So far 2016 has been the year of showers: bridal, baby and spring! 🙂
This past weekend my friend Carrie and I helped with a shower for our friend Jen. Jen’s friend Trish was in charge, but she was sadly not able to make it to the shower from New York due to school conflicts, so she did what she could from afar, and we all collaborated on ideas together through text and a shared Pinterest board. I love Pinterest! Jen’s main wedding color is Kelly green, so we started with that and then added some touches of pink because we thought they were really pretty together. Jen does not love pink… so we tried to keep it minimal… 🙂
Also Jen’s wedding theme is sort of outdoorsy-farmy-backyard picnic so we tried to stay close to that. I made a quilt-like board for the mantle by cutting 2 inch squares of paper and taping them to a piece of square bead board that I had.
And since every backyard/outdoor reception has strung lights we had to have some hanging over the living room. Since we had the shower in the evening, these were really pretty as it got darker. I still haven’t taken them down…
This is a huge moment. I am about to make you very, very happy. Because I am sharing with you something that is truly amazing. This could be a life changer.
Many, many years ago a coworker gave me this recipe. For pumpkin bars with a cream cheese frosting. And let me tell you, they are so good. Every year since then, the holiday season beginning for me on October 1st, that I love so much, is not complete without making these at least once. I don’t even really like very many foods with pumpkin. But I love these so much. And now I am sharing this source of joy with you. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.
- 4 eggs
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup oil
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 cups pumpkin
- 2 cups flour
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 2 tsp cinnamon
Beat eggs and sugar well. Add oil, vanilla, and pumpkin. Mix well. Add flour, salt, and cinnamon. Grease and flour or spray cookie sheet or bundt pan. Bake at 350 25-30 minutes for sheet pan, or 45-50 minutes for bundt pan. (I have only ever used the sheet pan).
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 3 oz. cream cheese
- 2 T. Milk
- ½ cup butter softened, not melted
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 cups powdered sugar
Beat well with a mixer until fluffy then spread over warm cake or cooled squares.
I like them best if the bars are refrigerated before eating and served with a glass of cold milk.
This past weekend I threw a graduation party for Vu and of course any celebration for Vu must require at least something Star Wars related. So the whole party was Star Wars themed. Even though we were celebrating his graduation with his MBA and not his 5th birthday party. Because if you look up Star Wars parties on Pinterest they are all 5 year old birthday parties. (Same thing goes for Star Wars sheets, to Vu’s disappointment).
I made a paper banner to hang over the mantle. Vu informed me after I hung it up that I made a spelling mistake. Apparently it is Padawan. I have a Star Wars font that I used as a template and drew the letters on yellow paper, cut them out and stuck them on some black and white squares and then strung them on some baker’s twine. I also pulled some artwork from Vu’s man cave for the mantle. I painted these water color pictures for Vu and they were the only framed art that Vu didn’t have hung in the man cave and I really hate hanging pictures, so I didn’t want to take any off of the walls that I would have to rehang. I am super proud of the Yoda, it is my favorite.
I also stole all of his stuffed animals to decorate the piano with.
I created a Star Wars “ceiling” over the living room and I really liked how it changed the feel of the room. I strung black crepe paper streamers across it and made some star garlands by punching out stars from white cardstock and sewing them together. We of course had the music from all the movies playing throughout the whole house. Continue reading
The first time that I had Pho was at a restaurant with Vu. I did not like it. I could have cared less if I ever went back. A few years later Vu and I were engaged and Vu’s mom invited us over for dinner and she made Pho. And it was amazing. I LOVED it! I figured that maybe I just didn’t like the way that particular restaurant made it. Vu’s mom made if for me a few more times after that. Then Father’s day came around and she was out of town, so Vu wanted to take his Dad out to a Vietnamese restaurant. When he got there Vu suggested that I order the Pho (because he didn’t think I would like anything else there). And I was really excited about it. And then I ate it. And I was reminded of my first experience.
Fast forward and we are married and we just bought our house, that was going to take 9 months to build. Our apartment lease ended and the rent increased significantly. Vu’s parents generously offered to let us live with them for free until our house was finished being built. I had come to the realization at this point that I don’t like most Vietnamese food. Except Pho. I asked Vu’s mom why hers was so much better than any that I had at the Pho restaurants. It’s because the proprietors have this idea that Americans like their food bland. And they cut out a bunch of the flavor. So taking advantage of the temporary living situation I asked Vu’s mom if she would teach me how to make Pho. And let me tell you, it is a process. It takes 2 days. It also isn’t an exact recipe, it’s a “taste and add this” kind of deal. I did nothing except watch her and take notes.
So over a year later and I finally got ambitious enough to try it on my own. It took me 2 days. When Vu came home he said it smelled like Pho. When I poured it into the bowl it looked like Pho. But when we ate it, it did not taste like my mother–in-law’s Pho. The restaurant Pho was better than this. Which was very, very sad. Vu said it was inedible. For all of that cooking down and simmering, there was still no flavor. And the noodles were undercooked. My noodles were better than Vu’s, but still not cooked enough. And as we know from “Top Chef” if you serve something undercooked, “please pack your knives and go.” Before Vu’s mom taught me she was a little bit hesitant because she was afraid if I learned how to make it for myself, then I would never want her to make it for me. There is absolutely no danger of that happening. Maybe in a long while I will try again. As long as my mother-in-law comes to my house and watches me do the whole thing. It may take me my whole lifetime to achieve her perfection. Or I may give up and never try to get there. It’s a lot of work for a dish that is “inedible.” We shall see.
Also. It’s possible I love cilantro. And put way more in than is normal.
Also. Vu’s favorite Vietnamese dish is a spicy beef soup and he doesn’t love Pho. When we lived with Vu’s parents and his mom found out I liked Pho she made it all the time and not the spicy beef soup. 🙂
So Vu believes that our society thinks that anything that is miniature or oversized is adorable. I am not quite sold on the oversized portion of the theory, but I fully support the mini-sized portion. Because I absolutely love anything that is mini. I mean come on. How can you not love something that is tiny. The word adorable is pretty much in the dictionary definition of mini. So when I saw this mini food party on “Oh Happy Day” I knew that I had to host one too. Because I pretty much thought it was the most adorable thing ever. Also. I pretty much copied everything, except I used different recipes. Because did you see it? Adorable! And I had these little tiny bottles of Martinelli’s Sparkling Cider. That I found at the dollar store before Christmas last year. I am pretty much obsessed with them. I had to find these ones online because apparently they are a seasonal item. But this year I am going to the dollar store and I am going to stock up.
So do you want to know what we ate? Continue reading