Watercolor Birthday

Hello all! I am back! I took a little time off for the summer for some family travels and a move! We are now semi settled in our new house and I think it’s time to resume to regular posting. I sure do miss my sweet blogging friends! That includes you, yes, you reading this post! Glad you are here!

Yesterday celebrated our daughter’s 10th birthday! Double digits, you guys! To celebrate, we had a watercolor theme birthday bash in our front lawn. We invited 12 of hers and our closest friends. The weather was a perfect 75 degrees, sunny, and breezy. This was pretty much a DIY all the way. We wanted a peach and sea foam green color scheme, but had so much trouble finding those colors, that I had to make pretty much everything myself. I started early on last week so I would not be going crazy at the last minute. One trick to keeping your sanity, is to push to your party to a later part of the day. By having an early afternoon party, I was able to prep and set up (with the help of my D.H. and some  friends) all before guests arrived. Here are some pics of the celebration. Enjoy!

We had a popcorn bar with different kinds of toppings. Who doesn’t love popcorn?

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Pretzel “paint brushes”

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Rice crispy treats “paint brushes”. How clever is this?

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The cake was so fun to make. It was a mud cake with dulce de leche cream filling and vanilla buttercream frosting. I used different shades of buttercream to achieve the “watercolor” look. I also made meringue kisses for the top decorations. How adorable is this?

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Fresh flowers are always a favorite!

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Watercolor marshmallows were another party favorite.

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I made this bunting with paint swatches and the background was a painted sheet. So fun and so pretty!

All in all, we had a great time. Fun was had, yummy goods were eaten, hearts were filled, and memories made. I call that success! 🙂

Hugs,

~Ana

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Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes with Vegan Vanilla Buttercream

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Sometime in early January, my family and I went vegan for about 8 weeks (we eat a mostly vegetarian diet with the addition of salmon every so often). We had just started to get back into the swing of regular life after a gastronomically exciting holiday season (I don’t know about you, but in my family we eat non-st0p from Thanksgiving to New Years!). We wanted to just lay off the heavy food and just focus on eating healthier, with less processed foods, and no dairy. That turned out to be a challenge for me since I love to bake, and most baked goods require creamy, delicious, butter and eggs. But, a challenge never stopped me! I surfed the internet and found a few vegan recipes to try. Some were terrible and others were total failures! A few here and there were good enough base recipes that I tweaked and resulted in good products.

I spent some time reworking some of my own recipes into vegan options like the chunky monkey banana bread recipe (get the recipe here), and even some bread recipes that I will share soon. Somewhere in the process, I found a chocolate cake recipe that seemed like a good base. Unfortunately, I can’t remember the website I got it from because I hand wrote the recipe on a sticky note. I did change a few things in it, which improved the taste and texture of the cake, so I guess I will call it mine now. However, I want to thank the person who created it because they provided a great working base for me. So, thank you random internet person. Thank you for sharing your recipe with me!

This cake is moist, light, fluffy, chocolatey, rich, and delicious. The buttercream is sweet, creamy, and luxurious. Truly, a winner recipe! Oh! and did I mention it is great with tea? It is! I hope you give it a try. If you do, please, comment or send me a message. I would love to hear how you liked it!

Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes

1 cup All Purpose flour, sifted

3/4 cup, plus 3 tbsp sugar

1/4 cup, special dark cocoa powder, sifted

3/4 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1 cup, unsweetened almond milk (or any nut milk)

1/3 cup, vegetable oil

1 tsp. white vinegar

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350º and line a cupcake or muffin pan with cupcake liners.

In a large bowl, sift all the dry ingredients together (flour, sugar, cocoa powder, salt, baking soda, baking powder). Mix together to combine. Add milk, vinegar, oil, and vanilla extract. Mix together until well mixed and batter is smooth. Using an ice cream scoop or a measuring cup, pour into a prepared muffin pan, lined with cupcake liners, filling about 1/2 way up. Bake at 350º for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let them cool in the pan completely before frosting. You can decorate it with anything your heart desires. I used a strawberry for these.

Vegan Vanilla Buttercream

2 sticks of Earth Balance vegan butter sticks (the yellow box), at room temperature.

3 cups, confectioners sugar (powder or icing sugar), sifted

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 tsp. unsweetened almond milk (or as much or little as needed)

Instructions:

In the bowl of a stand mixer (or using a hand mixer), cream the butter at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add half of the sugar and mix well, at medium speed until creamy and fluffy, and the butter is pale in color. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the vanilla extract and the rest of the sugar and mix at medium speed for about one minute or until creamy and smooth. Add the milk if needed to loosen up the buttercream or omit if it isn’t needed.

I have found that depending on the temperature of my kitchen at the time, the buttercream can get slightly runny. If this happens, don’t panic! Simply put the bowl with the buttercream in the freezer for about 5 minutes and let it come together again. Using a rubber spatula, you can whip it again to make it nice and smooth.

Enjoy!
~Ana

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Pretty in Pink Tea

Just a few weeks ago, my friend’s daughter turned 5. She is a girly girl who loves pink, so her mamma and I set out to celebrate her birthday with an all pink tea party. My friend being so talented, decorated her dining room while I made the cupcakes, marshmallow pops, and other yummy treats. We set the table for the little ladies and served them strawberry milk for “tea”. They loved it! Here are some pictures of the Pretty in Pink birthday tea party. 10994878_1602643926615976_134452230202415814_n

Freshly picked pink tulips in a white vase for center pieces.

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Lace, floral china, and doilies brought a vintage flair.

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This floral tea pot is sure to make any tea party exciting!

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Vanilla cupcakes with vanilla buttercream roses added a sweet touch. 

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Everything was so pretty and girly. Simple and sweet, just like the birthday girl.

Isn’t life better with tea? I think so!

~Ana

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