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{sweet treat} a gift from me to you

Friday, October 29

UPDATED: Saturday, October 30th
We have a winner: AMY!!!
Amy correctly guessed the very first book that started my Compendium Collection:
(the very "gift" I posted about and am giving away since it's so near and dear to my heart).
Congratulations Amy...and thank you everyone who played along in this fun guessing game!
You guys ROCK!!

With the festivities of Breast Cancer Awareness Month quickly coming to a close...
and a season for being especially grateful is about to begin the first of November...
I wanted to end the month of October with a little something special.

Although breast cancer isn't something that has touched my life personally...
Nor do I have family members or close friends that have had to battle this devastating disease...
I DO know people who have come face-to-face with it.
And I DO have friends who's relatives are currently battling it.
And after attending the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure earlier this month...
I have seen first-hand the amount of people, families, mothers, daughters, grandmothers, children, friends, husbands and wives that are all too familiar with it.

Earlier this month, as I was crossing off #9 on my "Before Birthday Goals" list: "Compendium Books...add a few more to my collection"...
I became inspired to pick out a book for one of you.
As I searched through all of the many beautiful inspiration books on their website...
I came upon their book entitled "She".
It's a book I already have...and a book I completely treasure.
It's all about celebrating women.
Celebrating our:
• strength
• creativity
• love
• passion
• resilience
• spirit
• compassion
and so much more.
It's a simple read with only one quote/focus thought on each page.


With a book focused completely on the power of women...
and the fact that the book is PINK...
it was the perfect choice to send to one of you in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month.
So I ordered it.
I think it would be a beautiful gift for ANY woman...
and it's especially appropriate this month...
for women who are currently fighting...
for women who continue to fight...
and for the thousands of women who have courageously fought through the battle and successfully overcome the disease.

This isn't a "giveaway".
This is a "gift".
And though I wish I could send every one of you a copy...
I only have one to share.
Therefore I can only pick ONE of you.

As I contemplated on how to go about selecting someone...
I thought about asking you to submit your personal story as it relates to Breast Cancer.
But how in the world would I be able to pick only ONE?
I've come up with a REALLY simple way to help me decide.
And it has nothing to do with breast cancer.
It's a game.
It's a question and answer game, specifically.
I'm going to ask a question...
the first person to comment here with the right answer will win.
This is a "Race against the clock" contest...
Submit the right answer before someone else does...
That's it.
The contest will be open until I receive the correct answer.

#1: You'll need to access the Compendium website to help you find the answer.
#2: You can only submit ONE answer per comment.
(If you submit an entire list of possible answers in one comment, your first answer will be the only one considered)

Are you ready?
Here's the question:

Good luck everyone!
Have fun...
And since we are talking about Compendium...
Was it you?

Have a wonderful weekend...
and be safe if you are participating in this weekend's Holiday Activities...

I had placed my order two days before Meredith from Compendium contacted me about sponsoring a giveaway on my blog. At the time of ordering, I was torn because my Before Birthday Goals said to add a "FEW" books to my collection. Because I was sticking to my budget during the ordering process, I only ordered the "ONE" book for myself and then the "SHE" book for one of you. That meant I had to remember to buy TWO more books at some point before my birthday in November. As you can imagine...I was delighted when the complimentary Compendium package arrived from Meredith because it contained the BELIEVE book AND the "Happily Grateful" book. How's that for good karma? Not only was I able to offer this gift to you...I ended up receiving a gift from Compendium that helped me complete #9 on my Before Birthday goals list. Nice. And I'm so grateful!!

{simple} spooky mini peanut butter cups

Thursday, October 28

Because our SIMPLE treats for our "2010 Operation Phantom Pumpkin" came out so adorable...


And because I KNOW there are some of you looking for a super simple...easy-peasy...last minute Halloween treat...


because I ADORE my blog readers to pieces...
I just HAD to share this FREE printable for peanut butter cup labels with you...

(available for download HERE)

I created them to coordinate perfectly with the FREE 2010 Phantom Pumpkin Kit I shared with you last week...

What you'll need:
mini Reese's peanut butter cups
1" circle punch
double-stick tape

Have fun getting creative - I hope you enjoy this simple treat idea!!

Don't forget!!
Today is the LAST day to enter the Compendium giveaway.
THREE winners for this one...
Go here to enter and for more details!!!
Winners will be announced tomorrow!

I had originally planned on doing the adorable hershey kiss labels I've seen from Posh Pixels.
And I DID create them...
And I DID have J purchase 5 bags of hershey kisses...
And I WAS frustrated running around searching for a .75" circle punch yesterday...
and I DID have to skip going to the printer like I had planned since I could never find the .75" punch to match the
printables I'd saved on the jump drive I had with me...
and so I then had to go find candy that would accommodate a 1" circle punch I knew I had at home...
and then I DID have to come back home and recreate the circles to accommodate that 1" circle punch...
and then...
after dinner...
since the ink in my printer is really low...
I DID have to run up the print shop to have my new printables printed.
But even after all of that...
we DID execute our "Operation Phantom Pumpkin" successfully!!
everything DID come together in the end. *wink*
And so you see...
something SO simple can get super-complicated when you don't have the right tools...
maybe it was just that I didn't plan very well?

{in the studio} bubbles and moon dust

Wednesday, October 27

Time to unveil the invitations for the two baby showers I've been helping to organize over the past couple of months.
If you follow my facebook fan page than you got a peek at this invitation yesterday:

"She's going to POP" baby shower (Nov. 6th)

Although the concept of a "She's going to POP" baby shower isn't new...
focusing on "bubbles" gives this shower theme a whole new twist.
And I'm in love with the color scheme!
The jumbo 2" lollipops were custom designed by Heather over at Vintage Confections.
And they came out PERFECT!
Not only do the lollipop colors coordinate with the "POP" invitation...
At my request, Heather created soda POP flavors for them too!! (Vanilla Cola, Dr. Pepper, & Cream Soda)
LOVE them!!!

Speaking of "LOVE"....

"Love you to the Moon & Back" baby shower (Nov. 14th)

This theme was based completely on the phrase the couple exchange to each other on a daily basis.
And we HAD to incorporate plaid since it's a favorite pattern of the dad-to-be. (see this post)
Think star dust wishes and sweet baby kisses...
this shower is going to be darling!

Although the two showers have completely different vibes...
they've been equally fun to plan and prepare for.
As you can imagine, there has been a lot of "behind the scenes" going on over the last couple of months.

Not to mention Ella's birthday party that was supposed to be happening on November 13th.
I said "supposed to be" for a reason.
Ella's grandparents from Illinois want to be a part of her birthday AND Thanksgiving...
So we've had to move the party to Thanksgiving weekend.
• this is going to result in a lot of phone calls to all of the recipients who received invitations.
• I'm going to have to contact vendors to have them change the shipping dates of the items they are sending.
• one of Ella's friends isn't going to be able to come now. (and that stinks since she only has two...*wink*)
• this move in her party date will relieve some of the pressure of having her birthday and a baby shower on the same weekend.
• will ultimately buy me some more time for preparations.
• and of course...allows Ella's grandparents, who love her to pieces, to be part of her birthday celebration!!
So, it's all good!
More preparation time is always better. *wink*

Both of the baby shower invitations above will be available in my shoppe.
If you are interested in either one before they are listed, just send me an email:

It's Wednesday everyone!
THREE WINNERS will be announced on Friday for the Compendium giveaway.
If you haven't already entered to win...tomorrow is the last day!
Enter THREE times to increase your chances of being one of THREE WINNERS!

I had no idea the colors for the 2" lollipops from Vintage Confections were going to turn out SO amazing!
It was one of those things that you just take your chances on...
and you are SO happy you did!!

{mini desserts} homemade oreos

Tuesday, October 26

At one point, in my former life, many years ago...
I used to do educational classes for elementary school children. (K thru 3)
What does this have to do with Homemade Oreos?
Be patient and keep reading...*wink*

The concept of the educational classes was basically to bring a 30 minute field trip experience to the classroom.
I had different themes focused on a particular topic and I would come dressed the part to coordinate with the theme.
I would also always leave behind a coordinating treat for the teachers and a simple snack for the kids.
One of the educational programs I offered was called "Penguins and Polar Bears".
I would come dressed as a Penguin...(oh pictures of that to share with you). *wink*
As you can imagine, the kids LOVED it.
But what the teachers especially loved were the treats I left behind for them.
I had searched for something I could make that was black and white (to go with the theme)...
and I found a simple, yet tasty recipe for some delicious treats I appropriately titled: "Polar Pies".
My two older girls, Clara and Ema, always got to sample the treats...
and we discovered they were quite tasty frozen - which REALLY took the "polar pie" concept to an entirely new level.

It'd been YEARS since I made them.
First of all, I'd forgotten about the recipe until the girls started asking about them one day.
I couldn't find the recipe. (even after climbing into the attic to search the archives). *wink*
With my girls' ongoing requests...
and the resurgence of whoopie pies running rampant in the dessert/dessert table world...
I figured now was the time to start the search online.
I was thrilled to have found it even though I had no idea as to what they were originally called: Homemade Oreos

I immediately made a first batch last week...

I have to tell you...
the treats I used to make for the teachers were SERIOUS treats...4" wide seriousness.
The photo above are cookies from the first batch I made last week, which were the size of regular store-bought oreos.
taking things to an entirely new level...
And because I love to mini-size everything...
the girls and I created a mini-sized version to enjoy at our slumber party over the weekend:

measuring only 1" wide, these mini treats are ADORABLE!
But what makes these tasty, brownie-like morsels with a cream cheese filling even sweeter...
they are SO simple to make!!

What you'll need:

Cookie Ingredients
1 package of devil's food cake mix
2 eggs
1/2 cup oil see update below 

I've updated the suggested oil amount after having received feedback from a reader (Amanda) about the mix being too oily.

I retested the recipe using the same box mix I've always used and I too had issues with it being too oily.
The only thing I can think of is that either the cake mix formula or the amount of actual cake mix in the box has changed over the years (the first time I made these was 8+ years ago). To accommodate these changes (and perhaps future changes),  I suggest you start with the amount of oil called for on the box of the cake mix you purchase. If you find after mixing the dough that it's not quite pliable enough, add another 1 TBSP. of oil to the mix. The cake mix should roll easily into balls and your hands will have a slight sheen from the oil in the dough. (you should not have oil dripping through your fingertips or pooling at the bottom of your bowl). Yuck! Thanks for your feedback Amanda - and for calling to my attention your personal experience/results.

Cream Cheese Filling Ingredients
1/2 cup butter (softened)
8 oz. cream cheese (softened)
3-4 cups confectioner's sugar (I used 3.5 cups)
1 tsp. vanilla

Alternative Vanilla Cream Filling Ingredients (I've never tried this one but figured I would post it)
1/4 cup room-temp, unsalted butter
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
2-3 cups sifted confectioner's sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Cookie Instructions
Heat oven to 350°.
Add oil and eggs to cake mix and blend together. (See HELPFUL HINTS)
Roll dough into 1/2" balls for mini oreos. (1" for oreo-sized cookies up to 2 1/2" for jumbo size). (See HELPFUL HINTS)
Place on cookie sheet and bake for 8 minutes. (See HELPFUL HINTS)
Remove from oven and let cool for 1 min.
Transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Cream Cheese Filling Instructions
Cream butter.
Add cream cheese and mix well.
Add vanilla, stirring until well blended.
Slowly add confectioner's sugar until desired consistency is reached. (I used 3 1/2 cups)

Alternative Vanilla Cream Filling Instructions
Cream butter and shortening together.
Add vanilla extract and confectioner's sugar slowly - until desired consistency is reached.

Assembling the cookies:
Fill pastry bag or gallon size ziploc bag with filling. (See HELPFUL HINTS)
Sandwich two cookies together by squeezing 1 tsp. (or so) of the filling onto the center of one cookie.
Add the 2nd cookie on top.
Lightly press the two cookies together to help the filling spread evenly to the sides of the cookie without spilling over the edges. (unless you prefer it).

You can either serve them as-is or freeze them for a frozen treat.
You can also make-ahead, freeze and bring to room temperature on the day of your event/party.

Using a mixer, I use my paddle attachment and blend until the dough comes clean from the side of the bowl.
Although it's recommended to use a greased cookie sheet for baking, I skip that part and mine are fine.
If the dough seems too sticky to work with, I have found by letting the dough sit while you make the filling, works like a charm.
Instead of piping the filling, you can also just use a butter knife and spread it on.
If you are going to eat these as a frozen treat, I found that by reducing the baking time by a minute or so will allow for a less crunchy frozen treat experience. Basically, you want a softer cookie before freezing so that you can easily bite into the frozen treat and enjoy a less "crumbly" experience.

So whether you call these "Polar Pies", "Homemade Oreos" or some clever name you come up with on your own...
And whether or not you choose to enjoy these frozen or at room temperature...
With only a few simple ingredients, you are just minutes away from "Mmmm....good"

wouldn't these be PERFECT for your Halloween dessert table?

They'd be perfect for ANY dessert table actually.
And you COULD go crazy and tint the filling to coordinate with your event?!

Other Uses:
Party favors - bag them up either jumbo sized or as minis.

I would've liked to have photographed the first batch and the minis together so you could see the size difference.
However, the first batch was long gone before the minis had been baked.
And I'd like to think the kids could be blamed for most of that...*wink*

{inspiration} love at first bite

Monday, October 25

Since we are only six days away from Halloween night -
I figured I'd start your week off with some frightfully inspiring images of a wickedly cool dessert table posted by Sweets Indeed.
These images were part of a "Love at First Bite" themed wedding shoot, posted on their website at the beginning of October.

The mix of Victorian, European, & Vintage is so hauntingly clever, it will leave you "screaming" for more...







there's SO much more to see so be sure to check out the full post here!
Thanks Sweets Indeed for the eye-candy treats...
my creative mind is brewing with ideas!!

Photography - The Pixel Studio
Vintage Props - Found Vintage Rentals
Cookies: Sophie Hogarth
Design, Styling, Paper Goods & other desserts: Sweets Indeed


Don't forget there will be THREE winners for the Compendium giveaway!
Enter HERE - if you haven't already!

{inspiration} compendium products

Friday, October 22

Because our original #3 winner just recently received a fabulous package from Compendium prior to this giveaway, she has graciously conceded to sharing the prize with someone else!
How nice was that!?! My readers are SUCH generous people...I seriously love you guys!
a NEW winner has been selected using a random number generator:
(send me your mailing information Maddie -

Winners of the Compendium drawing have been selected.
(Go HERE to see a screen shot of the actual drawing/numbers generated)

Congratulations to the THREE winners...
#6: Anna who said:
"Love, love love 'Give Thanks: A Thousand Thanks'...Basically because I love anything with the tea time theme,
but also the colors and the design...just beautiful. Great find!

#2: Dixon Family who said:
"I really like the 'Ideas can change the world, Reporter Style Notebook'. Great idea.

#4: Shannon Andrews who said:
"I too had the pleasure of receiving an absolutely fabulous package from Compendium, and a lovely hand-written card from Meredith. Their cards and products are truly a treasure waiting to be shared. Compendium makes every day a little brighter, brings smiles to faces, and has the most creative way of sharing themselves with the world. They are amazing. Thanks to them, I found you, and your blog full of happiness. Keep sharing your joys, and great ideas!"

Congratulations to the three winners and thank you again to all who participated.
Another special thank you to Compendium for reaching out and sponsoring this generous giveaway!
Remember their company mission everyone: "Live Inspired"


It's Friday and I'm fired up!!
Remember the box I posted about earlier this week?
The box from my favorite "inspirational products" company? (Compendium)

Today is the day to reveal what was inside...
But before I do that I have to share the story behind it all.

I also shared the link on my Facebook Fan page, as well as on twitter.
The next thing I know, I receive an email from Meredith at Compendium!!
She thanked me for spreading the word about their company and asked if she could send me some "goodies".
As you can imagine I was beyond thrilled!

Compendium is a company I found years ago.
I especially love their inspirational books by Kobi Yamada.
The books are usually designed with short and sweet inspirational messages - usually one on every page for easy reading and a quick dose of "empowerment".
They are the type of books you can leave around the house to add to your decor too.

So again, to be approached by a company who's mission I firmly believe in - "live inspired"
and who's products I absolutely adore...
I was ecstatic.

After pouring over the inspirational wrapping on the package when it arrived...
I finally opened it:

everything was thoughtfully packaged
& a handwritten envelope addressed to me was sitting right on top.

the note from Meredith was really sweet and I LOVED the business card she included

the box was LOADED with lots of fun, beautiful, Compendium products...

adorable little notebooks with inspirational quotes ON them...

and inspirational quotes INSIDE of them too...

the BEAUTIFUL inspirational "Believe" book...(watch the video)


How pretty is the packaging on this box of thank you cards?

The box opens like a book and has a magnetic enclosure
encouraging continued use even after the cards have been used.

These gorgeous "Give Thanks" thank you cards come in THREE different designs.
I mention this because....
In the original email from Meredith, not only did she want to send ME some goodies...
Compendium would also like to send something to my readers.
You heard me!
They want to send out something to my READERS!!
They would like to send out sets of their new "Give Thanks" thank you cards.
And because there are THREE different designs for these "Give Thanks" thank you cards...
Compendium would like to send out a set to THREE of you!!
THREE lucky winners!!
And these are PERFECT timing for the upcoming Thanksgiving season...don't you think?!

(contest open to US residents only)

#1: You can choose to submit one entry to win by visiting the Compendium website and leaving a comment here as to which product stole your heart!

complete #1 mentioned above...
complete #2 & #3 mentioned below:

#2: Become a fan of Compendium on Facebook and leave a comment on their wall mentioning how you found their company. COME BACK HERE AND LEAVE A COMMENT SAYING YOU DID IT.

#3: If you aren't already a Facebook fan of Pen N' Paperflowers become one. COME BACK HERE AND LEAVE A COMMENT! And if you are already an awesome fan...LEAVE A COMMENT HERE TELLING ME!

The contest ends Thursday, October 28th
Winners will be announced on Friday, October 29th.
THREE Winners will be chosen using a number generator via

Thank you Compendium for reaching out to me and being so generous!!
and especially for inspiring me with your beautiful products!!
Good luck everyone!

Compendium Links:

And GO HERE if you missed the free Halloween printables I posted yesterday.
(Because I was a dork and posted it using the date I actually created the post, (a couple of days ago), instead of yesterday's was shifted underneath my other posts). oops!
I reposted it this morning but of course it's underneath this post now! *wink*

Oh...and let me just say...
When I got the email from Meredith I was SO excited.
When I got the package of goodies I was ecstatic!
I immediately stopped what I was doing to photograph everything.
The timing wasn't so great because I happened to be feeding Ella lunch at the time.
This meant that when I was done photographing, I found myself faced with an unexpected project:
"Lunch Disaster Clean Up"...

{our family} operation phantom pumpkin

It's that time of year again.....

Time for putting together some "ghoulish-ous" treats...
the treats we made last year...

Time for dressing up in camouflage to carry out the mission of door-bell ditching our neighbors, family & friends.
Time for the return of the "Phantom Pumpkin"...(insert the sound of a wicked laugh)


The tradition began in my early years of marriage...pre-children!
And while some people refer to it as "boo-ing"...
It's known as "Operation Phantom Pumpkin" around our home. (see the post from last year)...

The idea is to have some fun with your family while doing something "sweet" for others.
You are supposed to put together some treats for your neighbors, family & friends. (store-bought or homemade - whatever your budget and time allows for).
Anonymously leave the treats on each of their doorsteps...
Leaving behind the cute door sign & clever poem encouraging them to participate by doing the same for others.

I've recreated the poem almost every year. (I know...I'm ridiculous).
Ready to see what I've come up with for THIS year?

Introducing the 2010 version of the Phantom Pumpkin...

I decided to have it coordinate with the treat tags I created for Lindsey over at Bella Grace Party Designs.

If you happened to have missed the guest post Lindsey did for Carrie over at Half Baked the Cake Blog, here are some of the fabulous images she shared using the FREE printables.
These should spark some inspiration as to the treats you and your family can use for your own Operation Phantom Pumpkin...

cupcake toppers...

caramel apples...

and delicious popcorn treats...

But wait...
If I'm encouraging you to participate...
I should certainly give you the supplies you need to get started...right?!

I sure hope you'll put them to use and come back to share how much fun you had!
Happy Haunting everyone!!

Don't forget!
Today is the last day to enter to win a print of one of the beautiful paintings from Janet Hill Studio.
Pick your favorite print and leave a comment...that's it!!
Good luck to everyone who have already left their comments!!
Winner will be announced tomorrow!!

Store-bought treats are on the agenda for "Operation Phantom Pumpkin" this year! *wink*

{ella's 2nd birthday} party preps

Wednesday, October 20

While I'm busy photographing the things I collected over the weekend...
I wanted to give you a peek into some of the things I'll be using for Ella's 2nd birthday party coming up.


I'm having so much fun putting this together.
And as usual, I'm starting to panic!
We are only three weekends away from the big day.
And of course...there's still plenty of things to get done.

Check back tomorrow for a fun little freebie I'll be posting!
Enjoy your day everyone!!

Remember me mentioning I had a pile of items on my kitchen counter...
waiting to be photographed? hasn't gotten any smaller.
Can someone please send me a large package of "more hours in the day" please! *wink*
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