Tag Archives: recipe

Sweet Storybook Baby Shower

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Sweet Storybook Baby Shower

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For a good friend having her third baby any day now, I had so much fun throwing a storybook baby shower. She is having a little girl; so, sweet, vintage books that included old Nancy Drew, Madeline, and a collection of Golden books were perfectly enchanting for the decorations, along with a vintage-looking baby girl dress, and a banner made of book pages and craft-paper lettering that read “Sweet Baby.”

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For my chalkboard art above the food table, I put a quote by Hans Christian Anderson, “Every man’s life is a fairy tale written by God’s own fingers.”

IMG_1132.JPGBaby Shower FOOD!

I thought long and hard about what to serve at this afternoon (storybook) shower. Knowing I had my own nursing baby and that I would be out of town the week before the shower (getting back home the day before the shower…not in the plan when we picked the shower date, ha!), I wanted to choose foods that went along with childrens’ books and could also be mainly prepared and frozen a week or two ahead…So I decided on cookies! If you give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff is a super fun book that turned into a series, one that my own Pen Elaine loves and is great for learning cause and effect, as well as practicing the concepts around reading comprehension and order of events. I made two of my favorite cookie dough recipes (Chewy Brownie cookies & PB Nutella cookies) a couple weeks in advance, spooned them onto a cookie sheet to cool in freezer, rolled them into balls and froze on the cookie sheet before storing all the cookie dough balls in freezer bags labeled with the baking directions. I simply placed dough balls on baking sheets and followed the directions on the morning of the shower.

For a third cookie option that looked more “girly, I made(super simple) red velvet cake mix cookies with white chocolate chips on the night before the shower. I also mixed up sweet chicken salad the night before, which I placed into adorable, single-serving paper cups (they looked like cupcake holders) that were pink-polka-dotted from the party section of Hobby Lobby, I think. I served the chicken salad with a bowl of wheat crackers. My gracious cohost brought all the fixins for fruit and veggie trays. For those, we put up a sign that said they were from “Mr. MacGregor’s garden.”

I kept drinks simple with mason jars, pink polka-dot paper straws, water in a drink dispenser, and a pitcher of iced, raspberry green tea (thanks to powdered drink mix).

 

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ACTIVITIES:

So, honestly, my entry way activity did not actually get done – but here’s what I did with good intentions…first, I labeled one tiny plastic baby (from the cake-decorating section of Hobby Lobby) with a piece of colored tape or sticker. Then, I blew up some balloons and stuck a little plastic baby inside each one, thinking people could pop a balloon and find a baby inside. The guest who found the “labeled baby” would get a door prize. Part of the reason we didn’t follow through on this activity was that a teeny, tiny 6-week-old came to the party, and we didn’t want to scare him! Also, there was enough other stuff going on that we didn’t need another “filler” game. However, I thought it looked cute just as decoration!

To go with our storybook theme, I thought this Children’s Book quote quiz by Pumpkin Seed Paperie on Etsy was so much fun. I just gave everyone some paper and a pen, then I read out the quotes and let guests write down their guesses for title and author, each worth one point, for the book quote. At the end, I read out the correct answers for all of them, and guests scored their own sheets. There was a prize for the most correct answers. This was a fun, simple game that got everyone seated and ready to watch our special mama open her gifts.

(I love seeing what mamas receive at baby showers!)

In order to send the honored mama home with some sweet notes to read over and be encouraged, I customized these precious cards by PopSugar Moms by adding space on the back, printing them double-sided. Guests actually worked on these at their leisure, throughout the shower, but I reminded and encouraged everyone to finish them up and leave them in a stack before we started the group game and presents.

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P.S. My new favorite baby shower gift, especially for a new baby girl, for a second or third time mama, is something practical (e.g. diapers) and this book trilogy by Mo Willems – Knuffle Bunny.

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Easy {Slow Cooker} homemade Spaghetti Sauce

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 I love using my slow cooker…love it. I love being able to throw everything together at a time that is convenient for me, so that when I want something to be ready, there is no rushing around and hurrying to get things ready right before we want it because, inevitably, right before we want some food or meal ready, there is a diaper blowout or a kid who needs to be cleaned or fed or someone who calls on the phone or simply some time needed to be spent to relax one-on-one with mom and kiddo, reading a book. In any case, I also love that food in the crockpot can wait around on the “warm” setting until we are totally ready for it. Plus, once I get everything in there, I don’t have to “keep an eye” on it but can walk away and forget about it…since that’s what happens sometimes anyway, anyhow I’m cooking it…

So, I love the idea of making things from scratch instead of buying them prepared from the store, but that is not always the pragmatic way or necessarily cost-saving, especially when considering the cost of time, but the crockpot makes it all work in some cases – the crockpot and the food processor! We had been given a bucket load of fresh tomatoes and produce from my Honey’s folks’ garden and wanted to put them to use before leaving on vaca, plus we can always use spaghetti sauce!

So, here’s my easy way to prepare homemade spaghetti sauce with the crockpot, inspired by my Pinterest search finds from Momables and mywholefoodlife.

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First, I quartered the large tomatoes and wiped out the juicy seeds with finger/spoon.

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Then, I threw everything into the crockpot:

  • 2-3 TBL olive oil along bottom and sides of pot
  • quartered and seeded big tomatoes (no need to peel)
  • a whole bunch of cherry tomatoes (plus a few leftover grape tomatoes I had bought)
  • a sliced squash (fresh produce that would’ve gotten wasted otherwise)
  • 1/2 bag of frozen, chopped onion
  • zested garlic cloves
  • garlic powder
  • onion powder
  • rosemary, parsley, basil, thyme, & oregano in pinches and dashes
  • dash of salt and 1 TBL sugar (optional)

Cook on HI for 3-4 hrs or Low 6 hours (I compromised with 3 hrs on HI plus 5 hrs on LOW or until I was ready to let it cool in order to be processed in the next step)

Let cool to room temperature before scooping about 3/4 of the mixture into a food processor. Blend until smooth. Now, divide unprocessed mixture between three freezer bags (labeled with the date, and really divide into whatever serving sizes best suits you). Scoop the processed sauce, by thirds, into the three bags. Lastly, roll up and carefully seal (or lay flat, depending on the available space in your freezer). Voila!

*Since then, I’ve used one of the bags by defrosting in fridge overnight to cook with it into an “Upside Down Pizza” recipe – my Honey thought it made the best version of the dish yet – yum!

 

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Sharing Christmas Cheer

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Christmas is such a special time around the world where people are a little friendlier and a little more open to smiling at strangers and all that. I really wanted to get on board the train of sharing the love and joy and hope of Christmas with people I don’t know (and do know!) this year with more purpose and vigor. I had heard of people giving out candy canes and such to the checkout workers at Walmart and the grocery store and the post office, and I wanted to do my share of handing out a symbol of God’s love at Christmas – plus, this year I have a toddler and a pregnant belly, both unique attributes that can’t help but disarm people and put them at ease, making them want to talk to you. Kids, dogs, and pregnancy are all people magnets – across cultures, at least somewhat.

So, I made some labels and bought some mini candy canes – the labels are just 2″ mailing labels that can be bought at Walmart. (I still need to master posting printables, or I would make it available now – but I just formatted them in MS Word by clicking on labels in the mailing or format tab…I had some trial and error on plain paper before printing onto my labels.) I typed out John 3:16 on them and also “Merry Christmas.”

For God so loved the world that He gave His only beloved Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.

After wrapping the labels around the individually packaged candy canes, they were ready for my 2-year-old to pass out! She had already been passing out a few of them before I got my labels on, and they were so much fun for her. At the doctor’s office, she gave one to a little boy, whose mom told us that he was about to get a shot…

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I also let Pen Elaine pass out her candy canes when we went to deliver some neighbor gifts, besides times when she randomly requests bringing “her” candy canes around town (I meant to bring them to the grocery store last time but forgot!). Having her own special job of giving candy canes with the neighbor deliveries was extra fun, especially when she would hand one out and follow up her “generosity” by letting us know she “wants to eat the rest of them.”
We also gave our neighbors some Chai latte mix, poured into saved mason-like jars with an attached instructions/merry Christmas tags tied on with some holiday ribbon. I also included some cookies or muffins, bagged simply with a holiday napkin or paper plate.
Here’s the recipe we used for the mix:
1 c dry milk powder
2 c French vanilla non-dairy (dry) creamer
2 c sugar
1.5 c instant tea
2 tsp ginger
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cloves
1 tsp nutmeg
Mix all together in food processor. Instructions for use: mix 3 TBL into mug of hot water, along with Warm Christmas wishes!

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Halloween Dinner Fun

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I know Halloween is a distant memory, except for maybe the candy hoard up in a cabinet, but I want to remember my super cute and easy dinner plan for next year! I really wanted to do something fun for my 2-year-old and Honey, who enjoys himself some hot dogs. Plus, I had been seeing so many cute and simple ideas for Halloween food on Pinterest; who can resist.

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I settled on 3 “dishes:”
Apple mouths by family.go
These only requires sliced apples (I used a slicer and cut each of those pieces in half, longwise, again), peanut butter, and mini marshmallows.

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Orange & Black by Pinterest inspiration
This is just cantaloupe and blackberries for a Halloween color combo- plenty of fruit but no vegetables, I’m afraid, for our “party” dinner to be followed by candy 🙂

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Next year, I may include green beans and turn them into with fingers somehow, maybe with a fingernail of shredded carrot glued on with ranch dressing or a plastic spider ring!

Mummy dogs by Raininghotcoupons

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A picky eater’s green smoothie

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We are green smoothie skeptics and not even huge smoothie people, but we all love this peanut butter smoothie we’ve been throwing together, mostly at breakfast. It’s a sort of throwback to the peanut butter mood smoothie you could get from Zuka(?) juice once upon a time and maybe Jamba Juice; although this is really a tribute to the homemade version my dad would make us and sneak in raw carrots. Here’s te recipe that Pen Elaine loves and uses stuff we typically have on hand:

  1. 1/2 cup milk
  2. 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  3. 1-2 Tbl peanut butter
  4. 2 Tbl Ovaltine (chocolate powder)
  5. 1 tsp honey (optional, we used local)
  6. 1 frozen, then peeled banana
  7. 1/2 cup frozen, chopped spinach
  8. (After above ingredients are well mixed/ pulsed in blender) 5 ice cubes

Blend those in very well on highest setting
Yum!! Makes 2 – 2.5 servings

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Little Boy Baby Shower

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Little Boy Baby Shower

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There are few things as fun and secretly self-indulgent as throwing a baby shower. It gives me an excuse to make an entire party that revolves around celebrating a new baby.

I’m not good at sticking to a theme, but this one ended up with a sort of Old Man and the Sea kind of theme, so here’s some quotes:

“It’s silly not to hope. It’s a sin he thought.” ― Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea

20130826-144358.jpgMENU:

I felt very fancy by printing out a menu in a cute font and framing it for a centerpiece on the food table – food selections included:

Fruit (grape bunches & strawberries)

Veggie tray (carrots & broccoli with vegetable dip)

Crackers (wheat thins and triscuit type crackers for dipping)

Raspberry Salsa Cream Cheese Spread (a friend’s recipe)

Chicken Salad (my favorite recipe)

Fruit Tarts (such a pretty, and easy, pinterest recipe)

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Drinks:

I made little labels for the drink options,

Blue Raspberry Lemonade

Raspberry Green Tea (powdered drink mix version, delicious)

Water in the leaky drink dispenser 😉

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Sweet Food & Activity:

I also made a version of (Six Sisters Stuff) Snickerdoodle cookies in the shape of sailboats for people to decorate with icing and sprinkles. Plus I had a bowl of blue and white candies that were dark chocolate peppermint York bites or something – the blue candy on the candy aisle of the grocery store!

For eating, we didn’t need forks for anything, so I only laid out a hodge podge of small china plates and cloth napkins. We used my stored up collection of mason jars (from spaghetti sauce) for glasses. (I made sure my dishwasher was empty before the shower so that everything could be thrown in for faster cleanup!)

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20130826-153824.jpgDECORATIONS: (links to the how-to’s)

For a boy shower, we wanted cute but still “manly” party decorations. So, I loved this mantel idea on Pinterest where they strung up ties and onesies. I had just bought a bunch of ties for our gender reveal party with the thought that they could double as shower décor. Thanks to my super talented friend at Porch Swing Sewing, who happened to be my shower co-host (and owns all of the beautiful serving dishes on my table!), we had adorable onesies on our mantel banner with a tie, a circled “n” (for baby Nathan), and my favorite: suspenders and bow tie! They were so cute, I could have eaten them up! Plus, they looked perfectly cute and manly, hung between old man ties.

I also strung up a banner of balloons over the entry to the kitchen, and I hung my “coffee filter poof garland” over the gift table. I also had up my window art with Psalm 139:16, “In Your book were written all the days ordained for me before one of them came to be.” This verse is usually associated with babies, especially before they are born, and is so comforting and exciting for a mom to remember when dreaming of and for her unborn child. In my kitchen, I wrote a quote on my chalkboard from I Like You, a cute, old book by Sandol Stoddard Warburg,

“I like you because

I don’t know why but

Everything that happens

is nicer with you

I can’t remember when I didn’t like you.”

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ACTIVITIES:

1. Late Night Diapers (cute idea via DrivenByDecor): For this, I had a bunch of newborn diapers, some sharpies, instructions, and I used a mini “terrarium” for a container to corral the finished ones. People could write short messages on the diapers for our honored mom to read when changing those million newborn diapers at all hours of day and night, some encouraging and some just for fun.

2. “My water broke!”(hilarious idea via lifetreasured.blogspot): When I saw this on Pinterest, I couldn’t resist doing it at the first opportunity. I bought two packs of tiny babies from Hobby Lobby, and my 2-year-old helped me put one in each ice cube tray spot before filling them with water and freezing them. Each guest got one “baby ice cube,” and the first to have her ice cube melt enough for the baby to float at the top was supposed to say, “My water broke!” and get a prize. The winner was a college girl who kept swirling her drink in strategy to win. 🙂

3. Hospital Survival Kit/Price guessing game: Our final, more traditional game was paired with our hostess gift of a hospital survival kit, since our mom of honor would be giving birth in a hospital for the first time, even though she is expecting her third child. (Joy is at Home had great ideas for stocking it.) After having the guests write down there guesses for 12 items included in our kit and totaling them up, the top two closest to the grand total received prizes. Our kit included a few nursing items from her registry, as well as chapstick, fruit snacks, yummy-looking energy bars, travel face wipes, travel toothbrush kit, soft, elastic headbands, cute socks (b/c I couldn’t find fuzzy ones), a nightgown, and some watercolors for her kids.

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Summertime Cake Balls

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20130619-143741.jpgCake balls have a special place in my heart. My sister and I went through a phase, right around the time my niece was born, when we were making cake balls every week…at least. Plus, we would make these huge batches that lasted a while, even sharing them with our whole extended family. It got started from two directions: they were served at one of her baby showers, and they got brought up to the Infant Research Lab where I worked, at the time, by one of the girls that worked there. She introduced me to the ease of making both vanilla and double chocolate cake balls, and thus, we were all hooked…until we burned ourselves out and had to take a break for a while, but not forever!

So when celebrating my sister’s recent birthday and Pen Elaine’s recent birthday, I decided on special cake balls – made to look like Sunflowers and sunshine! I was inspired by a photo on pretty my party where they had done a slightly different version of sunflower cake balls.

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Recipe:

1 box cake mix

1 can of icing (or homemade equivalent)

1 package of vanilla coating/almond bark OR 1/2 bag of chocolate chips

food coloring (optional for turning the white dip yellow)

skinny popsicle sticks & yellow construction paper

20130619-143634.jpgFirst, bake the cake according to package. After cooled, just grab it out of pan and mix in a bowl with the icing. Now, spoon out scoops of cake/icing mix onto wax paper-covered cookie tray – however big you want your balls to end up. Then, place in freezer for at least a few hours (this makes dipping them a million times easier, so I usually leave overnight). Now, when ready for dipping, melt your chocolate (for sunflowers) or vanilla coating (mixed with yellow food coloring for sunshine). Using spoons, dip each cake ball into coating and place back onto a wax paper-covered cookie sheet. If you are going to stick in the sticks for display, now is a good time – right after they’ve  been dipped and before they’ve completely hardened. These will go back into the freezer to harden and then will be ready to enjoy…unless you want to turn them into flowers or sunshine. For that part, I pulled one out of the freezer and traced my flower (rounder petal points)/sun (pointy stars) shape around it to get the right size; then I tested it out by cutting a small slit in the middle of the flower. If it looks right, use that one as a stencil. So cute!

Below are pictures of other ones that I made pink and put on some sprinkles before the coating had hardened – great for a baby shower or girl birthday.

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