Archive of ‘General’ category
Disney Frozen Ice Cream Cake
We are in full-on mermaid mode in our house. I am not sure if our two-year-old is subconsciously dreaming of warmer days to cope with all this snow and cold, but there is not much we can play, read, listen, watch, or color if it is not somehow associated with a mermaid! While I love The Little Mermaid, I was pretty excited that my niece requested a “Frozen” cake for her 5th birthday. I haven’t actually seen Frozen yet (apparently there are no mermaids in Frozen), so I hit Pinterest for some inspiration. How amazing is this Frozen cake from Bubbly Nature Creations!
I had to try those blue ice shards! Seriously.
Turns out simple sugar candy is surprisingly easy and the shards turned out great! We also created a simple vinyl stencil to put over one of the shards, and then scratched the surface with sandpaper to create the etched 5. I say “we,” because that was actually both Allen’s idea and execution.
Disney Frozen Ice Cream Cake
I made a simple ice cream cake, frosted with Cool Whip, and then kept the decorations simple to show off the shards.
Fairly simple and definitely fantastic!
You can alter the amount of ingredients in your ice cream cake depending on how many people you need to serve, available space in your freezer, and the size of your bowl. I did have a huge bowl, so I just went to town.
Confession of a *wannabe* cake decorator…. Sometimes while brainstorming, you find an idea that is so fantastic, there aren’t many improvements to make! Thanks Bubbly Nature Creations for such amazing inspiration.
Nutella Coffee Creamer
February 5 is officially World Nutella Day. World Nutella Day.
Let’s take a minute to let that set in.
One glorious day when the whole world unites to celebrate the smooth, creamy, chocolaty, hazelnut goodness that is Nutella. One day to look beyond our political, religious, and economic differences to indulge, in solidarity, in one celebrated snack spread.
I will never forget my introduction into the world of Nutella, in 1998, during a spring break trip to Spain to visit my sister. I shortly thereafter spent an entire year immersed in the Nutella motherland of Italy. Nutella smeared on crusty bread, Nutella oozing out of warm croissants, Nutella churned into creamy gelato, Nutella encased by pillows of fried dough, oh the delicious Nutella.
Supper Club is the greatest invention on the planet and, while I am obviously biased, I think our supper club is one of the best… seriously.
The plan is simple (other than the collaborating of calendars!). There are 10 of us that participate in Supper Club and we are split into 5 pairs. For each meal, each pair is responsible for a course: drinks, appetizers, soup/salad, main course, and dessert. The host cooks the main course and gets to select the theme. The theme is announced between the main course and the dessert course of the previous supper club.
Our Supper Club been going strong for well over 6 years. If you can imagine, after 6+ years, we have exhausted the standard supper club staples of international cuisines and key ingredients. Fortunately, this is a pretty creative and adventurous club that continues to select unique themes that, while occasionally challenging, are always unique, tasty and delicious.
This past week was our turn to host. Our theme was “Brought to you by the Letter C,” which we quickly adapted to “Courtesy of the Character C.”
While I realize “Courtesy of the Character C” may be a supper club theme that only appeals to those of us with last names that begin with C, here are a few highlights to get you thinking! I love using a few simple standards to sass up a themed event (sorry for the alliteration… still in “C” mode): an invitation, great food, a playlist, coordinating attire, a centerpiece and a photo opp.
Roasted Lemon Garlic Cauliflower
I am a firm believer that pretty much any vegetable is delicious tossed with a bit of olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, salt, pepper and Parmesan cheese and roasted. Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, and even cauliflower. The theme for our Supper Club was “Courtesy of the Character C,” and I could not pass up the opportunity to serve Crispy Cruciferous Cauliflower with Citrus, Cheese & Chopped Chives!
This roasted cauliflower really is delicious and keeps everyone in our house happy, even our 2 year old daughter.
Confession of a *wannabe* foodie… It is tough for me to willfully choose to roast any vegetable other than Brussels sprouts. I would eat roasted brussels sprouts everyday, if my family would let me. I am happy to be expanding beyond my Brussels sprouts obsession to include other cruciferous vegetables!
Pork Crown Roast
I am seriously intimidated by cooking large cuts of meat indoors. My intimidation definitely comes from my lack of experience. With only two adults at home… a roast is a serious dinner party gamble or left-over meal commitment. We do a lot of barbecuing, pan-cooking, soups/stews, and meatless meals, but it is time…
I realize that I could have started with a pot roast roast, roast chicken, or roast beef, but in honor of supper club and our new dining room table, I decided to conquer a crown roast of pork. I called a local butcher a few days in advance to prepare the crown roast, and had a great experience in St. Louis with Kenrick’s Meat Market.
What a beautiful and impressive presentation of a tasty cut of meat! The crown roast was surprisingly easy to prepare and a great choice for a dinner party. The majority of my work in the kitchen was actually done a few hours before our guests even arrived!
Elmo Birthday Party Fun
I frequently lust after the parties I see on some of my favorite party planning blogs, like Hostess with the Mostess and Pizzazzerie. The parties are amazing, the details are creative, the photos are beautiful, and the people appear to be having the time of their lives. While I would love to host parties that are featured in blogs and magazines, I consistently run into a few “minor” details… such as budget and available free time.
While I enjoy planning parties, making decorations, and baking cakes, these are just a few hobbies that compete for my ever dwindling free time and funds. I am on a mission to create the perfect party plan that maximizes a few quality decorations, stays within a reasonable budget, and sets the stage for fabulous fun!
As I continue on my quest for the ultimate party plan, here are a few components that will definitely make future party plans: (more…)
Chicken, White Bean & Kale Stew
The past three weeks were a pretty a fantastic blur of friends, family, coffee, wine, cheese, ginger cookies, caramel popcorn, dark chocolate salted caramel tart, roasted jalapeno artichoke dip, lasagna, roast beef, pizza, and… did I mention wine… and coffee?!?
It is now January, however, the holidays are officially over and it is cold in St. Louis. It is no longer the kind of cold that is trimmed with twinkling Christmas lights and warmed with hot cocoa… it is just January cold (and dark, but I will save the dark drama for a post on the February-funk).
In an attempt to not blow my New Year’s resolution(s) on January 1 or 2, I decided to head in the kitchen and tackle the remains of a roasted chicken. I chopped and reserved the remaining meat for the stew and used the bones to make a quick and easy slow cooker stock, in an attempt to maximize our use of food and reduce our waste.
This is a pretty great way to up-cycle a protein and an easy and satisfying stew that will help you wean off your holiday indulgences.
… and we stay three…
It was bad. It definitely could have been worse. But… it was still bad.
A month ago I had a miscarriage and gave birth to a 16 week old baby boy: induction of labor, delivery, hospital stay, raging postpartum hormones… all the typical physical ‘joys’ of childbirth, except a baby to bring home. Sorry for the drama, but it still feels fairly dramatic.
I was 16 weeks pregnant and our pregnancy was going well. We had a great ultrasound at 8 weeks, which looked completely normal, and we heard a healthy heartbeat at our 12 week appointment. By week 14 we were feeling great. I was over the first trimester funk, my belly was growing, and we busted out the maternity clothes. We were scheduled for our routine 16 appointment with our OB. With no abnormal symptoms, we were shocked when the doctor could not find a heartbeat. The ultrasound tech happened to be in the office, so we were able to walk down the hall for an immediate ultrasound with our doctor. It was there the doctor told us she did not have good news. The baby no longer had a heartbeat and measured about a week smaller than anticipated. The doctor talked with us about our options and let us know that because I was 16 ½ weeks pregnant, they would need to induce labor, and I would need to deliver the baby.
We stopped by our house to pack a quick bag, swung by to see little Sammie G, and then headed to Mercy where we checked in for labor and delivery. Around 3:00p.m. on a Monday afternoon they began the process of inducing labor, and I delivered a baby boy around 6:40 Tuesday morning. We were able to see the baby and have him in the room for the majority of the day. He was tiny, but really did look like a little baby with tiny fingers, toes, eyes, and a nose. After I delivered the baby, we had a few normal complications which kept us in the hospital until Wednesday afternoon. I will spare you the details!
We did have as much time as we needed with our little baby (considering the circumstances), and it was truly amazing to see how human a little 16 week old baby can be. The Mercy Heartprints team provided us with a bag of mementos to take home complete with photos and little footprints of our baby. Our baby will be buried next week, with other pre-mature losses.
This entire experience has been surreal, and I still don’t really understand what is in store as we continue to move forward. We are heartbroken and disappointed, but continue to be amazed by the outpouring of love and support from our amazing family, friends and co-workers. I am overwhelmed by how our loved ones seemed to instantly mobilize and surround us with genuine warmth and kindness… and both emotional and practical support. I will never be able to adequately thank everyone, but we will carry this experience with us and pay it forward.
As we continue to mourn the loss of our baby and the loss of all the expectations, excitement and emotion of our pregnancy, we will remember how much we are loved. We will also continue to cherish our time with little Samantha… temper tantrums and all (okay, the temper tantrums may be a slight overstatement).
While our experience was awful, I know that it could have been worse. My heart truly aches for those who have experienced miscarriage, early loss, loss, complications or really anything sad… The emotions are pretty much out of control…damn hormones!
Confession of a *wannabe* blogger… I realize that this may seem like a serious over-share for social media (trust me, I am judgy too), but it is important for me to share my story. It seems so taboo to talk about experiences like this publicly, which is a bummer, because at least for me, it is the talking, sharing and support that helps the most. An old friend from high school shared her story through a blog and even though I hadn’t spoken to her in years, I found it strangely comforting as we moved through this process. You just never know what the day will bring, where you will find comfort, and how you will heal.
Ribbon Cake with Bunting
My dear friend Audra truly appreciates a good party plan and is amazing with the execution! I was ecstatic to make her daughter’s first birthday cake, but also seriously nervous. I love decorating cakes for friends and family, because at this point I am pretty confident that whatever I put together will be more fun than what they could pick up from our local grocery store or Sam’s Club.
Audra, however, is a different story.
Audra always knows what is hip and cool, before it is hip and cool. Yeeks! I just said hip… and cool… I am sure that Audra could find a fantastic cake from one of our amazing local bakeries that would turn up in our favorite blogs and magazines in a month or two as the hottest new trend.
The pressure was on!
Ribbon Cake with Bunting
Audra found this adorable cake bunting from Boo Bah Blue to provide inspiration! I wanted to keep the cake pretty simple to showcase the adorable bunting, so I decided to try a two-tiered ribbon cake, with a gum paste plaque. I used a 9 inch round cake for the first tier and a 6 inch round cake for the second tier.
To keep this project manageable and fun, I organized my time and spaced out the work. I created the gum paste name plaque on Wednesday, baked the cakes on Thursday, and I frosted and assembled the cake on Friday.
1. Apply a thin crumb coat of vanilla buttercream to both cakes and refrigerate for 15-30 minutes, for the icing to set.
2. Once the icing is set, apply an additional smooth, thick, coat of buttercream to the top of each cake.
3. Fill your favorite piping bag with the vanilla buttercream and affix a Wilton 104 piping tip. (I believe tip #104 is typically used for piping petals, but I am a serious piping novice!)
4. Start at the base of your 9 inch cake, with the thin side of the piping tip facing up and the thicker side of the piping tip facing down. Pipe from left to right (or right to left!), about ¾ of an inch, in a figure eight motion. Continue this back and forth motion, moving from the base of the cake to the top. Continue this around the entire cake.
5. Trim 3 wooden dowels to the correct height of the cake, and insert the dowels in the center of the 9 inch cake, for support (I usually space them about 3 inches apart, in a triangular shape).
6. Gently place the 6 inch cake on top of the support dowels.
7. Pipe the 6 inch cake in the same fashion as the first cake.
8. Once both cakes are complete, pipe one final ribbon around the top of each cake to complete the look. Angle the tip with the wide base touching the cake and the thin side facing up. Gently pipe, in about a ½ inch back and forth motion, from the center to the outside of the cake around the circumference of each cake.
9. Before the icing complete sets, affix the gumpaste name plaque to the top tier. If the icing is already somewhat dry, simply wet the back of the gumpaste plaque and firmly hold against the icing until it sticks.
10. Top with an adorable cake bunting!
Confession of a *wannabe* cake decorator…. In my excitement over the ribbon cake, I overlooked the ever-important smash cake! I wanted both cakes to compliment each other, but I didn’t have time to bake, cool, and decorate another cake before the party! I hit up our local grocery store and bought a small cake from the frozen section. I scraped off the frozen icing from store and quickly iced the cake in complementing colors. This worked great… a trick I *may* remember in the future!
Dr. Seuss Cake
My daughter is rapidly approaching 2. Seriously 23 months and some change. Didn’t we just perfect the ultimate swaddle, conquer the squeakless door close, and master the art of stacking milk in the freezer? Our routines change so quickly with this bundle of energy, it is tough to comprehend that we are already building choo-choos with blocks, whisking pancake batter, and talking about friends at school (okay, maybe just repeating their names at home). I realize this is not a new phenomenon and time flies for everyone… I just wish it were a little more selective to the Monday through Friday, 8:30 to 5:00 time-frame!
- I have a daughter (this is still sinking in).
- She will seriously be 2 in a mere number of days.
- We celebrated, we celebrate, we will celebrate!
Oh, The Places You'll Go Door Sign
I love to decorate cakes, plan parties, and am always up for a good celebration no matter how big or small… we celebrate Pi day. I have to admit, however, that I was totally overwhelmed at the prospect of planning my own daughter’s first birthday party! How would I ever pick and finalize a theme? How would I decorate her cake? I checked all my usual sources for inspiration: Pinterest, Hostess with the Mostess, Pizzazzerie, etc., and despite all the amazing party plans, I wasn’t convinced.
I am a sucker for inspiration. I am a sucker for independence. I wasn’t ready to let go of little Sammie’s nursery theme, so we stuck with, “Oh the Places She’ll Go!”
Invitation: We found an adorable invitation in the Meghily’s Printables Etsy Store.
Decorations: I played with my Silhouette SD and found great hot air balloon shapes by SnapDragon Snippets in the Silhouette Studio. I selected several different shades of Bazzil cardstock to use for all my decorations and outlined the cutouts with a black marker to give it more Dr. Seuss sass. I downloaded the Doctor Soos font, for free, from dafont.com. I created a banner for the fireplace, hot air balloon bunting for the entryway, a door sign (re-purposing an old frame), and fun photos from Samantha’s first year hanging from helium balloons.
Dr. Seuss Cake
Cake: I had some serious trouble coming up with an idea for this cake that I felt I could actually execute! I decided to use gum paste, fondant, and edible markers to re-create scenes from “Oh the Places You’ll Go.” I loved the effect of the edible markers on the dried gumpaste. I did learn that you have to wait for the gumpaste to dry completely before using the edible markers, or the colors may bleed!
First Year Photo Collage
Photo Collage: We spent the year taking monthly black and white photos of Samantha on a plain desk calendar. We happened to have some extra wall space and found matching extra frames… all the night before her party. With the assistance of a little Urban Chestnut, we put together this photo collage in no time.. we (the beer) *may* have miscounted our photo-to-frame-ratio… which explains the somewhat random monogram in the fourth frame! D’oh.
Up next… la la la la… la la la la… Elmo’s World! Let the celebration continue!
Confession of a *wannabe* party planner…
I wish I could ditch the 8:30 – 5:00 job and execute party plans everyday!
Happy 1st Birthday Samantha!