what we’ve been up to lately…

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Snow Bakery -Indoor Snow Play

Snow bakery 1 1

It’s actually been too cold lately to go outside and play.  That’s meant lots of indoor recesses at school.  What do you do when it’s too cold to go out and play in the snow…bring the snow inside.

Indoor snow play 1

So the other day I thought it might be fun to bring a little snow inside to play with.

Snow bakery 4

We decided to make our own little snow bakery on the kitchen table.

Snow bakery 3

I set up towels and trays, and then found lots of little toys and baking pans.

Snow sensory table 2

When you’re finding toys and baking dishes, think about shapes.  Things like baking moulds, hearts, and cupcake pans worked great.  A couple different size ice cream scoops were a big hit too.  And don’t forget your gloves.

Snow sensory table 1

I set it up for my girls for a little after school fun.  Their favourite part was some coloured water.  I bought three plain squirt bottles at the dollar store, and filled them with water and added some a bit of food colouring to them.

Snow bakery 1

So easy, inexpensive, and fun -that pretty much meets all my criteria.

Snow sensory table 3

We spent ages moulding, squirting and making and baking.

Indoor snow play 3

Would you like to order something?  We take custom orders.

Snow bakery 2

On a cold, cold day, with an indoor snow bakery, life really is a party!

Indoor snow play 2

White Hot Chocolate Buffet

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It’s so, so cold outside but inside we’re getting warm and cozy with a yummy white hot chocolate buffet!  It’s certainly very white outside, which inspired this white hot chocolate buffet.  I love how pretty it turned it.

White hot chocolate buffet bar cart 1

I used my little bar cart, and set it all up under the chalk board message, “hot chocolate on a cold day” -which is certainly the case around here these days!  I also used this string of pretty snowflake lights.

Snowflake christmas lights

I used some white hot chocolate powder for the hot chocolate itself; quick, easy and delicious.

White hot chocolate buffet bar cart 2

Once I decided on the theme, I had lots of fun coming up with lots of yummy white things to add to our hot chocolate.

White hot chocolate buffet bar cart 7

We had large and small marshmallows, and white cotton candy.

White hot chocolate buffet bar cart 6

White hot chocolate buffet bar cart 4

White cotton candy fairy floss candy floss

We also had marshmallow fluff, and whipped cream, along with a few kinds of white sprinkles, and white chocolate chips.

White hot chocolate buffet bar cart 3

I also dipped a few spoons in melted chocolate and added some sprinkles to make the perfect stirrer.

White hot chocolate buffet bar cart 8

Baby’s Breath in simple mason jars were the perfect flowers, since they always remind me of snow.

Baby s breath in mason jar vases

While I was dipping the spoons, I also did a few vanilla wafer cookies.  The kids loved these, and they were so easy.

White hot chocolate buffet bar cart 9

White hot chocolate buffet bar cart 10

I also picked up some coconut truffles, also a hit.

White hot chocolate buffet bar cart 5

This was the perfect little winter warm up, and would be so, so pretty for a wedding or shower.

White hot chocolate buffet bar cart 11

With a pretty winter white hot chocolate on a cold winter’s day, life really is a party.

White hot chocolate in a milk glass mug

Valentine’s Day Fiesta -Food and Games

We had so much fun escaping to Mexico (at least in our minds) last Saturday for our Valentine’s Day Fiesta!  I shared all about the fun decorations here, and today I want to share with you the yummy food, and a few fun little games we played.

Mexican fiesta bar cart 2

I set up my favourite little bar cart for the party with some non-alcoholic family friendly drinks.  I loved including the little donkey as a decoration too, I picked him up at the dollar store in a pack of farm animals, in case you’re looking for some too.  On top we had a punch -not yet made when I took the pictures before our guests arrived.  It was Strawberry-Lemonade, made with pink lemonade, strawberry drink, ginger ale, and some frozen strawberries as ice-cubes.  It was a huge hit with kids and grown-ups.

Mexican fiesta bar cart 1

Sometimes when I set up the bar cart, I make a little “cheers” banner to go over it, so this time I made one in Spanish, “Salud!”.

Mexican fiesta bar cart mexican soda pop

We also served an assortment of Jarritos Mexican soda pop.  I went to a few ethnic grocery stores to find them, and they too was a real hit with the guests.  They liked trying all the exotic flavours.

Mexican fiesta drink ideas

In the kitchen, were a few Fiesta drinks for the grown-ups, including Corona beer and limes, and some tropical coolers.  I thought about making a Sangria, but decided coolers were easier, and they were so yummy too.

After everyone arrived and had a drink, we played a few easy games.  I set up a couple in the living room on the ottoman.

Easy valentine party games 1

The fist one we played was with chopsticks.  Players had 30 seconds to move as many pieces of candy from one bowl to the other using the chopsticks.

Easy valentine party games 2

It’s always fun to see who the real competitors and strategists are at a party!

Easy valentine party games 3

For the second easy game, you had 30 seconds to see how many conversation hearts you could stack up like a tower, if they fell you could start over until your time was up.  The great thing about these little games was has that both kids and adults could join in, and they were easy.

Easy fiesta party games 3

I also picked up a classic, old school, pin the tail on the donkey game.  It was fun too; easy and certainly fit our theme.

Fiesta party mexican food 3

I set up all the food on the kitchen table, just to make things easier.  I used some more of the succulents in glass containers for a centre piece, as well as another donkey, a vintage valentine, and the roses my sweet husband got me for Valentine’s Day.

Mexican Fiesta food

For dinner we had:

  • home made baked beans in the slow cooker (see my great recipe here)
  • spanish rice
  • tortilla chips
  • tortillas  (ordered from a local Tex-Mex restaurant)
  • taco shells

Our meat options were:

  • pork carnitas (Mexican pulled pork, also made in the slow cooker, I got the great recipe here)
  • chicken with peppers, onions, and mushrooms
  • ground beef with taco seasoning

As toppings we had:

  • monterey jack cheese
  • cheddar cheese
  • shredded lettuce
  • diced tomatoes
  • green onions
  • cilantro
  • home made guacamole
  • fresh salsa
  • hot sauce
  • sour cream

It was so, so yummy, and even some of the kids went back for seconds!

Mexican ice cream sundae 2

After dinner, it was time for dessert!  I did struggle with this one.  I wanted something Mexican, but relatively easy.  I know myself.  I know that after decorating and cooking all day, that by the time I get to dessert I’m starting to run out of steam.  I originally wanted to fry some churros, but I’m so glad I went with this plan Mexican Sundaes.  They were delicious and fun.  I’m not a huge ice cream eater, and really not a chocolate girl.  I made some home made spicy Mexican chocolate sauce for the ice cream, as well as some dolce de leche and they were amazing!

Mexican ice cream sundae spicy mexican hot chocolate sauce 1

For the Dulce de Leche sauce, start with a can of sweetened condensed milk.  Remove the paper label, but leave the can completely sealed.  You submerge the can in a large pot of water, making sure the can is completely covered, and then boil it.  There is a warning that if the pot boils dry, the can could explode, so make sure to check it periodically and top it up with water if needed.  Don’t let that warning scare you, if you make sure it’s covered in water you will be fine. I’ve made this lots of times and never had a problem.  I usually make it for Banoffee Pie, and boil it for 3 hours for a really thick sauce.  For the ice cream sauce, I wanted it more runny so I boiled it about an hour.  It came out perfectly.  I may have even had trouble stopping myself from tasting it before the party.

The second sauce was the spicy Mexican Chocolate sauce.  I’m not even a real chocolate fan, but there was something about the spice of the cinnamon, and the heat of the cayenne pepper that kept me coming back for more and more.  And it was perfect to combine the heat with the cold ice cream.  Serve both sauces warm.

Spicy Mexican Chocolate Sauce

Ingredients

  • 2 cups whipping cream
  • 340 g bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 - 3/4 tsp cinnamon (to taste)
  • 1/2 - 3/4 tsp cayenne pepper (to taste)

Instructions

  1. Heat whipping cream in a pot over medium heat.
  2. Add the chocolate chips and sugar to the cream, and stir until completely dissolved.
  3. Add the cinnamon, and cayenne pepper to taste, depending on how spicy and hot you like it.
  4. Serve warm over ice cream.
http://www.lifeisaparty.ca/2015/valentines-day-fiesta-food-and-games/

Mexican ice cream sundae 1

We served chocolate and vanilla ice cream, the dolce de leche sauce, spicy Mexican chocolate sauce, and Valentine sprinkles and candies along with whip cream, and cherries.  I also picked up an easy all ready prepared plain chocolate sauce in case the kids didn’t want anything spicy.  This dessert was the perfect sweet ending to the night.  With great friends, great food, and a quick trip to Mexico for the night in the middle of a cold winter, life really is a party!

Valentine’s Day Fiesta -The Decorations

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There is a point in your life, when your kids are old enough to be fun, and young enough to still want to hang out with you, where family parties are where it’s at.  A romantic Valentine’s Day at a fancy restaurant is fun, and there’s nothing wrong with getting a sitter and having a night out, but when Valentine’s Day fell on a Saturday this year it seemed like the perfect occasion for a fun family friendly party.  And since it’s feeling like such a long, and cold winter we thought a trip to Mexico for the night would be just the thing, so this year for we had a fun family friendly Valentine’s Day Fiesta!

Valentine fiesta 1

Guests were greeted at the front door with a few fun details.  I printed out some  airline tags for Mexico and attached them to my vintage suitcases.  I also printed out a bunch of vintage Mexican Valentines, that I found on-line.  I thought they were so cute, and displayed them around the party.

Valentine fiesta 2 vintage mexican valentines

We also offered Seniores and Senoritas a fun stick-on mustache for the evening, or a flower for their hair -such a fun and in-expensive way to set the mood for the night.

Fiesta party ideas 1

We set up the dining room for everyone to have dinner, and I had a lot of fun decorating it for a real fiesta feel.

Red and pink fiesta 3

One of my favourite details of the party were the pretty Mexican paper flags, called papel picado.  I looked on-line and in party stores for them, but in the end, ended up making a simple version of them myself.  I used tissue paper, and cut out simple patterns in red, light pink, and dark pink.

Home made papel picado mexican paper flags 2

I used a lot of hearts, diamonds, circles, and petal shapes.  By folding the tissue paper, you’re able to create the patterns over the whole paper, and repeat the patterns.  I just used trial and error to find ones that worked.  I also used a few paper punches, and a simple hole punch.

Home made papel picado mexican paper flags fiesta decorations 4

Home made papel picado mexican paper flags fiesta decorations 5

Part of their charm is in their imperfections and hand-made look.  I made sure they all had some holes along the top, and hung them by threading them randomly onto string, and using sticky hooks to attach the strings to the ceiling.  I also used some large rectangular white paper doilies, but in half, and thought they looked really really pretty too.

Red and pink fiesta 2

On the table I used my metal lanterns from the garden, I love the rustic metal for a Mexican feel.  I also used some succulents and cactus in tall glass vases.

Red and pink fiesta 1

The cauctus definitely added the fiesta feel!  The smaller tea light holders are from the dollar store.  They didn’t come in my party colours, so I had to break-out the old spray paint, despite the cold-cold winter temperatures.  I was so pleased with how they turned out in bright pink and red, and added the bright hit of colour I needed to the table.

Valentine fiesta 2

I also made some simple mini heart pinatas.  I made them by cutting out two matching hearts from some thin cardboard cereal boxes, and some long straight pieces for the sides.  To make the boxes, I just used masking tape to tape the side pieces to one of the hearts.  Then, I filled up the hearts with a few treats, and then taped the second heart on top.

Valentine mini heart pinata fiesta decorations 1

Once the boxes were made, I decorated them with streamers.  I wrapped the edge of the hearts first, then cut fringes into streamers folded in half,  glued them on to the boxes, front and back, and finally trimmed around the outside.

Valentine mini heart pinata fiesta decorations 2

These were such a hit with the kids.  They kept shaking them and asking if they could open them.  I sent one home with each of my little guests as a party favour, along with a special balloon from the kids table.

Red and pink fiesta valentine s day 2

Because we had 18 guests, we sat the kids at their own little table, right beside the grown ups.

Red and pink fiesta children s table4

Home made papel picado mexican paper flags 1

For their table, I gathered up all the little tables and chairs I could find, and used a pretty cloth, and more mini heart pinatas to decorate.  But my favourite detail of the kid’s table was the pretty centrepieces.

Balloon with fringe streamers

I found the balloons at the dollar store.  They aren’t helium, they’re just air filled on a stick, which helped with being able to get them early and not having to wait until the last-minute.

Red and pink fiesta 4

I made the balloons by adding streamers, ribbons, gold foil ribbon, and silver tinsel yarn.  I cut them to random sizes and tucked them into the top of the balloon sticks. My girls loved them and said they looked like magical Valentine wands!

Fiesta party decorations 1

One last fun detail, in the kitchen where the food was set up.  I usually have this chalkboard there anyway, so I added this fun message…”taco bout a party”.  Later in the week, I’ll be sharing the food, and fun little games we played.  I hope your Valentine’s Day was as much fun as ours.  With a Valentine’s Day Fiesta, life really is a party!

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