Sunday, June 29, 2014

Avery's Ariel party!

Things have been a bit crazy at our house lately, as we are preparing to move in a few days! We knew Avery girl's birthday was coming up though and she'd been talking about having an Ariel party for quite a while now. I decided Tuesday of this past week to throw a party together for her since her birthday was yesterday! Somehow, I got it all done. I think I work well with a short time limit - I make decisions faster, and I am able to simplify (well at least a little bit). Here's a photo of Ariel I used for color inspiration in planning this party. I originally thought I'd use turquoise, purple, and yellow (for Flounder) in the color scheme.
But as I started gathering what I'd found around my house (the seahorses) and from Target and such, I quickly realized that I wanted to stick with purple and turquoise with white as the neutral. I took these few photos the night before the party when I was staging the food table.
I didn't do a whole lot for décor. I made this simple sign for the front door by printing a picture of Ariel from the internet and then running it through the printer again to put the words on it.
I hung these streamers above the food table.
When the kids first got to the party, they guessed how many candy fish were in this jar. They wrote their answer on a post it note, and whomever guessed close enough got to take the whole jar home with them.
The kids also decorated bags for the piñata candy.
My sister-in-law, Janine, made the amazing cake and cupcakes. I love how they turned out! They are gorgeous! (I was so happy she agreed to make them, as I am not a great baker.)
Since all 3 of my kiddos are allergic to eggs and nuts, these cupcakes were just for them. This is the best vegan and egg/nut free chocolate cake recipe I've come across. It's really good.
I had completely forgotten about these sea horse hooks I had. I got them years ago from Pier 1 to hang my aprons on in my kitchen. I didn't have a place for them in my current home, so they've been sitting in my hutch for 3 years. I was so happy to rediscover them for this party! They were the perfect touch for the tables and I love that they added some height. The flowers and blue vase fillers were awesome Dollar Store finds.
Here's the food table. I was so excited to find this awesome blue tablecloth from Target! I think the geometric pattern was great to balance out the flowery feel of the décor and pretty Ariel picture. I also love that it looks like the color of the ocean. All the food labels were designed by my sister, Jaime. Love, love, love!
 I saw this idea on Pinterest: take Vanilla Oreos and make "sand dollars" using icing gel to make a pattern on the top. I also put brown sugar on the tray first to make it look like they were on the sand. So cute, yes?
 I  had the idea to make this sign for the table a few hours before the party started! I found this picture of Ariel online. The pretty cursive font felt right for the pretty picture of Ariel.
The octopus hot dogs were hysterical. Some of the kids were grossed out by them, so I made them regular hot dogs. Ha!
 After the kids ate, we played "Put the sea shell in Ariel's hand". I got the game at Party City.
We had a slip 'n' slide, water table, sand castle molds, and buckets and shovels out for the kids to play with.
We also hid plastic star fish in the sand for the kids to find. After the kids played for awhile, we came inside to sing to the birthday girl and have cake and ice cream.
 After dessert, we let the kids take a whack at the Ariel piñata.
 For some reason I always find the piñata to be so entertaining. Just look at the kids' faces! So awesome!
Opening presents was hysterical, too. Avery kept taking one thing out of a bag then taking something out of another without finishing the first.
We all laughed when Avery got a new puppy toy that was just like Stella the real puppy. Avery looooves Stella (our cousin's dog), so it was the perfect gift!
All in all, the party was so much fun! I felt like the kids had a blast outside and the adults had fun talking and eating. Here are the party favors. Simple lollipops from Michael's with cute ribbon and twine tied around them.
We love you, Avery girl! Happy 3rd birthday!
 Took these of Avery in her new birthday outfit her cousins gave her. She was showing me how old she is now.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Recipe Share: Pecan Crusted Chicken Salad

I have to admit that I've been in a total cooking slump lately... cooking the same ol' stuff over and over. Thankfully Jaime introduced me to this recipe. And I have to say, I am in love. It's so tasty and so worth any extra time put in to making it. Try it soon! You'll fall in love, too.

Rachael Ray's Pecan Crusted Chicken Tenders with Tangy Maple Syrup Dressing


Vegetable oil, for frying
1 1/3 to 2 pounds chicken tenders
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs, beaten with a splash of milk or water
1 cup plain bread crumbs
1 cup pecans, processed in food processor to finely chop
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated or ground
1 orange, zested


1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup tangy barbecue sauce
1 navel orange, juiced
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 hearts romaine lettuce, chopped
6 radishes, thinly sliced
6 scallions, trimmed and chopped on an angle


Heat 1 1/2 to 2 inches of oil over medium high heat. Season chicken tenders with salt and pepper. Set out 3 shallow dishes. Place flour in 1 dish, eggs beaten with water or milk in a second. In the third dish, combine bread crumbs with ground pecans, nutmeg and orange zest. Coat tenders in batches in flour, then egg, then bread crumb mixture. Fry tenders in small batches 6 to 7 minutes. Drain tenders on paper towels.
Combine maple syrup, barbeque sauce and orange juice in a bowl. Whisk in oil and season with salt and pepper.

Combine romaine, radishes and scallions in a large salad bowl or on a serving platter. Toss with 3/4 of the dressing. Season with salt and pepper, to your taste. Top salad with pecan crusted chicken tenders and drizzle remaining dressing over top.