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Friday, June 29

FRIDAY TREATS

So sorry for this very late post! Today's been slightly crazy busy and I haven't gotten a chance to sit down at my laptop until now. It's still technically Friday... at least for another 3 minutes. ;) Anyhow, here are a few of my favorites this week. I have to credit How About Orange for a lot of my finds though... I kind of adore everything Jessica posts about!
  1. Hula Hoop + Bedsheets = Awesome Tent by 2littlehooligans
  2. Download FREE wallpaper by repeatxrepeat
  3. Check out what How About Orange created with these stained sharpies!
  4. Another awesome inkodye project by How About Orange...

The recipe that has my mouth watering this week... 


Oh and I'm super excited to have my first giveaway next week! It has to do with these...  

Wednesday, June 27

BDAY PART II: THE DECOR

Since it was just the three of us, I didn't go too crazy with the decor. I kept it simple but colorful enough for picture taking purposes.  I actually drew my inspiration from these cute Kikkerland paper straws that I found at Bed Bath & Beyond. Since Elmo was also red, I decided to go with a red, black and white theme.  I found matching fabric at Hobby Lobby that I used as a backdrop for pictures.  
For the sign on the cake, I bought a Sesame Street coloring book from Target and cut Elmo out from the cover. Using scrapbook paper, paper straws, and some tape, I was able to quickly put everything together.  


Haha you like the backside of it? ;) Here's the cake after E picked off all the strawberries and ate them!



I also made him a little birthday crown to wear... although he ended up wearing it for a total of 30 seconds! Sigh* It was so much easier last year when he didn't have so many preferences! ;) I strengthened the scrapbook paper with some tape before punching a hole through it on both sides.  Then I just used some elastic thread to tie the crown together.  



The whole set-up put together looked like this:



Here it is with balloons and a fabric banner that I made for him last year.  


I thought it'd be neat to have a few birthday decor items present each year... like his banner, birthday plaque, birthday crown, and cake sign. I've been saving his crown and cake sign in a scrapbook I started for him. Hopefully, he'll enjoy looking back on it later on when he's older. :)

So there ya go... our mini-birthday celebration for E! Hope you liked it!



Tuesday, June 26

BDAY PART I: THE CAKE



 



E LOVES strawberries so I decided to make him a strawberry cake for his birthday. I was super excited when I came across this recipe from Jason and Shawnda that didn't involve any food coloring or artificially flavored jello mixes. I altered the recipe a little based on the ingredients I already had.

Ingredients:

3/4 C strawberry puree
1/2 cup milk, at room temperature
4 whole eggs
2 tsp almond extract
2 1/4 cup cake flour, sifted
1 cup sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 C coconut oil

Frosting:
1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese (softened at room temperature)
3/4 C of white sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 C of heavy whipping cream

Decorations: 
plastic stencil pattern
colander/strainer
hot cocoa powder
4 strawberries (sliced length-wise)
scrapbook paper
wax paper


Directions:
To make the strawberry puree, first set aside 4 strawberries and puree the rest of the strawberries from the carton (~16 oz.) with 1/2 T of sugar. Transfer the puree into a small sauce pan and let it simmer for about 20 minutes. The color should slowly darken and become more vibrant.

Strain out the pulp and set the puree aside to let it cool. You should have about 3/4 C.




Line your baking pans with wax paper and wrap the cardboard cake rounds with foil. Lightly oil the sides of the pans and set aside.



For your wet ingredients, combine the milk, strawberry puree, eggs, and almond extract in a small bowl and mix together with a fork. 

For your dry ingredients, combine the cake flour, sugar, baking powder into a larger bowl. With an electric mixture, slowly pour in the coconut oil until a crumbly mixture is formed.

Pour the wet ingredients in and continue mixing until it's well combined. Evenly divide the mixture into two separate pans.

Bake at 350 for about 25 min. Once it's ready, remove from the pan and let them cool off on a rack.



While the cake is baking, prepare the frosting by mixing the cream cheese with the sugar. Set aside. 

In a separate clean and dry bowl, beat the whipping cream until stiff peaks are formed. Gently fold the cream cheese mixture into the whipped cream. 

Tips: Before using, place the bowl and the beaters in the freezer for about 15 minutes. Make sure the whipping cream is cold too before whipping. 


Place the two layers of cake onto the cake rounds. Spread a very thin layer of frosting between the two layers of cake and then another thin layer to cover the outside. Place the cake in the freezer for about 15 minutes. Apply a second thin layer of frosting and freeze again for another 15 minutes. Use a paper towel to smooth out the cake. Click here for the video.



To make the paper wrap, cut out your choice of scrapbook paper to fit around the cake. Cut out a sheet of wax paper the same size. Adhere the scrapbook paper to the wax paper using tape or glue and wrap the whole thing around the cake. Seal it with tape.



To make the decoration on top of the cake, you will need a plastic stencil patternhot cocoa powder, and a colander or tea strainer.  Lightly place the stencil on top of the cake and dust the powder through a colander over it.  Carefully remove the stencil.  Lightly dust the rest of the cake to cover up any imperfections.  



Using the 4 strawberries that you had initially set aside and sliced, lay them around the stenciled design.  Place the cake in the fridge until it's ready to be served!



WOW. Ok I just made it sound totally complicated, but really it was pretty easy! :) Please feel free to ask if you have any questions!

Be back tomorrow with a few more details about the decor!

Monday, June 25

DIY POPSICLE MOLDS + CREAMY COFFEE POPS

So our little E finally turned 2 this weekend! :D I might have mentioned this before, but our family isn't really big on "parties." We definitely treat birthdays as a special day - there's always cake, tons of pictures taken, a special meal out, but mainly just lots of family time. :) 

Because E's a HUGE fan of Elmo and crazy about strawberries and helium balloons, that's what I centered the decor around. I'm still in the process of getting pictures together, but hopefully I'll get the post ready soon.  In the meantime I wanted to share with you this neat idea for making popsicles!



I've been searching and searching for good popsicle molds for the longest time and have yet to find a set I really liked. This Tovolo Star Ice Pop Mold seemed decent but the portion size was a little too big for me. Over the weekend I decided to look around my kitchen to see if I could re-purpose something to use as molds.  

Friday, June 22

FRIDAY TREATS: PAPER COTERIE


See that little ad to your right for Paper Coterie...? 

Ever since I was young I LOVED stationary of all kinds - especially journals and planners. In high school I remember having those mini-planners with the binder rings inside. It was my little pride and joy where I kept all my treasured photos, sticker pictures (gosh I feel old now), favorite quotes, notes from friends, etc. Even though most things are done digitally now, I still love documenting things on paper and am always in search of cute notepads, journals, etc.

As part of my Friday Treats today, I want to share with you all this little company that I came across a few weeks ago. Paper Coterie was started by a circle of friends who were passionate about documenting and capturing all the important memories in their lives - of the people they loved and the precious time spent with them. From personalized photo books to daily documenting journals to announcement cards - they've really thought of it all! They even have personalized growth charts and wall posters to help document our growing children!

Because I am a huge fan of their products, I decided to become an affiliate to help them spread the word!
 

Seriously. How cute is that? They also offer FREE printables from time to time like this one:



Right now they are having a First Time Customers Special– you get a FREE Journal if you are a new customer of theirs! All you have to do is enter the promo code: welcomejournal and you're all set!

If you are not a new customer, you can still take advantage of their 40% discount that's in effect right now!

If you're interested in becoming an affiliate too - Click here


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Ok now off to prep for E's birthday this weekend! Looking forward to cake and taking lots of pictures. =D Can't wait to share them with you all soon! 

Thursday, June 21

SIMPLE SOBA NOODLE SOUP RECIPE




I'm always in the mood for anything with noodles and soup. Subconsciously I think I'm trying to train E to like it too. ;) He already loves "udon" (Japanese style noodle) and most pastas like angel hair and farfalle. Over the weekend, I decided to try out some buckwheat soba noodles.

I didn't have a recipe on hand, but just put together a basic recipe for one:

Ingredients

buckwheat soba noodles
2 C water
1/2 tsp chicken broth paste
1 tsp three crab fish sauce
1/2 C dried shitake mushrooms
salted roasted seaweed (cut into strips)
1 tsp soy sauce
hot chili pepper powder & salt (to taste)

bean sprouts, tofu, grated zucchini* (optional)



Directions
Cook the noodles according to the packaged directions. Drain under cold water and set aside.

Soak the dried mushrooms in water until they're plump. Drain the water. In a small sauce pan, bring the water to a boil and stir in the broth paste until it's fully mixed in. Add in the mushrooms and fish sauce. Simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Bring the broth back into a rolling boil and crack an egg in. Let your "poached" egg fully cook through.

Scoop the noodles into a bowl and drizzle the soy sauce on top. Ladle in the broth mixture with the mushrooms and egg. Top it with some roasted seaweed strips.

Add the chili powder and salt to desired taste. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 19

INTRODUCING L&M!


Hi everyone! :) I'm so excited to share with you all today this cute little shop started by two sweet friends who love to craft! They make the most adorable recipe keeper books and are currently working on some prayer diaries. Please help me welcome L & M!

Blog    l    Etsy    l   Email

We are L and M - two friendies who have been crafting since awhile. We can probably credit L’s mom who is quite the crafter herself and whose crafting space and supplies we tend to use (but always replenish and add). She passed on the crafty bug to us when we were both pretty young (elementary school); at least I feel that L was just born with it. Our day jobs are pretty non-related to this business, which only prompts for antics, hilarity, and general confusion. However we have always found ourselves crafting whenever there is the opportunity. So here we are: bloggers (occasionally), wedding planners (if you want the help, we're available), entrepreneurs (with the very recent little opening of our Etsy shop--emandelle), and friendies.




coming soon...



Pretty awesome, huh?! I especially love the kitchen tools one - the color combinations and design are totally me! 

Please take a moment and stop by their blog, visit their Etsy shop, or send them an email if you have any questions. They'd love to "meet" you! :)

Have a great night!

Sunday, June 17

WATERMELON STRAWBERRY AGUA FRESCA




One of our favorite things about summer is all the fresh fruit - mangoes, pineapples, cherries, white peaches, and watermelons! Almost always you'll find our fridge stocked with watermelon. ;) Last week I decided to use up some of our over-ripened ones and make some yummy agua fresca. 







Ingredients

5 C seedless watermelon chunks
3 limes (freshly squeezed)
1 C strawberries (sliced)
4 T honey (or to taste)
few sprigs of mint

Directions
In a large bowl, puree the watermelon, strawberries, lime juice, and mint together. (Blender works fine too. If you prefer not to eat the mint leaves, you can add the sprigs at the end.)

Strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a large pitcher.

Add honey and 1.5 C of filtered water and cool in the fridge for at least 2 hours. Serve over ice and enjoy!



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I'm thinking about making it with cantaloupe or honeydew next! =D Do any of you have your own favorite combinations?

Linking up with: Summer With A Chance Of Link Ups

Thursday, June 14

MORNING NOURISHMENT! :)

This morning I woke up listening to this sweet hymn. "Thou art beloved, yea altogether lovely, the One in whom my heart delighteth..."  

It's always so good to start off the morning with the Lord and to be reminded that HE is the most lovely One. No one and nothing compares to Him. Lord, draw us more to You today! :)


FACEBOOK -



This collection of hymns was recorded by believers in Boston, Cambridge, and Newton to encourage fellow seekers of the Lord to love Him. 
To listen to more hymns from this CD, you can:




Much grace,

Wednesday, June 13

TOY STORAGE SOLUTIONS

One thing I always dreaded was having E's toys completely take over our living room. Since we don't have space for an actual playroom, this below was the best option I could come up with. In addition to having a storage ottoman and a few shelves, E also has a small space behind our couch that is all his.  So far the spaces have been kept under control, but then again he's only barely 2... Oy. 





Jen @ IHeartOrganizing, one of my absolute favorite bloggers, recently finished her boys' A-M-A-Z-I-N-G playroom. Seriously what's not to love about this space?! 


IHeartOrganizing

I also came across some other great ideas like these....

Infarrantly Creative - What a creative way to use game boards as art AND storage!





How do you all hide keep your kids toys out without having it take over your space? Please share!

Be back soon with a simple DIY project and some adorable products that I can't wait to share with you all! :)


Linking up with: Thrifty Decor Chic

Tuesday, June 12

PART II: BRINGING UP BEBE


-back cover of book-

Wow. I'm not even sure how I can properly give you all a final recap. In case you missed it, here's Part I: Bringing Up Bebe.  This book was packed with so much common sense helpful tips that even someone without kids would greatly enjoy it! :)   Here are just a few tips that really stood out to me:    
  • Speaking - At a young age, speaking is encouraged over reading. Speaking clearly is equated to thinking clearly. 
  • Greeting Adults - When in the presence of adults and even other kids, children are expected to greet them ("bonjour") and make their presence known instead of hiding in the shadows.   This helps them to build confidence, as well as learn that they're not the only ones with feelings and needs. The French stress this as much as we do with our "please" and "thank you."
  • Snacking - One of the reasons that French kids are such great eaters is because they typically eat only at mealtimes. They don't "snack" the way most kids here do with a bag of cheerios here and a few crackers there.  I'm super guilty of that... especially when E's about to throw a tantrum. o.O If I make it a habit for E to snack all the time between meals, then of course his stomach will always be full when it is time to eat. This will just encourage him to be picky with his food.  
  • Exposure to Foods - At restaurants, kids are expected to order from the regular menu and eat the same variety of food that adults do. It's not that that the French kids all adore their vegetables. Of course most of them all have their preferred foods. However, they don't get to exclude whole categories of textures, colors and nutrients just because they want to. "They [parents] believe that just as they must teach the child how to sleep, how to wait, and how to say "bonjour," they must teach him/her how to eat." p. 202
  • Praise - "Excessive praise... distorts children's motivations; they begin doing things merely to hear the praise, losing sight of the intrinsic enjoyment." - p. 252
  • Education vs. Discipline and Punishment
  • Being Authoritative vs. being an Authoritarian - "The more spoiled a child is, the more unhappy he is." - p. 232
Overall I felt that the book did a very good job of opening our eyes to see that everything we do with our kids now will affect they way they are in the future.  There was so much more that I didn't even get to cover, but I hope that the little bit that I did get to share was enough to motivate you to check out the book for yourself! :) 

If you have any thoughts, comments, and/or questions, please feel free to share!