Monday, December 7, 2015

Retro Playful Christmas Party - Happy Holidays!

This year we had a small and cozy family get together to kickstart the holiday season.
We picked a quiet Sunday afternoon in early December and aimed for a no-fuss yet delicious, healthy and sophisticated menu.
Little bites sure to please any big crowd!
I love finger foods because you have the freedom to try different flavors while mingling and moving around without the need for plates or utensils. Plus, I get to play with finding whimsical "packages" to serve or display the small bites. 
One good example are these phyllo dough pre-baked shells that, for a quick appetizer, I love to fill with a combination of soft cheeses, nuts and a sweet element - chutneys, jams, fresh, dried or cooked fruit, maple syrup, honey…

Antique espresso cups and plastic soup spoons are great food vessels as well

These truffles are some of my favorites! They remind me so much of the coconut sweets called "beijinho" (little kiss) I had growing up in Brasil, which is pretty much a white chocolate-coconut version of the now famous "brigadeiro". But these truffles are way better, and they are actually superfoods! No, really. Ground coconut flakes, nut flours, cacao butter, coconut oil, maple syrup and sea salt. What's not to love?
Another healthy dessert that the kids devoured - egg, milk and butter-free dark chocolate mousse! The avocado lends a very welcome creaminess, but you can barely tell it's there. I added chopped toasted hazelnuts for a fun and contrasting crunch.

Super moist and tasty spiced pumpkin muffins translate so well the late-Fall and early-Winter season flavors!

Cranberry juice also brings the flavor and color of the season!
(nut) Milk for Santa to go with a big jar of assorted cookies!

We offered some white whole wheat "Cookies for Santa" for guests to take home (but I really doubt they actually saved them for Christmas eve. Sorry, Santa.) 
Before they left, they wrote Santa Claus lovely notes and wish lists on "Dear Santa" postcards from my printables Retro Christmas collection.
I hope you all have a fabulous and blessed holiday season, in any way you wish to call and celebrate it!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Red, White & Blue Independence Day Celebration

My youngest son was born super close to US Independence Day. And as you can imagine, there's always a lot of social gatherings happening around this date.  A lot of his and our friends are out of town enjoying their Summer break elsewhere. And for those who remain in town, there's always a big 4th of July celebration or fireworks viewing already lined up (which was our case). So we have decided to properly celebrate our little man a little later in the month with a party of his own, but had a mini "Stars & Stripes" 3rd birthday celebration at home during the holiday weekend. 
sweets and beverages table
 I am so in love with my picnic-style beer garden table!

This yummy berry trifle is super easy to make! Recipe at the end of this post.
 My favorite local honey comes in these reusable glass jars perfect for some homemade ice tea
 I made custom Mason-jar paper lids to cover the "glasses" to shoo away any thirsty bugs...
 …and punched out holes just large enough to slip a paper straw in!

For this small but fun-filled party we invited our neighbors over and let all of our kids play free in the backyard. We also kept ourselves busy chatting, sipping some cold beer and munching on whole wheat pretzels and root vegetable chips while waiting for grilled “veggie dogs” and corn on the cob. Yum! 

 Vegan dogs with homemade chipotle ketchup and grain mustard

 After playing in the water for a while (on this super hot Summer day!), the kids were ready for dessert – raspberry sorbet, blueberry muffins and the fantastic “patriotic” trifle.

 Our guests left home with silver-coated Jordan almonds packed inside custom-made little packages. 
I hope you all enjoy and get inspired by these pictures and have a happy Independence Day!!
Here is the Martha Stewart recipe I used for this super easy, delicious and patriotic berry "pavê", which is how we call a dessert trifle in my beloved Brasil.

Red, White, and Blue Berry Trifle

  • 1 1/2 pounds raspberries (5 cups)
  • 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice (from 1 large orange)
  • 10 ounces mascarpone cheese (1 1/3 cups)
  • 1 1/4 cups cold heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Fine salt
  • 20 to 24 ladyfingers (from a 7-ounce package), broken into 1-inch pieces
  • 3/4 pound blueberries (2 1/2 cups)
DirectionsIn a medium bowl, combine raspberries with 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar and orange juice. With the back of a fork, lightly mash berries to release their juices and let sit 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, stir together mascarpone and 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar until smooth. Whisk in cream, vanilla, and pinch of salt and whisk until soft peaks form, about 4 minutes.
Cut one or two pieces parchment 1 inch taller than side of an 8-inch springform pan and line inside of pan. Place half the ladyfingers in pan and top with half the raspberry mixture. With a small offset or rubber spatula, spread half the whipped cream over berries. Tap pan gently on counter to remove air bubbles. Repeat with remaining ladyfingers, raspberry mixture, and whipped cream.
Top with blueberries and refrigerate until whipped cream is stiff and cookies have softened, about 3 hours (or, tightly covered with plastic, up to 3 days). To serve, unmold trifle and peel away parchment.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

"All You Need is Love" Casual Valentine's Day Brunch - plus freebies!!

If you like this collection, you can get it here (under the "SHOP" tab) or directly at my Etsy store here. And don't forget to grab your freebies at the end of this post!

This was a small get together to celebrate love on Valentine's Day last year. We had just moved into a new place while our belongings remained in a storage on the other side of the country. I decided to host a simple and casual brunch to bring our family together and to lift our moods. I quickly made the party printables, got yummy cupcakes, brewed some freshly ground coffee, cracked a few eggs for French omelets and toasted slices of homemade bread. We all had a great time and felt ready for a new start together! 
The sweets table set up. The big frame holding the "LOVE" letters and the pennant banner is from an inexpensive old picture I found at Goodwill.

Tin mailboxes found at Target.

 Be my Valentine? 
I love the simplicity and yet, boldness of this display. The cutout hearts at the end of the skewer make it look like an arrow cutting through the deep red apple.
Wine glass "lamp shades". Use with a clean burning soy or palm wax tea light candle, or better yet, insert a battery-operated flameless tea light inside the glass.
 Another use for the cutout hearts
A closer look at the water bottle label: "Love Facts"
You can find this printables collection at my shop here ("SHOP" tab) or here's a direct link to my Etsy store here.  And, as promised, here's my free gift to you. Free invitations and a cute "love chart" for free download. Just follow the links below or click directly on the images. Please leave a comment with questions, suggestions or share pictures of your own celebration using the free printables. Thanks!
You can download your free fill-in invitation here 
And here's the link for your free "Love Chart" (or just sick on the image above). 

I hope you have fun with these freebies and enjoy a wonderful Valentine's Day.  Love is all around, we just need to open our eyes and see the beauty that abounds :-)

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