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Friday, February 26, 2010

Friday Freebie!!! Hello Cupcake Book & Apron Giveaway

Happy Friday! 

Today's Friday freebie is the book that kinda sorta started it for me.  When I first sent away for Hello Cupcake it was after I'd came up with a brilliant idea to make hat shaped cupcakes for my friend's Big Hat Birthday Bruch. 

(Never before seen cupcakes - it was a hot day and the frosting melted on the way to the brunch :( -- but they were SOMEKINDAGOOD!)

After a lot of encouragement from some of the party guests, I decided to try my hand at baking (BTW, I wasn't always the best baker - I've improved by leaps and bounds), start a business making fun cupcakes (initially - now I do total party planning - insane) So, I purchased the book Hello Cupcake and really got inspired. 

The various decorating techniques explained in the book have really helped me learn the basics.  As far as some of the more fun cupcakes in the book, I can't say I've really made them. I've always just let creativity be my guide and do my own thing. 

Still, I think this book is really fun and is a great starting point for the do-it-yourself party person or cupcake lovah.  So, I am offering the book along with a cupcake printed apron that I purchase from Home Goods to one lucky winner.  


There are several ways to enter and with each entry you have an extra chance to be in the running!

Enter thisaway:
  1. Follow my blog & leave a comment telling me you favorite cupcake flavor(s).
  2. Become a Facebook Fan of Cupcake Wishes & Birthday Dreams and be sure you leave a comment under the contest post. 
  3. If you have a blog post a link back to this post about the giveaway and leave a comment or email me when you do. 
  4. Follow me on Twitter @kikikens and re-tweet a link about the contest and be sure you mention #CWBD GIVEAWAY.
  5. Automatic Triple Dog Dare Entry: Guess my favorite cupcake flavor and leave your guess in the comments section. 
Rules:
The contest ends at Midnight on 3/1/2010.  Winner will be chosen using random.org and announced in the next 'Friday Freebie' post on 3/3/2010.  You will have 72 hours after the announcement to claim your prize or you end up forfeiting.  Another winner will then be chosen again at random.

Thanks for reading, Happy Friday & Good Luck!!!!



Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tip Tuesday: Clean House....sorta’

clean_house1

(Back some months ago I used to tweet a party related tip on my Twitter page every Tuesday but was limited to the amount of info I could tweet.  So, it only made sense to work it into my blog. As an ongoing effort to keep with my new blog intentions, I will be posting a new tip every Tuesday.  The idea is that I pass on some of what I've learned through my experience as a wife/mom/budding entrepreneur/quasi perfectionist party planner - cupcaker-maker Lady and share it with you.  So starts Tip Tuesday.)

As a mom, we try to have everything 'perfect' and 'just right' when it comes to having guests over for parties - at least I do - or used to.  When it comes to kids parties though, I've started a new rule when it comes to cleaning - especially when I'm pressed for time; don't clean the whole house.

After all your planning and late nights of hanging decorations and prepping food trays, cleaning is usually the last thing most of us do.  If you are pressed for time and trying to get the house ready for a party my tip is that you only clean the areas of the house that guests will see.  Bathrooms, the kitchen, living & dining areas should be clean and presentable.  Make bedrooms and other messy rooms off limits.

MopAndBucket_564x600

The reality is that my kids drop crumbs, juice and sticky things on the floor and on the furniture all the time.  I'm constantly wiping up messes and chances are, I've spot cleaned the main areas of the house about 2-3 times within a week anyway.   So, I decided it didn't make much sense to clean my whole house for a kids party instead, I speed clean a little something like this:

  • If you have spills, spots or scuffmarks, grab a Swiffer and give the floors a quick once over.
  • I do encourage a good vacuum - but limit the vacuuming to 2 minutes per room/area.  You can vacuum hardwood floors too, it's faster and less dusty - I do it all the time.
  • Cover spots on your couch with a throw blanket or large pillow - my kids always spill things on the couch and sometimes you I don't know it until a week later and the stain is set.
    Instead of polishing your furniture, use a damp cloth with a light wood soap spray and quickly go over your tables.
  • Get your kids on board if they are old enough to help.  I get my daughter in on the action and she cleans the tables and patio glass 'for her parties'  I do suggest using an all natural cleaning product or one made with water & vinegar for the kids - and yourself.
  • Before you take your shower the day of the party, grab your bathroom cleaner and do a five-minute wipe down of the bathroom and toilet.  Jump in the shower and just before you get out spray the shower/tub and wipe down.  Then toss all your personal items into a nice shoe box or basket and put it away (BTW - I don't have a guest bathroom so the main bathroom is the guest bathroom).

Don't get me wrong, I dig a clean house, but as a mom, I have to find a way to work smart in small amounts of time.  Having a parties and entertaining is something that truly gladdens my heart and cleaning does not.  So, I had to find a happy medium and fortunately I have. 

Happy Tuesday!

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Monday, February 22, 2010

Cupcake Monday: Confetti & Beignets

I recently posted about my new blog ‘intentions’ (as opposed to resolutions) and another one I’m introducing today is Cupcake Monday.  Now, don’t take the title too literally.  I probably won’t always stick to a post about cupcakes that I make.  There is a chance that I will make some other confection or I might share a recipe with you that I found through another source.  It’s whatever floats my boat.  For the most part, however, I will try to stick to doing a new cupcake every weekend to post every Monday – barring any tragedies ;)

To start, my first Cupcake Monday features the (saved for another time) Valentine’s Day Confetti Cupcakes that me and the Little Diva made.  We also tested the Beignet recipe that was in her Princess and the Frog cookbook:

Vday cupcakes & beignettes 007 more on that later.

For the Sweets & Treats party that we had for Valentine’s Day, I never got around to making the cupcakes!  So, I told Miss Thing we’d make them over the weekend.  So we got to bakin’ and decoratin’….

Vday cupcakes & beignettes 003-1

We took my Triple Vanilla Cupcake recipe and added red and pink sprinkles into the batter and they were some kind of good!  The picture doesn’t show it, but I came up with the idea to do two-tone frosting.  Using a large star tip, I piped on a swirl of pink frosting on the outer layer and a drop of white in the center.  My daughter thought sticking a lollipop in the center would be ‘fun’.  I think it is a great substitution for a cupcake pick! 

Here are the other cupcakes we decorated.  Actually my daughter wanted to use the ‘swirly thing’ and this is what we got:

Vday cupcakes & beignettes 002

Over the next few weeks I’ll be getting items together for The Little Diva’s Princess and the Frog themed party for her birthday.  My daughter got a Princess Tiana’s Cookbook for Christmas and has been begging to make these.  So, we tested the beignet recipe from the book.   

Now, I never even heard of a beignet until I saw the movie, so I was a bit apprehensive about making them.  I have a thing about dough; we don’t get along unless it’s already baked and coated with either sugar or cheese.  That’s why I tend not to do cookies or bread or pie…..However, I sucked it up, put on my game face, pretended like mommy knew what she was doing and powered through.    Here they are:

Beignet_1

To me, they remind me of those zepolle’s you get at the Italian Fair. 

They were really ‘so, so, yummy mommy!’   So, my plan is to make these for the party.  They have to be made and eaten the same day within a few hours of making them or they loose their joie de vivre. 

I would share the recipe with you, but since it came from a published cookbook, I can’t.  You can however find the book here.

….and you can see the ingredients and steps/tips here:

Flour

Sugar

Buttermilk

Water

Egg

Vanilla

Baking Soda

Baking Powder

Nutmeg (next time I’ll use more, I’m originally from Connecticut and I dig nutmeg)

Confectioner’s Sugar

 

Vday cupcakes & beignettes 009

First, we added all the dry ingredients……Vday cupcakes & beignettes 011 

then all the wet ingredients….Vday cupcakes & beignettes 012 We mixed everything until well combined and doughy….

Vday cupcakes & beignettes 013

We floured our work surface and top of the dough and flattened it out into a square; this part was a bit tricky and messy because the dough is sticky.  I just had my ‘assistant’ and her ‘assistant’ sprinkle more flour when it got too sticky until I was able to work with it.Vday cupcakes & beignettes 015 

The we cut the dough into 2.5” squares…. (I did let the dough rest for 10 minutes - this step isn’t in the cookbook but I thought that it would help them rise a bit)Vday cupcakes & beignettes 016

I heated a large pan of oil up to 325 degrees using a candy/deep fry thermometer and dropped the dough pieces into Crisco ® Vegetable Oil one at a time.  (Note:Technically, you shouldn’t put more than 3 pieces into the pan at a time to keep the oil from losing heat – clearly, I cheated). 

We then let them fry to a golden brown on each side for about 3 minutes…Vday cupcakes & beignettes 017

Next, we removed the beignets from the oil and let them cool on a wire rack and sprinkled them with powdered sugar.  They’re best eaten within 1-2 hours after frying and if you don’t have a sifter you can put the sugar in a bag and toss the beignets in there and shake the bag to coat them with the sugar.

Beignet_3 

VOILA!!!!Princess Tiana’s Beignet’s

Beignet_2

Friday, February 19, 2010

Friday Freebie!

I am so excited!  Okay - a few weeks ago I sat down and wrote a few New Year's Intentions (instead of resolutions, as one should never be resolved; resolution is just too finite and intentions are more forgiving :) ) - was to come up with four to five new daily blog features.  Well I came up with six and I'm still trying to figure out how to work at least four of the six into my weekly blogging routine.  In the meantime, the easiest and most rewarding feature will be the 'Friday Freebie'!!! 

Every Friday (pray for me), I will post/announce a free giveaway or contest for all my VIPP's (Very Important Party People).  If you aren't sure what a VIPP is - it's YOU - my devoted readers who follow my blog....and thank you for doing so, I really do appreciate it.  BTW, if  you aren't following my blog, please do so by clicking the 'Follow' button to your right under the VIPP section.

This week's Friday Freebie are my very first printable tags for St. Patrick's Day that you can download here. Once you cut them (a 1.5" - 2" circle punch should work), use them as tags for treat bags, cupcake toppers or print them out on sticker paper.  These are images I created myself and I hope you enjoy them.  Other than posting a link to this post on your blog, I ask that you do not redistribute or try to sell them (because I'm certain they'll go for top-dollar on the black market ;) ).


Enjoy!!!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Sweets & Treats Party Recap

This past weekend, I held the No Boys Allowed! Sweets & Treats Valentine’s Day party for my Little Diva.  Let me just say that while this party was right on time - it almost got cancelled. 

You know, drama  in the form of illness or bad weather seems to follow me whenever I do a party. Rain, is usually the case. In another case I did a party while trying to care for two sick babies.  This time, it was Old Man Winter’s idiot cousin, Jack Frost. 

We received a lot (TONS, in fact) of snow in our area for the past few weeks and honestly, the party almost didn’t happen.  I was stuck in my house for almost 2 1/2 weeks.  I’d been sick (see there?) with a nasty stomach flu for about a week and then Jack took a dump on us.  So, once the roads were finally cleared out, I rushed out at the last minute to get all the supplies I needed for the party.  

I zipped through AC Moore and Party City to find what I needed and it was not happening.  I couldn't find the right color paper, candy, or fabric for our craft project & table cloth. I was really disappointed and things weren't looking too good.  I got a few things and just was resolved to make the best out of what I had.  As luck would have it, I decided to stop past Target for candy and lo and behold right there in the dollar bin, I found loads of goodies that matched my theme and color scheme!  It was like the Party Gods were listening to and answering  my prayers. 

When I got home and put Thing 1 and Thing 2 to bed, I literally worked through the night into the next day to try and pull it all together.  I couldn't put out as much as I planned but, I did my best with what I had; at the end of the day the girls had so much fun. In fact, I think that the moms had more fun than the girls did.  (We all were suffering from cabin fever and in much need of some adult interaction and overdue girl time).

Another dilemna: my camera is on the fritz (sigh....cue in world's smallest violin....and scene!) Luckily, I did get a few pictures on it before it went kaput - so, I apologize if they look grainy.  Fortunately, I was able to use a friend's camera and those pictures will be posted once I get them.  I’m campaigning for a Canon Rebel XS for my birthday and hope that I can get it sooner than later. ;) 

Here are the pictures:

Here is the door sign I created using Word, PowerPoint & Publisher  because I really cannot get into Photoshop - we've discussed this before....I'll get there one day.....I'm happy with the way it turned out.  I even create the images myself....I see a possible Etsy store in the future ;)  See that patterned paper underneath?  That's one of  my Target dollar bin finds - so is the basket and tin (which I purchased months ago).


I love poms!  They're very delightful and seem to amaze people.  I used to make these all the time at summer camp - who would have known they'd be so popular....thanks to my girl Martha!


I made this banner using my computer and the scrapbook paper I got from Target!  I get a lot of inspiration from Jess at Polkadots & Pirates - she's DA BOMB!




I really like to make paper rosettes for decorations.  I  never really know what I'm going to do with them until it's time to hang them up.  I hung these up over an unused paper tablecloth I had left from my the Little Diva's baby shower- that was like 5 years ago - and yeah, it was wrinkly - but it gave the backdrop character - dontchathink?  See those heart topped favor boxes?  I made those on my Cricut machine!  I loves me Cricut!


Target Dollar Bin finds:  I dressed up these plain pink paper cups from the party store with stickers and made paper napkin rings from scrapbook paper packs from the Target dollar bin.


I put the napkin rolls in a tin that I found in the dollar bin months ago that was enhanced with a tag I created.  I also found a good deal on little favors from the party store and scattered them around the center of the table for the girls to play with while they waited for lunch.


And speaking of lunch, I served Mini Meatball Sammies and a simple fruit salad. 


The Diva helped decorate the patio doors with some window clings I bought for her - another Target find....very cute. 

Look at all that snow!  Actually, in the bottom left of the picture our little pickup truck is buried under the snow and normally you can't see the street from my deck because there are tall bushes there - but the snow weighed them all down.  Hope they survive the winter.


Sweet Shoppe sign for my candy buffet.....mmm....candy....


More candy.....


Who doesn't love conversation hearts?


At the end of the party all the girls got to fill treat bags with loads of candy!


They also got to make a fun craft.  We all had a good (and challenging) time making these foam purses!


After all the guests left, I found my Little Diva off to herself coloring in a book she got as a gift from one of her guests. 


When the party was over she gave me a huge hug, thanked me and told me I was the best mommy in the world.  Bless her heart!

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