remember the cakes that we make with joy and laughter and sometimes even a bit of anxiety (see the Elmo cake)! ¬†The beautiful white and raspberry cake is Bella’s birthday yummy from last year, you can see it in more detail, along with the recipe links and so forth here.

Al's Cake

Pokeball ice cream cake\

Ry's Cake

350Bell's Cake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ally 4 cake 2Sunshine cake

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have a wonderful weekend, I’ll be here playing Birthday Prep. ¬†Be sure to check back for pics of all the festivities!

xoxo

Advertisements

Christmas in July Recipes

Our family has a favorite cookie recipe. ¬†We bake it pretty much at Thanksgiving and Christmas-time every year, only occasionally baking these cookies other times during the year. ¬†This year, I timed our family’s turn for taking snacks to church with the whole Christmas in July theme…so that I could bake these yummies for church and take pics for the blog! ¬†Double-duty! ¬†While I have tried many different chocolate cookies over the years, I have never found a chocolate cookie as good as this one…and as long as you don’t overcook it, it stays soft and chewie for a day or two (after that, they do get a bit crunchy).

I also wanted to share with you a quick and easy and super yummy way to make banana bread…while I do most of my baking from scratch, this banana bread has always won rave reviews from everyone, and sometimes it’s nice to have something this easy.

Chocolate Cookie Recipe (makes about 6 dozen)

  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 4 squares unsweetened chocolate, melted
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup powdered sugar

Mix oil, melted chocolate, and sugar.  Blend eggs, one at a time.  Add vanilla.  Stir in flour, baking powder, and salt into oil mixture.  Chill several hours or overnight.

Heat oven to 350¬į. ¬†Roll teaspoonful of dough into balls and drop into powdered sugar and roll around in the sugar. ¬†Place about 2 inches apart on greased baking sheet. ¬†Bake 10-12 minutes. ¬†DO NOT OVERBAKE.

Tips:

  • I usually don’t get 6 dozen out of this recipe as I make our cookies a bit larger.
  • You can double this recipe, it works well.
  • We are at a higher altitude, so I bake the cookies for about 9 minutes. ¬†They don’t really “look” done at first, so don’t rely on how they look to decide if their done baking. ¬†Make a batch, wait till they cool, and see if they taste overdone. ¬†They will get less soft as they sit, so you really don’t want to over bake.
  • Add the baking powder after mixing in half of the flour, this will help the baking powder give the cookies a good amount of rise (as compared to adding the baking powder and then mixing in the flour).

Banana Bread Cake (my kids call it banana cake)

Use a yellow cake mix, my personal fave with this is the butter yellow recipe.  Use smashed ripe bananas instead of the water called for in the box recipe.  I typically use about 3 medium-to-large bananas.

You can also add nuts to this, pecans or walnuts are awesome.

Bake to the recipe on the box.  This is super yummy, and super easy, and super quick!  I think I read this idea in a magazine or some such thing years ago, but between this and some of the scratch recipes I use, this is the one that everyone always asks for more!!

 

Celebrating Christmas in July ~ Some How-to Projects to Inspire You

Every time we love, every time we give, it’s Christmas.

~ Dale Evans

I know, I know, Christmas in July can seem a bit hokey. ¬†It’s tough for me to think about Christmas this far out, when we’re focused on bbq’s and going to the lake and entertaining kidlets now that they’ve been out of school for so many weeks…

I do start thinking about little gifts and treasures for the holidays, I start stashing goodies that I find on clearance racks and on ebay and craigslist and at the many yard sales during the summer.  When you have four kids, you have to plan ahead and watch great deals.

And every year I promise myself that I’ll start my Christmas projects earlier, so that during the actual holiday times I’m not absorbed with the projects so I can enjoy the festivities more fully.

In honor of that whole idea, I’ll be sharing several fun holiday-inspired projects with you, including a couple of my most-favorite recipes for the holidays. ¬†If you, too, think of getting a few projects out of the way before the holidays are upon us, then hopefully these will help you get inspired.

I’ll be including the How-to Instructions on the projects I’m posting, along with pictures and thoughts on how to adapt the projects for other uses. ¬†As we truck along, I’d love for you to share any thoughts or ideas you have on preparing early, and on what kinds of projects you make for the holidays.

One year, I made everyone on my list custom dream catchers. ¬†Another year it was all jewelry, followed the next year by birth chart necklaces. ¬†And still another year everyone got multi-media canvases. ¬†I’ve made hand-made journals, rag rugs, beautiful photo albums, music compilation CD’s, and Christmas scrapbooks.

I hope you’ll join me this week for a couple of jump-start projects!

xoxo

Prompt: Do you make gifts for Christmas?  Do you like to make decorations and holiday foods and treats?  Do you make your own gift wrap?  What kinds of artsy-craftsy projects do you like to make for the holidays?  

Do You Love Bread Pudding Like I Do?

I might have told you before that I am really not the cook in the house.  I mostly view cooking as a chore, and not as a creative outlet or as pleasant in any way.  I get stressed out in the kitchen.

Now don’t get me wrong, I really do love to eat. ¬†I do love watching Christopher in the kitchen. ¬†I do love helping pick out new dishes to try, and helping choose flavors that I hope he uses in our next meal. ¬†I love to decorate the table. ¬†I’ll even do the dishes.

But I really don’t care much for the actual cooking.

Occasionally, though, I do get a wild hair and get excited about baking something.  In fact, I have mastered the art of the cookie.  Of course, I think that comes along with the whole package of Mommy Magic.

I love bread pudding. ¬†I haven’t met many bread puddings that I didn’t love. ¬†I especially love the kind of bread pudding you get back down South, and having grown up in Texas, with a bunch of family from Louisiana, I especially love New Orleans-style bread pudding.

I found a super-yummy recipe on http://www.allrecipes.com for a very yummy, very simple, French Quarter Bread Pudding. ¬†Oh, my, gosh! ¬†It’s really a great recipe.

I will give you the couple of things I adapted. ¬†I know, you’re supposed to try the recipe as is first, before you make any adjustments. ¬†But I wasn’t sure how the whole bread pudding thing was going to go over in my house, so I didn’t know if it would be any time soon before I got to make it again and adapt it…

So here’s what tiny little things I did a bit differently than the posted recipe:

  1. I had Christopher make the french bread here at home.  He made a nice, dense bread for me.  Yummy.  I had a hard time not munching the bread straight away.
  2. I did NOT add raisins.  Yuck.  I do not like raisins in my bread pudding.
  3. I used heavy cream rather than half and half.  I like a thicker bread pudding.
  4. I doubled the cinnamon, nutmeg, and the vanilla.
  5. We baked up some pecans in butter and brown sugar, and then drizzled the top of the bread pudding with that and more melted butter.

Okay, so the extra sweet from the brown sugar on top was a bit sweet, next time I’ll work on a bourbon sauce, I just didn’t have any bourbon on hand this time. ¬†Otherwise, this was so yummy, it looked beautiful, it was the perfect texture…and no, my kids weren’t crazy about it. ¬†I think if they would’ve given it more of a chance, they might have loved it…they just thought it mostly looked weird. ¬†I think that was my opinion of bread pudding when I was a kid. ¬†So much lost time, sigh.

I hope you get a chance to try this out, it really is one of my fave new recipes.

And please!!  Let me know if you have any good bread pudding recipes, as I do love them!!

Yummy Birthday Cake, Recipe and Notes for Your Pleasure

I promised you that I’d bring you pics and the recipe for the new cake we made for Bella’s Birthday celebration dinner…

Christopher does most of the cooking in our house…I see cooking mostly as a chore, while Christopher sees cooking as his favorite artistic expression. ¬†That probably explains why no one will eat my cooking and they all love his!!

I am really good at ideas and inspirations, so I find stuff for him to make.  His gift is taking the ideas and flavor inspirations and making wonderful creations for us.

I do get to help with all of the baking, though.  I have mastered the art of cookies, and I have been conquering the cake.

We’ve been making all of our kidlets’ birthday cakes over the years…some of them turn out to be wild and even a bit weird Elmos or garden flowers and even Lightening McQueen cakes. ¬†Some times we don’t do the character thing and keep it to yummy and beautiful creations, like strawberry shortcakes or chocolate-cake-and-cream-roll cakes. ¬†But they are always a work of love and joy and celebration.

Bella’s Birthday Bash Cake was adapted from a recipe from Martha Stewart Living magazine. ¬†I actually get the hard-copy magazine delivered to my home (one of the best gifts I have ever received), but I will include links to the recipes online for you. ¬†On a side note, Living¬†is one of the best sources of inspiration for all kinds of neat stuff ~ color schemes, decorating, how-tos, party planning, collage fodder, crafty projects, recipes, all kinds of stuff. ¬†Some of the inspiration is exactly what is in the magazine and other inspiration is indirect, but every month it is chock-full of great stuff. ¬†I visit the online site for ideas regularly as well. ¬†I most often go to allrecipes.com for food ideas, but Martha Stewart totally rocks!

You can find the recipes here for the Raspberry White Cake and the Meringue Frosting.

I know that ours doesn’t look exactly like Martha’s cake, but we opted out of the flaked coconut on top of the cake and put on the raspberries. ¬†Bella loves all things produce, and for her, more is better.

Christopher and I actually did this whole thing together.  We had a great time, and the cake turned out beautifully and yummy and was a big hit.

I would only suggest a couple of adaptations for the next time around:

  1. We used Knotts Berry Farm raspberry jam for the goo in between the layers.  It was way too sweet.  WAY too sweet.  Next time we will make our own raspberry compote for in between the layers.
  2. We did not fold a bunch of raspberries into the batter just in case the kidlets didn’t like the cooked raspberries. ¬†The batter got a little bit dry, as the batter accounts for the juice in the raspberries cooking into the batter. ¬†Next time I will add a bit more whole milk to make up for that and keep the cake a little more moist.
  3. I cooked it too long, by about 3 or 4 minutes.  Be careful not to overcook, just let the cakes get barely golden before getting them out of the oven.

But the flavor and texture were both awesome, the meringue was the perfect amount of sweet and fluffy, and the whole thing is a fairly simple recipe and didn’t take too long. ¬†Definitely one we will try again in the future!

Prompt: ¬†Do you have a favorite cake recipe? ¬†I would really love to hear about it ūüôā

Valentine Cookies

Our I Love You Day cookies…it was a great party, and now we’ll be back onto regularly-scheduled programming (do I even have that yet??)…

While the kidlets overdid it a bit on the decorations, the sugar cookie recipe we used was AWESOME!!  It tastes good, the dough rolled out and cut nicely.

For a look at the recipe, check it out here. ¬†I love allrecipes.com. ¬†I not only find lots of yummy recipes there, I love to read through other people’s suggestions and reviews on the recipes. ¬†For this recipe in particular, I adapted the recipe just a tiny bit: I added an extra cup of sugar and an extra 1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla. ¬†Enjoy!!

Decorated sugar cookies