Party: A Very Toddler Valentine’s Day

This year, my daughter hosted her very own Valentine’s Day Party! Well, maybe I helped a little. I just couldn’t think of anything cuter than a bunch of toddlers at a Valentine’s Day party … and, it was an excuse for me to make some treats. There were 5 girls and 5 boys invited, along with 10 of my very favorite mommas!

I wanted to keep things very old school and homemade looking, so I bought a heart-shaped craft punch and went to town with it. I punched hearts in all the different red/white/pink papers I had and taped them to thin red ribbon for garlands, and punched smaller ones to tape to toothpicks for the cupcake toppers. I even taped hearts to the water bottles – I admit, I’m fully into hearts!

I made goodie bags for all the kids that were filled with Carrot Zucchini Cookies. I tried to be considerate and not get everybody’s kid all hopped up on sugar, and thought any chance at sneaking in some veggies would be welcome. My mom had the great idea to try baking them in a heart shaped pan, and even though they don’t look so appetizing here, I swear – the kiddos loved them! Of course, I saved my Heart-shaped Red Wine Lollipops as a party favor for all of the moms!

We had so much fun that we may need to make this an annual event. What can I say, I love the day of love!

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Party: A Retro Cherry Birthday!

This post is sooo tardy, but it’s a week later and we’re still recovering from our daughter’s 1st birthday party! Of course, it was a lot of fun, but a huge reason it was so special was because of all the loving preparation that went into things from both sides of the family! This post is to honor all of the handmade and homemade special details of our birthday party for the little miss!

#1: Go-ims

Go-ims are traditional decorative “towers” that are usually trimmed with hard candies and/or beans for a Korean 1st Birthday Party (dol). My husband and my mother-in-law lovingly spent days and hours working on these for the party! They used white beans, black beans, kidney beans, red/white/pink chocolate spree, black m&m’s and mentos to decorate all 3 of the go-ims. My husband designed all 3 of them first – he found an awesome tiger template to use in honor of being born during the year of the tiger, and he then he put together a retro-looking one with Ruby’s name and starbursts. Finally, he mapped out a patterned design with all red, pink & white candies to look more pop-ish and modern.

Hard at work!

As you can see, each individual candy and/or bean was glued to the paper towel roll (which was covered with poster board to make it smooth) one at a time. Patience and determination prevailed! I wish we had remembered to take a picture of the back of the tiger go-im: My daughter’s birthdate (11-02-10) was on the back.

This is the only pic we have where you can see part of it – but it looked great!

The go-ims were beautiful, and we’ll always have memories of special bonding time during the time these were made. I love this one of Ruby with her Halmoni (grandma) on the day of her party:

#2: Cherry cookies

Aside from incorporating some of the traditional Korean Dol traditions, I wanted the party to have a “retro cherry” theme. I saw a birthday party online that was a big inspiration, and it had these perfect cookies with cherries on top that I was dying to re-create (with my own spin on them of course). Since my parents are known for their masterful baking skills (they made 150 bride cookies and 150 groom cookies for favors at our wedding!), I asked if they’d help me out. Mom baked 48 sugar cookies and whipped up a batch of her own buttercream fondant, and Dad set out to cut out leaves and cherries to decorate each cookie.

This was at the beginning when he was using royal icing to “glue” the fondant base to the top of each cookie.

Moving on to adding the duo of cherry pieces …

Then, he took the extra leaves that were left over to cut stems for each cherry (he’s meticulous!). It really made them look all that more polished … and they tasted as good as they looked!

I can’t thank my parents enough for this … there’s no way I could’ve pulled off this impressive array of cherry-themed treats without them!!!
Red Velvet cupcakes with a cherry-on-top:

Mini-Cherry Cheesecakes and Chocolate Cake Balls:

The entire spread in all of its glory!

#3 Favor jars filled with Cherry Sours

I had been saving baby food jars for awhile in hopes of using them somehow and decided to use them for favors at the party. Pretty simple, but made with love nonetheless. What can I say, I’m a stickler for a theme …

#4 Ruby’s Retro Tunes Playlist

Since the actual process of burning CDs seems so wasteful these days with folks using MP3 players and all, we decided to ditch the actual CD and just post our compilation for download (You can download the playlist here, if you want). The mix is simply songs that make Ruby smile, with a retro slant (of course!).

 

Christmas Goodies: Cookies in Kraft Boxes with Baker’s Twine

In the spirit of keeping traditions alive (and having lots of fun getting into the holiday spirit), Mom & I collaborated once again to do a little holiday baking. We decided on sticking with cookies this year. My all-time favorite flavor of the season is Peppermint, so I had to break out Martha’s recipe for Chocolate Peppermint Cookies! Also on the agenda were big and soft bakery-style Sugar cookies with red sugar on top. For good measure, Mom also decided to whip up some Peanut Butter cookies and Pumpkin Spice cookies!

Yes, I enjoy the baking – but I have to admit that part of me does it only to have an excuse to come up with the packaging! This year, I went with craft-brown cupcake boxes, layered the bottom with red/white polka dotted vellum paper, stacked 8 perfectly shaped cookies on top of each other and tied them up with red and white bakers twine. Then, I added round stickers to the outside (alternating between red and white) and made a tag to keep things simple that just said YUM!

Both mom and I agree that Martha’s recipe is a little labor-intensive, but they sure are YUMMY. (They certainly were not as simple as last year’s goodies). The cookies are really soft and super chewy like fudge – and combined with the crushed peppermint candies in the mix, we think they are a perfect companion to your morning cup of coffee!

Thanks for all the help, Mom!