A 3rd Birthday for Baby

I guess I shouldnt call her a baby anymore as she just turned three, but I can’t help it! I still see remnants of her baby fat and chubby cheeks and yet she’s old enough to ask for a Belle-themed birthday party!  It’s bittersweet for sure.

I figured since this was her first real birthday party, we could have some of her close friends over and have a small, intimate party.  The challenge with daycare and commuting is that my schedule never overlaps other parents so while my daughter talks about her friends, I never have occasion to have my path cross with any of her friends parents.  Birthday parties are really a good way to remedy that.

I don’t know where my daughter got an idea for a Belle birthday party, but she wanted it.  I’m not a big fan of character parties so I was trying to think of the best way to accomplish this theme without having Disney paraphernalia everywhere.  I settled on a subtle Belle theme using yellow, gold and white with cupcakes alluding to the movie.

I found this cute cupcake idea on pinterst.  Unfortunately, the Wilton roses that were recommended for this cupcake had reviews that all agreed they tasted terrible.  I was talking to my mom on the phone about this one day and she decided she wanted to make icing roses for the cupcakes and FedEx then to me! Amazing!  I made a simple lemon cupcake recipe with a the buttercream frosting I have blogged about before.

For decorations, I stuck to a simple color scheme of white and gold throughout.  I think it turned out very nice and the kids had a great time!  In my next post I’ll talk about the craft all the kiddies got to make.  Until then, a very happy birthday to my littlest munchkin!

The Second is 2!

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So it’s happened.  My baby turned two.  When did this happen?  I can hardly believe that time has flown so quickly!  I don’t know if it’s because I’m so tired these days or if life is just too full of things to do, but having to even consider planning a birthday party for my daughter seemed beyond me at this point.  Planning playdates for two children seems to so difficult and this seems to be one of my shortcoming as a parent.  I look for the easy playdate where friends have more than one kid so that all the children can keep each other occupied.  Is that terrible of me?  Don’t lie, I’m sure I’m not the only one!

I am glad to say that my second daughter is quite gregarious and will run around to almost everyone after she has acclimated and flirt outrageously with them.  For this I am very grateful that she finds her happiness instead of having to have someone define it for her.

Well, I may not have planned a big party for her, but I did get my act together enough to make her cupcakes to bring to school as well as have a small gathering with family to celebrate.  For her cupcakes, I opted to make a lemon cupcake with a lemon buttercream frosting.  I have made these before for my first daughter’s first birthday, noted here.  However, instead of mini-cupcakes, I opted for large ones.  The recipe will make about 16 large cupcakes.  I used the buttercream frosting here and added half a lemon with half a lemon’s zest.  It turned out quite nice, if I do say so myself!  I also opted to use a pre-made candy flower by Wilton’s, which I got from Michael’s.

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When my eldest daughter learned that I was going to be making cupcakes she insisted on helping.  It was quite hilarious how she helped me with the icing.  For every cupcake iced and flower she placed, she would then help herself to a small taste of icing.  And with each taste, she would exclaim “I love helping you make cupcakes mommy!  Mmmm!!!”  What a comedian!  Although, I must say, she was surprisingly exact in measuring the perfect amount of batter needed for cupcakes.  I may have to employ her services in the future.  Haha!

Anyways, the cupcakes were quite delicious and my youngest daughter was quite enthusiastic about the blowing out of the candles.  She actually blew the candle out too quickly the first time, requiring us to re-light them before we finished singing happy birthday.  And, she was singing happy birthday to herself for about 3 weeks straight. What a great age this is, toddlers are like little comedians!  Happy birthday my wonderful, funny, intelligent and daring girl!

Panda Party

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My daughter recently celebrated her fourth birthday.  As a part of her birthday, she asked if she could bring cupcakes for her classmates.  I don’t mind bringing goodies for the kids to celebrate a birthday.  I actually think it’s quite nice and fun for the kids to be able to celebrate something in school and I know that my daughter was so excited to turn four like all of her friends.

I wanted to make something special for her so I looked at my trusty pinterest and found the cutest pin of a panda cupcake.  The link didn’t work but the images were enough for me to be able to figure it out for the most part.  I didn’t have a lot of time so I decided to use a cake box mix and dress up the cupcakes really cute.  When my daughter saw the panda cupcakes I had started before she went to bed, she was very excited, exclaiming how cute they were.  When she woke up in the morning, she saw all of the panda cupcakes and excitedly said “Mommy, there are so many more cute pandas!”  She couldn’t wait to share them with her friends at school.  I hope it was a memorable celebration!

Buttercream frosting

1 C butter, softened

4 C confectioner’s sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1 T milk

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and beat until well incorporated.  If the mixture is too thick, add more milk.

Ingredients:

Buttercream frosting

Icing piping bag with a wide circular tip

small bowl of granulated sugar

semi-sweet chocolate chips

chocolate sprinkles

Instructions:

1. Bake chocolate cake batter in mini cupcake tins, as directed.

2. Using your icing piping bag, pipe the frosting onto a cupcake, as smooth as possible.  I piped from the edges and moved into the center and then piped extra icing in the center to really give the cupcake a rounder shape.

3. Taking the iced cupcake, roll the icing in the granulated sugar until completely covered.

4. Starting with the nose, place a chocolate chip sideways a little lower than the center of the cupcake.  Follow with two chips with points down as eyes and then two chips with flat side facing up as ears.

5. Using tweezers, place the chocolate sprinkles to form the mouth.

6. Using a very thin piping tip, squeeze small dots onto the eyes.

Voila!  You have cute little panda cupcakes that are fun to look at and yummy to eat!

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3 for 3

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My daughter just turned 3 years old! I cannot believe how fast time flies. It feels like just yesterday I was holding her in my arms for the first time and marveling at how perfect she was in my arms and how reliant she was on me for everything! Now, I can barely hold her and she’s become so independent.  Now, I don’t know about you, but many of my daughter’s friends were born around the same time as her.

We have officially reached birthday season! It’s always a little bit of a challenge to throw a birthday party that won’t conflict with two to three of her other friends. So, the moms of the 3 musketeers decided to throw a joint 3-year old birthday party, since many of their friends overlap. We didn’t have a particular theme, although we had decided on spring colors. When asked what she wanted to do for her birthday, my daughter said she wanted “purple ballerinas”. Huh. Is that right. Okay…..

So, purple ballerinas for her cupcakes it was!  I racked my brain for how to make a purple ballerina cupcake.  I thought “well, maybe I can get a cupcake topper?”  I searched for all sorts, like little doll toppers, ballerina toppers, etc.  Most of them were in pink , but I figured I could use purple cupcake liners and then use a pink topper and it would still be okay.  I finally settled on the following liners and edible cupcake toppers.  For the cupcake recipe, I decided to be a little different and go with a strawberry cupcake instead of a traditional vanilla or yellow cupcake.  I found a great recipe on Martha Stewart here and I opted for a very simple buttercream frosting recipe.

When my daughter found out I was making birthday cupcakes, she was very excited.  She helped me to decorate the cupcakes.  I made the cupcakes the night before and the day of the party, I made the icing, iced the cupcakes, and had her press on the toppers for the party.  She was very into it and especially loved helping us pack the cupcakes away as she would get icing on her hands and get to lick it all off.  Once they were packed and we got to the party venue, she immediately wanted to have a cupcake!  Well, I’m glad she was so excited.

The party was a big success!  I will have to write another post for it as there was so much going on. I’m sad to say we didn’t take a lot of pictures.  Seeing as how we had in excess of 20 children under the age of 5, it was a little bit hectic.  Well, you only turn 3 once!

 

 

Sweet Sounds Abound

So many of my friends have been having babies that I’ve been working non-stop to make a special gift for each one. I remember when I first had my daughter, I lamented not having any toys that made noise. I thought that something with music or something with a bell inside would have been nice, so we ended up getting a set of soft blocks with different sounds associated with them (bells, crinkle noises, rattles). I thought that it would be nice if I could somehow incorporate something like this into a meaningful gift for a baby.

The friend whose son I made these for is a great baker. She actually has her own blog with the most delectable-looking  baked goods. I salivate every time I see the things she’s making. Anyways, I thought that it would be so cute to make her son some soft block toys in the shape of cupcakes, being that she’s such an amazing baker!

I totally made this design up. I ended up with a set of four and each one has a different look. I used the Martha Stewart Lion Brand Extra-Soft Wool Blend because I liked the color choices. Also, I had to use a gauge that, when crocheted, would have stitches tight enough that the polyfill in the block wouldn’t be visible from the outside.  I ended up using a ‘G’ hook (4.0mm) so that the stitches would be even tighter.

It took a couple of tries before I got the result that I wanted.  This consisted of two pieces (cupcake top and the cup portion) that I had to join together and fill with polyfill and topped with a felt bead.  I also picked up some Japanese bells specially designed to be used for rattle toys.  It’s essentially a bell within a small plastic ball so that once it is inserted into whatever it’s going to live within, the fill doesn’t prevent the bell from making a jingling noise.  I got these at my small, local craft store, Fiber Notion.

These turned out really cute!  My daughter loved grabbing them and shaking them.  She even tried to eat them!  I don’t think she was fooled into thinking it was the real deal, since she sticks everything in her mouth at this age, but I found it encouraging.  Anyways, I hope the new owner has lots of fun with his new toys!

Sweets for the sweet

What better way to celebrate a baby birthday than mini cupcakes?  These are the perfect bite-sized treats and they are also easy for the baby to eat along with everyone!  How fun!

I ended up making a lemon cupcake with a lemon cream cheese frosting.  They were a perfect complement to the coming spring!  So fresh, with just a little tartness.  I love the freshness that comes with lemon flavors and it just seems to embody spring for me!

I adapted this recipe from a recipe I found on Weelicious.com, which if you don’t know, is a fabulous website full of baby-friendly and kid-friendly food and snack ideas.  Here is my spin on the recipe below:

Mini Lemon Cupcakes (Makes 54 Mini Cupcakes) – adapted from Weelicious’s Mini Vanilla Cupcakes

1 1/2 C all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 C unsalted butter, softened
3/4 C sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 C whole milk
1 tsp vanilla
juice from 1/2 a lemon and zest of one lemon

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl and set aside.
3. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium-high speed for 2 minutes or until light and fluffy.
4. Add the eggs one at a time and vanilla and beat on low speed until combined.
5. Add in the lemon juice and the lemon zest and stir.
6. Slowly add some of the flour mixture and then some of the milk, alternating until just combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as you go.
7. Pour the batter into mini muffin cups lined with paper or foil liners until 2/3 full.
8. Bake for 15 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted into the middle of the cupcake comes out clean.
9. Cool on a wire rack and frost.

*Refrigerate cupcakes after frosting

Cream Cheese Frosting (Makes about 1 C – enough to frost about 4 dozen if you don’t eat it all first)

4 oz cream cheese, softened
4 T (1/4 Cup) butter, softened
1 C confectioner’s sugar
1 tsp vanilla
juice from 1/2 lemon and zest from one lemon

1. Place the cream cheese and butter in a bowl and beat for 30 seconds on low to medium speed using a hand mixer.
2. Add the confectioner’s sugar and vanilla and lemon juice and zest and continue to beat for 1 minute or until frosting is smooth and creamy.
3. Frost the cupcakes and refrigerate until ready to serve.

I used an open star tip and worked a spiral from the outside in, then topped it with a blueberry or raspberry.  I also found these really fun mini cupcake cups here.  When buying these, be careful to select ones whose color won’t run.  The last thing you want is for your cupcakes to be dyed the color of the paper cups!  These cupcakes turned out very cute and were perfect for the occasion.  Plus they were super-simple!  Enjoy!

Everybody Polka….. dot dot dot….

Yesterday was the big day! We threw our daughter her very first birthday party and what a blast! It was small and intimate, just as we had planned, but it was also very exciting!

If you hadn’t guessed yet, the theme of the party was polka dots! When I was researching different ideas, I kept coming across polka dots for some reason. Actually, I found the balloons first and thought that they were so cool and just a little different from the normal single color balloons. As far as the color scheme, it’s so close to Easter that everything around me is pastel. I didn’t mind because I felt that this was appropriate for my mood and the party’s theme. I also liked the idea of mixing and matching colors to give the theme more dimensionality.

As I was looking around online and in stores, everything for this party seemed to start falling into place. I found this amazing wrapping paper that had all the colors I was working with, including polka dots! I thought this would be a great base to use for everything. You can see from my previous post that I used this as a background accent in creating the birthday banner.  We also used this to wrap up her presents and decorate the tablescape.

As I was searching for inspiration for the party theme, I came across this theme from Real Simple that really spoke to me.  I liked the combination of colors, as well as the simple and relaxed decor.  I took elements from this idea (a birthday banner with circles, which worked perfectly with my polka dot theme, balloons hung from the ceiling upside down) and applied them to our party.

The tableware was super fun!  I got all our plates, cups, napkins, etc. in all different colors of the theme to add a bit of whimsy and festiveness to the table, which would all rest on a white disposable tablecloth to act as a good background (easy clean-up, very important).  Also, I liked that all the plates and cups were circular and alluding to the polka dot theme.  Too bad I couldn’t find circular napkins!  Finally, what table setting isn’t complete with flowers?  Spring is in the air and tulips are aplenty!  I combined them with roses to create a cute little arrangement.  I will have a post on how to re-create this simple arrangement later on.

And finally, the food!  We were hosting a brunch, which is a whole culture unto itself here in NYC.  People live around brunch and you can be brunching all day long on the week-ends.  It’s such a great way to combine salty and sweet too.  Since there was a lot to do, we wanted food that we could prep ahead of time and still be okay to eat at room temperature.  Also, we wanted the food to be something our little one could enjoy.  I got a wonderful french toast recipe from one of my good friends who had us over for brunch at her place a little while back.  This would be our main.  From there, we decided to have a fruit salad, some oven-roasted potatoes, and some breakfast sausages.  Finally, for dessert would be the mini-cupcakes!

The cupcakes I put a lot of thought into.  I wanted to make cupcakes that were tasty yet didn’t have too much sugar since my daughter hasn’t been exposed to a lot of refined sugars.  I finally opted on a lemon cupcake with a lemon cream cheese frosting.  I will have a post that will give instructions on how to re-create the these cupcakes later.

So much went into this party and I can’t write about it all in one post, but I wanted to give you an overview of all the elements!  I encourage you all to throw a theme party!  Happy party planning!

What you need for the decor:

polka-dot latex balloons

birthday banner

plates, cups, napkins and tablecloth from a local party store

wrapping paper in line with your theme

curling ribbon to hang balloons from the ceiling

flower arrangement