Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Minnie Mouse Birthday Party

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Sweet Minnie Mouse
Eleanor's 2nd Birthday Party

Pink, red, polka-dots and doilies!
This post is also a bit of a throw back, but way too good to miss!

I made the cupcakes and frosting at home and ordered the Minnie Mouse fondant toppers from a shop on Etsy.  I also made a special cake just for Ellie using 2 6" spring form pans.


Okay, I'll admit it.  My favorite guilty pleasure dessert is Rice Crispy Treats.  I made them as anyone normally would and used a Mickey Mouse cookie cutter directly in the pan.  Then I inserted a polka dot paper straw, slipped it in a cellophane bag and tied it with a pretty ribbon.

In keeping with the theme and wanting to add some healthy snacks to the mix I made some fruit and cheese skewers and watermelon hearts.  The watermelon was as simple as slicing the melon and using a heart shaped cookie cutter.  Then I used the "scraps" of the watermelon and some mild Jack cheese, and strawberries alternated on a bamboo skewer.  I also served a big bowl of "bow-tie" pasta mac-n-cheese style.  Gotta add some more bow action in keeping with the theme, right?

A kid friendly drink station was made from a large red bucket bought from the bargain section at Target and filled with organic milk boxes in strawberry, white and chocolate milk; along with pitchers of lemonade and iced tea.  Paper cups in pink and white with paper polka dot straws in pink/white/red finish off the look perfectly.  The paper straws were ordered from an Etsy store- there are many options out there, and inexpensive too!

Other decorations were also simple and very inexpensive! Pink paper lanterns were bought for around $1 each in the bargain section at Target, again.  Red pom-pom yarn was bought on clearance at Michael's craft store for $2. Pink plastic tablecloths and doilies finished the tables. We picked up a few balloons from the party store and splurged around $8 for the big Minnie Mouse face balloon.  Also from the party store we bought a few favors- Minnie ears and party blowers.  My favorite decoration addition was recycled from a previous party we had thrown see the Ladybug Party here!
Little red buckets ($1 bin at Target again- gotta love it!), filled with sugar (for weight), with pink polka dot pinwheels, pink and white lolipops and a paper Minnie Mouse cut out.

All in all the party was a smashing success!  
I hope some of my ideas have inspired you.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Homemade! 3 flavors, Lara Bar-style

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As we are updating our kitchen, one of everyone's favorite additions is the pantry.  We've never had a real pantry before!  The kids (at ages 2 and 4) feel so independent when they can open the door and help themselves to a snack.  Knowing this, I have stocked the shelves at toddler level with snacks that I don't mind them helping themselves to- even when I am not looking.  Their shelves hold things like sunflower seeds and nuts, raisins, banana chips, fruit leather, and "baby food" packets of fruit/vegetable smoothie types.  I love that even when given a choice, my kids will usually prefer snacks a Lara bar, Cliff bar or Z bar over a candy bar!

I am a firm believer in making as much of the food we eat from scratch as I possibly can, and every day I get a little closer to eliminating our dependence on processed foods.  To clarify my view of processed food, I heard once in a documentary "processed foods are any food that goes through a building before it gets to you".  This statement really hit home for me, and a light bulb went off over my head! Such a simple truth that had never occurred to me.  So here we go, one more step in reducing the amount of buildings between my family and our food...

This style of snack bars really couldn't be easier to make!  I wish I had known this years ago- I will never pay $$ for the store-bought ones again!
  • Combine ingredients in food processor beginning with nuts/seeds, then fruit, then lemon juice (driest or hardest to softest).
  • Press firmly in a glass baking dish (metal would probably work just as well, but I don't have one so I can't attest to how easily the bars would remove).
  • Chill and cut out. I only chilled them because I was afraid that they wouldn't hold the "bar" shape.  I am not entirely sure this step is necessary, but we were happy with the results!
  • That's it!

  • 1 cup almonds
  • 1 cup dried blueberries
  • 1/2 cup banana chips
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

  • 1 cup almonds
  • 1/2 cup coconut flakes
  • 1 1/2 cup dates
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

  •  1/2 cup pistachios
  • 1 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup coconut
  • 1 1/2 cup dates
  • 1/2 dried cranberries
  • 1/2 dried goji berries
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice