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Friday, March 13, 2015

Send-a-Smile Card for March - Hello Sunshine!

It is "Send A Smile" time once again and this month we have created a fun blog hop for you. Along with a few of the "SAS" team members listed below, we will be sharing a FREE printable card for you to download and use to send to your family and friends. Make sure to make your way through the list of links.  If by chance someone's link is broken or isn't showing the correct post, feel free to hop back here and head to the next contributor's link so you don't get lost or miss out on anyone else. 

Last month I teamed up with The Land of Squatles and a group of other small businesses for the Send-a-Smile project.  The Send-a-Smile project was created by The Land of Squatles owner, Pamela Smerker as a way to deliver a little joy and happiness to anyone who might just need a friendly hello....the old fashioned way (via snail mail).

Each month we will have a FREE printable card available on our sites. Below are the links to each post for your convenience.

You can download your FREE printable card for March designed by me here:





Blog Hop Link List:





Thursday, March 12, 2015

Easter Sugar Cookie Cake Toppers with Nestlé Toll House Rolled and Ready Cookie Dough

When it comes to baking, I'm a cupcake girl and not a cookie girl, only because I don't want to go through the process of making dough.  However, I will not turn my nose up at shortcuts and the Nestlé Toll House Rolled and Ready Cookie Dough is right up my lane.  For me, cookie making can be time consuming; gathering the ingredients, making the dough, letting it chill, rolling it out, cutting the shapes, baking them and decorating them.....that's a lot of work.  I mean when done right, the end result can sometimes be absolutely gorgeous.....but I am NOT that gal.

Now that we're on the cusp of Spring and Easter is just around the corner, it's only fitting that I share a fun way to celebrate the holiday with Easter Baking with Nestlé Toll House Rolled and Ready Cookie Dough!  I decided to make fun Easter treats for my family.  If you're looking for an easy idea to make your Easter super fab, grab your kiddos and the one you love and make these Easter Sugar Cookie Cake toppers!



What you will need to make the cake toppers:

- 1 pkg Nestlé Toll House Rolled and Ready Cookie Dough
- 1 Delicious Cake - I used a store-bought cake - you can certainly bake one, but I didn't have time     for all of that ;)
- Lollipop Sticks
- One batch of Buttercream Frosting:
   1 Cup of Butter
   1 Cup Vegetable Shortening
   2 pounds Confectioner's Sugar
   2 tsp vanilla extract
   1-4 tbsp whole milk
   food coloring (optional)


1. To start, you simply open up your package of Nestlé Toll House Rolled and Ready Cookie Dough sheets.  Each sheet has a bit of flour on the bottom to prevent them sticking together.  Grab a few of your favorite cookie cutters and cut out the shapes you want.  Save the unused dough for the next step.

2. To make the cookies into pops, just gently press a lollipop stick slightly into the cut dough and then take a small round piece of unused dough and lay it on top of the stick softly pressing it into the cookie dough (see photo below).  If you want to make a few without sticks, that's fine too!

3. Follow the baking instructions on the package.  Once completely baked allow your cookies to cool for at least 10 minutes.

4.  While the cookies are cooling, you can make your buttercream frosting.

4.  Once cooled, you can start decorating your cookies!  Combine the butter and vegetable shortening in a mixer and beat on medium speed until smooth (roughly 2 minutes).  Gradually add the confectioner's sugar and beat on low speed, scraping the sides of your bowl as you go.  Halfway through, add the vanilla and a 1-4 tbsp of milk and continue beating until light and fluffy. Add food coloring to achieve the color you want.

Here's a tip - I used piping bags to decorate my cookies using a technique that I learned from Jenny Keller of Jenny's Cookies while I was at BASH!  I never even thought of using buttercream before (which I loooove)  to decorate cookies because I'm so used to those really cute royal icing ones I see very talented cookie artists design.  Now, when (and if) I make decorated cookies, I know that it will be a lot easier - and fun - especially since I've find my new cookie shortcut bestie with these Nestlé Toll House Rolled and Ready Cookie Dough sheets!



Once your cookies are decorated, you can place them into a simple decorated cake as fun edible toppers or onto a platter for everyone you love to enjoy!  Using these cookie pops as cake toppers is a fun, quick and super simple idea for any occasion!











 


Nestlé Toll House Rolled and Ready Cookie Dough is the perfect baking product for someone who loves to bake but doesn't always have the time.  It's convenient, affordable and it's nearly mess-free allowing, even the kids to get in on the fun!!!  It comes packaged as two flat sheets that are floured on the bottom to prevent sticking.  The only thing a semi-homemade gal like me has to do is open the package, get out some cookie cutters and commence to baking and decorating them!

If you're looking for a convenient and delicious cookie dough to create fun cookies to enjoy with your family and friends, look for Nestle Toll House Refrigerated Cookie Dough in the refrigerated section of your grocery store.

Thank you to Nestle Toll House for sponsoring this post. Product and compensation was provided for this post, however, all opinions are fully my own.


Monday, March 9, 2015

BASH Tabletop Competition Recap

A few weeks back I shared a recap at the BASH conference in Phoenix.

I mentioned that I was among a select group of talented designers who were competing to win a feature with Eddie Ross and Hostess with the Mostess.  Well, I didn't win, but I had a blast designing a tablescape, submitting it, being selected and then having it come to fruition.....and hello....getting judged by Eddie Ross, Kim Stoegbauer and Jenn Sbranti! 

A little backstory about the whole 'come-together-ness' of this table.  This was a lesson in perfectionism or  maybe even just accepting that everything doesn't have to be 'perfect'. 

I have to say, I had a little bit of a hard time executing my tablescape when I started setting it up. I got off on the wrong foot by allowing situations out of my control to takeover what this experience was all about - having fun.  First of all two weeks before the conference, after trying to finalize details for my centerpiece with a vendor fell through, I had to come up with a plan B for my whole table.   This one thing along with just allowing time to get away from me, created a recipe for creative disaster! I had to find ways to still make my table look awesome without stressing myself out. 

I originally wanted my table to have Chivari Chairs with tulle chair backers Well, I couldn't afford the chairs, so, I opted for black linen chair covers.  I planned to make favor boxes with bows, didn't happen.  I wanted to print menus and have them folded inside a gold paper airplanes...didn't happen.  I REALLY wanted my table to have a gold shimmer overlay and satin napkins......didn't happen. There were other things that didn't gel as well as I would have liked; The glass items that I carefully packed and shipped to the hotel arrived in pieces. I ordered basic black table linens and was sent the wrong size.....I never took them out of the package until it was time to set up.....so, they were wrinkled!  I put my charger plates in my carry on bag, but when I pulled them out, it occurred to me that a few of them were different sizes.  I was rushing when I was packing and totally overlooked the sizes.   So, I ended up getting some the day before from the local Michaels.  When I finally, started setting it up....the craziest thing happened.....I completely zoned out. 

I was literally in a daze a complete fog.  My brain was FRIED!  You see, I'm that person that can think on a whim when last minute changes have to be made.  I just wasn't able to do it this time.  I couldn't get my centerpiece letters to stand up in the vases. I was mad at myself for not ironing the linens.  My gold overlay was the wrong size too - I ended up using it as a 'runner'.  The tulle that I'd purchased for my favors/treats were too small, I kept hanging my chair backers in the wrong order and kept having to re-hang them.  I didn't even get to add the white ribbon bows to my chairs so, the push pins holding up my custom die cuts stood out like a sore thumb (you'll see when you look at the pictures).  Despite getting help from a few of the other people setting up their own tables, God bless 'em, I ran out of time and didn't get everything on my table.  EEK! 

You know what?  It happens and honestly, no one would ever know that my table was not finished if I didn't say anything.  I just want to share that I really had to come to the conclusion that things do not always work out the way you want them to.  Sometimes your best laid plans might just fall through.  At the end of the day, you can only do the best you can do and come up with a plan B!

My point in sharing all of this is that I think sometimes as a creative person, it's natural to end up trying to achieve a certain level of perfection that might not always be feasible.....but hey, it's okay and not the end of the world! So, now that I put that out there.....I can move on.  All in all, I loved the entire experience - it was really fun, there was a lot of camaraderie between all the contestants. Each table was so different and unique and beyond stunning.  I would definitely do it all over again (knowing what I know now, of course....cause then my table would be perfect!  Hahahaaaa).

While I wasn't completely happy with how the table looked in the end (because I admit it, I'm a perfectionist...waaah-waaah)  the photos that Maria Healey Photography captured TOTALLY makes up for it.  Here's a look at my BEAUTIFUL table!





In case you were wondering, here is a look at the sketch I submitted for the competition.


Thank you to Maria Healey for the photos and my sponsors, Andrea Scatuccio and Sunny Duran.

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