4th of July Firecracker Cookies for Kids

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Hi everyone! I’m Nicole, Annette’s web-manager and friend. I’m guest-posting today just in time for my second favorite holiday, the 4th of July!

For as long as I can remember, July 4th has been a special holiday for me. I love the patriotic attitude, the fireworks, and of course, the food! Since 2009, I’ve spent every 4th of July on the Florida Panhandle with my husband’s family. Over the years, the family has grown, and there are a lot more kids than there once were. Because of that, I’ve started to look for things that can both entertain the kiddos while pleasing their palates. After all, I’m not a regular aunt, I’m a COOL aunt!

While at Target recently, I stumbled upon the cutest 4th of July decor in their dollar spot. Namely, these adorable metallic paper straws. I knew I wanted to incorporate them into our beach trip in some way. Taking a tip from Annette, I started thinking about how these straws could be used differently than just with cocktails (although nothing wrong with that!).

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Then, BOOM! I had an idea: 4th of July firecracker cookies. What’s more fun than food on a stick?! These stuffed cookies dipped in white chocolate serve a few fun purposes:

  1. Kids can get involved by decorating them with sprinkles.
  2. They make a darling centerpiece – just fill a festive vessel with dry rice!
  3. They’re fun to eat!

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Let me know if you give these a try, or save them for your food arsenal later this year. Simply swapping out icing and sprinkle colors means these can be used for just about any holiday!

4th of July Firecracker Cookies

You will need:

– Double stuffed sandwich cookies
– White melting chocolate
– Sprinkles/candies for decorating
– Paper Straws

To prepare:

Begin by cutting your paper straws down. I snipped off about 3 inches. Set aside.

Place parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Set aside.

If you want to have multiple shades of icing, divide your chocolate into two (or more) microwave safe bowls, and melt it according to package directions. I melted mine in 30 second increments until smooth.

Add food coloring and mix well.

Dip your sandwich cookies into the icing, using a spoon to cover at least half of the cookie. Gently lay the cookie down on the cookie sheet and decorate!

Once your cookies are decorated, place the cookie sheet into your freezer for 15-20 minutes until icing is firm.

Remove from freezer.

Gently squeeze the top of your straw to make it flat at one tip. Insert this flat part slightly into the cookie (about 1/4 – 1/2 inch). Repeat with remaining cookies.

Place your firecracker cookies in a rice filled vessel until it’s time to chow down and enjoy!

I hope you all have a safe and happy 4th of July holiday!

xo, Nicole

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DIY Snow Globe Place Cards

These darling DIY snow globe place cards are a super easy craft that makes such a statement for your holiday table.

These darling DIY snow globe place cards are a super easy craft that makes such a statement for your holiday table. They’re a sweet, functional, and a wonderful gift for guests to take home after the festivities. Even though snow globes are usually resolved for children, adults will get just as much joy out of them.

Giving your guests a specific place to sit at the table puts everyone at ease. Plus, it’s the little touches that make all the difference. Show your guests you care and take a few moments to make a little something special like these snow globe place cards. They’ll be impressed by your hospitality and your table will look festive too!

These darling DIY snow globe place cards are a super easy craft that makes such a statement for your holiday table.

DIY Snow globe placecards

You will need:

– Hot Glue Gun
– 2. 5″ ball jar
– Small toy deer, rabbit, or christmas tree
– Faux snow
– 1/2 inch silk ribbon
– Stickers (these are from Michaels)
– Sharpie
– Twine

How To:

1. Cut a 3 inch piece of ribbon, attach the sticker, and write the name of your guest

2. Attach the ribbon banner to the tree or toy animal with a dot of hot glue

3. Remove the lid of the jar, pull the lid apart, and add a little glue to the inside of the outer rim. Glue the round part of the lid to the rim.

4. Place a dime size round of hot glue on the inside of the lid, and attach tree or toy.

5. Place about 1″ depth of the faux snow into the jar.

6. Once the glue has solidified, twist the top onto the jar.

7. Flip the jar and place the jar lid side down on the table. You can shake the snow into place.

Voila your placecard/takeaway gift is done!

Let me know how it goes! xx

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A Haunting Centerpiece :: Skull Floral Arrangement

 

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Hi everyone! I’m Nicole, Annette’s blog manager and friend, and I’m back to bring you a haunting centerpiece for your Halloween table: a skull floral arrangement. In case you don’t know, my absolute favorite holiday is Halloween. Last year, I dressed my mantle for the occasion, and this year, I decided to add a little spook to my table.

One of the things I’ve learned from Annette is to always be looking for vessels that can be used for flowers, food, and more. When I stumbled upon this black skull candy jar at Target, my creative wheels started turning. Take the lid off and voila – the perfect vase (I loved this one, too).

Imagine my excitement when I found seasonal fall flowers in bold, jewel tones including ones that look strikingly similar to brains! I think they’re spot-on.

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halloween centerpiece

When it comes to flower arranging, I use floral bricks to keep my flowers in place and fresh. Cut them down to size for your vessel, and follow the directions on the packaging. Make sure you allow your bricks to submerge completely in the water on their own (instead of pressing them down). Then, just have fun arranging the colors and mixing in different textures. I think greenery would have really added another dimension to this particular arrangement, so just use what you have – even if it’s from your yard!

Whatever you use, this easy DIY skull floral arrangement centerpiece will certainly add the right amount of eerie fun to your Halloween holiday table. Happy Halloween!

xo, Nicole

photos via: Nicole Letts

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Easy DIY Chalkboard Menu Vase

DIY chalkboard menu

October marks the third year my book Picture Perfect Parties (Rizzoli NY) has been on bookshelves. I run into people all the time that tell me they cook from my book regularly, or they threw one of the parties in the book with great success. This makes me extremely happy. To know that I have inspired people to live a better, more stylish life is a gift like no other. I am always humbled and touched with these wonderful personal stories, so thank you to everyone from the bottom of my heart for sharing your experiences with my book.

One of my favorite decor hacks is this one. I love chalkboard paint and recycling; this project has it all.

This fall centerpiece is definitely an easy fix to get your table in the autumn spirit.  One of the parties in my cookbook, Picture Perfect Parties Rizzoli NY, is all about Sunday Supper. Sunday Supper is a staple at the Josephs; people that gather on Sundays include our family and our friends. The entire point of Sunday Supper is to hangout, enjoy comfort foods, and wrap-up the weekend. So give it a whirl! You’ll love this tradition as much as we do.

This DIY is perfect for Sunday supper, and it would be perfect for Thanksgiving. You will use this great addition to your tablescape again and again.

The step-by-step instructions are simple, and the items needed you probably already have on hand, and if you don’t, are easy to find. I love the texture that chalk adds to the vase. Be sure to add vibrant flowers to really make everything pop.

Have fun creating the menu vase DIY, and don’t stress if it doesn’t turn out perfectly; that’s part of the fun! BTW this is a great craft project to do with the kids, get them involved because they will be so proud when you unveil your table scape to friends. Happy Sunday Supper everyone.

Menu Vase DIY

You will need:
– Painter’s tarp
– 1 (8-inch) terra-cotta pot
– 1 chan chalkboard spray paint
– chalk
– Glass vase, slightly shorter than the terra-cotta pot
– 3 dozen fresh mums, dahlias, or other festive flower

To make:

1. Spread the tarp on a work surface in a well-ventilated space.
2. Spray the terra-cotta pot with the chalkboard paint, using 2 coats to cover, and allowing it to dry between coats.
3. Let the paint dry completely.
4. Write your menu on the pot with chalk.
5. Place a glass vase half-filled with water inside the menu pot.
6. Arrange the flowers in the glass vase and use the menu pot as a centerpiece of your table.

For this and more fun crafts run out and buy my book Picture Perfect Parties Rizzoli NY

Photo Credit: Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn

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A Nutty Valentine’s Day treat

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Hi Everyone! I’m Nicole, Annette’s blog manager. When Annette asked me to share a Valentine’s Day post with you, I couldn’t wait to get started. Over the years, Valentine’s Day has become one of my favorite holidays.

Whether you’re celebrating with a significant other, your best friends, your children, or your coworkers, it’s a day to stop and remember the good and loving people around you.

My husband and I live in a quaint little neighborhood in Atlanta, and we happen to have some of the best neighbors around. They get packages off of our porch if we’re not home, smile and ask about what we’re up to, and make it a point to always look out for us. As a street, we take care of each other; I love the camaraderie!

I decided I wanted to give a little token of appreciation to each of my neighbors (a nutty Valentine’s Day treat!), and I knew the first place to look was Minted. Minted is an online marketplace for independent artists and designers, and a vibrant playground for paper lovers like me.

You can find everything from photo backdrops to home decor at Minted, but this time of year, I love looking through their Valentine’s Day cards. Of course, Minted has a large selection of photo cards, postcards, and greeting cards, but did you know that Minted also has classroom valentines?

I’ve always enjoyed how cheeky and funny kids’ classroom cards can be, so I knew I would find exactly what I was looking for…and I did! Minted kindly sent me a set of these Nuts Classroom Valentine’s Day cards for the neighbors’ treats. With Minted’s easy to use personalization options, I was able to change the color, select my own wording, add a scalloped edge, and include an adorably nutty background. So cute!

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Once my Valentine’s arrived (within a week!), I picked up some cute food-safe pails** from my local craft store along with Valentine’s Day crafting supplies. I used scrapbooking stickers and ric-rac washi tape to decorate each pail before filling it with Annette’s Big Game Snack Mix from her book, Picture Perfect Parties.

Her snack mix packs a punch and includes a lot of flavors that meld so well together. Plus, who doesn’t love snack mix? Annette’s mix is incredibly easy to toss together and requires no extra work other than picking up the ingredients from your local grocery store. I love that I didn’t have to dirty any dishes, pots, or pans and just could just mix everything together. Her recipes are great like that!

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I can’t wait to leave each of these pails on my neighbors porches as a fun little Valentine’s Day surprise. Let me know if you find any other cute uses for classroom Valentine’s beyond the classroom. Minted has a great selection, and I’m excited to hear your ideas! Thanks for having me, Annette!

xo, Nicole

Thanks to Minted for sending me the classroom valentines seen here in exchange for this post. All opinions are my own.

**Be sure to read the labels to get food safe containers for any food crafting.

Photos: Nicole Letts

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