Happy Easter

Despite lots of sickness in our family, we had a very nice holiday weekend. It was our first Easter in the new house, and the yard proved to be the perfect site for an egg hunt. Most years, Jason and Jenna quickly snatch up the eggs and count their bounty to see who won. This year, victory definitely went to the Easter bunny. J+J gave up after an extensive search of both the front and back yards, leaving at least 3 or 4 eggs to be found later in the day.

Here are a few more highlights from our weekend:

happy easter

All-Natural Gradient Cake

Make a gradient cake using fondant with all-natural dyes.

Jenna has requested a “Cinderella Camping” themed birthday party this year. That one loves to challenge her mama with theme mash-ups. Last year’s Hello Kitty Rainbow Flower party seems easy in comparison to this year’s combo. Luckily, I enjoy a good challenge.

In preparation for the upcoming festivities, I decided to experiment with natural food dyes to see if I could achieve a good ‘Cinderella blue.’ And while I clearly need more practice working with fondant, I was pretty happy with the colors resulting from my experimentation this weekend.

Make a gradient cake using fondant with all-natural food coloring

I used this recipe for marshmallow fondant. Dye-free marshmallows are surprisingly hard to come by, but I’ve discovered that Walmart brand marshmallows don’t contain the artificial blue dye found in most other brands. For the coloring, I used this all-natural blue food dye. The results are more muted than artificial dyes, but work well for the Cinderella palette I was going for.

Make a gradient cake using fondant with all-natural food coloring

Flower Seed Valentines

Yesterday, I finished making Jenna’s Valentine’s for her classroom party. I love the idea of giving flower seed packets instead of candy, so I was pretty excited about these. Jenna also seemed pretty happy with these little boxes, until she saw the Valentine’s I’m making for her brother. More on that later this week when I get done cutting, folding, gluing and filling 21 paper Minecraft treasure boxes.

flower seed valentines: give packets of flower seeds instead of candy for classroom valentines

Paper Ornament Garland

Create an easy paper ornament garland for the holidays

This weekend I made a really simple paper garland to serve as a backdrop for a cookie party.

Create an easy paper ornament garland for the holidays

I started by creating a large batch of paper circles using a 3-inch paper punch.

Create an easy paper ornament garland for the holidays

To make each paper ornament, I folded the circles in half and glued the halves together, using 5 circles for each ornament (4 to 6 circles work the best).

Create an easy paper ornament garland for the holidays

I left one side of the ornament unglued until all of the paper ornaments were created. Then, I attached the ornaments to twine by gluing the twine inside of the remaining two sides.

Create an easy paper ornament garland for the holidays

And once the garland was complete, I placed in along our kitchen windows, behind the table where I’ll set up the cookie display.

Create an easy paper ornament garland for the holidays

Take One: Christmas Card Photos

christmas card outtakes It’s not even Thanksgiving and I can already check ‘Christmas Cards’ off my list. Am I on a roll this season or what?

I took our Christmas photos early this year, with the idea that we may need to go a few rounds before getting that perfect shot. I’ve probably mentioned this before, but by ‘perfect’ I mean: everyone is smiling, in focus and looking in the general direction of the camera. My expectations have been rather low based on historical evidence (see last year’s outtakes). This year, I’m happy to report that our shoot went fairly well, and we ended up with quite a few adorable shots of this brother and sister duo. I’ll be sharing our cards (selected from the Tiny Prints holiday collection) along with a DIY project for displaying holiday photos on the Tiny Prints blog soon. In the meantime, here are a few outtakes: christmas photo outtakes

Thank you, Tiny Prints, for our gorgeous holiday cards!

Candy Bar S’mores

candy bar s'mores

We had A TON of candy leftover from Halloween. This was our first Halloween in our new house, and we had no idea that only one group of kids would ring our doorbell for candy. Two weeks later and we still have bags of candy in our cupboards. So when I was assembling a s’mores bar for a party we had this weekend, an idea hit me: candybar s’mores! The mini Hershey’s bars are obviously perfect for this, but I also added peanut butter cups, Crunch bars and Kit Kats.

I completely failed to take any pictures at our party, but here are a few pre-party shots of the set-up. I think the Reese’s peanut butter cups were the party favorite. We’ll definitely be trying this again … especially since we still haven’t eaten all of our candy.

candy bar s'mores

Jason’s Legoland Birthday Party

legoland birthday party

This weekend, we celebrated Jason’s 7th birthday with his friends at Legoland Discovery Center, probably one of his favorite places in the whole world. I love throwing birthday parties for Jason and Jenna, but this one was almost entirely handled by the nice people of Lego. In fact, both my husband and I had trouble leaving the house because we felt like we were forgetting something.  This was by far the easiest of all of our kids’ birthday parties so far, and while I miss the fun of planning and creating, I also know that Jason could not have been happier with his party.

legoland birthday partyMy only two additions to an otherwise ‘store-bought’ party were the very cute Lego-themed invitations from Tiny Prints and the party favors.

legoland birthday party invitations by Tiny Prints

For the favors, I ordered a Lego stamp and created Lego-themed notebooks and carrying cases to hold the notebooks and a few other goodies. I’m not a big fan of giving (or receiving) favors that will just be thrown away, so I usually try to create something with a longer shelf life. Jason and Jenna are always packing up cases, bags and other containers with toys to take on the go, so when I saw these little suitcases at Target, I knew they’d be a perfect favor box.

legoland birthday party

The cake was provided by Legoland and Jason wasn’t too pleased when I wiped all of the dye-filled frosting off his piece. Sorry, Jason.

legoland birthday party

Our friend Dustin’s handmade gift-wrap has become a tradition at Jason’s birthdays, and this year’s design didn’t disappoint.

legoland birthday party

Happy Birthday, Jason!

Happy Birthday, Jason!

jasonBday7

Jason turned seven today. S-E-V-E-N.  Can you believe it? Jason couldn’t. When we wished him Happy Birthday this morning, he commented that he couldn’t believe he was seven! I couldn’t agree more.

Tonight we celebrated with steak (Jason’s favorite food), chocolate cheesecake (possibly my favorite food) and a few presents. This weekend, we’ll celebrate with his friends. Happy Birthday, Jason!

jasonBday7-2jasonBday7-3

Farm-to-Table Dining

outstanding in the field

Last night I returned from my ‘culinary adventure’ with my close friend Tara. Over the course of 5 days, we visited Napa, San Francisco and the Santa Cruz area, eating and drinking quite a bit along the way. My favorite meal was a farm-to-table style dinner at the Everett Family Farm organized by Outstanding in the Field.

Here are a few scenes from our evening touring the farm and enjoying an amazing dinner prepared by local chef, Santos Majano.

The Farm

outstanding in the field

The Dinner

outstanding in the field dinner