Friday, December 30, 2016

And....That's A Wrap! And A Holiday Drink Recipe!

As we approach the last day of 2016, how was it? Was it a great year? A terrible year? Either way, I hope Santa found his way to you this year. 



It was a good year! It was a year of bumps in the road and hard lessons learned but I think it was also a year of growth as well. And by growth I don't mean that I lost and gained 10 pounds because I sample buttercream on the reg. Not that kind of growth! Growth in spirit, marriage and family. Sometimes in the midst of our daily, busy routines it's hard to stop, relish in the moment of life, and be thankful for the blessings God has provided. Next year, as I make a resolution to not make a resolution, I promise myself to be better at not taking simple, everyday blessings for granted.  Please tell me you'll include yourself in this as well! 

The 'bakery' was created this year as a fun, side adventure to my full time job and full time family and it took off like a bullet! I have enjoyed creating treats that I had no idea I could make. Thanks to my customers each order is like opening a new gift - surprise! I had a lot of fun creating holiday cookies and continuing traditions with the girls as we decorated and prepared for all of the holiday festivities. It's also fun to see their little minds go off into creativity land and watch them pile on all of their favorites and then some! I made some snowman shaped cupcakes and put out some fun toppings for them to use. The more 'stuff' the better to them.






Some of my favorites from this season were the Santa faces. I did a couple of different versions and I'm happy to say that most were sad when these were gone! Yum! 



And of course we can't forget the cake for  baby Jesus. This is what it's about for me; not all of the crazy hoop-la that the holidays bring each year. Christmas for me is about the birth of our Lord and Savior; not about what gifts you're buying for uncle Paulie whom you haven't seen since last Christmas. Anyone with me? 

This year I made a white cake with a cranberry filling and iced it with orange buttercream and topped it with sugared cranberries and rosemary leaves. 



It was delicious! The tastes were subtle, not strong and perfect for the holiday season. 

We also tried some chocolate sugar cookies - so good! The consistency is a bit different but we loved them in our house, perfectly sweet! 


To wash all of these cookies down we had Cranberry Orange Holiday punch! A few of you have asked me what the recipe is so I posted it below. It's perfect for any pre and/or post holiday get together! 



Ingredients: 

  • 3 cups cranberry juice
  • 2 cups apple cider
  • ⅓ cup orange juice concentrate, thawed
  • ⅓ cup Agave In The Raw
  • 2 cups club soda
  • 1 cup crushed ice
  • 1 cup cranberries
  • 1 apple, thinly sliced
  • 7 orange wedges
  • 7 cinnamon sticks

Instructions: 
Mix together the first five ingredients. You can add the ice to the punch or just add it to each, individual glass so it's not watered down. Throw in some cranberries, apples, oranges and a cinnamon stick!

      Enjoy and...spike it if you'd like!

                That's a wrap!

Thank you for following along this year! A clean slate is coming your way so wipe it clean and start again. Enjoy each day and celebration as the blessing that it is. Cherish your true friends and family and the memories you're about to make in 2017! 

Happy New Year from my family to yours!
xo










Sunday, November 6, 2016

Oink, Cluck, Moo!



Lena is Two!


 It's a Barnyard Brunch! Or as we called it, Barnhart Barnyard Brunch...too much? Any way you say it, my baby is 2! To be completely honest, this one was tough for me. My BABY, who is really not so much a baby now is NOT a baby. I.just.can't! I fought off tears the day before and the day of her birthday; any other mom's with me on this or am I just a special crazy? Am I going to be that mom crying and clawing herself away from the school bus when my baby starts school too? Ok, enough! 



Ever since we realized that Lena really likes animals I've been planning her barnyard brunch.  She loves to make all the animal noises and she shows interest and compassion towards real life animals. I love this about her because I too like animals but her big sis is just not the animal lover, bless her heart.  

Since we couldn't use our real barn for the party we just brought the barn to our house which was almost just as fun. I had a vision for what I wanted our porch to look like and once I shared a little direction to some family members they made it happen - thank you fam! We added mums and pumpkins and items from our barn such as a pitch fork, and an old horse saddle. It was easy to use our own resources to make this happen. 









For the menu I kept it a farm brunch theme with chicken n' waffles, a vegetable garden, fresh fruit, mini assorted quiche and 'chick' deviled eggs and of course, pigs n' a blanket. I thought it would be nice to have a variety of different juices, chocolate and strawberry milk as well as a 'watering hole' and coffee. 





And last but not ever least, dessert! I've had this little recipe burning a hole in my brain for a while now; just waiting for the perfect event to make them for - cornbread cupcakes with honey buttercream! These were delicious and I'll be making these again for sure. They would be excellent for a barbecue themed party as well. I would be lying if I said they didn't melt in your mouth.


 Circleville is known for their pumpkin donuts and since it was a brunch I thought donuts would make a perfect cake so a pumpkin donut cake it was! Everyone loves these donuts, especially family members who traveled since they can't enjoy them at any time like we can. I threw in some fun donuts for the girls because everything is better with rainbow sprinkles, right? And a birthday is just not a birthday without sugar cookies! Chicks, cows, horses and pigs completed the dessert table. 





Guests left with their choice of cow tale - MOO! 



We had lots of fun and couldn't have asked for a more beautiful day in November to have a birthday party! This old horse saddle came in handy too; we got lots of good pictures with it. I cannot resist this one, sorry honey! It's so sweet. 


 Little Lena has been a complete joy to our family. She can be stubborn and spike a temper but she is so sweet and loving. She makes every day a lot funnier and a lot less serious. Her life is precious to me and I thank God for his continued blessings upon our family. 

Happy Birthday, my sweet, sweet girl. 


















Tuesday, October 11, 2016


5 To-Do’s To Plan A Party!

     1. Determine your theme:
Deciding on a theme really brings the event to life. Dress your party in an outfit! That may sound crazy but it's not. Once a theme is created you know in which direction you’d like the rest of your decor and planning to play out.



  2.Confirm your budget.
  Planning a party can easily get out of hand with varied costs. Be sure to plan out your budget for location, decorations, food/beverage, and gifts (if you have to buy them). And do your very best to stick to it!



  3.Compile your guest list.
  I intentionally put this AFTER #2 because if you sit down and create a guest list first you’re more likely to invite everyone you know, have known, and have the possibility of knowing in the future, right?  If you confirm your budget first, you’ll be more aware of the really special people that you want to share in the fun of your event. 



4.Plan your menu/decor.

  I always like to plan my menu around the theme. Please take into consideration what time of day your party is because people would most likely eat more at a party planned in the evening than they would a party planned in the early afternoon. Also consider who’s on your guest list and try to accommodate as best you can without getting  too far away from the menu you want to provide. Some really fun and easy menu themes are a chili bar, a Mexican fiesta, an assorted pizza party, and a barbecue! 

Now, right alongside food is drink, right? I always like to have a signature drink (or two) that goes along with the theme. This allows for everyone to have a choice but not too many choices which can really put a dent in your party budget. For adults, have one type of beer and one type of wine with some fruit infused water or have some spiked apple cider and a hot chocolate bar. You can dress it up and make it a fun beverage station and include great drink additions such as marshmallows and peppermint spoons for hot chocolate, or fruit and drink umbrellas for summertime cocktails. 

Decorations! Festive decor adds a special detail to your party. My go-to are always flowers. Usually your local market carries in-season blooms that won't break your budget and will add a special, personal touch. Coordinating plates, napkins and utensils help tie in to the theme and maybe a few balloons depending on the type of party you're having. I always like to have a fun activity also whether it be a fun photo prop or a game that everyone can enjoy, even the adults!


  5.Decide on Dessert!
  Dessert! The most fun part of any party, right? I always like to have a couple different choices for desserts. Desserts make a party sweet! I usually have a cake of some kind with some cookies or some additional treats. It’s a good idea to provide desserts that go with your theme, if possible. For instance, if you’re having a party in the fall it may be wise to do a fall themed (pumpkin/caramel apple) cake or if you’re having a summer party, maybe incorporate some fresh fruit in to your dessert. If you're hosting a party in honor of someone else, bake their favorite! If you're just having a seasonal or holiday party a safe rule to follow is this; have something you love, have something you know the guests will love and then try something new! The best table at a party is the dessert table! 

Have fun!
-xo




Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Saquena's 40th Birthday!

Queen Bee Turns 40!

Saquena approached me about doing some invitations and a dessert table for her 40th birthday party. We talked about different themes but ultimately settled on the most appropriate - 'Queen Bee is 40!' 

I wanted her invites to be simple and not too fancy because although they were for a queen I knew her party would be casual, laid back and lots of fun! She loved these invites so we went ahead and got these sent out to her guests.






 When I consulted with Saquena about her favorite treats she didn't really have any specific requests which was scary and fun all at the same time; I love a challenge! I eventually ran several things by her and did get a couple of desserts that she favored over others. 

One was chocolate chip cookies! Since I knew I was doing sugar cookies for her I wanted to step outside of the box a bit and incorporate her love for chocolate chip in to something other than a traditional cookie. I decided to do a chocolate chip cookie tart filled with buttercream icing and sprinkled with mini chocolate chips. I love working with mini chips; they're so fun! 





For cupcakes I wanted to keep them simple and  fun so I went with ice cream sundae topped cupcakes! These turned out SUPER cute but really need to be kept cool until party time. We had fun lots of fun transporting these guys, right hubby? I even put some sprinkles in to the cupcake batter to make them extra birthday cake-ish! The explosion of deliciousness when you bite in to one of these makes turning a year older so worth it! 




 In to the late hours of a party, who doesn't want to grab a rice krispie treat? They're easy and so good, especially dipped in or sprinkled with some chocolate! Everyone seems to love these treats, including Saquena, so it was an easy addition to make for her table.




Brownies are a popular dessert too. I made homemade brownies and then dipped them with milk chocolate and white chocolate and used sprinkles, mini M&M's and candy bar chunks to add additional yum factor! 



Sugar cookies were a must, of course! I baked beehives with queen bees on them, as well as, crowns to incorporate in to her theme. 






And last but not least, the cake! A 40th birthday is kind of a big deal. I wanted to make Saquena a special cake for her day but nothing too big so that people couldn't enjoy the other desserts. She did mention that she liked chocolate cake and peanut butter so I whipped up a naked chocolate cake with some peanut butter buttercream between the layers. It created for her a perfect sized cake fit for a queen on her big day!






Thank you again Saquena for letting me help plan and make your day special. I look forward to planning your 50th with you! ;) 

Monday, July 11, 2016

Summer Berry Dessert!

This is my favorite summer dessert - probably ever. If you're having friends over or just want to make a nice dessert to have after dinner one night, this is your go-to! This was a recipe passed down by family and now it's never summer without making it at least once! 


Summer Berry Dessert
1 pint ripe blackberries
3-4 farm fresh peaches, sliced
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Mix the berries and peaches with the maple syrup in a bowl. Stir in the nutmeg, lemon zest and lemon juice. Cover and chill in refrigerator for 3 hours or overnight. 

Serve with vanilla ice cream! And a piece of pound cake or angel food cake for a bonus! 

Yum! 


Thursday, July 7, 2016

4th of July 2016

America - land of the free, home of the brave! That's worth celebrating, right? 4th of July is kind of a special day for our family because it's the day Travis proposed (nervously)to me! Of course we love to celebrate holidays but that makes this holiday much more fun; especially now that we have the girls to share it with. And we look forward to the day when they can stay up late enough to watch fireworks with us as a family. Planning is hard work but their enthusiasm and the look on their faces is worth every minute that I spend preparing and creating.  



We set everything up at the 'family farm' and had lots of picnic staples for food and of course - desserts! Sugar cookies, cake pop ice cream cones and a fruit flag cake. 






I wanted to share the flag cake recipe for you so that you can, if you'd like, mix one up this summer or save for next 4th of July. I'm thinking it might be an annual treat for us! It was THAT good.


Happy Summer! Enjoy!
Ingredients
For the Cake
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • ½ cup of margarine or butter
  • ½ cup shortening
  • 1 cup of water
  • ½ cup of buttermilk (or ½ cup of milk and 1 tablespoon of  vinegar)
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 pinch of salt

For the Frosting
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened 
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 12 oz cool whip (or 4½ cups fresh whipped cream-sweetened with  powdered sugar)
  • 2-3 Pints Fresh Raspberries and/or Strawberries
  • 1 Pint Fresh Blueberries

For the Stripes
  • 1 Cup (2 sticks)butter at room temperature
  • 1 Cup vegetable shortening
  • 6-7 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla
Instructions
For the Cake
 1.  Heat oven to 400 degrees.
 2.  In the bowl of a kitchen-aid, mix the flour and sugar
 3.  Place the margarine, shortening and water in a saucepan over        medium heat and bring it to a light boil.
 4.  In a separate bowl, combine the buttermilk, eggs, soda, vanilla      and salt, whisk until smooth.
 5.  Take the shortening mixture and pour it over the flour mixture      and mix until smooth. add the buttermilk mixture and mix again      until smooth. 
 6.  Lightly spray a cookie sheet with cooking oil(pam). Pour the        mixture in the pan and bake for 20 minutes. Allow to completely      cool.
  7. Frost the cake with the whipped cream frosting
  8. Decorate the cake with blueberries in one corner and two rows        of raspberries and/or strawberries all the way across the cake,      skipping a stripe for the white stripe and repeating. 
  9. Pipe white stripes using the buttercream between the                berries and as little stars between blueberries.

For the Frosting
In a mixer, whip the cream cheese to soften it. Add the cool whip, lemon juice and powdered sugar.

For the Buttercream
Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and shortening until mixed. Add in 1 tablespoon of vanilla and 3 cups of powdered sugar. Add in the last tablespoon of vanilla and the rest of the powdered sugar. Mix until well blended. (if the icing is too thick you can add a tablespoon of milk)