Tuesday, May 31, 2011

{What's Cooking?} Cool Down with Homemade Italian Ice

This week's What's Cooking? recipe will help you beat the heat this summer: Homemade Italian Ice. Not only is this recipe easy to make, but it is a crowd pleaser for young and old alike. Enjoy!

Italian Ice

- 1 cup water
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup fresh lemon juice (you can substitute with any flavoring of your choice)
- Ice cube molds
- Food processor

Mix 1 cup water to 2 cups sugar. Bring to a boil while stirring to make a simple sugar. Remove from heat and add lemon juice (and a little zest if you like). Pour into ice cube molds and place in freezer. Once close to frozen (it will never fully freeze) remove from freezer and place cubes into food processor. Process until slushy. Garnish with lemon rind or fresh fruit.

Friday, May 20, 2011

{DIY} Zig Zag Party Streamers

Looking for something to jazz up your next shindig? Check out these DIY Zig Zag Party Streamers by Oh Happy Day. All you need is colored paper and a pair of scissors. Yep, it's that easy.

Instructions and Photos from Oh Happy Day:

Step 1: Start with some colored paper in the shape of a rectangle. Start on one of the long sides and cut a strip about 1" wide but don't cut all the way through.

Step 2: From there measure about 2" from the first and cut again. Continue doing 2" cuts on that side of the paper.

Step 3: Turn the paper over and make cuts (but not all the way through) half way between the 2" sections. Et voilĂ ! You have an accordion streamer to make you party festive.

So cool. So fun. So jazzy! Can't wait to try these out for myself sometime soon.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

{What's Cooking?} Garden Sliders

A couple of weekends ago my husband and the kiddos helped me plant a small summer garden. I love fresh summer vegetables! They have always been a season staple for my family, as my grandfather has been producing some of the best local veggies in his annual garden ever since I can remember. I decided to start the summertime tradition of growing a vegetable garden with my own children this year, though on a much smaller scale. After all of our planting I found myself feeling hungry, which resulted in a good rummage through my recipe "stash" for something fresh and new. I ended up coming across the perfect recipe for a summertime appetizer or light lunch entree from Better Homes and Gardens: Garden Sliders. This recipe allows you to take full advantage of the season's freshest produce, whether using vegetables from your own garden or a local farmers market. These bite-sized sandwich yummies combine grilled summer squash, crisp cucumbers, and tomato with a hearty white bean dip to create a healthy and satisfying summertime snack. Hungry yet? I am!


Garden Sliders

- 1 15- to 16-oz. can Great Northern or cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced (1 tsp.)
- 1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning, crushed
- 1 medium yellow summer squash, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
- 24 1/4-inch-thick slices baguette
- 2 medium roma tomatoes, cut in 1/4-inch-thick slices
- 1 small cucumber, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
- Small celery top sprigs, small tomato wedges, and/or pickle slices (optional)

1. For bean spread, in blender or food processor combine beans, 1 tablespoon of the oil, the garlic, and Italian seasoning. Cover; blend or process until smooth. Season with salt and ground black pepper.
2. To grill squash, toss squash slices with remaining tablespoon olive oil. Place in a grill basket. Place basket directly over medium coals for about 5 minutes or just until squash is tender, turning once.
3. Spread one side of each bread slice with bean spread. Top half of the bread with tomato, squash, and cucumber slices. Top with remaining bread slices, spread side down. Secure sandwiches with wooden picks. Top with celery sprigs, tomato wedges, and/or pickle slices.

Makes 12 appetizers-size sandwiches.

Make the bean spread up to 2 days ahead; refrigerate, covered. Slice vegetables up to 24 hours ahead. Assemble sliders 2 hours ahead.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

{Party Ideas} A Japanese Tea Party

Looking for a classic "girly" birthday party idea with a unique twist? Why not host a Japanese Tea Party! The May 2011 issue of Parents offers some great party tips, ideas, and inspiration to help you pull it off.

Dress the Part: Let the birthday girl celebrate her special day in the proper attire. Upcycle a sheet to create the perfect party kimono. You can find step-by-step directions on how to do this, here.

Sweet Sushi: This faux fish dessert is a must for your Asian-inspired shindig and is easier to make than you might think! For fun, supply each guest with a set of chopsticks. Click here for the Sweet Sushi recipe.

Decorate: Colorful paper lanterns, floor pillows, and paper fans will add color and help set the scene of your Japanese Tea Party. You can also create Cherry Blossom arrangements from gathered branches and tissue paper to add to the party table and surrouding areas. So easy and super inexpensive! Find directions, here.

Activities: Entertain guests by teaching some easy origami techniques (origami-fun.com) and helping them make their own pair of Japanese Paper Slippers to wear at the party and take home afterwards.

Wrap it Up: Wrap the birthday girl's presents (and even the party favors) in a piece of fabric using furoshiki, the Japanese art of gift wrap. Click here to learn about different ways to wrap using the Japanese style.

You can find more party ideas and inspiration over at the Parents site.

Photo Credit: All images in this post are from the Parents online site.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

{Fab Finds} An Eco-Friendly Napkin!?!

Yep, there's a fun, new Eco-friendly napkin option out there for your next shindig. MyDrap tear-off napkins! After seeing these "prettier than paper and less pricey than linens" napkins in the June issue of Better Homes and Gardens, I was intrigued and had to check them out for myself. MyDrap tear-off napkins come in five different sizes (from cocktail and dinner to placemats) and are offered in 22 different colors/patterns. These unique napkins are made from natural cotton fibers, are biodegradable and recyclable for other uses, and can be washed and reused up to 6 times. Pretty cool, huh!

There are some great color and pattern options available. The trick is just finding the one that you want. I was able to find some here and here.

Each size comes on a roll of 12-50 individual napkins. Just tear off as needed and toss in the wash after each use (up to 6 times).

These are definitely going on my list of items to try. Has anyone tried them out yet?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

{What's Cooking?} Key Lime Cream Cuplets

This week's What's Cooking recipe is a newbie to me that I am excited to share with you. I am designing a bridal shower for this upcoming June and the bride-to-be loves Key Lime Pie. Any guesses what one of the main attractions on the dessert table will be? While searching for Key Lime Pie recipes, I came across this Key Lime Cream Cuplets recipe from Ceramic Canvas. Not only are they the perfect bite-sized portions for a bridal shower dessert table, but they are just so darn pretty and would be the perfect dessert for a hot summer day. Just trust me!

Ceramic Canvas provides the recipe to this summertime citrus dream along with some wonderful photos as well.


For graham crackers cuplets:
- ¾ cup graham cracker crumbs
- 3 TBL sugar
- 3 TBL unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine crumbs, sugar and butter in a small bowl. Scoop a rounded tablespoon of a graham cracker mix into the cup of a 2” muffin tin. Using fingers, press the crumbs evenly on the bottom and the sides of each cup.

Bake for 12 minutes. Take out and allow to cool completely.

For lime cream:

- 6 TBL fresh key lime juice
- 4 TBL sweetened condensed milk
- Zest from one lime
- 1 cup heavy cream

Stir together the lime juice, condensed milk and half of the lime zest in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whip the cream to soft peaks. Gently fold the whipped cream into the lime mixture.

Pipe whipped lime cream into the individual graham cuplets. Garnish with remaining lime zest.

Makes 12 cuplets

Making the cuplets:

Whipping up the Key Lime Cream:

Putting it all together:

A bite-sized piece of Key Lime bliss!

I can't wait to see how these turn out on the dessert table this June. Stay tuned...!

This week's Giveaway Winner...

This week's Bradens Grace Giveaway winner is Elle Belles Bows. Congratulations!

{Party Inspiration} Celebrating a 2011 Graduate!

Looking for a fun, inexpensive way to celebrate your 2011 Graduate? Need a little graduation party inspiration? Well, Frog Prince Paperie is providing you with both! Not only did Frog Prince Paperie recently add a new Graduation Class of 2011 printable set to their shop (only $12.50 for the entire set!) but they also put together a fabulous photoshoot to inspire your graduation celebrations.

Frog Prince Paperie created a "Bright Future" theme for their photoshoot. So clever! In addition to their Graduation Class of 2011 printables, everyday lightbulbs and lightbulb containers (from Hobby Lobby) were used to decorate the inspirational dessert table and bring the "Bright Future" theme to life.

Pretty amazing, right! While I personally adore the light blue and gold color scheme, the Graduation Class of 2011 printables are also available in royal blue and yellow or red and black.

You can see photoshoot and vendor details at the Frog Prince Paperie blog, here, and you can purchase the Graduation Class of 2011 printable set here. Thank your for the amazing inspiration. L-o-v-e it!

Monday, May 9, 2011

{Party Ideas} A Candy Land-Inspired Party

Did you see this Candy Land-inspired party in the May issue of Parents Magazine? Love it! This Land 'o Candy Birthday Party is colorful, creative, and full of great, easily re-creatable DIY ideas to make your child's next birthday party a sweet one!

No Land 'o Candy Birthday would be complete without life-sized....CANDY! How creative are these Balloon Lollipops (made by wrapping regular balloons in cellophane and attaching to a paper tube stick) and Wall Candies (made by taping together two plastic plates, wrapping in cellophane, and tying the ends with ribbon)? Genius!

My favorite element is the Candy Land-inspired colorful pathway of squares. Not only does this element add color and clarity to the party's overall theme, but it is totally functional as well! With the help of a deck of cards from the Candy Land game, your fabulous party prop turns into a real-life version of the game that your guests can participate in and enjoy.

And don't forget the cake and favors!

To see all of this party's details, tips, and DIY instructions, visit Parents here.

Friday, May 6, 2011

{Guest Post} Flower Pops From The Decorated Cookie!

Hi everyone, and thank you to Sarah for inviting me to guest post!

I was a cookie decorator at a shop for ten years. After I left to stay home with my daughter, I started my blog, the decorated cookie. There I share ideas for decorating cookies as well as marshmallows, cupcakes, and other crafty sweets. I'm also the Edible Crafts editor for CraftGossip, so I spend much of my days mining the internet for all of your crafty sweets, too. The idea I'm sharing today is similar to a craft featured in my second cookbook, which will be published later this year. So you get a sneak peek today.

I'm a huge fan of anything on a stick (a fact of which my Edible Crafts readers are well aware), so I make lots and lots of cookie pops. These flower pops are very easy to make, especially for first-time cookie decorators. Sprinkles cover everything (like mistakes). Even after years of decorating cookies, I frequently use sprinkles as a quick decorating tool.

Use these as personalized party favors or as placecards. You can insert the pops into a Styrofoam block that is covered with tissue paper to display at a party. Or, insert into a cupcake for cupcake toppers.

how to make flower cookie pop favors

you will need:*

sugar cookie dough
royal icing

circle cookie cutter

food coloring

disposable decorating bags


size "5" decorating tips

rubber bands

lollipop sticks

sprinkles or sanding sugar

paint brush
wax paper
green or patterned cardstock

glue stick

*You may use any recipe for cookies and icing you prefer, but I provided links to my recipes above. I used a 2-inch circle cookie cutter, buy you may use any comparable size under 3 inches. You'll need one bag, coupler and tip for each color you choose, and buy sprinkles in each of the same colors. Find the cutter, decorating bags, couplers, tips, lollipop sticks, sprinkles, paint brush, cardstock, scissors and glue stick at any major craft store. For food coloring, I suggest Americolor soft gel pastes, available in specialty stores and online (amazon.com carries these). I used Egg Yellow, Sky Blue, Electric Pink, Electric Green and Electric Purple.

step one: bake your cookies

Prepare dough according to the recipe, chill, roll out about 1/4 to 3/8-inch thick, cut out circles, insert the lollipop sticks and bake according to the recipe. Let cool completely. Tips: Make sure to chill your dough, as it makes it easier to insert the stick. Insert the stick at the center of the cookie's thickness, about half way into the cookie, and arrange on the tray so the sticks aren't touching.

step two: prepare your icing

Prepare icing according to the recipe, divide and tint your preferred colors. Prepare decorating bags with couplers and tips, fill with the colors and close tightly with rubber bands.

step three: decorate your cookies

Work with one cookie at a time. Pipe a circle on the cookie, then pipe back and forth to fill the circle completely. Immediately coat the cookie with a generous sprinkling of sprinkles in a coordinating color. Turn over to remove excess.

step four: paint the stick and add leaves

Pour a few drops of green food coloring on a piece of wax paper. Add a couple drops of water and mix. Paint the lollipop sticks green and let dry. Cut out a leaf shape on a folded piece of green or patterned cardstock so you have two leaves connected with a fold at the center (note I made a little "tab" so they wrapped around the stick more easily). Write a name on the leaf, if desired, and use the glue stick to attach around the lollipop stick. Let the cookies dry overnight.

Thank you everyone for letting me visit! Happy baking!


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A Bradens Grace Giveaway!

Last week I featured a fabulous party to inspire the upcoming week of Teacher Appreciation. One of my favorite elements of the party was chalkboard labels from Bradens Grace that were used to label milk glasses. So cute! Well, lucky for you, Bradens Grace has agreed to sponsor this week's GIVEAWAY.


Bradens Grace offers versatile chalkboard labels to help you organize, personalize, and accessorize! They are easy to use (just peel and stick) and have unlimited possibilities. With a variety of shapes and sizes available as well as other chalkboard products, including chalkboard label tags, wine charms, and food markers, there is something for every occassion.

Bradens Grace is offering one lucky GIVEAWAY winner a Chalkboard Label 12 pack of their choice or a Label Fun Pack, which includes 4 rectangle, 4 ovals and 4 fancy chalkboard labels. You may ENTER TO WIN up to 4 times:


1. Visiting the Bradens Grace etsy shop, here, and leaving a comment about your favorite product.
2. "Like" Sheek Shindigs on Facebook and leave a comment that you did so.
3. Post this giveaway on your blog or facebook page and post the link in the comment section.

This giveaway is open until Wednesday, May 11th at 11:59pm. One random giveaway winner will be chosen and announced on Thursday, May 12th. Good luck!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

FREE Teacher Appreciation Printables

If you are still looking for something to dress up your Teacher Appreciation gifts, you are in luck! Lauren of Lauren McKinsey Designs recently sent me this adorable Teacher Appreciation Collection from her site, which includes FREE printables to help celebrate Teacher Appreciation week. You can stop by the Lauren McKinsey Designs site, here, and download her adorable printable Hersey Kiss stickers and gift tags/cupcake toppers for free! Lauren also designed coordinating candy bar wrappers and cards that can be purchased on her site as well.

Thank you for sharing this collection with Sheek Shindigs, Lauren! I plan on using the gifts tags to dress up some cookie and candy bags that I am sending in to my boys' teachers tomorrow.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Teacher Appreciation Gift Ideas

There are so many great Teacher Appreciation Gift Ideas floating around out there. Here are some favorites from two of my favorites, eighteen25 and Living Locurto:

Thanks a "latte" Gift Card Holder
I love this idea from eighteen25 for the teacher that loves her cup of coffee. Click on the link for complete DIY instructions.

Ice Cream Sundae Cupcakes
What better way to celebrate a wonderful teacher than with a cupcake! And since an ordinary cupcake just won't do, Living Locurto came up with one that is sure to stand out. Don't worry, it won't melt on the way to school. Visit Living Locurto here for the recipe and free printable tags as well.

You Deserve Chocolate!!
Everyone loves getting chocolate, right? Eighteen25 has a cute printable and DIY instructions on how to dress up a chocolate bar for your favorite teachers.

Treat Jars
Okay, you no longer have an excuse for not sending in something cute to your child's favorite teacher this week. This treat jar idea from eighteen25 is cute and super-duper easy to put together.

A BIG thank you to eighteen25 and Living Locurto for all of the great ideas and tips AND to all of the wonderful teachers out there that are so deserving of our appreciation! I hope that these ideas help put a smile on your favorite teacher's face this week!