I love to make chocolate covered popcorn around the holidays. Things have been so hectic around here lately I feel like I haven't been able to do any crafting or baking in awhile. Today was a rare day where I only had one job to go to, which in my book is considered a day off! After I was done teaching this morning I decided to come home and make this for Scott's pd. It was a quick and easy recipe with very little mess, a winner in my eyes. It was quick even considering that due to an incident last year where I melted the blender...that's right MELTED...and I haven't broke down and bought a food processor yet...I crushed the 24 Oreos into a fine dust by hand. :)  It was so addicting, I was happy to package it up and get it out of the house instead of buying new pants!  The white and black from the popcorn looked so cute with an orange and black ribbon, great for Halloween.

Oreo Popcorn
1 bag white popcorn
12 Oreos crushed - some larger pieces are ok
6 oz. white chocolate or vanilla candy coating

1. Pop popcorn and tap the bag when finished, causing un-popped kernels to fall to the bottom of the bag.
2. Transfer popcorn to a bowl, making sure to avoid un-popped kernels.
3. Mix in crushed Oreos.
4. Melt chocolate or candy coating. (Stovetop, microwave, or oven)
5. Using a rubber spatula mix chocolate with the popcorn/Oreo mixture.
6. Once the chocolate is evenly distributed lay popcorn on a sheet of wax paper in a single layer.
7. Be sure to move your popcorn around every 5-10 minutes to prevent big popcorn clumps.
8. Once the chocolate is hard....Enjoy!
Before...
After!
Naturally I made Scott take these to work in a bat bowl...only to embarrass him further!  But it was so cute!
 
Let it be said that when it comes to parenting I think Candi is a saint.  This woman is patient, loving, not afraid of a mess, and believes that kids should be allowed to be kids.  Last time I visited her house I was in awe of the life she has created with her husband, their daughter Maecy is so loved.  Everywhere you look there are art projects, paintings, beautiful family photos, books, and toys.  

This a home full of love and it reminds me so much of my childhood.  Our home was not fancy, we didn't have the nicest things, the newest gadget, and everything was not always in its place.  But we were beyond loved and anyone who came to visit could see that.  Every single yearbook photo was hung on the wall, our school art projects cluttered the shelves, the fridge was full of pictures, in the backyard was a two story playhouse our family built themselves, the kitchen table was worn out and full of dings from years of wear, the ceiling in my parents bedroom will forever have a hot pink "haha" written across it from a silly string fight, the garage is permanently dented from one to many games of swing set kick ball, and the noise level was at a constant 10.  At the time I was convinced our family was weird but looking back now it was a childhood I am grateful for.  One that many people miss out on and one most dream of.  

So today in honor of Candi "Mommy Extraordinaire" I wanted to share with you one of Maecy's most recent projects, a birthday gift for her dad.  A little paint, a blank canvas, and lots of fun and love made this the perfect birthday gift.  

Tools:
White Canvas
Sticker Letters
Finger Paint (NOTE: Candi used crayola washable paints)
Fingers

Instructions:
Place your sticker letters where you would like on the canvas.  Be sure to firmly rub each letter, making sure to get the edges. Paint away using as many colors as you wish.  Let dry overnight and remove the stickers.  

NOTE: If you are using washable paint you will need to seal your canvas.
 
My favorite girl in the entire world is turning two, my niece Maddie James.  She is spending her second birthday being spoiled by grandma in Michigan.  If you couldn't tell, Kitty (my chosen auntie name) is less than thrilled to be missing out on the fun.  Aunt Jamie made her the cutest cake that I just had to share with you, a Rainbow Swirl Cake.  The recipe and instructions can be found here, from In Katrina's Kitchen.  

What I love most about this cake is how simple it is.  No complex flavors, no crazy baking techniques, just add a little food coloring and you have an instant birthday party hit! Jamie topped her cake with white frosting and multi-color nonpareil sprinkles.   I can't wait to try one of my own, maybe a Halloween color scheme.

Tips from Aunt Jamie: Less is more, use neon food coloring for pink/orange/purple/green, and regular food colors for blue and yellow.  
 
I've got to give credit where credit is due, thank you mom for finding this on pinterest and thank you to Taste and Tell for the red velvet weight I put on during my trip to Michigan!  Prepare yourself, your lives are about to be changed, for the better.  My mom found this on pinterest and when she told me what she was making of course I gave her the usual "you're absolutely the battiest women I know are you sure I wasn't switched at birth" look.  Which 27 years later still ruffles her feathers, my goal in life.  Anyway against my disgust she made it.  

Not only was it beautiful sitting out on the table it was delicious.  I instantly went on pinterest and pinned it to my baking board.  It's like a red velvet cupcake and cream cheese frosting all mixed into one, to top it off it's served with vanilla wafer cookies.  It was very simple and quick to make, bonus!

We took it to 3 parties in one week, and never once was I sick of it.  It's such a fun way to serve dessert and something most people haven't seen yet.  How amazing would it be to sit down with a group of girlfriends, some good wine, and this red velvet yumminess. 

Here is the recipe from Taste and Tell:

Red Velvet Cheese Ball
Prep Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours, 15 minutes
Yield: 16 servings

The ultimate dip for red velvet lovers!! This sweet version of a cheeseball will have you going back for more!

Ingredients

8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups red velvet cake mix, dry
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
assorted cookies and crackers (my favorite was Vanilla Wafers)
Instructions

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add in the red velvet cake mix, the brown sugar and the powdered sugar. Beat until smooth and combined.  Turn the mixture out onto a piece of plastic wrap. Wrap up into a ball and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.  Put the chocolate chips on a plate or in a shallow dish. Remove the cheese ball from the refrigerator and unwrap. Roll in the chocolate chips. (This might get messy!) Place on a serving plate and serve with cookies or graham crackers.
Maddie James caught red handed...literally!  Turned our back for one minute and BAM cheese ball destroyed.  At least she is attempting to use a utensil!
 
I am so excited to say that Ladies Craft Night hosted their first bachelorette party last night.  It was the most wonderful group of ladies and the bride was one of the sweetest people I have ever met.  The night was filled with laughter and it couldn't have been more fun.  It was wonderful to women of all ages enjoying each others company. I give big kudos to Alex & Jackie, the hostess's, for all the work they did and thinking outside the box.

The craft for the night was beaded keychains.  I am always impressed with the finished products and how creative people get.  They were people turning their keychains into bracelets and purse pulls.  The bride extended her keychain to make it doubled in length and added extra beads to give it a "chunky" feel.  I think that this is part of the beauty of crafting with girlfriends, you are inspired by eachother and bond while creating something beautiful with your own two hands.  

Here are some photos from the night, check out the entire album on our facebook page!
 
It's happening...again!  We are celebrating the grand opening of Ladies Craft Night in Michigan.  I'm very excited to announce that this division will be run by Candi Sproat, one of the craftiest mommies I know.  Please join us for wine, crafts, food, raffles, and more.  All the details are below along with the link to our eventbrite page where you can purchase your tickets.

Date: August 11, 2012
Time: 5:00pm
Address: 1400 Irwin Drive, Waterford, Michigan 48327
Craft: Twine Wreath
Tickets: $20.00 available here.
*Wine tasting tickets will be available for purchase at the event.*


 
Life has been so hectic lately and we were of course running behind on gifts for fathers day.  One morning, the week, after I hauled myself out of bed at six in the morning and started up the glue gun.  There is nothing the like the smell of burning glue to get you moving in the morning.  Now I just needed to decide what to make, luckily we had some left over beer from a recent party.  Ta Da and it was decided, beer cake, what man doesn't appreciate beer stacked in the shape of a cake...exactly!

Supplies:

14 cans of beer
Foam board
Rubber bands
Glue Dots
Ribbon for base
Ribbon for bows
Pencil
Scissors

Step 1: Layout six beer cans on the foam board to create a circle.  I basically did a square to start off with then adjusted the shape a little. 
Step 2: Trace a rough outline around the beer cans, cut out a circle using scissors.
Step 3: Repeat for the second layer using 4 cans.  Repeat for the top layer using one can.
Step 4: Using the hot glue gun, run hot glue around the outside of each foam board layer.  Glue down desired ribbon and cut off excess.
Step 5: Glue dot each can to the foam board.
Step 6: Bind your beer cans together using one rubber band per layer.  The bottom layer using 6 cans around and one in the center, middle layer using 4 cans, and top layer using 1 can. 
Step 7: Glue dot each layer to the one below it.
Step 8: Tie ribbon around each layer and adorn with a bow.
 
LCN is thrilled to announce it has officially teamed up with Recipe For Disaster.  A southern California based company specializing in cakes and cupcakes.  They offer a wide range of including cookies and brownies.  Owner Lora's famous last works, "You name it and I'll bake it".  Check out some of her cakes, cookies, and cupcakes on our website by clicking here.  Or visit them on facebook by clicking here. 

We hope you look to them for all your southern California baking needs.  Here are some of the baked goodies Lora has made for LCN!
Ruffle Cake for a surprise 60th birthday party.  Top Layer: Pink Lemonade with red berry filling.  Bottom Layer: Chocolate cake with salted caramel filling.  Amazing.
Soft sugar cookies for the LCN Grand Opening!
LCN grand opening cake.  Top Layer: Vanilla bean cake with blackberry filling.  Bottom Layer: Pineapple cake with a mango filling.  It's so gorgeous I didn't want to eat it, but it was so good I couldn't stop myself from eating it!
 

DIY Paper Medallion

I think paper medallions are absolutely stunning.  When I ran across a picture of a paper medallion wall hanging I was in love.  I set out to make a wall hanging to act as the back drop for my craft table, at the upcoming Ladies Craft Night Grand Opening!  Enjoy!

Supplies:
Scrapbook Paper
Ruler
Pencil
Bone Folder
Glue Gun
Paper Cutter/Scissors
TIME!

Step 1: Start by cutting 2-4 even strips of craft paper.  I have made anywhere from 1inch to 6inch medallions.  The bigger the medallion the more strips you will need, smaller medallions only require 2 strips.  For this one I made a 2 1/2 inch medallion only requiring 2 strips.
Step 2: On the backside of your paper mark every 1/2 inch using a pencil.  These marks will act as a guideline when folding.
Step 3: Start folding each strip, carefully lining up each mark.  After folding use your bone folder to crease each fold, for a crisp & clean look.
Step 4: After folding all of your strips line the end of one strip with hot glue.  Attach this to the end of another strip and press firmly, trying to avoid any gaps in the paper.
Step 5: After all your strips are glued together flip your medallion over.  I like to glue in between each fold to secure the medallion.  Otherwise the medallion will stretch out and loose its shape.
Step 6: Get ready to giggle, instead of holding my medallion in place for a couple minutes until the glue hardens I turn to my trusty can of Diet Coke.  It's actually the perfect size and has enough weight to hold down the medallion without crushing it.
Step 7: Once the glue has hardened, you're done!  Flip it over and enjoy your beautiful work!
Medallion Wall Hanging: To make my wall hanging I used a piece of foam board.  It took me 23 medallions of all different shapes and sizes to cover the whole board.  Needless to say this was a bit time consuming, although well worth it.  After making all my medallions I then used the hot glue gun to glue them to the board. Great idea for parties and weddings!
 
Surprise!!! My mother in law is turning 60, and we wanted to start her 60th year out by showing her how much she is loved. It was a lot of work, a lot of sneaking around, and a lot of help from our incredible families but we pulled it off. When she saw all of her family and friends in one place she was, as you can imagine, completely shocked. I wish I could have gotten some more pictures, but the whole day was a bit of a whirlwind.

The Theme:
All the decorations were handmade and I really tried to incorporate one of her favorite hobbies, quilting. I wanted the party to be casual, bright, and not to overdone. Basically, I wanted everyone to be comfortable and feel like they were at home. The color scheme was grey, yellow, pink, & blue/teal and I tried to add personal touches anywhere I could. A flat screen TV was placed on the deck and pictures of the birthday girl played the entire night.

Food & Drinks:
The main food for the party was provided by a hotdog cart, which of course I didn't get a picture of. The cart had an entire list of specialty hotdogs, Chicago Dogs, New York Dogs, California Dogs, and Chili Cheese Dogs were just a few. Of course my better half had one of every kind they offered, just to ensure he got what he paid for, gotta love him. We also had a Champagne Bar, Dessert Bar, Salads, an Edible Arrangements fruit basket, and Fruit infused water. The kids table was decked out with candy and a painting project.

Funny Story:
The night before when I was making cheesecake pops for a "friends party", my mother in law kindly offered to make me a bundt cake to take. You can imagine my excitement and how completely impressed I was with my own sneakiness, I about jumped out of my own skin. Everyone got a kick out of hearing about how she made her own birthday cake.

The Surprise:
The day of the party a friend of my mother in laws convinced her to leave the house at 6:30am for a spontaneous trip to Disneyland. When she returned her son met her outside and said he had fixed something in the back yard. Of course when she came around the back there were 40 of her closest friends and family yelling surprise. She really started to cry when she realized her brother from Chicago had flown in just to wish her a Happy Birthday.

All in all it was a great day, but how can you go wrong with Champagne & an entire dessert table? 

Happy 60th to my wonderful mother in law!

Champagne Bar - Peach & Strawberry Puree, Orange Juice, Cranberry Juice, Port, Fruit, Paper Straws, and sugar to top everyone's glasses.  The chalkboard signs were all hand written by our cousin Lora.
Champagne Glasses - All the glasses were hand tied with strips of fabric.
Dessert Bar - Made with love by the birthday girls family and friends.  Each family member brought their favorite dessert.  Can you just imagine all the WONDERFUL sugary calories consumed this day...heaven. 
*Note - enjoy the bundt cake provided, unknowingly, by the birthday girl herself!
Dessert Bar - Cheesecake Pops, Chocolate Covered Oreos, Strawberry & Vanilla Trifle, Bundt Cake, Snicerkdoodle Cookies, Turtle Brownies, Truffles, Tiger Butter, & Chocolate Chip Cookies. 
Dessert Bar - So Yummy!
Dessert Bar Signs- next to each dessert was a wooden spool tied with fabric, topped with a chalkboard heart.  Each guest with a dessert wrote their name in chalk and placed it next to their dessert.
Birthday Cake - Our cousin Lora make these STUNNING ruffle cake.  Top layer was pink lemonade cake with red berry filling.  Bottom layer was chocolate cake with salted caramel filling.  The entire cake was covered in gorgeous pink butter cream ruffles.  Topped with a chalkboard 60, of course.  This cake was so good I ate a piece for lunch the next day.
Centerpieces - Mason jars filled with sliced lemons.  I arranged the flowers myself, daffodils, mums, and some other greens.  Each jar was tied with a stripe of fabric and a chalkboard with 60 on it was placed in the middle. 
Table Runners - I pieced together stripes of fabric to run down the middle of each table.  The ends were unfinished because I felt it gave it a more shabby chic feel.
Wooden Initials - Hand painted wooden initials were hung from our arbor.
Fabric Filled Hoops - Embroidery hoops with colorful fabric hung from the house over the champagne bar
Strip Fabric Garland - Each strip of fabric was knotted to twine and hung over the dessert bar.
Painted Pots - Each grandkid painted a pot for grandma's garden.