Cookie Catch Up Post (Texture and Guilt!)

I’m not even talking blog guilt. I had a patient yesterday ask me if I still had my blog and I had to think about it for a minute. What blog? I’m just kidding. I love my hobby and I love sharing pictures with you. I hate that over the past year, I have been doing 99 percent of my cookie decorating at night so any pictures I could take would be completely useless. Most times, I am finishing cookies at night and running them out the door first thing in the morning so all I can usually manage is a quick picture on my phone. But things are going to change come next September. And this brings me to my guilt.

Since having Ben, four and a half years ago, I have only worked two days a week. Thirteen hours to be exact. He goes to preschool three days, which means he is home with me the rest of the week. Next year everything is going to change. Bryan will be finishing school next month and (hopefully) working full time soon after that (angels singing!)!! But this means that he will no longer be able to be home on the two days I work. This means if Ben were to go to kindergarden half day next year, no one would be home to get him on the bus. So, even though I’m only working thirteen hours a week, we are probably going to pay to send him to full day kindergarden. This makes me really sad. So this year I have over compensated a bit.

Wait, let me share a cookie picture so you don’t get bored and leave me….Halloween Cookies 2014 (Ellie;s Bites)

Yes. I am aware it’s a Halloween picture. Yes, I am aware it’s the third week of November.

Anyway…. Overcompensating. My kids, between the two of them, have an activity every single day of the week. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. When one activity ends for the season, another one starts. I’m having a blast spending so much quality time with them driving back and forth from activity to activity. And believe me, my kids like to be active. They don’t complain at all and they are tireless. It’s not affecting school work at all, if anything, it’s helped Ellie adjust to the demands of third grade by forcing her to manage her time.

Wait, another picture? OK…. Wedding Couple Cookies (Ellie's Bites)

But I am definitely sacrificing the “me” time. Fortunately I enjoy making cookies. That won’t stop anytime soon, I hope. And I’m trying to let go of some of this guilt that I feel, knowing I’ll have three days next year that I am home while the kids are at school. For one thing, I’ll have all of those daylight hours to work and even take some step by step photos.

Oh, another picture? Sure. Wedding Dress Cookies (Ellie's Bites)

I plan on spending the next few months brainstorming ideas to help Ellie’s Bites grow. In order to do that, I’d love to hear your ideas. Is there anything you’d like to see? I know there are a lot of cookie blogs out there now. This is a wonderful community and nothing can replace the friends I have made through this shared hobby. I definitely have no intention of stopping cookies. But would you like to see other things? Other recipes? Not just desserts but anything goes? How about crafts? Maybe some posts that are just ramblings about the really funny things my kids do? Would you stop visiting my site if you showed up to see a cookie, and instead found a post about how my son now goes through approximately three rolls of duct tape a week just building things? (He’s seriously like the MacGyver of four year olds with duct tape.) I appreciate any and all feed back. I want to make this a fun place to share and learn and maybe even just laugh. (In the interest of full disclosure, I do not make any money off of this blog. I am on a wordpress hosted site and do not make money from advertisements or endorsements. If I could devote more time and energy to this space, I would like to potentially own my own site and make a little extra money. Not from you, I would never ever charge you. But from allowing advertisements. Anyway…. that’s just a thought in the future.)

And I’ll leave you with one last picture. Blue and Orange Cookies (Ellie's Bites)

I have a lot of cookies I haven’t shared yet sitting on my computer. I thought I would break them down into several posts. Today’s post was obviously about my newest obsession. Using stencils and royal icing to create texture on cookies. I just purchased some fondant molds recently and I can’t wait for the opportunity to start playing around with those!

Look for more soon, (hopefully lol). And thank you for putting up with my rambling!

A Cookie Platter That Is All About Children

A few months ago, I was approached by a teacher at Ben’s daycare. She asked if I’d be willing to make a platter of cookies to donate to the basket raffle the daycare was running to benefit Alex’s Lemonade Stand. Of course, I said yes. I planned to make some lemons and other citrusy themed cookies.

As the time approached to actually make the cookies, I started rethinking the theme. The proceeds were to go to Alex’s Lemonade Stand: a charity started by a child to benefit children. The children of the daycare center would be spending the day raising money by assisting with the lemonade stand and selling basket raffle tickets. A new school year was starting.

I’ve never had the chance to make back-to-school cookies in the past, so I decided to make this platter back-to-school themed with a twist. I wanted to make the cookie all about celebrating children.

Back To School Platter 2014 I searched the web for quotes that celebrate children.  (Especially Bill Watterson- I could spend all day reading Calvin and Hobbes and not find a single comic that doesn’t remind me of my kids! Maybe I should have made an entire Calvin and Hobbes platter!) While decorating, I decided I wanted to make the cookies look childish, like a child sketched them, by roughly outlining the cookies with a black food color marker. I’m really happy with the way this set turned out.

Here’s a close up of the quote cookies:Back To School quotes cookies (Ellie's Bites)(The pictures aren’t all that great, sorry!)

I’m thrilled that I could be a part of this special fundraiser and so happy to have people who actually bid on my cookies!

 

I’m linking this post up to Party In Your Pjs at Simply Sweets By Honeybee and The Cookie Puzzle.

Harry Potter Wizard Wand (Tutorial)

I got the best compliment a few days after Ellie’s Harry Potter party. One of her friends hadn’t read any of the books or seen any of the movies. (I’m sure a few of her friends hadn’t, but this friend happens to be the son of MY friend so I was talking to his mother about it.) In the week leading up to the party, as her attempts to at least make him watch the movie failed, I had to reassure her that the party wasn’t so immersed in Potterdom that he would feel alienated. I’m trilled that she took a chance and brought him anyway, because (I think) he wound up having a pretty OK time! But the best part was the text I got two days after the party (TWO DAYS!) asking if I could lend him my copy of The Chamber of Secrets because he blew through The Sorcerer’s Stone in TWO DAYS and she only had the books in hard cover.

If I hear that NONE of the kids had a good time, and NOBODY got anything out of this party besides maybe a chocolate frog and some jelly beans, hearing that this party inspired an adamant anti-Potter-ist to pick up the book and read it in two days….well, I’m a happy momma.

One of the favors we gave out at the party were home made wizard wands and I’m going to share with you how I made them. I first came upon the idea of homemade wands from Sugar Bean Bakers. Since her wands were for teenagers and mine would be going to eight year olds, I hesitated to use wooden skewers or chopsticks and I think I came up with a safer solution for younger kids. They could still probably do a little damage if poked in one’s eye so I would definitely recommend supervision while younger kids play. And several weeks after the party my kids’ wands (even Ben’s) seem to be holding up pretty well.

They’re perfect to make for your budding wizard or witch. Older kids can even make their own. (My glue gun is a high temperature gun, if you’re making this with kids, I would recommend using a low temp gun and perhaps having them wear a thick glove, like a gardening glove, on the had that holds the straw.)How To Harry Potter wands 1This is what you’ll need:

  • Work surface (for all painting projects, I usually cut open a paper grocery bag and lay it out on my table or counter. This way I can squeeze paint directly onto the bag and fill my brush from there.)
  • Paper straws (one for each wand)
  • Extra long lollipop sticks (one for each wand- I found these at Michaels) Cookie sticks will not work here, they’ll be too thick to fit in the straw.
  • A hot glue gun and temperature appropriate glue sticks (about 1.5 per wand- I used a high temperature glue gun)
  • Brown acrylic paint
  • Sponge brush
  • Styrofoam block (I use desert foam- available in the floral section of most craft stores)
  • Rhinestones
  • A small cup with glitter
  • Tweezers (optional- I started out using them but found it easier to place them by hand *note- I burned myself on the glue a few times doing this*)

As you may have guessed, I made a few before thinking to myself “hey I should take some pictures!” and I didn’t decide to add the glitter until the very end.

  1. How to harry potter wand (drizzle hot glue)Hold the straw in one hand and the glue gun in your dominant hand. Gently squeeze the glue onto the straw while spinning the straw around to wrap the glue strands around it.
  2. I forgot to take a picture so I hope I can explain the next step coherently! Place a dab of hot glue on the tip of a lollipop stick and quickly insert it into the straw. Then run a little line of glue to seal the seam where the end of the straw meets the part of the lollipop stick that sticks out. You can see what I mean by “the part that sticks out” in the picture in step five.How to harry potter wands (let glue dry)
  3. Place the straws in a styrofoam block until they dry and are cool to the touch. You can tell they are dry as the glue starts out clear and becomes cloudy and a little yellow as it dries. how to harry potter wand (paint)
  4. Once the glue is dry, use the sponge brush in the brown paint to cover the majority of the straw. It works best to dab the corners of the brush into all of the nooks and crannies. You may need a second coat to cover it completely. At this point, I let it dry over night in the styrofoam blocks.how to harry potter wands (dip end in paint)
  5. Once the paint is dry, use the glue gun to add gems (you can make them as plain or as fancy as you want) and cut the lollipop sticks to different lengths (optional). Then dip the part that is not yet covered in paint into the paint and immediately….how to harry potter wand (glitter)
  6. ….into a shallow cup of glitter. Allow the wands to dry completely. I stood them up glitter tip up in cups overnight.

So, that’s it. After a little trial and error, these were really easy to make. I hope you find it to be a fun project to get your kids making a little magic this summer. Maybe they’ll even be inspired to read the books!!!!! (You can read about the rest of the party here.)how to harry potter wand (add gems)

This post is linked up at:

 

 

Harry Potter Birthday Party

At last! The day I have been planning for almost eight years has finally come! I finally got to throw a Harry Potter party!

The first thing I did was promise my husband I wouldn’t go overboard. The second thing I did was immediately go overboard. Come on, I mean it will be at least a few years before I get to throw another one, right? I’ve only just started reading the series to Ben.

We decided to have this party a few weeks early because Ellie’s cousins were visiting from Indiana and it’s been a while since they have been able to attend each other’s parties. Since it was still during the school year, I told her to go ahead and invite her class. Having a summer birthday, we usually only invite a few Girl Scout friends and some friends from camp. After narrowing down the list as much as possible, we wound up with a guest list of 36. ACK! So you can imagine I was thrilled that only 25 were able to come. 25 eight year olds in my house? Crazy you say?

Well, first let me tell you how the party went.

Invitations were sent out (via owl post, of course…. meaning I stamped the envelope with a rubber stamp image of an owl) informing students that they were invited, in honor of Ellie’s birthday, to attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry for one day only. They were to arrive at Platform 9 3/4 (aka… my house) at 10:30am.

From 10:30-10:45 students received their wands.

how to harry potter wand (add gems)(Stay tuned for a tutorial!) (Update- Here’s the tutorial!)

Since we all know that a wand chooses the wizard, and not the other way around, I had the students sit in a circle on the floor. I held up a wand and my very generous and helpful cousin spun a bowling pin in the middle of the circle. When it stopped, the student it was pointing at took the wand I was holding.

From 10:45 until about 10:50, the students were sorted into their houses. I purchased plastic rings with the house crests and a sorting hat from Amazon. I placed all of the rings into the sorting hat and each student picked one out of the hat. (We had a small “pest” outbreak earlier in the school year, so I chose NOT to have each student place the same hat on their heads… just in case.)

Now that each student had a wand and a house, they gathered around the dessert table where Ellie led them in a round of the Hogwarts school song. Before the song, Ellie announced that Mr. Filch wanted the students to know that anyone caught waving their wand in another student’s face would have their wand removed until the end of the party. Sadly, Ben was the only one to have his wand removed. Harry Potter Party Dessert Table (Ellie's Bites)After the song, they proceeded to the dungeon  basement for potions and transfiguration classes.

I found this amazing site called madscience.org and they had a party package for “young wizards”. I called them, they were available, and I told them to take my money.

It was the best thing ever!

mad science show (ellie's bites)That right there, ladies and gentlemen, is 25 kids in my basement. Completely enthralled and hanging on their professor’s every word. (I almost wanted to call their muggle teacher and tell her how proud she should be!)

Mad Science Dry Ice (Ellie's Bites)There was ice!

Mad Science (Ellie's Bites)There was fire!

And during the demonstration where he showed the kids how to make fireworks different colors and then had to explain that he couldn’t make ACTUAL fireworks without setting my basement on fire, he politely resisted the chants of “do it! do it!”.

After classes, the students were dismissed to the dining room for pizza and cake.Harry Potter Party Cake (Ellie's Bites)And cookies. Harry Potter Party Cookies (Ellie's Bites)The next planned activity was balloon Quidditch, but at this point I lost them. So I dismissed the students back to the dungeon to play with the birthday girl’s (and her brother’s) toys until their parents came to escort them back to the Hogwarts express. A few kids stayed to play Quidditch, but the snitch was quickly found and everyone was happy.

Along with the wands and rings, students took home an assortment of favors from Hogsmeade Village. Harry Potter party favor bags (Ellie's Bites)They took home Chocolate Frogs (filled with Oreo truffle) and Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans from Honeydukes. Honeydukes (Ellie's Bites)And an owl from Eeylops. (I KNOW, I KNOW Eeylops is in Diagon Alley, not Hogsmeade!)Hedwig Cookie Favors (Ellie's Bites)

 

 

Hedwig Cookie Favors Wrapped (Ellie's Bites)

Throughout the party, I asked the kids to make funny faces while I snapped pictures. I used the pictures to make thank you notes for Ellie.Ben

I will have a tutorial for the wands soon. If you are interested in the boxes I used for the chocolate frogs and Bertie Botts Beans, I found templates through a Google search. I’m sorry I can’t share them, I’m sure I’m not supposed to. But with a little search, I know you’ll find what you’re looking for.

I hope the kids had as much fun as I did! And I hope you had fun reading about the party!

This post is linked up at:

Inspiration Challenge {Paris}

Inspiration Challenge {Paris} (Ellie's Bites)

Imagine all of the beautiful sights, flowers, landmarks, artists, or landscapes I could have drawn inspiration from for this challenge. And I go and get inspired by… a rat. Can you honestly blame me? Seriously, we’ve got the landmark, we’ve … Continue reading

Inspiration Challenge {Down The Rabbit Hole}

Inspiration Challenge {Down The Rabbit Hole} (Ellie's Bites)

It’s always a good idea to have friends whose minds work a little differently than yours. It helps you to stretch your imagination. I came up with this month’s theme: down the rabbit hole. But it was Melissa’s (Simply Sweets … Continue reading

All Sports Themed Fourth Birthday

My kid loves his sports. All sports. Football, basketball, baseball, soccer, hockey, golf, bowling, snow boarding, rollerskating….. Any sport not mentioned, he just hasn’t tried it yet.

I asked what he wanted for his fourth birthday. He said, “a sports party.” I asked, “which sport?” He replied “all sports.” So we had a sports party. All sports. (PS he got to ride in a golf cart!)

Ben's fourth birthday invite (Ellie's Bites)I made the invitation in Picmonkey. If you haven’t tried it, you should definitely go play around. It’s a lot of fun! We had the party at Little Sport. We had never been there, so it was a total shot in the dark when I was researching sports themed party places in our area. We weren’t disappointed. Did I mention the golf cart? Selling point. Golf Cart (Ellie's Bites)I don’t want to share too many party pics since I didn’t ask parents if I could share pictures of their kids. There was too much action going on to get many pictures of just my kids. I did get this one, during the obstacle course- mid-leap. Jumping (Ellie's Bites)But, if I know you, you’re here for the desserts, anyway.

I made his cake, and every time I make a cake for my kids’ birthdays, I am reminded why I make cookies. Not cakes. But it tasted darned delicious and the kids weren’t complaining about sloppy edges and no borders! Ben's Sports Birthday Cake (Ellie's Bites)Ben certainly looks happy with it! Sports Birthday Party Cake Time (Ellie's Bites)

I made cookies, too! Ben's Sports Birthday Cookies (Ellie's Bites) And party favors. I went a little bit over board with the party favors. Ben's Sports Birthday Party Favors (Ellie's Bites)If you want to know how I made those awesome golfballs, check out The Bluebonnet Bakeshop on Facebook. She even has instructions here right in the description.

Lest you think I actually only had one cake for my child this year (hahahahahahaha) we also celebrated his actual birthday last week with the grandparents.Skippyjon Jones Birthday Cake- Skippito Benjito (Ellie's Bites) Skippyjon Jones and Skippito Friskito (Ellie's Bites)In addition to sports, he loves his books. Especially old Skippito Friskito!

Now, excuse me while I run off! I’ve got thank you notes to finish. Then I can start planning Ellie’s next party!

 

Yet Another Cookie Catchup Post Sports Birthday Edition

Basketballs (Ellie's Bites)

In honor of Ben’s All Sports Theme Fourth Birthday Party Extravaganza this weekend, I felt that all of the lonely, already edited, sports related pictures sitting on my computer deserved a post of their own. I have been waiting MY. … Continue reading

Yet Another Cookie Catchup Post

Yellow and Grey Baby Shower (Ellie's Bites)

Words can’t even express how embarrassed I am at the amount of pictures sitting (edited already mind you!) on my computer doing nothing. It’s too eerily similar to the action in my 401K from my last full time job, but … Continue reading