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BAKE IT | No-Bake Raw Vegan Brownie Bites

Friday, May 31

If you celebrated with me yesterday...
then you'll be expecting this recipe today.

 No-Bake Raw Vegan Mini Brownie Bites

Before diving straight into the recipe...
I thought I should first share with you

COMING UP | Celebration Brownies

Thursday, May 30

It's time to CELEBRATE!

I've reached another milestone in my Whole30 Challenge.

Today marks 60 Days of strength, commitment, perseverance and determination.
I've successfully navigated my way through a maze of hurdles, temptations and moments of weakness with regards to food.

The Whole30 people would probably disapprove of me celebrating with FOOD. *frown*
The Whole30 is only a 30 day challenge...
I've pushed myself even harder and doubled the challenge to 60 days so far.
My goal is to go a full 90 days without grains, sugar, dairy and legumes...
which means I am two-thirds of the way there.

I deserve a little somethin'-somethin'!
I whipped up tiny batch of these and they turned out absolutely tasty...

Whole30 Approved - No-Bake Raw Vegan Brownies

This Whole30 approved tasty treat is just what I needed to celebrate.
I totally deserved this!
I will be sharing my entire step-by-step process for making these tomorrow. Whole30 results?
I promised to share them if they were noteworthy so here they are:

DAY 60 UPDATE (Days 31-60)
go here for the results from Days 1-30
- more energy
- sleeping more soundly
- definite change in the way my clothes are fitting
- feeling lighter
- bloating is almost non-existent

and I said before...
although this isn't the most important one...
it's certainly the most weight.

During the last 30 days, I lost another 9 lbs.
Add that to the 11 lbs. I lost during the first 30 days...
and my total weight loss is exactly 20 lbs.
(I can't believe I even just said that).

Again - I have only changed my eating.
I have not yet incorporated any exercise - still working with a local chiropractor on alleviating some back pain I've had for the last 8+ months).

Feeling pretty awesome today!
Celebrate with me!

I only made 9-10 bite sized brownies.
I ate 3 or 4 yesterday...
I've already eaten 3 today...
and I've only got 3 left. *wink*

LIFE | Birthday Cheesecakes

Wednesday, May 29

So we finally got to eat it...

Clara's Birthday Turtle Cheesecake

I also ended up making a 2nd cheesecake for my sweet cousin, Kalie!
Her and Clara have been the best of cousins since they were born...
sharing May as their birthday month and only 2 weeks apart in age.
I decided to invite Kalie over for a double 17th birthday celebration on Sunday.
And as with Clara, I let Kalie choose ANY birthday dessert she wanted and she chose...

Classic Cheesecake

The birthday girls taking selfies with their iPhones

Happy Birthday Clara and Kalie!

The girls decided they would share their leftover cheesecake at our family Memorial Day get-together the following day.
Both cheesecakes got rave reviews from everyone...especially the Turtle Cheesecake.
J always says our secret family cheesecake recipe is "award-winning" - and it is.
There's no other cheesecake out there that's better. Seriously.
The only one close is the one at Brio Tuscan Grille - and it's not "better" - it's merely a great alternative when you aren't eating the homemade one!

(I think) I'll be sharing the Classic Cheesecake recipe(s) in a separate blog post...
both cheesecakes are the same recipe aside from the added "turtle topping" on the one.
Since it's a "secret family recipe" I have to get permission from my mom first - who is the one that shared it with me. *wink* 

Clara's cheesecake sat for 3 days before I put the turtle topping on it.
Then it sat for another day before we actually ate it.
Kalie's was made the same day we ate it and had only been chilling for 4 hours.
Truth be told, it wasn't as awesome as it usually is when it's been allowed to be refrigerated for 24 hours.
Regardless of how "Old" Clara's was
and how "New" Kalie's was...
both of them were delicious.

I have to also mention today is Day 59 of the Whole30 challenge I've been doing.
Tomorrow marks "two-thirds of the way there" for me to reach my goal of 90 days.
No grains, legumes, sugar, or dairy for almost 60 days has been a serious challenge.
Needless to say...I was about to go crazy and eat Clara's entire cheesecake on Saturday before I put the turtle topping on it. Cheesecake is my FAVORITE dessert and it was SO difficult not to have even one stinkin' bite. My other daughter Ema intervened and "talked me down".  Let's just say I'm glad we took the leftover cheesecake to the Memorial Day celebration because I had to get them out of the house before I caved. *wink*

Oh...and we are headed to the doctor this morning to have Ema's stitches removed from her thumb! 

HOLIDAY | Easy Patriotic Fruit Kabobs

Monday, May 27

Patriotic Fruit Kabobs 

Happy Memorial Day everyone!!
In celebration, I used the NEW Pretty Party Skewers to create some patriotic fruit kabobs!

I'll also be making some Whipped Coconut Cream today...
to bring to a family celebration this afternoon!

I hope you enjoy the rest of your day...
celebrating and honoring our service men and women...
along with their families...
who have sacrificed so much on our behalf.

I am grateful for those who have served...
and those who are currently serving!!

GIFT IDEAS | Teacher Gift and Classroom Party Treat

Friday, May 24

Looking for a last-minute Teacher Gift Idea?
How about a last-minute Classroom Party Treat Idea?
Look no further.

Teacher Thank You Card 
Includes a spot for a Gift Card built right in.

I absolutely LOVE a cute gift that can actually tie in the cute factor and...

EMPOWER | A Beautiful Mess App

Tuesday, May 21

Among the projects and chaos of life...
I've also found time to dive into a FUN, brand new photo app!

The ABM app is currently available in the +iPhone Apps section of +iTunes  - (with hopes of an Android version in the future).
The app comes with fun doodles, a variety of backgrounds, playful borders, a handful of fonts and some cute phrases  to add to your photos prior to posting them on Instagram. (and other social media)

I've been tapping into my inner poet lately -  the one I left behind shortly after high school.
I've been writing my own "SHE" lunch box notes to include in my oldest daughter's lunches in the mornings.
I decided it was time to start writing them down for keeps...
and I've been sharing them on Instagram with hopes of inspiring and empowering others.
(By the way...I'd LOVE for you to FOLLOW ME ON INSTAGRAM and keep up-to-date with what I've got going on behind the scenes. *wink*)

With that said...
When the ABM App launched - it seemed perfectly natural...

RECiPE RADAR | Infused Water

Monday, May 20

Spa Water...
Herbal Water...
Citrus Water...
Fruit Water...
Botanical Water...

Whatever you choose to call it...

I've been toying with the idea for some time now...
to get out one of my pretty drink dispensers...
fill it up with some water...
and infuse the water with some citrus, herbs and/or fruit.

With Summer approaching...
the idea sounds more and more appealing everyday.

Not only will it look pretty on my countertop...
it'll be a great way to encourage myself and my family to drink more water!

I decided to do a little search on Pinterest to see what I could find...
and I thought you might be inspired to create your own in your favorite flavor combos.
There really are no rules!

Here are a few of my favorites...

THE SHOPPE | NEW!! Blooms & Bows Birthday Party Collection

Friday, May 17

What is keeping me so busy lately?
Lots of behind-the-scenes projects...
cute design projects...
fun craft projects...
creative party styling projects...
magazine feature projects...
e-book projects...

I'm also busy keeping customers happy...
Going back and forth with my manufacturer about The Pastry Pedestal platforms...
and of course - my ultimate project...

I just HAD to post the NEW Blooms & Bows Party Collection I recently designed for a super sweet customer:

I've had the honor of designing every single one of little Eden's birthday invitations and party accessories.
We used the Little Lady Collection for Eden's first birthday...
and then we did a Bubble Guppies theme for Eden's second birthday.

I was excited to design something special for Eden's 3rd birthday this year!
Take a peek at how the entire collection came together...

Includes all of the basic party items you need to host an adorable birthday party!
Thank You Cards, Party Tabs, Table Labels, Designer Paper, Birthday Banner, 
Celebration Circles, Cupcake Wrappers and Thank You Tags.

Includes EVERYTHING from the STANDARD package PLUS a few more goodies...
Fill-In Invitation, Over-sized Party Cut-Outs, Customized Address Wraps, 
Envelope Liners, 8x10 Party Sign and Water Bottle Party Wraps

Did you pick-up on the fact that there's a "Fill-In" Invitation included in the +PLUS package?
There are so many moms out there who are such busy little bees...
I knew with the INSTANT DOWNLOAD option now available in the shoppe...
creating a Fill-In Invitation made perfect sense.
In addition to providing customized invitations for the moms who spend a month or more planning the perfect party...
I can now accommodate moms out there who've had birthdays sneak up on them and need an invitation YESTERDAY!

I'm happy to say that all of the items have been added to the PNPF Shoppe
and are available as an INSTANT DOWNLOAD!!

I know my own sweet Ella loved how this new collection turned out too!
She approached me several times while I was designing this collection and squealed "Hello Kitty"!

I hope you love it as much as I loved designing it!

I'll be back soon with more insight into the other projects I mentioned!

It took me all week long to finally get this posted...
I wanted to make sure all of the INSTANT DOWNLOAD files were loaded into the shoppe...
and that took me awhile! *wink*
Have a great weekend everyone!!

RECiPE RADAR | My First Date!

Monday, May 13

The Recipe Radar post for this week was inspired by my first date...the fruity kind - not a "date-date" 
at a recent visit to a local raw, vegan restaurant located in the quaint, historic town I live near - Mt. Dora.

subpar photos taken with my iPhone

I had seen the bistro several times in passing and decided it was time to investigate. *wink*
Following a delicious entreé...

Personal-sized Medi-terranean Pizza
Made with an almond flour crust and topped with veggies and kalamata olives

Here's where my obsession with creating a dessert made from Medjool dates began...
and ultimately the inspiration for today's post.

Chocolate Brownie 
(fresh fruit substituted for the √° la mode)

When the waitress rattled off the list of dessert selections...
I was ecstatic to find out there was one single item (Whole30-approved)...
that I could actually eat.

I couldn't believe how delicious the brownie was.
I was told it was made from dates, cacao, almond butter and almond flour. 

I left the restaurant a very happy girl.

One week later, +Paula Biggs, a sweet friend from +Frog Prince Paperie posted some bacon-wrapped dates on Instagram/Facebook...
And that was pretty much it for me.
I decided it was high-time I buy me some dates!
I began to research some recipes to try to recreate the delicious brownies from Vitality Bistro.

Here's a great recipe I found that sounds and looks pretty similar...

by Gluten Free Vegan Girl

And here's  another date-filled recipe I found that most certainly caught my interest...

by Tessa Domestic Diva

And how about some bacon-wrapped dates??
These would be SO great for entertaining too!

by Angie Anew

Although dates aren't technically in season right now. (typically September through November from my findings)
I've now got some gorgeous Medjool dates in the fridge...thanks to a visit to Sam's this weekend.
I'm ready to create something delicious!

If you'd like to sample the recipes above...
click on the direct links just above the corresponding photos.

If you have some recipes you'd love to share using dates...
PLEASE leave a comment - I'd love to hear what you all have been doing with them.

Many of you know about the Whole30 challenge I embarked on last month...
as part of the  Self-Intervention I made public here on the blog and began on April 1st.
You may have followed along on my Instagram feed for updates…
or perhaps you kept up with me on Facebook throughout my journey.

You may also know that on April 30th  I completed my Whole30 successfully!!!
not one single cheat,  slip or hiccup along the way - I really am proud of myself for pushing through!

Here's what you may not know…
I still haven't stopped.
I kept my Whole30 journey going - beyond the 30 days!
I'm now on Day 43 and going strong.

It has been challenging to say the least.
I had a handful of moments during the first 30 days that I wanted to quit - but I didn't!
I've even almost convinced myself on several occasions into having ONE cheat day since I finished my first 30 days successfully.
But I can't bring myself to do it.
I've come too far to ruin it.
My goal right now is to go a full 90 days.
I'm taking it 30 days at a time.

I promised to share some results with you when I first shared my Self-Intervention post with you.

Remember me saying...
"IF I feel strongly enough that my results will benefit others...
I will consider sharing pounds lost, inches shed or sizes dropped."

So here are some of my real measurable results during Days 1-30:
- more energy
- sleeping more soundly

and although this isn't the most important one...
it's certainly the most measurable at this point...
my weight.

First let me say...
I weighed myself on Day 0 and did NOT weigh myself again until Day 31.
I honestly did not think I had lost ANY weight.
My clothes weren't fitting any differently (and still aren't)
and even on Day 29 I was still experiencing a good amount of bloating.
I was honestly preparing myself for a huge disappointment on the scale.
I about fell off the scale when I realized I had lost 11 lbs!
I could not believe it.
I still can't believe it.

I also have to tell you that I have not exercised at all during my Self-Intervention.
I intentionally wanted to be able to see the impact of just changing my diet.
I was originally thinking I would incorporate exercise at the start of my 2nd 30 day segment...
however, some back pain I've been having over the last 8 months has kept me from doing so.
I'll have my 3rd chiro visit this week and I'm hoping with some additional weight-loss the back pain will subside.

here's where I'm at.

I'm on Day 43.
I will continue to Day 60 eating completely Whole30 compliant.
I will re-weigh on Day 61 and report back.

That's it.
Not looking to turn this into a weight-loss series...
but I certainly 
want to share and inspire anyone else out there looking to make changes.
This is how this is working for me.
It's hard.
It's difficult.
It's challenging.
And it's everything I needed.

I have to say...
before my visit to Vitality Bistro,  I had never knowingly eaten a date.
I didn't think I was a date-kind-of-girl.
Now that I have a tub of them in my fridge...
I'm finding myself snacking on them like candy. (only about 3-5 daily)
They are NOT pretty.
In fact...they are quite unattractive.
Regardless... I have found myself stuffing them with walnuts
and even kalamata olives for a quick snack. Ha!
I know I'm going to love wrapping them in bacon!
The sweet and salty combination will be heavenly!

Although I had already pre-determined I was going to do a full 90 days...
if the results on the scale wouldn't have been as amazing as they were...
it would've been REALLY hard to press forward through another 30 days...
let alone a total of 90 days.
Just sayin'...

GiVE | Sprinkles on my Sundae - Chalk Art Gift Idea

Wednesday, May 8

I've got a whammy of a post for you today!
Do you by chance remember the adorable "Sprinkles to my Cupcake" Chalkboard Valentine's Day Cards I created back in February for +Skip to my Lou? (Go Here to take a peek)

I received such wonderful feedback I decided to whip up another version...
specifically for Teacher Appreciation or Mother's Day!

"You are the Sprinkles on my SUNDAE" Gift Idea

There are several ways to present this gift to your child's favorite teacher or your sweet mom...
I'm going to start with the basics and then move up a couple of notches.
You pick the option that works for you and go with it!!

SHARE | Chalkboard Art Print - Teacher Appreciation

Tuesday, May 7

There may not be an easier Teacher Appreciation Gift idea out there...

FREE 5x7 Chalkboard Art Prints

Is that quote I came up with perfect or what!?
Although I'd like to think I'm the original creator of  it...
I can't help but think I can't be the first person to have ever thought of it?
So if you see it somewhere else, let me know. 

Simply download the FREE .pdf files
Print onto white card stock.

Add a cute ribbon around the frame if you like...
or wrap it up/insert it into a gift bag for a more "formal" presentation!

I hope you like it and find a need for it as we honor our teachers this week!


Internet connection issues in our neighborhood have been preventing me from posting anything since Thursday afternoon of last week. *grumbling*

I've got some other ideas I've been wanting to share...
but I wanted to hurry and get something posted while I had a window of internet service this morning!!

DiSCOVER | HWTM Call for Submissions

Thursday, May 2

Hello party people...
I wanted to share some exciting information with you today!

Today's post is specifically for YOU...
And when I say you...
I mean those of you who love hosting parties, entertaining, styling dessert tables, crafting party decor, etc.
and who LOVE (or would love) to have your creativity featured on HWTM! (Hostess with the Mostess).

Check out the exciting announcement made yesterday on the HWTM blog:

That's right!!
There's a NEW Monthly call that will be posted on the first of each month looking for specific parties, crafts, recipes, diys and more related to the +Hostess with the Mostess  monthly theme!

These ideas don't have to be exclusive either. 
Meaning...if you have a brand-new OR already-been-featured party, cute party craft, fabulous recipe, fun DIY, etc. 

Submissions can be super simple...
or they can be insanely creative over-the-top...
All ideas are welcome!

Looking forward to seeing your creative ideas featured on HWTM!!

LiFE | Fields of Wildflowers

Wednesday, May 1

We've got beautiful fields of wildflowers in our area during the months of April and May.
Through the years, I've taken advantage of photographing my older girls in them when they were pint-size.
This past weekend was Ella's turn to finally have her photos taken in them.

Ella was more than thrilled to be dressed up like a princess…
surrounded by beautiful flowers…
creating a huge beautiful bouquet with them...
while I was happily snapping photographs of her. 

She actually enjoys having her photos taken - polar opposite of her older sisters.
I hope she doesn't grow out of that...

I'll let the photos do the rest of the talking today...

Ella Scarlet - Wildflower Fields - April 2013

Small grasshoppers kept getting caught in the crinoline layers of Ella's dress during the photos.
I didn't DARE say anything about them - even though I was trying not to freak out.
I just quickly kept brushing them off and she never had a clue! *wink*
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