Baby Bird Cupcakes for a Baby Shower or Spring Party

May 28, 2009 § Leave a comment

baby bird cupcakes

What will Martha come up with next? I made these for my sister’s baby shower and they were a HUGE hit (my version on the left.) From my experience, the eyes and beak were a little tricky to make so I would suggest making little robins eggs on top of the cupcakes instead of birds if you’re a novice at frosting.

*When preparing the chocolate buttercream frosting, reserve 1 1/2 cups buttercream and 1 teaspoon melted chocolate.


  • 1 1/2 cups shredded coconut (about 5 ounces)
  • Vanilla Cupcakes
  • Chocolate Buttercream
  • Yellow and light-blue food coloring


    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread coconut on a rimmed baking sheet; bake until light brown, 8 to 10 minutes, rotating pan once. Set aside to cool.
    2. Lightly frost cupcakes with 1 cup chocolate buttercream; set aside. Tint 2 tablespoons reserved buttercream pale yellow; place in a pastry bag fitted with a #349 Ateco leaf tip; set aside. Tint remaining buttercream light blue; place in a pastry bag fitted with a #11 Ateco plain round tip, and pipe three bluebird heads, 3/4 inch in diameter, onto each cupcake. Using leaf tip, pipe yellow beaks. With a toothpick, add melted-chocolate eyes. Form each nest with 2 tablespoons toasted coconut.

    **Hint: To save time, instead of arranging the coconut at the end, dip the top of the frosted cupcakes into the coconut before adding the birds/eggs.


    Mad Dinner Party with an Alice in Wonderland Theme

    May 27, 2009 § 3 Comments

    unbirthday copy

    An unexpected dinner party theme to bring the crazy out of your guests. This is also a great budget party because the more random your centerpiece is the better! Thrift stores are a great place to find mismatched teapots, candles, white rabbit figurines and more.

    • Make the centerpiece on a bed of moss and butterflies. I found the teapots, playing cards, candles, and even the white rosebush at a thriftstore.
    • Namecards were made from white roses painted red with puffy paint and hand-written tags tied with ribbon.
    • Tie “Drink Me” labels on your wine bottles
    • I made the invitation by creating and printing out the inside and front, then gluing to a plain notecard. Embellish with ribbon and glitter paint.

    What to serve:

    Make Your Picnic a Little More Posh Part 2: The Menu

    May 26, 2009 § 1 Comment

    picnic menu

    As promised- here is the menu to accompany yesterday’s picnic gear post.  Believe it or not a couple of these are interpretations of Weight Watchers recipes- I’m watching out for you during swimsuit season! And according to my wine and cheese pairing guide, the goat cheese in the sandwiches is paired best with a Gewurtztreminer. Recipes to serve 2 below.

    1. French Baguette Sandwiches with Grilled Zucchini, Portabello, and Herbed Goat Cheese
    2. Dill Potato Salad
    3. Grilled and Chilled Asparagus with Roasted Red Pepper Dip
    4. Chocolate Covered Strawberries


    French Baguette Sandwiches with Grilled Zucchini, Portabello, and Herbed Goat Cheese


    • 2 tbsp dry sherry
    • 2 tbsp shallot, (about 1 large)
    • 1/4 tsp table salt
    • 1/4 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
    • 1 1/2 tsp olive oil, divided
    • 6 oz portobello mushroom, sliced
    • 2 small zucchini, thinly sliced lengthwise
    • 1 loaf/loaves French baguette bread
    • 1/2 cup(s) semisoft goat cheese
    • 1 tsp fresh thyme, diced
    • 1 tsp fresh rosemary, diced
    • 1 large tomato, thinly sliced


    1. Combine first 4 ingredients; stir well with a whisk.
    2. Heat 11⁄2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Place mushrooms in a single layer in pan; sauté 3 to 4 minutes on each side or until liquid is almost absorbed. Remove from pan and place in a large bowl. Cover and keep warm.
    3. Add 1 teaspoon oil to pan and place over medium heat. Cut zucchini slices in half crosswise. Place half of zucchini slices in pan; sauté 7 to 9 minutes or until zucchini is lightly browned. Repeat with remaining zucchini and 1 teaspoon oil. Remove from heat and place in bowl with mushrooms. Drizzle with sherry mixture and remaining 1 teaspoon oil; toss gently.
    4. Preheat broiler.
    5. Cut baguette crosswise in half; cut each piece in half lengthwise. Place slices on a baking sheet, cut sides up, and broil 1 minute or until toasted.
    6. Combine goat cheese, thyme and rosemary; spread evenly over toasted baguette slices. Layer toast slices evenly with 1⁄2 of mushroom mixture and tomato slices. Top with remaining baguette slices. 


    lemon-potsalad-su-1634820-lDill Potato Salad


  • 1/2 pound new red potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill weed
  • 2/3 green onion, chopped
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste (optional)
  • Directions

    1. Place potatoes in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then turn heat to medium-low, cover, and cook until tender but still firm, about 15 minutes. Drain, cool in an ice water bath until cold, about 5 minutes. Leaving skins on, cut into bite-size pieces, and place in a large mixing bowl.
    2. Combine mayonnaise, sour cream, dill weed, and green onions in a bowl and stir until blended. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour mayo mixture over potatoes and toss to coat evenly. Adjust seasoning if necessary. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours, or overnight.


    Grilled and Chilled Asparagus with Roasted Red Pepper Dip


    • 1/4 pound fresh asparagus
    • 4 oz roasted red peppers, packed in water, drained (about 3/4 cups)
    • 1/4 cup fat-free sour cream
    • 1/8 cup basil, fresh
    • 1/8 tsp garlic powder
    • salt  to taste
    • black pepper, freshly ground to taste


    1. Grill asparagus until slightly tender, about 5 minutes. Refrigerate 30 minutes up to overnight.
    2. In a blender, combine roasted peppers, sour cream, basil and garlic powder; puree until smooth. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.



    Chocolate Covered Strawberries

    You can purchase ready-made microwavable chocolate, or if you want to do it like a real chef, follow below.


    • 16 ounces milk chocolate chips
    • 2 tablespoons shortening
    • 1 pound fresh strawberries with leaves
    • Waxed paper


    1. Insert toothpicks into the tops of the strawberries.
    2. In a double boiler, melt the chocolate and shortening, stirring occasionally until smooth. Holding them by the toothpicks, dip the strawberries into the chocolate mixture.
    3. Set the strawberries on waxed paper to cool.

    Make Your Picnic a Little More Posh Part 1: The Setup

    May 25, 2009 § 1 Comment


    What better way to celebrate Summer and save a little cash than dining alfresco at a local park, your backyard, or apartment rooftop deck? Get your picnic ammo ready early this year and do it in style.

    1. Crate and Barrel makes this ingenious “Table in a Bag,” a knee-high table that rolls up and is ready to go.
    2. Set the mood with eco-friendly table “candles” from CB2 that is as much work to light as putting in a battery.
    3. Drink your wine right and pack it in tight with these wine glasses from GSI that snap apart at the base for easy transportation.
    4. Instead of paper plates, pay your respects to Mother Earth by bringing dinnerware that is either reusable or made from renewable sources like Bambu Veneerware.
    5. Design Sponge has a great post for a DIY picnic blanket. Hint: instead of sewing the two sides together, make it faster and easier on yourself by using iron-on hemming- basically like double-stick tape for fabric.
    6. DIY picnic bag- Instead of paying $60 for a picnic bag -make your own! Instructions below.
    • Buy a tote or find one you already own.
    • Go to the Goodwill or Value Village and  scout for insulated lunch bags (2-3 should do it- the thinner the better!) Don’t forget to wash in the dishwasher before using.
    • Cut the insulated bags along the seams and line your tote with them and adhere with double-stick tape.
    • Using a plate and  a bundle of forks to measure, hand sew 2 pieces of fabric elastic to the inside of the tote to ‘hold in plates and utensils.
    • Pack with your picnic, some wine and you’re ready to go!

    Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post when I’ll post a mouth-watering menu to pack now that you have some great ideas for gear.

    Steep vs. Cheap: Your Guide to Living Luxe on a Budget

    May 21, 2009 § Leave a comment

    Because living in high style does not mean high price tag (or high credit card payments!)


    Archer Bed (Queen): $1,399 at Crate and Barrel vs. Floro Bed: $399 at Ikea




    Nelson Platform Bench: $699 at Design Within Reach vs. Katanoi Wood Bench: $99 at Urban Outfitters




    Outdoor Sectionals

    Palmetto Sectional: $679-$829 per piece at Pottery Barn vs. Resort Outdoor Sectional: $349-$399 per piece at CB2



    PendantsKina Pendant: $1,750 at Design Within Reach vs. White Wash Bamboo Pendant: $129 at CB2



    ChairsVeneto Chair: $979 at BoConcept vs. Skruvsta  swivel chair: $149 at Ikea

    Bring it to your next BBQ- Sweet Onion Cornbread

    May 19, 2009 § Leave a comment

    Sweet Onion Cornbread

     This  is another easy-to-make recipe that I have since MEMORIZED due to how often I make it for family gatherings in the summer. It is very cheesy and oniony and will disappear before you know it!


    • 2 large Vidalia or sweet onions, thinly sliced
    • 1/2 cup butter or margarine
    • 1 cup sour cream
    • 1/2 cup milk
    • 1/2 teaspoon dill weed
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese, divided
    • 1 egg, lightly beaten
    • 1 (14.75 ounce) can cream-style corn
    • 1 (8.5 ounce) package corn bread/muffin mix
    • 4 drops hot  sauce

    In a large skillet, saute onions in butter until tender. In a small bowl, combine the sour cream, milk, dill and salt until blended; stir in 1 cup of cheese. Stir into the onion mixture; remove from the heat and set aside.


    In a bowl, combine the egg, corn, corn bread mix and hot pepper sauce. Pour into a greased 13-in. x 9-in. x 2-in. baking dish. Spoon onion mixture over top. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees F for 45-50 minutes or until the top is set and lightly browned. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting.

    Your Digital Partners in Crime for Interior Design: Polyvore and Arrange-a-Room

    May 14, 2009 § 1 Comment

    Room Layout Tools

    If you are moving to a new place, redecorating, or just buying a new couch- these are great free online tools to plan out the layout and look of your space.

    Polyvore is an online application where you can add items from any image online and it stores them in a bank to drag and drop onto a canvas. Even better- it stores the web address and price of the items you save. I love to shop from different stores so this is a great way to visualize your pieces in one place to make sure it all goes together. And it’s fun to play with!

    Better Homes and Garden’s Arrange-a-Room is a tool where you can customize the size of your room, furniture, and add architechtural pieces such as doorways and windows. I used this obsessively before I moved into my 600-sq ft condo to test out layouts and the size of furniture I wanted to buy.

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