Tentacle Tuesday…All About the Octopus

Something rather interesting happened last week at the Seattle aquarium, Ink the new resident cephalopod was checking out his new habitat and in the process gave onlookers quite the show, it appeared as though he was going to come out of the habitat and get more acquainted with the aquarium patrons.  However, octopi are incredibly curious animals and like to explore by feeling around so maybe he wasn’t trying to make a break for it, but just checking out his new digs.

Ink is a new octopus at the aquarium because the other two were released back into the Puget Sound in February, these are the videos of Hazel & Franklin being released.  Classroom teachers, I am sure your students would love to watch these two videos, especially with the Darth Vader voices and all.

I wanted to share with you some really fun books that your petites might enjoy at all our cephalopod friends the octopus!

Walking Your Octopus

Walking Your Octopus: A Guidebook to the Domesticated Cephalopod

I am a huge fan of Brian Kesinger’s books.  They tell the tale of Victoria Psismall and her land octopus Otto.  These books are so unique, unlike any book I have ever seen before actually, even the shape of the book stands out and is unique.  Walking Your Octopus: A Guidebook to the Domesticated Cephalopod is so fun.  With thirty brilliantly illustrated panoramic pages you get to view the day to day life of Victoria and Otto as they do what any human and land octopus might do: biking, playing croquet, carving a pumpkin (a personal favorite of the petites) and dating.  Although this book is intended for children, it is for people who love art, comics, or octopuses.  I personally love the steam punk, Victorian era fashion.  There are also subtle references to Jules Verne which are always fun. My five year old loves the clothes Victoria wears as well as the silliness of Otto being a land octopus.  I would recommend these books for kids who are five and older.

Coloring with your octopus

Coloring With Your Octopus: A Coloring Book For Domesticated Cephalopods

Brian Kesinger came out with this coloring book in August, so if you love the book you can get one and color his amazing illustrations.

Traveling with your Octopus

Traveling With Your Octopus

Kesinger’s much anticipated second book released in February is sure to be a hit if you enjoyed the first book.  In this tale, Victoria and Otto as they travel the globe.  Sounds amazing right?

Since I declare today Tentacle Tuesday, I have to share with you this most amazing cake my incredibly talented friend Ally has made.  She makes these amazing (completely edible and delicious I might add) cakes just outside of Seattle.   This charming little fellow is made of:  Guinness chocolate cake with Baileys Swiss meringue butter cream. The tentacles are modeling chocolate and the octopus head is made of a cocoa peppermint rice crispy treat.  Isn’t this an amazing cake?  If you’re looking for an awesome incredibly unique custom cake let me know and I can put you in touch with her.

Cake 1

cake 2

Enjoy your Tentacle Tuesday!
Erin

 

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Bruschetta…what’s not to love about this amazing appetizer?

Bruchetta

Growing up we ate a lot of Italian food, not because we have deep Italian roots -we don’t.  We ate a lot of it, because my mom loved to get Italian cookbooks and she would try out new dishes, possibly because of her love of traveling to Italy.  We ate Italian food, honestly, because it’s delicious!  There was a restaurant that we would go to all the time when I was growing up, it became a reward when I got good grades and a place we could count on for a great meal every time.  One of my all time favorite appetizers they made was bruschetta.

I love the vibrant fresh basil, the tang of the balsamic vinegar and the crunch of a well toasted baguette.  Over the years it has become one of the recipes that I’ve made so many times that I just whip together simply by eyeballing it.  The funny thing about this dish is that it is so incredibly simple.  The ingredients are basic and it just blends together to make this amazing bite.  Every time I’ve made this dish for a party, it is the first one devoured completely, even when I make more than I think we will need.  People always ask for the recipe.  So here goes…

Bruschetta

6-8 Roma or medium on the vine tomatoes, diced into small pieces

10 fresh basil leaves

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped (although I leave this out often when I make it for my family)

2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons of balsamic vinegar

salt and pepper to taste, usually just a pinch of each

Sourdough Baguette

olive oil for drizzling

Additional toppings:

Shredded Parmesan cheese

Balsamic Glaze

 

Dice the tomatoes and try to leave out the majority of the seeds, this way the end result will not be too watery.  Stack all of the leaves of basil together and roll it up like a little cigar and chop it finely.  Finely chop the garlic.  Add all of the ingredients to a medium-sized bowl and stir together.  Add olive oil, balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper.  Remember to taste it along the way to get it to your personal liking.   You can let it sit for a few hours, but it doesn’t taste as good after about 4 hours and starts to break down.

Slice the baguette into 1/4 inch rounds, use a pastry brush to lightly coat both sides of the bread with olive oil place on a baking sheet.   Bake at 350 degrees for 10-20 minutes flipping them over half way, watch to make sure they don’t burn or get too browned.  If you are a lover of garlic you can also take a peeled clove and rub it over the bread after it is toasted.

Place a good spoonful of the mixture onto each piece of bread.  At this point you can either serve it as is, or you can add a drizzle of balsamic glaze to the top, or a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.  If you opt for the cheese you will want to return to the oven and broil until the cheese melts.

Serve immediately.  Makes about 2-3 dozen depending on how you slice the baguette.

Bon Appetit!

 

 

Let’s Go…Travel Themed Party

I realize its been almost a month since I have written anything and I am a little surprised by this…but that is how summer goes, it seems like it’s just started and then it’s August…

Me and Mom

I’ve been busy working on my dear sweet Mom’s 70th birthday party, hip hip hooray!  She was a flight attendant for 31 years, since her traveling days she hasn’t gone abroad and I wanted to make her a very special party filled with lots of little touches just for her.  The first thing that I did was make sure that I had all of the amazing supplies I needed to make her party spectacular.

Décor

Invitations

I started with a trip to the local used bookstore and found an amazing atlas.  This was the main focus of inspiration for the party.  The invitations and envelopes were the first project.  I’ve never really made my own envelopes before, but it was super easy, of course the first one was a little wonky.

Next up table décor; I wanted to use globes from my petites’ nursery but I also wanted decorations that would add something interesting and unique.  I wanted to make some vintage looking little vases that had subtle travel touches, these are just Starbucks coffee containers with Paris themed paper on them.   I ended up making these amazing pendent lanterns that filled the space perfectly.

3decor1

Another thing I wanted to do was remind my mom of all the amazing places she has been.  So I had her dig up some of her old travel pictures and send them to me.  I picked up some wooden frames at the craft store and selected map pages that matched the location of the pictures.  Her friends loved seeing my Mom on all of her travels.  My mom’s on the left in her awesome sunglasses and coat, just eating some fresh pretzels in Germany.

Pictures and Places

Food

As you may have noticed, from previous blog posts, I love party planning and I love food.  When you combine the two planning party food – I’m game.  Whether it’s a baby shower, or baby birthday…I just love it.  For this party since it was a travel theme, I wanted to have foods from my mom’s three favorite places to travel: Greece, France and Italy.  I had so much fun getting the food sorted out from these three amazing foodie locations.  Since I have two small petites and was traveling a few hours away to my parents, I wanted to have less intensive foods to prep and make.  So I opted to purchase pre-made deliciousness from Trader Joes.  Spending my time making my tried and true favorites instead.   It worked out fantastically, I was able to spend the time I wanted with my family and wasn’t making a huge mess in my mom’s kitchen.

Travel Themed Food

Since my mom loved Greece so much we had spanakopita, carmelized onion & feta bites and a humus tray.  France was another favorite location so we did a fantastic cheese tray with fruit and nuts.  I am a sucker for a cheese plate, I love all cheeses…for this I used camembert, a swiss, a smoked gouda and a triple cream brie.  Next on my moms ultimate favorite travel was Italy.  For Italy, I did charcuterie of meats, tapenade and crostini, bruschetta, caprese salad and tomato pesto flatbread.  Of course the bruschetta was the guests favorite, click here for my recipe.

For treats I made mini red velvet cupcakes, airplane shaped sugar cookies and assorted macaroons.  I bought these adorable little gift kits from the local art store that had little bags, tags and stickers in a map and Paris theme.   I used the stickers to make cupcake toppers, and it turned out even better than I had expected.    Treats

Little Touches

I wanted my moms party to have some really special things that would be a complete surprise.  I emailed her friends and family from years past to present and asked them to help me wish her a happy 70th by sending along a birthday card to me so I could present them to her all at one time.  Everyone was so excited, they sent cards and it was amazing.  She loved it.  After all, isn’t the best part of birthdays getting well wishes from old friends and family?  Of course I needed the perfect way to display these amazing greetings.  I picked up these super cute, cardboard suitcases at Land of Nod (three in the pack) and was able to use the others throughout the party, for favors and  to hold napkins.

Cards

I am a firm believer that party favors are not just for kids, but are a great way to show guests how special it was that they came to the party.  For these favors I used the cute little bags and tags and then filled them with airplane cookies or macaroons.  So cute, if I do say so myself.  Oh and of course made even more fabulous by the display in the suitcase.

Photo and Cards Treat Components

 Another fun touch, that was a complete surprise, I had an old friend who works for the same airline my mom did send me travel posters.  We used those to decorate the house and they looked amazing!

Travel posters1 It was so much fun to plan a party for my mom.  In doing it she mentioned that she had not had a party since she was a little girl, so it really made it all the more special.  The little touches and the overall theme of the party really helped me to stay focused and to have it look cohesive.  I feel like it’s really easy to get overwhelmed with party planning and then it looks chaotic because there is too much, but if you stay within the theme and find a color or two to pull it all together then it works out fabulously.Travel Posters

If you want to check out my inspiration for this travel themed party check out my Pinterest Pin Board.

If you would like to purchase some of the decorations that I made for this party, or request custom made pieces, please stop by my Etsy Shop.

If you liked this post you also might enjoy my under the sea party as well.

Under the Sea Theme Birthday

IMG_6133My smallest just had her first birthday just a few days ago and over the last few weeks I’ve been prepping for her under the sea themed party.  For me party planning is incredibly enjoyable, I love all of the details that can make a party special.  I love the little touches and trying something new.  Since having baby #1 I have realized that a lot of things don’t happen the same way they did with #1, and it’s usually just logistics, the baby book for example, I filled it out for her first month of life.  Now, I have 11 months to catch up on.  I don’t know the date when her first tooth came in; or for that matter the other four.  It’s things like this that have slipped by.  Her first birthday party was not going to be one of those “things” that didn’t get the attention it deserved.

Her nursery theme was maps, globes and whales, so it only seemed fitting to use whales as a major part of the theme for her party.  The first thing I started to pour over was these incredibly cute little felt hats I have been seeing all over pinterest, most of Hat 1them are from Etsy and are about $18-$35, of course they are super cute, but for that amount of money you could get a ton of felt.  I think putting mine together with felt and ribbon cost about $1.50.  It did take some time to put it together, but the finished party hat was so worth it.  Normally, she cannot stand to wear hats or hoods, but she wore this hat, so cute.

The other fun little detail I saw, and fell in love with, were these amazing little felt animals, they were so incredibly cute, so I thought it would be fun felt animalsto try to make little animals and then use them later as some sort of mobile in her room.  Again the entire project was probably under $4, it just took a lot of time to cut and then sew, I am still learning how to sew and made quite a few mistakes.   I attempted little black button eyes, but they were creepy, so I took them off.  In the end I love how these turned out.  I used them to decorate the cupcake display during the party…so cute!    IMG_5790

There are so many inexpensive and cute ways to have a really fun, under the sea, mermaid or beach themed party.  Dollar store buckets were my bowls for the salads and chips.  They were also favors for the kids that came to the party.  It was also rather funny to watch people try to scoop out the food with the shovels, they made it work though.  The favors were different depending on the age of the petite, for the older kids it was bubbles, goldfish crackers and bathtub ocean animal water squirters.  For the babies, it was yogurt melts , bubbles and water squirters.

photo 2The food got lots of rave reviews, from the seashell caprese pasta salad, to the turtle shaped bread bowl of spinach dip but one of the crowd favorites was the crab croissant sandwiches.  I seriously have no idea how people threw themed parties before pinterest existed, so many amazing ideas that make it all so much fun.

Enjoy!

E

 

 

IMG_5789IMG_5787  IMG_5795

Baby Shower Games and Goodies

Shower Games

I think we all have been to showers and had to play games that made us roll our eyes or just aren’t terribly fun or the worse the ones where I feel like a bad mom because I don’t know the nursery rhymes.  I tried to think about our audience and make choices that would be appropriate from ages 20s – 80s.  There are tons of super cute games to choose from, my mommy to be in this case is a very practical mommy, so I chose to have one of the games be:

The Price is Rightprice is right shower gameThis game is so much fun to do.  You choose some baby items and pick them up at the store and have shower guests guess how much the items are and then come up with a grand total.  It was so fun to then go through and say how much things actually were, lots of people who either hadn’t had babies yet or in a while got a huge kick out of this game.  Then the best part, the mommy gets to keep all the goodies.

Daddy Knows Best

This is a hilarious game.  There is a list of questions to ask the daddy-to-be (you do it beforehand) and then have the mommy-to-be guess what the daddy said.  Guests try to guess how many questions the mommy-to-be will get right.  It is hilarious.  You go through each question one at a time, read it, mommy answers, then read the daddy’s.  In this case, the daddy is pretty funny and we all got a kick out of the answers her provided.  Daddy Knows Best Shower Game

Baby Gift Bingo

This is a really fun game for guests, it is also nice if mommy-to-be is a little shy about opening presents in front of everyone.  You simply print out a bingo board and have guests write down gifts that they think the parents will get, then they shout out bingo when the get five in a row.  There are tons of cute options to purchase on ETSY, or you can make your own.  Baby Shower Bingo

Prizes

I wanted to have cute pink prizes for the three game winners, so I chose to buy a light pink polish Essie has tons of options.  I put a cute little ribbon around the top.  I didn’t think to get a picture beforehand and then it seemed a little silly to ask the guests to put them back so I could take one.

We did three games and I think that was plenty.  We did The Price is Right while everyone was eating, then as they were finishing up we did Daddy Knows Best.  Then we were going to open presents, so we passed out the bingo cards.

I got lots of compliments about the games at the shower, lots of people said that they were the most fun shower games that they had ever played.  A few of the guests, asked for the extra copies so they could use them at showers they were going to host.  Overall, I loved the games and was really excited about how people received them.

Shower Favorsphoto 2

The mommy-to-be is a huge tea drinker, so for the favors I chose to give tea.  Inside each of the cute little bags were 4 jasmine tea bags.  The little sticker says “A Baby is Brewing…expected delivery _____”, I just picked these little stickers up at the stationery store and put the wording I wanted into the template.

Crostini Four Ways

crostiniThere is something about small bites of food that I just love.  Part of it is that you don’t have to commit to a huge portion, you can try a lot of different options.  I love that crostini toppings have so many different flavors and textures.  Also who doesn’t love toast, did you know that crostini means “little toast” in Italian?

For the baby shower I hosted I wanted to do crostini, but I couldn’t decide on just one, so I opted for four different toppings.  All of the recipes make 2 dozen, maybe even a few more depending on how you slice the bread.

These first two recipes are from my uncle, he is a fabulous cook, he’s been making these for years and once you try them you will see why, they are delicious.

Smoked Salmon Dijon Dill Crostini  salmon

baguette sliced 1/4 inch, brushed with olive oil and baked at 350 for 10-20 minutes flipping over halfway

1/2 cup goat cheese

6 oz. smoked salmon

dill for garnish

Dijon sauce: 2 tbsp. red onion finely chopped, 2 tbsp. Dijon mustard, 4 tbsp. honey mustard, 4 tsp. chopped dill  (can be made ahead of time, I made it the night before).

Toast crostini, spread with goat cheese, dollop the sauce onto the goat cheese, place small piece of smoked salmon on top.  Put a small piece of dill on top for garnish.

Tapenade Crostini  tapenade

baguette sliced 1/4 inch, brushed with olive oil and baked at 350 for 10-20 minutes flipping over halfway

1 cup kalamata olives

1/4 cup drained and rinsed capers

1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil

1 tsp. Italian seasoning

3 – 4 tbsp. olive oil (add in while mixing)

Put all ingredients into a food processor and pulse till it is a coarse mix.

Spread on crostini.

The Balsamic Strawberry Crostini was a Pinterest find, however, I modified it a little bit, but here is where the idea started.

Balsamic Strawberry Crostini   cro

baguette sliced 1/4 inch, brushed with olive oil and baked at 350 for 10-20 minutes flipping over halfway

1/2 cup goat cheese

2 cups strawberries chopped into small pieces

3 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup basil chopped

coat strawberries in balsamic vinegar and bake at 350 for about 10 -15 minutes on a baking sheet.  Spread crostini with goat cheese and put strawberries on top, add basil as a garnish on top.

This recipe was originally an open face sandwich form, but it was so good, why not make it into a smaller bite.

Pesto Prosciutto Egg Crostini  proscuitto

baguette sliced 1/4 inch, brushed with olive oil and baked at 350 for 10-20 minutes flipping over halfway.

classic pesto sauce (or make your own)

6 slices of prosciutto

4-5 hard-boiled eggs sliced ( I don’t use the end pieces because they lack the yolk)

So easy to make, you can use any type of pesto you like or you can make your own. Put a layer of pesto, a small piece of prosciutto and a hard-boiled egg slice.  This is an amazing sandwich too, but such a delicious bite as a crostini.