Wednesday, August 29, 2012

{DIY} Crabby Marshmallow Pops

Hello, hello!  I hope you are all doing well!  Last week we celebrated my oldest daughter's 4th birthday!  If you follow me on Pinterest, you know I've been pinning mermaid-themed parties for a while now - and last week we created our own little under-the-sea party!  I'll share the rest of the part with you next week, but today I wanted to give a tutorial for these little crab pops that, aside from cake, were the hit of the party!  

These are easier to make than cake pops, but have the same cuteness factor.  
You could use these with a number of themes(mermaid, pirate, nautical, etc.) - and they are gender neutral too! 

So here's what you'll need to make your own:
Large Marshmallows
Mini Marshmallows
Mini Chocolate Chips
Pretzel Sticks
Small Red Gummy Candy (I used Welch's Strawberry Gummies)
Vanilla Candy Melting Wafers
Red Food Coloring
Non-stick Aluminum Foil
Lollipop Sticks
Brown Sugar (for display)

  (Kinda looks like I'm about to make sushi right?)

Step 1: Prepare the eyes and claws.  Stick the mini chocolate chips into the mini marshmallows - really squish them in there.  Next, use a pair of kitchen shears to snip a triangle out of the gummies.

Step 2: Break each pretzel stick into 4 pieces, then stick each small piece into a large marshmallow - creating the "legs".  Place each of these onto a sheet lined with non-stick foil.

Step 3:  Melt the wafers using the instructions on the package.  Then add the red food coloring.  If your wafers start to get tough (like mine did) simply add a little whole milk and continue stirring until they are smooth again.  Use a spoon and pour this mixture over each marshmallow.  As you go, stick on the eyes and claws.

Step 4:  Insert a lollipop stick into each one - I cut mine in half so they wouldn't be so tall.  Let them dry for several hours at room temperature - cover with plastic wrap if you're worried the eyeballs might dry out.

Step 5:  Pour some brown sugar onto a platter.  Use a slotted spatula to gently lift each crab off the foil - break off the extra pieces of red coating, and place onto the "sand".

There you go!  An adorable crowd-pleaser for all ages!  Enjoy!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Hokokuji Temple - A Bamboo Fantasy

Okay, so this is the first Zen garden I've been to, but it's probably my favorite place yet in Japan.  
It's simply magical.
Zen means absorption or a meditative state.
It definitely puts you in that mood. 

Imagine: you walk through a giant bamboo forest along a stone pathway to a hidden tea house.  
Sit under an awning, sip green tea, gaze upon a small waterfall tucked in between the bamboo stalks.  The cool shade, the sound of running water, the smell and taste of tea - a treat for all the senses and only 10 minutes from our house.

Everything was so wonderfully green.

Don't you feel peaceful just looking at those pictures?
sending some zen your way

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Staging Your Home: The Hostess's Secret Weapon

While I was in college I worked for an interior design firm one summer.  I mostly did things like pickups, deliveries, paperwork - but for a few weeks I was assistant to a decorator who staged model homes.  Or actually re-staged model homes.  We would go into an existing model home - she would survey the situation, and then we would  proceed to rearrange the entire house (great exercise) until it looked new and fresh.  Occasionally we would bring in some new accessories, but usually we just worked with what was already there.  This little skill has come in handy many times in my life - especially when I find myself trying to sew 10 new pillows the night before a party.  
So I thought I'd share this with you.  
If you're getting ready for a party or gathering, don't worry about buying new stuff or making 10 new pillows the night before - simply take things from elsewhere in your home (especially if there are rooms in your house the company won't see) and place them in the main gathering area - giving it fresh new life without spending a dime.  This is what I found myself doing the other day as I was getting ready for a meeting in my home.  So I took before and after pictures.  
The before looks pretty sad, but it certainly create a dramatic change ;)



So here's what I did: 
  • I brought in a bench to serve as a coffee table - it was by my front door, really not serving any purpose but to collect junk.
  • Most of the pillows on the two sofas are from the guest bed upstairs.  They matched the living room just fine, and no one was going to go upstairs to see the bare bed.
  • I took the blue mason jar from the bathroom and created a floral arrangement with flowers from our bedroom.  They really brightened up the corner.
  • And of course I cleaned and picked up too.

So I didn't do anything too complicated, but those small touches made the room feel complete.  I hope this little tip is helpful the next time you are having a party - don't spend a lot of money, just use the things you have in a new and fresh way.  
Happy Decorating!

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