Cheers to Vegan Sweets Cookbook #Giveaway (8/7-8/15) US

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IMG_2487You know what’s more awesome than winning a copy of Cheers to Vegan Sweets: Drink-Inspired Vegan Desserts by Kelly Peloza? Winning TWO copies of it! A couple of months ago I won a copy of Cheers to Vegan Sweets from Cut Out and Keep. The prize finally showed up this past week. I was excited to get it, because I haven’t made vegan treats before and I’m interested in trying them out.

Then two days later another copy of it showed up! What!? Someone at the publishing company must have made a mistake. Should I have contacted the publisher to return the second book? Probably. But I’m sure they’d tell me to keep it. Plus, I have a group of awesome readers who love baking, so hopefully they won’t have a problem with me sharing it with you!

If you’d like to check out a couple of the recipes from the book, click here!

How to Enter

To enter, leave your name and email address in the mandatory entry in the Rafflecopter widget below. That’s it! If you’d like to increase your chances of winning, enter as many of the optional entries as you want. Some are even daily!

Rules

Entrant must be 18 years of age or older and be a resident of the US. Shane’s Killer Cupcakes is mailing this prize and only US addresses will be accepted. This giveaway starts at 12:01am EST on 08/07/14 and ends at 11:59pm EST 08/15/14.

For the complete giveaway rules, click here.

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Shabby Chic Tea Party

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The tea party was a success! Putting on a party mostly by yourself is a tad daunting, but I’m really pleased with how everything turned out. Of course I was getting things ready all the way up to when people started to arrive, so I didn’t get all the photographs of the decor I wanted, but these pictures will give you an idea of what it looked like.

I made most of the decor myself. I explained how to make some of the decor here and here. For this lovely background, I found instructions at KoJo Designs for the paper flowers and at Shiny Happy Sprinkles for the paper fringed backdrop. It’s a really great idea for an inexpensive background that looks pretty and covers a good sized area. Something like this would be perfect for a photo booth background too!

I invited my guests with these home made tea invites. The invite is about the size of a business card and I attached it to a bag of tea.

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I asked my friends to dress up in their nicest clothes, and while everyone did, I put an accessories table together just in case someone didn’t have any fancy jewelry or hats to wear.

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There was one table that had all the tea supplies ready and I decorated the fireplace and mantel with flowers, candles, and the fabric swag and tea party banner that I showed you how to make last week. I had various glassware for my guests to drink iced teas from, but my favorites were these milk bottles I decorated with ribbon and paper flowers.

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The food table had all sorts of treats that fluctuated throughout the day. I provided tea sandwiches, cookies, biscuits and jam, petits fours, popcorn, fruit salad and candy. There was a ton to eat!

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These chocolate-dipped shortbread tea bag cookies were a hit! You can find the recipe for them here. The petits fours were also popular, especially the chocolate ones since they were devoured before I was able to get a closeup photo of them. If you’d like to make the petits fours click here for the recipe.

Thanks for joining me for my tea party!

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Dainty Petits Fours

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One of the cute treats I made for my Afternoon Tea Party this weekend was a batch of cute petits fours. They are a little labor intensive, but I cut some corners to make them a little easier than some petits fours can be.

They’re made out of pre-made poundcake that you can find in the freezer section of your grocery store, strawberry jam, and melted canned frosting. If you want them to be a little decorated, use sprinkles, frosting or candy confetti. I also made some petits fours with chocolate frosting, but they were eaten before I could get a picture of them!

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Dainty Petits Fours

Ingredients

  • 1 frozen loaf of pre-made poundcake
  • 1 can of vanilla frosting and/or 1 can of chocolate frosting
  • Candies, frosting, or sprinkles for decor
  • Fruit jam or jelly for filling

Instructions

  1. Defrost the poundcake and then trim off the dark edges all the way around the cake. Don't trim off too much cake though.
  2. Cut the cake into 1/2 inch slices.
  3. With a 1-1.5 inch square cookie cutter, cut slices into squares. You should be able to get two squares per slice.
  4. Spread jam on one square and sandwich it with another square. Repeat until you've used all the cake pieces.
  5. Take a jellyroll pan or a pan with a raised edge lined with foil or waxed paper and place a cookie rack in it.
  6. Melt the frosting in a bowl for 10-15 seconds. If the frosting is thin enough, move onto the next instruction, otherwise, heat for a few more seconds until the frosting is nice and runny.
  7. Put the cake sandwiches on the rack and drizzle melted frosting over them until they are fully covered on all visible sides.
  8. Before the frosting sets up, place your decor candy or sprinkles on top of each petit four.
  9. Place the pan in the fridge until the frosting has set completely.
  10. Serve petits fours in mini cupcake wrappers for clean handling.
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Chocolate-Dipped Shortbread Tea Bag Cookies

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IMG_2225_2I’ve been planning a tea party for some time now and saw a picture of some tea bag cookies on a blog called Le Pétrin that I thought were cute, but it was in French, which I sadly cannot read. That’s when I decided to figure it out myself because I really wanted to include these at my party.

I found some shortbread mix in the baking aisle and decided that would be a great base for these cookies. I made a little tea pot tag in Photoshop and tied them onto the finished cookies with some thread. They were a total hit at my party!

Chocolate-Dipped Shortbread Tea Bag Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 package Betty Crocker Shortbread Cookie Mix or a recipe from scratch (and whatever ingredients are needed to makes these)
  • 1 package of chocolate melting candy

Instructions

  1. Make the cookie dough according to the instructions of your mix or recipe and roll it out on a floured surface to 1/4 inch thick.
  2. Cut cookies into tea bag shapes by making rectangles and cutting the corners off one short side.
  3. Poke a hole near the top of the cookie with a wooden skewer.
  4. Bake as directed on your cookie mix package or recipe.
  5. After they are done baking, let cool for a minute or two on the baking sheet, and then move them to a cooling rack.
  6. If the holes have closed up a little, re-poke the holes with the skewer while the cookies are still warm.
  7. Once the cookies are fully cooled, melt some chocolate in a mug in 15-30 second increments until its fully melted. If the chocolate is too thick, add a little cooking oil to thin it.
  8. Dip the cookies about a third of the way into the chocolate and place on a baking sheet covered in wax paper.
  9. Place in the fridge until the chocolate sets up.
  10. Create a tag on your computer or just cut up little blank squares and punch a small hole in it for string.
  11. Once the cookies are fully chilled, tie the string with the tag attached to the cookie.
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***07/23/14 Edited to include the source for my idea.
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D.I.Y. Shabby Chic Party Decor {Part 2}

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In this second and final installment of my Shabby Chic Tea Party crafts series I’m going to go over a couple of easy tissue paper and painting crafts that will instantly add a lot of shabby chic charm to your decor.

Tissue Paper Flowers and Poms

Tissue Flowers and Poms are pretty simple to make. It’s a craft that I think they even teach in elementary school, that’s how easy this is. To make both, follow the instructions below:

tissuepom1. Select your tissue pieces. The length of a sheet of tissue paper is a good starting point and depending on how wide you want your pom, trim it down. I believe for the pink pom above I used 20 inch x 20 inch tissue paper and cut it in half giving me 20 inch x 10 inch sheets. Next, layer about 8-10 sheets on top of each other. For flower poms, you wont need as many sheets, maybe 4 or 5 at most.

2. Next, accordion fold your sheets. Make the folds about one inch in size.

3. Gather up your folds and twist some wire around the center. If you’re making a flower, chenille stems (pipe cleaners) are good for this, because they will hold the paper together and also act as a flower stem. For the poms, make a hook or loop from the other end of the wire for hanging purposes. On the top and bottom, cut a rounded or pointed tip. This will make it look more rounded or flower-like once you open the layers.

4. Fan out the paper and carefully pull the layers apart. Take it slow or you might end up tearing your petals.

Painted Decor

Painted Crate

To paint a crate to look shabby chic, you’re going to want to either start with some old wood or if you buy a new crate, like I did, layer some colors on top of each other. If you start with old, darkened wood, paint on top of it with a soft pastel or white and when it’s dry, sand some of the paint off so that it looks worn and old.

For a new crate, or other wooden object, paint it in a base coat of some brown.

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When that layer is dry, paint it with your top color. I chose a pretty turquoise color. Don’t worry about full coverage here. If some of the brown shows through, that will add to the worn effect.

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When I was done painting the turquoise, I felt like it was a little too bright so I softened it up with a paint mixture of the turquoise and white. I sort of dry brushed it on so that it wouldn’t cover up too much of the original turquoise. Dry brushing is done with a dry brush and just a little paint on the tip. It creates a streaking effect and looks good for this craft.

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The light top coat also gave the paint a sun bleached look that was great. The final step is to sand the edges and across the sides a little so that the brown shows through. The more the paint looks worn and chipped, the better. I even took a knife to it to chip some of the paint off. Distressing is your friend here.

Other Painted Decor

I would highly suggest thrift shopping for shabby chic party decor. If you can find items that you like, even if they don’t quite look right, they can always be painted. I found a set of metal napkin holders that, once painted (and sanded) looked great.

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When I found this candelabra at a local Goodwill it had been sloppily painted a gold color. I loved the plastic crystals hanging off of it, so I grabbed it. A couple of spray painted coats of white later, the gold was gone, and it fit in with my color scheme.

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Another thing I found at thrift stores were mason jars. You can also get them new if  you can’t find them used. I did a quick coat of spray paint on these babies too and then, once again, lightly sanded some of it off to look worn. I’m using these for flower vases.

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If you get imaginative, you can use pretty much anything, and with the right paint job, it’ll look great at your shabby chic party.

I hope these techniques are easy for you to follow. If you have any questions about any of the instructions leave a comment below.

Coming soon, I’ll document my shabby chic tea party (it’s this weekend!) and share with you how it turned out and all the yummy food I made.

If you missed Part 1 of my shabby chic party decor tutorial click here.

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D.I.Y. Shabby Chic Party Decor {Part 1}

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This month is my shabby chic themed tea party, and I have been handcrafting a number of my decor items to keep the cost down. The best things to keep in mind for the shabby chic look is that it should look worn but charming. Chipped paint, ratty, frayed edges, and pastel floral patterns are a good place to start. This installment will cover the different banners and garlands I’ve made for the party.

Fabric Strip Swag

This was fairly easy to make and quick too. I got some pretty floral cotton fabric prints and tore them into strips. I found some of the fabric at local thrift stores for cheap and then filled it out with 1/4 yard cuts of fabric from a fabric store. The great thing about cotton fabric is that if you cut a little snip in it, you can tear the rest, and it will tear straight. This is great for two reasons: it’s super easy and quick to get your strips, and it looks a little tattered and worn for the shabby chic look. These strips are about 2-3 inches wide and vary in lengths. I eyeballed everything so that it wouldn’t look too uniform. Tie or loop the strips to a piece of twine and you’re good to go! You can also add lace or burlap ribbon to it for a varied look.

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Tea Party Banner

For this one, I used 4.5 inch x 6.5 inch sheets of burlap that I found in a pack at the local craft store. Any tight woven burlap will work for this, but these sheets were already the right size. You can cut them into any flag shape you want, I chose to cut them into swallowtail flag shapes.

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For the lettering, you can do it several different ways. If you have a shape cutting machine you could make a stencil and paint it on, or free hand it, or use a light box with the lettering printed out on some paper. I chose the last option because it looked the most professional without costing me tons of money for expensive tools and it was easy. Not having a light box, I had to get creative. I used my glass serving tray and a flashlight underneath to trace the letters onto the burlap. Any piece of glass would work for this. You could even use a window and tape the printed letters to it. You just need some back lighting.

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With a marker similar to the color you’re going to paint the letters, trace the outside of the letters. Next, fill in the letter with your paint.

IMG_5724Attach the flags to some twine by folding the top over the string and hot gluing it together. Since burlap is loosely woven, be careful when hot gluing. It could get on your hands easily and burn. You could also use fabric glue but you’ll need to clamp it together while it dries.

I chose to hang this banner in front of the fabric strip swag.

Pennant Flag Garland 

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This one is also easy. First, get a paper stack of floral prints and other paper you like from the scrapbook section of your craft store. I got an 8.5 inch x 11 inch stack and was able to get 3 pennants from each sheet of paper. Measure to the center of one of the 11 inch sides (5.5 inches) and measure 2.75 inches on either side of the other 11 inch side of the paper. Then connect the measure marks like in the diagram below and cut out your pennant shapes.

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With a hole punch, cut a hole in each corner of the top of the pennant and string some twine through for hanging.

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Doily Garland

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This garland is very pretty and takes minimal effort. All you need is a package of 8 inch paper doilies, some paper or fabric flowers, and a piece of ribbon.

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Fold each doily in half, attach to a piece of ribbon and glue a flower to the center of each one. I found some paper flowers on Etsy for this garland.

I used clothespins to arrange the doilies on the ribbon and then one at a time took the pins off and hot glued the doilies down. After that, I glued the flowers down to the front. Easy peasy.

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In Part 2 of D.I.Y Shabby Chic Decor, I’ll be showing you how to make some inexpensive but pretty decor from tissue paper and a few painting projects that add the finishing touches to a shabby chic party.

 

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