Special Treats: Surprise for Mamas!

I sure am lucky to have a lot of mama friends in my life, and when new babies are born, I like to make “special” cookies, just for mamas. I found this special recipe after I had my daughter and they helped me, so I like to make them for moms who might want a little help, too.

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I made a batch yesterday and wanted to make a few surprise deliveries. My packaging supplies are a little tapped out lately, so I threw together these bags with stuff I already had. It’s super easy, and it’s not hard to do!

Here’s what you’ll need:

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1. Cardstock/Scrapbook Paper Stack; prices vary by brand and store / 2. Scalloped edge scissors; $3.95 / 3. X-Large Circle squeeze punch, $17.99 / 4. Plain brown paper lunch sacks, Prices vary by store

Simply choose whatever paper you’d like to use, cut the same width as the bag. Fold bag down, and fold paper over the bag fold. Punch holes through bag and paper and tie with ribbon or wraphia. Embellish using craft punches, scalloped scissors or whatever you have on hand!

If you’d like to make your own cookies for a nursing momma, check the recipe! Have fun surprising someone, too!

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An epic birthday calls for an epic cake

Today is Mr. Four-Eyed Girlie’s 40th birthday. We had a party to celebrate his magnificent self last night (he really is the best) and I made a ginormous surprise birthday cake for him.

I could go into all the details of how I brainstormed with my parents after I was inspired by this cake. Or, I could elaborate on my dad’s brilliant idea to use petit fours icing to coat the “40” shaped cake, rather than try to frost it (and my mom found this delicious recipe for petit fours icing using white chocolate – yum!). Or, I could talk even more about how we spent the whole day putting it together and how my dad, AKA Mr. Precision, cut all those fondant Star Trek emblems for my cupcakes. But, sometimes you have to stop trying to document every moment — sometimes it hits the spot to just focus on having fun with it and do the best you can.

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I really wanted to surprise my husband. Never in a million years did he think I’d indulge his love for Star Trek with a cake. My parents have enjoyed being a cake making team for years and their enthusiasm has definitely rubbed off on me. Having them work with me and teach me was so fun, and the experience is what really ended up being the biggest gift.  Oh, and my husband got a surprise made with love from not just me, but my parents as well. 🙂

So while I may not be the next Cake Boss, this came from the heart! Happy Birthday to the best husband ever – and a big thanks to my amazing mom and dad!

Crafty: Baby Shower Cupcakes + Favor Boxes

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I had the privilege of making cupcakes and favor boxes for a baby shower yesterday —one of my very favorite kind of projects! The hosts chose a “little man”/necktie theme, and wanted cupcakes for both the party and to take home as favors. When they told me baby-to-be’s name was going to be Lincoln and they wanted to incorporate an Abraham Lincoln quote into the favors, I was inspired!

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The boxes were pretty simple. I bought individual kraft brown cupcake boxes and inserts from a local cake supply store, designed the artwork for the quote for on the back, the two circles on the sides and the tie for the front, and printed on kraft brown cardstock. I was able to tuck the top of the tie into the closure tab of the cupcake box on the front.

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I just used the various scrapbook papers I had available for the cupcake toppers — the hosts requested blue, lime green, yellow and orange — and cut little neckties. I used my 1-in. scalloped circle punch to use as a backing and tape to a toothpick.

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All in all, pretty simple stuff — I do love a baby party!

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Sweet Treats: Happy Cupcakes

Today, a sweet little girl turned one, and I was lucky enough to watch her celebrate. Of course, I was even happier that I got asked if I’d make the cupcakes for the event. My answer was an emphatic and anxious YES!

I kept things pretty simple (it was a toddler party, after all) and went with white cake + white frosting. I’m kind of obsessed with the red/aqua/lime color combo as it’s bright, cheery, modern and youthful all at the same time. So, when I found adorable polka dotted cupcake liners these three key colors, I knew they’d be a sweet match when paired with my usual arsenal of striped and polka dotted scrapbook papers.

Wanna make some too? All you need are a few simple items:
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1. Set of 100 Spring Cupcake PapersCrate & Barrel, $6.95 / 2. Jumbo Confetti Sprinkles in Aqua, Green and Red (not shown)Wilton, $4.49 / 3. 1″ Scalloped Circle Craft PunchMartha Stewart, $9.99 / 4. 2″ Round Circle Squeeze PunchFiskars, $16.99 / 5. Contrasting and Coordinating scrapbook paper and number stickers

Baking from the Heart

I’ve had a friend on my mind for the last few days, and I just haven’t been real sure what to do. So this morning I finally just decided that I was going to bake some cookies.

I used Bakerella’s fabulous “Cowgirl Cookies” recipe — a friend gave away a jar with all of the ingredients for these cookies at her daughter’s birthday party a while back, and the cookies were so good that I knew I’d have to make them again. They combine chocolate chips, oatmeal and M&M’s, so I figured they were bound to please just about anybody. Make no mistake, these cookies are amazing.

To package the cookies, I used a cute little wood bark patterned treat box that I found in the dollar bins at Target a few weeks back, and I embellished it by making one of Martha’s cupcake liner carnations. Then, I added a simple tag I made that said exactly how I felt: “When I don’t know how to help, I make cookies.”

Want to make some cookies for a friend  you’re thinking about too? Download the free tag here and make your own box for somebody special.

Party: Turning Two


Last year, I threw my daughter a birthday party large enough to rival most weddings. It was fun, I made a ton of “retro cherry” themed desserts, and everyone was impressed — but I was exhausted. I didn’t get to talk to many of my family or friends, and I felt like I couldn’t really focus on my daughter. So this year, I resolved to scale back, simplify and throw a small party with the family to celebrate her turning two years old. I did succeed in reducing the size of the party, but of course, I couldn’t resist making a giant birthday cake and some special “2” shaped cookies, even though it was just going to be a “simple” party.

It all started when I found a 2-shaped cookie cutter online. I knew I wanted to make a 2 for the top of her cake, and I decided while I was at it, I’d ask my dad to teach me how to decorate with royal icing. My parents made 150 bride and 150 groom sugar cookies for my wedding favors, so it’s safe to say they’ve got experience under their belts. I enjoyed working with them both on these!

What I was most excited about was making my 1st birthday cake. I found this amazing recipe for Marshmallow Buttercream Frosting, and I decided to pair it with lemon cake. Let me tell you this: I’ll never use another frosting recipe in my life. It was fluffy, light  and tasted amazing. I really wanted the cake to have a homemade feel to it, so I iced it somewhat messily and used jumbo-sized confetti sprinkles to decorate with.

My dad had a great idea to use the royal icing as “glue” to attach two toothpicks on the back of the cookie I wanted to use as the cake topper. I used my 1-in. craft punch to cut circles out of scrapbook paper for the top, and I used some jumbo letter stickers to spell out my daughters name. It was sweet, tasty and made my little girl smile, so I consider it a huge success!

Sweet Treats: Pumpkin Swirled Brownies

I found the absolute perfect pumpkin/chocolate combination, and of course the recipe comes from none other than Ms. Stewart. A touch of cayenne gives these brownies a very special bite, and a hint of spice that gently lingers. Thanks, Martha — you never let me down.

You should make some, too!

Pumpkin-Swirl Brownies (adapted from Martha Stewart recipes)

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for pan
  • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups solid-pack pumpkin
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts or other nuts

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch square baking pan or dish. Line bottom of pan with parchment paper; butter lining.
  2. Melt chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth.
  3. Whisk together flour, baking powder, cayenne, and salt in a large bowl; set aside. Put sugar, eggs, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; beat until fluffy and well combined, 3 to 5 minutes. Beat in flour mixture.
  4. Divide batter between two medium bowls (about 2 cups per bowl). Stir chocolate mixture into one bowl. In other bowl, stir in pumpkin, oil, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Transfer half of chocolate batter to prepared pan smoothing top with a rubber spatula. Top with half of pumpkin batter. Repeat to make one more chocolate layer and one more pumpkin layer. Work quickly so batters don’t set.
  5. With a small spatula or a table knife, gently swirl the two batters to create a marbled effect. Sprinkle with nuts.
  6. Bake until set, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire rack. Cut into 16 squares.