Monday, March 17, 2014

DIY Strawberry Shortcake Party

We recently celebrated my daughter's 4th birthday.  Strawberry Shortcake style!  I wanted to do as much of the party as I could by hand, so I spent a lot of time searching Pinterest and the rest of the web for money saving Strawberry Shortcake ideas.  I found plenty of FREE printables and decided on these to use as ours this time: 

Many thanks to Sherry K Designs for offering these!
http://www.sherykdesigns-blog.com/2012/03/free-printable-party-kit-strawberry.html

Super cute!!  Here are the pictures from the party.  Hope it gives you a few ideas for your Strawberry Shortcake party!!    ;)

I used the blank invitation to make the "Our gifts to you" tag.  I found the strawberry grow kits at Target.  After everybody ate, I let the kids plant the seeds.  It was a very fun party activity!

Printable banner! I just used ribbon...very simple!

I ordered the plates, napkins, candles and paper straws online.  The party tray and party bowls were found at Hobby Lobby.

This cake was delicious!  Not too sweet, very moist.  Recipe here:

I decided this year to get my daughter a small bouquet of flowers.  She picked out tulips.  They were in packs of 5 at our local grocery store for $4.99.  4 red ones for her turning 4, one purple on "to grow on", as the saying goes.  Yes, those are fresh strawberries!


The drink labels were printed using the free printables I posted above.  They were taped onto the drinks, then I let them chill in the fridge.

The water labels were found using a google search.  I was not able to find them again when I tried to get the link, however there are plenty of free labels to choose from! 

The food cards were made with poster board (a "rainbow" pack of poster board at Target was just a few dollars and provided more than enough to make these plus a fun sign for outside.)  I also used the character printables from the blog I posted above and cut them out, using tape to secure them to the poster board.

The serving cups were found at Hobby Lobby.  :)

This was a "skinny", light snack that had just enough strawberry flavor.  Recipe here:

Blueberry and Strawberry muffins

Lemon cookies

Orange (seedless) cups (with yummy berries)

Vanilla pudding colored with food dye to create a plum color.  Tip:  the food dye began to separate, as you can see in the cups here, because I had prepared these cups the night before.  Try to wait until the day of the party to prepare the cups, so you can give the pudding a good stir!

Raspberry brownies.  These were made using a regular brownie mix and adding 2 tbsp of raspberry jelly.  Note: this made the brownies extra moist, so next time I will try cooking them at a lower temperature for longer than the directions on the brownie mix suggests!

Berry Bitty City sign, welcoming party guests.


There you have it!  My party girl had a "berry" good time!

P.S.  Her outfit was found on Zulily, here: http://www.zulily.com/invite/amckenzie121
Do a search for Strawberry Shortcake ;)


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Velata Toffee Recipe

I love chocolate.  Any kind of chocolate!  I especially love Velata chocolate, by Scentsy family.  Yep, the wickless candle company also sells amazing Belgium chocolate fondue warmers!  It's meant for melting and dipping, but I pour it over fruit, ice cream, pound cake, pancakes...I dip my pretzels and potato chips in it.  I even eat the chocolate disks right from the Velata pouch as you would a Hershey's Kiss.  Yes...Velata is THAT GOOD! 

Well, I ran across this Toffee recipe that has been floating around the internet.  I wish I had the exact recipe I followed so I could link this brilliant person like they deserved to be linked.  But if you do a simple google search for "saltine cracker toffee", you're bound to find a slew of copy cat recipes!  That's what my recipe is...it's a copy cat, except I used my beloved VELATA chocolate instead of regular store bought chocolate chips.  The difference?  Think of Velata as the Macy's or Bloomingdale's of department stores, while store bought chocolate chips is the Dillard's or JCPenney's.  Nothing wrong with store bought chocolate chips at all...they are still tasty...but not AS tasty or AS gourmet as Velata! 

So here it is, complete with my own personal pictures of the recipe steps.  :) 

What you need:
 
36 saltine crackers
1 cup butter

1 cup brown sugar
 2 (6 oz) bags of Velata chocolate
1 cup of your choice of chopped walnuts, peanuts, sprinkles, crushed candy, etc...



Directions:
 
Preheat oven to 375.
Line a cookie sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray. 
 
Place the saltines in a single layer on the tray. Try not to overlap.
I broke some of mine to fill in the gaps. ;)
And yes, I ended up putting some on that bottom left corner!
 
 
 In a saucepan, melt the one cup of butter.
Add your one cup of brown sugar.
Bring to a slow boil and stir continuously for about 3 minutes.
 
 
 
 Immediately pour the mixture over the crackers, covering as evenly as possible.
 
 
 In your heated oven (375 degrees), bake for 5-7 minutes.

 
 
After taking them out, immediately place your
Velata chips on the top. 
(I pretty much laid mine out one by one so they wouldn't overlap and take too long to melt.)
As you can see, I used white chocolate AND milk chocolate!
Allow the chocolate to melt a little on it's own.
Note: Velata chips are bigger than your normal chocolate chip. I placed mine back in the hot oven for 30 seconds to a minute to let them warm a tad!
 

 
Spread the melted chocolate from end to end.

Add your choice of toppings here: sprinkles, nuts, etc.  I decided not to use any on my first try.
 
Refrigerate until cool, then break into pieces to serve!

 
 
There you have it!  The easiest, yummiest "toffee" with chocolate ever!
To purchase Velata,
 
:)

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Ready to Ship Jewelry

Hi all!  Some of you may know that I run a little jewelry boutique on Facebook and I also have an etsy account for my handmade items.  I'm running a special on my Ready to Ship items!  Check them out!  (You'll need to "like" my facebook page, the comment on the photo of the items you want.) 
 



$8.00 shipped- includes set of beaded earrings
 
 
 $5.00 shipped - includes set of cross earrings
 
 
 $8.00 shipped
 

$8.00 shipped
 
 
 $13.00 shipped - includes earrings
 
 
 $13.00 shipped - includes earrings
 
Check me out on Facebook!  Right now, I'm having a 30% off sale on these!  Get them now!
 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Scentsy "STAYcation"!

What's a "STAYCATION" Scentsy pack? 6 bars of scents that will take you away on your OWN little holiday!! They are buy 5 and get one free, so it's only $25!!

1) I'm feeling the need to "JET, SET and GO - whisk me off to a balmy, tropical paradise, of Brazilian orange, jungle papaya, and island vanilla".

2) Take me away to the "BEACH - with the scents of papaya, honeydew, and sweetened with a HINT of coconut"
3) Where I will sit beside that beautiful, blue "OCEAN - with cool and refreshing aquatic notes deepened with water lilies and ocean breezes"

4) In the cool of the trees in the "SERENE GREEN - where deep green lime leaves, crisp verbena, and tart citrus zest in a bright happy fragrance"

5)While I sip on this amazing "LIME & KIWI CANTALOUPE - a refreshing summer cooler with icy lime, juicy kiwi, and bright cantaloupe"

6) I know I need to return home at some point, but right now I am just simply enjoying this "HONEYMOON HIDEAWAY - where I have escaped to a secluded retreat of dew kissed lily, and tart sweet kiwi, shaded by a LUSH coconut palm!

Order your "STAYCATION" package from me today!!
 
 
www.allisonmckenzie.scentsy.us to order your "Staycation".
Note, this is just a fun way for me to recommend 6 of our scents from our new Spring/Summer 2013 scents and from our Favorites line.  There is not an actual "Staycation" Scentsy pack to purchase.  :)  Simply go to my website and find the 6 pack of bars for $25 (in Combine & Save section) and fill in your order with these scents, or ANY you choose to indulge in for your STAYCATION!


 

Braided Bracelets by Ann Faith Designs

Hi All!  :) I decided I'd share my Braided Bracelets I made for my Ann Faith Designs jewelry shop.  These are super popular and I feel that Facebook just isn't letting me show my work to enough people...they restrict posts SO MUCH on our fan pages now!  I'm not ready to add these to my etsy shop yet because I'm working on my Vintage jewelry lovelies!  I'll add them all at the same time. 

Anyway, here they are!  These were handmade with lots of love and care, and no, they aren't perfect...but that's the point of them being handmade.  They weren't made in a factory, where things are mass produced to look EXACTLY the same as the next bracelet out.  I love these color combos I did, which I haven't seen much of from others who do these too...so I'd like to think mine are unique in that way!  Super fun, funky colors for Summer! 


 
$12.00 Shipped to US only
 
If you are interested in these, you can check them out on my facebook page!
or follow me on Instagram
alli_McKenzie
 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

How to Make Your Silver Look Antique! (With an EGG!)

Here in the south, we tend to like our silver polished.  Shiny.  We like our silver serving trays to catch the attention of the ladies at our tea party.  We want the silver chain around our neck to scream "Look at me!". 

I recently started designing jewelry, hand making pieces in my spare time.  I MORE recently started getting into vintage jewelry design...something you just can't get away with using shiny silver.  Darn!  What's a girl to do with all these shiny silver jewelry pieces?? 
Don't get me wrong...
Shiny silver = love! Vintage silver = LOVE! 
See the difference?  ;) 

That's when I read about oxidation and how certain chemicals can make silver pieces look old.  PERFECT!  But how do I do it?  So, I looked into it...chemicals, store bought chemicals.  :( Requiring rubber gloves and safety goggles to use.  Well, I have two toddlers, so chemicals and their fumes just do NOT mix well with my thoughts of baby safety.  (Yeah, I know...the babies wouldn't be playing with the chemicals. But, I don't know how strong the smell can be!  I'd rather just not chance it.) 

Okay, so let's just cut to the chase.  I read where you could make your silver turn "antique" by using a HARD BOILED EGG.  All natural.  No chemicals, therefore SAFE!  So, I did it!  Here's how:

Here's what you need:
A hard boiled egg (you only use the yolk!)
zip lock bag
silver to turn "antique"
 
Put your egg yolk in the bag.  :)  Crush it up!
 
Put your silver in with the crushed yolk.
Tip: It is recommended to only use sterling silver .925 or LESS.  .999 Sterling silver is hard to turn, apparently.  My little chain is just a cheaper silver chain from a craft store...nothing fancy!
 
I squished mine all down into the corner to make sure it was all coated.  I later found out this isn't necessarily needed.  It's the sulfur (or sulphur) in the yolk that oxidizes silver, and many say just the gas alone (no need to touch the actual silver) will turn the silver *in time*.
 
I put mine in at 8pm, and at 10pm I decided to check on it.  You can already see it's not as shiny as it was!  I decided to put it back in, over night.
 
Just a picture of the clasp on my necklace...you can see it turning.  This is after 2 hours.
 
 
   

 
Final results, from leaving these in the bag over night (total of 12 hours).  I love it!  Simply wash it with mild soap and use a small brush (jewelry cleaning brush worked great) to get all of the yolk out of the nooks.
 
You can see the coloring is uneven on the finished result.  I happen to love this!  Goes perfect with what I want to create!  If you don't like the multi-colored look, they recommend NOT LETTING IT SIT ON THE YOLK.  Instead, keep the yolk in the bag, but separate from the silver.  I have not tried this, but maybe it will oxidize more evenly. (Not touching the yolk will take much longer...I would think 1-3 days, whereas this showed results in 2 hours!)  You can always buff this up and shine it to how you like it, using polish cloths.
 
Enjoy!!
Check out my jewelry store on etsy!
and on facebook
Follow me on Instagram!
alli_McKenzie
 
:)
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Quick Summer Ideas

Hey folks!  Here are two quick summer ideas I have for you:

1.  DIY foot scrub
2.  Mint ice cubes


First, the DIY Foot Scrub...so easy! 


 
What you need:
3 tbs. olive oil (preferably extra virgin, but any will work)
2 tbs. honey (local or organic are more naatural but store bought is fine too!)
1/2 cup sugar (brown or white...white it shown in this picture)
Tip: pour your oil first, then your honey.  This makes the honey pour from the measuring scoop MUCH easier!

Mix ingredients in a bowl, then transfer into an airtight container.

I first soaked my feet in a mixture of warm water and vinegar.  The vinegar helps kill fungus between toes and under toenails (yuck!) and also deodorizes your feet as well as softens dead skin.  Then, either scoop some DIY Foot Scrub out with your fingers or use a cute little scoop you can find in craft stores.  Either way, you're going to get it on your fingers...so I just scoop with my fingers!  Massage in small circles on your feet, paying special attention to your heels and toes!  Rinse off, dry and feel the softness!  I like to put gentle, non-scented lotion on afterwards!



My next summer tip is so yummy!  Mint ice cubes.  :)  I grew mint using store bought mint leaves (found in the produce section).  I will do another blog on how to grow mint from store bought mint if anyone is interested in learning that.  Anyway, it made SO MUCH mint, that I needed to find something to do with it.  So, I made ice cubes. 
 
Pretty simple...get an ice cube tray and fill with water, then pick your mint leaves and drop into your ice tray.  I used 3-4 leaves per cube.  It is PERFECT for summer, because the leaves stay fresh when frozen and ads a great mint flavor to your summer drinks!  Water, lemonade, tea, juice...you name it!  Also, mint is great to cook with, so you can just defrost your ice cube and have fresh mint to cook with as well...however it will be soggy since it's wet.  Enjoy!
 
Tip: Most herbs you can chop up and freeze into ice cubes in order to save them for cooking.