Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Winter Wonderland Wands


In January my daughter celebrated her 5th birthday in real fashion. She wanted a peacock tea party and I wanted Alice in Wonderland. So we had a Winter Wonderland Alice in Wonderland Peacock inspired tea party. I was waiting for someone to request how I made the wands before I shared the tutorial. I apologize it is so late coming but perhaps you'll be able to use it for your own daughter's fairy wand or winter wonderland party. They take less than 10 minutes to make one and probably about $1 for materials. To be honest, these are not the most sturdy of wands. The snowflakes are fragile and the straws bend over time. But for the purposes of a pretty party favor or just dancing around magically like my daughters' like to do, they are simple to make, fun and inexpensive. 

 I have two variations. Ready?

VARIATION #1
PAPER STRAW WAND

1. Materials: You'll need hot glue (not pictured),  ribbon (about 20" long, 2 pieces), a paper straw, a wooden skewer, a Q-tip and a snowflake on a stick (I found this at Joann's for about . If you cannot find this I have also used $1 Tree snowflakes that are not on a stick, just glued it to the wand). 


2. First, cut your skewer to just shorter than the straw. Then cut the Q-tip in half. Slip the skewer in the straw and then shove one of the Q-tip pieces along side it, this is the bottom of the wand. Slide up the straw so you can't see them. 


3. Then, place the other Q-tip alongside those two pieces so it's nice and snug. 



4. Next, flip the wand over. You'll put a dab of hot glue on the top of the straw and gently slide the snowflake inside. It should slide right along side the skewer. Glue in place.


Slide flake down until the tip of the snowflake fits snugly inside the straw.



4. Then, add the ribbon. I can't remember the name of this knot. Maybe it doesn't even have one? 




5. Then put a dab of glue underneath the ribbon to hold in place. And you're done!



VARIATION #2
Dowel Wand

1. Materials: Hot glue, snowflake on a stick, wooden dowel (about 12" long. I found mine at Joann's in a pack of 10 or so) and long piece of ribbon (about 1 yard) plus extra of same or contrasting color for the end.


2. Put a dab of hot glue on the dowel and glue snowflake in place. 



2. Next, start adding the ribbon. Put glue over the snowflake stick and dowel about an inch at a time, on three sides of the dowel. Careful, don't burn your fingers as you gently press the ribbon in place over the glue. Gently pull the ribbon taut as you twirl the ribbon around the wand over the hot glue. Or you could twirl the wand as you hold the ribbon in place. Either way works. Whichever you're most coordinated with. Be sure to overlap the ribbon over itself a bit so the wood doesn't show.



3. Glue ribbon all the way down the dowel. When you get to the bottom, cut any excess ribbon and glue in place by overlapping a few times. Then tie the ribbon (as many as you'd like) around the bottom of the snowflake in a knot. Glue in place. 



 **If you cannot find these snowflake sticks use any snowflake. Glue to a painted dowel and glue ribbon on over just the top of the wand. 

If you have any questions, please email me. And feel free to pin away! 






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Monday, December 10, 2012

Mrs. Field's Chocolate Chip Cookies

i.e. one of the best chocolate chip cookies recipes out there!


Again, my mother-in-law gave us this recipe. She has so many great ones! This make a HUGE batch, so if you'd like, you can halve it (I've done so for you). Why are these the best? Well, first of all, they are simple to make. Second, the flavor is perfect with the combination of white and brown sugar. And lastly, because they are a touch crispy on the edges and perfectly gooey in the middle. I like to make a full batch of these and freeze half for school lunches and then use about 1/3 of the batch to use for my Butterscotch Cookie Dough Fudge Bars.  Please note about making a full batch......do so if you have a stand-up mixer because the hand beaters cannot handle the amount of dough the large batch creates.


Mrs. Field's Chocolate Chip Cookies
Yield: 90 cookies (FULL batch) / 45 cookies (HALF batch)

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb butter (4 sticks)/1 C butter
    • softened, almost melted (if I did not leave my butter out beforehand I melt it in the micro for about 30 seconds)
  • 3 C brown sugar/ 1 1/2 C brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 C white sugar/ 3/4 C white sugar
  • 3 eggs/ 1 1/2 eggs  --at room temperature
    • (I usually just try to break it over a bowl and take out half, or when I break it pour out half the yolk and half the white)
  • 2 Tbsp vanilla/1 Tbsp vanilla
  • 6 C flour/ 3 C flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt/ 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda/ 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 4 C chocolate chips/ 2 C chocolate chips

Directions: 
  1. Pre-heat oven to 360 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl (see note in description above) combine the butter and both sugars. Cream well  until light and fluffy. 
  3. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing in between each addition.
  4. Add vanilla. Mix.
  5. Add dry ingredients. It will be very thick and hard to mix. 
  6. Add in chocolate chips, mix with a spoon.
  7. Bake, on ungreased baking sheet, for 8-11 minutes. DO NOT OVER BAKE. The tops should be lightly brown in areas. 
  8. Once cooked, remove from oven and allow cookies to settle for 5 minutes on cookie sheet. 
  9. Carefully remove from pan and allow to cool on cooling rack.
  10. Enjoy warm with a glass of milk!
  11. Keep stored in airtight container. 



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Friday, October 19, 2012

Pumpkin Crumble Cake

Another recipe! I swear, this isn't a food blog. I just love to eat and share recipes that family members and friends always request. This is certainly one of those. When my friend Julie made this two years ago at a Halloween party I was incredibly impressed by this recipe. And Each time I make it, someone requests the recipe.

I've seen several versions of this around. They all vary slightly by how many layers (this has three), milk vs. evaporated milk vs. sweetened condensed milk, the combination of spices and the amount of pumpkin puree. I stick to this one because it seems cheaper/easier since it calls for regular milk yet it's still rich and filling.




Pumpkin Crumble Cake
Yield: 24 servings

Ingredients--by layers: 
Layer 1:
1 box white or yellow cake mix, 1 cup separated
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 egg
Layer 2: 
2 cups canned pumpkin puree (not the kind with spices added), or 2/3 of 29 oz can
3 eggs
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup sugar
1 pinch nutmeg
Layer 3: 
1 cup reserved cake mix
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup nuts, pecans or walnuts, chopped
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, cold


  1. 1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13 glass dish. 
  2.  Mix Layer 1 ingredients, (be sure to reserve 1 cup cake mix) and press down covering bottom of 9x13 pan. 
  3. Combine ingredients in Layer 2 in a large bowl. Mix with a spoon or wisk. Pour over Layer 1.
  4. Combine ingredients in Layer 3 except butter. Cut the butter into mixture with pastry blender (or criss-cross two forks). Sprinkle this crumble mixture over top of Layer 2.
  5. Bake for 35-50 minutes or until browned and no longer giggly in middle (do not over or  under bake). 
  6. It can be served warm or left to cool for at least 2 hours. I prefer to eat it at room temperature or chilled. Serve with whipped cream.




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Saturday, October 13, 2012

Loaded Cheesy Potato Soup


Tired of your regular potato soup recipe? Kick it up a notch by adding cheese, an abundance of vegetables  and flavor with touches of chicken, bacon and garlic.


Loaded Cheesy Potato Soup
Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients:
6 Tbs butter with a dab of olive oil
1/2 C carrots, sliced
1/2 C celery, sliced
1/2 large bell pepper, red, orange or yellow
1 C onion, chopped (about 1/2 large onion)
1 clove garlic, minced
2 large cooked potatoes, chopped into 1" cubes
1/2 C flour
2 1/4 C milk
2 C chicken broth, or one can
1/2 tsp thyme, dried
1/2 tsp basil, dried
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
8 oz cheddar, shredded
4-8 slices bacon, chopped or crumbled

1. Steam chopped potatoes until barely soft when pricked with a fork.
2. Melt butter and oil in large saucepan.
3. Add celery, carrot, onion and potatoes. Saute for 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
4. Add garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
5. Stir in flour to form a roux.
6. Gradually stir in milk and broth. Bring to a boil.
7. Add thyme and basil, salt and pepper to taste.
8. Reduce heat, simmer for 15-20 minutes.
9. Once thickened, add cheese and stir until melted.
10. Garnish with bacon.

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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Onesie Baby Shower

I was able to co-host a baby shower for my sister-in-law. It was nice to be able to share the load for this party! It was so much to plan!! I think it came together nicely and most importantly, the mom-to-be was happy the whole night.

The main activity, other than eating, was to make onesies. And although I didn't get a photo of it, the other gals planned a fun game. They put baby food in a diaper and we had to smell (and in my case, taste) the diapers and guess which flavor they were. I've played it with candy bars smeared in the diaper. Both are fun ways to play the game.

The theme for this shower was in color and that was about it. She is having a boy so I tried to keep it masculine yet cute and festive for the mom too. The colors were aqua, orange, brown and grass green. I found a lot of inspiration on Pinterest and kept this at a budget.


Do you recognize the changing table from this party




 Diaper cake made by my sister-in-law. The diapers even matched the color theme!



Baby advice written on onesie shaped cardstock (I used my silhouette to cut all of them for this party). 


I found these letters at Michael's on clearance for 50 cents a piece! I spray painted them to match. Now she can take them home and display them in the nursery. Can you tell the "A" is a bit wonky? It started out as an "R". There weren't any "A's" left so I cut it down. My cutting skills are never exact. Or my pattern skills....I should have painted the "O" blue and the other "N" green. Oops. 


 These 8" lanterns were a great price! Only $.90 each plus shipping from this store.  Tons of colors and sizes. And fast shipping. So fun!



Costco's Jalapeno Artichoke dip and pita chips. Yum!


My mother-in-laws famous mint brownies. 


Oreo truffles.  Recipe here. Or, in my case, oreo blobs. I am NOT a cake decorator cake ball person. But I enjoy eating them! 


Ready to Pop snack. Recipe here. 


Bubble bath punch. Or in this case, Ocean punch. Another SIL created this yummy drink.  The toys are from Toys r' us. The recipe and idea for the punch are here. 


Cucumber and orange water. 



Heidi and her sisters, mom and grandmother!



Heidi & friend Melanie (She's a talented photographer, check out her site)



Making onesies. There are a ton of tutorials online (I used some of these on my Pin board). Basically, I gathered up my fabric scraps, used heat n' bond iron-on sewable adhesive. My other talented sister-in-law drew, free handed, 20 baby shapes including cars, caterpillars, airplanes and more.  We traced those out onto the heat n bond, ironed it to fabirc, cute that out and then ironed it onto the onesie! We made 4 of each age, from ages 3-6 months up to 24 months. The lucky mom walked away with a loot of baby clothes! And each one is personal and made by her friends!



 Party favor. My mother-in-law also made onesie shaped sugar cookies. Something very similar to these. I am so mad at myself for forgetting to take a photo. They took a long time to make but they were so adorable. They are inside these goodie bags. 




Price breakdown: $146.50 total, divided 
Ouch! That seems like a lot altogether. It includes all handmade food items and items like paper straws and lanterns that I will use again. Fortunately, other family members helped foot the bill. The onesie activity took up just over one third of the cost but it was my baby gift to her as well. I am ball-parking on some of these because I did not actually purchase them as it was a group effort.

Onesies (on sale from Babies 'r us): $40
Favor bags: (clothes pins & kraft bags from Target $1 aisle, paper free): $6
Cookies-- homemade, plus clear bags: $4
Paper lanterns (Paper Lantern Store): $15
Oreo Truffles:  $3.50
Carrots/Celery: $2
Jalepeno Dip/Chips (Costco):  $12
Diaper cake: $10
Punch w/toys: $10
Paper straws (Zurchers): $10
Cheese crackers: $2
Popcorn: $5
Paper goods: $12
Other craft items (yarn, basket, giant clothespins) (Michael's): $10
Diaper game (diapers & baby food): $5
Heidi! For letting me use her camera!



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Friday, August 10, 2012

Rolo Cake Mix Cookies




I had rolo's left over from our Olympic party. I love rolo's....except when they get stuck in my teeth. Does that mean I have a cavity? Anyway, I needed a quick recipe to make some cookies to take to neighbors. And these were super fast. I searched Pinterest. I had pinned these rolo cake mix bars previously and really wanted to try them out but didn't have a full box of cake mix to use because I had some leftover from these cookies. So instead I made these cookies.

Take a bite of that! 



Rolo Cake Mix Cookies
recipe adapted from Six Sister's Stuff and here

Yield: 24 cookies

1 box yellow (or white) cake mix
2 eggs
1/3 cup oil
24 Rolo's, unwrapped
chocolate chips, about a handful, melted

**If you don't have enough cake mix (about half a box) just add 1 egg and half of 1/3 cup of oil....just eyeball it.

In a medium bowl, mix cake mix, oil and eggs. Grab a small glob of dough, about 1 tablespoon, flatten it a bit with your hand, top with a rolo, and add another glob of dough and squish together into a ball. Place on parchment lined cookie sheet.

Bake at 350 degrees for 7-10 minutes, just until barely golden brown. Meanwhile, take a small microwave safe bowl and melt your chocolate chips in 30 second intervals. Stir after every 30 seconds until melted. Using a spoon drizzle over cookies! Enjoy!

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Thursday, August 9, 2012

Olympic Themed Party & homemade Tartar Sauce


So the Olympics have arrived and are nearly over. They are the time to have an excuse to be glued to the TV all....night....long. And get nothing else done, because, why? We have the Olympics to watch. My favorite sport to watch, and always has been, is the women's gymnastics. I find them to be not only athletic but beautiful and graceful. They are sort of like freaks of nature. So young, so athletic, so beautiful like little sculptures....and so coordinated. I think that's one reason I am so mesmerized because I don't think I learned how to do a cartwheel until I was like 16. Seriously. Amazing. My new favorite event is swimming.....that Michael Phelps did it for me. And now Missy Franklin! She's a former Coloradan (I still consider myself to be one even though it's been a long while since I lived there). So we all pile on the couch and watch....skipping commercials (except the sappy "mom" ones about how the Olympians mom's are the reason they are there. Those always get me).....how did we stand it before DVR? Rooting for our country (and those that might be the under-dogs). Explaining to the children the rules and what to look for. And then watch them start diving of the couch, doing flips onto the floor and dreaming about them becoming an Olympian someday just like I did. It's a special time of year.


For the "rings" I used existing Chinese lanterns and painted them. I tried two methods...spray paint and acrylic. I liked the matte finish of the acrylic better and it didn't use as much. Plus the kids got to "help" out.


For the Opening Ceremonies my sisters and I threw a small bash. You can see our inspiration here.  We were going to to do the whole  Olympic game thing with relays and so on with our kids.....but having just returned from a family reunion that afternoon and my sister being very great with child, we opted out. Instead we let the kids drink classic Coca-Cola and watch the ceremonies with us. I have to say, England has some great skills with storytelling. I mean, my fave man, William Shakespeare was produced from that country, but they still have the talent. It was a beautiful ceremony and I was touched many times. Great job G.B.


We celebrated by eating fresh Fish 'n Chips. I mean fresh. Like caught from the Kenai river in Alaska two days before fresh. (Thank you Steve and Shawn for sparing a few for us!!) My mom kept commenting on how it just melted in her mouth. Sooooo yummy. By the way, we use the McCormick beer batter box mix. Easy and delicious! (you can find it near the cocktail sauces usually by the meat department on it's own end cap....each store likes to hide it but it's there!). But the tartar sauce is to die for too. My sister-in-law Jana made up this recipe. And she let me share it with you. Also, my sister made the cookie fruit pizza. She found the inspiration from this pin.  We scattered some "gold medals" (rolo's) on the table, made little torches, drank Olympic themed coke, and my sister made us paper envelopes for our dinners to be served in. It was a fun night! How did you celebrate? Will you for the closing ceremonies?

So here is the recipe for the tartar sauce. It's not an exact recipe....she just kind of mixes the ingredients together, tastes, and adds more of what she tastes is missing. So try for yourself! And you'll want it all the time after that.

Jana's Tartar Sauce
Yields: as much as you'd like. About 1 large cereal bowl full ?

1 part mayonnaise
1/2 part ranch dressing
1/4 part mustard
1/8 part chopped dill pickles, or sweet relish is good too!
salt and pepper, to taste

When you think of parts it could be "cups", or just that much less than the previous ingredient. Does that make sense? Combine first ingredient and second and then keep adding remaining. Taste. Add more of what you like. Keep stirring and tasting until it's good. Store in a covered bowl. Enjoy!





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