A Patriotic Party for a Princess – Finale

hamming-it-up

As is tradition with Jax’s birthday celebrations her outfit MUST fit the theme perfectly. I admit envisioning the perfect ensemble is one of my favorite parts of the party planning. It may be a superfluous detail but I love it. Plus, I am pretty sure my opportunities to coordinate her birthday outfit with her birthday cake and party decor are numbered. I might get lucky with it one more time next year but that’s probably it. Then she’ll be too cool for the frills, so I figure I might as well have fun with it while I can.

Once again I reached out to Ashley Barney from Sincerely Ryleigh Couture and told her what I had in mind for Jax’s outfit. Of course, she NAILED it. Every detail was exactly as I had envisioned, right down to the cute little Uncle Sam top hat headband. SO CUTE!!!

Ashley made Jax’s mermaid outfit for her party last year and her Rapunzel costume last Halloween. (p.s. I can’t wait to share what I am ordering from her for Jax’s costume this year — eeeep! so excited).

infographic

Another birthday tradition that will end next year are these custom chalkboards. I LOVE having these made to commemorate Jax’s special days and document her favorites of that year. I’ve had one made for all of Jax’s birthdays and have ordered them from Terra at TMG Designs since her second. Terra is so dang sweet and obviously super talented. l adore all the details she hand draws and the embellishments she puts on the frame. I made a commitment to myself to have these made for Jax until her fifth birthday and then for every milestone birthday thereafter. Hopefully she will make one for Jaxie’s wedding some day!

Check out the other chalkboards Terra has created for Jax here and here.

giveaways

Jax’s guests went home with some pretty sweet party favors. I like to send the kids away with something a little more special than stickers and candy in their goodie bags.

This year’s theme made that simple. The party was held the weekend after the 4th of July so I scored on clearance items after the holiday. Each child took home a personalized patriotic box (pictured at the top) that included an Old Navy flag t-shirt, a tube of glow-sticks and a flag. They also got large bubble wands and star wands – everything purchased for a fraction of the regular price.

The kids were pretty happy with their loot but nothing can compare to last year’s party favor — I don’t think I’ll ever be able to top sending Jax’s friend’s home with a new pet.  I am still feeling pretty smug about that one.

celebration

Planning Jax’s birthday parties is something I look forward to every year. Like a crazy person, I start the brainstorming process months in advance. It’s so worth the time and effort I spend to see happiness like this. She had the time of her life, surrounded by the people loves most and having fun.

Thanks for tuning in these last few days! I hope you liked what you saw.

presents

 

A Patriotic Party for a Princess – Part 2

licking-fingers

Jax’s “4 in July” birthday bash was held at 2:30 in the afternoon. Since it was after lunch I wanted to provide snacks the kids would eat but wouldn’t ruin dinner.

food-table

Chips, fruit kabobs, and punch kept the munchies at bay and the party rolling along.

shish

You’ve seen these red, white and blue fruit skewers all over Pinterest. I’ve seen them made with raspberries for the red and sponge cake for the white but I opted for kid favorite strawberries and marshmallows. They were actually quite pretty and made a nice centerpiece for the food table.

bisquits and cake

The cake and cookie favors blew me away. I use Cathy’s Cookie Creations for every occasion that calls for cakes, cupcakes and cookies and I have for years. She never disappoints. I tell her my cake/cookie vision and she nails it. Every. Time. See more of her work here and here.

If you are local to the greater Phoenix area you should give her a try. I really can’t say enough about how amazing her work always turns out and her price point can’t be beat.

yummies

smores

And just in case there wasn’t enough sugar the kiddos made s’mores, because truly what would a patriotic party without those delights. Americana at it’s sweetest!

sweet-smile

It’s good to be Jax! Check back tomorrow to see the party favors and a few other details that made this 4th birthday party special.

A Patriotic Party for a Princess – Part 1

jax-main

It’s been almost six weeks since my sweet, Jacquelyn’s birthday. Since she turned 4 in July I decided to throw my Yankee Doodle Diva a patriotic party like no other!

All of Jaxie’s previous parties have been held in my home where I could have full control of all the details. Earlier this year we moved and I didn’t feel our home was party ready. This caused me much anxiety, I like to be in control of every detail. I scouted out a few venues where my patriotic party visions could come true and Pinspiration, a cute little craft studio, met my criteria. Check out all the red, white and blue details!

full

I purchased tons of 4th of July decorations from the Target dollar bins and handed it over to the creative ladies at Pinspiration. My instructions were clear: “make sure the patriotic palette takes over the existing shabby chic decor.” Success!

splattersplattertime

I was able to customize one of their “splatter art” parties into a 4th of July theme where the kids got messy making “firework” masterpieces. They even used glow-in-the-dark paint to give their artwork a real firework effect! The activity was a HUGE hit with parents and kids alike.

crafts

In addition to the firework art Jax’s friends got to decorate bags with colorful dobbers and ink rollers.

crafts2 crafts3

Another project included decorating tiles with alcohol ink and decorating little stands to display them. These tiles turned out so gorgeous! True works of colorful art. One of the mommies, who happens to be an architect, told me she has been inspired to have her boys create many more of these tiles so she can redo a bathroom in their new home using them. I thought that was so awesome. A really great idea inspired by the fun Jax’s party!

lol

This picture says it all! My American girl had a blast at her bash.

Stay tuned for more party details coming tomorrow!

Red Hot Tribute Cocktail – Happy Anniversary Phoenix Bites!

Red Hot Tribute

For the past six years Phoenix Bites has been keeping Valley residents in the know about all things dining around town. Dining deals, restaurant reviews, chef interviews and more – Phoenix Bites offers it’s readers all the goods.

This month Phoenix Bites is celebrating six years of success! Taryn Jeffries, Phoenix Bites’ proud owner/editor/supreme boss lady is doing amazing things over there, perfecting her baby, always learning and sharing her wealth of knowledge with her followers, friends, and peers. She is truly a class act and I am proud to say I’ve learned a thing or two from her — and even prouder to call her my friend!

In her honor and to celebrate six years of Phoenix Bites awesomeness I created Taryn’s Red Hot Tribute Cocktail, a decadent blend of Horchata, Fireball Whisky and Vanilla Ice Cream. Cheers!

Taryn’s Red Hot Tribute

  • 3/4 Cup Rumchata
  • 1/4 Cup Fireball Cinnamon Whisky
  • 3 Scoops Vanilla Ice Cream
  • Handful of Red Hot Candies
  • 1 Cup of Ice

Blend all ingredients together until smooth and creamy.

Tip: Use crushed Red Hot candles to rim the glass for a pretty (and tasty) presentation.

Four

jax4

Isn’t she exquisite? I made her. She is mine. And today she is four.

Happy birthday, you gorgeous girl. You radiate so much beauty and happiness I know you are destined for something truly special. If I could slow down time I would do it in a heartbeat — just to have more time to have you to myself, to marvel at your splendor, to call you all my own; but on the flip-side I can’t wait to see where you will go, who you will be, what you will do.

Four.

How is that even possible? It seems like just last week I was lamenting your delay in entering this world. It was hot and I was huge and you were stubborn. You still are and I love it. I love your fire. I love your sass. Most of all I love you. I love you the best and I love you the most.

Always know how special you are. Always know how happy you make me and your daddy. Always know you can and will do amazing things. Always know I am trying my best to be the mama you deserve and every day I try even harder. And always know I will be by your side, in your heart and a part of your soul guiding your way, cheering you on.

Happy four years old, Jacquelyn Gloria Elaine Fuchs.

Baby love, you take my breath away. Shine sweet girl, shine, it’s what you do best.

 

Yum! Frozen Watermelon Pops Video (boozy version included)

Watermelon-Pops

The July Arizona heat is relentless and we’re always looking for ways to cool down. Lately we’ve been chilling out with these simple fresh, whole fruit watermelon ice pops that are so ridiculously simple to make! My daughter, Jax LOVES them. To her they are just popsicles but I know she’s loading up on hydration, vitamins and minerals every time she eats them so I don’t feel guilty when she reaches into the freezer for her third one of the day! It’s just watermelon and nothing more, no added sugar, no chemicals and no fuss to make them! You can put a stick in anything and it automatically becomes a treat for kids!

These watermelon pops are easily transformed into an adult frozen treat too. Simply soak them in a margarita-ish solution for an hour, letting them absorb some boozy goodness before freezing. BAM! Frozen watermelon margaritas on a stick. So fun. So refreshing.

We eat half of the watermelon fresh throughout the day and freeze the other half on sticks for a handy, portable treat we can grab every time we come inside from the incinerating outdoor heat.

The key to these frozen pops is in the way you cut the watermelon. Here’s how:

  1. Using a very sharp knife, cut your watermelon in half.
  2. Place one half of the watermelon cut side down on a cutting board.
  3. Cut watermelon across in 1 inch sections.
  4. Turn it around and cut in 1 inch sections the other way.
  5. Now you have perfect watermelon spears.

Be sure to watch the video to the end. My silly girl is destined to be a star and is honing her skills.

For the margarita solution I just eyeball everything. I don’t claim to be a bartender or mixologist so I don’t really know accurate measurements for a real margarita, I just add the basic components (tequila, simple syrup and lime juice) until it tastes good. I like to get fancy and add some coarsely textured sugar (raw sugar or turbinado work great) and some lime zest to make it pretty. If you prefer salted rims on your margs then nix the sugar and sprinkle on a little kosher salt.

Be sure to separate and clearly label your watermelon pops to distinguish them from the kid-friendly version. You definitely don’t want your kiddos helping themselves to boozy treats. No way!!

Enjoy your summer! Stay cool. (isn’t that how you signed everyone’s year book back in high school?)

Cheesey Rice Balls (Arroz-cini) with Cumin Crema

Arrozcini Beauty
Photo by Joanie Simon     

Crispy fried rice balls stuffed with molten cheese. I repeat, crispy fried rice balls stuffed with molten cheese. It really doesn’t get much better than that. I came up with this little diddy for a blogger recipe challenge and I was sure they would win. Believe me, my confidence is warranted because these orbs of sin and deliciousness are outrageously good. How could they not be? They are fried carbs loaded with melted cheese. They are destined for greatness…yet, I did not win the recipe challenge.

Womp, womp, womp (bum city)!

No matter.  I am over that debacle and know without a doubt these Arroz-cini are AMAZING! See what I did with the name? Arroz-cini. A play on arancini, the Italian risotto cheesey balls. Well, these are made with Spanish-style red rice and rice in Spanish is “arroz” hence, Arroz-cini! See there? A clever name and a scrumptious recipe is a winner in my book and I am willing to bet you will agree!

The recipe is pretty easy. You can make the rice balls from start to finish in just about half an hour and it’s a great way to get the kiddos involved in the kitchen. Little ones will love getting their hands messy! I used a package of heat and serve Mexican style rice. The brand I used has veggies in it which was a welcome addition, adding a little extra color and texture to the end product. You can use leftover Spanish style from take-out or make your own.

Check it out!

Arroz-Cini

  • 1 – 24 oz package of Mexican or Spanish-style rice
  • 1 – 8 oz box of panko bread crumbs, separate 1 cup
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 20 cheddar cheese cubes, about 1/2-3/4”
  • 4 Eggs
  • 1 cup of all purpose flour
  • 2 cups coconut oil for frying

Cumin Crema

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp chili powder
  • Juice of half a lime

Directions:

  1. Heat rice in microwave for approx 1 minute, just long enough to warm slightly.
  2. Open contents of warmed rice into a large mixing bowl, along with 1 cup of the panko bread crumbs, 2 eggs and the shredded cheddar.
  3. Using your hands work all the ingredients together until throughly combined. You will really want to work the rice, breaking it up a bit but not getting it too mushy.
  4. Take small handfuls of rice and form a 1 ½ inch balls, pressing your thumb in the rice ball to create a hole. Put 1 cube of cheese in the hole and reform the ball, completely covering the cheese. Repeat. This should make 20 rice balls.
  5. Set up a dredging station using 3 shallow dishes. 1 dish with 2 remaining eggs beaten, 1 dish of flour and 1 dish for the remaining panko bread crumbs.
  6. Roll each rice ball individually, first in the flour, next in the eggs (shaking off excess) and last in the panko.
  7. Place the breaded rice balls on a baking sheet and put in fridge to chill while you make the crema and the oil heats.
  8. Make the crema by mixing together the sour cream, cumin, chili powder, salt and lime juice in a small mixing bowl. Set aside until ready to serve the arroz-cini.
  9. Heat the oil over medium/high heat in a large frying pan.Place the balls in the hot oil, turning frequently to brown evenly. Do not overcrowd, cook in batches. Place cooked rice balls on paper towel-lined plate and repeat until all rice balls are cooked.
  10. Serve immediately with the cumin crema!

She’s Gotta See a Man About a Horse

Jax HelmetMiss Jacquelyn will be four years old in a couple weeks. It pained my poor mama’s heart to type that. Not sure where the time went. Seems like just a few months ago I was waddling around in the summer heat with a baby in my belly that refused to vacate. Now she’s running our household with an iron fist. All her babiness is gone. The last to go were the diaper/pull-ups.

Jax potty trained pretty early, but only #1. She was about 16 months old when she asked to go on the potty. She decided when she was ready well before we had even decided to start training her so we didn’t press pooping on that potty right away. We simply figured she would go #2 on the potty when she was ready. She does everything at her own pace and she doesn’t like to be pressured.

Fast forward over two and a half years and lots or encouragement, discussions, bribery and frustration. Pooping on the potty was not inner plans and her excuses ran the gamut, but it basically boiled down to stubbornness. I voiced/vented this frustration several times on social media over the past 2 years and everyone had advice and opinions. Believe me I pretty much tried everything. She wasn’t having it.

Somewhere along the long way I mentioned horseback riding lessons.

“Give me a poop on the potty like a big girl and you can ride a horse.”

Jax & Skittles

I was sure that bribe would work, Miss Jax is OBSESSED with horses. This girl  gets excited to see them on TV or in photos. She has dozens of horse toys and figurines and she plays with those the most. She watches several horse shows and cartoons on Netflix. She was over the moon for months after riding one at her school carnival. She’s an equestrian in the making. Surely the promise of regular horseback riding lessons would prompt a poop in the pot.

Nope. Months passed. More encouragement. More bribes. More discussions. More waiting. No poop.

Then one day a couple months ago I picked her up from school and was greeted with this choice exclamation:

“Mama, I shit in the potty like a big girl!”

The pride on her face and sheer joy of her accomplishment was enough to make me ignore her inappropriate word choice.

When we got home she repeated her recap to daddy and added “now I can ride horses because I shit in the potty!”

The promise I made months before was remembered and the time had come for us to make good. We got rid of the pull-ups and looked for a ranch that did lessons for young children. No easy feat but we found one.

It’s unfortunate the timing is a bit off. Jax had her first lesson at the beginning of May and it was a scorcher. Now the AZ temps are too blazing and unsafe for riding unless you do it early in the morning. We’re not early morning folk so we’ll wait until fall when the weather cools down.

Jax Excited Horse Lessons

But her first lesson was nothing short of the best day ever for our big girl! She was excited and a little apprehensive. She had ridden a horse before as well as a few ponies but she’d always been placed on their backs. Her lessons include prepping the horses and coming face to face with the animals. She was unsure about that part at first but warmed up quickly. She had to join her instructor in the tack room to pick out a saddle, helmet, bit and reigns and groom the horse for riding. She learned verbal and physical prompts to get the horse to walk, stop and turn and I could see her squeezing her little legs to hold on tight. She sure did get a work out, I had no idea horseback riding was so physical. After riding she had to help her instructor cool the horse down, hose him off and groom him post-ride. It was much more work and more taxing than she expected and coupled with the heat she was exhausted and sweaty when the lesson wrapped up.

But her excitement, oh her elation was something to behold. She can’t wait to ride again and I hear her using the commands she learned when she plays with her horse toys.

Jaxie on Horseback

I really don’t know where she gets her love of horses. She is deadly afraid of any dogs, no matter the size so it’s surprising she would be so enamored with such a powerful and large animal. Plus, I have a borderline phobic fear of horses so her obsession is a little strange to me.

But I’ll take horse induced willies over a stinky pull-up any day! I’ll face my fears for her obsession.

Jax On Skittles

Jax leading Jax with Hose

Jax Sweet Face

Happy Mother’s Day 2016

Wishing every mama out there a blessed day full of endless love and appreciation. Make memories!

Easter Tips: Podcast with Joanie Simon

Joanie-Simon-1
photo courtesy of www.joaniesimon.com

I recently had the EXTREME pleasure of being interviewed by the crazy talented, one and only, Joanie Simon. We chatted about Easter and I shared my soda bar idea for a refreshing treat to include in your celebration.

It was a huge honor to be selected by Joanie to so her podcast. She is a celebrity on the local AZ foodie scene, so the fact that she liked one of my ideas enough to chat about it to the masses makes me feel fancy and pretty darn special! I wouldn’t be surprised if we see the lovely Miss Simon sharing her exuberance for food on a Food Network level sometime soon- she’s that awesome.

Check out the podcast here in addition to my jabber you will hear from Chef Rich Hinojosa of the Wigwam Resort sharing secrets to an excellent glaze and a recipe for an outstanding accompaniment for your Easter ham and local food Bloggers Geeks Who Eat with tips for the perfect hard-boiled eggs.

And please share your Easter recipes, traditions, and ideas in the comments!