an art party

June 25, 2013 § 2 Comments

My baby turned nine yesterday – I cannot believe it – and we celebrated in style with a lovely art party. My girls have been invited to a few art parties in recent years at different painting stores in the area. Sophie loves art, so we decided to do our own at-home version complete with real canvases for the girls to paint. For the art project each guest painted her own initial surrounded by different designs. It was a little rainy (typical June Seattle) so we had to set-up the painting in the garage instead of the grass like I’d imagined, but the guests didn’t seem to care. We served our favorite macaroni and cheese and sandwiches and had paint-your-own frosted cupcakes for dessert.

I love the colors we chose – orange and aqua – and had so much fun picking up cool treat bags, candies, straws, flowers and decor to match. I bought the smocks at the craft store but sewed orange chevron pockets to the front and tied on some coordinating ribbon – an easy way to make a store-bought apron look homemade. All and all, a simple and adorable birthday party that made my Sophie a very happy girl. And a happy girl makes a happy mommy!!

valentine treat bags

February 9, 2013 § Leave a comment

valentine treat bags

Sophie and I have had fun today assembling these sweet little Valentine’s Day treat bags for her friends. Inspired by a gift from my friend Stephanie and several Pinterest pics, I’ve been incorporating wax paper treat bags into my recent craft projects. There are so many of these bags on the market right now. I got mine at my local Paper Source store, and you can find a ton of really pretty ones on The Sugar Diva’s website. For Bella’s birthday craft party and for this project, I sewed the bags shut as an added touch. Some may think I’m crazy, but I think going the extra mile makes all the difference. Love is in the details!

valentine tags

January 23, 2013 § Leave a comment

valentine tags

As soon as the Valentine’s Day crafting supplies make their appearance in the stores, I can feel my excitement level rise. I love Valentine’s Day, probably not shocking considering this is a holiday where crafting takes center stage. This week I was so anxious to break into my valentine supplies that I didn’t even wait to clean up the craft room from Bella’s birthday party – I just set up camp on the floor and started in.

I have a big box of shipping tags that I got at an office supply store (I like incorporating industrial elements into my projects) and decided to use them to make pretty Valentine tags using some of my stash of supplies: a mat stack of papers from Crate Paper, felt hearts, some awesome washi tape, cupcake liners, ribbons and a repurposed used book. I’m not even sure who I’m making these tags for, but I smile thinking of how lovely they’ll look tied to a gift for someone special in my world. Cheers to the beginning of the Valentine’s Day crafting season!

If you need some Valentine’s Day project inspiration, be sure to check out a couple of my favorites from last year: crafty owls and valentine bookmarks.

a crafting party

January 19, 2013 § 8 Comments

scenes from a craft party

After a week’s delay for my Bella to get over being sick, she was finally able to have her super-fun crafting sleepover party with a few friends. Bella loves to craft almost as much as I do (and that’s saying something), and so planning this party together was a lot of fun. She chose the cool color combo – aqua and lime green – something I wouldn’t have thought of, and I loved it! We worked together on the decorations; Bella was so proud of her washi tape flags for the cupcakes. I love the sleeping masks I made for the girls to decorate by sewing on buttons and felt embellishments. And my hubby got a laugh watching me sew (yes, sew) the wax paper favor bags closed!

We made button necklaces from an idea I found on Pinterest, and Bella came up with her own game: a duct tape version of charades. During the night, I printed out some cute pictures of the girls that I took on Instagram, and they were able to add them to their SMASH Books (a cool new scrapbooking line). But the best part was how proud and excited Bella was to share these fun ideas and projects with her friends. Here are some scenes from our craft night – with Valentine’s Day just around the corner, it’s time to get your crafting skills ready.

a year of flowers

December 20, 2012 § Leave a comment

It’s hard to believe that I’ve been writing this blog long enough to have entries a year in the making. Last January, I gave myself a challenge: to put together one fresh flower arrangement for the house every month. I stipulated that the flowers and greenery in the arrangements must be chosen separately by me (no pre-arranged flowers for this girl), which forced me to take my time, think about colors and textures and types of flowers, and to arrange them in a pretty way. I have always loved flowers and love that Drew gives them to the girls and me to mark important occasions. This has been a fun project and may be something that sticks around for a long time. Because these fresh flowers have definitely added a little more happy to our house, and our darker Seattle days have seemed just a bit brighter. It’s little things like this that make life more beautiful.

baking party

December 16, 2012 § Leave a comment

baking party

We just went to an awesome baking party yesterday, and I was reminded of Bella’s 6th birthday. This was one of my favorite parties! Fun party planning for me always begins with a great idea for the invitation and the party favors, and for this one the recipe card invites and the homemade aprons were so much fun to make. I loved the retro papers and fabrics I used – I even found a matching dress for my birthday girl to wear. I’m not great with patterns but pretty handy with the sewing machine, and these aprons weren’t too hard to cut and patch together without a pattern. The guests were set up around the kitchen island and spent the evening making their own pizzas and rolling and decorating sugar cookies. Most children love to help in the kitchen and, just like at the party yesterday, the adults were impressed with just how quiet it got as the little one focused in on their grown-up baking. It was an adorable party, and the memories are unforgettable.

asian salad

September 19, 2012 § Leave a comment

Last week for our school’s staff appreciation luncheon the theme was salads, and I had the perfect recipe. Anyone who knows me, knows I LOVE salad and that it’s one of my favorite foods. My girls also know it, and in first grade Bella made sure to tell her teacher this on a school report. (Of course, to be fully forthcoming, she also reported that my favorite drink is wine – a proud parenting moment to be sure!) This asian salad recipe came to me from my friend Stacy and is a wonderful combination of sweet and savory; and the crunchy topping – a mix of uncooked ramen noodles, sesame seeds and almonds – gives great texture. It is the perfect addition to any salad-making repertoire, and I love surprising people with its unique and delicious taste.

Asian Salad

1 whole shredded green cabbage
chopped spinach (about 6 ounces)
chopped green onion

Topping:
2 packages oriental flavored ramen noodles (mashed)
1 pack of dry oriental seasoning from ramen noodles
3 tablespoons sesame seeds
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup slivered almonds
3 tablespoons butter (melted)

Dressing:
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon sesame oil

Combine cabbage, spinach and green onions in salad bowl. For topping, mix together 2 packages of uncooked ramen noodles (I break mine up with a wooden spoon before opening package), 1 pack of the dry seasoning mix that comes with the noodles, the sesame seeds, and the sliced and slivered almonds. Melt butter and pour over mixture. Broil in the oven on a cookie sheet until toasted. Add toasted topping to lettuces, coat with dressing and mix well.

spicy corn dip

July 12, 2012 § 2 Comments

So I had a moment of panic this morning. My hubby Drew had a work event this afternoon, and I’d volunteered to make a couple of his favorite recipes: chocolate chip cookies (just your basic Nestle Toll House kind) and spicy corn dip. I’ve been making this dip since back in my Atlanta days, and it’s probably my husband’s most requested dish (besides the cookies). I got it – like so many of my best recipes – from my friend Stephanie. This dip is quick to make and must be served hot and bubbly. But with chips – and friends – it’s the perfect choice! For a few crazy minutes this morning I couldn’t put my hands on my worn and much-loved recipe card (I know others out there like me have some of these precious hand-written cards they couldn’t live without), and I must admit I did start to worry. Luckily, I found it and thought enough to snap a picture and post it here so the next time we are desperate for our spicy corn dip fix, I’ll know right where to look:

amazing mac and cheese

June 30, 2012 § 6 Comments

At our birthday luau this past weekend, I served one of my girls’ favorite recipes: macaroni and cheese from the wonderful Williams-Sonoma’s “familymeals” cookbook by Maria Helm Sinskey. A little more involved than some recipes, this takes a bit of time but is totally worth the effort. I was thinking I’d made way too much since I’d more than doubled the recipe. But being able to send extras home with friends and still have more for us made me happy. “Is it bad?” my friend Erin asked the next day, “that I had your leftover mac and cheese for breakfast this morning.” We both decided it wasn’t as we heated up more for lunch. Make this unbelievably good mac and cheese for your next gathering and share the love.

Truly Amazing Mac and Cheese

from Williams Sonoma’s “familymeals”

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose (plain) flour
3 cups whole milk
1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
1/2 bay leaf
pinch of grated nutmeg
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 pound macaroni noodles
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups mixed grated hard cheeses such as Cheddar, Gruyere and Parmesan
1/2 cup heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 10-inch square or similar baking dish or 4-6 individual baking dishes.

To make the sauce, in a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring, until the mixture forms a ball, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and whisk in the milk, 1 cup at a time, mixing after each addition until smooth. Return the pan to medium heat and whisk until the mixture comes to a boil. Add the onion, bay leaf, and nutmeg, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to low, and cook, stirring frequently, until thickened, about 10 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl and cover to keep warm. You should have about 2 1/2 cups.

Bring a large post three-fourths full of salted water to a boil, add the pasta, and cook until al dente, according to package directions. Drain, transfer to a bowl, and stir in the butter. Add the sauce, 1 cup of the cheese, and the cream, and stir to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Pour the pasta into the prepared dish and sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup cheese over the top. Bake until golden and bubbling, about 30 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

a birthday luau

June 26, 2012 § 3 Comments

This past Sunday, my sweet Sophie turned 8, and we celebrated with a birthday luau. It had been weeks in the making and, like all my girls’ birthday parties, I had so much fun putting everything together. For this party, I covered the house with pink, yellow and orange paper lanterns and flowers and crepe paper. All the little girl guests were adorable in their leis and grass skirts; they had a blast decorating their own flip-flops and learning “The Sophisticated Hula” from a hula instructor. They dined on fruit skewers and carrot stick shots (carrots cut up and served in tiny glasses with ranch dressing), individual lemonades in pink sugar-coated bottles, cupcakes and “fish food” (goldfish and swedish fish). She and her friends had so much fun, and the party continued well into the night with an official after party for family and close friends. It was an amazing day. And the best part: my sometimes shy Sophie was completely out of her shell, laughing and living it up. Seeing her like that made me so happy.

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