Galations 5:22

But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness,
faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Galations 5:22

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The Blackberry Vine

Monday, January 31, 2011

100 Days of School

Its Sunday afternoon.  A mom is feeling really good about herself because she's actually making sure she has everything ready for school the night before.  She's going throught last week's notes, etc.  What's that?  100 days of school.  Bring a collection of 100 things uniquely displayed on Monday.

Mom goes searching through craft stuff.  There's that "H" that I haven't got around to doing anything with...what can we put on it?  Pom-poms? Too girly.  Beads?  Too girly.  Sequins?  Too girly.  (You can see where this is going?!?)  What else?

Manly copper (or copper-looking) pennies.
A hundred pennies will completely cover the front of the letter as well as a few left over to decorate the outside.  I actually kind of like the whole copper look. If you could find enough pennies of a person's birth year, it might be a neat little birthday gift, too.

Happy 100 Days of School!


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Friday, January 28, 2011

Symphony Brownies

Yeah, yeah.  I know.  These are SOOO last decade!
But they are still SOOOO good.

Just in case you've never made a batch, here's how I do it.

2 brownie mixes (prepare according to package)
3 1/2 Hershey Symphony Bars with almond toffee

Spray 13" x 9" (actually my baking pans are either slightly smaller than 13" x 9" or slightly larger...I used the larger ones for this.) pan with cooking spray.
Mix up one brownie mix according to package directions.  Spread on bottom of pan.  For these I used Ghiradelli Dark Chocolate brownie mix for the bottom layer.
Next, layer candy bars on top of brownie mix.
Finally, prepare 2nd brownie mix (I used Ghiradelli Double Chocolate with Chocolate Chips) and cover candy bars.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 40 minutes.
Let cool before cutting.

PS.  You can also make these with your favorite candy bar.  If your candy bar is thick, just chop it up and spread over first brownie mix...butterfingers, almond joy, mounds, snickers, mars, etc.



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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Meal for Friends

Most of us have received a meal at some point in our lives after some major event in our life...birth of a baby, loss of a loved one, or extended illness. 
 We've probably all taken a meal or two as well!
Recently I had the honor of taking a meal and it reminded me of a combination of meals delivered to me by loving, caring friends.  I thought I'd share with you some of the ideas and tips I've learned over the years.

One thing that I LOVED when a friend brought me a meal was a large container of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese already made.  The children could have it for dinner if they didn't like the delivered meal.  It also was an easy option for the children's lunch the next day...just heat it up and lunch is ready!

Another idea I really liked was fresh fruit already washed & prepared to eat.  When Jack was born, Haden was only 18 months old.  One friend sent a huge plastic container with grapes already sliced in incredible time saver for a new mom.

Also, never send anything that has to be returned.  You can buy aluminum entree pans in bulk at Sam's for only a few dollars.  Also, many items can be easily packaged in gallon-size Ziploc bags.  There are always the Glad or Ziploc plastic containers.  Be sure to tell the recipient of your meal to just throw away or keep the containers.  (It used to drive me crazy when my friends would return those plastic Glad containers!)  Another idea for taking food is use old plates or dishes from the thrift store.  There are plenty of cute ideas out there for decorating them so people know to pass them on.  (Simply putting a note in the bag to let your recipient know to reuse the dishes will also do!)

A nice touch is to also send something for their breakfast.  Somethings I've taken with a meal are assorted bagels & cream cheeses, breakfast casseroles, and cinnamon rolls.  (For more on how I prepare the cinnamon rolls for delivery, click here.)

Oh! I almost forgot!  Sometimes you have a friend that needs meals for an extended period of time.  Dropping by a fresh salad and having their favorite pizza delivered is a nice idea.  Also, gift cards to restaurants that deliver (or that have a drive thru!!! :-) ) are also greatly appreciated.

It is always nice to put a little menu on the dresses the bag up just a bit and it also lets your friends know what's inside.  Click here for a blank menu page.

Hope you found some of these ideas helpful.
What are your best ideas?


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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Thankful I Am aka Star Wars Thank You Notes

All good Jedi's must have good manners...I think its in the Jedi Code somewhere.
Here are the little thank you notes I put together for Jack.

To "bling" them up a little, we added some silver stars to the card and to the envelope.
Isn't his handwriting so cute?!?!

Inside the card I printed a group picture and a "fill-in-the-blank" thank you note.


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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Star Wars Party

We celebrated Jack's 5th Birthday with a Star Wars themed party over the weekend.  (As it is January, we have to make do with all indoor activities.)

So without further ado, here is the party...

Food Table
Star Wars Cake

Wookiee Cookies

These are pretzel rods coated in candy melts and sugar sprinkles with a little aluminum foil for the handle.  I saw these on another site and thought, how cute.  Well, they are a little time consuming which takes the cute factor down a little in my book, but they taste great!
Tatooine Treats
Classic Rice Krispie Treats...yum!
Death Star Donuts
The donut holes where a HUGE hit...and so easy.
Luke Skywalker just jumped into the Land Cruiser, went down to the local donut and bought several dozen.  Will definitely be using donuts at future parties!
 You can print your own Food Tags here
You'll have to figure out where to cut them yourself...I just eyed it myself and mounted them on black cardstock.

Enjoying Galactic Pizza, Jedi Juice, Warrior Water & Yoda Soda.

I'm so sad I didn't get a close-up picture of the Yoda Soda!  Its just so fun to say and the perfect party beverage!  You can kinda see it in the middle picture...its the green foamy drink (lime sherbert & Sprite!)  So yummy!!!  Went great with the Galactic Pizza!
Jedi/Princess Sign in Area
Sign in sheet (in case of tragic lightsaber accident we can contact the parents.)
Name tags & party favor bags were on the table as well as gifts for the Birthday Jedi.

Jedi Agility Training Area
The trainees went through tunnels, across a balance beam (backwards of course,) through another tunnel and then a hula hoop.

Darth Vadar Pinata
That's my Jedi giving Darth a good whack!

Luke Skywalker Leading Trainees in Lightsaber Skills
They played "Luke Says," "Red Light Saber/ Green Light Saber,"  and "Follow the Jedi."

Yoda's Light Saber
The Trainees used the force to help Yoda find a light saber.

(Throwing a party takes a lot of family assistance...)
Photo Caption Is Either
"Star Wars - the Comeback Tour"
(The only character that looks better is Darth...the rest of us aren't aging as well!)
"Star Wars - the Daytime Drama"
(My husband is my brother (Luke Skywalker,) my brother is my father (Darth Vadar,) my kids' uncle is their grandfather and their father is their uncle!)  (If my other brother had been there, he would have dressed up as Han Solo which would have added the fact that my brother was my husband to the whole drama!!)
These folks kept Princess Leia sane!
Thanks for all of your help!!!
(They prepped, they cleaned, they picked up the pizza, they entertained the kids, they told me it was a fun party!)

The wind took its toll on my poor Jedi did say JEDI TRAINING FACILITY.  Of course I was so busy before the party I didn't get a picture of the time the kids left it looked like this.   Not sure what a JEDI T ACILITY is, but I'm pretty sure its fun!
Close up of treat bag (a little worse for the wear!)
Vellum bags with Star Wars Puzzles ($1 each at Dollar Store,) Jedi Training Certificate, light saber, glow sticks, and pinata candy.

Each Jedi and Princess received a certificate in their party bags.
I added a gold foil sticker as well to make it look more "official!"
The foil sticker has the famous Yoda quote, "Do or Do Not.  There is no Try. - Yoda"
To print your own certificate for free, click here.

Just in case you missed the previous post, here are the Light Saber Invitations.
Light Saber Invitation How-to
Very rarely do I have an original idea.  When I do, I'm sure it was inspired by something I had previously seen that has been buried deep into my subconcious.  My party ideas came from other bloggers willing to share their ideas.  There are so many great moms out their that have generously shared their Star Wars Party ideas.
Here are a few that inspired me:
Tip Junkie

Happy 5th Birthday my precious little Jedi!


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Tuesday To-Do

Here are just a few ideas I don't want to forgot "to-do!"
(Be careful...they might just end up on YOUR to-do list, too!)

Go to this blog and spend the day...add button to blog...


Monday, January 24, 2011

How to Make a Light Saber

We made these simple light sabers for Jack's Star Wars Party.
We found the glow sticks at the Dollar Store.
My husband bought the pvc pipe at Home Depot for around $4.
He took a glow stick with him to be sure it would be a snug fit in the pipe.
Home Depot is so awesome, they even cut the pipe for us.
To transform the pipe and glow stick into a light saber, we simply used silver duct tape to connect the two.  They were pretty cool, because once the kids got them, they could activate them by "breaking" the stick.  It was fun seeing all of the sabers glowing!

Other ways to make a play lights saber can be found at:


Yoda & Darth Vadar Sugar Cookies

 So I rushed through the Star Wars cake a little (it was 2:00 in the morning!)
I think I made up for it with these cookies, though.  I used my special sugar cookie recipe & royal icing.  They are always so good.  Thanks to my MIL who purchased these cookie cutters (and the star ship ones, too!) for us at Williams Sonoma.
 Darth was more difficult to get the lines precise...some of the kids said it didn't look like Darth (aren't 5 year olds precious with their lack of editing!)...I have to agree...if Yoda hadn't been beside him, he looks a little like a cockroach!
A helpful hint for making thick sugar cookies that hold their shape:
  Use your favorite recipe, but element most of the levening (baking powder and/or baking soda.)  I only use a third of what my recipe calls for.

Another idea I've heard of is using the tube of sugar cookie dough you get in the refrigerated section of the grocery store.  Roll it out and put the entire sheet of dough on your parchment lined cookie sheet.
As soon as they come out of the oven, cut out your shapes.  You'll have some wasted (if you call yummy cookie snacks wasted,) but I hear that make a really pretty cookie.
Let me know if you've ever tried this...I  think I'll give it a try soon!


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Star Wars Cake

Here's the cake from Jack's Party.
Since it was for the kiddos, I alternated layers with vanilla cake and chocolate cake.
Frosted and filled with French Buttercream.

I got so caught up in the party (and getting it ready,) that I neglected to take more photos of the cake.  These are the only two I have...hopefully amazing MIL got some good ones!

Click here for full STAR WARS PARTY Details

Wookiee Cookies (or Reese's Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies)

These area just the yummiest!
(The recipe can also be found on the Reese's Peanut Butter Chips bag!)
1 c. butter
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
2 c. unsifted all-purpose flour
2/3 c. Hershey's cocoa
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 c. (12 oz. pkg.) Reese's peanut butter chips

Cream butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla until light and fluffy. Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt; add to creamed mixture. Stir in peanut butter chips. Chill until firm enough to handle.

Shape small amounts of dough into 1-inch balls. Place on ungreased baking sheet and flatten slightly with fork. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Cool 1 minute before removing from cookie sheet onto wire rack. Makes about 6 dozen 2 1/2 inch cookies.

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Star Wars Party Light Saber Invitations

Melissa at A Little Loveliness made some adorable Light Saber Invitations that I used as my inspiration to make the invitations for Jack's 5th Birthday.

To Make These Invitations, You Will Need:
toilet paper rolls or paper towel rolls
12 x 12 glitter paper
8.5 x 11.5 vellum paper
aluminum foil tape (found at Home Depot)
electric tape in black
scrapbook embellishments
hot glue gun & sticks
scrapbook adhesive
Print your party invites on vellum paper within a 4" x 5" space.  You can print two per vellum sheet.
Trim to 4.5" x 6".  (Double check this measurement just to be sure.)
I started with toilet paper rolls, but decided the paper towel rolls were a little bit easier.
Put a strip of adhesive on each end of the blank side of the vellum.  Wrap around paper roll. 

Cut your 12" x 12" glitter paper in half (you will have 2 - 6" x 12" pieces.)  If using toilet paper rolls, go ahead and roll your glitter paper.  I used an left over gift wrapping roll to get the right size. If using a paper towel roll, I left about .5" between the invitation and where I added the glitter paper.  This allowed for a little bit longer light saber.  Use hot glue to secure the roll.
Next add a 6"strip of the aluminum duct tape to the bottom of the glitter paper tube. Its super shiny, but also wrinkles.  I cut a 6" inch strip, then took off the backing and added it to the saber.
To connect the glitter tube to the toilet paper roll, use the electric tape.
To finish it, I added another piece of electrical tape at the base of the toilet paper roll, and buttons made from actual buttons and scrapbooking embellishments.

May The Force Be With YOU!


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