Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Valentine's Day 2019

Figured I'd throw some Valentine's day pics out there like the old days.

We did what we've done pretty much every year since popping out all these kids....
....dinner at home.

The table setting wasn't as elaborate as I've done in the past.
I used a tablecloth that the little one wanted for her birthday, but was too small with all the leaves in the table.  
It still didn't fit, but oh well.
Paper doilies, cloth napkins, the flowers that I managed to eek out of the yard, some conversation hearts and their little boxes of chocolates.
Just enough to make it more special than a random weekday.

The napkin rings were a gift from my aunt.


Hellebores, snowdrops (Galanthus), and wallflower (Erysimum) were put at each place.
By the way, my purple and orange wallflowers have been blooming nonstop since last summer.
Definitely a winner in the garden, especially this time of year.

My mom mailed this to the kids.
Isn't it cute?!
Under the money it said, Grammy loves you.

The Dad brought home these goodies.
It's like he knows me or something.

The Kid and The Girl both had basketball practice, so I didn't do much in the way of appetizers.
By the time everyone was home together, we were all starving and ready for the main event.
Just a little picky plate to munch on while The Dad grilled.

I prepped all the dinner stuff during the day, so everything would be ready to go once the crew was all here.
Brownies were baked first and I made a blackberry sauce to serve with them.

A London broil marinated overnight in my favorite easy marinade.
I got browned butter done ahead of time, then just put it back in the pan to remelt and fry sage leaves in, before throwing in some cooked gnocchi.
Breadsticks were doctored up and ready for the oven.
Halved tomatoes were slathered in pesto, sprinkled with seasoned breadcrumbs, then covered in shredded mozzarella.
Caesar salad was assembled ahead of time and tossed with the dressing right before sitting down.

Annnnd, everything cooked and ready to eat.
No fancy plating...everyone's bellies were rumblin'...just family-style dinner.

Haven't said this in a long time.....
Here's dinner on my plate:

And there's another Valentine's day family dinner for the books.
Until next time....

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Baby turns 7!

Can you believe it?
Some of you were around when I announced I was pregnant.
And then followed my belly pictures every month.
And then waited, along with us, to find out if it was a boy or a girl.

Man, it's like they say, The days are long, but the years are short.

The other two don't much care about "themed" birthdays anymore, so I probably only have a few more years of it with the little one.
She didn't specify a theme, but she had her grandma send me a photo of the cake she wanted.
I saw it and was like, ummmmm, okay, we'll give it a shot.
It had to be easier than Ariel, right??
After showing me the picture, she told me that it didn't have to be perfect, as long as I tried my best.
That girl is so dang sweet.
This is the photo I was given.

So cute, right?
I have no idea where they found it.
If it's yours, holler and I'll link to it.
I read up on the differences between fondant and gum paste, and decided to try my hand at the gum paste.
I just bought a tub of white at the grocery store and used some gel food coloring I already had to get the pink and green.
Then I busted out my cutters, that I got eons ago at an estate sale and have never used, and got to work.

I used a hydrangea leaf from the yard to get the veining on the leaves.

I didn't have any of the special tools, so I just dug around for things that would work for shaping.
A glass skewer with a ball on the end was perfect for the flowers...the pokey end worked good for helping to fold over the leaves.
An upside down egg carton held them in place until they were dry.

I made those a few days ahead of time and just kept them in the egg carton.
In addition to the cake, I made flower and leaf sugar cookies and decorated them with buttercream frosting.

I baked the cake a few days before her party, and kept it in the freezer.
The day before, I assembled it and got it frosted.
She doesn't like frosting, so I always use whipped cream for her cakes and cupcakes.
Usually I whip it myself, but this time I gave Cool Whip a try.
It worked out just as good.
The layers got whip and strawberries, per her request.

Crumb coat went on, then back into the freezer until I was ready to finish it.
I had forgotten I wanted to color it to match the inspiration photo up until this point, so the filling and crumb coat were white.
I used regular food coloring to get a barely baby blue for the final outside coat.

Her real birthday was that Friday, and we always do dinner at home with their requested meal.
She asked for cheese ravioli with pesto, which I had in the freezer from summer, Caesar salad, garlic bread, and then added chicken strips with ranch at the last minute.

The next day, we had our usual family gathering to celebrate.
She asked for her dad's famous cabbage rolls with mashed potatoes and green beans.
The appetizers filled the table to start.

Homemade pickles from the Armenian cucumbers I grew.

More homemade pickles with homegrown beans and garlic.
These are the house favorite.

Smoked fish dip that's so dang good. 
I made it for The Kid's birthday gathering, then had to do it for Baby's too.

Cocktail napkins from our wedding.

Cloth dinner napkins got rolled up with candy bracelets just for fun, and flower garland from my 40th birthday party..ahem..got hung in the big window.


And, of course, the traditional balloons hung from the ceiling.
And an excited, twirling, little girl.

Cookies plated up.


Cake revealed.
It passed her inspection.

Present time.


Candle and birthday song time.


The remnants.

And there ya have it.
Another birthday documented.
As quickly as seven came, seventeen will be here before I know it.
Until next time.....

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