Sweet Red Apple Sauce, Heart Shaped Bacon and Cupid Arrow Pierced Strawberries

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Protip – trying to create a Valentine’s Day breakfast the same morning you are recording a radio program probably is not the best timing. Not all of my bacon hearts stayed together, but luckily, it was enough to convincingly celebrate for my kiddo. Mostly, he was thrilled with the stuffed “tiger” holding a heart that read “I love you.” It doesn’t take much for kids.

I actually did try to keep it pretty simple. Heart shaped can be created by cutting the bacon slices in half then folding two halves into a heart and baking the bacon. I adjust the temperature depending on my timing and just keep an eye on it until your bacon is the perfect done-ness for you. I did use toothpicks in some of the hearts to help them keep their shape while baking. You will likely need to remove them from the pan with a spatula.

Sweet Red Apple Sauce heart shaped bacon

Rather than making red pancakes this year, I used frozen waffles (I told you I was in a hurry this morning!) and made a Sweet Red Apple Sauce to top them. After apple-picking last fall, we have a constant supply of home-made applesauce, but store-bought would work. I prefer chunky. Warm your applesauce in a sauce pan and add a teaspoon to a few tablespoons (depending on how many you are serving) of honey to sweeten it a bit. The red can be a few drops of beet juice or food dye, depending on how crunchy you want to be. As you can see, it was well received. (Yea, that is my plate I nearly forgot to take a photo of.)

cupid arrow strawberries

For the class party, I was assigned “something fun but not sugary”, so I cut fresh strawberries into heart shapes by cutting the stem off with a V and piercing them with Cupid Arrow Toothpicks. For the Cupid Arrow Toothpicks all you need is some patterned paper, toothpicks, scissors, and double stick tape. I cut the patterned paper into 1″x2″ strips and taped a toothpick in between two pieces. I then cut them into feather shapes, making sure to cut diagonally down the sides. I was late to the party, but apparently all the moms in attendance liked them. You could also add an arrow tip by adding two triangles to the other end of the toothpick, but many of my strawberries were pretty large, so I kept it simple.

How was your Valentine’s Day?

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Cheap and Easy Gift Wrap

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I prefer to say that I am frugal and flexible because it has a better connotation than “cheap and easy”. I prefer to make my own wreaths rather than buy them. I find friends to decorate amazing cakes for me rather than going to an expensive bakery (it saves a ton of money to have talented friends!). Gift wrap is kind of a thing for me… The Christmas presents that go under our tree are all in brown paper with ribbons and bows.

candy cane heart gift wrapI try to knock out all of my wrapping at the annual Cosmo Moms wrapping day, but the office party this year is very early in the season. It’s a Thursday night (after the kid is in bed) and I have six presents (each including multiple items) to wrap before showering and getting to bed. I knocked it out rather quickly though with lunch sacks (I found them much less expensively at Target), left over ribbon, and a hole punch. The tag is cut from last year’s Christmas cards. Wrapping for approximately half a dollar.

cheap and easy gift wrap in a paper sack

Fall Fun and a Haunted House Giveaway

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I am always sad to see summer go because I fear the freeze that comes with winter, but there can be no better consolation than Autumn. Football, pumpkins, spooks and scares, hayrides, cider, and hoodies… We started getting in the theme of things last week, decorating the house, then this weekend it was apple everything after a trip to Tuttle Orchard and Pumpkin Patch.

HPG picking applesIn addition to eating apple everything all weekend, (By the way, if you think grain-free cooking cannot be light and fluffy, you really need to try this German Apple Pancake; we will be again very soon) we started carving pumpkins. (Emphasis on started… as excited as the kids were about the pumpkins, the attention span didn’t last long.)

HPG pumpkin patchToday, I got a sneak peak into The Children’s Museum Guild’s 50th Anniversary Haunted House “Time Warp: 50 Years of Fear”. In honor of their 50th anniversary, the Children’s Museum Guild has created a haunted house that takes you back in time 50 years, back through time, and into the future with fun 3-D effects. The kids will love the Star Wars Creepy Cantina, and parents will be entertained by the tribute to Michael Jackson’s Thriller video, the computer graveyard, and Y-2 Kaos room.

TCM Time WarpI am looking forward to taking the kids, first during the Lights-On Hours, but I anticipate EW will want to go back through during the Frightening Hours “for children who dare to be scared”. This year, on Friday nights there will also be Xtreme Scream! hours focused for teens. For a guide on which experience is right for your family, check out this infographic. While you are at the Children’s Museum, don’t forget to visit their special exhibits Bat Encounter and Hollywood Haunts. The Children’s Museum Guild’s haunted house and other special exhibits are great for the whole family. You should go. In fact, I think you should go so much that I am giving you five ways to win Four Tickets to “Time Warp” at The Children’s Museum.

  1. Leave a comment below with your favorite “Fall Fun” activity
  2. Follow me on twitter and leave a comment below with your twitter handle.
  3. Pin any Hoosier Party Girl blog to your Pinterest boards and leave a comment below telling me what you pinned. You can do this once per day!
  4. Tweet about the giveaway (maybe something like: I want to visit the Time Warp haunted house at @tcmindy – @HoosierPartyGrl has tickets to #giveaway http://wp.me/p2g2wW-96 ) and leave a comment below telling me you did. You can do this once per day!
  5. Circle me in on Google+ and leave a comment with your G+ name.

I will choose a winner on Tuesday, October 15th. Good luck and Happy Fall, Ya’ll!

I was invited to a blogger preview of Time Warp by The Children’s Museum Guild and provided four tickets to giveaway. All opinions are my own. 

Star Wars’ Death Star Half Birthday Cake

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Half birthdays may be my favorite thing. My child buys right in and was eating up the extra attention, directing us in three rounds of “Happy Birthday to you, Chachacha”

make a wish!

make a wish!

You have got to see this cake! Yet again, Heather decorated a beauty!

That's no moon

“That’s no moon. It’s a space station”

The deal at my house is half a cake and pizza on half birthdays. That makes it easy enough to do even on a school night. I have to publicly thank Napolese Pizzaria who not only took an early order to have our pizzas ready for the very first carry out of the night but patiently took the order of three pizzas with special requests to fit all of the allergies and dietary preferences of everyone in the family.

These are not the allergens you are looking for...

These are not the allergens you are looking for…

I have a strict no presents policy on half birthdays because it is about fun celebration – not about spoiling the children – but someone guessed I wouldn’t fight a thematic re-gift from the last Star Wars party.

"What's in there?"  "Only what you take with you."

“What’s in there?”
“Only what you take with you.”

At least it wasn’t wrapped. Maybe I can convince the kiddo that it was only a part of his party attire…

Aside

Sorrow and Support

There are no words, but I am going to try to put together a few. My friend Katy lost her infant daughter suddenly this week. She will never plan a 1st birthday party for Shaundi. She will never plan a baby shower for this daughter. She will always feel that her family is incomplete. There is no “theme” to grief or a theme for this blog. I will wear black to the memorial unless Katy requests something else. We want it to be a celebration for all of the celebrations we will never have. The Indy Geek Girls have already rallied around providing all of the food and more. This weekend kitchens all over the city will be baking cookies and tangibly showing #LoveForShaundi I have been so amazed to see the community surround this family. We intend for cooking and cleaning to be taken care of them for months, but the cost of medical bills and funeral costs are staggering. So many have already contributed to a fund. Would you consider doing so also? No amount is too small because it all adds up. You can donate here.

 

Setting a Spooky Scene

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We love Halloween; everyone loves a good ghost story, right? There is just something fun about the macabre, especially in a house with little boys. Sometimes I use family dinner as a way to teach about lesser known holidays, but this Halloween place setting is about the fun of a spooky story and maybe trying to gross each other out a bit because that is what boys do.

  1. A small sampling of treats – some candy but also small toys – pre-set keeps short attention spans occupied, allowing you to make the event more dramatic, bringing out freaky food from the kitchen with a flourish and a story.glow in the dark glitter skeleton treat bag
  2. A small bag of plastic spiders can go a long way. There were some in each child’s treat cup and bag, but they also attach easily to plastic utensils (it’s all in the details) and coordinated nicely with the spider web chargers.Halloween tablescape
  3. I think I had the most fun making the Witches Brew Mocktails. I just took an all natural variety of ginger ale and added a couple of drops of green food coloring. A green sugared rim and gummy worms can complete the look, but every kid needs a bat straw. I especially like that the Creative Converting margarita glasses are plastic and light enough for a child to lift safely, although the straws do help keep the food coloring off the table cloth.HPG Witches Brew Mocktail
  4. Next time, I would use one of the coffin utensil caddys to hold extra napkins because there can never be too many napkins when kids are involved.HPG Halloween tablescape
  5. White candlesticks become instantly creepy when red wax is drippeddown the sides.Skull fireplace
  6. Hanging the skull in front of the fireplace is a really strong statement, while other decorations often blend in on the mantle or side tables. While he is meant to be hung in a window, I really like the look of the candles glowing behind him.

I love creating a festive atmosphere in my home. Sometimes it is nice to have “parties” that are just us. As the kids get older and older, I am sure my decor is going to have to go from spooky to creepy, but I am sure it will be a fun challenge.

This post was originally written for the Party People blogCreative Converting provided all the supplies mentioned in this post. Opinions, as always, are entirely my own. 

Football Food and Decorations

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I love football; I mean, I love football. Mondays, Thursdays, and at least two games on Sundays. I certainly believe football season is worth celebrating. Last year my AFC team (Indianapolis Colts) and my NFC team (Chicago Bears) went head to head for opening Sunday. Creative Converting offers several football lines that I enjoyed mixing and matching to create the party atmosphere that was right for us. The detail in the Touchdown Time and Team Sports Football lines make me smile every time I see the texture on the printed goods. Of course the kids enjoyed the Pom Poms more than anything else. It was fun to watch them choose their favorite team (or color) and try to determine the right time to say “touch down”, “first down”, or “go Blue!”. Add a little printed tag and the Pom Poms make awesome party favors for everyone to take home with them. The plastic White and Black Tablecover that easily caught the guacamole and queso spills might have been my second favorite part.

HPG football tablescape

I definitely think decorations do a lot to set the theme and atmosphere for a party, but the food is essential to a football party, especially if we plan to stretch from the early game to the afternoon game. A crockpot of chili, popcorn, and chips and dip are easy foods for both grabbing on a commercial break and eating in front of a television. Most of my friends and I are gluten free, but corn tortilla chips are always a hit. The football dip tray gives everyone their favorite dip whether it is guacamole, salsa, or queso. Tip: to draw the lines for the football field, I put sour cream in a plastic zip bag, cut off the corner, and used it like a cake decorating squeeze bag. I also like to make my own salsa which makes things a bit chunkier (and scrumptious). For the Super Bowl I made a large football shaped cocoa Rice Krispee treat, but individual sized footballs would work better for a party.

HPG Football field dip tray

I know not everyone will celebrate the NFL weekly like I do, but as you look forward to the playoffs and the Super Bowl, you have time to practice all your favorite football recipes. If we can plan a menu that accommodates everyone’s food allergies and preferences for organic food, you can too. Football season does not have to sideline healthy eating, even if you are celebrating every week like I do.

This post was originally written for the Party People blog. Creative Converting provided the party decorations, but the football fever is all my own. 

John Deere Farm Birthday Party

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Beyond the awesome cake and Farm Food, we used lots of details to create our John Deer Farm theme for GR’s 2nd birthday.

John Deere farm tractor birthday cake 2 HPG I dug through all farm toys and books to make sure there were tractors, tractors everywhere. It also gave the kids plenty to do in different stations.

John Deere tractor birthday decorations

I strung John Deere balloons as decoration, but they quickly became a party activity as well.

John Deere birthday baloons

The photo backdrop from Oriental Trading Company with personalized photo props from Let’s Get Decorative on Etsy (with some other items I gathered) was both decoration and fun activity.

John Deere farm photo booth

The only other decorating I really did was the birthday banner. I was sad to discover that there were no John Deere scrapbook papers. I made this from these digital papers (but it took a lot of ink). It probably isn’t the most efficient method, but I prefer printing the letters, cutting them out, and gluing them in place.

John Deere tractor birthday banner

Johnny Pop microwave popcorn made an easy party favor. The Johnny Tractor thank you cards were right; we had bales of fun!

John Deere tractor popcorn favors

Farm Food for a John Deere Birthday

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Food is an important part of any party. Since John Deere Farm was our theme, it was important to have farm-fresh that fit with the theme. This is actually easier than other thematic menus.
HPG Farm Food popcorn and seedsJust like the theme of this year’s Indiana State Fair popcorn is a great party food that relates to farming. We also served corn on the cob.
HPG Farm Food corn on the cobFarmers plant seeds and garlic-roasted pumpkin seeds is surprisingly easy and so good. Spread raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas) on a baking tray, add melted coconut oil, sea salt, and garlic. Roast in the oven at approximately 350, stirring occasionally.
HPG Garlic roasted pumpkin seeds ingredientsFresh blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries are easy party food. Bonus points if you picked your own!
HPG Farm Food berriesCarrots grow in the ground and carrot sticks are another easy munchy food. A two year old birthday calls for (kosher, all beef) hotdogs.
HPG Farm Food carrots hotdogsPulled Pork (from Locally Grown Gardens) and wheat buns nearly cover all parts of a well-rounded meal.
HPG farm food pulled porkNo birthday is complete without dessert. We served homemade apple crumble pie and of course a chocolate birthday cake, amazingly decorated by Heather. I used this cake pan and loved it.
John Deere tractor birthday cake dessertsI also strongly believe in a special cupcake with candles for the birthday boy (or girl). His birthday shirt is from redbrickwall on etsy.

HPG birthday cupcake 2To drink, we served John Deere Lemonade, adding green lime slices to the yellow lemonade.
HPG John Deere lemonade

Indiana State Fair : Farm Fun and Education

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Thank you, Family of Farmers for the opportunity to take my child to the Indiana State Fair along with so many of our friends. I am a Hoosier born and raised and my grandfather was a farmer, so the Indiana State Fair is near and dear to my heart.

HPG Indiana necklace

Not only do we love farmers, but we eat an almost-paleo diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables, so I love teaching the kids about growing food, raising food, and making healthy choices. There are so many ways to get into the theme of things at the Indiana State Fair. I am sure we barely scratched the surface, but these were some highlights from our day.

1. Worlds Largest Popcorn Ball – This one wasn’t really educational, but it is fun and 2013 is the year of Popcorn at the Indiana State Fair.

HPG State Fair World Largest Popcorn Ball2. Purdue sponsored a learning scavenger hunt to teach kids about nutrition, which also included a sculpture made entirely of cheese!

Cheese sculpture IN State Fair

3. In 2013 farming is high tech, even family farms are high tech, and so is the Indiana State Fair. In the new Glass Barn we were able to FaceTime with an Indiana farmer, learning how she takes care of the 5000 pigs on her farm.

HPG Glass Barn High Tech Farms

4. Hats! The Glass Barn also had a scavenger hunt to ensure we were reading all the educational material, engaging with the exhibits rather than simply wandering passed with glazed eyes. While my son had put on his John Deere hat that morning, he joined the rest of the kids wearing a new soy bean farmers hat. If you don’t have farm attire, you can claim a Bean There Done That hat of your very own.

Soy Bean There Done That hat

5. While the bacon-glazed donuts might have been tempting if I was not allergic to gluten, there is really awesome food at the Indiana State Fair that isn’t deep-fried or full of sugar. We ate at the beef tent where I had a pretty scrumptious “steak in a bag” (ribeye sandwich without the bun) and my son had a kids meal with an all beef hot dog, apple juice, piece of cheese, and a temporary tattoo. Heather’s kids gave me thumbs up on the pork chop and pulled pork from the pork tent. Grilled corn is another healthier choice that I would consider real farm food. Don’t forget to find my friends, local vendors Frittle Candy and U-Relish.

I<3Beef IN State Fair tattoo

6. Animals – For me a visit to the Indiana State Fair just isn’t complete without visiting the livestock. Where else will you see a 1200 pound boar or baby calf just a week old? The horses and goats were kid favorites. I loved the educational pieces in the swine barn, learning about different types of pigs and how different parts of the animal are used for food and other products.

HPG IN State Fair Animals

7. Little Hands on the Farm – This interactive learning journey for the younger crowd (2-8 years old) is extremely well done, giving a great overall introduction to farming (with a treat at the end).

Little Hands on the Farm IN State Fair

8. Photo opps! The Indiana State Fair certainly isn’t the county fair of my youth where rides, exhibits, and vendors set up for one week only. There are statues, signs, and scenery throughout the fairgrounds that add to the experience and create great props and backgrounds for family photos.

IN State Fair photo opps

The Indiana State Fair is August 2-18th. There are admission and ride deals on many different days. Plan on a couple of days because there is simply so much to see. All opinions are my own, but Family of Farmers did provide me with admission tickets which I will be using to let the kiddo experience the Midway since we ran out of time energy for the rides, games, lights, and excitement. I hope to see you there!