Sunday, October 30, 2011

Homemade Coffee Creamer and Pumpkin Cream Cheese

Today my friend pinned a recipe for Pumpkin Spice Creamer!! I was so excited to see this because pumpkin spice creamer is my favorite and for some reason I haven't been able to find it in my local grocery stores.


I went to the blog and found a source for many more coffee creamer recipes! Deliciously Organic has a list of great sounding coffee creamers, and I believe they are all organic! I decided to try the Honey Vanilla Creamer and share it with you all today.

Here's the recipe I used

1 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup raw honey
2 tsp vanilla extract

Combine the milk, heavy cream and honey in a pan whisking until it starts to steam. Pull off the heat and add the vanilla extract. Pour into a jar and chill in the fridge.

That's it! Can you believe it, so so simple. I also made the pumpkin spice creamer from her blog and they both turned out so delicious!!

Next time I make them I'll try and cut out some of the fat by using skim milk, etc. I'm not sure how it will turn out, but I love being able to make my own creamer. It's a huge MUST have in our house so any way to make it fresher and cheaper I'm all over it!


Another recipe I wanted to share with you all was also something I came across on pinterest. It's called Pumpkin Cream Cheese!


I saw this recipe and had to try it since my husband and I both love anything pumpkin. This is definitely a keeper. It almost tastes like pumpkin pie filling on a bagel. Goes great in the mornings with a pumpkin spice coffee! I originally got the recipe from this blog. Here's how I made it.

8 oz of 1/3 less fat cream cheese softened
1/2 cup pumpkin puree - not pumpkin pie filling, make sure you get the plain puree
1/4 cup granulated sugar (I used a little more after tasting it. I wanted mine sweet.)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg

Combine cream cheese and pumpkin puree in a mixer (or use a hand mixer) until uniform in color and there are no more cream cheese clumps. Add sugar until dissolved/incorporated. Then add the rest of the spices. Make sure you scrape the sides of the bowl and give it another spin. Chill in the refrigerator until ready to use.


I love to eat mine on those bagel thins toasted lightly. So good and tastes like fall!!


I hope you try some of these yummy fall recipes before Winter sneaks up on us!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Strawberry Shortcake Inspired Birthday Party

Well hello again! It's been a couple weeks since my daughters Strawberry Shortcake party so I figured I better get to blogging!! It turned out fantastic and was so cute.



To say my daughter is a little obsessed with Strawberry Shortcake is an understatement. She knew about 7 or 8 months before her birthday she wanted a SS party. Mommy however isn't all that into "commercial character" parties. So I came up with a way to please us both! ;)
 
I started planning this party about 6 months ago really. My first step once I knew the theme and my general idea was to contact my friend Christy over at Itsy-Belle to design me some party print-ables. She has many adorable party themes already made up but we knew SS was what we needed. Now you might remember from my son's party that I also do design work, but I'm really a hobbyist at it. Christy is a pro and I knew she could come up with exactly what I wanted. All I told her was I wanted SS theme but not really too characterized. That's basically it. She came up with the most adorable set. It's got stripes, polka dots, daises, strawberries (of course) and is just so exactly what I had in mind. It's like she plucked it right from my brain and made it better. You can see the whole set here in her shop. So once I saw her work I got really excited with all kinds of ideas!


First item I made was these adorable little favor bags filled with Hershey Kisses. She made me some cute 1" circles that I printed on sticker paper and cut out using a 1" circle cutter. I placed one on the bottom of each kiss and added 8 to each bag. I then took the folded card/topper and typed "thank you for coming to my party" on it. Printed them, cut them out, folded them and stapled them to the bag tops. They were a huge hit. Almost everyone asked how I made them and said how cute they were.



For the birthday banner I wanted to jazz it up a bit so I used my cricut to cut out scalloped edge circles. I then glued each piece of the banner to one scalloped circle and used brads to keep them together. To add a little SS herself to the party I made two with SS on them and flanked her name with them.


The ruffle background you see behind the dessert table are the same ruffle streamers I showed you how to make in this blog post here.


And of course I made this cute ribbon topiary I blogged about here.


For the table cloth I ran out of time and just got a white plastic cloth, but I wanted to have a cute runner so I got green fabric from Hobby Lobby and just cut it using pinking shears to fit the middle of the table.


The cake I made myself and couldn't have been happier with it! I found one I liked on CakeCentral.com and used that as inspiration. I added a little SS cake topper to the side for Ashlyn. She loved this cake! The Happy 4th Birthday Ashlyn was a printable ink label I had printed at Albertsons. It came back bigger than I had planned but I made it work.




For the treats I kept it simple since this party was at a local Gymnastics gym and they provided pizza and icee's for the kids. I still wanted to make cute things for the table, so I decided to make these things I found called "pie pops". I had made cake pops for my son's birthday and other times before so I wanted something different. I found the tutorial on how to make them here. And since then have seen MANY bloggers blogging about how to make them. They are so cute and fun. I've even seen some new pumpkin pie pops! Might have to try those for fall!

Anyway, I decided to make mine in flower shapes to fit the SS theme without going too overboard on SS or strawberries in general. I added pink and white ribbons to the sticks and stuck them in a jar I filled with light pink tulle. We added a fancy label from ItsyBelle and look how cute they turned out to be! :) I made Strawberry flavored and Blueberry flavored for "Blueberry Muffin" of course! ;)


I also made these DE-freaking-licious Oreo Truffle Balls that - wait for it - I FORGOT TO BRING TO THE PARTY!!! Can you believe it. I'm such a dork. My hubby stated that was fine with him because he got more to eat for himself, lol. Anyway, the recipe for these is SO easy!



I think I found the recipe originally on tablespoon.com but I honestly can't remember. I made them last year for Christmas using mint oreos and oh man, let me tell ya....so yummy!

These I just used regular oreo's and they were just as good. For the recipe you just

Crush 1 package of oreo's (I like to use my food processor)
combine with 1 8oz cream cheese
Chill for about 10 min
roll into 1" balls
dip in candy melts or melted chocolate
let sit to harden

So good! you could also use these to make cake pops. They are harder so they hold up better and just my opinion, but they are better!!


For items on plates like this I got place card holders I found at hobby lobby in green and stuck a fancy label in them.

And the last thing I made was Strawberry Shortcake Cookies!! Oh yes, they are as good as they sound! Not the easiest cookie to make, but totally worth it. I found this recipe on Pinterest and you can go directly to the recipe blog here.


And for the candy jars, I just had two and I put green and white mints in one, and strawberry malt balls in the other.


I also used ItsyBelle's waterbottle labels and had water there for thirsty kids and parents. I thought they were so cute, I wish I could make labels for Ashlyn's waterbottles she takes to school for the bus everyday, lol. I bought the waterproof labels at this etsy shop here. Just convo her for a custom listing, she's great. :)


I decided to get some balloon boquets with Strawberry Shortcake on them but didnt' want to spend too much and knew exactly what I wanted. So I looked on Ebay and found a pack of SS balloons. I got one HUGE SS shaped mylar, 2 circle mylar with SS on them, and 7 polka dot pink and green latex balloons. We blew them up right before the party and flanked the tables with them. The bigger boquet is on the gift table which I forgot to photograph of course. ;)


And for the party table I just went to Party City and got SS table cloths and found some pink and green paper plates at Hobby Lobby. I wrapped silverware in napkins all color cordinating and used the party circles tied on with ribbon for the silverware. We got SS paper cups to serve the icee's in.


And last but definately not least - I made Ashlyn a Strawberry Shortcake inspired outfit. She loves it!! In fact she made me make her the hat to match, lol. The girl has an eye because it really pulled the outfit together. I made the hat, the shirt, the skirt, and the leggings. She had the shoes, lol.


You can find custom outfits like this, or other original clothing items and accessories at my etsy shop Ashlyn's Bowtique! If you don't see what you need convo me for a custom!

And I'll leave you with a few more pics from the party. It was certainly a fun theme for me to do because I loved SS when I was little. All the colors were fantastic to work with and it ended up being so worth the work. I hope Ash's party can inspire some of your own Strawberry Shortcake party ideas! ;)




Saturday, September 24, 2011

Ribbon Topiary - How To


I made these adorable ribbon topiaries for my daughter's Strawberry Shortcake themed birthday party. I just love the way they turned out!


Ribbon topiaries are a huge deal right now, and of course I had to try my hand at it. They are simple to make (although somewhat time consuming) and anyone can do them!

What you need -

Styrofoam ball - I used 4 or 5" balls I can't remember
A wooden dowel
LOTS of ribbon in colors matching your theme
Straight pins
A floral pot or bucket
Foam
Paper shreds or tulle or moss (something to cover the top of the foam in the bucket with

How To -

First cover your wooden dowel with ribbon. Then cut your foam to fit inside your bucket or flower pot and place inside the pot. Then stick the wooden dowel about half way into the Styrofoam ball. I opted to add my ribbon to the ball before putting it into the pot, I felt that was easier for me.

Next cut all your ribbon into 3-4" strips. I used 3" strips but I think anything would work, just depends on your taste. Then just fold the ribbon into a loop and using a straight pin pin it to the Styrofoam ball. It's that simple do this over and over and over again. :) Pretty soon you'll have an adorable ribbon covered ball.

When it's all covered stick the other end of the dowel (with ribbon ball attached) into the foam in the bucket. Then glue paper shreds (or whatever you choose) to the top of the foam covering all the uglies.


And now your done! Admire your work! :) Have fun with this one guys. It's really simple and turns out so cute!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Ruffled Party Streamers - DIY

As you know my son just had his big Monster Jam Bash birthday party at the beginning of the month, but you may not know my daughter is having her birthday this weekend!! So I've been super busy trying to get all her decorations done. Today I made these adorable ruffle streamers! I am so in love!


While I can't take original credit for the idea on these (I rarely have my own ideas, lol after all isn't that was the internet is for? To research other peoples great ideas and execute??) I can say that I am so in love with them and couldn't wait to share with you all how I made them! I found the original instructions at My Paper Crane.


I used one roll of pink and one roll of white crepe paper. All you do is lay them on top of each other and start sewing a straight stitch down the middle. I chose to off center mine so you could see the pink and the white from both sides and I love the way it turned out. While your sewing push the paper under your sewing foot and kind of wrinkle it up. It even sounds harder than it actually is. You barely have to push and it gets these cute little pleats that are to die for.

Tips - my paper kept rolling on me so a couple times I tore it off and unrolled it, then started again by just keeping my needle in the orginal piece and pushing the new piece right up to it. Don't cut your thread or anything.



When I was finished sewing I rolled it back up into one HUGE roll, lol and it's ready to go for the party day!


Stay tuned next week (or the week after, lol) for my post on my daughters super sweet strawberry shortcake inspired 4th birthday! :) You'll get to see how I use these cute streamers - because honestly, I'm still not sure how I'm going to use them; I've got a couple ideas, lol.

Thanks for reading!!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Busy morning - Back to School breakfast sandwiches and DIY coffee syrups

Photo courtesy of www.macheesmo.com
So I'm sure you've heard me say before my new addiction is Pinterest!! BIG TIME!! Well the other day I ran across a pin for breakfast sandwiches on www.macheesmo.com. At first I didn't think anything of it because I've made them in many variations on many occassions for breakfast, but then I read the blog post.

These are great because she tells how to make a bunch at a time and freeze for later eating! I thought that works great for our busy morning schedule now that my daughter is in Pre-K. We get up at 6am and have to be out the door by 630am so I'm usually sending her to school with a pop-tart or granola bar. Sometimes fruit when I'm feeling guilty for feeding her all that processed food. Not to mention I have to figure out what to send my hubby to work with in the mornings because after PT (he's military) he's starving.

So tonight I decided to try it out! I got 2 packs of whole wheat english muffins, a dozen eggs, some cheese and some sliced ham for mine. Get the recipe here.

I made them just as she said except I added the ham. It didn't take long at all and now I have TWELVE breakfasts all ready to go so I don't have to worry! Here are some tips/variations I thought of while making mine -
  • To make it even more healthy use egg whites - just pour some egg whites from the carton into each muffin tin - even easier than eggs!
  • Use turkey bacon! It's a staple in our house because my family loves bacon but I don't like that it's so fattening so we use turkey bacon.
  • Use lowfat cheese or skip the cheese all together
Have you ever had Starbucks Turkey Bacon Egg sandwich for breakfast in the morning while getting your coffee??

I have - and it's good so I've gotten it alot and every time I think man that was expensive!! Now you can make your own sandwich and coffee in the morning! Check out this post on how to make your own flavored coffee syrups! You can also find other recipes for DIY flavored syrups on pinterest.com.

Picture courtesy of www.annie-eats.net

I hope you try this out and it helps your morning breakfast routine. They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day! Happy eats!!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Monster Truck Birthday Party - what I've been busy with for a while now!

My little man Hayden turned 3 years old Friday!! I still can't believe it. (Although he's been acting like he's 5 for over a year, lol.) He LOVES trucks so we decided on a Monster Truck themed birthday.

I just love the way it turned out! I must admit I was getting a little overwhelmed when trying to pull everything together, but when the day finally came and I was able to set everything out I was very pleased that it WAS indeed turning out like I had it planned in my head, lol.

I'll attempt to explain some of my projects in case you want to do the same for your little one's birthdays. Or maybe you're having and upcoming Halloween bash!?

My first project was this adorable Balloon Wreath. This picture is horrible, I really should take a better one for the blog but I'm a work at home mom so you get what you get. :P

Again, it's much cuter in person! I found a tutorial for this wreath on Pinterest. Here is the link.
I chose to add some pipe cleaners that I twirled around a wooden dowel and cut in pieces to stick out from the balloons some. You can't see it very well in the photo, but it adds a cute touch. I then took a wooden H, for Hayden of course, painted it black, added some rope, and used a floral pin to stick in the middle of the wreath.

A couple tips for this project - it's not as cheap as you may think. I actually ended up using I think 8 or 10 bags of balloons at 1.99 a bag. You can do it cheaper with a huge bag of multi colored balloons, but I wanted to use Black, Red, Grey, and White to match my color scheme. The floral pins were about $8 for the big bag, (I have tons left over though.) and the Styrofoam wreath was about $8 as well. Although I found this awesome tip on Pinterest - use foam tubing from the hardware store duck taped together to make the wreath circle - it only costs about $1. I haven't tested this yet but I plan to in the future!

I hung this wreath above the sweets table - which just happened to be my favorite table I made! :)


The "sweets" table included handmade candy buttons!! They were so fun to make and making them homemade I was able to make them in the colors of the party. Find instructions for those here.

I also made cake pops - which were a big hit. They aren't any harder to make than cake balls and they are so fun and cute on a stick! I used red candy melts to cover them and then just used some sprinkles I had in the cupboard to jazz them up. I put Styrofoam in the bottom of galvanized tins and covered it with paper straw then stuck the cake pops in. Find cakepop/cakeball recipes here!

I used chocolate donuts set on plates and called them "mud tires". We got tons of red, black and white candy and put in cute glass jars I found at hobby lobby when they were 50% off. I also made homemade rock candy! That was a mess, but much cheaper than buying them. To find instructions go here. I wanted the sticks to be cute so I bought long skinny wooden dowels and had my amazing hubby cut them to the length I wanted. He then took wooden balls, drilled holes in them and used wood glue to adhere them to the ends of the sucker sticks. When the suckers were done I wrapped them in cellophane bags with a black ribbon bow. I think they turned out really cool! :)





And of course on the sweets table was the cake! I made the bottom tier to look like a big monster truck tire and the top tier I just covered in red fondant. I then used buttercream with crushed oreos over it to add "mud" to the cake and threw a couple toy monster trucks on top. The monster truck on the side is "glued" on with melted chocolate. For the top banner (which I think was my favorite part - I just love the new style of using bunting on cakes!!) I used my cricut to cut out tiny triangles from the black and white check scrapbook paper I used in the birthday banner. I also used the cricut to cut his name out in red cardstock. I hand sewed the paper triangles together on a string and then glued the letters. I tied them to bamboo skewers and stuck it in the cake. I added red fondant balls to the tops to finish it off.

I decided to add the treat bags to the sweets table because my idea was to have the kids fill their treat bags with the candy (lord knows I don't need any of that stuff left behind here for my rump to inherit!). I just took a pack of plain red bags I picked up at Michael's and added a party circle I made to the center. I then took another party circle that said "thank you for coming to my party" and tied it to the handle. Very simple. I stuck a few toys in the bags and then at the end of the party the kids filled their bags with goodies!

Another big project was the Happy Birthday Banner!


I used my cricut and found the "Boys will be Boys" cricut cartridge on eBay and I think I got it for $25 or so. Much cheaper than my local craft store. It has tons of boys things - a CUTE construction dump truck that would make a super fun themed party! I also have SCAL (computer software) for my cricut so I made svg files in photoshop and used those as well.

To make the banner I took black and white cardstock and cut out the scalloped edge squares. I then cut the black and white dots and black and white check squares about an inch smaller than the scallops from scrapbook paper. Then I used red cardstock for the letters. I glued them together and used a hole punch in the corners of each square. I took 3 colors of ribbon (red, black and white) and tied two squares together just in a knot to leave the ends hanging. I added a cricut cut monster truck to the front and back of each word as if they were driving in opposite directions and going to rip the word apart (something you might see in a monster truck show). I love the end result although I think I'd use a different font for the letters next time. Something simpler maybe.


I hung the banner over the "concession stand" (aka food table) and added a few "keep on crushin" and monster truck signs.



On the food table I had forks and spoons wrapped in napkins in galvanized tins near the plates. I served "monster subs", fruit salad, and a feta and vegetable pasta salad for the adults, and chicken nuggets and apple slices for the kids. I made red cardstock chicken nuggets holders from a template I found online here. I made cute little monster truck toothpicks for the sandwiches and chicken nuggets. They made the food seem more decorated. :)



I should mention the party circles, his invitation and food labels as well as the labels on the sweets table I made in photoshop myself. My husband and I both dabble in design so it wasn't a hard project for us. If you can make them yourself then go for it! If you can't check out my friend Christy's etsy site. She can make custom party packages for you or she has TONS of cute party theme's already done. I actually had her design my daughters party set for me because her birthday is just 3 1/2 weeks after my sons so I didn't want to do both, lol. Check out her etsy shop called ItsyBelle. It's fantastic!

Okay so other things I did was take fabric and use pinking shears to cut table runners. That's right folks they aren't even sewn! :) I did however sew the chair covers for the backs of the chairs out of the same fabric. It's a super simple project. Just cut two rectangles in the sizes you need (measure the backs of the chairs) making sure to add at least an inch to top and side cuts for seam allowance and sew together on 3 sides. I did serge my bottom side that was open so I wouldn't get fray's but you could always hem that side, or cut with pinking shears for a faster project. I made 16 chair covers.


Not the best pic, I forgot to take pictures of the whole room. Once I finally got it all together people were showing up so the photos were somewhat rushed. Sorry for that! :)

And then we can't forget the "Refuel Station"! Another one of my favorites! :)



I made this fabulous punch that you have to make ahead, but for me that was great because I was trying to get as much done early as possible. It freezes for a few days before you use. I got these adorable paper straws on etsy in grey and red stripe. You can find them here. I just put them in red cups and had them set out next to the punch. I then made water bottle labels that matched his party theme and had a bin with water and ice and another bin with CRUSH soda (fits the theme well don't you think? lol). Another table cloth and a few monster truck toys finish that table off.



I did a QUICK decorating of the guest bathroom which we renamed "the pitstop." I made a sign for the door, and hung some monster trucks on the mirror. I also tied fabric around a couple toilet paper rolls and set them out.

For the activities we had this big water obstacle course planned for outside we called "hayden's monster jam obstacle course" BUT it rained so we didn't get to play on it. :( But inside we had a "body shop" station where the kids got to have temporary tattoos put on (I didn't get a pic of this station) and we had a "Pro Shop" for merchandise. Our merchandise was Monster Truck T-shirts. I took plain white shirts and traced a monster truck I found online on each shirt with a black fabric pen. (yes this took forever and I was kicking myself for this great idea while doing them, but they turned out so great I'm glad I did them!) We got a package of fabric pens and a few cardboard shirt forms and set them up for the kids to color. It was like a coloring book page on a t-shirt. I think they all enjoyed it and the shirts turned out so cute!

After the activities were done and we'd eaten we sang Happy Birthday to the birthday boy and he dove straight into the gifts, lol







And in case you're wondering where I got his adorable matching birthday shirt?? Well that came from MY etsy shop - Ashlyn's Bowtique! :) I can make custom themed birthday shirts for pretty much any theme you need. Just send me a convo!  :)



So I want to mention that I got tons of inspiration from checking out other people's party blogs and monster truck parties. I just took what I liked from each and kind of made my own. Hayden LOVED his party and my daughter Ashlyn won't stop asking if it's time for her party yet now, lol. So for now I'm done with Monster trucks and it's on to Strawberry Shortcake! :) Wish me luck! lol

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed my tips and trick to kids birthday parties! :)