Monday, January 31, 2011

Cupcake Party: Let's Bake Some Memories!

Once the girls at Mary Ashley's birthday party donned aprons and chef hats, it was time to get busy in the kitchen. I filled a bowl with a variety of cupcake wrappers and encouraged the girls to line our muffin tins with their favorites. Then it was time for more hands-on fun.

Part of the fun of this party was letting the girls take an active roll in the baking. Family friend Haley Scott brought her pretty pistachio Kitchenaid stand mixer, and the two of us set up baking stations at opposite ends of the kitchen counter.

The girls divided into two groups to help us make four kinds of cupcakes: vanilla, lemon, strawberry and chocolate.

We used Duncan Hines cake mixes for the party, and the girls took turns adding ingredients.

Yes, even our vegetable oil got dressed up for the party!

Batter up! Little Gracie takes a turn at the mixer.

Sweet Emma Cate fills muffin cups.

Little Lizzie came to me at one point -- her brow furrowed with worry -- to confess, "Missy Melissy, my apron got dirty." She was so relieved when I told her that the apron was to keep spills from staining her pretty dress.

Mary Ashley discovers one of the perks of baking.

And shares the idea with her friends!

What could be sweeter than licking batter off your finger?

Licking it right out of a measuring cup!

While the cupcakes baked, Mary Ashley opened her birthday presents.

Stop in tomorrow to unwrap gift ideas perfect for the little bakers in your life.

Photos used with permission of Allison Hilyer Photography

Friday, January 28, 2011

Cupcake Party: Dressed to Bake

I was so excited when Mary Ashley wanted to celebrate her birthday baking and decorating cupcakes with a few of her closest friends. Weeks before the party I made an apron for each guest. I hung them in a corner of our dining room with Command Mini Hooks and let the girls choose one when they arrived for the party. Sweet tags deisigned by Katy Larson and pinned to the aprons invited, "Let's bake some memories! Mary Ashley."

Here are six of our sweet little aprons hanging out, just waiting to be chosen. I made the girls' aprons using Simplicity pattern 0477, and two adult aprons using Butterick See & Sew pattern B5125. Fabrics used included several Nicey Jane fabrics by Heather Bailey; Ava Rose by Tanya Whelan; My Little Puppy by Kelly Tanner; and Hushabye Damask by Tula Pink.

"A daughter is a day brightener and a heart warmer." --Author Unknown

My dear friend Allison Hilyer took all the photos in this post. I treasure this collage she put together of me and my sweet girls.

The Birthday Girl got first pick of aprons.

We asked family friend Haley Scott to join us for the afternoon and had an apron waiting for her. The girls absolutely adore "Miss Haley." In fact, recently after Bible class Mary Ashley spotted me in the hall and cried "Mommy!" as she ran toward me. I stretched out my arms to hug her, but just as she was about to run into my embrace she noticed Haley beside me and turned at the last second toward Haley. Time seemed to move in slow motion as I bent over and hugged the air, and Mary Ashley embraced Haley instead. The humor was not lost on the crowd around us, and I had to laugh too!

I am truly thankful that my girls have such a beautiful young Christian lady who cares about them. And if I can take second place to a girl like Haley, I guess that's good enough.

After the girls donned their aprons, they moved to the next station to decorate a chef hat with markers and paper flowers.

Katy has proven a great resource for party ideas, and she discovered an adorable idea for decorating chef hats on the Amy Atlas blog. Find directions for embellishing baking hats with large coffee filter and cupcake liner flowers here.

Aren't they adorable? Here are our little bakers in their new aprons and baking hats -- ready to get baking!

Our favorite bakers: (top row) Gracie, Claire and Emma; (middle row) Emma Cate, Mary Ashley and Lynleigh; and (bottom row) Ann Welch, Emma and Lizzie.

The oven is preheated, and we hope you will join us each day next week to bake up some fun!

Photos used with permission of Allison Hilyer Photography.

(I'm linking this post to "Show and Tell Friday" at My Romantic Home.)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

A Cupcake Surprise

I found this pretty cookbook on a recent trip to Borders Bookstore and couldn't resist picking up a copy for you. Yesterday's post featured a recipe from Perfect Cupcakes, Cookies & Muffins. I have enjoyed thumbing through this book and found several recipes I would like to try. I love cookbooks that include photos of every recipe, and this one delivers with full-color images of recipes like pound cake cupcakes with lemon-lime glaze, chocolate truffle cupcakes and ginger pear cupcakes. Along with a number of tempting cupcake recipes, you will also find an inspiring assortment of cookie and muffin recipes worth trying.

When you find the perfect recipe to try, of course, you will need some pretty little cupcake liners. So this box of cake shop petite liners from Meri Meri will be perfect for baking up something wonderful.

To enter this giveaway, leave a comment below. Add an extra comment if you follow A Little Loveliness. I will announce the winner of this cupcake giveaway at the conclusion of our cupcake party posts. Sweet photos, resources and creative projects are coming your way!

"Pleasure is spread through the earth
In stray gifts to be claimed by whoever shall find."
-- William Wordsworth, 1806

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

White Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes

I just previewed the photos from Mary Ashley's recent birthday party, and they are beautiful! My friend Allison did a great job capturing all the fun during our cupcake baking and decorating Saturday. I am busy organizing images and compiling helpful links, but hope to post party pictures later in the week. In the meantime, I wanted to get you in the mood for cupcakes with a delicious new recipe I tried yesterday. So help yourself to a white chocolate raspberry cupcake.

White Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes

This recipe from Perfect Cupcakes, Cookies and Muffins would be a great addition to a Valentine tea menu.

1/2 cup white chocolate chips
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup self-rising flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup milk
3/4 cup fresh or frozen raspberries
Confectioners sugar, for dusting
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 6-cup standard muffin pan by greasing or inserting liners. In a small saucepan over low heat, melt half the white chocolate chips with the butter, stirring gently until smooth. Set aside to cool. In a mixing bowl, sift the flour. Stir in the sugar and remaining white chocolate chips. In a small mixing bowl, combine the egg, milk, and melted butter and white chocolate mixture. Add all at once to the flour mixture together with raspberries. Stir until just moistened. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared cups. Bake until the tops spring back when lightly tapped, 20-25 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes, then turn out. Serve warm, dusted with sifted confectioners sugar. (Note: I doubled the recipe and had enough batter for 18 standard-size cupcakes.)

Monday night I discovered a sweet surprise: My blog counter passed the 1 million mark! Thank you so much for your faithful visits. Many of you checked my blog faithfully even when I was not posting much following some of the difficult events of last year. I appreciate your support more than you know. I hope that stopping by here gives you a lift, but I want you to know that your visits encourage me even more.

So have a cupcake today, and stop back by for a little giveaway tomorrow!

Photo by Joe Lester

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Paper Rose Tutorial

These pink paper roses are ready to add a sweet accent to Valentines, invitations or craft projects. 

Several of you asked for more details on making the paper roses that topped Mary Ashley's cupcake invitations last week, so I put together a few and snapped photos along the way to show you the process. For the roses pictured, I used a pretty, two-sided scrapbook paper (Heidi Grace Designs Baby Girl in Flourish).


Paper Roses
1. Use a paper punch to cut a scalloped circle. The larger the punch, the larger your finished rose will be. For this project I used a 3-inch scalloped circle punch.
2. Choose a point between two scallops, and cut about 1/2 inch into the circle. Trim the scalloped edge of the circle away all the way around.
3. Reserve the inside of the circle for another use, and round the edges at the beginning and end of the scalloped ring.
4. Tightly roll the ring from one end to the other.
5. Release the roll, and it will spring into a rose. If the rose is still too tight, you can manipulate the paper to give it a more full look.  


Paper Leaves
1. Punch a scalloped circle (3-inch punch used for leaves in photo).
2. Cut the scalloped circle in half.
3. Skip two scallops and cut toward the center of the circle.
4. Cut all the way around, creating narrow hearts.
5. Fold the hearts in half to create a crease and give the leaves dimension. Depending on your project, you may use the leaves as is or clip the pointed tips off to shorten the leaves.

"A bit of fragrance always clings to the hand that gives roses." -- Chinese Proverb

Friday, January 21, 2011

Cupcake Party Invitations

Mary Ashley is 7, and we're baking up some fun!
We're decorating cupcakes and we hope you will come!

I am so excited to celebrate Mary Ashley's birthday tomorrow. She has invited six friends to join us for an afternoon of baking and decorating cupcakes. I have lots of fun surprises in store for the girls and can't wait to share all of the fun with you next week. Of course, a cupcake party needs a sweet invitation ... .

This paper cupcake looks good enough to eat, and Mary Ashley and Emma loved helping me assemble these. For the cupcakes, we drizzled school glue into the bottom of a cupcake liner (actually, two liners stuck together works better to help the liner keep its shape). Next, we wadded pink paper shreds into a ball and pushed the wad into the glue. Then I hot glued a paper rose and two leaves to the top of the cupcake.
Paper roses are easy to make, and they add a sweet detail to myriad projects. (My sixth-grade Bible class students enjoyed making paper flowers to embellish get-well cards recently.) The roses pictured in this post were made using a 3-inch scalloped punch. I simply trimmed the scalloped edge and rolled the circle tight. When I let it go, the roll sprung into a rose. I made the leaves by cutting a 3-inch scalloped circle in half, then into hearts, and folding each heart in the center. A little hot glue keeps the leaves and roses in place atop the paper cupcakes. (Find more detailed instructions and photos for making paper roses here.)

Green cupcake boxes provided perfect packaging for our sweet paper cupcakes, and the window on top allowed guests to peek at the surprise inside. Find a package of 10 reasonably-priced cupcake boxes here

The cupcake boxes are shipped flat, so before I assembled them I covered the brown underside with pretty pink and white scrapbook paper. This extra detail added a little loveliness to the inside of the box.

Pretty pink ribbon from Michaels tied everything together, and cupcake tags designed by my talented designer friend Katy Larson added the finishing touch. Katy has outdone herself on printables for our cupcake party, and I cannot wait for you to see all the special touches she added to our celebration. For now, let me show you the sweet little tags she designed for our invitations.

I wanted a soft pink, yellow and green color palette for this party, and Katy designed these adorable tags for the day. The cupcake graphics tie into the style of the shredded-paper cupcakes, and Katy even added a sweet little rose accent on the top. In order to convey all the information we needed to share with party guests, Katy designed a yellow, green and pink tag. The trio looks adorable tied to the pink ribbon. The tags coordinate perfectly with the paper cupcakes inside the box, and the green cupcake liners in Katy's cupcake graphic even mimic the ribbing on the green cupcake box. I am telling you, where you think the cute would end, there is more cute!

I have so many more creative ideas and party details to share, so be sure to drop in to sample our cupcakes next week. I am delighted that my talented photographer friend Allison Hilyer will be on hand to photograph the day. I can't wait to see the images she captures!

I hope your weekend will be mixed with joy, baked with love and sprinkled with blessings!

I'm linking this post with "Get Your Craft On" at Today's Creative Blog.
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