Sunday, February 24, 2013

Violet's 2nd Birthday - A Dumbo Party!

Is it party time yet?
Yesterday we threw a little party to celebrate Violet turning two on the twentieth.
Violet LOVES Dumbo. She's been really into her Dumbo movie for a while now, and she calls all elephants "duboo", so we thought it'd make for a nice party theme.
Party food spread!
I made her an over-the-top three tiered cake with a color flow Dumbo topper for her 2nd birthday cake. I love how it turned out, pretty much exactly how I had it in my head! {This doesn't always happen.}
Cake made by mommy
I made three of these little color flow Dumbo toppers, color flow is notoriously fragile. Fortunately, my best and favorite one survived to be used--isn't Dumbo the sweetest Disney character? I love him.
Dumbo color flow topper
And sometimes I wish I made cakes more often, but I love that I can pull out the skills I learned in cake decorating class when my girls need a birthday cake.
Birthday Kisses
We rented a popcorn machine!
Popcorn machine
The popcorn was a hit. So easy to make and serve, I'd do it again for any party.
Popcorn in Pyrex
I made cake balls too. 
{You know, cake pops without the sticks. 
I hate dealing with the sticks. So I don't.}
Cake balls & meringues
And some Nutter Butters went well with the Dumbo theme...
{I got some party inspiration here, have to give credit where it's due.}
Time to partay!
Piglets in a blanket... Jan's idea. Loved it, easy and tasty finger food.
Piglets in a blanket
Our party spread is never complete, however, without Kellee's gorgeous cookies.
Cookies by Kellee
And also a little vintage flair.
Vintage Dumbo
I did some decorating with pages from vintage Dumbo books.
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Speaking of Dumbo books, some Little Golden Books made easy favors for families who came to Viv's party.
Dumbo Little Golden Books
This vintage 1950s Dumbo book I found on Etsy. I love vintage Dumbo. Did you know the movie came out in 1941? It's quite old!
Vintage 1950s Dumbo book
I put some more book pages on this IKEA canopy. Easy, cute party decor.
The cake & decor
Papa and grandma were the first guests to arrive, but we had a pretty packed house once everyone got here.
Viv & Papa
The last guest to arrive was a very special one, the kids were waiting for them at the door...
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Yep. We hired a clown.
Coconut the Clown
The kids LOVED him! He was, actually, a really good clown.
Watching the clown
Even the adults were fascinated by the clown. 
Watching the clown 
Still, Violet wouldn't go near him. She stayed in the safety of our arms most of the time that our special visitor was here.
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Lots of kids got to be volunteers for the clown's antics, here Rebecca and Eisley are helping with the Chicken Dance. The clown chose them because, as you can see, they're about the same height.
Chicken dance with the clown
Justin and my mom both admitted that they'd had reservations about the clown idea, but in the end everybody loved him--especially the kids.
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Eisley's face as he piled the hospital gear into her arms to care for her "sick daddy" was too cute. She got really concerned!
Clown & kids
He gave Violet a pom pom as a birthday gift, which she promptly used to "bless" all the guests at her party. She went around the whole room one-by-one, it was really cute.
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I always kick myself for not getting enough photos of guests, but here is a good one of Kellee, Jan, and me. {Jan has more photos here by the way!}
8504645513_d09bec4d40_b I really love planning and designing parties for my loved ones, I consider it a hobby {I'm a hobby hoarder} and it's a fun creative outlet. Something about creating pretty memories for special occasions really appeals to me. Last night after the party was over, Justin and I talked about our birthday memories from our childhood. I hope Violet remembers at least a little bit from yesterday, but if she doesn't, then here is this post to remind her someday!
Violet & Mommy
With the clown gone, it was time to dig into that cake. We all sang the classic birthday song, Suwannee River, of course, to Violet and she blew out the candles.
Happy Birthday To You!
I can't believe my beautiful baby is TWO!!
Violet & Daddy
Even though we were short on cake--what, with only three tiers--I let her have the top tier.
Violet's tier
Time for presents! She made out on gifts, she really did.
Violet opens gifts
I thought you all might like to see what the party aftermath is, party blogs never show you the mess left over!
Party mess!
So we told Violet to get to work. Hey, her party, her mess, right?
Violet cleans
Happy Birthday Violet! It was a good one, surrounded with family & friends whom we love and who love you. 
We love you dearly! 
Violet banner
And thank you to everyone who came to celebrate Violet with us!
It was a blessing to have a packed house. 
I'm 2!
__________________________________________

Here is my little love, Violet Grace, two years ago on her birth day:

XO
_____________________________________________

You can see even more of our Dumbo party photos here at my Flickr account.
My friend Jan took a bunch of amazing photos too {I might have used a few in this post, thank you Jan!} and you can see them all here


Sunday, February 17, 2013

+ Hot Cross Buns! +

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Hot cross buns! 
Hot cross buns! 
One ha' penny, 
Two ha' penny, 
Hot cross buns!
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I've always wanted to make these Lent season baked treats, but never got around to it until now, as we were in charge of providing refreshments for the fellowship hour after church today. I thought it'd make the perfect occasion to try them out myself.

Hot cross buns have a fun, rich history and interesting superstitions attached to them. They are traditionally made and served during the Lent season, especially on Good Friday. Go read about them on Wikipedia! Seriously, it's very interesting.

They are made with a spiced, slightly sweet dough. Traditionally, raisins or currants {same thing, pretty much, I used currants} are added. To top them off, an icing cross is added, a symbol of the crucifixion--perfect for Lent!

To my surprise, they are very easy to make. Which is good because I made three batches last night, let the dough cold rise overnight in the fridge, and got up at 6 a.m. this morning to finish them up! I made three varieties  traditional with currants, a plain batch, and a batch with chocolate chips.
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I used Martha Stewart's recipe because it looked like the simplest for making a few batches. I'm not going to copycat what's not mine, you can find the recipe here.

The dough is a snap to whip up, you simply heat up the milk to warm and then dump all the ingredients--except for flour and your optional currants or chocolate chips--into a mixer, on slow, with the dough hook attachment. I didn't even have to proof the yeast.
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Looks kinda gross all mixed together, huh? {Like Texas Ware, if you know what I mean, Kellee.}
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Then dump your flour in 1 cup at a time, with the mixer still running on low.
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A lot of recipes I found use bread machines, this one is nice and easy with just the dough hook. Stop the mixer and knock it down {the flour sticking to the sides, that is} as needed.
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Knead the dough in your mixer for a few minutes after it's all wound up around your dough hook...
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Time to dump in the currants or chocolate chips, or nothing if you just want plain buns. The currants seemed to be the favorite at church, and mine too. I'm not even a big fan of raisins.
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Just get them started into the dough, but go ahead and dump the dough out onto a heavily floured surface to finish kneading for a few minutes.
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Some of the chocolate chips and currants would pop out, but that's okay. Just keep kneading.
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Then form it into a ball and roll it around a large buttered bowl to coat it.
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Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let it rise. You can let it rise until doubled, about an hour, or do what I did and cold rise it in the fridge over night. Supposedly a cold rise--also called retarding the dough--enhances the flavors. {Just don't forget to allow time for it to warm back up like I did...heh, I had to get creative with the oven on the warm setting this morning.}
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Punching down the dough, is this not everyone's favorite part??? I got to do it three times this morning!
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Form the dough into large ping pong ball sized dough balls, and place them 1/2" apart in a well buttered baking dish vintage Pyrex. Cover and let them rise another 45-60 minutes.
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One last touch to make the buns nice and shiny before we stick them in the oven, an egg wash. 1 egg white, 1 tablespoon of water, and a pinch of salt.
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Whisk and brush it on those beautiful buns. DSC_1374
Bake them at 375 for 20-25 minutes. My oven is horribly unevenly heated, so I rotated them half way through.
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While they are baking, whip up the icing for the crosses. Simply whisk your powdered sugar, milk, and lemon juice together in a bowl. I really loved the way the tangy icing complemented the bun's spiced flavor.
DSC_1368Put the icing in a pastry bag {or large Ziploc, if that's all you have handy} and cut off the tip {not too large of a hole, start small, you can always make it bigger}.
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Once those buns are baked and out of the oven, ERMASTIRS! Your kitchen will smell divine!
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Let them cool a little before piping on your icing crosses. The icing doesn't have butter in it, so it doesn't melt much but it will get a little bit runny if you try and apply it to the buns if they are still piping hot. Piping hot = no piping. Haha!
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This was my favorite part...so I took lots of pictures.
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Ta-da! Hot cross buns! They were a hit at church, people seemed to like them. When I make them again, because I will make them again, I will allow more rising time. Again, you can find Martha's recipe here.
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Hot cross buns!
If you have no daughters,
Give them to your sons!
One ha' penny,
Two ha' penny,
Hot cross buns!

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Make them during Lent or for Easter!
It's a new tradition around these parts.

Smooches to all my kissy boots!
Heather

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