Bobby’s Birthday (Or I make another gift basket)

My friend Rob’s birthday was yesterday, so I set out to make it special. I conspired with his girlfriend, Mary, to make sure I picked up all of his favorite movie theater candy, and the boys chipped in as well — including Albus.

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He picked out the golf balls at Dick’s.

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There were a lot of options. 

I wanted to package the goodies in a practical way, so I picked up a collapsable organizer from Marshall’s.

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Here’s the pre-assembly situation.

I put a bow on the bag because everything is better with bows — even gifts for boys. (I think I’ve said that before, but you can never say it too many times.)

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Every item in here has a story, naturally.

For example, Rob loves sloths, so I bought one for him. I used my glue gun to put the AMC gift card in his hot little sloth hand. The weird man ballerina box contains Australian sour gummies. I made the Twinkle Toes sign because Tim calls everyone Twinkle Toes, and he was one of the boys who chipped in for the gift. (Matt was the other.)

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It seemed like the right thing to do.

Tim, Rob, Matt, and I are all dog people, so a card mocking a cat seemed like the right choice.

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Larry, Daryl, and Anita are our aliases.

Basically, we think they’re terrible names, so we call each other by them as a form of demented endearment.

Okay, that’s all for now. I’m blasting some Danzig and breaking out my book outline.

Bye!

Peter Pan Party Wrap Up (Or Here’s Everything in One Place)

OK, this is it. The final Peter Pan Party post. The everything-in-one-place post. The you-never-have-to-hear-about-it-again post.

These Peter Pan Partygoers are eager to wrap this ish up.

See, I’m saving you from digging around my blog to piece together a Peter Pan Party the way I used to rummage through piles of black capris and halter tops on my floor in college just to find two matching Steve Madden platforms. (Note: I do NOT wear Maddens anymore. This is because I no longer think it’s acceptable to be hobbled by cheap footwear.)

Invitations
I used Paperless Post because I’m into saving the planet by saving some trees. And also because their designs are like the perfect storm of affordable and attractive.

Photo Courtesy of Paperless Post.

If you’re not into this design, here are a few more pirate-y options.

By the way, PP now offers a charity stamp option. They donate $0.05 to Amensty International, Red, or the ASPCA if you choose the charity stamp instead of the default option. Naturally, I went with the ASPCA puppy stamp. Since we had 142 people on our guest list, we bought a little bit of kibble for homeless pets just by inviting people to drink with us at our party.

Flowers
Here’s the work in progress post, complete with ordering info on the vases and sprinkles.
And this is the reveal.

Neverland Map
I explain how to age paper for a treasure map or Neverland map here.

Other Assorted Decorations
This is the decoration wrap up, complete with product ordering information.

Appetizers
Spicy Eggplant Dip
Truffle Popcorn

Taco Bar Main Course
Cola Carnitas
Slow Cooker Chicken (Note: I didn’t handle this part of the party, but if I had, I probably would have tried this recipe.)
Salsa
Salsa Verde

Dessert Bar
Sprinkles Strawberry Cupcakes with Strawberry Mascarpone Frosting
Banana Cupcakes with Mascarpone Frosting
Glazed Lime Cake
Chocolate Stout Cake
Skull and Crossbones Sugar Cookies

And now… bacon wrapped meatloaf, because everything is better when it’s wrapped in bacon. Truth.

Peter Pan Party Aftermath Post 3 (Or How to Make Strawberry Cupcakes)

You must make these cupcakes. I speak the truth.

There are few things on earth I love more than cilantro and strawberries. Not necessarily together, mind you, though that might be worth trying….

As a kid, I ate strawberries right out of our garden – even when they were slightly green. (I was weird. Still am.) When given a choice of ice cream flavors, I’d pass up chocolate every time and pick strawberry. I still do.

OK, you get it. I dig strawberries. So, for my totally out of control birthday dessert bar (err, round table — there was an incident), obviously I had to make strawberry cupcakes.

I need to get photoshop so I can fix my food photos — Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition style.

To make sure I actually got to eat one at my party, I carried that sweet little confection around for an hour until I was ready to eat it. It went everywhere with me as I table-hopped like that stupid garden gnome in Amelie.

So, here’s how you make these round bits of heaven:

The strawberry cupcake recipe can be found on Martha Stewart’s site here. (I recommend following the instructions precisely — especially when it comes to sifting the flour and using eggs and butter at room temperature. It makes a big difference.)

The recipe is actually from Sprinkles, the famous Beverly Hills bakery that Barbra Streisand frequents. (True story.) Since I don’t necessarily care for the sweet butter cream frostings they often use (or any butter cream for that matter), I invented my own strawberry mascarpone frosting.

The recipe is below.

Strawberry Mascarpone Frosting

1/3 C strawberries, finely chopped
1/3 C powdered sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
pinch of kosher salt

4 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 C butter, room temperature
1 1/4 C powdered sugar, sifted
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
4 oz mascarpone

Blend strawberries, 1/3 C powdered sugar, salt, and lemon juice in food processer. Allow the mixture to sit for ten minutes.

Meanwhile, blend the cream cheese and butter with the paddle attachment of your mixer. Add 1 1/4 C of powdered sugar and blend completely. (Sifting the sugar prevents large clumps from forming in your frosting. It’s worth the extra effort.) Add vanilla and the strawberry puree. Mix to blend. Add the mascarpone and blend on low speed. (You have to be careful not to beat the mascarpone too much because it curdles if you do.)

Place the frosting in the refrigerator until it is the proper consistency for spreading. (About 15-20 minutes.)

Note: Because the recipe calls for strawberry puree, the frosting cannot sit out too long or it will lose some of its firmness. It’s best to frost the cupcakes shortly before serving or keep them covered and refrigerated.

Tomorrow I’ll hook you up with the banana cupcake recipe — and my salsa verde recipe — so you can see my love of cilantro in action.

And now back to my thank you notes because this spoiled birthday brat got lots of loot.

Drills, booze, flowers, and aprons. People get me.

I Suck as a Florist (Or I Need Help with My Floral Arrangements)

I think I’ve been listening to too much Tift Merritt and Bon Iver today because I’m starting to feel all sorry for myself.

Or maybe I’m glum because “Trader Joe” and I have very different opinions on what an “easy to open” package of oven roasted turkey breast looks like. Or it could be because the only Doritos left in the bag are crumbs. But mostly, I’d bet it’s because I have the kind of cramps that hurt from your feet all of the way up to your face and I’m missing some of my close friends today.

My birthday is in two weeks, and I’m deep in the throes of planning the party. It’s going to be awesome, and the guest list is out of control huge, but it will be missing some amazing girls this year. See, many of my close girlfriends have moved away and/or gotten married. They used to throw my parties, do my flowers, and just basically make me feel all kinds of special on my birthday. One year they even broke into my apartment, set up Sprinkles Cupcakes while I was at work, and were waiting to take me out for a surprise dinner when I got home.

That they won’t be here to partake in my Peter Pan Party madness just basically makes me feel like this:

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Not only do I miss them and the days of dancing on tables together, but their absence also means I am facing the daunting task of making my own floral arrangements for my party. I sort of suck at arranging flowers, and I’m afraid I’m going to make a huge mess of the affair. I mean I can’t do this:

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Danielle, the Goddess behind last year’s arrangement, now lives in Cabo and is launching a furniture line.

Sure, I could buy the arrangements, but where is the challenge in that?

Besides, I absolutely cannot stand being truly bad at something, so I am trying to teach myself.

So far it’s not going terribly well….

My dog hates my floral arrangement. So do I.

Part of the problem is that I don’t have the right vessels, so I need to remedy that. The other problem is finding inspiration because this art form does not come naturally to me. I wasn’t all that into flowers for most of my life. I spent many years as a tree-climbing tomboy who collected toads with the neighbor boys, and I left the flowers and the other pink stuff to the girls who had unicorns on their Trapper Keepers.

Here I am with my best toad-collecting buddy, Brett, basically being all boyish and geeky.

So now I am making up for lost time and I’m combing Pinterest for ideas. I have come up with these contenders so far:

Photo courtesy of Petals by David.

Photo Courtesy of Catch My Party.

That’s a decent start, right?

It only took me three HOURS to find two designs I really liked.

I think I have to turn off the Tift Merrit, down the entire bottle of ibuprofen, and watch Iron Eagle now because I hate being in a funk. It’s going to take Jason Gedrick blowing up some oil wells to cheer me up today, I’m afraid.

Do you have any arrangement ideas that might inspire me?

Please send help!