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.”

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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} 

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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.

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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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custom princess castle cookies

princess-castle-cookie-box1

I’m always so impressed with the talents of Sue and team at Sweet Tooth Cottage, our bakery partners, but when I saw our castle and crown designs from our Princess Castle and Prince & Princess collections I honestly was in awe. (All the cookies shown in this post, including the sugar paper sheets that you can purchase separately, will be in the shoppe early tomorrow morning!)

These cookies are so lovely and could be perfect additions adorning a dessert table, or boxed as a favor. And not only are these cookies pretty, they are so very yummy! They’re baked fresh upon order and heat sealed to ensure flavor and texture for up to two weeks. Did I mention these are butter cookies, not sugar cookies, so they are soft and they melt in your mouth. I wish I could send a sample to each of you because you would honestly be in love!

princess-crown-cookie-only

If you’ve been following our new partnership you may have noticed that the cookies can be personalized. For these two collections we can personalize the crowns with either the birthday girl’s name or with each of her guests’, making the favor even more special!

princess-castle-crown-cookie-rounds

We also offer cookie rounds with edible printed sugar paper. You can purchase the delish cookies, or just the prints (2.13″ circles, 12 per page, 2 pages per package, 24 circles total) already pre-cut for easy application!

princess-cookie-collection

One of my best girlfriends hosted a princess party last month using these cookies AND some new princess printables (cello toppers, beverage wrappers, favor tags, dessert labels) that will be in the shoppe by this weekend. I’ll share all the “real party” details shortly.

As always, I hope you’re inspired!

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30% off for Cyber Monday

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We’ve been busy over the past few weeks! We’ve launching two new holiday collections: Mod Candy Cane and BELIEVE, forged a sweet partnership with the fabulous Sweet Tooth Cottage cookie company, and had two wonderful press opportunities: honored as a Martha Stewart Dreamer Into Doer and had our Science birthday collection featured in Columbus Parent Magazine.

And now I’m very happy to announce that we’re having our best sale ever! Today through noon tomorrow we’re offering 30% off any custom invitation order (code INVT30) and 30% off any printable collection (marked)!

So plan those January birthdays, host a wow-worthy holiday cookie decorating party with the kids or a sophisticated cocktail party for the adults, and surprise your mom-to-be or bride-to-be girlfriends with the perfect shower!

If you’ve not already, make sure and sign up for offers in the box at the top of the page. Like us on facebook and follow us on twitter!

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Christmas advent calendar craft

easy-advent-calendar-craft-with-kids-wl

I love crafting with my kids and Christmas is my absolute favorite season, everything from the giggles of excitement that waft through the house (the kids and mine) to whipping up new treats to share with neighbors and friends.

So last week while we were wrapping up our final Christmas collection photo shoot, I took a little time to plan this fun and easy Christmas tree advent calendar craft. Make it over the Thanksgiving holiday and be all set to count down the days to December 25 by decorating a mini Christmas tree each day!

advent-cal-supplies-all-wl

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 24 Christmas trees (8 to a sheet of regular scrapbook paper)
  • 9′ of ribbon to hang, another 3′ for push pin bows
  • 24 mini clothes pins (wood working section of your craft store)
  • 24 stars
  • sheet of number stickers
  • ornaments (aka hole punches out of coordinating scrapbook paper)
  • 1 sheet of vellum (for the mini envelope)
  • 6 push pins
  • glue (to attach your vellum pocket and for the kids to decorate with)

advent-calendar-3-steps-wl

And here’s how you pull it all together:

  1. Cut out 24 trees, stars and vellum rectangles.
  2. Punch out lots and lots of ornaments (a regular office hole punch works just fine).
  3. Using stickers, number each of the stars 1 to 24.
  4. Attach the stars to the tops of the trees and then flip the trees over.
  5. Sprinkle some ornaments in the center of each tree, pipe three lines of glue (Elmer’s glue or a glue stick) leaving the top open, attach the vellum rectangle over the ornaments and allow the trees to dry for 5-10 minutes.
  6. Hang three 3′ sections of ribbon with push pins. (Optional: Tie bows in coordinating ribbon to the push pins to help hide them.)
  7. Attach the trees on the ribbon using mini clothes pins.

the-celebration-shoppe-advent-calendar

Now, starting on December 1, let your little ones take down a tree each day and decorate it using the hole punch ornaments from the little vellum envelope in back. As you can see, we’ve got a jump start! As always, I hope you’re inspired!

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introducing BELIEVE

believe-table-tag-s

I’m so very proud to introduce BELIEVE as our 57th collection! BELIEVE offers an elegant palette for cookie parties, cocktail parties, family gatherings and even charitable events. In addition to the custom invitations and thank you cards, and silver square dinner and dessert plates, this collection has several printable components as well. Above you can see our 8×10 “BELIEVE!” mat, which we used on our dessert table flanked by two silver serving trays topped with shimmering Christmas trees and our “BELIEVE!” tag, perfect for favors or even Christmas presents from Santa!  

table-setting-collage-s

Our beverage wrappers are not only great for wrapping wine and water bottles, they are also perfect for embellishing your centerpieces. We chose silver branches from the craft store to give the table a little pop. We also designed beverage markers so you won’t lose your glass of wine and beautiful placecards to help your guests’ find their seats.  

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Who said favors had to be expensive to be dazzling?! I chose a simple ornament favor idea to showcase our square “Thank You” favor tags for this collection: silver and red glitter ornaments tied with beautiful shimmering ribbon.

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And if you’re a hostess that likes to have an activity or two up her sleeve, my “Fondest Christmas Memory” printable kit (includes 5×7 mat, the square BELIEVE favor tags and blank snowflake cards) will help get all your guests in the spirit. The idea is that everyone writes down their fondest memory, places it in the jar and then later in the evening you can read them aloud and let everyone guess who wrote the memory. Mine is from the Christmas just before I turned nine. My brother and I sat at the kitchen table for hours coloring pictures from a coloring book. Then we cut them all out and hung them on the tree as ornaments. They clashed a little with all of my mom’s lovely ornaments, but in true mom style she left them on the tree for the entire holiday season and still has a few of them in her holiday “happy boxes” as she calls them. 

dessert-table-collage3

And what dinner party is complete without a dessert bar?! Our collection offers a “Warm Up” beverage mat perfect when you’re serving hot cocoa or even a warm toddy, dessert labels (six pre-filled plus a blank sheet so that you can overprint your own desserts), and cello toppers embellished with “Thank You” so you can send your guests home with a few sweet treats, like the yummy hand-iced melt-in-your-mouth butter cookies from our partners at Sweet Tooth Cottage. You’ll find these lovely cookies with the rest of the collection in our shoppe. (Read more about cookie sizes, ingredients, shipping and packaging on our About Us page.)

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And it just wouldn’t be complete without cupcake picks and wrappers! Look for the entire collection in the shoppe with 50% off the printable collection original price through Cyber Monday! As always, I hope you’re inspired.

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science birthday party crafts

science-party-crafts

In mid-September I held my oldest son’s science birthday party (part I, part II, feature in Columbus Parent Magazine) and mentioned that I would share a few of the crafts: paper mache books for the book shelves on the dessert table, hand scanner for entry to our top secret lab and “Alex’s Lab This Way” sign.

science-birthday-party-paper-mache-book-craft

For the paper mache books, I simply purchased the books from the craft store, painted them with craft paint (absorbs quickly), stenciled on “Biology,” “Chemistry,” and “Astronomy” and then sealed them with a spray (also available at the craft store). The books actually open and can be used for storage so they ended up being little gifts for my son after the party and he uses them to store his collections… aka dried leaves, rocks, bugs (in mini specimen jars!). 

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The second craft was my son’s favorite. He had been planning a hand scanner for his lab in the basement so I thought it only appropriate to make one for his party. Mine wasn’t functional of course (he plans on his actually working and I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if it actually does), but it was fun. First I painted the board white and allowed it to dry. Next I painted his hand (yes, that is my baby’s little hand) and we stamped it in the middle of the sign. And finally I stenciled on the letters (cut out using a Cricut).

Unfortunately I didn’t get a great shot of the “Alex’s Lab This Way” sign that pointed everyone to the lab entrance, but it was accomplished in much the same way, paint and stencils.

Have a fabulous weekend everyone and stop back next week to see our new BELIEVE collection and a very fun and easy DIY Christmas advent calendar idea.

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