When Fall Gives You Apples, Make Apple Cider!

You know the old saying when life gives you lemons, make lemonade, but what about when the fall gives you apples? You make apple cider of course!

And that’s just what we did. Well, ok we didn’t exactly make it from scratch, but I would like to try that ONE of these days (like a thousand  other things I’d like to try!).  Every year, the kids & I set up a lemonade stand at the end of the summer when everyone is back in town, usually just after school starts. It gives them something fun to look forward to and it prolongs our summer vibes. This start of the school year was particularly busy so by the time we found a weekend to have our Last Licks Lemonade Stand, it was quite chilly! That’s when we dreamt up our apple cider stand.

Thanks to some of my fave spots, Party City & Target, I was able to put some super cute items together and make it look like our very own farm stand. Maybe  I’m exaggerating just a bit,  but it did turn out really cute and autumn- esque. I found the cute little wagon at Target for under $15 and picked up the hay at Party City. I love how perfectly the hay bale fit into the wagon like it was meant to be. Love those inspired decorated moments. They don’t always come so when they do, I really appreciate it especially as there was so little time to pull this all together in a day.

We had our beverage dispenser already from Amazon and decided to just keep the cider at room temp. Everyone was happy with that and we didn’t have to worry about anyone burning themselves. Next year we might get fancy and put some cider in a large insulated pot or thermos. You can always do that if you prefer to serve it warm. I found the cutest little fake painted pumpkins at Target, the festive fall leaf napkins and baggies at Party City along with some cups and paper straws inspired by the colors of fall. We already had the cream tablecloth from Party City from last year.  We put it all out on our tried & true Ikea little kids table and brought down the chairs for when the little workers need a break. Did I mention they take them often, cider and donuts included!?

If you know me by now, I can’t miss an opportunity to dress them in this cute theme. My daughter’s dress and cute brown boots are from Primark and her hat is from Target. The whole outfit is under $50!  My son’s pullover is from H&M. And me? I have on an old sweater and boots. It’s all about them!

My little ones always help to make the sign themselves and we printed up a sign to let friends nd neighbors know half of the proceeds will go to a charity we chose. We always match the amount as well. We choose a new one every year. Most years, it’s one for children because children helping children. What’s sweeter and kinder than that? I take the other half of the proceeds and pay my kiddos for their hard work (and for not eating ALL of the donuts!) and they love the feeling of earning money for themselves.  It’s a fun family activity, we raise money for a children’s charity, we get so see so many of our wonderful friends and neighbors, and they earn money to buy something special for themselves. It’s a no-brainer and a win win all around!

I really recommend trying one if you haven’t already, whether it be lemonade & cookies, apple cider & donuts, or maybe even hot cocoa and Santa cookies! We may just have to try a hot chocolate stand this winter ourselves. You can put a cute, fun stand together in a short time if you hit the right stores and keep it sweet (and cute of course) but simple. If you try it, come back and let me know! I’d love to see some of your pics too. Happy fall friends!

Garden Party Cupcakes- Bugs & Butterflies

With spring in full bloom and summer around the bend, thought it would be a great time to share how to make these adorable ladybug and butterfly cupcakes (inspired by Martha Stewart), for an upcoming celebration, be it a garden, kid’s birthday party, or even a sweet outdoor baby shower. Honestly, you don’t even need a reason other than ‘tis the season and because they’re so super cute! 

The how to:

Ingredients

Your favorite cupcakes (from scratch -my fave recipe coming soon- or from the box- Duncan Hines is my go to boxed when in a pinch).

Vanilla (and chocolate frosting if you like)– again, you can make from scratch which is easier than you might think (see my delicious, easy peasy vanilla frosting below) or go with store bought.

White chocolate or yogurt covered small pretzels

Mini m&m’s

Gumdrops

Black string licorice

Food coloring

Pastry bags and tips (or can use plastic ziploc type bags ans can snip a small hole in them if you don’t have).

Assembly

Separate vanilla frosting into bowls and tint them different colors. Here I made light green, yellow, pale pink, light blue, and left some white. I also used the chocolate for some bugs as well.

For ladybugs-

Slice the cupcake tops off of the cupcakes with a serrated knife. Slice in half.

Frost the flat top of cupcakes.

Place the sliced halves back on the cupcake a little part with their top point touching (to look like wings above).

Frost the halves/ wings with desired color and then pipe the outline of the wings and then some dots on the wings or any decoration you desire. Add a gumdrop head and little antennae by making little holes in the gumdrop and pushing the strings of licorice into them.

For butterflies-

Frost the non-sliced cupcakes and affix two white pretzels to the top with frosting, to resemble wings (like above). Pipe small dots of frosting between the pretzels for the body ( or just use m&m’s id easier). Add a mini m&m for the head and stick small pieces of licorice into the frosting for the antennae.

*I’m all about substitutions if you don’t have certain items, so don’t let fancy things like pastry bags and tips stop or scare you from making these cute treats or any others for that matter. Where there’s a will, there’s a way and you can always modify to make it work for you.

I like to serve them on fake grass because it ups the cute factor.

Please let me know if you do try them and share how they came out with me! Would love to know.

Frosting Recipe

Easy Peasy Vanilla Frosting-

Two sticks softened butter

4 -4 1/2 cups of confectioner’s sugar

1/2 cup milk

2 tsp vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

Beat butter in mixing bowl until smooth and creamy, about two minutes. Add a cup or two cups of sugar at a time, with a pinch of salt, add some milk, alternating until the frosting is creamy, smooth and thick enough to frost with. I beat oh medium for about two minutes to really whip it up and make it creamy delicious! Nothing quite like homemade frosting. Yum!

Dairy free version coming soon!

 

 

 

Tea Party for Littles-(aka Our Royal Wedding Celebration)

I’ll admit it! We got completely swept up in the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle and just could not help but celebrate along with them (and the rest of the world)! What I loved about this royal wedding is what so many of us were drawn to, I think, besides the obvious: cheeky adorable bachelor prince meets the woman of his dreams, an American, bi-racial, beautiful, lovely, charitable minded woman with what seems to be a bit of a kooky family (I can relate to that part)! She may have not grown up with a royal pedigree, but her and her beautiful mother were as graceful as any queen or royal I’ve ever seen.

I think it gave so many of us the sense that anything is possible. I couldn’t wait to show my  daughter what a real princess was like. From her solo walk down the first half of the aisle, to the American pastor that gave an impassioned speech, this was a royal wedding for the books. It was transformative in so many ways and I was very happy to celebrate it with my family, especially my little girl  who like so many other little girls, is enamored by princesses. Meghan, or shall I say the Duchess of Sussex, is the loveliest example of a real life one.

I grew up with Princess Diana who was in headlines on a weekly basis, and grew to really admire her and appreciate all of her charitable work and kindness. If you grew up during my time, I’m sure your heart broke for those boys when they lost their beloved “mum.”  As a mother myself now, it feels so even more and this seems like it would be one of her most special, proud days. There is so much about that cheeky Prince Harry that reminds me of her!

For our little tea party, which would also make a sweet birthday celebration, much of what we used was what we could find around our home. I loved the idea of also introducing my kids to some new(ish) foods from a different country. The more you expose them, the more curious and wiling they are to try different thingsFull disclosure though: We didn’t have any tea! I know, I know, that’s absurd for a tea party but she didn’t want any, and let’s be honest, at this age, it’s all about the tea set. Who cares if there’s water, juice or anything in there at all. They have all they need, their imagination.

We did buy some delicious scones from Whole Foods, a lovely variety of blueberry lemon, maple walnut and chocolate chip though. Since we didn’t drink tea, I felt the need to add a bit more authenticity (I remember my first tea well at Picadilly Circus) so I found some proper clotted cream to accompany the sconesThough we didn’t drink tea, we made tea sandwiches. I made egg salad and watercress, as well as cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches (more often they’re made with butter but my kids love their cream cheese) and they went over fairly well. The egg salad wasn’t as popular with my kids, but they do  love cucumbers. For a kids party, I’d say don’t worry about staying authentic to proper tea sandwiches and just make them what they’ll eat. Anything goes and if you cut them into diagonal shapes, they still look the part.

My favorite part of our tea party were the sweet sugar cookie crowns we made. We cut out sugar cookies in the shape of a crown, added some jam, topped it with another cookie and sprinkled on confectioners sugar. I’m so thankful to the beautiful The Kittchen blog for this genius idea. They came out so pretty and royally delicious!  You can find the original recipe here https://thekittchen.com/how-to-make-crown-cookies/

We toasted the beautiful couple with my fave, Lorina’s sparkling lemonade, and added raspberries for an extra pop of pretty color.The only activity, besides watching this gorgeous wedding, was making fascinator hats out of paper plates. Super inexpensive, so easy (only using what we already had around our home) and so fun. Of course my little princess only wanted to wear her crown though, but I loved the way my fascinator turned out. I felt quite like the Brit! It makes such a cute tea party activity for little ones (and big ones alike).

We looked around our place for cute bits and pieces, and scraps from other items, found some doilies and ribbon and got to work taping, gluing and stapling it into a fascinator made out of the Target paper plates we were going to use for our tea party. We used some ribbon, tulle from an old little homemade tutu, feathers from an old art project and voila, a fascinator! Of course no tea party is complete without fresh flowers and when I found out Meghan’s favorite was the same as mine, it was a no-brainer. Peonies! We decorated a bit with a pink tassle garland from a previous party and we were all set. Sweet & simple, proving that you can have a lovely little celebration and create fun memories with your kids without too much fuss and without spending much money.

Cheers to the Duke & Duchess of Sussex! I look forward to seeing their love continue to grow and all the charitable good they’ll bring to the world.

Thanks to this guy who was game for taking photos and also got into the spirit of things by dressing the part aka as grabbing my beach hat and an old jacket of his. He may or may not have had sweats on through.

My boys wanted the sweet treats of course  and watched the wedding (my younger son was totally mesmerized by it all-sssh, don’t tell him I told you!), but they had no interest in dressing the part. But here they are in all their dirty tee glory.

Admiring the spread and wondering where to start first.

 

 

 

 

 

Cookies first of course!

What kind of princess licks her white gloved fingers? Only the best kind!

Some more fun shots from our tea celebration:

Being her silly cheeky self-

Dad got in on the action! He couldn’t resist.

So fun to have a little girl who’s into all of this with me. We adore her. Can you tell?

Hope you’ll get to enjoy an English tea party with your own little crew one day. I think it’s great for boys and girls alike and for the record, if I had  pushed a little bit, my younger boy would have been into dressing up with us too.

Tata for now dahlings!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Throw a Kid’s Spring Picnic -Indoors!

Happy spring my friends though if you live you anywhere that’s not particularly warm all year round, you’re probably craving some sunshine, green grass, pretty flowers and to finally get outdoors! Spring doesn’t seem to have sprung just yet where we are, though a good friend just reminded me that spring is actually rain, snow, sun and warmth, all off the above! She’s right, but nonetheless, we have been seriously sunshine and color deprived here and need to inject some of those happy vibes into our life right about now!

If you feel the same, here’s an idea: Have an indoor picnic! I guarantee it’ll give you that little pick me up and your kids will think you’re a genius! Not sure who loved it more, me or the kids. It’s easy and super fun and with just a little prep time, you’ll be off picning in no time.

First thing’s first! You’ll need a little something to sit on and to spread all the yummy food and treats on. It could be a picnic blanket, or perhaps an old sheet  (checks or flowers add to the picnic feel), but anything will work. We happened to have a small area rug from Ikea that we got for our daughter’s Moana birthday party a few months back. So happy we could use it again here for our indoor picnic.

We found the absolute cutest flower paper plates from my favorite paper goods party company, Meri Meri. Loved how they complimented the “grass.” Next, we needed some real blooms (what’s spring without them!?!) and because I’m at Target at least once a week, I came across this sweet little flower bucket and bought some pink tulips for it.  I stuck some daisies we had in a cute watering can because nothing says spring quite like tulips and daisies!

The morning of I prepped some mini sandwiches that were almost too cute to eat!  They were quick to make with simple ingredients and fun for the kids to eat. I made cucumber cream cheese (dairy free cream cheese for my girl) butterflies, avocado toast butterflies, and flower shaped cheese sandwiches. You can use any variety of toppings or fillings, pb&j, turkey, ham, etc, whatever your kids enjoy! Honestly, as long as they’re in cute shapes, they have instant kid appeal!

 

I also had pasta salad on hand because that’s always a winner with the kids. Love finding the seasonal pastas to go with the theme (yes, I love a theme!), and found this sweet springtime bunny and egg mix at Cost Plus World Market. I threw in tomatoes, peppers, olive oil, lemon, s&p and done!

The night before I made these fun spring cupcakes with the best homemade dairy free “buttercream” frosting (recipe coming soon) and dairy free chocolates toppers. How cute are these white picket fence wrappers from Wilton!? Love at first sight! I know not everyone has a grass frosting tip, but really what’s stopping you? 🙂  If not, no worries I’ve got you covered. Just use any springtime pastel colored frosting, throw on a few jelly beans and sprinkles and you’ve got some seriously cute springtime treats.

We hung a simple white tablecloth for the backdrop and found the perfect garland banner that says it all. Yay spring!

Some-bunny hopped on over to check out the scene, so naturally we had had to put out some fresh carrots for him, but looks like this little girl got to them first!

Oh, and some cute littles chicks popped in for some fun too. I told the kids these are the kind they could keep. No food required!

Of course we had to dress like we were going on a picnic and could not have found a cuter top than this for her at Zara kids. Picnic perfect!

Don’t mind us. We’ll just be here til the sun shines and the flowers bloom!  See you soon spring. We are ready for you!

Happy sweet spring my friends! 

Kid’s Valentine’s Day Party

Happy (almost) Valentine’s Day! What better time to start off of a new blog than during the month of love!💕

 

We decided to throw a last minute little Valentine’s Day party for our kiddos and a few friends and I’m excited to share with you how we pulled it off.  With a few tips, anyone can throw a little party like this in no time.

We kept it small and super sweet (pun intended!) because after a few months of holidays and parties that start with Halloween (not to mention all three of my kid’s birthdays crammed into Nov and Dec), and end with New Years Eve, I’m slightly party pooped out, if that’s even possible! January is a quiet month for partying though so come February,  it’s time to party hearty ( pun intended, yes, ok I’m a little corny) again!

Took my little girl along for some party shopping and she was thrilled to be in a sea of pink!

The best part about this little love party is that it’s all super doable and budget friendly. All of the items are from big chain stores like Target, Party City and Michaels.  I love ordering unique  items for parties from those lovely little Etsy shops, and sites like ShopSweetLuLu and Oh Happy Day too though  but sometimes you just can’t get it together fast enough to do both, (you feel me mamas?). Luckily, there are always plenty of pretty little decorations and sweet deals  to be had at the big stores!

Once we had all our party stuff, it was time to make the magic happen and put it all together!

I know that planning a party can be a little overwhelming, not always knowing where to start, so what I like to do is to come up with a backdrop first. It sets the the whole tone and look of the party. A great backdrop can serve as the focal point of the party We have a sideboard in our dining area and I always use that as mine.  It works well because it leaves room for other fun party stuff, like food, sweet treats and goodie bags which also serves as decoration! A kitchen table or or folding table up against a wall works quite well too!

For this last minute celebration, I found the backdrop last though. I spotted this cute tablecloth at Michaels and wasn’t sure what I would end up doing with it, but when I got home, I realized it would make an adorable and colorful backdrop. I mean who wouldn’t want to be surrounded by a flurry of little hearts!

 

The one thing I ordered online (and thank goodness for Amazon Prime and quick delivery!) was this sweet as can be love balloon. What’s Valentines Day without a big love, am I right? I rounded out the backdrop with pink heart balloons from Party City.  And no party is complete without balloons on the floor! So festive!  I’m big into decorations doing double duty (saves money and time!) and balloons on the floor adds another pop of color, plus the kids love throwing them up in the air so that’s one fun activity! Check!

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