Monday, April 3, 2017

Avocado Veggie Dip


With two little ones to run after all day I don't get much time to sit down to a formal meal. That said, my snacking game is very important and I don't always choose the best options. While experimenting in the kitchen one afternoon I created a VERY simple vegetable dip that has since elevated my snacking game. Creating this veggie dip has now become part of my Sunday night routine as I chop my vegetables and fruits for the week. 


For this simple recipe, you will need:
  • Juice of 2 small limes, or 1 large lime 
  • 1 large Hass avocado. Save the pit to help extend the life of the avocado. 
  • 1/3 cup of greek yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp of olive oil


Place all ingredients in your favorite food processor or blender. 


Blend all ingredients until they are incorporated together. And that is it! Didn't I say it was easy?


Depending on the ripeness of the avocado you may need to add more lime, olive oil, or greek yogurt. Your preference, but I like to finish with a pinch of pink salt and cracked pepper. 



I store the dip in an air-tight container in my refrigerator for up to 3 days with the avocado pit. I love this recipe, because it adds variety to my vegetables and the protein helps keep me full longer. 

I enjoy pairing this dip with red bell peppers (the sweetness and crispness are a nice contrast), and cucumbers. As you can see from my instagram feed, thecountrypeony, my one-year-old daughter also loves this dip. Now if only I could get my three-year-old son on board. 

I hope you find that this dip helps to elevate your snacking game. 

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Homemade Playdough


If you follow me on Instagram, @thecountrypeony, you may have noticed that my three-year-old son and I love playing in the kitchen. He is at the age where he wants to try everything, and I try to encourage his enthusiasm for learning. Since my son loves playdough I thought it would be fun for him to help me make his own version. DIY Natural has a simple and easy-to-follow playdough recipe that we used.

My son and I had a great time making this playdough, but this is a very messy process (especially with an excited three-year-old). Therefore, I recommend a dose of patience added to the ingredients list.


Ingredients & Tools:
  • 1 cup of flour. Plus a handful of flour to help roll out your playdough onto the countertop. 
  • 1/4 cup of salt. I only used sea salt, because that is what I had on hand. 
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 5 drops of food coloring
  • 2 mixing bowls
  • Spoon for mixing

In one bowl mix together the flour and salt. In another bowl mix together the food coloring and water.



Then slowly add the food coloring/water bowl into the flour/salt bowl, stirring while you pour. 


Once all ingredients are stirred together, knead the dough until the flour is absorbed into the wet mixture. 


Then place some flour onto the countertop and continue to knead the playdough until you get the consistency that you like. Add more flour if it is too sticky, and more water if it is too dry. 


Finally it is time to enjoy the fruits of your labor, or hopefully a moment of quiet time as your child plays. 


I stored his playdough in a ziploc bag at room temperature. It lasted about a month until I thought it was time to start over. 

Whether or not your child is able to help with this project, I hope he or she enjoys the end product. 

Monday, March 27, 2017

DIY Tulle Balls


Is March almost over? I had every intention of getting this tutorial to you sooner, but February and March kept me busy. Better late than never; below is a tutorial for the tulle balls from my daughter's swan lake inspired, fan wall birthday backdrop that I adapted from the wonderful tutorial from Heidi Hope Photography


But first, some housekeeping: 
  • I used pipe cleaners instead of ribbon to tie the balls together. This allowed for better manipulation when I adhered the tutus to the wall. 
  • I cut the tulle first so that I could easily bring it through the donut hole stencil. 
  • It is important to keep your fabric taut to create a cohesive, finished tulle ball. 
  • I varied the thickness of each ball to allow for different dimensions. If you want your tulle ball to be full, overlap, overlap, and overlap. 
  • I marked one side of the top and bottom piece of my donut stencil so I knew what direction the pipe cleaner was going. 


For this project, you will need:
  • Circular base to create the stencil for the ball. I used a large mixing bowl for the outside of the stencil and a cup for the inside of the stencil. 
  • Thick paper for the stencil. I used cardboard from an old moving box. 
  • Tulle
  • Scissors to create the stencil and to cut the tulle.
  • Marker to create the stencil guidelines.
  • Pipe cleaner to keep the tulle together to form the shape of the ball. 
  • Tape to adhere the pipe cleaner to the stencil as you loop the tulle through the stencil. 


As mentioned above, use your circular objects to create a nice stencil. However, no one says they have to be pretty :). 


Next, adhere the pipe cleaner to one of the stencils. 


As noted above, I added guide marks to the top and bottom stencil so I knew what side to pull the pipe cleaner through once the tulle was spun. 



I started the end of the tulle at the end of the stencil, so the length was even throughout the ball. 


Once you have enough overlapping and fullness, cut the tulle at the end of the stencil to ensure the length of the ball is even. 


Next, you will cut the tulle in between the two stencils, and then twist the pipe cleaner with the stencils still in place. Be extra careful not to move the stencils up too much when you twist the pipe cleaner so the tulle stays in place. 


Once the pipe cleaner is tight around the tulle, you can pull the tulle out of the stencils. Voila! You have a fun show stopper that you can use in many different capacities. I think this fun decoration can be used a photo backdrop, in a fan wall, garland, table centerpiece, as part of a tutu skirt, and the list goes on and on. 




I hope you have just as much fun with these whimsical decorations as I did. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Swan Lake First Birthday Party


We celebrated my baby girl's first birthday last weekend. To say I had fun planning and executing my daughter's ballerina/Swan Lake birthday party would be an understatement. I loved it! It was such a fun theme for a little girl who loves to dance. For the playful theme I used different shades of pink with white and gold accents. I made the majority of the decorations and used items from her bedroom to add special touches and save on cost. 

I hope you enjoy the pictures below as they highlight some of the details from her first birthday. 


The venue has a beautiful lake in front of it, so I thought it would be fun to add a 6 foot swan to the lake to greet guests as they walked up. Six foot swan, why not?


My wonderful mother whipped together the above tutu garland with some tulle to greet guests as they entered the party. 


I created a fan and tutu backdrop behind the food table to add a focal point that wasn't in the way of the food. Chelsea with Two Twenty One has a great tutorial for a fan wall. 

I will feature the tutu balls in a tutorial on the blog soon. 



Aside from the good company, my favorite part of the celebration was the desserts. Rebecka with Sweet Alyse Bakery did an incredible job with the smash cake, cookies, and cupcakes. I gave her minimal direction, and she delivered a stellar product. Not only were they perfect for the theme, but they were scrumptious. You can see more of the desserts in detail below. 








A first birthday isn't complete without a monthly picture wall garland. I love watching my baby grow. I kept my son's garland up in our house for over a year. 


To add extra interest, I pulled items from my daughter's bedroom that worked with the theme like her curtains and tutus.




As an event planner this party was so fun to create, because I knew my daughter would enjoy it regardless of how everything turned out. In the end it turned out to be a wonderful celebration with our friends and family. Thank you to everyone who celebrated with us. 

Confetti Balloons: Yugucu
Number 1 Balloon: Magnolia Bloom Btq
Ballerina Garland: Meri Meri Party Garlands
Paper Fans: Hobby Lobby
Large Inflatable Swan: Wal Mart
Linens: Borrowed from my mother-in-law
Serving Trays: Borrowed from my mother-in-law and mother

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Heart Healthy Valentine Treats

 

Valentine's Day is less than a month away. I love giving away homemade gifts for this holiday to friends and family. I am trying to make healthier choices and I thought these heart healthy chocolates would be the perfect treat for my friends and myself. 

*I want to start off by saying that I am not a nutritionist, doctor, nor health practitioner. When I say "heart healthy" I am referring to the dark chocolate (as a treat) as a better alternative to some other treats on the market. I also think the term heart healthy is appropriate, because (as cheesy as it sounds) these treats are so cute and so fun to give that they warm my heart. 

My beautiful friend, Lauren, started me on the chocolate bark with nuts (which I will feature later) about a year ago. Thank you Lauren. I took her recipe and added a cute twist with the heart molds for the Valentine's season. 


For this project, you will need:


The first step is to break off the chocolate bark into pieces and place the pieces into the microwave safe bowl. Then microwave the chocolate in the bowl for 30 seconds. 


Take the bowl out and stir the chocolate with the spoon. Place the chocolate back in the microwave for 30 more seconds. Take the bowl out and stir the chocolate with the spoon. Repeat this process until your chocolate is almost melted (some chocolate chunks should still be present). Each microwave setting is different, but my microwave took me four times at 30 seconds to melt the chocolate to the consistency I liked. It is important not to do more than 30 seconds at a time, because you don't want to burn the chocolate. Steady and slow is key to creating the right consistency. 


Spoon the melted chocolate into the heart-shaped molds. Keep some space at the top for the nuts and dried fruit. This process is messy. These molds are dishwasher safe so don't worry about making a mess. 


Roughly chop the dried fruit and mixed nuts. Then sprinkle the nut and fruit mixture onto the melted chocolate heart-shaped molds. Ensure that every nut and fruit piece is sticking to the chocolate so they freeze with the chocolate. 


After this step, place the baking pan directly into the freezer. Wait 2-3 hours, and your chocolate treats should be frozen. Once frozen the chocolate treats will pop right out of the silicone baking molds. 


Once you pop them out don't over handle them, because the heat from your hand may cause them to melt. Package and label them. Then store them in the freezer before you gift them, or before you enjoy them. I hope you enjoy making these "heart healthy" treats. 


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