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 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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Artists Entertain :: Into the Woods with friends for Atlanta Magazine’s HOME

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The latest issue of Atlanta Magazine’s HOME, is near and dear to my heart. I met the hosts many many years ago: Rinne Allen was working for Rebecca Wood, RWood Studio at the Merchandise Mart selling her gorgeous wares.

At the time, I was designing textiles for a textile company and attended the mart events on a regular basis. I chatted with Rinne and Rebecca as we whiled away the hours during the Atlanta Gift Show. Full disclosure: I was working on my first book at the time, Artist’s Entertain. I hired Rinne to shoot the “pitch” prototype, and while the book never went anywhere, our friendship did.

The years passed. Rinne had children, and grew her photography business, and Rebecca became well-known and very successful. But the one thing that never changed was their pure natural and organic style. I like to say they were the original “hipsters,” the real crafters because they have always lived in a mindful way, and that has never swayed in the 15 years we’ve known each other.

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Their online journal Beauty Everyday, was one of the original beauty blogs out there. Although they never called it a blog; it was just a collected online journal of Rinne’s beautiful photographic inspirations of nature she saw everyday. They posted everyday and this collaboration became the kernel idea for their book of the same title. Last year, they published Beauty Everyday with another creative partner Kristen Bach. Kristen is a new friend, but like her collaborators, she’s clever, creative, and brings a natural sense of a “maker” to all her endeavors. She’s the owner of Treehouse Kid + Craft  in Athens, Georgia. Her infectious enthusiasm makes her the perfect fit for a business that engages kids imaginations. She was a blast at the “Into the Woods” party, and single-handedly created all of the nature crafts for the party.

Rinne and Rebecca and Christy Collaborators for “Beauty Everyday” book Kristen Bach, Rebecca Wood, Rinne Allen.

I so love and respect these friends; they live an authentic life, and that’s the best example of all.

Check out some of the behind the scenes images from the party they invited me to at Sweet Olive Farm:

IMG_0248 Me :: greeted by roaming Lamas now that’s the kind of Hello I could get used to 🙂 IMG_0264 Editor and Chief of Atlanta Magazine’s HOME with a friend. This guy kept trying to eat all the props. IMG_0263 Recipes will be online soon.

Photo Credit : Amber Fouts and Rinne Allen

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Seattle and Portland:: #josephsinseattle #josephsinportlandia

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S E A T T L E

A family vacation was way overdue for us. When Levi decided to do his summer bike ride from Austin to Anchorage with the Texas 4000 team (see Alaska post here), we thought why not take a family vacation? Seattle and Portland are amazing cities, and our son wanted to check them out for possible cities to consider once he graduates. We’ve always loved Seattle because it is one of America’s original foodie destinations, and of course, home to Sur la Table, the original kitchen/cooks store.

Pikes Place Market is a favorite destination. The thing I love about it is that the locals like it and use it as much as the tourists. The flowers are always my favorite section of Pike’s Market, and this time around, it did not disappoint; the dahlias were in rare form. Absolutely breathtaking.

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Another point of interest was the gum wall. Set into the alley below the entrance to Pike’s Place Market, this gross art installation made purely of used gum, is both mesmerizing and disgusting. Although completely icky, I love this photo of Levi and Alex.

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We decided to show the kids our favorite part of NW Washington: the cluster of islands called the San Juan Islands. Plus, we wanted to ride the ferry. We rode out to Whidbey Island, which was a gorgeous ride, and then took the ferry back to Seattle.

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We had breakfast at the London Plane, a gorgeous space, before heading out to Portland for a couple of days. (In my opinion, the space is much better than the food itself; keep in mind the food is hit or miss. This time the croissant we had was amazing, but the yogurt combo was truly weird and bad. However, we all agreed the avocado toast was the best choice).

London Plane

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P O R T L A N D

Portland is a unique city. I really only knew about it because the TV show Portlandia is so funny. If you have not seen it, Portlandia pokes fun at the uber hipsters that reside there. Skits like “Put a Bird on It” and the radical, over pierced bike messenger that cusses at all the pedestrians and cars that get in his way are hilarious.  I also have a warm place in my heart for the ultra feminists and their bookstore, and the politically correct over liberal mayor played by Kyle MacLachlan.

My favorite episode involves a very “locally farm grown” sensitive couple ordering chicken at a farm to table restaurant. They want to know if the chicken they are ordering has a name, and had a happy life that included chicken friends. Too funny.

I have to say that after doing major damage at the enormous “clog” store with a super-sized selection of clogs…I had to chuckle at my own inner hipster… the salesperson could not have been nicer and more of a character right out of the TV show itself.

I think that show might be pretty right on. The people watching was pretty rad while we tasted beer after our delicious meal at Pok Pok. The micro brew selection was off the hook. We tasted a few samples at Imperial Bottle Shop and Taproom.

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All and all, a pretty hip (ster) place no doubt. I loved Portland, even with its specific and quirky lifestyle.

If you’re a looking for a laid back liberal city, this is probably the place for you…and they make a pretty mean doughnut. Voodoo doughnuts was a happening. The donuts were not as impressive as the super cool vibe of the location. We literally went there on the suggestion of Anthony Bourdain, who I think was probably pretty much stoned through the entire Portland episode, so he pretty much LOVED everything he put in his mouth here (pot is legal here, BTW).

Of course we hit the food truck park for lunch, and had various incarnations of the falafel and bubble tea.

If Portland has anything, it has a handle on how to brand a city. What can I say? I am a sucker for branding.

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Lots to discover in the Northwest, especially the people who were lovely, interesting, and very friendly.

Seattle

xx, Annette

for more photos from our trip follow me on instagram

Photo Credit : Me

 

 

 

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