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birthday craft family

super seven

a a waiting for party guests at the doora decorating paper party hats pom pomsamerican girl party 7 birthday dolls eatamerican girl party 7 birthday little treatsb cake 7cake 7 american girl candlesStrawberry Cupcake Sewingstrawberry pink sewing needlea b waiting at the door for guestsMy niece turned seven earlier this month! We celebrated the way she wanted to, with our favorite dolls. For her and her peers, this meant having American Girls, Bitty Babies and well-loved stuffed animals at the dinner table. The rest of us had our own interpretations. At her birthday lunch, we were joined by delightful people (some who called their dates “dolls”) and puppets, where there was also no shortage of smiles and laughter. As I look through the photos of the weekend fun, I think about the wonderful people that have come into her life this past year, both big and small. We know better than to call this year a lucky seven, because it is already a super seven.

Thank you, Oh Happy Day! Party hat template http://ohhappyday.com/2011/02/party-hats-diy-template/ on card stock for the basic hats.

Categories
birthday family

birthdays, snow, aunts

poached birthday smile

rose 90 birthdat table

sunday birthday snow

thanksgiving dessert and crackers
snowflake butternut cookies
When my nephew was two, he (his mom and dad) gave me a picture frame that read: “Aunt: Like Mom Only Cooler.” Recently someone told me that I was a good aunt; it was probably the best compliment I could have received. You see, Aunts have been important characters in my life. They have been unconditional resources of hospitality, information, understanding, experience, perspective, inspiration and support.

My Great Aunt Rose celebrated her 90th birthday last month. There was cake, pie, ice cream, fried chicken and a barbershop quartet! She was in heels and sparkles and beamed all weekend long. The first snow of this season was on that mid November Sunday morning, the day she was born, 90 years later (she recalled that it snowed the morning she was born, too). I celebrated my 34th birthday the following week, on a Sunday morning, the same day that I was born.

As I reflect on my life to this point, the opportunity to be an aunt is one of my great privileges. I think about the aunts in my life and what they have meant to me. It is not that they are cooler than my mom, or necessarily blood relatives to my mom, but they are maternally special. I am proud to continue that legacy; I had (still have) good teachers. Of course my uncles are cool too, but that’s an entirely different matter.

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birthday family

9 alive!

9 soccer ball cupcakes 9 soccer ball cupcakes blow out candle 9 soccer ball cupcakes leftLast weekend I was privileged to join a special group of kids to celebrate my nephew’s ninth birthday, Italian soccer style. My sister put together a delicious pasta bar and festive cupcakes to match the theme. The evening ended with backyard soccer and ice cream cones! I became an aunt the morning he was born, and my heart has been growing bigger every day since. I wish so many things for him, including a life that continues to be filled with love and laughter.

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birthday cake family friends inside outside

where did summer go?

an I spy spool barbecue beets bday cupcakes bratwurst kale pepper foil dinner charcoal grill apple tree gutter coconut curry custard pie jello salad fire pit brats grandma coconut birthday little mermaid sea cake overgrown gazebo pumpkin custard pumpkin granola yogurt queen anne's lace apple background tea bags reflect stove blue tea bowlsIt happened again: lots of living and not much blogging.  This summer has been adventurous and at times, delicious.  I am grateful for the milestones we celebrated and the simple moments we savored.  When I look at these photos I remember unexpected treats from this past season; wishing all of you those reminders of the good times.  I sense a reflective autumn coming on.

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birthday family ice cream outside

time’s a cranking

1 cozywalls time hand cranking ice cream grandma 2 rock salt for hand crank ice cream at grandma's 4 grandma hand crank ice cream 6 taste of homemade vanilla ice cream 7 melting vanilla ice cream from hand crank with spoon 8 cranking ice cream then and now 9 homemade ice cream with saltine in bowl

Together with my sister and her kids, we hand-cranked a batch of vanilla ice cream with our grandma/great-grandma on the cement outside of her front yard.  We were celebrating her 85th birthday… the same way we did when my sister and I were kids.

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birthday candy gluten free

honeycomb birthday brittle

You know those cozy hexagonal structures of wax made by bees to store their precious goods, including honey? How perfect that this honey brittle recipe also takes on the appearance of its former storage home: the honeycomb! Martha Stewart’s recipe for Honeycomb Brittle has been close to the top of my “I want to make this recipe” mountain since I spied it a few years ago.

All that time I had no idea that I was just four ingredients away from a little kitchen science and my new favorite brittle recipe.  The mixture explodes in the pot when baking soda is added at the last minute, which accounts for is delightful airiness. It’s also easy to break apart once it hardens; if you’d like a little more control over the shapes of the shards, just score the brittle with a knife beforehand.

Next time I will add walnuts or almonds to the honey candy, as it is a perfect mix for encasing extra goodies.  In part of this batch I set up candles in the brittle and broke them apart to make edible candle holders for plopping atop a honey lemon cake later this week (I will be 32!).  The honeycomb brittle was also a fun and sweet crunchy accompaniment to a mug of creamy Greek yogurt the other morning. There’s nothing wrong with pre-celebrating, is there?

Since it stores and travels well, I am taking bags of the light and golden candy to contribute to our family munchies this holiday. Warm (and sweet) Thanksgiving wishes to All.

P.S. Dreaming All Day included me in 50 Thanksgiving Leftover Ideas today – check out her yummy round-up!

Categories
birthday cake family

sports & science fan turns seven

I went to a sweet and rambunctious birthday celebration for my nephew this week. We had fun doing science experiments (elephant toothpaste, lava in a cup, homemade bouncy balls) and playing games (basketball, tag, water balloon pinata) with his old kindergarten classmates. Don’t you love the cake? My sister made a fudgy football field with icing turf; we almost forgot what green grass looks like during this drought! I think the birthday boy felt the love as he passed out pieces of the field to his friends in his newly stained birthday/gameday knees.

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birthday cake

golden oreo sunshine cupcakes

My sister helped out with the sweet treats for a friend’s “sunshine and giggles” 1st birthday party. When she was telling me about all of their fun ideas, I said, what about using golden Oreos in the cupcakes (like the ones you made last summer)? She did just that, using a french vanilla cake mix and the marshmallow fluff frosting recipe. So sunny and bright, just like this little girl’s smile: Happy Birthday, Lily!

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birthday cake cookie family

bourbon spice pumpkin whoopie pies


Every year pumpkin season starts for me on September 27 when, to commemorate her birthday, my mom gets out the Libby’s and puts together two pumpkin pies to share. My sister’s family came to celebrate this weekend, so I hunted down my pumpkin whoopie pie recipe to make for our get together. I changed up the original recipe from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking a bit with some bourbon, olive oil, allspice and extra cinnamon. The result was a less vanillan, more splendorous barrel spice pumpkin cake, sandwiching the lustrous cinnamon cream cheese sweetness. Looking forward to pie with Mom on Tuesday. Happy Fall!

Bourbon Spice Pumpkin Whoopie Pie Recipe (12 big ones or 24 lil’ ones)

Tops and Bottoms: 3 c all purpose flour / 1 t kosher salt / 1 t baking powder / 1 t baking soda / 2 T cinnamon / 1 T allspice / 1 T cloves / 2 c dark brown sugar / 1 c olive oil / 3 c chilled pumpkin purée / 2 large eggs / 1 t bourbon

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper – important!

1. In a large bowl, sift the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and spices together and set aside.  2. In a separate bowl, whisk the brown sugar and oil together until combined.  3. Add the pumpkin and combine thoroughly.  4. Add the eggs and bourbon until combined.  5. Sprinkle the flour mixture over the pumpkin mixture and whisk until combined.

Drop heaping tablespoons of the dough onto prepared baking sheets, about one inch apart. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let the cookies cool completely on the pan while you whip up the middle.

Middle: 3 c confectioners sugar / 2 t cinnamon / 1/2 c unsalted butter, softened / 8 oz cream cheese, softened / 1 t bourbon

1. Sift the confectioners sugar and cinnamon in a bowl.  2. In separate bowl, beat the butter until it’s completely smooth.  3. Add the cream cheese and beat until combined.  4. Add the confectioners sugar/cinnamon and bourbon and beat until smooth.

Assemble & Devour. Suggested beverage pairings: milk, Booker’s or Basil Hayden’s.

Categories
birthday cake chocolate cookie family

three is magical

My sister does such a good job at making occasions magical and so do her relatives.  She sewed my niece a new dress, Great Grandma made a special princess blanket and “Aunt Bef” sent her the sweetest fairy outfit that she had to change into right away.  Also ethereal was the surprise Oreo in the middle of that chocolate cupcake topped with raspberry marshmallow fluff buttercream frosting (another genius recipe from Everyday Food that was well executed).  What’s all the fuss?  This little girl inspires us all with her giant heart and zest for life.  She makes our lives magical by just being her.