Thursday, October 29, 2015

Jewell's 13th Birthday Party...Sloppy Joes

Well, it's time to wrap up Jewell's 13th birthday celebration with one last post. Today I want to give you the recipe for the sloppy joes we had that night. I also wanted to share a few candid pictures from the party. 

For years, I used a can of tomato paste and an envelope packet of sloppy joe seasoning mix to make sloppy joes. One night, I had promised to make sloppy joes before realizing I had no seasoning pack. I had already thawed my meat and had it browning, so I jumped online to find a quick recipe for homemade sloppy joes. Well - I found several. After trying about three or four, this is the one I have settled on. It is sooooo good!

Homemade Sloppy Joes

1 lb ground beef
1 small can tomato paste
1 can water
3 tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp mustard powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 chopped onion, optional

I love onion in mine. I finely chop it (so my kids don't know it's there!) and toss it in with the beef. It will soften and become translucent while the beef browns. If your family doesn't like onion, leave it out. I omitted it for the party, but be warned, you'll miss it. 

Begin by browning your ground beef. Once meat is browned, drain off any grease and add spices. Allow this to cook for a couple of minutes until you begin to smell the spices. This is allowing the spices to really bloom and develop flavor. 

Next, add tomato paste and cook it for a couple of minutes. This intensifies the tomato flavor, as well as adding to the beefy taste.

Next, add water and mix well. Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes on low heat.

Finally, add the vinegar. This just finishes it off by adding a little tang to the sweet flavors.

I usually toast our buns in the oven and add a slice of cheese at the last moment.
I love mine with Sweet 'Tater Tots.

For the party, I multiplied my recipe by seven, and once it was mixed, I dumped it in the crock pot and set it on low. About four hours later, it was ready to go!

We seem to ALWAYS have hot dogs at our outdoor parties, so this was a nice change! I had just enough leftover to freeze for one meal later on.

Now - on to the party!

WARNING - my photography is amateur at best. Night photography is not my forte, so please overlook the bad pictures. I just wanted you to get a feel for the fun the kids had!

Gerald led us in prayer before eating.

Preparing for a hayride...

Returning from a hayride...

On the hayride!

Driving the hayride! (OK - you get the picture...)

Several of Jewell's besties have brothers Brack's age. He loved having his friends there, too.

The weather was perfect! Chilly, but nice. The fire pits were burning and helped to keep everyone comfortable.

Strike a pose...

I attempted a photo "booth".

The skeleton came from Costco last year and was intended to be used for anatomy. Unfortunately, he lost his head during the party. Now I think I'll use him as we study the French Revolution!

I had bought this frame to use in a project for Jewell's room. Eventually, it will be painted white, but for the party, it was perfect in black. 

I had a couple of tubs filled with fun props from Dollar Tree.

Jewell also posed for pictures with her friends.

She loved having all her buds there to celebrate!

She's already looking like a teenager!

She had friends from swim team, church, ACA, homeschool co-op and Taekwondo there.

I think they all enjoyed it. There's something about playing outside after dark that kids just love!

I think this is my favorite shot of the night. After most everyone had left, we started to clean up. Brack, Gregory and Lydia decided to "help" me clean up the chocolate fountain by drinking what was left! Trust me. This didn't happen while everyone was there.  That I know of...

Well - my girl turned 13. And we've all survived! We are so very proud of her. She is as beautiful inside as she is outside! Happy Birthday Jewell!

I'm so glad you stopped by my neck of the woods!
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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Jewell's 13th Birthday Party...The Decorations

Yesterday, I shared with you the invitation for Jewell's 13th Birthday Party. You can see all the details here. Her birthday is October 2nd, and she's always wanted a Halloween-themed party. Since we have a big Halloween Party each year, we've never done that, but as 13 is a special birthday, we decided to do it this year. So - the Halloween Party you'll see in a week or so will be similar. But not quite as extravagant!

I told you yesterday that the invitations that we hand made would set the color scheme for the party. Black and orange are traditional Halloween colors, but to make this a little more girly, we chose to use her favorite blue as an accent color. It made it a little less Halloween and a little more "Jewell"!

You can't see it, but I always place a black Sharpie pen with the drinks so people can write their name on their cups. It helps people to keep up with their drinks...some!

The little black owl is from Dollar Tree. If you live in Wetumpka, don't bother looking. We wiped them out!

I am forever buying paper plates. And if you want them to match, they're not going to be very strong. Well, I have solved that problem! I found these great brown craft paper food baskets on Amazon. Here's the link. I got 500 (!!!!!) for $43.48. That's .08 cents a tray! They're big and very sturdy. They're also easier to hold than a plate. I'm pretty excited about these. And the craft paper brown should go with everything. You'll be seeing these a lot at my outdoor parties.

Blue napkins from Party City match the blue plastic cups. The orange polka dot napkins came from Party City as well. I thought the dot would add a little pattern to the table. I put my napkins in a deep Halloween bowl to keep them from blowing away.

I have to pause for a moment and show you something. This is a haul I made last year a few days after Halloween. I got well over a $100 worth of stuff for $25 including tax. It had gone 75%-90 off. I got Halloween napkins for .25 a pack and Halloween cupcake liners for .10 a pack! The black tubs were $1 each.  I got 5!

Here's one of the black tubs above, holding tortilla chips. We had sloppy joes and nachos for supper. I know what you're thinking...but remember, this was a party for kids! I had one crockpot of plain nacho cheese sauce (Velveeta and milk) and one with Rotel tomatoes.

We also had a table set up with popcorn and a chocolate fountain. I had a little time at the last minute (shocker!) and made a garland of Halloween cupcake liners. I have enjoyed the ones I made for my last Miss Manners party. In fact, they're still on the backs of my chairs! It took about 100 liners to make an 8 foot garland.

We entertain outdoors so much, that I decided to invest in a large commercial grade popcorn maker. It was easy to use, and the kids loved it. Brack alone ate several bags! There were a few plastic "severed" hands on the table to help bag the popcorn!

My mother-in-law loves chocolate. I mean she REALLY loves chocolate! So we gave her this chocolate fountain for Christmas a few years ago. She uses it anytime she hosts a crowd, and the ladies from her Sunday school class get downright giddy about it! Well, we borrowed it for the party. She usually serves various fruits with it, but since Jewell's party was so large, I had to be a little more economical. I had a large container of strawberries from Costco, but then I used marshmallows, pretzel rods and Rice Krispy treats! The kids didn't care what they were dipping in chocolate. I could have just pulled bark off a tree, and they'd have eaten it!

I channelled my best Haley Scott and wrote the above little diddy on a chalkboard. It was next to the chocolate fountain.

Finally, we had a candy buffet. I gathered my glass containers and filled them with fun assorted candies. I ordered the gumballs online, but the rest came from Walmart. I bought little plastic scoops online to help the kids "control" their portions!

A couple of years ago, I bought some black fabric tablecloths from Walmart. I had been buying the cheap plastic ones at Dollar tree, only to throw them away. I decided it was worth the investment. It was. I use them often, not just at Halloween.

I picked up a yard of pretty sheer black fabric with a spiderweb design at Hobby Lobby for the center of the table. It's hard to see in pictures, but it was really nice in person.

I bough some small brown paper bags for the candy, and used my Stampin' Up stamps to decorate them. I also let Jewell pick out a few new Halloween decorations at Hobby Lobby one week when they were half off. They're a little more elegant than our usual spooky designs and went well with the "teenage" feel for the party.

Believe it or not, I had some candy left over. This jar of Skittles is still on my dining room table. The kids say they help them focus during school. Right...

The Carpe Noctem sign was a very last minute purchase. It went well with the Dollar Tree owls and the owl on her invites. Plus, kids absolutely love playing outside at night!

Here's a closeup of the Stampin' Up supplies I used to decorate the candy bags.

Finally, we used large spiders (from Dollar Tree of course!) to decorate the garage door.

Well - there you have it! The decorations from Jewell's 13th Birthday Party. Tomorrow I'll share with you the recipe for the sloppy joes. They were delicious! Come on back tomorrow!

I'm so glad you stopped by my neck of the woods!
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Monday, October 26, 2015

Jewell's 13th Birthday Party...The Invitation

Jewell turned 13 back at the beginning of the month, and we had her family birthday dinner while Gerald's parents were in town for Faulkner's Benefit Dinner. She chose a shrimp boil for her birthday supper, and you can read more about that here. She has always wanted to have a Halloween-themed birthday party, and with our busy schedule, it had to be scheduled later in the month.

We hand made her invitations using supplies from Stampin' Up. The patterned paper came from Hobby Lobby and I found the "just hand over the candy" stamp on eBay. We thought it was perfect!

This is the kit I used. Here is a link to their online store. The stamp set is called "Howl-O-Ween" and the framelits are called "Boo To You". I bought them together as a set and saved 15%. I know I'll use this set for years to come!

The first thing I did was stamp everything.

Then I used the framelits to cut out the stamped images. I ran all of these through at one time in order to be more efficient. Which was good, since we made 50 invitations!

Once all the images were cut out, I separated them to make assembly easier.

Then I used my scoring board to score and cut the cards. I also cut out the patterned panels from paper I got at Hobby Lobby.

Jewell helped me to cut everything out. She has really gotten into card making, as well, and we have taken several classes together.

Again, here's the finished product.

I printed the inside on my computer and then cut it to size.

I think they came out great! Everyone loved them, and I used them for my color scheme for the party decorations.

Check back in each day this week to see more details from the party!

I'm so glad you stopped by my neck of the woods!
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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

I HEART...Krispy Cheese Squares

Everybody loves Wednesday, right?
The week's half over.  The weekend is on the way.
What's not to love?
Each Wednesday, I want to share something with you
that I absolutely love and can't live without!

You might not guess it, but I'm a simple girl, with simple tastes. Give me some spicy cheese straws and a Dr. Pepper, and just leave me alone! As much as I love cheese straws, I've never mastered them. They're just too hard. But Krispy Cheese Squares aren't!

Here's a look at the food from the Miss Manners Cupcake Party. Remember - it was scheduled for 2:00 on a Sunday afternoon, so light refreshments were all that was needed. Add Pineapple Lemonade and, of course, CUPCAKES, to the above, and we had a nice little snack!

Krispy Cheese Squares

2 cups grated sharp cheddar, at room temp
2 or 3 dashes Tabasco sauce (or more if desired)
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups Rice Krispies cereal
1 stick butter, at room temp

Add all ingredients to a bowl and mix. It's easiest to mix it with you hands.

TIP - Please don't use bagged shredded cheese. It is coated with a flour like substance to keep it from sticking together in the bag. It is very dry and doesn't mix well. 

Work it with your hands until it becomes well mixed and about the texture of corn meal.
No lumps, please!

Lay out a piece of parcment paper (or wax paper) and begin to press it into a log shape.

Then begin to form it into a rectangle with flat sides.

Roll it up in the parchement paper and then in plastic wrap.
Store in the fridge for several hours or until firm.
I made these on Thursday and baked them off on Sunday.
I doubled the recipe.

Remove from fridge when firm and slice off in thin slices (about 1/4" - no more!).

Place on parchment-lined baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for about 15-20 minutes or until done. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes on the tray. They will get more golden on the bottom, so I flip them over when plating. 

Flavor wise, these taste like a cheese straw, but they are crunchy because of the Rice Krispies! Try them. You'll love them! If you have any left, store them on the counter in an airtight container for no more than two days...if they last that long! 

That wraps up the Miss Manners Cupcake Party! Hope you enjoyed it!

I'm so glad you stopped by my neck of the woods!
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