7.30.2013

details: mari's 2nd birthday.

I've finally got some photos to share with you from Mari's birthday party. Channeling all things yellow, like big jars of lemons, mango-flavored gummy bears and homemade banana cake, this is what our house looked like for her big day.
Invitations were custom designed by yours truly. More info. here. Lots of yellow-colored candy, including rock candy on sticks, purchased from Amazon.
Lemonade was served in kid-friendly plastic cups + lids with stripey straws, all from Shop Sweet Lulu. Also from my favorite party shop: yellow tissue paper pom poms you see below.
Happy Birthday garland is a recycled Etsy item from last year's party. It is one of our best investments, and makes regular appearances at everyone's birthday in our house!
On the brunch menu were Mari's favorite things, made extra special: deviled eggs, Camille's asparagus and lemon ricotta crostini (a hit that I will make again and again), quiche from Manhattan Bread & Bagel and fresh berries.

By the way, a side note for my local friends: this was the best quiche I may have ever had, in my life. Blows away any other local, giant specialty food stores.
We do lots of flowers in our house. Lots of white, sprinkled with some yellow in all kinds of mason jars and pitchers.
More Shop Sweet Lulu goodness: party kids took home glassine bags filled with assorted yellow candies.
One more post to come with details on that fun party hat that Mari never wore and her favorite birthday cake!

7.26.2013

friday foto: loving lemons.

Happy Friday! More to come from Mari's 2nd birthday party next week, including an IKEA hack job on one of their signature kids items.

For now, here's the birthday girl sipping on her very own lemonade. Straws and kid-friendly cups from Shop Sweet Lulu, of course.
M's sweet paper white jumper is from Janie and Jack (from last year - I bought this almost one year ago on sale at the end of summer, but they've got a few really cute rompers to check out this season!).

For more Friday Fotos, see last week's post

7.23.2013

party time: mari's birthday invitations.

Of all the invitations I have designed, this was the most challenging, but it's also my favorite to date.
Somewhere in the last year, I fell really in love with the idea of a bright, cheery, lemon-themed party, and it wasn't until I saw Melanie's post on typeface pairings that I knew how to really get started. Typography seems to be what really inspires me, and as usual, Melanie's timing was perfect. Thank goodness.
I sized them up 5.5-inches square and paired them with Paper Source paper bag envelopes (yellow address labels also from Paper Source). Our party was nice and small with Mari's cousins, so I took my time and lots of care sending out all five invitations. What a pleasure it is to do a tiny, manageable project!
More to come this week from the second birthday party!

PS: I'm officially addicted to tissue paper confetti, just like I was last year.

7.19.2013

friday foto: birthday sneak peak.

Where has this week gone? I will claim I've still got a birthday hangover from Mari's fun little party we had last weekend, and promise to share lots of good details with you next week.

Until then, here's a taste of the invitations I designed that inspired a very bright, happy day.
Her cousins and honorary cousins made her feel so special, and it feels like we're all still glowing from the day. Having massive amounts of leftover birthday cake keeps it going, too. Must go snack.

Happy weekend, all! Back next week with lots more goodness.

For more Friday Fotos, see last week's post.

7.12.2013

friday foto: seeing stars.

It turns out that this week has been all about our Fourth weekend, so I'll close with one of my favorite photos.
Mari is obsessed with her cousin Carson's car, which was all decked out for the town's Independence Day festivities. Doesn't he have really good decorating skills? Inherited from his creative mama.

Have a great weekend, all. We're celebrating someone's 2nd birthday tomorrow with our family, and have been working on all sorts of little projects to get ready for the big day. I'll have lots to share with you soon!

For more Friday Fotos, start here

7.11.2013

raspberry crumble bars.

These are my favorite bars in the world. To make. To eat. To share. Big statement, but it's true. They are perfect anytime of year, but felt especially perfect for the Fourth of July. And I know we say this a lot, but this recipe is easy. It relies two delicious store-bought items: raspberry jam and granola.
I shared these last December, when I first made them for a little holiday gathering, and have made them so many times since. Every time I finish off a batch, I just want to make more. They're a Barefoot Contessa special, and since the full recipe is now online, I just had to share it with you and add a few quick tips.
The Barefoot Contessa's Raspberry Crumble Bars
from The Barefoot Contessa: Foolproof, page 210
Yield: 16 square bars (or less, if you like larger bars)

1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
10 to 12 ounces of good raspberry jam
2/3 cup good granola without dried fruit
1/4 cup sliced almonds
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix the butter and sugar in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until just combined. With the mixer on low, add the vanilla.

In a medium mixing bowl, sift or whisk together the flour and salt and with the mixer on low, slowly add to the butter mixture until it comes together and nearly forms a ball.

Turn out dough to a board and with your fingers, gently press 2/3 of the dough evenly into the bottom of a 9 inch square baking pan. It should be about 1/4 inch thick up the sides of the pan.

Spread the jam over the dough, leaving a 1/4 inch border.

With your fingers, mix the remaining dough with the granola into a crumble and break it up evenly over the jam (my favorite part!), covering most of the surfaces. Sprinkle the crumble with the almonds and bake the bars for 45 minutes or until the top is lightly browned.

Cool completely and cut into squares. Dust lightly with confectioners' sugar before serving.
+ this recipe is easily doubled, but I always make it in two square pans (vs. one larger pan).
+ my favorite jarred jam is Bonne Maman.
+ my favorite basic store-bought granola is Vons' Open Nature naturally-flavored granola with honey and nuts. It's light - in flavor and color - and compliments these bars beautifully.
+ about baking: mind the gap. Be sure to leave a tiny border between the jam and the pan. If you spread the jam all the way to the sides of the pan, you will never get the bars out. Or you will sweat trying. Promise.

7.08.2013

it's popsicle season.

Hope you had a wonderful July 4th! We did all sorts of all-American things, like eat way too much, light some sparklers and enjoy s'mores with our family. We also made popsicles. Reason #492 that I love having a kid: Mari inspires me to bring back summer traditions, like making homemade popsicles.

Last summer breezed by and I regretted not investing in some popsicle molds. For almost a year, I've had my eye on this set, which we broke into over the holiday weekend.
There is nothing magical about how these popsicles were made. It's all in the enjoyment that ends up on the face and down the clothes (see Instagram for the proof!). We simply pureed fresh cut watermelon in a blender, poured and froze, and then slurped down a few hours later.

Making popsicles with Mari was messy, but really worth it. She loved watching the blender whirl away, and then eating her own little sample of watermelon juice before it went into the molds. We have big dreams of making all kinds of creamsicles with different flavors this summer, but until then, here are a few quick tips if you are new to popsicles, and are using molds that require wooden sticks:
+ for watermelon popsicles, one small, personal-sized watermelon was more than enough to fill all ten popsicle molds.

+ soak the sticks in warm water for at least an hour before inserting into the molds to give them some weight.

+ once ready to enjoy, run warm water over the lid and the molds to loosen.

+ I know some people wrap their popsicles in wax paper, but I just stored them in my favorite glasslock containers, and they weren't too hard to separate at all (just like storing Mari's baby food back in the day, actually!).
A grown up version of these popsicles, spiked with some booze, would be so fun for a summer party. Someone try it, for the sake of pregnant people everywhere, and please report back.

7.03.2013

insta-june.

Well, hello, July. You are quickly becoming my favorite month - though I feel like I'm always saying that - and that's because this is Mari's birthday month. So many wonderful memories to re-live around this time of year. I started working on a little family party for her, which we're celebrating in a couple of weeks, and I shared a sneak peak of the invitations on Instagram a couple of weeks ago... along with lots of other goodness from the month.

More to come on the party, by the way. It's basically the one thing that is keeping me inspired and creative as my mind wanders to all sorts of other things, like having another kid. Yikes.
1. early first days of summer = post-dinner walks to the sand, 2. getting back into the kitchen is feeling better and better; summer sweet corn, perfect tomatoes and crisp veggies taste so good in this salmon salad, one of our favorites, 3. my tiny tap dancer, in her very first dance class (she calls her tap shoes "tappies"), 4. the 2nd birthday party invites I designed (more to come!), 5. father's day morning started on the soccer field, one of Mari's favorite places in the world (mostly because there's a park with two slides right next to it), 6. my favorite banana bread wrapped in parchment paper and twine, 7. this is what I would have looked like if I wore glasses when I was a kid, 8.* I helped a sweet friend pen the seating cards for her Maui wedding, and this is what white paint pen in all caps on silk leaves looks like - cool, eh?, 9. pool day at my parent's on the hottest weekend of the summer yet!

Follow along on Insta with me: @alisonsalcedo.

And, by the way, I wish all of you a very happy Fourth! I am barely getting around to recycling a few decorations from Memorial Day, but cannot wait to celebrate our independence on this long, summer weekend.

Here's to the land of the free and the home of the brave!

* I'm sorry to say that we were not actually in Maui for the wedding. This photo is courtesy of my bestie Amanda, who was there and for whom this place card was written with an extra squeeze of love.