Monday, January 31, 2011

Lovin' February

I love February and everything "hearts."  A few little touches and I'm in the Valentine mood.  Here's a little "Before and After" for you:

BEFORE... a little heart-shaped grapevine wreath. 

I actually made my wreath from Wisteria vines that I scavenged after my husband trimmed the plant in the Summer. I pounded some nails into our fence in a heart-shape and then wound the vines around them. I let them dry in the hot sun for many days. When it was quite dry and would hold it's shape, I removed the nails and admired my new wreath.

AFTER...all dressed up and ready to go for Valentine's Day.

I like to keep it sweet and simple--a pink and white striped ribbon and a touch of greenery.  I hung this one on a cabinet rather than a wall.  I change it with the seasons and use it in lots of different ways. You may see this one again, in a whole new outfit.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Best Celebration Ever...The Pink and Blue Party

My daughter Kelli had the best party idea ever! My son Danny and his wife Sarah are expecting their third baby in March. We could've waited for a phone call following the ultrasound to hear if it's a boy or girl, but we made this into a celebration! Here's how it went down...

First...the party invitations:

Following Sarah and Dan's ultrasound appointment, the Doctor placed the results in a tightly sealed envelope. No one but the doctor knew the gender of the baby. Kelli drove to Fresno to pick up the results in that tightly sealed envelope. The envelope was delivered to our friend, Elisa, who was now the 2nd person to know the gender of our new baby until THE PARTY... Reveling in her top secret information, Elisa baked cupcakes, inserted either a pink or blue gumball in the center after they were baked and then frosted them. The gender of our new baby was buried in the center of a dozen cupcakes!

Menu--Ham and Egg Strata, cinnamon rolls from Jantz bakery, fresh fruit, bagels, coffee and juice.  (Cupcakes for dessert!)
Games--Party goers were divided into teams as determined by their guess of the baby's gender and their pink or blue attire.  Grown-ups played 25 question pink and blue trivia games.  Here's a sample:
Pink things...Scissors with serrated blades are called_________________. 
Blue things:  The artist associated with the "blue period" is _______________.
Competition between the pink and blue children's teams got very stiff during the baby washcloth toss.  Pink and blue baby washcloths rolled and tied with pink and blue ribbon had to be tossed into a basket.  The team with the most washcloths landing in the basket were the winners.
The competition between teams and the loud cheering and screaming (we have 5 little girls with incredible screams), really helped build the anticipation for the big moment.

Danny, Sarah, Abby and Kinsley

The PINK Team

The BLUE Team

Are you ready?  Few words are needed to describe the following events:

What a grand way to celebrate the addition of a baby BOY to our family.  We are blessed!

Thanks to Sarah for waiting a whole week to find out the results.  We know that was hard for you!
Thanks to Danny, Sarah, Abby and Kinsley for sharing this special moment with all of us.
Thanks to Kelli for such a great idea, for the invitations, and the special wooden letters from your Dwelling shop.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Going Bananas

Once a month, I celebrate friendship with sweet friends that I don't get to see as often as I used to.  We get together to share what's happening in our lives, we laugh a lot, and we calendar the next date for a get-together.  One fun afternoon, we gathered at my house and I taught them how to play Bananagrams.  We had a blast!
At the end of the game, my friends were surprised to find their very own Bananagrams game underneath their chair.  (Just like they do on the Oprah Show.)

I'm kind of a "themey" person (I wonder if I could use that word in Bananagrams?) so I made fresh banana cakes for a delightfully yummy accompaniment to coffee.  This is one of my favorite recipes of all time so I'll include it for you.  Good desserts are a party in themselves.  I love to jazz up the plate and make them look extra special for my extra special guests.  A pretty plate, a little chocolate sauce squirted in a zig-zag pattern, whip cream, and a strawberry on top!
Thanks to my amazing daughter-in-law, Sarah for introducing me to Bananagrams.  (We call her the "gamer" in our family!)
Thanks to the Sandhill Crane Bed and Breakfast for the fabulous banana cake recipe.

                                                            MINI BANANA CAKES:
3 T. butter                         3 T. flaked coconut, toasted          3 T. chopped almonds, toasted
2 T. brown sugar             1 large banana, sliced                   1/4 c. cake flour
1/4 t. baking powder       pinch of salt                                     1 egg
3 T. granulated sugar      1 t. rum extract  

Divide butter, coconut, almonds, brown sugar and banana among three (3/4 cup) souffle dishes.  (I use ramekins.)  Combine flour, baking powder, and salt.  Beat egg and white sugar until thick and pale.  Beat in rum extract.  Fold in flour mixture.  Pour batter evenly into greased or buttered dishes.  Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes.  Cool slightly, then invert onto serving plates.  Serves 3
This recipes just serves 3.  I double it when I need more.  Also...the flour must be cake flour.  I tried to get by once with regular flour and it wasn't nice.

Invite some friends over for a simple celebration...the celebration of friendship!

I'm a Stampin Up "Hobbyist."  This means that I can play around for hours, making cute little cards, baskets, and bags and call it a hobby-- as opposed to calling it a goofing-around day!  :)     So for my Bananagram Party, we had little baskets full of banana-split saltwater taffy.  (Had to go all the way to Carmel to get that taffy!)

Monday, January 3, 2011

A New Year, A New Blog, A New Place to Play!

By popular demand...(seriously), I am sharing some of my ideas, recipes, games and pictures for what I call, the GOOD TIMES!
I love having my friends and family over for celebrations. And I believe that being surrounded by sweet friends and family members is, in fact, the very reason to celebrate! There's a party around every corner!