April 26, 2011

in love...

i was in love with the day's events on Easter
it was relaxing
 full of smiles
and a day of really "being"
in every sense of the word

I enjoyed waking up early
since the Easter bunny fell asleep the night before
without filling and delivering two baskets
{that would be moi}

and since I needed to prepare and hide two special baskets
it was my usual early morning
...a very fun morning, however

it was a day where the girls woke up and enjoyed finding their baskets
with 'hot and cold" directions

they decorated their bunny cake

and I bet you never had a bunny cake
with marshmallows, skittles, and jelly beans on it before, eh?

at least I made the cake with applesauce instead of vegetable oil
although i'm sure that didn't even make a difference in the end
with the amount of sugar probably consumed

we ate a very yummy breakfast
and made it to church all before noon
came back home and dyed 'marble' easter eggs
okay so one just looks marbled
i called the rest 'spotted'

it was a morning where we really didn't rush
maybe had moments of rushing
but not our usual running out the door 15 minutes late

we were actually on-time and not even trying
amazing how that can happen

 it was just so nice to know we had the entire day
to celebrate what Easter was all about

it was full of friendly competitions
Easter egg hunts
with my parents and our family

okay...maybe it was seriously competitive
because all of us are so competitive with games
but that's just our kind of fun

 we all laughed at one another
the best egg hunt to watch was between my dad and bobby
literally my mom and I were about falling off the couch laughing

it reminded me of the days when I was younger
and we'd have family competitions
with my parents, sister, and I

it was so fun to see Madison and Hayley enjoy those competitions like I used to 

we enjoyed one another's company
decorating graham cracker houses left over from Madison's birthday party
and of course...
we had "best house"
I will say my idea of smashing mini white marshmallows
to look like shingles on my house
was a darn good idea
{if I do say so myself}

I loved that the girls enjoyed the holiday of Easter
but more importantly
they never lost the true meaning of Easter

I was in love with our Easter Sunday
and i hope yours was as much enjoyed

April 23, 2011

the best strawberry icing ever...

in March when I was in search of a strawberry cupcake and strawberry icing recipe
for Hayley's birthday
I started with the martha stewart website
I found a couple recipes and then read the reviews since
I couldn't decide which one to use

and I'm so happy I did that because
I found the absolute best recipe!

It is from Candace Nelson of Sprinkle Cupcakes
the best icing on the planet
I do say so myself

I wanted to share with you all
that I have a new friend in the kitchen
courtesy of my parents for my birthday
thank you again mom and dad

meet my new kitchen aid
so I made the icing just so I could use my new kitchen bestie
and she's certainly a beauty

and was so much fun to use
so i'm even thinking I need to name her

here we go
the absolute best strawberry icing recipe ever

first puree the fresh strawberries
{I puree a little bit more than called for and keep in the fridge
if I need to make more
or you can use the rest of pancakes, etc.
not that I make pancakes a lot
because I don't...
but it always gets used somehow
whether it's smoothies or something

*just a note...you don't need to add any water or liquid to the strawberries to puree
no watering down...just puree them alone...it may take a second for the blades to start with the strawberries in the blender, food processor or whatever you are using

anyway, set the puree aside for now

lets start with two sticks of butter
{yes I really just wrote two sticks of butter}
and a pinch of salt
{I'm not a salt user...but you really do need to use it for this}

does that not look like two sticks of butter?
well it is...
I like to buy trader joe's quartered butter sticks...they still are 8 T
just the sticks are smaller but bigger round
they take up less space in my mind i guess
anyway...it's just good butter

beat together the butter and salt on medium speed until light and fluffy
reduce the mixer speed and slowly add the confectioners' sugar
{sifted...although i'm a bad sifter...but it does help}
3 1/2 cups of confectioners' sugar

beat until all is well combined like this

add 1/2 t pure vanilla extract
now my very favorite thing to use is vanilla bean paste
I use the same amount
i just love it better because you can see the flakes of beans in it

and when you are making anything vanilla
you can see the flakes and it looks oh so pretty

the kind of vanilla bean paste I use
found at william sonoma
I don't go to william sonoma very often
so I bought two bottles so it saves me a trip when I run out

add three tablespoons of the strawberry puree
I do heaping tablespoons of the puree
because i love the real strawberry flavor

mix until blended
do not overmix as it will incorporate too much air
the frosting should be dense and creamy like ice cream
{just a hint...I have no idea on that...I personally just mix it until I like the way it looks}

and enjoy

of course keep away from family
as if you don't little fingers end up in the bowl

top to your favorite cupcake!
I do have Candace's cupcake recipe...
it was great...I just have a hard time getting homemade cupcakes to be light and airy
but if you'd like the cupcake recipe...it's below

Happy Easter everyone:)

Candace Sprinkles' Strawberry icing recipe

1/2 cup fresh strawberries {whole}
1 cup or 2 sticks of unsalted butter, firm and slightly cold
pinch of coarse salt
3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1/2 t pure vanilla extract {I used vanilla bean paste}

Candace Sprinkles' Strawberry Cupcakes
makes one dozen

2/3 cups whole fresh strawberries
1 1/2 cupes all-purpose flour, sifted
1 t baking powder
1/4 t coarse salt
1/4 cup whole milk, room temperature
1 t pure vanilla extract {I used vanilla bean paste when I made these}
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature {equivalent to one stick}
1 cup sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
2 large egg whites, room temperature

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners

place strawberries in small food processor; process until pureed. You should have 1/3 cup of puree, add a few more strawberries if necessary or save any extra if you are making the icing listed above

in a medium bowl, whisk together, flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

in a small bowl, mix together milk, vanilla, and strawberry puree. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter on medium-high speed, until light and fluffy. gradually add sugar and combine to beat until well combined and fluffy. reduce mixer speed to medium and slowly add egg and egg whites until blended.

with the mixer on low, slowly add half of the flour mixture, mix until blended. add the milk mixture; mix until blended. slowly add the remaining flour mixture, scraping down sides of the bowl with a spatula, until blended.

divide the batter eveny among the prepared muffin cups. bake until tops just dry to the touch ~ about 22 to 25 minutes. let cool completely before icing

April 21, 2011

strawberry bliss

so  much has happened these last couple weeks
that I can barely even keep it straight
birthday party after party
after some much need fun with friends
and then its the 21st of the month

I was without my computer for 3-4 days
so if I haven't checked with you it's because
of many reasons such as that
and me having the flu
and planning Madison's birthday parties
two in a day
and then just the rest of life on top of everything

i've been trying to sort through these birthday pictures of Madison for days
and i'm falling asleep at the computer every night trying to get through them

i do thank all those that continue to visit me when sometimes
i just don't have the chance to return the favor
i really do love having this blog
something i don't want to give up
it's something i love
so just bare with me in being behind with you all
hugs and love to you

Strawberry Bliss

our little butterfly
had quite the celebration a couple weekends ago
she chose Strawberry Shortcake theme party

and during the day we had her school friends party
I found a family owned pizza place in town that had a perfect {free} room
{and to keep it easy for 10+ kiddos}
i brought all the desserts and decor to their party room
and that was that
we really kept it simple with her friend pizza party
{just wanted to bring simple parties back a little if you know what i mean}
had pizza
made shortcake houses
enjoyed desserts
she opened gifts
handed out favors
and cleaned up

this is the last year all her friends are in the same class
they have been together for three years now
so it was important to celebrate with these friends
next year they will all be in different schools with kindergarten
it was such a great group of kids and parents

 after we were home
it was round two of setting up
 for our friends and family party
it was so much fun

it was truly Strawberry Bliss

homemade strawberry icing
desserts from every shortcake friend
strawberry pails and ribbon
strawberry shortcake favors and milk
strawberry scented candles
a shortcake hat and pink sequence on her shirt
strawberry lemonade
strawberry floats
fresh fruit everywhere

 we decorated strawberry shortcake houses
an idea i found under some strawberry shortcake searches
i had no idea how to make them

but then i remembered kasey's peep houses
and thought as long as she is okay with me using her idea
of how to make them
they will be perfect
and the kiddos will love to decorate them
and of course she was

i'm just thankful that madison's birthday is usually somewhere around easter
so it was so easy finding plenty of candies to decorate

for decorating the houses i made my favorite strawberry icing
{recipe to follow in another post}
but bobby constructed the houses using pre-made strawberry icing
since i was behind in making it the night before

strawberry marshmallows
mini marshmallows
jelly beans
and i had some extra edible flowers from hayley's birthday
i found strawberry stickers to place at the peak
and filled with edible colored easter grass
and found huge edible raspberries
{I used them as strawberries since they looked more like strawberries to me}
and placed those puppies inside the house

and there we had it
setting up the table for the kiddos to decorate was so much fun
of course both parties made shortcake houses
and there was waaaaay too many desserts
but i had to cover strawberry shortcake and all her friends

strawberry shortcake
plum pudding
blueberry muffin
orange blossom
lemon meringue

so here's a
weekend in pictures
{warning of a lot ahead...and it's only showing about 1/4 of what i took}

Strawberry Bliss

and dressing the part is Madison in her shortcake hat and strawberry shoes

for favors
i had pink and green pails
strawberry shortcake color book wrapped in strawberry ribbon
bug tattoos so the boys would have something not girlie
organic flavored suckers from trader joe's
organic strawberry milk

we'll start with desserts
plum pudding's chocolate cupcakes
{because I have no idea of any plum dessert}
orange blossom brownies
{recipe came from Lissa @ humble pie blog}
lemon meringue's lemon bars
{which is the only dessert i purchased...thank you trader joe's
because i can never cut my lemon bars as pretty as theirs}
blueberry's muffins
i just topped with vanilla bean icing and a cute blueberry
and strawberry shortcake's strawberry bliss cupcakes

for the drink menu for the kiddos

decorating the houses was so fun for all
i have a few left over houses so we can make a few more for easter
and of course some of the moms
seem to be in competition for creating "best house"

three times of blowing out candles
two parties
and her actual birthday

and since i'm known to forget to take pictures of when guests are at my home
{because i get chatting...i always end up with decor and food pics}
so this time i made sure i got everyone in a couple of pics

the kiddos first...
and to me there is no setting up for a picture with that many kiddos
as long as they are all in it...i take the photo

and all of our adult friends in one pic
bobby's parents and my parents didn't want to be in the picture
they all sure were there to celebrate with us
just no photo:(

 because all six of us girls happened to be together
we have way too much fun together
and did a housewives pose
we chose lemons since i had a surplus from lemon meringue...
but i'm thinking we should have picked the plums instead
since of course oranges were out of the question since there is a housewives of orange county

just too bad these pictures happened to be in my garage
I was dying about that fact
and my friends said "who cares?"
which is one of the reasons why i love them so much

and this birthday girl woke up to a very relaxing sunday
on her actual birthday

happy birthday sweet love
we were so appreciative of all friends and family that celebrated with us
we are so thankful to be surrounded by lots of love