Sunday, March 27, 2011

Spring is Coming to NYC {Hopefully}

I was just looking at these images from last Friday when the weather was in the mid 60s.  I've never seen so many people in the park, and that evening Kyle went to a local Thai restaurant and we ate outside. Amazing, right?  I'm really, really hoping that spring will come soon. For reals this time.



Sunday, March 20, 2011

Leprechaun Cake {A Tiny St. Patrick's Day Treat}

Looks pretty typical, right? What you can't tell from the photo above is that this is a 3 inch round, 4 tier layer cake. It's a Leprechaun Cake! I know, I know, the title gave it away already.

It's a layer cake made to leprechaun scale, and it was just about the most fun little project I've done in a while.  Yes, I just might be obsessed with this recipe and making layer cakes. Thankfully, we have plenty of friends to share with so I don't gobble all of them up all on my own. 

A half batch of this recipe made 6 leprechaun layer cakes.  I used 3-inch tart pans (came in a set of four) and then cut each layer in half so I could have four layers instead of two per cake. I think I'll just try two shades of green next year. Four was a little much, and the overall effect didn't quite turn out like I envisioned it would.

I don't get original ideas very often, so I was pretty stoked about this one!  The only problem is that after you cut your adorable bite-sized piece of leprechaun cake you have an overwhelming desire for another one.  And then another one.

This will definitely be making the list of new traditions.  My daughter is obsessed with putting tons and tons of sprinkles onto any item topped with frosting, so I'll give you one guess as to who decorated this one :)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

New York City St. Patrick's Day Parade {a proud tradition for 250 years}

We started our day with green smoothies, and then we walked east to 5th Avenue and the St. Patrick's Day Parade. It was one of the coolest things we've done in NYC yet. It was amazing because it was a parade of people. Not floats, not massive helium balloons, people. People marching because they are proud of their heritage, because they believe in something bigger than themselves. My husband commented that it was one of the most patriotic events he had ever attended, and I agreed. There were veterans marching with walkers and canes, proud of where they came from and what they stand for. There were fathers and sons in the "pipes and drums" ensembles, red-headed mothers and daughters dressed in traditional attire, and there were entire communities out in droves. There were members of the Army, the Navy, the Marine Corps, and the National Guard who marched in hundreds... it was overwhelming and incredibly moving.   

Did I mention that the parade consisted of over 335 groups from all over the United States, and that the parade runs from 10:45 am until 3:45 pm?  The NYC St. Patrick's Day is the oldest and largest parade in the world, and it has been a tradition since 1762! This tradition is older than the US itself.  One aspect I love is that there are representatives from each of the 32 counties in Ireland who march. After each pipes and drums group there would be a large (or small) group of people that followed, and they were the families representing their county, their heritage.  I went with hardly any expectations for the parade and I was absolutely blown away.    You can read more about the history of the event HERE.

Since I'm pretty much the biggest fan of bagpipes ever, I was in heaven.  The "pipes and drums" ensembles from all over the US were absolutely amazing. I was grinning from ear-to-ear the entire time.

We will definitely be back next year. 

here's a view of 5th Ave from the middle of the park as we made our way back home.  The American Flag procession went on for probably 10 blocks-worth of people. Amazing. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Tinkerbell Fairy Princess Party {Happy Third Birthday, Ella!}

I loved this "Tinkerbell fairy princess" party because I used Ella's list to dictate the details, decor, and food for the party (see the paragraph at the bottom for more details) pulled the decorations together from items we had around the house and recycled decor from previous parties, and in general we kept it simple. Well, relatively simple. Would you believe that I've been working on this blog post on-and-off for two weeks? Ah, life.

Let's play a little game, shall we? I spy with my little eye {or as Ella says, "I spy wiff my wittle eye..."}
  • lunch and ice cream scoops made to "fairy scale"
  • a strictly imposed dress code
  • decorations on a 3 year-old's level
  • a special seat for the birthday girl
  • a unique alternative to lanterns or helium balloons (for $2!)
  • a cake decorated entirely with stickers (got the idea from Ella's bday cake)
  • a game of "find the fairy wand"

Ella's list of requests (that I carefully adhered to after this experience): Tinkerbell party, dancing, balloons, decorations, eating lunch with juice boxes, rainbow cake, ice cream, and a desire to be "the queen of the fairies"

How I accomplished what she wanted (but in my own way)- Tinkerbell Party: I interpreted this loosely, as I didn't want it to be too theme-y (I kept the same mentality for her Charlie & Lola party last year) Dancing: playing "guess who" based on everyone's costumes and then having them each do a fairy princess turn in the middle of the circle + dancing to the Tinkerbell movie credits in pairs. The latter was Ella's favorite part of the party. Balloons: Helium balloons here are expensive and ridiculous to transport, so I opted for a $2 bag of bouncing balloons in rainbow colors, blew them up as large as I could, and then suspended them from a strand of crepe paper. They almost looked like big round helium balloons, and the kids loved them. Decorations: I tried to put as many of the decorations on their level as possible. We made a gallery of pictures of Ella down our hall (at their eye level), the butterfly garlands (recycled from last year's party) were low, just above their heads, the flower garlands Ella and I sewed came down from the doorways to the floor, and the huge balloons had such a whimsical feel and they almost looked like lanterns. For the doorways and to border the other garlands, I used simple white crepe paper and it looked so simple, yet so beautiful. I also put up the canopy from Ella's room and it really transformed our space and made a very special seat for the birthday girl to open gifts (more details below) Eating Lunch: My favorite part of the part was the lunch we served with components sized to "fairy scale." They ate on my Wedgwood china (yes, I'm crazy) and the girls absolutely loved it. I bought berry flavored juice and called it "fairy berry juice, " which was a hit. They watched part of Tinkerbell and the Great Fairy Rescue while they ate. Rainbow Cake: The recipe I used for her birthday cake on her birthday made two, so I froze one and saved it for the party and assembled it that morning. The green layer got clobbered and I was hoping she wouldn't notice, but she did :) oh well! I followed this tutorial I found a few year's back, and used this absolutely incredibly almond sour cream white cake recipe, which made two 6-inch layer cakes (with 6 layers each) and about 12 cupcakes. It's a life changing cake recipe, I tell you. Ice Cream: I put the ice cream in mini cups that were scooped with a melon-baller, and the girls ate them with baby spoons. They were thrilled. Ella as "the queen of the fairies" We requested that all the attendees come in their best fairy princess dress-ups, and Ella was dressed as Tinkerbell (her Halloween costume has been an amazing investment). I also suspended Ella's canopy in our doorway and put it over our ottoman to create a sit fit for a queen. We put the presents there and Ella got to open her presents while her friends sat around her on the floor. It was fantastic. The fabulous cupcake toppers were ordered from We also made flower hair clips for all the fairy princesses, and they were able to choose the color that matched their dress-ups best.

The end.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Twist on a Classic {Hershey Kiss Blossom Cookies + Reece's PB Cups}

I'm sure you've all had these little lovelies before: Hershey Kiss Blossoms.  Can you say, addicting? I have to make these when I know they are going somewhere, otherwise I swear I could eat an entire pan of these in one sitting. My sister used to make these all the time and she always shared a plate with me. And I'd never share them with Kyle :)

The twist on the classic that really puts these over the top, however, is to alter the recipe in the following ways:
  • Use a 2 inch dough ball (instead of 1 inch) and then roll it in sugar (use a cookie scoop or about 1 TBSP)
  • Bake the cookies in a mini muffin pan instead of on a cookie sheet*
  • Press a Reece's Peanut Butter Cup mini into the cookie after it has baked
  • Allow the cookie to cool entirely before removing it from the pan (*next time I am going to bake them in mini muffin liners so I can pop them out and cool them on a baker's rack. I think they would look darling too)
I usually make 12 of the peanut butter cup wonders (1 pan) and then it still makes about 2 half-sheet cookie pans of the classic kiss cookies. Yum.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Cupcake Toppers {that will steal the show}

Last year we hired a talented friend to create the amazing cake for Ella's Charlie and Lola Birthday Party. It was truly spectacular.  I didn't want the stress of having to make Ella's cake again, but since the party was just for kids I felt like I could just try my best.  However, I know someone who knows how to make basic cupcakes look extraordinary, and I wanted to surprise Ella and her friends with something over-the-top since everything else was pretty minimal (in my book).  These cupcake toppers were the star of the show. You should have seen their faces!

The fabulous Marilee at whipped up these amazing fairy princess beauties for Ella's birthday party.  Check out her work here.  After the party I realized that this would have been a fantastically easy way to put a topper on a cake too! Put one on the cake as the topper, and then encircle the other cupcakes around the cake.

Marilee has a fabulous selection of pre-designed toppers, and she is happy to do custom orders as well. She's amazing to work with and her attention to detail is incredible. Also, her prices are more than reasonable, and I was thrilled to have fabulous decor that doubled as the party favor. Smash hit with the little fairy princesses who came to celebrate with Ella. 

Want to know the biggest surprise about these cake toppers (besides the fact that they are 100% edible)? They smell amazing. I opened the box, and as I pulled a topper from its shrink-wrap/bubble-wrap cocoon, this sweet, wonderful aroma filled our kitchen. I packed the toppers back up until the morning of the party, but I kept going back to sniff the box. No joke.  The girls noticed too... I told them that's what fairy princesses smell like. Lovely. 

Ella had a very short list of requests for her party... "I want to be queen of the fairies" was at the top of the list.  Done and done.

Party pictures to come...

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Chantelle {Portrait of a 2 month-old}

This little miracle baby was born around 29 weeks and weighed 2 pounds 4 ounces.  She was in the hospital for a little while, and when she came home I had the opportunity to photograph Chantelle with her oh-so-proud big brother and her beautiful mama. In these photographs, she is nearly 2 months old weighing just over 6 pounds. So tiny!