April 2012 archive

Nutella Cookies (made with love)

I baked yesterday. Nutella Cookies. They ate them and the world rejoiced. Okay, maybe not exactly :)

Nutella Cookies 

Some people bake because it’s their passion, others bake for special occasions or when they’re entertaining. Personally, I do bake for  birthdays and holidays but not really for entertaining. Perhaps I’m not a big baker because I worked in a bakery for many years ( sometimes the smell of buttercream or proofing dough haunts me).  I love to entertain but I’m not one for a dessert course and if I serve it — I rather make homemade ice cream. I do however bake when I feel like my girls need a little extra mom-love. Like yesterday. They needed some love and sugar, I gave them a big does of both :).

It’s been a crazy week in our home… lots going on but nothing out of the ordinary. Work, school, soccer, dance … and I noticed  I was a little “short” with my girls yesterday, the week was clearly wearing on me. We needed a sugar-love intervention. So, I told the girls to play outback with the pup for a bit and I whipped up these babies. Then, we ate cookies and painted our nails – girl time with mom. Then  we all felt better. Love it when life is that simple.

Enjoy!

Chocolate Nutella Cookies

recipe from two peas & their pod

Yield: 3 dozen cookies  Cook Time: 10-11 minutes

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup dutch-process cocoa

1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla

1/2 teaspoon hazelnut extract

1/3 cup Nutella

1/3 cup milk

Directions:

1. Whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, and cocoa, set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the butter and sugars. Beat on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about two minutes. Add the vanilla and hazelnut extract and beat until extracts disappear. Add the Nutella and mix until batter is smooth.

2. Add the flour mixture in 2 batches, alternately with the milk in one batch, mixing well. Chill dough for at least 15 minutes before baking. You can make the dough a few days in advance, just wrap it in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator.

3. When you are ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. Take a tablespoon of cookie dough and roll it into a ball. Place on lined baking sheets and gently press down on the dough ball. Continue making dough balls until the cookie sheets are filled-leave two inches in between cookies.

4. Bake cookies for 10-11 minutes or until soft, but starting to set. Remove cookies from the oven and let cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely.

They’re delicious, make them now. Next, I have to try this avocado ice cream from two peas & their pod. THAT sounds ah-maz-ing.

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How to make tissue paper pom poms

I’m a big fan of using tissue paper pom poms in my party decor. What I love about them is that they are inexpensive and can be used in a wide variety of events. I’ve used them for birthday parties (like this candy party) and baby shower (like this spring shower) + many other events. I often get asked how I make them — so today, I thought I would share my tips for making and also for buying tissue pom poms.

how to make tissue paper pom poms

How to make tissue paper pom poms. They aren’t difficult to make, but I’ll be honest and say they are time consuming. If you have a couple nights to dedicate to making them while watching your favorite TV show, I say go for it. Here are the simple steps I follow:

how to make tissue paper pom poms

Aren’t those finished pom poms gorgeous?! They were used in a first birthday party I spotted over on The Sweetest Occasion.      The DIY method looks like this, not too much to it. It’s a pretty simple method and you can check out the full details and how-to here. Remember though to give yourself some time (and extra tissue for mistakes)! Also, I recommended finding a little higher quality (aka thicker) tissue than what you might typically use for gift wrapping. It’s easier to tear and the thicker paper tends to hold up nicer.

If I’ve scared you or the DIY method just isn’t your thing, I suggest just ordering your tissue pom poms.  They are inexpensive and this will save you from having to trek to 8 different stores in 3 cities to find the perfect shade of teal tissue paper (not like I’ve done that or anything).

Whether you make them, or buy them … these tissue poms are a great way to add some flair without breaking the budget. My daughter even re-purposed her poms from her recent birthday party into decor for her bedroom — love that!

Tori Tait on Instagram

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Photo party decor + UPrinting GIVEAWAY!

 
Photo party decorations are a thoughtful and popular way to spruce up your party or wedding. You can incorporate photos of the guest of honor (or couple) which will make the party feel intimate and personal. I also love the idea of incorporating photos of close family and friends throughout your party space. This is especially meaningful for weddings and holiday gatherings.
….
 photo party decorations

sources :: clothes line / cupcakes / soda

You can incorporate photos simply by displaying them with twine or ribbon or (with a little more planning) do something unique like photo cupcakes or personalized jones soda bottles (these make  great favors)!

But my ALL-TIME favorite way to incorporate photos into my parties is definitely by displaying one large prominent photo of the guest(s) of honor. I typically place the photo where it will be seen the best — think dessert table, guest book table, or gift table. Having one “statement” photo is a great way to add a personal touch to your party, plus it makes a great gift to send home with the guest of honor.

Because this is one of my favorite party decorations, I’m thrilled to share that UPrinting.com offers fabulous canvas prints and they make it super simple to upload your image and order online. Their canvas printing is great quality and will last well beyond your main event. Soooo … want to WIN one of their signature canvas prints? Of course you do!

One winner will receive:

One 16” x 20” rolled canvas print (with or without 2 inch border, your call!)

*1 Business Day Turnaround, free shipping (US only), 18yrs and older only

TO ENTER:

Complete at least one of the following entries, then come back here and leave a comment telling which one you did. Up to three entries per person.

-Like UPrinting on Facebook (tell them Thoughtfully Simple sent you!)

-Follow UPrinting on Twitter

 -Add UPrinting on your Google+ Circles

Good luck!

Contest ends Friday April 20, 2012 at 11pm PST. One winner chosen randomly. This is a sponsored post, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

 

 

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Wedding Inspiration with Minted + $250 GIVEAWAY

Calling all brides-to-be!

minted giveaway

If you’re a bride (not a bride, but know one? Let her know about this post!), you’ll want to read on. One of my favorite invitation and stationery go-to’s, Minted is sharing four lovely, new wedding invitations with us today. Even better, they have given me a GREAT prize to giveaway — $250 gift card to Minted! So, if you need save the dates, wedding invitations, or thank you notes for your big day … this is for you.

Check out 4 of their newest designs:

Love Story :: Sophisticated buntings created from the pages of a classic love story, set the mood for a romantic event. [see it here]

Chalkboard :: This wedding invitation has plenty of character with a textured background and hand drawn elements. [see it here]

Column Rule :: Clean and modern type highlights the names stars of the day, the bride and groom. [see it here]

In the park :: A sweet invitation to announce an outdoor wedding venue. Features woodgrain and floral embellishments. [see it here]

Do you have a favorite? (I do, but I don’t want to sway you)

……………………………………………………………………………………….

Now for the fun part, your chance to win $250 towards your next Minted order!

Follow these 2 simple steps to enter:

1. Pin your favorite invitation from above to one of your own personal Pinterest boards.

2. Come back here and leave a link to your pin in a comment (grab the url in your browser bar). This will count as your official entry.

P.S. Be sure to follow both HostessTori and Minted on Pinterest!

Contest ends April 29th at 11pm PST. One winner will be chosen randomly from the comments below. Must complete steps 1 & 2 above to enter.

 

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celebraTORI by Tori Spelling | GIVEAWAY

If you follow Tori Spelling at all, you’ll already know that this actress, mom, and entrepreneur is one fierce party planner. What I love about her style is it seems to be a lot like my own — all about the thoughtful touches and details while being mindful of budget and of course she has  some great DIY flair. Check out two of her stunning parties:

Tori Spelling's Party | Celebratori

This yellow and gray party (Tori’s favorite color combo) was designed to celebrate her and husband Dean’s, vow renewal. I love how she so thoughtfully combined elements that represented her interests (think  jewelry and shoes) with items that are dear to Dean (hello fabulous yellow motorcycle!). See more pics & lots of dessert details over at My Sweet & Saucy!

Tori Spellings parties

 

Hello pink cuteness! Tori designed this Hello Kitty party for her darling daughter Stella. The desserts by Jenny Cookies look almost too cute to eat. See more here.

And what I’m loving about Tori Spelling’s new book, CelebraTORI (besides the name of course) — is that she keeps it real. She shares her tips and tricks and really wants to help you become a great hostess too. A bonus for me: she shares how she learned to plan a great party from her mother — awe, just so sweet. Maybe one day my girls will dedicate a book to me?! Or perhaps they’ll simply think I’m just one crazy party planning mommy….. time will tell!

Want your own copy of CelebraTORI?

celebraTORI

To enter:   Contest Closed

UPDATE: Congrats to Claudia!

Leave a comment here sharing your all-time favorite party. It could be one someone planned for you, something you hosted or even one you simply read about. and admired. I want to hear about it!

For extra entries:

-First,  follow me on Facebook, Pinterest and/or Twitter

-Then, share this post on Facebook, Pinterset, and/or Twitter. Be sure to come back and leave a separate comment for each entry you do. Up to four entries per person, good luck!

Contest ends Friday, April 13th at midnight PST.

Don’t want to wait and see if you win? celebraTORI wention sale this week! You can get it here.

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Pool Party Inspiration + Carter’s GIVEAWAY

The sun is shining and the weather is warming up and all I can think about it throwing a pool party! There is nothing that screams “summer” more than a pile of flip flops, the scent of sunscreen and cute little kiddos running around in their darling swim suits — am I right?

Today, I’m teaming up with Carter’s to bring you some pool party inspiration and a fun swimwear SALE + GIVEAWAY!

Whether poolside, beachside or just backyard bound, it’s time to get swimming with Carter’s big selection of swimwear. Don’t forget all of our matching accessories including sunglasses, hats and shoes – to complete your little one’s sunny look.

Carter's Giveaway

Protect your little ones from sun and sand with a made-for-summer rash guard shirt, swimsuits and swim trunks with UPF 40 sun protection. These are a must have for my girls who love soaking up the sunshine.

Pool party ideas

Plan a fun pool party: Beach ball invitation // ice cream cupcakes // sand pail favors. Plus darling swimwear of course (these are my three favorites, but check out the complete collection here).

Want to dress your little one in cute new swimwear this summer? Our friends at Carter’s are giving one of you a $50 gift card to do just that!

What is your favorite girl’s swimsuit in the Carter’s Swim Shop?

Tell us and WIN a $50 Carter’s gift card!

WINNER: Jennifer Marie

To enter: Contest Closed, thank you for entering!

Visit the Carter’s Swim Shop and come back here to leave a comment telling us what your favorite swimsuit is.

For additional entries:

Share this post on Facebook, Tweet about this giveaway and/or share on Pinterest. Be sure to come back and leave a link to any extra entry you completed in a separate comment. Up to 4 entries per person, good luck!

Contest ends April 8, 2012 at midnight, PST.

Carter’s partnered with bloggers such as me to help promote their swim shop. As part of the program, I received product or gift cards. Carter’s believes that consumers and bloggers are free to form their own opinions and share them in their own words, and therefore did not tell me what to purchase or what to say about the products I used. Carter’s policies align with WOMMA Ethics Code, FTC guidelines and social media engagement recommendations.

 

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