Custom Candy Spooky Eyes

Oh my. I have started to write this post four times and erased it each time. I seem to be suffering from some writer’s block today! Well, without any long story then, I’ll just jump into what I made, ok?

I love using Wilton’s pre-made candy eyes on my cookies. I know how easy it is to make your own from royal icing, but sometimes I still get a little bleeding and I don’t always know the reason. Sometimes I’ll even get bleeding on only one eye out of three dozen. I’m not sure and since it doesn’t happen consistently enough to diagnose and fix the problem, I usually wind up just using the candy eyes and not taking a chance. Because who wants bleeding eyes?

Monster Eyes

 

I was excited to find larger eyes the last time I went to the craft store and I had a little fun dressing them up.

Monster Eyes 2

 

I used my Americolor Gourmet writers to make some fun colored eyes.

Monster Eyes 4

 

I also found that you can mix your undiluted food coloring to get an endless number of custom colors. Just use a small paintbrush (one that you save only for use on food) and paint away. Oh, and ignore what I said above about “bleeding eyes”…..

Monster Eyes 3

 

Or bloodshot eyes.

Once I had an assortment of fun and spooky eyes, I simply iced some basic oval cookies with black royal icing and dropped the candy eyes onto the icing before it dried.

Colorful Eyes Cookies (Ellie's Bites)

 

For even smaller eyes, I used large sugar beads and drew on the pupil with a black food color marker.

Colorful Eye Cookies (Ellie's Bites)

 

The above is a dramatization of my eyes during and then after a long night of cookie decorating.

Colorful Eyes Cookies Under The Bed (Ellie's Bites)

 

And the above is an example of a way to use cookies to freak out your seven year old, or at least her American Girl (I DO want my kids to sleep at night!). Poor Rebecca.

And if we even needed more proof that great minds think alike, go check out what my friend, Melissa at Simply Sweets by Honeybee, was making at the same time I was making these cookies…. I promise we didn’t even PLAN this. But she has a really delicious spin on making your own spooky eyes and a fun way to use them. And- the spooky eye cookies under the bed picture was her idea.

All American American Girl Birthday Party

It’s been two weeks and I think I have finally recovered from post birthday party burnout! Or post PRE-birthday party burnout, actually. Go go go go go go PARTY stop open presents clean up write thank you notes and practically before the last guest walks out the door, she’s requesting the theme for NEXT year’s party. Whew.

Before I share the pictures, I should probably explain something. I did this one to myself.

A few months ago, Ellie was invited to perform with some Broadway actors in a fundraiser for her summer camp. She, along with seven other campers, sang “For Good” from “Wicked”. On stage. In front of A LOT of people, some of whom perform on Broadway regularly. Have I ever mentioned how much I admire my daughter?

Around the time of the performance, she developed an obsession with the show “Wicked” and begged us to take her to see it on stage. A trip to NYC was just a bit out of our budget at the moment but it just so happened that Wicked was going to be at the Academy of Arts in Philadelphia in July. Although this is still out of our budget, it wasn’t quite as damaging since it’s only about 20 minutes away: we could eat dinner at home and avoid the inevitable  (and bank account draining) trip to the American Girl Store. So we agreed that this would be her birthday present AND her birthday party, bought our tickets, and had one happy little soon to be seven year old on our hands.

She LOVED the show. Everyone within three rows of us knew how much she loved the show by the way she stood up at intermission and said, in the loudest voice possible “I LOVE IT!”

And I was so proud of her, and she was such a good sport, and she didn’t even ASK if she could have a party. So I offered to have a handful of her friends and their dolls over for a small tea party. And we all know I am incapable of keeping it small.

Ellie's 7th Birthday Party Table (Ellie's Bites)

Ellie's 7th Birthday Lunch Table (Ellie's Bites)

For lunch, we had tea sandwiches, both girl and doll sized, and lemonade, both yellow and pink.

Ellie's 7th Birthday Cake (Ellie's Bites)

The cake I made was chocolate with vanilla meringue buttercream and a layer of fresh strawberries. I still dream about it sometimes.

Ellie's 7th Birthday Party Cupcakes (Ellie's Bites)

Both girls and dolls had vanilla cupcakes.

Ellie's 7th Birthday Star Cookies

And both girls and dolls had cookies.

Ellie's 7th Birthday Party Hats and Favors (Ellie's Bites)

There were party hats for both girls and dolls.

Ellie's 7th Birthday Party Favors

And both girls and dolls left with party favors. Matching cookies and seed bead bracelets.

The girls used puffy paints to decorate tee shirts for themselves and handkerchief dresses for their dolls. They also made doll sized cupcakes out of pompoms and mini cupcake liners. But their favorite activity was simply playing with their dolls.

The non-party was, in my opinion, a success.

Fruit Salad (To Go)

Remember, in science class, learning about saturation? I remember hanging a piece of string in a glass of sugar water, adding more sugar, and watching as, over the course of a few days, the sugar left the sugar/water mixture and clung to the string. What I’m trying to say is that I feel like that sugar/water mixture, and if you hang a string near me, in a few days you’ll have rock candy.

I guess that’s what happens when you have Halloween, followed by Thanksgiving, followed by Christmas/Hanukkah, followed by New Years, followed by Valentines Day, followed by your son’s third birthday! That’s why when Ellie was “star student” the week following her brother’s birthday, I decided to NOT make cookies or cupcakes to send in. (Sorry first graders!)

These treats were a big hit with the class, despite the lack of added sugar. Just a warning, though. You’ll want to prepare them as close to snack time as possible. The shelf life for these is pretty much non existent.

Fruit Salad (Ellie's Bites)

Ingredients:

Fruit

(Makes about 12 bags)

  • 12 strawberries
  • 6 easy peel clementines
  • 3-4 bananas (depending on size)
  • 1 1/2 pears
  • about 96 blueberries
  • about 72 grapes
  • 12 cellophane dipped pretzel bags
  • ribbon
  1. Cut your fruit- you should get about 4 chunks of banana per fruit (depending on size) and about 9 slices per pear (note- if your child’s class is allergy  sensitive, lay wax or parchment paper on your counter and use a plastic knife. The pears can be difficult to cut, so I cut a few slices with plastic, and packaged them with a different color ribbon so I knew which bags they were in. Then I switched to a regular knife. If you need to make sure all fruit is safely cut, you could always substitute green grapes for the pear.)
  2. Place fruit in bag according to the rules of ROY-G-BV: about 6 grapes, 8 blueberries, 1 pear slice, 1 banana chunk, 1/2 clementine, 1 strawberry (halved when needed- there were some mutant huge strawberries in that container!)
  3. Tie with a ribbon.
  4. Serve immediately.

Just a little note. I tend to try to buy organic where I can. In this case, the grapes and bananas are non organic. I know it tends to be more expensive, and in some cases harder to find. Just do what you can, where you can.

And I am definitely not off sugar for good! I just needed to take a little break from it, you know?

I’m linking this up to Simply Sweet Saturdays at Simply Sweets by Honeybee.

 Simply Sweets by Honeybee

Fang Cookies (And How To Make A Cute Card Using Picmonkey)

Yay! I figured out how to take a screen shot! And double yay! My toothache did NOT require root canal (yet…)! And, yes, the two subjects are related!

I’ll start with the toothache. Here’s something you never knew about me. I never learned to put my hands up in front of my face when I fall. As a result of this, I have broken my two front teeth more times than most people break dishes in their sink. The first time I fell, I was seven and I tripped in the parking lot of the old Vet Stadium leaving a Phillies game. Since then, I have progressed from small tooth colored fillings, to veneers, to full on crowns. That’s a lot of trauma for two small front teeth. Two weeks ago, I started feeling a little achy and I had my mom take an xray. My dad thought he may have seen a small abscess at the root of one tooth and suggested I visit a friend of his, an Endodontist (or root canal specialist) to check it out. He was pretty sure my poor tooth had had enough.

I called on a Thursday and made my appointment for that Monday. To keep my mind busy, I made the endodontist some cookies.

Then I played around in Picmonkey and came up with a cute card to go along with the cookies.

I’m going to try my best to show you how I made this. (Bear with me, I just figured out how to take a screen shot on my MacBook and I either went nuts and took too many pictures, or I didn’t take enough to get my point across….)

The very first thing you’ll need is a blank white picture to use as your base. I followed this tutorial from Something Swanky.

Now, upload your blank canvas to Picmonkey.

See the little Jack-O-Lantern on the bottom left? That is where Picmonkey is keeping it’s cool Halloween effects.

 

 

 

Click on the Jack-O-Lantern and it will bring up the categories of Halloween effects. I used Vampire and Trick-or-Treat to make this card.

Click on Vampire and choose your background from Textures. After you choose your background, hit apply.

From here, I went back to the categories and chose “Trick or Treat”. Then “Scary Silhouettes”. After you chose your silhouette, hit apply.

I went back to “Vampires” to add my text.

 

Then I added a Bat from “Overlays”.

And… I forgot to get a screen shot of the final card. Well, you get the point, right? When you are done, click on the icon above your picture that looks like two layers with an arrow pointing downwards. This will merge all of your layers onto your blank white picture (you can also do this after each layer is added). Then you can save the picture by clicking on “Save”.

Oh, and it turns out that the ache in my tooth is most likely just due to repeated trauma (I am sure I was hit in the mouth by the back of a two-year-old’s head at least 15 times in the past two months). And, although I am sure the root canal is in my future, I was allowed to leave the office with only a warning, “Stop getting hit in the teeth”.

 

My Photo Space

September is a really busy month and it’s hard to find the time to keep up with all things online. Looking back at last September, I was really slow on my page then, too. Sometimes it takes an invitation to share to motivate me to produce something to share.

 

These cookies were made kind of last minute at night, and I didn’t think I would even have a chance to photograph them. But, as you can see (and you are too kind to point out), I had some overflow to the right side of this cookie:

and when I was experimenting to see if I wanted to add a star, or leave the “extra cookies for siblings” blank- I chose blank- I wound up with this cookie that I did not want to give to my friend.  Then when Georganne of LilaLoa asked to see everyone’s photo areas, I decided that this was the perfect cookie to use to show you my space.

I don’t have a light box yet, fancy or homemade. It’s on my list, as I have a big work area in the dining-turned-craft room that would be perfect, but the room gets no natural light. I make almost all of my cookies at night, so having a light box would let me make more tutorials, so maybe I should push it to the top of the list. For now, this is my set up.

 

  1. This is the area I use most often.
  2. My favorite cookie photographing plate.
  3. Sometimes I need a larger space, so I’ll spread everything out on some scrapbook paper on the floor by the open front door.
  4. My big bag of scrapbook paper.

Typically, I use the corner by the window.

 

  1. My kids’ toys are perfect for propping up the plate to get a better angle.
  2. If too much of the wall behind the cookie is showing, and the grey doesn’t quite match, I’ll use a piece of scrapbook paper in the background.
  3. Sometimes, I’ll throw something under the cookie if it coordinates.

Once I take the picture, it sometimes sits on my camera card for weeks. Eventually, I upload it to my computer, and I used to stop there. Then The Bearfoot Baker posted about this awesome {free} photo editing site- Picmonkey.com. I use it now to touch up my photos, add a watermark, and make collages.

 

After I upload my picture to the site, I auto adjust, then touch up the brightness a little bit more. Then I’ll straiten it out and crop it. Last, I’ll add a watermark, then save it to my computer. Very easy.

Well, Bryan got an unexpected day off today, so I think we are going to go apple picking now. I hope where ever you live, the day is as beautiful as it is here!

A “Cookie Monster” Birthday

So much preparation for a little birthday party! The past week has been a blur of icing, frosting, flour, butter, sugar, and vanilla.

At the time that I picked the theme for his party, Ben was into two things. Cookies and Cookie Monster. So I decided to go with “Cookies and Monsters”.

My sister in law, Wendi, made the invitations. At the time, these were the colors I was going with, but as the party evolved, the colors changed. As it turned out, Wendi made a LOT more than just the invitations.

We had the party at My Little Adventures. It is a local kid’s gym that also offers many classes for kids up to age six. We were so happy with the party itself. They really went above and beyond to make the birthday boy, his sister, and every single guest feel special.

Isn’t the shirt cute? Wendi made that, too. I had actually ordered a shirt from an Etsy store back in January, and at the last minute (meaning last Tuesday) I got a email saying she couldn’t complete the order. Oh well, Wendi saved the day and I LOVED it! Here’s the back:

Now, I’ll bet you’d like to see the treats?

Here’s a close up of the cake:

And here’s an even better shot:

The inside was polka dot, but it was cut up and handed out before I could get a good picture.

Can you see the polka dots? I got the idea from this post that I found via Pinterest. I baked up some blue, green, orange, and yellow cake pops in Wendi’s Baby Cake Cake Pop machine (there’s Wendi, saving the day again!) and baked them into   the cake. I used Sweetapolita’s chocolate cake recipe and got so many compliments on it. It’s definitely my new go to chocolate cake recipe! I topped it off with some cake pop eye balls like this cake, also found via Pinterest.

To make things a little less messy for the two-year-olds, I made some monster cupcakes.

So, I’m not kidding. I said before I have been having computer issues, and my lap top just decided to freeze me out of my photos. So I will have to let the computer rest for a little bit and hope I can get in there later to share the cookies and party favors.

Halloween!!!! (And My Kids Are Going To Hate Me For This One Day) (Day 31)

Since I was in total DIY mode this month, it should come as no surprise that I decided to make my kids’ costumes this year. Ben was simple. The Very Hungry Caterpillar. It was the theme of his first birthday party, and it is still the book that makes his eyes light up when we read it at bedtime.

Yes- he HATES the hat. I wasn’t going to piss him off even more by trying to wipe his nose for the picture. Sorry.

Ellie was a little more difficult to please. About two months ago, we read Charlotte’s Web together. That was when she decided she was going to be Fern (the little girl who raised Wilbur the pig). I could not budge her. We read Pippi Longstocking just so I could try to convince her to dress as Pippi (an easily recognizable character) and, even though we spent a month reading all three original books, she still wanted to be Fern. So what could I do other than sew a plastic spider to her stuffed pig and dress her in jeans, a tee shirt, and pig tails? So that is what she wore to her Girl Scout’s Halloween dance. There, she was disillusioned by her costume when she didn’t win a prize. She then decided she wanted to be Ella Enchanted. Well, not only was I over my budget for extras this month, but there was no way I was spending the weekend before Halloween searching costume stores for something that might work. Then I remembered I had a sheet that had ripped, which had accidently found its way back into the linen closet instead of the garbage.

A skirt, a cape, and a tiara later and we have an Ella Enchanted. (Yes, it needs to be ironed, no, I’m not promising I am going to do it.)

So, on a completely unrelated note, I burned dinner the other night. So we had pancakes instead. Pumpkin/chocolate pancakes. And I have a recipe for you. (Happy Halloween!) (Adapted from Better Homes And Gardens Kid Favorites Made Healthy)

Pumpkin:

  • 1 c flour
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2-1 tsp pumkin pie spice (per your taste, I wound up adding more so I could taste the spice over the chocolate)
  • 3/4 c milk
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbsp cooking oil
  1. In one medium bowl, mix together dry ingredients (flour, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, and spice)
  2. In another small bowl, mix together wet ingredients (milk, pumpkin, egg, and oil)
  3. Pour wet ingredients into dry and mix until combined. Set aside.

Chocolate

  • 3/4 c flour
  • 1/4c cocoa powder (I use unsweetened, you could use sweetened, but then I would adjust the amount of sugar)
  • 1/4c sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 c buttermilk (or 3/4 tsp vinegar + enough milk to fill to 3/4 c. mix together and set aside for 5 minutes to allow milk to “sour”)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbsp cooking oil
  1. In a medium bowl, mix together dry ingredients (flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder, salt)
  2. In a small bowl, mix buttermilk, egg, and oil.
  3. Add liquid ingredients to dry and mix until combined.
  4. Heat griddle or pan and spray with cooking spray. When water flicked on the surface bounces around, scoop a tablespoon of pumpkin batter onto the pan and immediately add a tablespoon of chocolate batter on top.
  5. When bubbles start to rise to the top of the pancake, flip over and cook for another 2 minutes.
  6. Remove from heat, cool slightly and enjoy!

Ghost Toast (Day 4)

This was a really easy one. Ellie picked it out from Disney Family Fun Cooking With Kids Halloween Treats (sold in the dollar section at Target). After I toasted the bread, she made the entire creation by herself.

You’ll need:

  • 1 slice of bread (toasted)
  • cream cheese
  • decorations (we used Fruit Loops, the original recipe calls for raisins. I was planning on using chocolate chips, but when my husband picked up some coffee from 7-11 for me before he left for work, he also picked up a cup of Fruit Loops as a special treat for the kids. Sad that in my house, Fruit Loops are a special treat, while chocolate chips are almost boring.)

Spread cream cheese on the toast:

Cut out a ghost shape (I couldn’t find my ghost cutter and we were running late, so I actually used the most ghost-like shape from this collection):

Then use decorations to add a face:

So easy!

Yes…. there will be cookies this month, I promise! I actually think I may let Ellie loose with her first decorating bag.

Going Batty (Day 2)

A quick note about yesterday’s project…If you are slicing the apples, it is best to eat them the same day. The juice mixed with the caramel, causing it to slide off the sides. They still taste good, but they are a little messy….

We went with an inedible project this time since the last involved so much sugar. We made flying bats (one of many things that will wind up decorating our window this month, I am sure).

We used one sheet of black construction paper- cut in half, a toilet paper roll (you could also use half of a paper towel roll) and white printer paper cut into eyes and fangs. We also had ears that I forgot about until later, so they are not in this picture.

Using glue, we rolled one piece of the black paper onto the cardboard roll, then used mini binder clips to hold it until it was dry.

Then we glued on the ears, eyes, and fangs.

We realized that the glue would need to dry for several minutes, so we decided to decorate the wings with glitter glue in the mean time.

Then we realized that the glitter glue would need several HOURS to dry. So we left it overnight, then glued the wings on in the morning, and held them in place with binder clips again.

We threaded ribbon throught the tube, and *Viola!* bats are the first of our friends to adorn the chandelier.

We’ve got lots of fun things lined up. Well… they will be fun for us, I hope they are fun for you, too!