Vampire Donuts

Hey guys! I’m so glad it’s Monday! I know that’s not a common sentiment, but last week was a real butt-kicker. I’ve really been waiting for a chance to start over. I hope this week is a bit kinder to us than the last. I’m thankful, however, that none of the disasters that happened last week were unfixable. So that’s the bright side. And donuts. They’re the answer to all of life’s little problems.
Vampire Donut

Since it’s Halloween this week, I’ve dressed my donuts up for the occasion. These little guys are perfect for a sweet surprise. Take these guys to your neighborhood party and they’re sure to be a hit. Or take a batch to your favorite teacher; because after a full week of dealing with a herd of pumped-up Halloweenies, heaven knows they could use a donut or two. Whenever you choose to incorporate these creatures into your Halloween sugar fest, they’re bound to be a hit. Just stick in a pair of plastic fangs (preferably unused. Because you know, germs. Ick.) And slap on some candy eyeballs. Done! Bonus points for making the sprinkles look like a beard. Awesome. 

Vampire Donuts
I tested the idea with my 3rd grader’s lunch last week. Instead of a donut, I did it with a bagel. Try as I might, I just couldn’t justify sending a donut main course to school. Weird. But I made him a little vampire bagel. Third grade is tricky, because I’m constantly walking a fine line between cool and embarrassing. But the risk paid off. He ran to the car after school and said, “Mom! My lunch was so cool today. And my friends thought it was awesome. But next time don’t use raisins for eyes. Gross.” I can totally deal with constructive criticism; at least it wasn’t embarrassing. I really don’t blame him for not appreciating the raisin eyes. I probably crossed the line there. I get it.

Anyway, my main point here is that it’s totally worth the ten seconds it takes to deck out your donuts for Halloween. So get to it! 

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Monster Birthday Party

Monster Party Table

This week’s Friday Favorite post is a throwback to the monster birthday party I threw for Charlotte’s third birthday. I knew this would probably the last year of a non-princess-themed birthday party for a while (I was right), so I went with a monster theme as a nod to her Halloween birthday. We played some monster games, did an art project and had monster-themed snacks. Of all the parties I’ve thrown, this had to be the easiest. Scary easy. 

Monster Juice Boxes

I made juice box monsters as part of our snack. If you want to make some of your own, check out the tutorial post I did recently. The best part about these guys is that you can prep them really far in advance since they don’t need to be refrigerated. Just fix ’em up and forget about ’em until party time.

Monster Cupcakes
We ate monster cupcakes, which I decorated with a star piping tips as “fur” and some simple rolled fondant for the eyes, horns and fangs. I made them all the same, two horns and one eye, but alternated the color of fur an horns. That way I didn’t have to referee fights over who got the one with the bow, or the one with the spikes. After all the cupcakes were licked clean, we moved on to party games.

Beanbag Toss
For our activity, we played a monster beanbag toss game. I designed a vinyl banner for the game, and sent it to my commercial press for production. The best part of using vinyl is that I didn’t have to worry about fraying. I cut the hole, and that’s it–no sewing or glueing, or fussing about. The stand, however, was a bit of a circus. I made it out of PVC pipe, and I should have watched some YouTube tutorials on cutting PVC, because it wasn’t my finest moment. I’ve since moved out of state, so hopefully my neighbors will eventually forget all the clanging and swearing that took place in my garage that night. The frame comes apart easily, and the vinyl rolls up for storage. I’ve taken this game to many school parties because it’s so easy to transport and take down. I made the bean bags out of dollar store knit gloves and a bag of navy beans.

Monster Art
Our next activity was a monster art project. I just passed out the paper and some markers and let them scribble away. Then I helped them draw on some arms and legs while they glued on the eyeballs.

Favor Bags

Monsters

The kids went wild over the Monster Adoption Center, which was inspired by one I’d pinned years ago. I did this in addition to a simple party favor bag. Favor bags were just small colorful paper bags with a giant eyeball glued on. I made the monsters out of socks from the dollar section at Michaels, and they ended up costing about 25¢ each. Next week, I’ve got a tutorial planed, along with a way you can make a bunch of these little monsters for a really good cause. So don’t miss it.  

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A Collection of Arrows

Arrow RecipeI’ve had these new recipe cards sitting around for ages waiting for their debut in my shop. I’m thrilled to finally unveil them to the world. Or at the very least, to get them off my desk and crossed off my to-do list. I designed these cards as a little break from the typical geometric, graphic prints on my other cards. I like a simple one-color design for recipe cards, and for this one, I chose a deep, inky navy blue.

Arrow Recipe B1 The recipe I’ve written here is an old family recipe. My grandma used to make chocolate revel bars for many family gatherings. It’s been at least 10 years since I’ve tried to make them, and my latest attempt was a big, fat failure. I’ll keep working on the recipe and share it with you once I’ve perfected it. Until then, you can buy the cards in my shop.

Arrowns-01
I’ve seen so many cute arrow products lately, that I pulled together a few of my favorites to help celebrate the latest addition to my Etsy shop. Now that I see all these cheery, colorful arrows, I think I might need to add some more arrow designs to my collection. If you need more arrows in your life, here’s a shopping guide for the items I’ve got above: 

  1. Gold Earrings
  2. Orange Arrow Sheets
  3. Arrow Print
  4. Mint Arrow Pillow
  5. Archery Garland
  6. Feather & Arrow Glasses
  7. Arrow Needlepoint Pattern
  8. Gold Arrow Necklace
  9. Green Arrow Kids’ Shirt
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Creamy Tomato Basil Soup with Tortellini

Let me start by saying that I’m not a food blogger. Nor am I a food stylist or a food photographer. But everyone has to eat; and I have a few favorite recipes that are worth sharing. So I bring you the first food post on my new blog. Hopefully, I’ll figure out a bit more of the food styling/food photography stuff as I go, but I’ve got to start somewhere, right?

Tomato Basil Soup

There’s no better place to start than with comfort food. This time of year, I pretty much want to eat soup every night. And when the soup is this good, it might be possible. I’m not really one for inventing recipes; but I do take a good recipe and play with it until I make it my own. This is my version of the Summer Tomato and Basil soup found in the Nordstrom Friends and Family cookbook (I think it may be out of print now, so I’m holding on really tight to my copy), but you can still find a few floating around on Amazon.

Tomato Tortellini Soup

A couple helpful tips when you’re making this soup:

  • The original recipe calls for low-sodium chicken broth, but I think the regular broth tastes better in this recipe.
  • Please, please, please be careful when puréeing your soup. There’s one kitchen ceiling in a California apartment that still wears the proof of the Blender Explosion of 2009. Seriously, this hot soup can knock the lid right off your blender. And I promise you, there’s nothing worse that hot soup flying all over your kitchen and body, so work in small batches, use the pulse button, and hold on tight! 
  • This recipe also works great with other types of pasta (orzo, farfalle, etc.) so use whatever you like. It’s also great without pasta. 

Creamy Tomato Soup

Here’s the recipe:

Creamy Tomato Basil Soup with Tortellini
The perfect comfort food for brisk fall days.
Print
Ingredients
  1. 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  2. 5 carrots, peeled and chopped
  3. 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  4. 1 1/2 tablespoon dried basil
  5. 2 cans (28 ounces each) whole Italian-style tomatoes
  6. 2 cartons (48 ounces each) chicken broth
  7. 2 cans (8 ounces each) tomato sauce
  8. 2 cups heavy cram
  9. 1/2 tablespoon garlic salt
  10. large package of cheese tortellini
  11. Kosher salt
Instructions
  1. Cook the tortellini according to package directions, drain and set aside, or refrigerate.
  2. In a large stockpot, over medium heat warm the oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the pot.
  3. Add the carrots, onion, and dried basil.
  4. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until softened. (about 20 min.)
  5. Drain the tomatoes, and add to the pot.
  6. Add 1 1/2 cartons of chicken broth (save the extra for later so you can adjust the consistency).
  7. Add tomato sauce and garlic salt
  8. Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered for 20-30 minutes.
  9. Remove from heat & let cool for 20 minutes.
  10. Working in small batches, purée the soup in a blender or food processor.
  11. Return the pureed soup to the pot
  12. Add the cream
  13. Place over medium heat until heated through.
  14. Season to taste with salt & pepper.
Notes
  1. To make ahead: Make the soup, puree and stop before adding the cream. Put in a container and refrigerate until ready to serve. Before serving, return to heat, add the cream and proceed with the directions.
  2. Tip: I like my soup a bit thicker, so start slow with the chicken broth, you can always add more to make the soup thinner.
  3. Important: If your soup is still a bit warm when you purée it, make sure to use the pulse setting on your blender. And go slow! The hot soup can blow the lid off the blender. So hold on tight!
Adapted from Nordstrom Friends & Family Cookbook
Adapted from Nordstrom Friends & Family Cookbook
Christina Williams http://christinawilliamsblog.com/
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