Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Little Dresses

"Changing lives one little dress at a time…
Little Dresses for Africa is a non-profit 501c3, Christian  organization, which provides relief to the children of  Africa. Simple dresses are made out of pillow cases, and distributed through the orphanages, churches and schools in  Africa to plant in the hearts of little girls that they are worthy!  (littledressesforafrica.org). 

Recently, our church organized a group to make "pillow case"  dresses as a mission to support "Little Dresses for Africa."   I wasn't able to attend, but certainly wanted to participate.  It's reported that a mission group visiting Africa noted that many children had extremely worn and torn clothing, which were also ill fitting. They decided to make it their mission to try to provide simple clothing for these children to not only provide comfort, warmth, and protection, but also to let them know that they are important and cared about.  

 The dresses can be made from any fabric, but were originally made from pillowcases, because people seemed to have extra pillow cases readily available, the pillow cases are already hemmed, and have finished side seams so they were easier and faster to make.  However, the dresses can be made from fabric, pillow cases, etc.  I didn't have extra pillow cases, but I certainly had fabric. Although, I wasn't able to attend the sewing circle, I decided to make and donate 10 dresses.  I have five all finished...
 5 More to go...
The Little Dresses for Africa website provides more information about this mission, including the fact that due to the great response that they have received, they have been able to expand their donations to other countries that need this support.  It seems that areas of the United states have also been included.  They are also encouraging people to sew shorts for boys.

 It's so nice to take a hobby that you love and use it to help others in need..especially children!

 If you're interested, the website provides a nice pattern, and information where you can send your completed projects.  It also answers frequently asked questions if you want more specific information about the organization.  I, personally, only know what information that the site provides and what has been shared at our church.

If these little dresses can provide some comfort to a child, improve the quality of her life, or bring a smile to her face...even for the moment....it will bring a smile to my face, too!

Have a wonderful week....there's a holiday weekend coming up!!! Yea!!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A Summer Cookie Picnic!

About 1 year ago, my Mom moved from her home town, where she has lived for 84 years, to a small town near us.  It was a difficult decision for her to make, and pretty gutsy.  We found her a beautiful apartment,  a new church, I made her a few maps so she could find her way around the area, and  found a salon where she could have her hair done.  The BIG move went well, and we got  her settled in.  During the past year, she has made an amazing transition.  She is a member of a women's group, is  a weekly volunteer at the local hospital, has worked repeatedly at the Red Cross Blood Drives, has volunteered for the local "Back Pack" program, has taken numerous desserts to church functions, has found her way around this new community and only gotten lost once, that I know of.  And, when she got lost, she was able to figure it out and make it home without a phone call to us!  And most important, she has established a new group of friends! We are so happy and relieved that she is happy in her new home!

This spring, my mom decided that she wanted to have a family get together at her new apartment so that the entire family could come to visit and see where she lives.  Of course, planning the meal is always one of the most important aspects.  She decided that she wanted to have "picnic" type foods.  She made a bunch of salads; potato, cabbage, two fruit jello salads, and a fruit salad.  We had cold cuts, ham and roast turkey, cheese slices, hard rolls, hummus and pita, veggies and dip, cheese ball and crackers, mmmmm.  I was responsible for the desserts.  My daughter made a delicious triple chocolate trifle, and I contributed a raspberry pie, pumpkin spice cake, and decorated "picnic" sugar cookies.  I think the food was a hit!  I thought I would share the cookies with you:

You can't have a picnic without hamburgers!

How about some nice fresh, healthy apples!

You don't have to let these pears ripen...mmmm

Nothing like a nice relish tray:  deviled eggs, olives, pickles, guacamole, and of course a munchie...pretzels

I had to include submarine sandwiches, or hoagies, depending on where you're from.

Just a few more sweets...ice cream cones and cupcakes!

I didn't forget the hot dogs!

I was going to make strawberry shortcake, but I thought that these would do!

Blueberry and Cherry pies...check!

Here is the pumpkin spice cake.  I tried a new butter cream icing design, and thought it turned out pretty well!

All in all, the party was a success.  It's always a fun time with our family and my Mom was so happy that they all came.  The family may not realize how much it meant to her, but it really did.  We're very appreciative, too.  There's nothing like being a part of a wonderful family!

Hope you're all having a great week, and I hope you can all experience at least one picnic this summer!  Hurry, the lazy days of summer are almost over!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Bundt Cake Parade

I know what you're thinking right now..."My Big Fat Greek Wedding," the scene on the front lawn where the Greek mother is looking quizzically and saying over and over, "Bundt, Bundt, Bundt.......oh, a cake (kek) with a hole in it!"   hahaha   Well, thanks to Nordicware, Bundt cakes can be beautiful and delicious.  I have a really nice collection of Bundt cake pans, most of them made by Nordicware.  I was planning on making a cake from each pan to share with you, but decided to show you seven of the cakes, and share others as I make them.  The pressure is now off!  All of the cakes today, were made in Nordicware pans.  The above almond pound cake was made in the "Original Bundt Cake" pan.  Nordicware has different levels of pans; I prefer the Pro Cast..heavy, sturdy and the cakes come out perfectly!
Here is a delicious blueberry/raspberry bundt cake (recipe supplied by my daughter), made in the "Chrysanthemum Bundt" Cake pan.

 Presenting a yummy sour cream vanilla cake in the Fleur De Lis Bundt Cake pan.

Here is a delicious double chocolate fudge bundt cake in the "Cathedral Bundt Cake" pan.

 Here's a delicious spice cake in the "Original Bundt Cake" pan.

The cake reminds me of summer... it's another pound cake with butter cream daisies made in the "Violet Bundt Cake" pan.

 Mmmm, a poppy seed cake made in Nordicware's "Star Bundt Cake" pan.

This bundt cake pan is one of my favorites, along with the Cathedral Cake pan.  It's an applesauce bundt cake in the "Bavarian Bundt Cake" pan.

So, next time you need a cake for any occasion,  you might want to consider a Bundt cake...and to make it really special use one of Nordicware's amazing bundt cake pans!

Hope you have a great week....enjoy these lazy days of summer!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Dearly Beloved...

This was an exciting spring for our family! We had two weddings, a week apart, as two of our nephews were married!  The first wedding, on June 1st, was in Colorado!  It was a beautiful wedding, overlooking the Garden of the Gods!  The 2nd wedding, on June 8th, was in Michigan.  We were thrilled and excited to be asked to help with the decorations and desserts!  The Bride and Groom decided to use tropical colors for their color scheme.  They decided on six colors, think citrus fruits, or sherbets.  Each table featured one of these colors.  The linens were white, and each table was decorated with a fabric flower centerpiece, chair bows, and large fluffly tissure balls hanging overhead.  It was BEAUTIFUL!!!

 As you can see, the room just lit up with the colors!

I blogged earlier about the fabric flowers we were making for the centerpieces.  They turned out to be perfect for the tables; my husband really does a nice job arranging flowers.

 The room was so festive and inviting.  It was a great evening!

We made 108 fabric flowers, plus a few more to make sure we were covered, for the reception centerpieces.  That's 18 petals per flower, so we made a total of 2,070 individual petals!  I'm glad that I didn't figure that out before we started.  It took about an hour to make each flower, so that's about 115 hours!  But, they were so pretty on the tables, it was well worth it! 

  Soooo Beautiful!!

 A Hot Pink Table!

I really didn't help very much with the actual decorating.  I was very busy with the desserts.  The Bride and Groom decided to have cupcakes rather than a large wedding cake.  And, they asked me to make them..I was thrilled!!!  After a few taste testings, one with the couple and family, and a few trial and errors here at home, they decided on seven flavors. They also asked that the cupcakes reflect the color scheme of the wedding reception....tropical colors...fun!! 
(photograph- info@millenniumartsandentertainment.com)

 I identified the seven cupcake flavors with these color coded tags, to match the frosting on each cupcake.  I think it worked pretty well.  (Photograph- info@millenniumartsandentertainment.com)

 Vanilla Cupcakes
(photograph-  info@millenniumartsandentertainment.com)
 Lemon Cupcakes..a little more obvious.  I actually used lemon curd as a filler for these cupcakes, a nice little surprise.  I had fun looking for cupcake papers and toppings.  These toppers are chewy lemon slice candies.
I also added candies to the table.  These are "Sixlets," which are a pearlized candy coated chocolate.
I was able to find the Sixlets in all 6 colors, plus pearl white.  The photographer was wonderful and took some amazing pictures of the dessert table and generously shared them with me.  This is one of his pictures.  Photographer:  Carl Bengtsson, Millennium Arts & Entertainment.     info@millenniumartsandentertainment.com

 Chocolate- my favorite!


Vanilla- (white chocolate bride and groom from candy molds)
(photograph- info@millenniumartsandentertainment.com)


 Cookies and Cream

It was difficult to find the toppings that I wanted to use to match the theme.  So, I ended up making quite a few of them from candy molds and chocolate, white chocolate, and candy melts.  I put the extra candy toppings in candy dishes on the dessert table.

 Pumpkin Spice
(Candy mold pumpkin topping)

 Tutti Frutti
(Candy Mold white chocolate hearts)

(photograph-  info@millenniumartsandentertainment.com)

 A table full of sweetness!

 So pretty!
 The Bride and Groom also asked me to make a "Tasting Cake" for them...cherry!  They love Disney and actually went to Disney World for their honeymoon, so the Cake Topper that they found was perfect!

 The Bride wanted a pink cake with ruffles...

 Which I must admit, was fun to make!

(photograph-  info@millenniumartsandentertainment.com)

The wedding was unique, lots of fun, and a truly great celebration.  I am so honored that they asked for my help with this very special event...one that I'll always remember!

Have a great week...welcome August!