Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Nancy Drew Party Invitations

Little K turns 9 years old in just a few weeks. Yikes - that's hard to believe. She's no longer a little girl, but turning into a young lady - with firm opinions of her own - and she's not afraid to fight for them.

That means the days of me being able to plan whatever kind of Birthday Party I want are gone...she is actively involved in all the decision making. This is not easy for me, but I'm learning to let go. It is - after all - HER party. I may have to start throwing parties for MY own Birthday.

It was agreed - that this years theme would be a Nancy Drew Mystery Party. She has had a sleepover party the past few years, and wanted one again, but I was able to convince her to do an afternoon party instead. It's less work for me - and she can invite more friends. We're working on compromising - so far, so good.

The invitations have been mailed - now we are waiting for responses to see who can come. There were even a few boys invited this year. Oh my - I'm really not sure I'm ready for her to grow up just yet.

Each guest was mailed a File Folder with their "character" name (chosen from the Books - of course).

There will be a Mystery that needs to be solved, and the guests will be invited to help crack the case.

The Folder is filled with lots of important details about the case.

A Note from Nancy Drew herself (AKA - Little K).

The Secret Password (written in Invisible Ink). No one will be admitted to the Crime Scene unless they know it. The invisible ink is actually just lemon juice. When you add heat to the paper (with an iron or light bulb) the writing turns brown. Hopefully the guests will be able to figure that one out on their own.

The Ransom Note from the Kidnapper.

Everything was mailed in a Top Secret Envelope.

We're working on the Decorations, and setting up Clues to the Mystery. I had grand plans on making a vintage Nancy Drew style dress, but I don't think that's going to happen. The cake has to be made, and an old fashioned lunch menu created. Lots more to be done - so I better get busy.

Stay Tuned - More Fun to Come.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Wedding Cake Topper

I have been commissioned! Well, not exactly - but that's how I would like to see it.

I was contacted a few weeks ago by a "bride to be" who had seen some of the clothespin dolls I made on my blog. She sent me an e-mail asking if I would be willing to make a Bride and Groom Cake Topper for her Wedding. Did you hear me - for her Wedding!

Shock - Oh, the pressure. I'm perfectly fine making them as gifts - but for an actual paying customer - and for an event as momentous as a Wedding. I was honored, but I had to think about that for a bit.

The conversation has actually come up several times before. I figured this must have been a sign that I was meant to make a Bride and Groom. I decided to take the plunge. I responded to her that I would be willing...but with several points of understanding:

- I have never made a Bride or Groom before - she had full right of refusal if she wasn't happy with the results - there had to be enough lead time to find a different topper if needed -

And so - I got started. I asked for all kinds of details about the wedding, her dress, what they looked like, flowers, colors, clothing details and more.

She sent me a link to see the
dress (style 1409) she will be wearing.

And even a photo of the two of them so I could match skin tone, hair and eye color.

The colors of their wedding are Plum and Lavender.

She will be wearing her hair down, but I had to take some creative license with that one, and made a side swept pony. It would have been so much easier if she had short hair and would be wearing a veil.

I was so excited to send her pictures of the completed topper. I think they couldn't be cuter, and I had a blast making them. The Groom was actually not as hard as I thought.

Here is where things start to get a little strange. After weeks of pleasant and timely communication - as soon as I sent her the pictures of the couple - I never heard from her again.

I waited a week - sent another follow up e-mail - still nothing. Zilch - Nada - Zip - Not a Word.

My first fear was that something terrible had happened - maybe an accident? A Family Emergency? I certainly hope not.

There could be any number of reasons she didn't respond:

- It was a Scam - Some kind of a set up - Didn't like what I made - Reached the "Bridezilla" stage of wedding planning - Shocked at the price - Got cold feed and called off the wedding - Decided to make one herself - Parents refused to pay for it -

The truth is, I will probably never know. While my ego may have been bruised a bit if she told me she wasn't happy with the results, I would have understood - that was our agreement, and my first concern is that the bride be happy. I am disappointed, however, that she never contacted me at all to advise she didn't want to go through with our agreement.

The good news is - I'm thrilled with the results. I think they are so cute, I had a wonderful time making them, and I'm happy to have had the opportunity to push myself. Now I know - I can!

Plus - Little K has two cute new peg dolls she can play with - added bonus!

Sunday, February 14, 2010


We are all shaped and fashioned by what we Love ~ JOHANN WOLFGANG VON GOETHE

I'll be spending my Valentines Day cleaning the house. Not my favorite thing to do, but it's looking pretty messy, and starting to bug me, so I'll feel good when it's all done.
But the special treat for the day is that Dear Hubby and Little K have decided to cook dinner tonight. A real dinner - not just frozen pizza or mac and cheese. They already have the needed kitchen utensils laid out on the counter (mini food processor, cutting board, measuring bowl, whisk). I have no idea what they are planning. I haven't noticed any cook books sitting out. They made their shopping list first thing and are at the store now getting their ingredients.

The last time my husband cooked for me was 19 years ago, right after we were first married. He made chicken enchiladas. It took him all day - and when I came home from work he was dressed in a black suit with a towel over his arm ready to seat me at the table, and serve dinner. I didn't have the heart to tell him I don't really like Mexican Food that much.
That dinner was delicious. Not because it tasted good (I can't really remember), but because it was something so far out of his comfort zone, and quite difficult for him to do, and he did it anyway to make me happy. And it did.

I think that might have been when we decided on our current domestic agreement - I cook - he cleans.

I'm excited to see what they come up with - and I know it will be delicious...because it is made with L O V E!

Happy Valentines Day. I hope you all get to do something you Love today.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Valentine Bentos

I've been a good Mom this week and managed to pack Little K's lunches filled with pink, red, hearts and (of course) lots of Love for Valentines Week.

We were out of bread - so the Peanut Butter and Nutella heart shaped sandwich is cut from an English Muffin (now I have to find something else to make for breakfast).

This one was planned to be mostly RED as part of Debra's great
B.O.M.B. challenge over at Hapa Bento.

We were finishing up Little K's Fortune Cookie Class Valentines, so I had Chinese Take out on my mind - don't you just love this adorable heart decorated velum Take Out Box (found it at Michaels).

Mostly Pink with a few selected heart shapes. Funny
story about who ended up actually eating this one.

A flower made of heart petals, and strawberries cut into heart shapes.

St. Patrick's Day is coming up next - but I don't think I'll be doing too many All Green Bentos - although that flower made from heart petals does look a lot like a lucky 4 Leaf Clover....well, maybe just one St. Patrick's Day themed Bento.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Fortune Cookie Class Valentines

There are some really adorable Valentine Cards available in the stores, but I just can't help myself. Valentines Day is another excuse to get out the crafting supplies.

I think original credit for this idea goes to Martha Stewart - but I saw it here - and knew it was perfect for Little K to make as Valentines for her 3rd Grade Class.

We were making 33 Fortune Cookies, so I purchased a total of 6 sheets of Craft Foam (2 each of white, pink and red). That gave me enough for the cookies we needed, as well as some "mistakes". I read that Martha's original version was made with Felt, but in this case, I think the craft foam is better for holding shape.

Draw and cut 4 inch circles out of craft foam. We traced a large 29 oz. tomato can, but you could just as easily use a die cut. If you are cutting by hand, be sure to cut just inside your marked line (you don't want any of the pen mark to show after cutting).
Cut assorted ribbon (to match the foam colors) slightly shorter than the diameter of the foam circles (in this case, a little less than 4 inches). Grosgrain ribbon - 3/8 inch wide - works best. Light colored or sheer ribbons don't hide the glue or wire as well (we learned that the hard way).
Cut pieces of 19 gauge wire slightly shorter than the length of the ribbons (in this case, approx 3 3/4 inches). Straighten the cut wire pieces until they are flat.

Now for the fun part. Assembly. This was the first time Little K has used a glue gun. It was a bit difficult for her to control the amount of glue - so some of the ribbons were a little gobby, but once they are folded into the cookie shape, you can hardly notice.
1) Place a thin bead of hot glue across the center (diameter) of the foam circle. (I lightly drew a line down the center to make it easier for Little K to follow).

2) Carefully place the wire on top of the glue, and add another bead of hot glue along the wire.

3) Quickly add the ribbon - pressing down with your fingers to secure the wire and ribbon to the foam circle.

4) You will end up with these cute little decorated rounds all ready to be formed into foam fortune cookies.

We printed assorted fortunes on the computer, cut them into strips to be inserted in the cookie.

- You are One Smart Cookie - Something Tasty will Come your Way -

- Your Good Deed will be Rewarded with a Treat - Something Delicious is in your Future -

- You are a Sweet Friend to Me -

Once the fortune strip is placed on the foam circle - fold it in half, and press in with your finger along the wired edge to form the fortune cookie shape. The wire keeps the cookie closed, but also allows it to be opened and closed over and over and still keep it's shape.

If the fortune cookie is large enough - you can even place small candy treats inside before they are folded. Ours were pretty close to actual size, so we added a few Chocolate Bliss candies (I found a heart shaped version) to the containers.

Teachers will get theirs in cute little velum take out containers with clorful paper shred. The rest of the class will receive colored paper bags decorated with punched name tags and ribbons.

Little K had a lot of fun choosing just the right fortune for each of her class mates.
Now, she not only knows how to use a glue gun, but wire cutters as well. Watch out world...there will be no stopping my little Craft Diva now.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Crock Pot Stuffed Peppers

I've been using my trusty Crock Pot a lot lately. I love coming home to a house that smells like home cooking, but I have to admit, all my slow cooker recipes seem to fall into one of two categories:

Some kind of Meat Stew
Chicken in a "cream of soup" Sauce

There are hundreds of variations on these same basic recipes, and I love them all....but was looking for something different that didn't seem like it was cooked in the Crock Pot.

April to the rescue. My friend (April) sent me this recipe for Stuffed Peppers. It just so happened that I had peppers growing in the garden (yep - we can do that here in Arizona in the winter).

They are green bell peppers, but I kept them on the plant extra long and some ripened to this lovely orange shade. Aren't they pretty.

After a few hours in the Crock Pot, stuffed with ground meat and seasoning - they came out looking like I had slaved in the kitchen.

I'm actually not a fan of peppers (I think it's a texture thing), but my husband likes them - so this dinner was really for him. I'll admit, I didn't eat the pepper shell, but the inside meat stuffing was delicious, and tasted wonderful with the flavoring from being cooked in the pepper. I served it with mashed potatoes (all the better to sop up that yummy tomato gravy).


5 Bell Peppers
1/2 lb Lean Ground Beef
1 Packet Dry Soup/Seasoning Mix (Onion or any flavor of choice)
1 11 0z Can Whole Corn (drained)
1 T Worcestershire Sauce
1 T Prepared Mustard
2 10 3/4 oz Cans Condensed Tomato Soup

Slice tops off each pepper. Remove and discard core, seeds and membrane. In a bowl, combine beef, dry seasoning mix and corn. Spoon mixture into prepared peppers. Stand peppers up in slow cooker. Combine Worcestershire sauce, mustard and undiluted canned soup. Pour over peppers. cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours or until peppers are tender.

Note: Too much fat in the ground beef and it will pool in the bottom of the pepper - so lean is best. Don't be afraid to try unusual seasoning mixes. I was out of onion, and used a spinach dip that was delicious.