Monday, February 27, 2012

Birthday Cards

A couple of good friends have March birthdays, so I made them cards today.

I'd seen this technique and wanted to try it: cut out several hearts and arrange them to look like a flower.  It was harder than it looked!  The flowers ended up looking funky if your spacing was less than perfect.  So these cards ended up being a little more high-maintenance than I anticipated.

But I like how they turned out.  The hearts were easy to cut on my Cricut because I could cut the same heart in various sizes.  (I did 2 inches, 1-1/2 inches, and 1 inch hearts.)

Monday, February 20, 2012

Soccer Ball Cake

As soon as I made a Pokemon ball birthday cake for my nephew, my niece requested the same cake for her birthday party.  It was a triple-layer red velvet cake with buttercream icing.  But Kayla's not into Pokemon, so I made her cake a soccer ball instead.

I frosted the whole thing with white and then added the pentagon shapes in black.  Here's the secret trick for making the soccer ball design:  I had a pentagon cookie cutter and used that to make impressions in the white icing.  Then I simply outlined the impression with the black icing!

We actually celebrated all four family members with February birthdays including Kayla and my husband.  There was even less cake left this time than last time I made it.  I have a feeling it will get requested again!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Monkey Cookies

My son took a treat to share with his classmates for his half-birthday today.  Kids with summer birthdays get to celebrate their half-birthday at school so they don't miss out on all the attention.  He requested monkey cookies.

Here's how they came together:

Make sure you have a lot of time to do these cookies!  The brown on the face has to dry completely before you add the lighter brown snout part.

I made this special one with a party hat for my (half) birthday boy!

I also made some Carl cookies in honor of my dog that I blogged about in my last post.

I used Jelly Bellies cut in half for the eyes and they look a little freaky.  Not to mention that they were the weird flavor ones.  I swear mine was ham flavored.  Ewww.

But the fun part about these cookies was that I used an elephant cookie cutter to make them!  At first I was going to leave the trunk part on the cookie and make it look like Carl's tongue was lolling out.  But I couldn't figure out how to make that look right, so I just cut the trunk part off.  (I learned that you cut off unwanted parts before baking instead of after or you end up with a crumbly edge.)

I'm thinking I can use the same elephant cookie cutter with the trunk cut off to make some sweet Princess Leia cookies!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Puppy Love Valentine's Day

I love this boy.

And I adore these boys.

But this past summer, a new boy joined our family and stole a piece of my heart.

Seriously, how could you not fall in love with this face?

Meet Good Dog Carl.

The best part of it is, he decided he loves me too!  
(He loves the whole family, of course, but I'm his favorite.)

So I decided to have a puppy-themed Valentine's Day dinner this year in honor of our newest addition.

Puppy Love Pot Pies:
I found the recipe on the blog Kitchen Fun With My 3 Sons.  Hers turned out much cuter, but hey, I'm new at this.  (Definitely click on the link to see her cute version.)  But these tasted really good even though they resembled lions more than puppies.

Carl-Colored Dessert:
I'd seen desserts like this with brownies, ice cream and caramel sauce.  Since one of my sons is diabetic, I decided to lighten it up a little bit.  The Double-Chocolate Brownie recipe came from Martha Stewart and is SO delicious.  Instead of ice cream, I used whipped cream which is significantly lower in carbs. The caramel sauce is difficult to see in this photo, but it matches Carl's brown fur almost exactly.

Our Valentine table:
Check out the little stuffed puppy in the basket!  He looks just like Carl and I scored him on clearance at Michael's for a couple bucks.  My tables are usually much more elaborate than this, but I was short on time because I ended up volunteering at my kids' school longer than anticipated.  But that's life and, obviously, my kids are more important than a fancy place setting!

I hope you are inspired to make some every-day fun with your family!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Homemade Pokemon Valentines for the Class

I decided we should make our own Valentine cards this year for my boys to bring to school for their classmates.  They each have 28 kids in their class and, inevitably, they pick the Valentines that come with 18-24 in a box.  I end up buying 2 boxes for each kid and the majority of the second box doesn't get used.  Seems a bit wasteful!

They've been into Pokemon for a while, so used that as my inspiration.  The Pokemon trainer in the cartoons, Ash Ketchum, always says, "I choose you!" when he sends his Pikachu out to battle.  I switched the "choose" into "chews" so we could add gum to the cards.

The best part about this project is that I didn't have to do very much!  The boys could handle most of it themselves.  I had already designed the Pokemon ball in Photoshop, so I just had to add the words and print out enough copies.

The boys cut out the circles, filled in their classmates' names, and taped on the gum.

And tomorrow they get to deliver unique Valentine cards that they made themselves!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

My Husband's Angry Bird-day Party

My husband is one of those math and science-type guys so he understands things like "trajectory".  Which is probably why he enjoys the Angry Birds game.  My boys love it, too, so I decided that Brad's birthday should have an Angry Birds theme.

The boys jumped on board with the idea and, one day when they had a half-day of school, we spent the afternoon crafting our own Angry Birds as well as some Angry Bird Launchers!

We started out trying to make our own pom poms out of yarn but the boys got easily frustrated with wrapping the yarn around the circle template.  So I pulled out my bag of ready-made pom poms, and turned them loose with craft supplies and glue.  Googly eyes, of course, make everything more fun.  Then the kids used pipe cleaners to make bird beaks and pig ears and snouts.

The launchers were inspired by this blog post that has been popping up on Pinterest a lot lately.  I used yogurt containers instead of plastic cups.

Here are my boys during the party launching the pom pom birds at the pig fortress.  I think they might have enjoyed this just as much as playing the iPad game!

I had fun making decorations, too.  My friend told me about those bird faces and I simply cut them out and taped them on some balloons and on the birthday present. (You can download the balloon templates here.) The banner says "Happy Angry Bird Day" and that was made with my Cricut.

Since there were only 6 of us, I didn't want to make a whole cake.  So we had cupcakes! I feel the red bird's pain: I also have to deal with a unibrow.  I bet that's why he's so angry.

 Happy birthday, Brad.  I hoped to make this party as cool as you are! xoxo

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Valentine Shortbread Cookies

About 10 years ago, this recipe for shortbread cookies with white chocolate frosting appeared in Martha Stewart Living magazine.  I have been making it ever since.  They are SO YUMMY!

It makes a nice sturdy dough that is easy to cut into shapes once it is chilled.

Martha says to dip the cooled cookies into the melted white chocolate to frost them.  I prefer to slather it on with a knife.  I like the resulting texture.

But the best part is coming up with the fun sayings to pipe on the cookies.

I also tried making cake pops for the second time.  Cake Pops were made famous by Bakerella, and her website will tell you all you need to know about making your own.  In a nutshell, you bake a cake, crumble it in a bowl, mix in a can of frosting, form into balls, add the stick, dip in chocolate, embellish.  Let me just tell you that devil's food cake + chocolate frosting + melted chocolate coating = fabulous. 

The first time I tried to make these, though, was a complete fiasco.  The pops would just crumble and fall off the sticks.  This time I added almost the whole can of frosting to the crumbled cake (the recipe says to use 3/4 of a can).  Plus I dipped the stick in chocolate before inserting it into the pop to help it stay better.  And I thinned the dipping chocolate with shortening. 

These were for the Super Bowl so I made them in the shape of footballs.  I tried to melt white chocolate to make the laces, but it wasn't cooperating, so I used that writing icing that comes in tubes at the grocery store.

They turned out kind of lumpy, but at least they stayed on the sticks and you could tell they were supposed to be footballs.  I'll keep trying! 

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Celebrate the Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 video release with a viewing party!

We only have to wait one more week until the video release date for Breaking Dawn Part 1!  Will you be running to the store at midnight on February 11?  Will you be hosting a viewing party next weekend for your vampire-loving friends?  Or is a Twilight-themed Valentine party in your future?

This is a very fun theme to develop into a party. Plus, it's fairly easy to do so inexpensively using black and red sparkly things you probably already own.  Here's a look at the party I hosted just prior to the release of Breaking Dawn Part 1 in theaters this past November.  I hope it inspires you to do a Twilight party!

Because the movie features the long-awaited wedding of Bella & Edward, I styled my party invitation to look like their wedding invitation.
I arranged the text using Photoshop Elements and printed it on white cardstock.  Then I layered red cardstock, the invitation, and vellum and attached them with 2 white brads at the top.  (Sorry, the vellum makes it a little hard to read in the photo.)

Party Food:
For the party I served "Bat Wings" (hot wings), "Fangs" (blue corn chips) & Salsa, and Bread"stakes".  For dessert we had Werewolf Kibble (Chex Muddy Buddies), Bella's Twizzlers (both red and black), and Red Velvet Vampire Cupcakes.  I made little signs for each dish and nestled them into plastic fangs on the buffet table.

To drink, I served black cherry cola.  I covered the bottles with blood type labels which I think are so perfect for a vampire party!  You can download the labels for yourself from the Hostess with the Mostess Blog.
Unfortunately, I didn't snap a photo of the bottles with the cola in them before the party so you'll have to use your imagination with the photo of empty bottles.  (The black cherry cola really did look like blood.)

My photo of the buffet table came out all blurry which is a bummer.
The breadsticks, chips & salsa and hot wings are in the front, and the desserts are elevated behind them.  I dressed up the table with a chess board, some red candles and a feather boa.  Breaking Dawn fans will get the references.

Party Decorations:
Behind the buffet table I hung a banner that I made using sparkly paper and glitter.  I also hung red Christmas lights and two tissue paper pom-poms made with Martha Stewart's instructions.

On my piano I displayed the four Twilight books along with an apple, a white tulip, red ribbon, and a white chess piece.  Red and black candles were arranged on top of the piano along with a sparkly red beaded garland and velvety red fabric.  All of these things I already owned.

Behind the couch we have 4 poster frames that usually hold Red Wings posters.  Although those matched the party colors, they didn't match the theme!  So I covered them up with photos and movie quotes from each of the four Twilight movies.  The black is a cut-up black plastic tablecloth which cost $1.  The red is wrapping paper that I already had.  The movie still photos were found using Google search.

Here's a better look at each poster. You can click on the images to make them larger.
Twilight and New Moon posters
Download Hostess with the Mostess' Twilight movie quotes here.
Download Hostess with the Mostess' New Moon movie quotes here.
Eclipse and Breaking Dawn posters
Download Hostess with the Mostess' Eclipse movie quotes here.
I made my own Breaking Dawn movie quotes but, since I've had my party, Hostess with the Mostess has published her version.  You can download them here.

Party Activities:
As each guest arrived, she had to choose if she was Team Edward or Team Jacob (or both!).  I made necklaces out of Sculpey clay for everyone to wear.
We divided into teams and played movie trivia from the first three movies.  Then we watched Eclipse.

Party Favors:
As each guest left, I gave her a party favor bag featuring an apple cookie, a chocolate chess piece, a white tulip and tied with a red ribbon, referencing the 4 book covers.  I also included a plastic set of fangs and a note that said, "Fangs for coming."

Blogger won't let me upload my nice 8 1/2 x 11 .pdf, but here's a .jpg of the tags if you want to use them for your party.  Just click on the image to see it larger.  Right-click and select "save image as".
"Fangs" for checking out my party.  Leave a comment if you had your own party.  I'd love to see it!  My friends are already asking if I'm going to throw another party when Breaking Dawn Part 2 is released and I'm always looking for ideas.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Monster Valentine Box

Aaron has to bring a decorated box to school this year to hold his Valentine cards from his classmates.  I'd seen the idea in Family Fun a few years ago to make a monster face on a Kleenex box.  How perfect for a 9-year-old boy!

Here is our version:

1. Gather supplies: empty Kleenex box, wrapping paper, cardstock, tape, scissors, glue, stapler.

2.  Start wrapping the Kleenex box with the wrapping paper.  Have the paper come together at the opening of the box.  Cut a slit in the paper so you can fold it into the inside of the box through the hole.  Tape to secure inside the box.  Repeat on the other side.

3.  Wrap the sides of the box like you'd wrap a gift.

4.  Cut "teeth" out of white cardstock and tape them to the inside of the box.  I made my teeth a little irregular which I think adds to the charm.

5.  I made the eyes out of cardstock.  Before gluing on the black heart "pupils" I stapled the eyes in position on the box, then glued the heart over the staple.  The staple holds the eyes on the box much more securely than glue or tape.

6.  Embellish however you want!