Friday, May 29

CRAFT | Giant Paper Flowers

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THIS IS A SPONSORED POST BY MICHAEL'S STORES.
PEN + PAPER FLOWERS HAS RECEIVED COMPENSATION AND/OR PRODUCTS 
IN EXCHANGE FOR SHARING.  AS ALWAYS, FRIENDS + READERS, 
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Thanks to the new Recollections Big Blooms Flower Kits, I now have a beautiful piece of art hanging above my mantle. It's really high impact and was easy to make. That giant display is hanging by one little nail - thanks to my brilliant idea to secure them all to a piece of foam board.

By using the foam board as my base, besides the fact of only having to put one hole in my wall and avoid using adhesive strips altogether, I'm really excited to know I can move this art work anywhere I want to without a lot of hassle. It would look great in my entryway, hanging over Clara's bed, or displayed in the living room for a splash of color. But for now...it will remain in our dining room for us to admire over breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Of course, the party stylist in me knows how beautiful this would be for a dessert table backdrop.
And for my mommy friends out there...I can also see this in a baby's nursery too!!


So let's get down to the nitty gritty of how to make these giant paper blooms!!




SUPPLIES NEEDED
Hot Glue Gun - optional - a quicker option when doing a large amount of flowers. (caution: it's also more permanent too since it's not as forgiving as the double-sided adhesive).
Pencil with eraser tip - optional - for curling tips of flowers before assembling as shown above and for securing petals quickly using the eraser tip -  if you use a hot glue gun. 
Foam Board - optional - I used one to hot glue my flowers to so I could easily arrange the flowers and then quickly hang them all at one time. The foam board also allows me to easily move the art work to a different spot in my home when I want to change things up. I used black because I already had a leftover piece from a previous project.

The Big Bloom Flower Kits are offered in four different sizes: 6", 11" 14" and 16"

Here's what's in every Big Bloom Paper Flower Kits (no matter what size you pick):
9 large paper petals
6 medium paper petals
4 small paper petals
1 Roll of double-sided adhesive
1 small glitter cardstock circle - for flower center
1 medium fringed paper circle - for flower center
1 large paper circle - base for securing petals to


I have to tell you...using the visual directions that came with the box left me sooooo confused.
I was completely overthinking things as I was trying to follow the vague diagram without written instructions to accompany it. I tried several different ways of constructing the flowers and after about the 3rd or 4th attempt with lame results I finally realized it's all just a simple little trick. An easy little trick that shouldn't have left me so frustrated.

Place double-stick adhesive, (or a blob of hot glue), on one of the two bottom flaps of the paper petal. I chose to use the right side to apply adhesive but it really makes no difference. You then lift the other petal flap, slide it over the top of the adhesive and push down to secure both petal flaps together. You control how much your petal will "cup" (and thereby create a more 3D flower) by how far over you slide the 2nd petal flap onto the adhesive. The less you slide it the more flat your petal which yields a flatter flower. 

TIP: I highly advise using the adhesive that comes in the kit prior to jumping straight to a glue gun. I found it helpful to practice the petal placement a couple of times and get a feel for the spacing of the paper petals.  The tape adhesive allows you to reposition as necessary so your paper doesn't rip. HOWEVER - once I got the hang of things I got my glue gun out and never looked back because I had a lot of flowers to make. I also found the hot glue gun a better option for a permanent hold...especially on the larger blooms because they are essentially heavier. I had a couple of the larger flowers come undone after a couple of hours and I definitely didn't want that to happen after I had my masterpiece hanging on the wall.


Once your paper petals are all made you will begin securing them to the edge of the large paper circle that came in the kit. Start with the 9 large petals first and overlap them one by one until you've completed a full circle and covered your large paper round. Tape or glue the 6 medium paper petals to the inside of the large paper petals - creating a 2nd layer inside the flower. Finish with the 4 small paper petals and top off with the fringed and glitter centers. 


Isn't it pretty?!
It's really that simple and once I got the hang of things, I was busting out beautiful paper flowers in a matter of minutes.

Confident with how easy the whole process was, my creativity was able to kick in and I found myself easily altering the look of each flower with some simple techniques. Check them out:



I used the light pink fringe center on the dark pink flower and the dark pink on the light pink. LOVE!


This was my favorite discovery!! I used the small 6" white flower as the center of the 16" blue flower.



I really like the clean look of the flower on the left by simply leaving off the fringe center and only using the glitter circle. It's just another fun way to change up the look of the flowers.


See how different these 3 flowers look?
The difference is all in the overlapping...that's it.

The white flower is the fullest flower with the most 3D effect. The petals were very overlapped in the creation process which created the deep cupping. I also curled the ends of the petals with a pencil prior to assembling them.

The dark pink/coral flower on the right has a bit more dimension. The petals had less cupping and I didn't curl the petals on this one.

The light pink flower is nearly flat with just a little bit of dimension on the small center petals - and again, no curling the petals on this one.

I love how different they each look.

Once I had my flowers made I put my foam board down on the ground and started playing around with the placement of each flower. Once I had the flowers in the exact position I felt would look good on my wall, I carefully added glue to the bottomside of each flower...one at a time...barely lifting them so as not to lose the positioning and throw off my whole arrangement and pressed them down onto the foam board.

It took me all of 10 minutes to glue them all down and my art was hanging before the kiddos got home from school! Yes!!


I love how simple these Big Bloom Flower Kits are.
And since they are oversized they really help make a huge impact on your space with very little effort.

I hope you'll try them out yourself!!
I know you are going to love them!!

KEEPiNG iT REAL
It took me longer to write this blog post than it did to create the flowers and hang it up.


Read more...

Wednesday, May 27

LIFE | Happy Birthday Clara + NO BAKE Turtle Cheesecake with Brownie Crust


It was Clara's 19th birthday last week.
Nineteen.
How is that even possible?
Has it already been a year since her high school graduation party?
And she's now finishing up her first year of college? Stop it.

I could eat a whole cheesecake just thinking about the reality of it all.
In fact, I could likely eat this whole cheesecake...
This delicious, turtle cheesecake with a brownie crust bottom...
Clara's requested birthday dessert this year. 


Honestly...there's no way I could really eat this all by myself because it is incredibly rich.
And trust me when I say I can usually put down some sweets in one sitting - no problem. *wink*
When Clara mentioned wanting this for her birthday dessert this year, I wasn't at all surprised. I mean this isn't the first time she's asked for a cheesecake. (Clara's 15th Birthday + Clara's 17th Birthday) I mentioned the other option of doing an oreo cookie crust vs. the brownie crust but she stuck to her guns.

It's her birthday afterall so there was no pushback from me on her final decision and I was honestly a bit intrigued by the fact that this was a "no bake" cheesecake. I'm used to my all-time family favorite cheesecake recipe in which the oven is required. So I was definitely curious.

Let me just say that we are cheesecake snobs around here.
We are hardly ever satisfied or impressed by store-bought, restaurant-prepared or other homemade cheesecakes we've tried. I think we are just very picky because my mom's secret recipe has us spoiled and is seriously the best on the planet. I don't like or do "cakey" cheesecakes...the ones that are fluffy. I prefer my cheesecakes to be creamy and rich and most of the time I prefer NOT having cherries or strawberries or any type of fruit on them.

Now chocolate...that's a different story.


And chocolate + pecans + caramel...with a Ghirardelli Brownie Crust...
Ummm...yeah.
Pretty ridiculous!


So here's the deal.
This cheesecake meets the "creamy and rich" standards and is absolutely delicious.
The fact that it's "no bake", (aside from having to bake the brownie crust first), is an absolute bonus.

If you love cheesecake, caramel, pecans and brownies you should definitely make this Brownie Bottom Turtle Cheesecake by Sprinkle Some Sugar. It's a winner!!


Brownie Bottom Turtle Cheesecake
inspired by Sprinkle Some Sugar
Yield: 1 - 9" cheesecake, approx. 8-10 servings.

INGREDIENTS:
Brownie Layer
1 box brownie mix + ingredients listed on the box (Ghirardelli Triple Fudge is what was suggested and is what I used and is what I will buy again for regular brownies - there are chocolate chip chunks in the batter...and it's nothing short of amazing).

Caramel Sauce
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
3/4 cup heavy cream
3 tbs unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla
pinch salt

Caramel Cheesecake
16 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup caramel sauce
1/2 tsp cinnamon (I intentionally left this out - and no one missed it).
pinch nutmeg
4 oz cool whip

Toppings
chopped pecans (I used approximately a 1/2 cup - if that)
caramel sauce
hot fudge sauce (I chose to make this homemade hot fudge sauce - and it is YUMMY)

DIRECTIONS
Brownie Crust
Grease a 9" springform pan. Using a medium sized bowl, mix all brownie ingredients until smooth, and pour into prepared pan. Bake using the directions on the brownie box or whatever recipe you are following.

Caramel Sauce
While the brownie crust is baking, it's time to make the caramel sauce.
Pour in sugar and water into a small pot. Place on stove on medium-high heat. You will want to whisk and swirl the pot around until all of the sugar is dissolved. Keep swirling the pan often while keeping a close eye on the color of the sugar water. It should turn a light amber color. If you continue letting it cook it will get darker and darker, providing a more rich and bold caramel flavor. How dark you want it is completely up to you - I prefer mine lighter vs. darker.

DO NOT WHISK!  Continue to swirl the pot using the handle so you do not disrupt the caramelization process that's taking place. Don't do it!! You'll have to start over!!

Once the sugar water has reached a color you are satisfied with then it's time to pour in the cream with extreme caution adding it  S L O W L Y and C A R E F U L L Y. The sugar water will bubble like scary-crazy for a few seconds and will settle back down. Now it's time to whisk again...until smoothy. Remove the pan from heat and whisk in the butter, vanilla and salt. Set your gorgeous, homemade caramel to the side to let it cool completely and thicken.

Cooling the Brownie Crust
When brownie crust is done baking, remove it from the oven and carefully remove the outer ring of the springform pan. Let the brownie crust cool completely.

Homemade Fudge Sauce
If you are doing a homemade version, now would be a great time to make it while the brownie and caramel are cooling. I use Brown-Eyed Baker's Hot Fudge Sauce recipe - delicious!

Cheesecake Filling
Time to make the cheesecake filling. In a large mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, brown sugar and granulated sugar until blended. Stir in the 3/4 cup of completely cooled caramel sauce and then add the spice(s). Mix well. Gently fold in the cool whip until it's fully incorporated - until you no longer see the white cool whip.

Put the outer ring back on the springform pan. Pour the cheesecake mixture on top of the baked brownie and spread using a rubber spatula until it's smooth and even. Chill in refrigerator for 3-4 hours. (I say cover after 3-4 hours and continue to chill overnight for best results).

Once chilled, carefully remove the outer ring of the springform pan. Using the leftover homemade caramel sauce and a spoon, drizzle it all over the cheesecake in a crosshatch pattern. (top to bottom first and then left to right). Sprinkle on the pecans - they stick nicely to your caramel. Now drizzle on the hot fudge using the same crosshatch pattern.

TIP:
When drizzling the caramel + fudge come past the edge and let it drip off the sides of the cheesecake. Your countertop will be messier but your cheesecake will be prettier! Ha!! see photo above.

Place on a pretty cake stand or serving plate.
Add birthday candles if appropriate and then slice and serve.

Keeps in refrigerator for up to a week in an airtight container.


Now...to be completely transparent...
there was one thing I wasn't a huge fan of regarding the outcome of this cheesecake.
(and my family agreed with me).


Look at how thick the brownie crust is compared to the cheesecake filling.

The crust looks perfect from the outer edge but when you cut into the cheesecake and view a piece from the side, it's super thick.
Too thick - in my cheesecake-lovin' opinion
And as much as I LOVE the Ghirardelli Triple Chocolate Brownie mix...with it's rich chocolatey taste and those delicious chocolate chips baked inside...omgoodness!!
It really just proved to be too much crust for my taste.
I need crust with my cheesecake...
not cheesecake with my crust.

Here's what I'll be doing differently next time:
1. Trying an Oreo Cookie Crust (1 package of crushed oreos + 1/2 cup melted butter - blended lightly with a fork and pressed into the bottom of a springform pan - no baking needed)
2. Trying a different creative finish for the garnish...like this Toffee Cheesecake. It's a little more simple so if you prefer more turtle finish then I would stick with the crosshatching shown in this post.
3. Skipping the Homemade Hot Fudge to eliminate one of the steps and just buy a jar instead. Although it was pretty delicious and I still have a large amount left in the fridge. *wink*


Oh I do hope you'll try this delicious cheesecake.
Overall it was a huge hit - aside from the crust being a bit thick.
It's no-bake creamy filling definitely got a thumbs up from my family and I!!

And I'm telling you...that Ghirardelli Brownie Mix!? SO. GOOD.
I will definitely be using that again for our brownie cravings around here.

KEEPiNG iT REAL
I let my caramel get a little too dark...so dark, when my girls got home from school they all thought there was a pan of chocolate sauce cooling on the counter. I almost made another batch but
lucky for me I used a "special dark" cocoa to make the homemade hot fudge and it turned out WAY dark. The caramel sauce actually looked a lot lighter up against the dark chocolate fudge sauce so it all worked out. You'd never even know from the photos.

Read more...

Tuesday, May 12

FOUND | Farm Fresh Eggs + Local Co-Op


I recently joined a local co-op to be able to buy organic produce + eggs for a reasonable price.
I used to belong to one many moons ago but the people that ran it ended up moving...or something like that...and for whatever reason, I never looked into another one.

A couple of weeks ago, a neighbor mentioned she had just joined one and emailed me the information. The following week I placed my small first order and here's what I came home with...


Organic local farm fresh eggs, organic hearts of romaine + organic apples.
I was happy with all three items...especially with the eggs...and apples...and romaine.
So yeah...I was happy with everything. *wink*

I have become especially intrigued by the farm fresh eggs, however. Although I had belonged to a co-op previously, I had never bought eggs. I'm not sure why because you would think they would've had them available but I really don't ever recall seeing any. Maybe that was also during the time when eggs were "bad" for you so I wasn't really into them. And now it seems they really aren't that bad for you afterall and we eat a ton of them around our house - especially after learning about Whole30 and successfully completing the program several times.

Anyway, I noticed a few significant differences right away between these eggs and

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Friday, May 8

BOOK CLUB | June Selection :: "Find Your Happy" Book + Giveaway



June's PNPF Book Club selection, "Find Your Happy", was inspired by the fact that the month of June marks the 1/2 way point of the year. Yeah. Can you believe we are almost there?

Anyway...I really felt like this would be the perfect book to kind of get re-motivated about the goals + dreams we were all gung ho about at the beginning of the year.

"The path you're on this very moment is going somewhere good."

This book is filled with powerful, thought-provoking words that are sure to energize us and motivate us.

And let's face it...
isn't that the ultimate goal for us all...to "Find your Happy"?



You can order the Find Your Happy book by M.H. Clark right now to make sure you have it by June 1st. OR...you can take your chances and win a copy here on the blog!!

That's right, the wonderful folks at Compendium are offering up three copies to three lucky PNPF readers this month. Enter below.

Points = entries. More points = more entries.
Choose only one option or choose ALL of the options to earn points. The more options you select the more number of times your name goes into the hat!! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Winners will be notified via email + names announced on the widget above when selected.

I hope you are enjoying the book selection for May!
It's a beautiful little book and something you can keep out on the coffee table too!

If you are new to the PNPF Book Club read all about how you can jump right in any time and the inspiration behind the easy-read, inspirational selections each month.

Have a beautiful weekend, friends.
See you back here next week!

KEEPiNG iT REAL
The exterior of our home is being painted as I type this blog post.
It looks SO different already and it's only been primed with some of the trim work painted.
Looking forward to sharing the before and after pictures.


Read more...

Tuesday, May 5

FREE | Baking is My Superpower Art Print :: The Cake Blog


The May art print I designed for The Cake Blog is up and ready for you to download.
I chose to create something for all of the baking mamas out there...in honor of Mother's Day!

"Baking is my Superpower + My Apron is My Cape" Art Print

Download the FREE "Baking is My Superpower" Art Print and print, frame, hang or gift it.

While you are there, check out the post  "10 Ways to Spoil Your Mother"  filled with gift ideas for Mother's Day. (I want the macaron kitchen timer, myself).

Also, I'm in love with this "Today Is Your Day" cake Carrie created for a graduation party. And you should totally see the "Yay" cupcakes and photo cookies too!

KEEPiNG iT REAL
All of the prep work has been done for painting to begin tomorrow on the exterior of our home.
Stay tuned for after-pictures. (Unless I picked the wrong color). Ha!!

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i WAS PUBLiSHED iN CASA CHiC MAGAZiNE

i WAS PUBLiSHED iN ARTFUL BLOGGiNG MAGAZiNE

MEMBER OF MARTHA STEWART'S DREAMERS iNTO DOERS

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