baby Jesus’ birthday cake

My boys schools celebrated Jesus’ birthday in the last few days before the Christmas break and I signed up to bring the cake for my youngest son’s class party. After I signed up then it hit me what a tall order it was going to be: it had to have meaning to the kids and I couldn’t use anything fancy because let’s face it… what four year old is going to eat a fondant cake… plus that seemed a little over the top for a preschool class. 

So in the end I iced a normal homemade cake and adorned it with the manger scene. I tried to keep it simple so I chose to make the stable from graham crackers with a party mix roof and pretzel posts, the manger from pretzel sticks, the lamb from marshmallows (four for the body and one for the head) and coconut (I wish you could see the coconut ears better!) and the beautiful baby Jesus was made of Cheerios. My son liked that part best!

And of course there had to be a star, so I swiped another ornament from their playroom tree (it’s going to be bald soon if I don’t stop crafting) and I tied it to a piece of floral wire and a lollipop stick, which I stuck in the cake behind the stable, so that it could hang in the sky. Last, but not least, I wanted the little lamb to be looking up in awe of the glorious glow (his little face was drawn on; you can find food dye pens at your craft store or bakery supply shop).

For the stable, cut the back graham cracker on a slant with a serrated knife. If you use a sawing motion they won’t break. Then bond the pieces with icing, allowing dry time before finally assembly. All other items can be assembled with icing as well, just allow dry time. I would recommend 30 minutes just to be confident they won’t break when you pick them up. If you need the process to be quicker, refrigerate.

I hope you’re having a very Merry Christmas season and as always, I hope you’re inspired!

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“allergy-free” Santa pops

I love weekends when I just get to play in the kitchen and the craft room without any looming deadlines. This weekend was a bit of half-and-half, but I still managed to watch a few Christmas movies and make a few goodies with my boys. And for those of you with little ones like mine, that suffer from severe food allergies, this goody is for you. It’s easy, fun and completely dairy and egg allergy-free.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Double Stuff Oreo cookies (Vanilla is best when you’re using light colored icing and Double Stuff makes it much easier to apply the lollipop stick without the cookie breaking)
  • Pillsbury white icing
  • red Starburst candies for the hat
  • sugar crystals/sprinkles for the trim
  • red and blue mini icing tubes (not gels) for the eyes and mouth
  • resealable plastic bag
  • lollipop sticks
  • wax paper
  • cooling rack (very helpful if you have one)
  • optional: #46  icing tip, connector for mustache (or you can just slit the resealable bag)
  • optional: 4″ cello bags for gifting

Here’s how you make the pops:

  1. Open your Oreo cookies and place a lollipop stick, longways, into the filling. Press down so that the lollipop stick is even with the filling.
  2. Place white icing in a small bowl, a heaping tablespoon full for each cookie you plan to dip (I recommend no more than two to three at a time), and microwave it for no more than eight seconds. Remove from the microwave and stir. It should be completely melted. (Don’t overdo it or the icing will dry with a crystallized look and won’t be as yummy.)
  3. Using a spoon, place a small amount of warm icing on the cookie over the lollipop stick and put the top back on. Allow the icing to set for at least 30 seconds.
  4. Tilt your bowl on its side and dip each pop. Again, I recommend only doing two to three at a time because you don’t want your icing to cool and you don’t want to have to reheat it.
  5. Place the cookies on the cooling rack with a piece of wax paper underneath for easy cleanup.
  6. Quickly spoon another tablespoon full of icing over each cookie. If the icing is still warm enough it will coat, drip and dry flat.

Embellishments:

  1. On a sheet of wax paper, gather your goodies: Starburst, sprinkles, tube icing, and a small amount of white icing in a resealable bag. I used the flat side of a #46 icing tip with a connector for the mustache, but you could slit your resealable bag in a straight line. You’ll just want to play with it on the wax paper a few times before applying to the cookie to make sure you have the cut correct.
  2. Heat one red Starburst on a small piece of wax paper in the microwave for eight to 10 seconds. Each one will make one Santa hat. While warm, careful not to burn your fingers, mold the Starburst into a triangle. You can dampen your fingers if you need to work with it a bit.
  3. To apply the sprinkles, lightly dampen the bottom rim and the top point of your triangle with your finger. Add the sprinkles, pushing any that landed on the center section back into place before they dry. 
  4. Pipe on a few drops of red icing for the mouth.
  5. Pipe on the mustache with the resealable bag (if using the icing tip: cut corner of bag, insert connector, attach tip to outside of bag with closure and fill with white icing).
  6. Attach your hat with a small amount of icing. (Tip: Use a flat spatula or butter knife to lift it off the wax paper so the candy doesn’t stretch.)
  7. Pipe on eyes.
  8. Allow Santa to completely dry for at least three hours before inserting into cello bags.

If you’re not up for the Santa pops, my boys loved the simple snowflake sprinkle ones just the same. Just add your sprinkles before your icing dries and you’re all set.

I’m so excited to be able to serve my youngest, who as most of you know has a severe milk allergy, a super fun treat that all the kids will want. Please share with any other moms who have little ones stricken with food allergies and as always, I hope you’re inspired!

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prepping for Santa

We likely all spend little time mulling over what we leave out for the big guy on Christmas Eve. So this year with my little boys in tow and their blue eyes bright, we gave it some thought. After some debate we agreed on a woodland theme and started wandering the house looking for natural items that we could use. Our first find was several huge pine cones the boys had been given by their uncle over the summer. We strung popcorn for the garland, and then we hot glued on the candy ornaments and the tiny star that we plucked from their playroom Christmas tree.

Taking the popcorn string one more step, we added chewy cherry sour balls and threaded it with green cross-stitch thread. (Tip: I recommend cleaning your needle between each candy chew with a moist paper towel.) Admittedly there was much more eating than threading on the kids’ part, but there were lots of giggles. My very favorite sound!

My oldest loves powdered donuts so we skewered a few on a lollipop stick (he of course had to test one out for his dessert that night) and tied it with a pretty red ribbon. We also chose some sugared tea cookies and a butter snowflake cookie from our partners at Sweet Tooth Cottage.

 

And what better beverage for Santa placesetting than a bottle of Coca-Cola (since, after all, our modern day Santa is based off of the image they presented in their advertising from decades ago)?! We embellished the bottle with a lovely snowflake ornament and it was all set!

 

Next we made this yarn pom pom Rudolph-the-red-nosed-reindeer. I’m just in love with how he turned out, especially his acorn nose. The boys were so giggly while he was coming together. Admittedly a few pom poms ran off during the process, but he finally came together. Here’s a quick tutorial on how you can make him too.

Last, but never least, the Christmas list must be very prominent near the plate. We wouldn’t want Santa to miss it! {wink} Merry Christmas everyone and as always, I hope you’re inspired!

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peppermint sweets!

I’m guest blogging for Laurie at Tip Junkie today and sharing my top 10 fav peppermint sweet ideas. Here’s just a little peak at what you’ll see after the jump! As always, I hope you’re inspired!

Homemade Christmas Ideas

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DIY pom pom Rudolph

My darling friend Kelly at The Party Dress asked a few of us to participate in a holiday series on her blog this month. We could style a dessert table, a dinner table or a child’s table. Since my 2010 Christmas collections, Mod Candy Cane and BELIEVE, were already styled and in the shoppe, Kelly let me bend the rules a bit. I worked with the two most important (shorter than 4 feet) men in my life to style Santa’s cookie placesetting for Christmas Eve. For the most part I let them lead and they chose a woodland theme with the initial inspiration coming from a huge pine cone they had been dying to decorate like a Christmas tree.

More to come on the placesetting, but for now I want to share the DIY pom pom Rudolph-the-red-nosed-reindeer craft we came up with. I’m just in love with him! I was inspired by Jenn at HWTM and her recent use of yarn in several Christmas crafts. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • brown yarn for the body and neck
  • large acorn for the reindeer’s face/snout
  • 4 dark brown pipe cleaners for the legs
  • 2 light brown pipe cleaners for the antlers
  • small brown pom pom for the tail
  • red paint for the tip of his nose
  • glue gun
  • sharp scissors

And here’s how you make him:

  1. You’ll need two medium size pom poms for the body. Wrap the yarn around your hand (just below the knuckle) 45 to 50 times, cut and tie in the center as shown in image A. You’ll need two small pom poms for the neck. Wrap the yarn around two fingers (above the knuckle) 45 to 50 times, cut and tie in the center.
  2. Cut all the loops in each of your pom poms. You may need to shape them a bit, clipping off any stray strands and condensing his body a bit as shown in image B.
  3. For the antlers, cut a pipe cleaner in half and form a “V” with one piece. Next cut the remaining piece in half and twist them around each side of the “V” as shown in image C.
  4. For the legs, you can twist the pipe cleaners to give the legs more dimension as we did as shown in image D, or you can leave them straight.
  5. Now it’s time to hot glue. Start by gluing the two medium size pom poms together for the body and then add the tail.
  6. Glue the two small pom poms together for the neck and glue the acorn on as the snout with the point out.
  7. Attach the neck to the body (at  about 10 o’clock on the body pom poms) so that the head is up. You may need a few dots of glue at the back of the neck to the body (easily hidden) if your acorn is heavy.
  8. Attach the legs.
  9. And finally paint the tip of the acorn red.

As always, I hope you’re inspired!

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no-bake but must-make cookies

My absolute favorite cookie in the world is the chocolate no-bake cookie. I can’t remember a holiday without them… and to be honest they are the “go to” cookie in my house when we’re craving something sweet and simply don’t want to wait for anything to bake. You can even eat them right out of the saucepan… not that I’ve done that before. {wink} And I know they’re not much to look at, but trust me. You won’t be disappointed!

You’ll need:

½ cup (1 stick) butter (I often add a little less) 
2 cups granulated sugar
½ cup milk
4 tablespoons cocoa
½ cup peanut butter (I sometimes add more!)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (splurge for the real extract; it’s worth it)
3 cups quick-cooking oats (I sometimes add a little less depending on how much peanut butter I use)

Quick and easy steps:

  1. Mix the sugar and cocoa in a saucepan until smooth.
  2. Add milk and stir.
  3. Lay stick of softened butter on top of the chocolate mixture, turn the stove on low and allow butter to melt.
  4. Bring to a rolling boil, let boil for 1 minute and remove from heat.
  5. Stir in the peanut butter and vanilla until smooth.
  6. Stir first two cups of oats in and then add third a little at a time. (Remember: The heat of the mixture is what cooks the oats so don’t go too slowly. Plus, they set very quickly so spoon them as soon as the oats are in!)
  7. Use tablespoon to drop onto wax paper-lined baking sheets.

As always, I hope you’re inspired!

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chocolate chip cookie snowman

chocolate-chip-cookie-snowman-wl

I can honestly say that my boys inspire me constantly. I have a sketch pad of ideas on my desk at all times and it often travels around with me. The boys are always asking “What’s this mommy?” When I share my idea they often give me tips on improving it or get these large excited eyes and give me four more ideas, some of which involve superheroes and construction, but you get the picture.

So the other day when my oldest was playing with his snack, two Chips Ahoy chocolate chip cookies, and a lollipop stick I really didn’t think much of it. As you can imagine, we play with sweets around my house all the time. After a few minutes he ran to me and said “Look Mommy!” He had carefully twisted and as he put it “lightly pushed at the same time” the lollipop stick through his cookie without breaking it. After I praised his work he went back and made a face, the one you see above. Isn’t it sweet?! He asked if I would put it on my blog and of course I said yes. This is a family business!

So yesterday we set his little creation up for the big debut! Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Chocolate chip cookies, preferrably something like Chips Ahoy (not too soft)
  • Lollipop sticks
  • White icing
  • Candy corn for the nose
  • Cherry chew and string Twizzlers for the hat

And here’s how:

  1. Top one cookie with white icing
  2. Twist and push the lollipop stick through the second cookie to make the face
  3. Put a little icing on the back side of the cookie with the face and push the icing into the holes a bit so that the face is prominent
  4. Insert the lollipop stick in the icing of the bottom cookie. A reminder from my son: “Tell them to make sure to put the chocolate end of the lollipop stick in the cookie so it doesn’t look dirty.” Or of course you could use one to make all the faces and new ones for the cookies themselves. {wink}
  5. Put a small amount of icing on the end of the candy corn and attach the nose
  6. Cut the cherry chew in half, add a small amount of icing and attach as the hat
  7. Embellish the hat with a tied single string of Twizzler

Ta-da! Chocolate chip cookie snowman as created through the eyes of my six year old. As always, I hope you’re inspired! I know I am! {gushing motherly pride}

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printable gift & giveaway!

free-christmas-snowflake-printable

It’s difficult to express how grateful I am for all my customers and readers, you all mean so very much to me. I’m terribly blessed to be able to make a career out of doing what I love. I wish that for all of us! And since I like to give “little happies” now and again, I thought this would be the perfect way to thank you all for such a fabulous year. So while we were developing our Mod Candy Cane collection I decided to create a mini printable collection for those sweet gifts we tend to give this time of year. It includes: snowflake circles, I recommend a 2.5″ circle punch but scissors will do the trick, and rectangle tags that say “Have a sweet day.”

recipe-card-wl

Plus these recipe cards, both pre-filled with the Peppermint Cookie Bark recipe (above) and blank ones so you can send any goodies you like! 

Here’s how you get them:

  1. If you’re already signed up to receive special offers you’ll be receiving an e-mail with your free printables in the next day or so. 
  2. If you’re not, join us by signing up in the “receive special offers!” box at the top of my blog and get not only this Christmas printable gift, but regular updates about new collections, crafts, sweet ideas, future freebies, offers and so much more! And don’t forget to tell us with a comment on this post that you signed up as an entry in the giveaway too! (NOTE: We’ll e-mail the printables once daily through Saturday.)
  3. Facebook fans will find the link on our wall.
  4. Twitter followers will find the link in my timeline.

And for all the Columbus Parent Magazine readers, thanks for stopping in! This printable is especially great for those of us who want to spread a little cheer without breaking the Christmas budget. I’m personally giving Peppermint Cookie Bark this year. YUM! {Sorry to ruin the surprise for those who are reading this!} And since it’s already snowing here, I may even have the boys pull my snowflake jars (found them at the Dollar Tree a few weeks ago) around the neighborhood in their little wagon, sort of like those Smuckers jelly commercials… we are in Ohio after all! {wink} 

mod-candy-cane-giveaway

I thought this would also be a lovely time to give everyone a chance to win the entire Mod Candy Cane collection. You can have up to six chances! Here’s how:

  1. Comment on this post sharing either your very favorite collection from The Celebration Shoppe or tell me about a party idea you’d like to see us create in our 2011 collection. We’re working to finalize the list for the next six months so it’s perfect timing and I would love your input!
  2. Become a fan of  The Celebration Shoppe on Facebook  and comment on this post.
  3. Follow The Celebration Shoppe on Twitter,  tweet about it and comment on this post.
  4. Subscribe to our RSS feed at the left of the blog or let us know you are a subscriber with a comment on this post.
  5. Sign up for offers in the box in the upper right corner of my blog and comment on this post. (This is the best way to ensure you get the freebie above and all future freebies too!)
  6. Spread the word (on your facebook page, on your blog, etc.) and comment how on this post.

The Mod Candy Cane collection winner will be selected and e-mailed on Saturday at 8 a.m. ET. Best of luck to everyone and again, THANK YOU for a fabulous year! {The giveaway is now closed. The winner is comment #57, Jenny D.!}

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easy peppermint cookie bark

peppermint-cookie-bark-wl

I’ve had several of you ask about the peppermint cookie bark that we made for the Mod Candy Cane collection photo shoot a few weeks ago so I thought I would share the recipe. It’s super easy and oh so very yummy!

Ingredients

  • 8-10 sandwich cookies (+ some for nibbling)
  • 6 oz hard peppermint candies (approximately 32)
  • 1.5 cups white chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Place candy canes in a plastic bag and hammer into 1/4-inch chunks
  2. Place cookies in a plastic bag and break into 1/4-inch chunks
  3. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler
  4. Combine candy cane chunks and cookies with chocolate, saving just a few.
  5. Pour mixture onto a wax covered cookie sheet, add last few cookie and candy cane bits, pressing them gently into the chocolate, and place in the refrigerator for 45 minutes or until firm

This is the perfect recipe for a “sweet” Christmas gift. Stay tuned tomorrow for a few fun free embellishments to help you pretty up the packaging!

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DIY candy garland craft

taffy-and-cherry-chew-candy-garland-wl

Not all garland has to be store-bought, and as a matter of fact it’s likely more fun if it’s not!

This week while we were whipping up a few placesetting and craft ideas, my six-year old son grew a little restless. Imagine that! So we set him up with this simple craft. And the best part, we just used leftover candy that we had around the office. The top garland is red cherry chews and green taffy. Using a large dull needle and clear fishing line (always in my craft bag!) thread each piece. I recommend cleaning your needle with a damp paper towel between each piece of candy and using short pieces of fishing line that you can tie together at the end so that you don’t have to push the chewy candy down very far.

popcorn-and-cherry-sour-garland-wl

And for this second one, popcorn, chewy cherry sour balls and green cross-stitch thread. Admittedly there was much more eating than threading on the kids’ part, but there were lots of giggles. My very favorite sound!

Happy weekend everyone and as always, I hope you’re inspired!

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