A Ladybug 1st Birthday Party

chocolate-chips-and-strawberry-ladybugs

I’m a host and people gatherer by nature so when a close friend asked me to host and help plan her daughter, Gracie’s, 1st birthday party, I jumped at the chance! While I don’t have any kids (yet) I love all things whimsy and creative so it was a great opportunity to see what kinds of ideas we could come up with for her birthday party. One day when we were planning the idea for a ladybug themed party hit us, because the Mother of the little one loves the colors red, black, and white. We thought that an excellent idea because it not only fits the Mother’s favorite colors, but also matches the birthday girl’s sweet little personality. Today I’m going to share with you how I made these adorable little edible “ladybugs” in no time flat. I will also show you some easy decorating ideas if you want to throw a similar style party. All it takes is a LOT of love and attention to detail on things that make the party.

Ingredients:

  1. Strawberries
  2. Mini Chocolate Chips
  3. Chocolate candy coating

To make the darling little “ladybugs”, you first have to rinse your strawberries and completely dry them. If you don’t the chocolate coating won’t stick.

dry-strawberries-before-coat

I decided to make some “ladybugs” and some completely covered in chocolate. #becausechocolate! To start the “ladybugs”, only dip the bottoms of the strawberry in the chocolate and place them on a baking sheet. This makes the face of the ladybug. I originally want to use black frosting, but realized that would take way too long to coat and make the spots on the back of the ladybug. It would also be VERY messy to say the least. No thank you!

strawberries-and-ladybugs

Candy coating won over in my book! The candy coating dries very quickly and is a lot less messy as you can/will see in the pictures. Once the babies are dry, carefully insert mini chocolate chips into the strawberry similar to get the ladybug look. Make sure to press the chips in firmly because the sneaky little things will try to come lose. Once all are complete, give them a quick pat dry with a dry paper towel to remove the strawberry juice.

strawberries-on-baking-sheet

It took maybe an hour to do these cute statement pieces. I’d say it was perfect for a kid’s party as well since there was fruit involved. YAY! Not bad for an edible conversation piece! To serve, I used some cake stands I made a few years ago out of treated wood from my Father-In-Law’s yard. The stands gave the “ladybugs” a more natural look.

backyard-party-ladybugs

For the other decorations, Gracie’s Mom made this chalkboard timeline documenting her 1st year. I thought this was such a cute and creative idea.

birthday-chalkboard-timeline

A few balloons were purchased and a close friend of the Mother’s made these adorable banners.

ladybug-birthday-garland

If I had thought about it, I would have posted pics of the other food present at the party. At that time though, I was only planning a post on the “ladybugs”. In addition to the “ladybugs”, we served snacks like chips, salsa, guacamole, hummus, pretzels, and cupcakes. For drinks we had water and an awesome ladybug juice made with Cranberry juice and Sprite mixed together in equal parts. Drop in a few blackberries to add the ladybug spots to the mix.

I’m so honored that I got to help plan this sweet one’s 1st birthday party. I can’t wait to plan more parties in the future. Do you like planning parties? What is the most stressful part and what is the most fun?

Not All Oils Are Created Equal

Olivia Olive Oils

The Lord blessed me and my cooking a few months ago when I found out about Olivia Olive Oil, a business in Franklin, TN that sells oils, vinegars, and other specialty foodie items you won’t find other places. Let me tell you, Olivia Olive Oil’s selection is limited to only the best, and when you taste that first oil you will understand that not all oils (and vinegars) are created equal.( Just like all the finer things in life: chocolate and our dearly beloved coffee.) I first went alone to do a tasting and scope out an oil for my family’s big Easter dinner. After doing the tasting, I couldn’t just buy the Rosemary Olive Oil I settled on for the Easter tenderloin; I was hooked on the Pineapple Balsamic Vinegar too. (We have salads made up at our house for a quick bite when we are in a hurry, and switching out the vinegars provides a healthy variety.) Before I left the store, I asked to do a tasting party so I could share with my foodie friends and you dedicated readers.OOO kindly obliged and brought the house down with oils, vinegars, and jams to sample.

Sample Rosemary Oil

I brought a house salad, angel food cake, and various fruits and cheeses to pair with the different offerings. Their main focus is on the extra virgin olive oils (EVOO), flavored EVOOs, vinegars, and flavored balsamic vinegars. Go in for a tasting (or party) and you will get to learn about and try everything from the Arbequina EVOO which has a buttery undertone to the Sicilian which is an Italian EVOO with a peppery kick. To make your taste buds dance, try the Lemon or Persian Lime on salads, pastas, or your favorite fish or meat. For savory EVOOs, I recommend the rosemary, basil or garlic on any kind of carb or meat. I was surprised to find that the Garlic EVOO was delicious with apple slices. If that sounds crazy, just try it! You will thank me later.  If you’re a balsamic vinegar fan, their traditional vinegar is aged for 18 years in oak barrels and produced in the traditional Modena style.  OOO offers several fruity vinegars from fig to their newest flavor, peach white balsamic.  These vinegars go well atop your favorite fruit, cobbler, or ice cream. Yes, ICE CREAM! My absolute favorite of all was the champagne mimosa vinegar. It has a citrus champagne flavor that is perfect on fruit, seafood, and salads.

Olive Oils Olivia Nashville

An array of unique jams was also prepared for sampling. My favorites were the strawberry jalapeno and blackberry mint. I was surprised at how yummy those combinations were together!Olivia Olive Oil Jams

Jams

I think I speak for everyone when I say we had a blast and learned a ton about high quality oils and vinegars! The next party I go to, I’m mentioning the fact that I now know higher quality olive oils have a higher smoke point. (The smoke point is the temperature at which the oil breaks down and loses its health benefits.)

Be sure to stop by Olivia Olive Oils for a tasting if you are in Nashville. Even if you aren’t, shop online and get recipes at olivianashville.com. For the latest inventory and updates, check out their Twitter and Facebook pages.

 

Disclaimer:Opinions expressed are based on  my experiences, tastes, and background. I have not received any compensation or financial incentive for this review.

Flower-Power: How to Make your Flowers Last

how-to-make-flowers-last-longerChances are you have given or received fresh flowers recently because, let’s face it: YOU ARE  AMAZING, WONDERFUL, and talented!    There’s no denying that.  Here are some ways you can make your flowers last longer by simply using some common household items you probably already have.

flower-cat

First up, a funny! Cat got your tongue? No, but Fluffy is about to get your prized bouquet! hehe I love animals… what can I say.

3  WAYS TO KEEP FLOWERS AROUND:

1. KILL THE BACTERIA AND FUNGI – where there is water, there is the potential for all kinds of bacteria to form. Just a cap full of bleach or vodka will do the trick. (No judgement if vodka is a staple in your house. :)) Bleach will also help the buds to open more quickly. If you don’t have any bleach or vodka and don’t want to go the chemical route, change out the water and cut the stems at an angle daily. Cutting stems at an angle allows for more surface area for water absorption.

bacteria-get-on-flowers

2. ADD SUGAR, SUGAR DA NA NA NA NA NA– whether it’s soda that has lost all carbonation, or a tsp of sugar, it’s good for your arrangement. Once flowers are cut, they are no longer undergoing photosynthesis. During photosynthesis, plants react with sunlight to create sucrose. Sugar acts as a sucrose substitute since the plant can no longer make it on its own. Most floral preservatives have some sugar in them. Roses and snapdragon benefit the most from the sugar, but all will have a longer lifespan when given sugar.

how-to-keep-your-flowers-alive

3. PROVIDE AN ACID- whether it’s an aspirin, 3 pennies, or 2 tbsp vinegar, adding an acid will replicate the levels of acidity the flowers once had when in soil enabling it to better absorb nutrients and water.

Do these things and you will have your beautiful blooms around a long time! What things do you use to keep flowers alive?