Archive for Cookies

Under Construction: Beau’s 2nd Birthday Party (The Details)

Planning events is one of my favorite pastimes. Being able to craft a party that utilizes a beloved theme AND makes someone feel super-dee-duper special is so much fun!

My son turned 2 in June, so beginning in January, I started brainstorming theme ideas for his party. He’s not much of a napper, so I start way in advance since I get very limited time each day to design.

The funny thing? I chose a Construction/Tool theme before he was all that interested in it, and through the planning process, he became more and more fascinated with diggers and dozers and dump trucks. By the time his party rolled around, he was obsessed, so it all worked out. ;)

Let me also say this: Having a Silhouette Cameo made planning this party SO much easier. When I did Beau’s Woodland Party last year, I cut everything by hand. Oy.

LOVE my Cameo…it allowed me to cut out the heading and the pieces I needed to create some excavators. I used Sticky Doos from Hobby Lobby to give the machines some depth, and tore pieces of brown paper by hand to give the ‘dirt’ a jagged look.

Next, I created favors for each of Beau’s little friends. My mom, ever the incredible seamstress, used tea towels to make each child their own tool belt with two pockets.

I cut various construction vehicle from vinyl to create stencils for painting.

And the birthday boy helped remove the vinyl once the paint was dry.

I designed hang tags for some baggies I had leftover from a pegboard project and filled each baggie with chocolate rocks I found on Amazon.

Each tool belt was stuffed with a mini machine and a baggie of chocolate rocks.

Treats for our pals, ready to go!

Since we live out in the country, I knew I wanted to mark our driveway with a sign of some sort. I used my Silhouette to cut out vinyl letters to mask off black foamcore board.

Then, I learned the hard way (with a piece not shown here), that foamcore board does NOT like spray paint. Must be the solvents or something in the paint, but it makes the board bubble up and the paper backing peels away from the foam. SUCH a mess.

So, cue Plan B…acrylic paint. I tried a brush, but hated being able to see the brushstrokes. So I switched to a brayer I haven’t used since my college days of linoleum block printing.

Because the paper soaked up the paint, it took several coats, but it worked pretty well. Once the paint dried, I peeled off the vinyl letters and cut a black strip around the outside edge to mimic a true traffic sign.

One project I do each year is an age shirt. Let me tell you, truck fabric is NOT easy to find! We ended up with this psychedelic construction vehicles print.

But, once the vehicles were isolated, they looked pretty cute on a plain, brown tee. I purchased orange and yellow tin buckets to hold snacks and forks. I happened to have some construction stickers laying around to decorate the tins. I found hard hats at the party store and added the CAT logo in black vinyl.

 

To keep stress low as the party approaches, I always make as much of the food in advance as possible. I knew I wanted to make dipped pretzel rods, so I was excited to read they could be done up to a week in advance. So, I dipped, sprinkled, and packed away our pretzel treats.

Sugar cookies are always a big hit, too. My parents sent me this set of tool cookie cutters they found on Ebay.

I like to use this cookie recipe, as it holds a cutter shape really well and isn’t too sweet (the icing covers that!). I made royal icing in gray, brown, and yellow and got to work outlining and flooding all the cookies.

Cake decorating is a lot of fun to me, too. I had seen this tutorial about making striped cakes, and I knew it would be perfect for our construction zone theme.

Because the recipe makes two cakes, I was able to practice and perfect my angles. And my mess-making skills.

When it came time to decorate the cake, I pulled inspiration from multiple sources. I have a copy of the book What’s New, Cupcake? and it gave me the idea to create ‘trees’ from Tootsie Rolls and sprinkles.

And of course, Oreo cookie dirt! I made Beau his own little cake mound out of scraps and trimmings.

I used fondant to make miniature traffic cones, then added dyed coconut grass and chocolate rocks to round out the landscaping.

Of course, there was a dump truck, hauling a load of rocks from the quarry.

A little construction zone tape put the finishing touches on the cake display.

I knew I wanted some sort of edible “boulder,” so I made chocolate popcorn balls using this recipe. I made them late the night before the party and wrapped them tightly in cling wrap so the popcorn would stay crisp and not get soggy.

To set off the area in the kitchen where the food would be set up, I hung a black curtain over the windows. Then I created a banner from cut letters and shapes attached to satin ribbons.

As for party ‘entertainment’, what’s better than a bunch of rocks and dirt to dig through?!

I set up our pop up tent and draped a tarp over the top for shade. Orange safety netting, marker flags, and painted signs rounded out the construction zone look.

Stay tuned for pictures from Party Day so you can see all these details in action!

Mum’s the Word

If you want to make some impressive-looking cookies without slaving away in the kitchen all day, here’s an idea for you!

First, you’ll need the cookies themselves. Cut your cookie dough using either a circle-shaped or flower-shaped cutter and bake according to the directions.

Next, grab a bag of miniature marshmallows and some colored sugar. Place the sugar (I used orange, yellow, and hot pink) in shallow bowls. Grab a scissors and cut each mini marshmallow diagonally, allowing the cut side to land in the bowl of sugar.

The sticky side that is exposed from the cutting will get covered in sugar (though you may have to dab each one in the sugar a little bit to make sure they get as covered as possible.

Each marshmallow half becomes a ‘petal’ and how many you need will depend on the size of your cookies.

Next, frost your cookies one at a time. I used royal icing for these particular ones and did the outline/flooding method.

Once you have a cookie covered in icing, start sticking on the marshmallow petals. I like to begin around the outside edge and work my way towards the middle, but you might find a different method you like better. Feel free to experiment! This is supposed to be fun! :)

Repeat the process, one cookie at a time, until your batch is complete. Arrange on a pretty platter and prepare to awe your friends!

Another idea for decorating cookies, is to use nuts. I had some extra sugar cookies, but no more marshmallows, so I scoured my cupboards to see what I could find. The result: slivered almonds and candy-coated sunflower seeds (from a local bulk candy shop).

For these cookies, I covered the tops in a dark chocolate ganache instead of icing. I then placed the almond “petals” around the outer edge and filled in the center space with the seeds.

Decorating cookies couldn’t be easier! People will tell you how beautiful they are and you will know how simple they really are to put together! ;)

I See London, I See France…

A friend emailed me a photo of some cookies entitled “When Men Bake”…ha!

I printed the picture and used it as inspiration to create some memorable cookies for a friend’s bachelorette party/personal shower.

I called up one of the other bridesmaids, and we spent an evening chopping the tops off of heart-shaped cookies, piping and flooding designs with royal icing, and giggling. A LOT.

The photos don’t do them justice, but you can see we worked very hard to make some unique undies.

My favorites were the “sets” that we displayed on this white platter. Too cute!

Who knew cookies could be naughty? ;)

Shower for Arica

Have I ever mentioned how much I LOVE hosting parties and showers?! Well, I do! So you can imagine my excitement when my sister had her first baby and my aunts and I could start planning a shower!

My sister Arica is very eco-minded and I had great ideas for her shower based on that ‘theme’. I wanted the decor to be very natural and earthy, so I began with a limited color palette (brown, white, and green, plus some subtle blue accents).

I created large and small paper pinwheels, as well as double-sided circular cutouts that spelled “DANE”. I knew my sister would love that her decor could either be reused or recycled, rather than thrown in the trash. ((In fact, she did take it home after the party and put it up in Dane’s nursery!))

Rather than playing the typical (read: wasteful) shower games like “Guess what kind of melted candy bar is in this diaper” (yuck!), we opted to do more sentimental, lasting activities.

We bought this plant, a green charger, silver Sharpies, and black river stones. Each guest was asked to share advice or a prayer that would help Arica navigate her journey through motherhood. Then, they wrote a one word summary on the rock and placed it in the dish around the plant. It was so neat to see the variety of advice: humor, joy, patience, perspective, wonder, wisdom, etc.

Everybody knows that the FOOD TABLE is a big draw for a lot of shower guests. :) And, since that happens to be one of my favorite parts, I planned out things that not only fit the theme, but thrilled my sister as well. We had a variety of healthy snacks as well as sweet treats. Could fruits and veggies be more “earthy”?! :)

Despite loving healthy snacks, I also love SUGAR! :) And…sugar happens to be one of my favorite media for designing. The following cookies were probably my favorite detail from the shower.

I got this baby bottle drying rack at my own baby shower last summer and thought it would fit perfectly with our theme. I also had some lollipop sticks and wired silk leaves from a past project, so all I needed to do was bake and decorate the cookies!

This particular design was my favorite:

Though this one was pretty neat, too. It was fun coming up with all the different color combos and details for them.

Marigold, perhaps?

In addition to the cookie lollies, I also made some bagged cookies that guests could take home as favors.

Arica: So excited to watch you develop as a mom. It’s been a wild year for the two of us hasn’t it?! Beau is so lucky to have a cousin like Dane, and I am lucky to have a sister like you! Thanks for letting me plan your special day! Love you!