Monday, September 30, 2013

Free Printable Go Fish Card Game from Lauren McKinsey

Do you remember playing the classic card game, "Go Fish" as a child?  I do!  This week's free download from Lauren McKinsey is this adorable printable "Go Fish" card game.  You can get it by clicking HERE.

When I received this week's freebie, I let out a little squeal because I just knew two cute little boys in my own home would love playing this game, and I was right!  It was so quick to print out the game cards.  I decided to run mine through my laminator for extra durability.  Then, I just let my boys go at it! Each set includes 12 cards and the cutest little carrying case.  Lauren suggests printing out several sets for a really exciting game.

Wouldn't these be adorable party favors as part of an "Under the Sea" or "Fish" themed party?  Or, how about printing them out for your child's preschool or Kindergarten class.You can see the coordinating under-the-sea items in Lauren's shop here.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Homemade Caramel Apple Recipe

There is something about Fall that I absolutely love; the cool crisp air, the beautiful changing leaves, pumpkin spice candles, apple cider, sweaters & fall favorites like homemade caramel apples!

I'm making it a goal to not let the busy-ness of the Fall/Winter season keep me from baking my favorite eats & treats!  When the weather outside was wet and gloomy yesterday and threatened to carry on for several days, I grabbed a few supplies to make our favorite homemade caramel apple recipe.  We just love the crispy and juicy texture of apples paired with the gooey, sweet caramel! After many requests for the recipe, I thought I'd put it up here on the blog!

Homemade Caramel Apples

1 cup butter or margarine (2 cubes)
1 lb. light brown sugar (2 cups)
1-14 oz. can of sweetened condensed milk
1 cup light corn syrup
1 pinch of salt
1 1/2 tsp. of vanilla extract
6-10 apples (depending on size and the # of coats of caramel)

wooden craft sticks or candy sticks
candy thermometer
wax paper (spray with non-stick cooking spray and place on baking sheet)


1- Begin by preparing your apples.  Wash and completely dry your apples (any moisture will cause the caramel to not stick).  Carefully remove the stem of each apple by gently twisting it off.  Insert wood sticks into each apple and leave them to rest on your wax paper.
2- In a large saucepan combine the butter, brown sugar, sweetened condensed milk, corn syrup and salt over medium heat.  Continue stirring to avoid scalding on the bottom of the pan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Heat the caramel mixture until the candy thermometer reaches between 234 and 240 degrees F  ("the soft ball stage") (112 to 116 degrees C), or until a small amount of syrup dropped into cold water forms a soft ball that flattens when removed from the water and placed on a flat surface. Cook for 2 minutes at that temperature. Remove from the heat and stir in vanilla.
3-  Carefully dip each apple in the caramel mixture being sure to rotate the apple until it is well coated.  You may need to dip it in a few times to get a good coating.  Set on prepared wax paper to cool.
4-  Refrigerate the apples until set, at least 10 minutes. The apples can be made and stored in the refrigerator up to 1 day in advance.


Sunday, September 22, 2013

Free Weekly Printables from Lauren McKinsey

Oh boy, do I have something exciting to share!!  One of my favorite graphic designers has invited me to give away her printables to YOU each week.  Yeah, you read that right!  How fun is that?  So be sure to check in each week to see the newly unveiled printable designs and click the link for the free download.  Downloads will only be available for 2 weeks, so be sure to check in often!

(Click the image above to take you to the free download.)

Without further ado, here is this week's new Halloween design by the fabulous graphic designer, Lauren McKinsey!  "If the shoe fits..."


Ready for you free download?  Click here!  Interested in the rest of Lauren's totally cute collections?  Click here!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Gourmet French Macarons + a Giveaway

If you're up on the latest and greatest in dessert table party trends, you know the popularity of the little French confection known as the macaron.  I've personally stood in lines longer than I'd care to remember in Paris, just to purchase a few French macarons from the world renowned, Ladurée.  But now, with the recent release of Mindy Cone's new book, Gourmet French Macarons, I can make and eat macarons in the comfort of my own home, and so can you!

For you macaron newbies out there, I will answer a few questions:

What's a macaron?  This delicate & petite almond-meringue based cookie with a soft crunchy outside & chewy inside marries the best of ingredients, which combine under carefully curated circumstances to create a beautiful confection most commonly filled with melt-in-your mouth ganache, buttercream or jam.

Chocolate with Chocolate filling

Why are macarons so popular?  Besides being so delicious, these elegant treats can be made to match just about any color palette imaginable, which makes them a perfect choice for any occasion.

What makes Mindy's book, Gourmet French Macarons, so special? First of all, Mindy takes a unique and creative approach on the classic French macaron.  Not only does she include recipes, techniques, styling ideas, templates & decorating tips for the classic round shaped macaron sandwich cookie, but she gives the macaron a modern & whimsical makeover by changing up the shapes & providing ideas for holidays, seasons & theme specific macarons perfect for a variety of events & occasions.  In Mindy's book, she shares over 75 unique and creative designs for making your French macarons delicious and adorable.  Plus, you'll get over 75 flavorful filling recipes and an included cd that has printable templates to make piping circles or unique shapes a cinch!  Making pumpkin, apple, ghost, tree, flower, animal & numerous other shaped macarons just became simple!

Apple Macarons 
Football Macarons

Frankenstein Macarons
Hamburger Macarons

Who is Mindy Cone?

I've known the talented Mindy Cone for a couple of years as we've worked together in many event planning/entertaining circles online, but didn't have the privilege of meeting Mindy until this past Spring, when we both attended a creative blogging conference in Utah together.  Mindy is every bit as spunky, adorable, fun & creative in person as she is online.  Mindy is an entertaining, food and party stylist on the blog Creative Juice.  She writes about how to entertain your guests and kids with style and creativity!  She shares DIY tutorials, recipes, tips, tricks and ideas to make your next event detailed, personalized and of course creative! 

Sneak Peek + free macaron circle template download for this recipe!

Chocolate with bite

Want a sneak peek of some of the great recipes you'll find in Mindy's book?  Here's her chocolate macaron & chocolate ganache recipes.  (**Please note, this has been slightly modified from the book, with some tips, tricks, and terminology excluded.)

Get a free 1.5" macaron circle template download for this recipe here.

Chocolate French Macarons

100g of egg whites aged at room temperature

Pinch of Cream of tartar

35g of superfine sugar

110g of Almond flour

200g of Powdered Sugar

10g cocoa powder

1. Measure out all ingredients using a gram scale

2. Prepare the baking sheets by lining them with a silicone mat or parchment paper. Slide a printed 1 ½ inch template sheet underneath and set aside. Prepare piping bag to be filled and set aside.

3. Sift powdered sugar, almond mixture, and cocoa powder together two or three times through a sieve and set aside.

4. Place the egg whites in a large bowl or in stand mixer with wire whisk attachment. Whisk on low until egg whites become foamy. Add the pinch of cream of tartar. Continue to whisk until soft peaks form. Slowly add in the superfine sugar. Once all of the sugar is incorporated, scrape down the sides with a spatula.

5. Turn your mixer on medium-high and continue to whisk until you reach a stiff meringue. If adding liquid or gel food dye, do so toward the end of whisking.

6. Sift 1/3 of the almond flour, powdered sugar, and cocoa powder mixture through the sieve and into the meringue. Fold the dry mixture into the meringue. Repeat with the remaining mixture. Once all of the dry ingredients are incorporated, the batter will be thick and have a dull shine. Continue to fold. As you do so, the batter will loosen. Stop folding when the batter has a glossy sheen, a “lava-like” consistency, and falls in a ribbon like manner off the spatula.

7. Transfer the batter into a large pastry bag fitted with a round tip and pipe 1½ inch rounds on the parchment paper following the template.

8. When all of the rounds are piped on the parchment, rap the sheet pans evenly on work surface a few times. Remove templates from below your parchment paper carefully. Let the batter rest at room temperature for 20-40 minutes.

9. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Reduce temperature to 300 degrees and bake one sheet at a time for 12 minutes rotating the pan half way through.

10.  Remove from oven and allow to cool.

11.  Match up similar size shells into pairs and sandwich with filling.


About 4 dozen 1.5 in shells (two dozen sandwiched macaron cookies)

Chocolate Ganache Filling

100 g (3.5 oz) chocolate*

1½ Tbsp. heavy cream

Place chocolate in a heat proof bowl.

Boil cream and pour over chocolate.

Stir until all the chocolate has melted and texture is smooth**

When warm, pipe onto macaron shells.

*I prefer to use the mini chocolate chips when possible to speed up the process.

** If the cream is not able to melt all the chocolate, place bowl in microwave. Heat for 20 seconds on low power. Remove and stir. Repeat until chocolate is fully melted.

Snowflake Macarons
Oh, and you've got to watch this adorable video Mindy created to share how her idea for the macaron book came about!
  Gourmet French Macarons from TK Productions on Vimeo.

Enter to win one of 2 e-book copies of Mindy's new book via the Rafflecopter widget below!  Contest is open to everyone, ages 18+.  Winners will be posted here upon contest end and will be emailed within 24 hours of contest end via the email attached to your Facebook account.  You will have 48 hours to claim your prize.  Contest runs, September 16 (12 a.m. EST) to September 23rd (12 a.m. EST).  Good luck! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Something Chic Giveaway

One of my favorite parts about being an event planner is connecting with other event planners who share in my passion for details.  Christina Christian, owner of Something Chic party & event design, LLC is a woman after my own heart. Her events are well-known for their impeccable style & attention to details.



Something Chic party & event design is based in Cincinnati, Ohio. Their mission statement “making every event memorable” incorporates the design, style, and creation of one-of-a-kind occasions. As the designer, Christina's time is spent getting to know her client’s personality and then creating an event that will WOW their guests with the themes, trends, and colors they desire. In return, she loves seeing how she has helped to make the event even more memorable by creating an atmosphere for all to enjoy! Her chic services include: custom dessert tables, handmade event décor, and full event styling. Christina works one-on-one to ensure that every detail is carried through from the beginning of the design process until the end.

Something Chic is now launching a new line of printables, called "Portrait Party" printables décor.  It is a printable line which allows each child's party to truly be personalized by using the child's photo and turning it into an amazing illustrated cartoon portrait for their party décor. With a portrait design every element of the child is featured on each detail of the decorative pieces. From the custom chocolate bar favor items, to the napkin rings, mini milk jugs and paper ice cream cup décor. You name the décor you'd like your child's portrait on, Something Chic is sure to make it happen. These decorations are in every way one-of-a kind!

THE PRIZE (Package is valued at $150): 
Something Chic's Portrait Party giveaway will select two lucky followers to receive the following for their child's next birthday party for 12;
1 portrait sign of the birthday child
12 cupcake toppers
12 chocolate bar favors
12 "Thank You" favor boxes
To enter, simply follow the directions in the Rafflecopter widget below.  The contest will run from September 4th- September 9th at midnight.  Contest open worldwide.  (Free shipping to U.S. only.)  Winners will be announced via the Rafflectoper widget and emailed via the email address attached to your Facebook account.  Winners will have 48 hours to claim their prizes.
a Rafflecopter giveaway Get 10% off when you shop for Pop Displays at Yescom USA. Valid until October 2013!