Saturday, June 20, 2015

Red, White & Blue Independence Day Celebration

My youngest son was born super close to US Independence Day. And as you can imagine, there's always a lot of social gatherings happening around this date.  A lot of his and our friends are out of town enjoying their Summer break elsewhere. And for those who remain in town, there's always a big 4th of July celebration or fireworks viewing already lined up (which was our case). So we have decided to properly celebrate our little man a little later in the month with a party of his own, but had a mini "Stars & Stripes" 3rd birthday celebration at home during the holiday weekend. 
sweets and beverages table
 I am so in love with my picnic-style beer garden table!

This yummy berry trifle is super easy to make! Recipe at the end of this post.
 My favorite local honey comes in these reusable glass jars perfect for some homemade ice tea
 I made custom Mason-jar paper lids to cover the "glasses" to shoo away any thirsty bugs...
 …and punched out holes just large enough to slip a paper straw in!

For this small but fun-filled party we invited our neighbors over and let all of our kids play free in the backyard. We also kept ourselves busy chatting, sipping some cold beer and munching on whole wheat pretzels and root vegetable chips while waiting for grilled “veggie dogs” and corn on the cob. Yum! 

 Vegan dogs with homemade chipotle ketchup and grain mustard

 After playing in the water for a while (on this super hot Summer day!), the kids were ready for dessert – raspberry sorbet, blueberry muffins and the fantastic “patriotic” trifle.

 Our guests left home with silver-coated Jordan almonds packed inside custom-made little packages. 
I hope you all enjoy and get inspired by these pictures and have a happy Independence Day!!
Here is the Martha Stewart recipe I used for this super easy, delicious and patriotic berry "pavê", which is how we call a dessert trifle in my beloved Brasil.

Red, White, and Blue Berry Trifle

  • 1 1/2 pounds raspberries (5 cups)
  • 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice (from 1 large orange)
  • 10 ounces mascarpone cheese (1 1/3 cups)
  • 1 1/4 cups cold heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Fine salt
  • 20 to 24 ladyfingers (from a 7-ounce package), broken into 1-inch pieces
  • 3/4 pound blueberries (2 1/2 cups)
DirectionsIn a medium bowl, combine raspberries with 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar and orange juice. With the back of a fork, lightly mash berries to release their juices and let sit 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, stir together mascarpone and 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar until smooth. Whisk in cream, vanilla, and pinch of salt and whisk until soft peaks form, about 4 minutes.
Cut one or two pieces parchment 1 inch taller than side of an 8-inch springform pan and line inside of pan. Place half the ladyfingers in pan and top with half the raspberry mixture. With a small offset or rubber spatula, spread half the whipped cream over berries. Tap pan gently on counter to remove air bubbles. Repeat with remaining ladyfingers, raspberry mixture, and whipped cream.
Top with blueberries and refrigerate until whipped cream is stiff and cookies have softened, about 3 hours (or, tightly covered with plastic, up to 3 days). To serve, unmold trifle and peel away parchment.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

"All You Need is Love" Casual Valentine's Day Brunch - plus freebies!!

If you like this collection, you can get it here (under the "SHOP" tab) or directly at my Etsy store here. And don't forget to grab your freebies at the end of this post!

This was a small get together to celebrate love on Valentine's Day last year. We had just moved into a new place while our belongings remained in a storage on the other side of the country. I decided to host a simple and casual brunch to bring our family together and to lift our moods. I quickly made the party printables, got yummy cupcakes, brewed some freshly ground coffee, cracked a few eggs for French omelets and toasted slices of homemade bread. We all had a great time and felt ready for a new start together! 
The sweets table set up. The big frame holding the "LOVE" letters and the pennant banner is from an inexpensive old picture I found at Goodwill.

Tin mailboxes found at Target.

 Be my Valentine? 
I love the simplicity and yet, boldness of this display. The cutout hearts at the end of the skewer make it look like an arrow cutting through the deep red apple.
Wine glass "lamp shades". Use with a clean burning soy or palm wax tea light candle, or better yet, insert a battery-operated flameless tea light inside the glass.
 Another use for the cutout hearts
A closer look at the water bottle label: "Love Facts"
You can find this printables collection at my shop here ("SHOP" tab) or here's a direct link to my Etsy store here.  And, as promised, here's my free gift to you. Free invitations and a cute "love chart" for free download. Just follow the links below or click directly on the images. Please leave a comment with questions, suggestions or share pictures of your own celebration using the free printables. Thanks!
You can download your free fill-in invitation here 
And here's the link for your free "Love Chart" (or just sick on the image above). 

I hope you have fun with these freebies and enjoy a wonderful Valentine's Day.  Love is all around, we just need to open our eyes and see the beauty that abounds :-)


Saturday, November 2, 2013

Little Astronaut Birthday Party

My sister and I live in different countries and dream about styling a party together. She's a graphic designer and her little astronaut printables collection was my inspiration for my son's birthday party, as well as a wonderful collaboration experience. It was also a fun concept for a 2-year-old boy party! To coordinate with her designs I used green, blue and silver throughout the decoration as well as a little pop of orange. I added a touch of green and silver polka dots - from the table cloth (a piece of fabric atop the always reliable white cloth) to the napkins, drinking straws and favor boxes. 
The invitation from Casos & Coisas da Bonfa.
The Sweets Table

The highlight, or "pièce de résistance" of the fête's décor was the solar system planets made out of paper lanterns (as you can see in the previous post), scraps of tissue paper and other supplies I already had at home. I moved our dining table in front of our large windows so the dark curtain panels could be the backdrop to many silver shinny stars.
For the sweets table I made "green alien" cake pops with a pistachio buttercream (which was absolutely delicious!) and whole wheat cookies shaped as rocket ships, stars and the number 2. I also served astronaut ice cream drops and the same freeze dried fruit that astronauts take along on space missions. 
Freeze dried fruit from Trader Joe's and Whole Foods - raspberry, blueberry, banana and mandarin oranges.
I knew I wanted a simple but remarkable cake, and I got just that. I ordered a "green moon" crater cake from Sweet City Desserts and added paper cutouts using my sister's designs. 
 Homemade whole wheat sugar cookies
Pistachio "green alien"cake pops. You can find many cake pops (or cake truffles) recipes out there, so I'm not re-posting one here (unless you want me to, leave a note under "comments", please!). The basics of making a cake pop is to have a crumbled cake (please take the time and bake your own cake instead of using a mix from a box! For mine I used white whole wheat flour and raw sugar for added fiber and nutrition - no one can tell the difference!) plus some sort of "binding" agent, such as a frosting or filling - buttercream, cream cheese frosting, ganache, caramel, fruit jams, nut butters, brigadeiro, doce de leite, etc.  Here I used a basic butercream recipe and added pistachio flour (ground pistachios) to the mix. It made all the difference, the flavor was fantastic!! For the final coat and to seal the "truffle", you'll need chocolate pellets or wafers (the more commonly used are candy melts, which are basically colored sugar and fats such as shortening. So if you want a healthier alternative, use organic fair trade chocolate - such as Dagoba chocolate drops - instead.)
Rock sugar candy
Organic fruit lollipops; silver and white chocolate-covered Jordan almonds;
whole wheat cookies; and "moon rocks" key lime cookies

"Adopt an Alien" station: homemade green peppermint-scented play dough was used to create "aliens" by shaping them into little balls and adding assorted plastic goggly eyes. All looking forward for going to a good home :-)
The little ones loved to create their own aliens as well! For the play dough recipe, check out last year's party here
The drinks station: lime water and green juice - a mix of green grapes, green apple, melon, lime and other green fruits. 

 I finally got to hang my adorable star paper lanterns purchased at San Francisco's Chinatown - they went behind the food buffet. Some of the food pictured: tortellini pasta on a stick, biscoito polvilho (tapioca puffs), Catupiry chicken (chicken and cheese gratin), mini crab cakes on tasting spoons with chipotle aïoli, popcorn, pão de queijo (mini tapioca-cheese bread), grissini and whole wheat pretzel sticks with mustard.
We just have to have this treat at every kids' party!
I served popcorn and tapioca puffs (biscoito polvilho) inside ice cream cups with plastic dome lids, since they had a flying saucer quality to them that I just loved!

Embellished wood spoons - in case you've missed the previous post.

Adults and kids alike had fun at our "Out of this World" Photo Booth, stocked with funny props, including astronaut and alien paper masks, inflatable hugging aliens, alien sunglasses and a space helmet.  We had one last year too, check it out here!
Here's a close-up of the custom paper masks - they weren't originally included in Katia's printables kit, but I just had to have them, so my superstar sister designed them for me :-)
Finally, for the kids' complete bliss, we rented a rocket ship moon bounce from All Bounce Parties and had a space module tent on the backyard so they could burn all that sugar play all they wanted. And so they did!
 Space module tent

A nice cold bucket filled with 100% real fruit juice rocket ice pops.
Solar System Wall Decals
Little astronaut reviewing his "astronaut manual"...

 Is he an alien going undercover as a US astronaut? 
 Watch out!! A space man attacking a rocket ship cookie!
As party favors, kids took home the play dough, recycled crayons (with instructions on how to make them - see below), custom coloring pages and some of the hugging aliens. 

Astronaut ice cream drops
Cute customized aluminum boxes were available for guests to take home the delicious cake and other treats.

So, that's it. I said I would go very basic and do a much smaller and "no-frills"party this year, due to soooooooo many projects lately - two big moves, career changes, kid starting school, mom starting school, and the list goes on... I tried to keep things simple, and gave myself permission to cut many project ideas that kept popping up on my mind. But I just couldn't resist on some of them and did more than I anticipated.  It was all worth it, and one of the best parties I put together (at least in terms of fun - my kids LOVED it!!), especially considering the short time and modest budget.

Thanks for visiting and have a fantastic week, everyone!


For more details and a little "behind the scenes" of the party, go to the previous post here.

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