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real parties: a gingham birthday brunch

8.20.2009

Big thanks to Kellie from This Blessed Nest for sharing this charming & creative birthday brunch for her twins. The mix of pink, blue and green gingham is just perfect for a summer morning get together... even the birthday twins are decked out in gingham. Yogurt and granola with fresh fruit and muffins were on the menu, and of course there were plenty of sweet treats and cake for dessert. But my favorite detail of all is the dress-up character board... a detail like that makes everyone want to get in on the photos!










{more details and images at this blessed nest}

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peanut butter + chocolate = perfection

8.19.2009

Stumbled onto these little delights at baked perfection.  I tend to bake from scratch, but using a box of brownie mix makes this recipe a snap (which could be an issue considering how much my husband & I adore the combo of chocolate & peanut butter). 

{images via baked perfection}

Peanut Butter Cup Brownies

Makes 40 brownies

Ingredients
1 box of your favorite brownie mix
1/2 cup peanut butter chips
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray or grease 40 mini-muffin cups.

Prepare boxed brownie mix as directed. Spoon batter evenly into muffin cups (about 1 heaping teaspoon). Bake for 13-15 minutes or until top is set and a toothpick inserted into center comes out slightly wet. After brownies are out of the oven, wait for centers to fall. This will happen upon cooling. If not then tap the centers with the back of a teaspoon to make a hole for the peanut butter.

Place peanut butter in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high for 45 seconds then stir. While brownies are still warm spoon about half a teaspoon of peanut butter into the center of each brownie. Top with semi-sweet chocolate chips and peanut butter chips. Cool completely in pan.
 

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letterpress class with jordan ferney

8.17.2009

I mentioned last week that I was taking some art classes in San Francisco. I've been considering designing a line of letterpress greeting cards, so I signed up for a class taught by Jordan Ferney, a favorite blogger and talented letterpress designer/printer. The card designs below are hers... I wish I could take credit, but all I did was the final printing. Aren't they clever? As much fun as it was to try out the press, the most important lesson of the day was that letterpress is definitely not something to dive into lightly. Buying a press is an investment in a piece of history and constant upkeep is critical. Unfortunatly, I don't have the time or money to devote to owning a press, so I'll just put that idea back on the shelf for future consideration. In the meantime, I'll be working on my designs...





{photos ©2009 bg}

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party inspiration board: we all scream for ice cream

8.16.2009

Nothing says summer fun like a scoop (or three) of cool, creamy ice cream... it reminds us all to embrace our childlike sense of wonder. Lately, ice cream buffets have popped up as a popular treat at weddings and birthdays alike. There are endless ways to have fun with the theme... from renting an ice cream truck to baking ice cream cone cupcakes. To keep thinks simple, let your guests create their own personalized flavor or sundae. Start with a variety of basic flavors and set out a long and imaginative list of toppings. Just don't forget the sprinkles. And to add a finishing touch to your presentation... serve it up in waffle bowls.

Resources:
Row 1: strawberry girl via design mom; ice cream towels via beau coup; handmade cones via ici
Row 2: cupcake cones via couture cupcakes; raspberry bombes via canalle vanille; double scoop invite via the tomkat studio
Row 3: ice cream tees via fig and ruby; sundae bar via bridalparty tees, toppings via for the love of weddings, cart via ms weddings
Row 4: custom ice cream via ecreamery; sprinkles kid & cone via polka dots & pirates; chocolate dip via fiona carter

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i've died and gone to gift wrap heaven

8.09.2009

Absolutely swooning over these new papers, ribbons and letterpressed gift tags from Purl Soho.


{images via the purl bee}

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real parties: one sweet birthday

8.06.2009

This party came to me from Heather of the goss family and I think you’ll agree that it’s sweet in all possible ways.  The attention to detail is fantastic... notice how the pink & white glittered lollipop design continues from the invitation to the cupcake toppers, and also ties in the banner over the sweets buffet and the precious party hat for the birthday girl?  I’m a big advocate for continuity like this... it pulls the whole theme together.  There are plenty more pictures on Heather’s blog, so go check it out for all the sweet details.   

If you’d like to submit a creative birthday party for consideration, feel free to e-mail me at birthdaygirlblog{at}gmail.com.






{more details and images via the goss family}

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luscious lemon layer cake

8.05.2009

I happen to love lemon curd, so when I came across this recipe at The Kitchen Sink for a lemon layer cake, I instantly decided it’s going on my must bake list.  It looks a little tricky, but I have to believe that all those layers of lemony goodness are worth it.  These pictures practically have me drooling... such a perfect summer birthday treat.

Reminder:  This week’s giveaway ends on Friday, so don’t forget to enter.



{recipe & images via the kitchen sink}

Lemon Layer Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted from Bon Appetit (cake and frosting) and Gourmet (lemon curd)

This is a make-in-advance kind of cake, because there is a lot of chilling time built in.  I recommend making the frosting and lemon curd two days before serving.  Make the cake the day before serving
.

Lemon Cake Layers

6 large eggs, separated
14 tablespoons sugar
1 3/4 cups sifted cake flour (sifted, then measured)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup boiling water
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375°F. Line bottom of two 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 1 1/2-inch-high sides with parchment paper (do not grease pans or parchment). Using electric mixer, beat egg yolks and 7 tablespoons sugar in large bowl until mixture is very thick and slowly dissolving ribbons form when beaters are lifted, about 4 minutes. Using clean dry beaters, beat whites in another large bowl until soft peaks form. Add remaining 7 tablespoons sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff and glossy. Fold half of whites into yolk mixture, then sift half of flour and 1/4 teaspoon salt over and gently fold in until incorporated. Fold in remaining whites, then sift remaining flour and scraped vanilla beans over and fold in just until combined, being careful not to deflate batter.

Divide batter between pans; smooth tops. Bake until tester inserted into center of cakes comes out clean, about 15 minutes. Cool in pans on racks.

Run knife around edge of pans to loosen cakes. Invert cakes onto 9-inch-diameter cardboard rounds, tapping on work surface if necessary to release cakes. Cut each cake horizontally in half (layers will be thin). Peel off parchment.

Place sugar in small metal bowl. Add 1/2 cup boiling water; stir to dissolve sugar. Stir in lemon juice.  Brush cake layers with syrup.  (Note, use all the syrup.)

Lemon Curd

1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons finely grated fresh lemon zest
1 cup fresh lemon juice
1 1/3 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 3/4 sticks (3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon pieces

Whisk together zest, lemon juice, sugar, eggs, and a pinch of salt in a 2-quart heavy saucepan. Add butter all at once and cook over moderately low heat, whisking constantly, until curd is thick enough to hold marks of whisk and first bubbles appear on surface, about 10 minutes. Immediately pour curd through a fine sieve into a bowl, then chill for at least four hours (and preferably overnight), covered.  Can be made 2 days in advance.

Cream Cheese Frosting

2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
4 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in powdered sugar. Beat in lemon peel and vanilla.  Chill until ready to use.  Can be made up to 2 days in advance.

Assembly:

Place one of the four cake layers on cake stand, lined with strips of parchment or wax paper.  Slather the surface of the layer with one-third of the lemon curd, spreading evenly.  Repeat with the remaining cake layers.

Spread frosting over the top and down the sides of the cake, using an offset spatula to smooth the frosting.

Chill at least four hours before serving (preferably overnight).  Can be made up to 1 day before serving.
 

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party inspiration board: retro on roller skates

8.02.2009

A skating party can be fun for all ages... be it 6, 16 or 60. Encourage your guests to dress up in their favorite throwback gear and put on their boogie shoes. Since most local rinks already offer disco balls, flashing lights and a great mix of 70's & 80's music, it doesn't take much work to make this party a hit. Focus on finding some fun favors and get creative on the costumes... like decking out a pair of sunglasses with sequins. Love it! For a list of rinks in your area, check out rink time.

Resources
Row 1: invite via tiny prints, sunglasses via the crafts dept, logo via computer juice
Row 2: girl via rollerskating.org, skate via roller discos blog, old sign via suzoc
Row 3: skaters via roll bounce, cake via cakes by zobot, chocolate skate favors via up late cakes

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FREE DiY day: printable birthday card

8.01.2009

After creating the DiY sparkler packets for July 4th, I decided to start a new addition to the blog called 'free DiY day'. About once a month I'll post one of my designs for you to download. This month it's a birthday card... pretty on the outside, blank on the inside. The PDF creates (2) A2 folded cards. Just print on 8.5x11 card stock, trim down the center line, and fold each card in half. Hope you enjoy!

download here
© 2009 birthday girl

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