Thank You!

Today is TITYN's 1st Birthday!  I cannot believe a year ago today was the first post, American Flag Wreath.  I would just like to say THANK YOU for being my neighbor and allowing me to share with you!  Thank you for the support and encouragement you offer through comments on this site, stops in the grocery store, personal emails and yells across the day school hall.  :)  I appreciate all of it!  I had no idea how much fun a blog could be and how much joy it could bring.  I'm looking forward to many more birthdays for this blog!  Again, I say:

Tonight we're celebrating with Pink's Pizza (it's my favorite meal on earth, tell it to your neighbor!) and the premier of Big Brother!!!  Yes, we watch it.  The summer we were at home with a newborn got us hooked, it's on 3 nights a week!


A Platter Big Enough For Three

This was the first time I needed a very big platter to hold a very big cake, a number 3 shaped birthday cake.  I had seen things wrapped in aluminum foil which would have been fine but I thought I might be able to quickly make something cute and festive.  So I went to our kids' art supplies and found a Mickey Mouse coloring book and our patterned construction paper.

I took our biggest cutting board and covered and the top of it with the patterned paper.  To keep it down, I taped the corners and a few other spots.  Then I cut a few characters from the coloring pages and taped them to the top.  After that I covered it all with translucent Parchment Paper (not wax) by wrapping and taping the paper to the bottom of the cutting board.

Next I placed the cake!  We made the number three out of two bundt cakes (here's where the idea originated).

number 3 shaped cake

Then before I started icing, it was a "good thing" I did this:

And here's our finished cake.  The theme of the birthday party was "Mickey Mouse Orange" and I'll have to explain that in a future post.

If you ever need a big platter, go to the kids' art cabinet and cover a cutting board!


Summer Foodie Finds

Have you ever wished you could get PB&J from a drive-thru?  I have, for myself and my picky eaters!  Well, this food truck is pretty darn close to a drive-thru.  It's the MONSTER PBJ food truck, tell it to your neighbor!

I stumbled upon it a couple weeks ago when I tried to take my daughter to The Menil.  The museum was closed on this day and we were so disappointed!  Then something caught our eye and saved the day!   In the parking lot of the Menil was the Monster PBJ truck.  And as it turns out, the truck is there 4 days a week, Saturday through Tuesday, from 11 am to 6 pm.  Again, TITYN!  The Menil parking lot entrance is on W. Alabama between Mandell and Mulberry.

Take a look at the menu below.  This is the reason the truck saved the day, they had Nutella and my daughter got to choose how it was sliced!  What kid wouldn't be happy with chocolate and the freedom to choose??? 

On our first visit I went with the traditional peanut butter, bananas and honey, delicious!  On our second visit I went with the owner's favorite: peanut butter, blueberry jam and sliced apples, WOW SO GOOD!!  And the bread is awesome because it's not too thick for the kids.

I was also excited about the cold Topo Chico!

It looks like Monster PBJ is parked at the Contemporary Arts Museum the rest of the week.  So if you're planning a trip to the museum district this summer or if you live in the area, this is an awesome and healthy lunch option.  I like being able to pick it up before I get the kids from camp at noon, it's less of a rush to eat lunch before naptime.  :)  And can you imagine this guy rolling up to a block party?  Fun!  How cool is his license plate:

This next foodie find could mean trouble for me.  Coffee, donuts and a drive-thru.  It's River Oaks Donuts and it quietly opened last week!

My report is thumbs up on the coffee and the donuts!  Also, I just learned they serve kolaches from Prasek's!  I will be returning often, very often.  River Oaks Donuts is located near St. Luke's United Methodist at the corner of Westheimer and Joanel.

The third and final foodie find stopped me in my tracks, Green Plate Kitchen is at H-E-B!  It looks like you can find it at the Bunker Hill, Buffalo Speedway or Montrose locations.  This pic is from the Montrose Market H-E-B.

I love the Banana Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins.  They're made with applesauce and butternut squash and they are so good!  It's an easy breakfast for us and my kids get a veggie!

Summer Foodie Finds!  If you're in Houston or ever visit I hope you enjoy eating these foodie finds as much as we did!


Easy Homemade Father's Day Cakes

Here are two ideas for a homemade Father's Day Cake.  This first idea is so easy it feels like cheating.  Ha!  It's a cookie cake and this is all I needed from the grocery store:

I followed these instructions on Pillsbury.com and I may have added a little more cookie dough from a second roll and I may have cooked it a little longer as well.

Kiddo participation?  Check!  The kids can press out the dough.  Also, to decorate the cake, I traced their hands with the Vanilla Easy Frost and then filled in with the Chocolate Easy Frost.  FYI- This icing was hard to track down in these two flavors, I finally found them at Target.

I only had a few minutes to finish icing the rest of the cake and I'm not a cake decorator!  But, I'm still pretty happy with how it turned out.  It's cute, homemade, not professional and their Daddy will love it!

The second idea is Paula Deen's Frozen Banana Split cake.  I've made it twice for my husband's birthday (pre-blog so excuse the bad pics).  It's basically layering ice cream sandwiches and toppings. Again, it felt like cheating but we loved it!  We made it in the winter but I think it probably tastes better in the summer!

Here's Paula's recipe.  I recommend eliminating an ingredient or going easy on a few ingredients.  The dessert is RICH and delicious!  Here it is frozen:

These two cake ideas can also be made a couple days ahead of time and they're easy to hide and disguise from the man of the hour.  Our cookie cake is being stored in the fridge outside with an extra pan on top:

I wonder what's in there???  Something special!


Slurried Brick

I love driving around and looking at houses.  Sometimes I'll put my kids in the car with their breakfast, drive-thru coffee for me and then drive around sipping coffee, looking at houses for as long as they'll tolerate it. :)  I get more ideas and inspiration by driving around than I do from Pinterest or magazines.  The eyes need real!  For example, how cool are these wrapped trees we saw in some one's side yard?  After experiencing The Blue Trees, we will be doing something similar to a tree in our backyard.

My phone is full of pictures like this, I've kinda become shameless when it comes to taking pictures now that I have this blog.  Lately, the best idea I've seen while driving around is a new (to me) treatment on brick.  Here is a new construction home in my neighborhood with the brick treatment that caught my eye, LOVE it:

After trying to figure out on my own what this is called, I finally just called the builder.  David of Horace Homes was very kind to answer all of my questions about his lovely home.  He said they called it a Slurry, basically it's colored mortar troweled over brick.  Here's a close-up:

Slurried brick, mortar washed, sacked brick

So pretty!  If I were building a home, the exterior would be Slurried Brick, no doubt about it.  I love how soft and vintage it looks.  It's smooth but you can still see the brick pattern underneath.  The best part is it's not painted, the color is the mortar.  I even asked David what color the brick was underneath, he said it's the same as the brick on the drive-way:

How and wow!  How is that ↑ under this ↓?  Beautiful and gorgeous job, tell it to your neighbor!!!

Here's another beautiful home I found while driving around with a similar or same slurried brick treatment:

slurried brick, mortar washing, sacking

From what I've gathered Slurried Brick could also be called Mortar Washed or Sacked.  David said it costs about about 30% more than your regular brick and mortar.  I love it.  It's unique, it's understated and it's beautiful.


Minnie Mouse Birthday Party, Part 2

And now for the 2nd part of our Minnie Mouse Birthday Party (here's part 1), sorry for the wait!  Our daughter wanted to have her party at WonderWild again and so I knew from experience the bulk of the budget would go there.  I also knew I'd only have a few seconds to set up anything we brought from home.  So my party planning theme was Minimal Minnie, big bang for little bucks.  Here are the details of our party:

The Invitations:  This is where I originally met Lauren with MamaMoonlights.  She designed these 5"x7" invitations and emailed them to me.  I sent them to a local printer, A&E (sformat@aecomplex.com), and they printed them on the heaviest uncoated stock they have in-house (Classic Crest Solar White 110# Cover).  The invites were cut and ready to go when I picked them up.  The envelopes are from Paper-Source and our birthday girl insisted on drawing a heart on every one!

minnie mouse birthday invitation

The Statement Piece:  In order to make this an official Minnie Mouse party, Minnie needed to make her presence known.  Ha!  So I brought one big Minnie balloon and swagged a few pom pom garlands below her.  Here's a similar tissue pom garland from Polka Dot Market

minnie mouse party decor

The Table:  WonderWild offers balloon bouquets as an extra so I ordered a couple pink & white bouquets for the table.  Our snack plate was Minnie Mouse and our napkins and dessert plates were generic pink and white.  When it comes to character parties, I'm all for less is more.  If Minnie were all over everything, she might get lost.

minnie mouse party hats

The Snack:  My nephew has a dairy allergy so I do my best to make things dairy-free for him.  I think what I came up with is still a great snack for all.  He can eat Snyder's Mini Pretzels and they're kinda shaped like Mickey Mouse.  Then I found flavored apples with Disney Characters on the packages.  They were a hit and are available at both Super Target and Walmart.  Both snacks are available as snack packs which is very convenient!

We've got ears, say cheers!
crunch pak
minnie mouse party snacks

An Activity:  Some kids eat faster than others and who likes to wait for cake?  Not me!  So I made our party hats from Henson Creations into an activity with round Avery Labels.  I didn't make an announcement or anything, kids just started adding polka dots to their hats as they were waiting for cake.

minnie mouse birthday party

Something Just For Fun:  We gave each kid a mouse nose by coloring the tip of their nose with a face paint stick.  Then they played so hard it wore off before I could get any pictures.  Here are the remains:

The Cake: I posted about the cake here, it was not dairy free but my sister brought something for my nephew.  Here's another pic:

minnie mouse birthday party

The Party Favors:  I think it was chef Tyler Florence who suggested dark chocolate as a great treat for kids because it has less sugar than other candies.  So when we decided to give chocolate bars we went with Dark Chocolate, always going for happy kiddos and happy parents.  :)  I posted about these party favors earlier this year as part of the Service Series, check it out here.

minnie mouse party favors

The Thank-You Notes:  This is the biggest "tell it to your neighbor" ever!  Thank you notes are not easy for me so, this year we changed the rules in order to get the message to our friends that we are thankful.   As my daughter was opening her gifts she would pause to take a picture with her gift.  Over the next week I sent messages to our family and friends via text.  This was fun, my daughter was involved and it actually got done!  Here's an example of a text we sent to my sister:

texting thank you notes

It's been almost 9 months since this party so I've learned a few things since then:
  • Get your balloons from Party City and have them add Hi-Float so your Minnie is not deflated by party time.
  • It looks like MamaMoonlights isn't selling characters anymore through her etsy shop due to policy, however I bet she could create great products that are inspired by Minnie Mouse with pink and white polka dots or bows...  I wish Disney would find a way to allow artists to use their characters to benefit everyone, especially the picky party planner like me.  Here's another really cute Minnie Invitation.
  • Before I do my next set of Thank You Note Texts I will be updating my phone's software and adding this app called Shapely, tell it to your neighbor!  So cool!  I haven't updated my phone because I love Google maps!  Anyone know a way around this?
So, if there is a Minnie or Mickey Mouse party in your future I hope these ideas help you create something wonderful without stressing.