Thursday, December 22, 2011

Last-Minute Christmas Gift: Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

1 hour of making cookie dough
1 hour of packaging
6 bags chocolate chips
8 lbs butter
red baker's twine
easy and cute gifts for friends
and neighbors

Click HERE for all the details.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Peppermint Oreo Pops

Follow our elf Pinocchio to Lulu the Baker and find out how to make the cutest holiday food on a stick!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Apron Give-Away!

In addition to all of the cute things we listed in the shop last week, we've added some flirty, ruffled aprons. And we're giving one away this week on Lulu the Baker (my food blog).  In September, I posted a recipe for one of my family's favorite dinners, Cheesy Chowder, and it has been cookin' up a storm on Pinterest ever since!  To celebrate it's success, we're giving away one of our brand new aprons!  You can find the give-away HERE, and the recipe HERE (I promise, you'll love it!).

Monday, November 28, 2011

New in the Shop

Max & Ellie are ready for the holidays with a shop full of cute new items and more of your good ol' favorites!

bobbi pin trios:  a set of 3 coordinating silver-toned bobbi pins, all carefully matched, made by hand, and attached to a sweet, scalloped card; 1 large resin blossom, 1 fabric-covered button, and 1 stitched felt flower

appliqued baby one-pieces and toddler tees:  sweet designs hand-drawn and hand-cut on the cutest designer fabrics, stitched onto cotton baby and toddler gear
one-pieces: $15 each or 2 for $25
tees:  $17.50 each or 2 for $30

little chef aprons:  oh, how we love these little beauties!  Perfectly sized for 3- to 6-year-olds, completely reversible, with elastic necks and velcro waist bands so they can put them on by themselves; perfect for playtime or helping in the kitchen.  And did we mention they're adorable?

tiny charm earrings:  hand-stamped on sterling silver or 14K gold-fill, these little 1/2" beauties are made to order and oh so sweet; choose from 4 cute designs or your initials!

tiny charms:  just like our tiny charm earrings, but attached to a super-sturdy jump ring and ready to string on a chain or charm bracelet

boo boo kits:  fully stocked with band-aids and alcohol wipes, but also the perfect size for credit cards, gift cards, business cards, etc

blossom earrings:  sweet, resin blossoms in a variety of bright and happy colors, all with sterling silver posts and backs

celebration bunting totes:  grocery shopping and taking books to the library have never looked so good!  A canvas tote with two lines of hand-painted triangle bunting, plus one appliqued felt flag and one appliqued fabric flag

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving--Do You Want Pies With That?

click HERE to see some of our family favorites:
caramel apple cheesecake pie
sawdust pie
apple slab pie
lemon blueberry buttermilk pie
sour cherry pie with pistachio crumble
pumpkin chiffon pie
coconut custard pie

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Body Birthday Party

Sometimes it's really funny (and bittersweet) to look back to this exact time one year ago.  I see my kids all day every day, so I don't notice how much they're changing. But when I look at pictures of them from last Halloween or from last year's birthday party, it strikes me how much they've grown up.  Case in point:  it feels like our six-year-old has been a major, hard-core tomboy forever, so it amuses me to think that for her birthday last year she wanted a Sleeping Beauty party!  This year, in fine tomboy form, she wanted a body birthday party (she wants to be a "tummy doctor" when she grows up).  Since her birthday is less than a week after Halloween, we were careful not to make her party Halloween-y at all:  no bloody body parts, no gory limbs, etc.

When the party-goers first arrived, we traced their outline on a big piece of butcher paper and gave them crayons to do a life-sized self portrait.

We hung all of the self-portraits in the hallway and took pictures of each kid with their artwork!

We had some unexpected down-time between activities and lunch (because I completely forgot about one of the activities we had ready to go), so I put some Yoga for Kids on the TV.  And they LOVED it! Seriously, those children were positively spellbound!

We tried to keep lunch easy and relatively healthy, so we had pizza delivered, and carrot and celery sticks, red and green grapes, and juice on the side.

After a failed attempt at a homemade pinata (it cracked), we bought a white baseball pinata from the party store, picked off the red detailing, and taped on some construction paper to make it into an eyeball.  That seemed way less weird than buying a person pinata and having the kids bash it, which just seems creepy and inappropriate!

The birthday cake was actually really easy.  A homemade chocolate cake with homemade chocolate frosting, and then a skeleton torso made from white store-bought fondant.  It was just like play-dough. (idea from Country Living magazine)

Our party favors were inspired by the Scooby Snacks we had at a friend's Pink Puppy Party over the summer.  They're shaped like bones and taste like cinnamon grahams.  We just dipped them in white almond bark and made them into "Bone Cookies."  I ate a ton of these!  Luckily, I saved enough to give away as party favors.

The other party favor each child got to take home was this cute, very scientific book full of facts about skeletons.  I spotted it in one of the Halloween book orders that came home from kindergarten.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Raise your hand if you like funny guys and mexican food

I may be biased, but I think my brother is pretty entertaining.  He and his friends have this project going on right now called 88 Night of Cinco de Mayo.  They live near a mexican restaurant with 88 items on the menu, and they decided to try everything on the menu in order, film their meals, and edit them into short movies.  Some episodes are funny, some are thought-provoking.  They're currently on episode 21, but since the episodes are only 1-2 minutes each, you can catch up pretty quickly.  Take a look at my favorite episode so far, "If You Had to Guess...":

And if you live in the LA area--or are willing to travel there (at your own expense, naturally)--they are having a funny little contest called the "Making Dreams Come True" contest.  Details HERE.

Find 88 Nights of Cinco de Mayo

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Event Sponsors Wanted

Hi Readers.  I help organize Bliss Handmade, a semi-annual shopping event featuring handmade items from local crafters and artists.  We have our 2011 Holiday Boutique coming up on November 12th and are looking for sponsors.  We need items donated for our door prize drawings during the event as well as small items donated for goodie bags that we are giving away to the first dozen shoppers.  If you are a crafter or artist and would like to donate items, you can click HERE for all of the details.  In exchange for your generous donations, we offer lots of free advertising and exposure (online, in print, and in person), which is great for anybody trying to get the name of their shop or business out there.  Check out the Bliss Handmade website for all of the important info.  Thanks!!

Friday, September 2, 2011

New Projects

We have been busy busy busy this summer with projects.  I'd like to share them all with you.  Here's the biggest project we worked on this summer:

Welcome James!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Literary Inspiration: Shades of Grey

Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde

I have loved everything I've read from Jasper Fforde, and I've read everything he's written. His work is witty, hilarious, smart, and fast-paced, and Shades of Grey is no exception. As with the Thursday Next series and the Nursery Crimes series, Shades of Grey takes place in a sort of alternate reality; the world is ours, but the society is not, and we never really find out what happened to our society other than it is gone.  This new society is all based on color:  people are born being able to see varying levels of only one natural color--or sometimes no color at all, in the case of the Greys--and how much of their color they can see gives them social standing, decides who they can marry and what jobs they can hold, etc.  On the surface it all seems like a pleasant place to live, but of course, all is not as it seems, and both intrigue and hijinks ensue.

All of the images below are inspired by parts of Shades of Grey.  Because the whole book is about color, there was a ton of visual inspiration; it was really hard to choose just a few things!
{top row from left:  Pantone Mugs, available from Pop Deluxe;  Round Color Stickers from SilvermintSupplies on Etsy;  Lapis Lazuli necklace from PoleStar on Etsy;  Baby Giraffe No. 3 by Sharon Montrose, available from The Animal Print Shop;  Risk by Parker Brothers Games}

{top row from left:  Superior Servers from Ladies & Gentlemen;  The Milkmaid by Jan Vermeer;  Butchart Gardens on Vancouver Island, BC;  cute rabbit;  Elderflower Cordial}

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Literary Inspiration: The Elegance of the Hedgehog

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barberry
*This post is the first in what I hope to be an ongoing series: Literary Inspiration. We'll have to see how long I can remember to keep this up!*

One of my favorite pastimes is reading. I love getting lost in a good book, and my list of books to read is miles long. After a one-year stint on the list, The Elegance of the Hedgehog finally made it into my shopping cart at Target and then onto my nightstand. It is the story of two lonely souls, Renee Michel, the unappreciated but highly intelligent concierge at a posh Paris apartment building, and Paloma, a 12-year-old resident of the building who is searching for true beauty in hopes that her faith in humanity will be restored. It is a touching read that is both laugh-out-loud funny and grab-your-hanky bittersweet. Full of references to food, gardening, literature, art, music, and cinema, it made for a very interesting read!
top row: 1) florentines, photo and recipe at; 2) Still-Life with Oysters by Pieter Claesz; 3) leather-bound journals from Kate's Paperie
bottom row: 1) variegated camellia by Kristina Simms via flickr; 2) Paris courtyard; 3) Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

For Jozen {Oh Hello Friend's Collection Trade}

Several, several months ago I signed up for a Collection Trade sponsored by Danni of Oh Hello Friend. My sweet partner Jozen and I seemed tailor-made for each other, from our love of baker's twine and cute packaging supplies to our tendency to procrastinate and our complete disregard for the swap deadlines! Luckily, months later, Jozen has finally received her package from me, and my package from her is on its way (although possibly stuck in Canada due to the Canadian postal strike).

Here's what I sent to Jozen:

baker's twine; striped straws; pink polka dot balloons; white circle labels; tiny kraft bags; colored tags; toothpick flags (not pictured are a yellow teacup, a tiny wooden scoop, and some sweet vintagey notecards)

everything got these cute white paper lace and kraft paper tags (and I do mean everything)

these notecards were too cute to resist--not to mention they were the right color--so they got a tag too

it was all packed into the little wooden cigar box; somehow, everything fit (except the teacup, which was lovingly wrapped in lots of not-cute bubble wrap)

Monday, May 2, 2011

Teacher Appreciation Gift--Last Minute (Is there any other kind?)

We were at Costco this afternoon for what has strangely become a new family tradition--Monday lunch at the Costco snack bar. We ran into lots of people we knew, and one friend mentioned that she had just come from dropping off a teacher appreciation gift at preschool. And that is where I smacked myself on the forehead because I once again forgot teacher appreciation day! I do this every year. Luckily, we had a couple of packs of those oh-so-delicious Costco muffins in the cart, and about as quickly as I smacked myself for forgetting, I forgave myself because I came up with a plan for an easy, last-minute-but-sure-to-please gift for our preschool teacher and teacher's aide.

Here are the directions: 1) After buying the muffins, go to Starbucks on your way home from Costco and buy a $5 gift card for each teacher. 2) Place a Costco muffin--any flavor--in a small bag and tie bag shut with ribbon, baker's twine, etc. 3) Make sure the gift card is taped into the totally not secure Starbucks gift card envelope, then close up the envelope and punch a hole in one corner. 4) Tie the envelope to the muffin bag with the aforementioned ribbon or twine.
So this entire gift, which I happen to think is pretty darn good, took about 10 minutes of effort total. And who doesn't like Costco double chocolate muffins?!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Mini Spinach Dip Bread Bowls from Picky Palate

Back in January, right around Super Bowl time, Jenny from Picky Palate started posting finger foods and appetizers in anticipation of the big football game. One of her new creations was these amazing little baked bread bowls filled with homemade spinach dip. They looked delicious, so I made a mental note to make them sometime. And then I never made them! But I kept thinking about them a lot, pretty much every time an occasion came up that would at all call for party foods. I considered making them this week for bookclub, then decided to make something else. And then two days before our get-together, they popped up on Oh Joy!, and I took it as a sign from the culinary gods that I was not supposed to ignore these babies any longer!

They are super simple to make, and taste heavenly. I think I probably ate a fourth of them myself! They are delicious as an appetizer or finger food, but if you served them with a salad and some fruit, they would also be great for brunch. Instead of making full-sized muffins, I followed Joy's lead and made mini muffins. I followed all of the directions from the original recipe, but cut each piece of dough into three smaller pieces before pressing them into the muffin cups and obviously used a smaller scoop to add the filling. I'm getting hungry just thinking about them; if only I hadn't eaten all the leftovers when I got home!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patty's Day!

So far, we've feasted on Lucky Charms for breakfast, and kiwi, green applesauce, pickles, and sandwiches for lunch. The kids and I are wearing our brightest green shirts and a few green plastic bowler hats, we delivered potted shamrocks to our friends, and we have plans to watch Darby O'Gill and the Little People this evening (as soon as it arrives from Amazon). And we can't wait for our traditional St. Patty's Day dinner, an Irish Fry (fried eggs, home fries, toasted english muffins with butter, breakfast sausage, and baked beans), accompanied by watergate salad (simply because it's green) and a delicious--if not entirely healthy--green punch concoction. What are your St. Patrick's Day traditions?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Birthday Cake Boxes

I turned another year older a few weeks ago, and to celebrate, I delivered slices of birthday cake to a few of my friends. Last year, my friend Marcelle took slices of her favorite cake, flourless chocolate cake, in chinese take-out boxes to some of her friends. Such a fun idea to give friends a little bit of celebration on your big day (especially when you are a grown-up and no one is throwing you a huge birthday bash every year)! And last Fall, I spotted adorable DIY slice-of-pie boxes on Stephmodo that I knew I had to do something with. At some point it occurred to me to combine both ideas, and voila! Birthday Cake boxes!

I came up with a quick template (well, it should have been quick, but I'm a dunce when it comes to Illustrator, so it took a while!), printed a bunch out on my kraft cardstock, cut, and taped. I made a really good, vanilla buttermilk cake with vanilla frosting and rainbow sprinkles, boxed up the slices, and delivered them! It was so much fun! Happy Birthday to me!

Click HERE to download the template. The assembled boxes will fit cake slices from a 1- or 2-layer 8" round cake that has been cut into at least 12 pieces. And click HERE if you'd like the recipe for the Vanilla Buttermilk Cake!

Print out as many boxes as you'll need on cardstock.

Cut on the solid lines.

Fold on the dotted lines. A bone folder would work nicely here, but I can never find mine when I need it, so I just used my fingernails.

Use double-sided tape to attach the overlapping flaps to the sides of the box.

Do this one first, then wait until you've slid the piece of cake into position to do the other two. Just trust me on that one. ;)

All done!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Cool Things I Got For Christmas

I need to point out before you read any further that all of these gifts were given to me. I had absolutely nothing to do with buying them--I didn't even make a Christmas list this year--so I can't take any credit for how cool these gifts are. I just had a lucky Holiday season and generous family members!

1. Jewelry Kit from French General--from my sister Holly
I hadn't even heard of French General before receiving this jewelry kit, but I've since checked them out online and made a very long mental list of all the goodies I want to buy! Their jewelry kits are beautiful and include everything you need to make the piece of jewelry shown except pliers, glue, and wire cutters. But their offerings don't stop with gorgeous jewelry kits! They also have beautiful fabric, amazing trims, paper goods, aprons, etc.

2. Printing by Hand by Lena Corwin--from my brother Chaz
One of the things I've been wanting to learn to do (I've made it an actual resolution this year) is screen printing. I've had a lot of fun over the past few years making things with freezer paper stencils, but they can be a little limiting. My brother took a class in LA on silk-screening, and I've been bugging him to come up and visit me, help me build a silk-screen set-up, and teach me how to use it (you know, just a quick trip, haha). In the meantime, he bought me this fantastic book chock-full of inspiring techniques and projects. It has ideas from custom rubber stamping to screen printing, and the whole book is beautifully styled and gorgeous to look at.

3. Plaid Cowlneck Shirt from Banana Republic--from my husband, who always buys me cute clothes (good job, Love!)
So, I have to admit that I had to look the shirt up online to figure the neck out, but every time I wear it I get loads of compliments. I wear it tunic style over skinny jeans, but I'd love to get my hands on a cute skinny belt and try it as shown above.

4. The SoNo Baking Company Cookbook by John Barricelli--from Santa
I love baking, and I love anyone who has anything at all to do with Martha Stewart, so this gorgeous cookbook from Everyday Baking guy John Barricelli is perfect in every way. Although there aren't a ton of pictures, every recipe sounds mouth-watering and fairly easy. I think the first thing I'm going to make is the Cornmeal Bread. Or the Strawberry Thumbprint Corn Muffins. Or the Tart Tropezienne. Or the Apple Spice Cake with Brown Sugar Frosting....

5. A Macbook--from my husband, who always spends way more on me than I do on him
This one was a true stunner. My husband has been having fun with woodworking this year, and he made my mom and one of my sisters beautiful wooden cutting boards for Christmas. He wrapped my Macbook similarly and had us open them at the same time. So imagine my shock when I opened up a laptop instead of a cutting board! Good job, you. In all honesty, the Macbook freaks me out a bit, but I'm learning to deal with it.

A very, very cool book. Todd Selby has photographed a whole bunch of creative people in their homes, and it is so fun to look at each picture and see how their personal spaces are a reflection of them. It makes me feel like I need to rethink my whole house!

**Dear Family Members: If I didn't include your gift in this list, rest assured that I loved it anyway. There were a few things I couldn't find on the internet, plus I got tired and wanted to take a nap!**