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Posts tagged Gluten free:

NUTCRACKER PARTY: {my girl turns 6} …

Have you ever felt something so big in your heart, it seemed impossible to articulate it into words? This is how I feel about this post.

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We celebrated my tiny dancer’s 6 year milestone last weekend, Nutcracker style. This theme means so much to me due to circumstances surrounding our last memory of the Nutcracker ballet.

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It is our tradition to go as a family every year. Matt bought tickets months in advance last fall in anticipation of bringing our 3 year old boy with us for the first time last December. We got all gussied up, went to a fancy restaurant, drove in the rain to the Performing Arts Center, swam through the crowds, said hello to the oversized Mouse King and Queen in the lobby, giddy as can be, and made it up the stairs to the door of the theatre only to be turned away. Matt had bought tickets for the following night. The evening progressed into the worst night as a parent I’ve ever experienced, as my girl developed her first painful ear infection and was up screaming and crying all night. I cried from feelings of helplessness, watching her suffer in pain, the disappointment and special holiday memories lost, plus the loss of the money spent on the tickets. We moved through the Christmas break nursing both kids through the worst illness they’ve ever had. On top of that, we were dealing with an issue at school that caused us all great anxiety, confusion, and uncertainty. It was a very difficult season.

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Through the celebration of my girl, I felt like God was taking back what the enemy stole from us during that time and redeeming our joy and magic through our Nutcracker celebration party. His mercies are new every morning and I’m so thankful He turns beauty from ashes. Thank you Jesus for your love and thank you for my tiny dancer!

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Unfortunately, planning a Nutcracker party in April proved more difficult than I thought! Apparently, all the Nutcrackers go into hibernation until the Christmas season, with exception of one store clerk at Tuesday Morning, who had been hoarding one broken ornament and happily sold to me for 19 cents! My girl loved it like a baby doll, sleeping with it and dancing with it like Clara. It was so sweet, but kinda weird.

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There’s our man! All 19 cents of him!

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The cake …

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I have a love/hate relationship with fondant … and candles in Oklahoma wind.

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Her cake was inspired by a gorgeous window cake at my friend’s bakery, All Things Cake.

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Homemade gluten free and organic Sprinkles Strawberry Cupcakes …

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Homemade Organic Marshmallow Fondant Lollies …

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Snow Fairy Queen Homemade Organic Marshmallows … 

FOUR TIMES a charm! That’s how many times it took for me to get the recipe correct. I have made these marshmallows like a million times, and never had this much trouble?! But the outcome was so worth it … every, light, fluffy, and gooey bite.

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Gluten free and organic Sugar Plum Fairy Cookies …

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Gourmet gluten free cookies by Two Prince Bakery Theatre

These were my one treat purchase I made for the party. They are gluten free, dairy free, casein free and full of yummy flavor, made by my beautiful friend, Dorangela Bobet. Check out her website and LIKE her Facebook page!

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Welcome center … Tutus and Tiaras.

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Waltz of the Flower Bubbles from the Dollar Tree embellished with scrapbooking doodads found half-priced at the craft store …

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DIY Lace Tiaras for each ballerina …

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Bling for each ballerina …

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Hair and makeup station by our lovely sister artists, both students in our youth group at church. :)

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This vintage vanity case was perfect!

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I made donut bun holders out of kid-sized socks by snipping off the toes and rolling them into a circle. But I forgot to take a pic!

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Love, love, love this girl, crafting Queen in charge. She is my co-leader Sunday morning with 10th grade girls, a Rock Star youth worker with teens at our church, and future summer intern for our Student Ministry!

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Here comes the tiny dancers! I LOVE this photo of my girl greeting one of her guests …

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And checkout that hand, her face, and how she is holding her dress! Eeek!

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She worked hard at making each guest feel welcome, escorting them to each station . .

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It was surreal and heart thrilling to watch my girl and the joy she experienced watching her friends have fun.  She was content to sit back and watch each girl enjoy themselves. She was such a gracious hostess. I could cry thinking about it!

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Hair and makeup (bun making station) …

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Getting fitted for a tutu …

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Choosing some bling …

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Beautiful.

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 Moving on to the craft and coloring station …

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Moments after this photo was taken, my sweet, darling boy fell off this bench straight on his head and back. I thought the party would have to be moved to Urgent Care. Luckily, it was quickly remedied with a Nutcracker sugar cookie.

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Our celebrity guests were REAL-life ballerinas from her dance studio, the Sugar Plum Fairy and the Snow Fairy Queen. These precious teenagers greeted guests and taught a dance lesson on stage to all the girls. One of these beautiful girls is a student in our youth group at church!

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My girl willingly got on stage and “helped” teach the lesson, calling out each of the position names. No stage fright for this girl! It was precious.

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Treat time! Dig in …

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Present time! One of my favorite moments was when all the children were pressing in and crowding my girl, she very sweetly and politely said, “I will open this present when you all sit down.” Boom. They all hit the concrete at the same time.

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Love her face!

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Where’s Waldo, I mean, Charlie?

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Sweet, precious kinder-school friends …

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Animal lovers …

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The highlight of the party was riding the hand-me-down horse from Granny’s farm (my MIL). The girls lined up to take turns on this bucking bronco. I thought his nose and tail would get permanently implanted in the dirt, but not before my boy saddled up first to show ‘em how it’s done!

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My sweet husband cut and painted these silhouettes to hang in front of white drapes behind my dessert tablescape in as the backdrop.  The Oklahoma wind made him a nervous wreck, as he visualized the poles and drapes cascading and crashing on top of the cake and all the treats. So we took down the pretty white drapes and made the silhouettes a a photo op against our fence instead.

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My boy … swoon!!

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Daddy’s girl …

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My dream come true …

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Other ways God demonstrated His love and mercy through the planning of this celebration:

1. In the planning and preparation of this party, everything under the sun seemed to crowd out my time, energy and focus. More importantly, I was tempted to allow those circumstances to induce stress and rob me of joy;  responsibilities of both my social work job and my Matilda Jane job, TWO kinder-class field trips and a class party in April (two the week of the party), 6 LONG days of jury duty (of all things?!), a migraine the day prior to the party dedicated to baking her cake and cupcakes, and grieving the loss of our sweet 16 year old cocker spaniel, Mendee, who died two weeks prior to our celebration. I did not always respond gracefully with love. But thank you Jesus, for His unfailing love, forgiveness, and empowerment to refocus, overcome and start afresh repeatedly. Somehow, MIRACULOUSLY, He enabled me to make all the party treats, favors, decorations, and party prints including her invitation, straw flags, buffet/activity signs, water bottle wraps, and banner within the two weeks of her party. 

2. I wanted each guest to be able to dress up at the party in a ballet tutu, but did not have the time or energy to make them each their own. I did this for my girls 4th birthday Woodland Fairy party, and just didn’t have it in me to do again. We have a few and my mom has a few she bought for her granddaughters to play dress up, but I wanted to have enough for each child. My girl’s ballet studio owner holds a consignment sale each year, so I contacted her asking if she had a few used costumes she would sell me before the party. She enthusiastically and generously responded by loaning me a HUGE trash bag full of colorful tutus and a big box of glittery, sparkly costume jewelry for the girls to use! She also gifted us with perfect ballet party paper goods by Meri Meri, which I saw online, but passed because they were out of our budget. Whoa. Dancing cupcake toppers, coordinating ballet plates, cups, and liners? What tender affection Jesus demonstrated personally to me?!

3. My girl informed me two weeks before the party that she did not want to wear a ballet costume at her party. She wanted to wear a nightgown like Clara. I panicked because the only nightgowns we own have some sort of character on them and are not Nutcracker worthy. I searched online but couldn’t find anything under $100. So in desperation, I contacted the most wonderful, creative, talented, famous and kind, Loralee Lewis. She had styled the most gorgeous Nutcracker party to feature her fabulous event stationary and her girls wore beautiful “Clara-like” dresses for the photo shoot. When I asked where she bought them, she generously offered to sell me one, along with the beautiful tin Nutcrackers she used on her tablescape! Jesus turned water in wine for His party-concerned mama and He turned a flannel nightgown into a gorgeous party gown for me. I don’t deserve His kindness He showers on me through the kindness of others.

Sorry for the overshare of photos, but each one is so special to me … especially these last few …

My sweet nieces!

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The girls enjoyed their lollies. The 3 year old was having a moment …

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And there’s my sweet boy …

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My girl. Sweet as sugar. Love her so.

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The invitation …
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This crown has special significance. It was what I was wearing the first time Matt saw me and we met in 1993. We were married 7 years later! The flowers in her hair are from her tree that was given as a baby shower gift from special co-workers before she was born. Its gorgeous blooms appear every year around her birthday.image

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PALEO AFTER SCHOOL SNACKS {healthy post Monday} …

I am so glad to finally be able to share on this little blog a tiny piece of God’s goodness in our lives! I have survived the first month of being a Kinder-parent, but it has not been easy! Transitioning to full-time school has been harder on Matt and I than it has been on our girl! She has not cried one tear or had any objection at all so far, thank you, Jesus! She pops out of bed every day, with a smile on her face and when we pick her up in the afternoon, she has the same wide smile and big a exclamation that she has “had the BEST day ever!”  I am daily learning more about my girl as I watch her grow and learn. She is more of a Pollyanna than I ever realized. I guess I have shed enough tears for both of us these last few weeks, so I certainly won’t complain. I think if she had squeezed out one tear at the door of her classroom, I would’ve scooped her up and started homeschooling immediately. I could not bear it. I am so thankful for this peaceful transition and blessings we have received from relationships made on this new and exciting journey. And I am extremely thankful for the privilege and blessing it is for her to learn Spanish at this incredible immersion school. Last week they were voted a Blue Ribbon School by the US Department of Education! What an honor! Plus, it has been so fun to hear her sing songs, say colors, and count in Spanish. She tells us her teacher only speaks Spanish in the classroom and she understands everything he says?! Crazy.

Of course, the first day of school (ever, might I add, as she has never attended preschool or Mother’s Day Out), was quite a celebration. The natural alternative for me was just not an option. Plus, focusing on making it fun and exciting her for took the edge off my natural instincts to wail and despair in a grand pity party.  It began with the fun tradition of presenting both my kids a Schultüte, a giant paper cone filled with school supplies and gifts. It was SO fun! I will post photos and a DIY tutorial on another day. I spent the rest of the day baking, praying, crying, and preparing for her homecoming that afternoon. I made several gluten free treats, including brownies upon her request. I think this is a funny request because she had never had a brownie before. I do not think she even knew what a brownie was!  The kitchen help was excellent, albeit dramatic when asked to wait on his sister before he taste tested the cupcakes.  All my recipes came from two of Elana Amsterdam’s cookbooks, The Gluten Free Almond Flour Cookbook and Gluten Free Cupcakes. I use both of these cookbooks and have had great success with her recipes. Plus, I love that I can feel good about giving my kids treats knowing it is beneficial to their health, completely grain-free and processed sugar free, with real, organic, ingredients that are not genetically modified.  This means when they ask for more, they can have as much as they want. :)

GOOD HEALTH/BAD HEALTH DOES NOT HAVE TO BE A MYSTERY: {healthy post monday} …

"Getting healthy isn’t just about losing weight. It’s not limited to adjusting our diet and hoping for good physical results. It’s about recalibrating our souls so that we want to change-spiritually, physically, and mentally. And the battle really is in all three areas."

Quote by Made to Crave, shared by Lysa TerKeurst on Facebook.

It has taken me over 5 years, but I am finally getting it. I grew up eating the Standard American Diet and continued this lifestyle into my early 30’s. I thought eating healthy was abstaining from anything fattening, sweet and yummy, and only eating fat free, sugar free foods, mainly in the form of boxed “diet” treats, fiber enriched bars, and iceberg lettuce salads. It wasn’t until I experienced infertility that the concept of what I ate affected more than just my weight was introduced into my philosophy about health. Food allergies prevented me from getting pregnant. I also learned how certain foods gave me asthma, fatigue, migraines, digestive problems, and even affected my ability to think clearly.  The beginning of this journey started by reading the book, The Maker’s Diet, by Jordan Rubin. I encourage everyone who aspires to live life vibrantly to it’s fullest, to read it as well. It was life changing and I never want to go back.

On another note, we are in full party-prep mode this week!!!! Baking and crafting getting ready for birthday number THREE for my little guy. We are sooooooo excited!!!! :)

MONSTER THEMED BABY SHOWER and paleo cinnamon crumb cupcake recipe: {healthy post monday} …

This was such a sweet intimate baby shower with friends (and teenagers!) who truly love this new mommy-to-be. She is so dedicated to investing in the lives of teenagers at our church and is a loving, compassionate role model to many young girls. Her baby’s nursery is monster themed, so we decided it would be so fun to incorporate that personal touch throughout this event as we blessed her and her new baby boy. Plus, I had plenty of decorations from my boy’s Two Year Old Little Monster Birthday Party found here. Several other youth worker ladies joined together to add all the adorable details to make this baby shower truly ”monstrous!” As guests arrived, we invited them to help make an “ABC of Bible Verses" scrapbook for baby Camden. We pray it is a meaningful, tangible reminder of God’s promises to him and will encourage him as he grows. We had several lists to choose from (one can be found here) or guests could write down their own favorite verses on their pages. Oh, and just in case any wondered … the tutorial “how to make a pinwheel” can be found here and the tutorial “how to make paper rosette fans” can be found here. :)

PS … the custom invitation, thank you notes, water bottle wraps, straw pennants, cupcake wraps, name banner, buffet signs, and other party printables were all created using Storybook Creator 4.0 by Creative Memories found by clicking here. If you have any questions about the software or the custom prints, please feel free to E-mail me through my website by clicking here.

And the yummy healthy cupcake recipe is as the end of this post!

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Paleo Cinnamon Crumb Healthy Cupcakes (recipe at the end of this post) …

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… and the recipe I promised is found in Elana Amsterdam’s Gluten Free Cupcake cookbook. I altered it a bit to use maple syrup instead of agave nectar. Here ya go!

CINNAMON CRUMB CUPCAKES:

(gluten free, paleo, dairy free, refined sugar free)

BATTER

1 cup blanched almond flour

2 tbsp. coconut flour

1/4 tsp sea salt

1 tsp baking soda

2 large eggs

1/2 cup maple syrup (NOT Aunt Jemima’s, the REAL organic stuff) :)

1 tbsp vanilla extract

TOPPING

3/4 cup blanched almond flour

1/2 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped

2 tbsp ground cinnamon

1/4 cup maple syrup

Preheat oven 350 degrees

Line 10 muffin cups with liners

To make batter, combine in large bowl both flours, salt, and baking soda. In medium bowl, whisk together eggs, maple syrup, and vanilla. Blend wet ingredients into dry ingredients with a hand held mixer until combined.

To make topping, in a medium bowl, combine flour, walnuts and cinnamon, then stir in maple syrup.

Scoop 3 tbsps. of batter into each muffin liner, then crumble 1 heaping tbsp of the topping mixture over each cupcake.

Bake for 18-22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out with just a few moist crumbs. Let cupcakes cool in the pan for 1 hour, then serve.

ENJOY!!! And stay safe. As I type, super cell tornados are tearing through my state. :( We spent two hours in our church basement last night and looks like we will be headed there later this afternoon. Praying for all those affected by the destruction. Thankful my Jesus calms storms with one word from His mouth. And thankful still that even when storms rage, He is still in control.

 

HEALTHY GLAZED GLUTEN FREE DOUGHNUTS “KRISPY KREME” STYLE: HEALTHY POST MONDAY …

My girl was invited to three birthday parties this weekend that ranged from a doughnut breakfast, to Fancy Nancy make-overs, to a 3-hour-round-trip-road trip for a special friend who has moved away. Being gluten free, we bring our own birthday treats so that the hostess does not have to improvise. My girl requested chocolate cupcakes for our main treat. I made the Healthy Hostess Cupcake recipe found here from Elena Amsterdam’s Gluten Free Cupcake cookbook. I topped it with a little homemade whipped cream and sprinkles linked below …

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Since one of the parties was at Krispy Kreme doughnut shop, I decided to try a new recipe. One of my favorite healthy dessert blogs is Chocolate Covered Katie. The doughnut recipe I made can be found here. I changed it up a bit by using coconut sugar and substituted a gluten free flour mix for the spelt or all-purpose flour included in her recipe.

My favorite gluten free mix is equal parts coconut flour, tapioca flour, and white rice flour. I include 1/2 teaspoon of xanthum gum per one cup of this mixture.

A couple days before our party weekend, I announced to Matt I would make homemade gluten free doughnuts and needed wanted to go by a doughnut pan so my girl’s doughnuts would look similar to all the other kids’. I saw the prophet look of disaster slowly creep across his face as he gently tried to refocus my energy and efforts into just trying the new recipe. He actually wanted me to just go to the store and buy gluten free doughnuts, which are like the price of 15 dozen regular doughnuts for four GF ones. Bless his heart. He is so patient and puts up with my crazy ideas when I turn our home into America’s Test Kitchen. So I dug around our pantry until I found a mini fluted pan by Pampered Chef that I have never used. I always thought those were really big molds for individual servings and it would take a LOT of cake batter to fill up each individual mold. However, my wheels spun furiously and I decided to repurpose my mini fluted pan into a swirly baked doughnut mold! Matt was so relieved. And so was his wallet. :)

I only filled each mold up to the top of the center “pole” in hopes it wouldn’t bake over the top. Doughnuts have to have holes, right? Unless of course they are doughnut holes, which I could’ve made per suggestion of Chocolate Covered Katie, but I like to do things the hard way. :) Or I could’ve tried to make them crème filled, but I think that would’ve sent Matt over the edge as I was already treading completely new baking waters in a very limited amount of time.

For the glaze, I used Chocolate Covered Katie’s recipe found here.  I wanted to make a healthier version using something different than just organic cane sugar. BTW, did you know sugar is one of the main GMO crops in our country? Please always buy organic sugar or make sure the package is labeled GMO free, especially when feeding it to children. We just had a major organic sugar gorge fest at my girl’s birthday party a couple of weeks ago, so I was determined to try something healthier. First, I tried using organic coconut sugar for the glaze. It was SUPER yummy. But it was brown. Maple syrup brown. Not white that I could turn a pretty fun pink I knew my girl would enjoy while watching her friends devour brightly colored Krispy Kreme doughnuts. Matt actually claimed that this doughnut was his favorite gluten free treat he has tasted to date! My BIL swears by my gluten free version of Sprinkles Strawberry recipe. They will have to have a taste off sometime to give a final vote. :)

So I made a second batch of doughnuts and this time made a glaze with non-GMO Xylitol. I was concerned at first using Xylitol because it is a natural sweetener that is corn-based, another MAJOR GMO crop. But when I found a packaged labeled “non-GMO,” I knew this was our perfect, healthier version of powdered sugar! I threw it in our dry blade Vitamix and it spun into a beautiful white powder! I added a few drops of India Tree Natural Food Dye that is chemical free and added a few of their sprinkles for a little doughnut bling.

Here is my girl at the Krispy Kreme birthday party with her healthy gluten free doughnut …

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First bite!

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This is our sweet friend from church who has Celiac Disease. Her mommy found gluten free doughnuts at a local natural food store. Smart Mama! Clearly they were yummy too!

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Those eyes … they slay my heart! Gorgeous and so full of life and sparkle!! I could just squeeze her all day long. She and her family are moving soon and we will SOO miss them!! :(

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The BIRTHDAY BOY!

This handsome little man is my girl’s Birthday Buddy: born the same day, in the same hospital, on the same hall. They’ve been in the same Sunday School class since they were toddlers and next fall, they will be in the same kindergarten class!!!! My girl says he is her best friend! Haha! This photo makes my heart go all a-flutter. Seriously … it almost brings tears to my eyes.

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This is the look I get when I ask my girl to smile for the camera. Drives me nutso!!

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Here is another batch I made with a more runny, thinned out glaze. I think I added just a bit over 2 tablespoons of milk.

Before glaze …

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Runnier glaze this time …

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Making it girly for my girly-girl …

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A little sunshiney yellow …

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And a little boy blue …

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And a little confetti party fun …

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And my favorite part about baking healthy treats …

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Which one do you want? “I think I want that one.”

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“No, I want that one!”

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So in the wisdom of Solomon from I Kings 3:16-28, I do what Mommies do best …

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I also experimented by replacing a little of the powdered xylitol sugar with a little organic raw cacao powder to make a chocolate glaze.

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Hope you have a sweet and fun day!

And for those who want fresh, delicious gluten free/casein free doughnuts delivered straight to your door, check out the amazing Dorangela at Two Prince Bakery Theater! She has added doughnuts to her bakery business and is even in a Tampa Bay, FL local restaurant Daily Eats! Contact her for custom orders and delivery service through Facebook or her gorgeous website linked above! :)

DOLLHOUSE PARTY PART 1: {my girl turns five} …

My sweet girl turns five today and she is REALLY into her dolls. We decided a Dollhouse theme would fit her personality perfectly for this fun stage of her life. I was completely in awe and inspired by this amazing party, and you will see in the photos many of my feeble attempts to “recreate” it. :) 

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We held the party in our backyard and invited the guests to bring their favorite dolls to join the fun. Activities included making paper dolls and gluing paper dolls to “scenic” scrapbook paper.  The favorite activity was when my mom taught the girls how to “zo” (my girl’s word for sew) little bags for their dolls and matching necklaces. She has been saying for weeks that she wanted her Nana to teach all her friends to “zo” at her party! LOL!  My mom delivered the request beautifully as you will see from the photos I will post tomorrow. :)  The weather was perfect. None of my cakes melted like last year … ha! The wind was a bit feisty, but we were thankful for sunshine and no lingering tornados like we experienced earlier in the week!  I made all the party treats except one; the gluten free/casein free chocolate chip cookies. They were sent to me by the amazing Dorangela Bobet, owner and baker from Two Prince Bakery Theater as a blog contest giveaway. Isn’t that so kind and generous?! They were a huge hit! Please visit her beautiful site and shop here.  All her baked goods look scrumptious! Plus, I love how she is an enthusiastic activitist for Autism awareness!

Other treats included homemade marshmallow pops, meringue flower pops, Parisian macarons, paper doll dress sugar cookies, strawberry cupcakes, and my favorite, an ombre ruffle cake and an ombre mini princess doll cake that matched my girl’s party (Easter) dress. All the treats were gluten free, organic, and all natural, free of artificial dyes. I used an all-natural food dye found here that is made from beet juice to create the pretty pink tones.  Party favors included fabric paper doll sets, magnetic paper doll traveling kits, and personalized paper houses that served as place settings, when they weren’t being blown away by the wind! :)

The party prints design and colors were all inspired by the amazing Loralee Lewis, whose talent is incomparable to anything I have ever seen. 

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This invitation was inspired by her original design. The graphics are different, but the colors and layout, down to the tri-fold card, were her design.  After I made the invitations and sent them out, I felt a heavy burden deep in the pit of my stomach and in my heart that I just could not put my finger on.  I prayed asking God where the source of heaviness was coming from, and my thoughts continually kept going back to that invitation. I felt I had done something wrong, even though my head was telling me I had not. I was not going to take credit for her original idea or sell the product as my own design.  With pinterest and google searches, people pin ideas and recreate them all the time. I have never thought twice about it before . . . but something was different this time. I just couldn’t shake this icky feeling. My Bible study just happened to be in Genesis 39-41, about Joseph and the honesty and integrity he lived out because of his relationship with and faith in God. After much prayer and conviction„ I contacted Loralee through her website and confessed that I had used her dollhouse party invitation as a “template” when I created the invitation for my girl’s party.  I apologized and offered not to post it here if it was bothersome or offensive to her in any way. Then I anxiously awaited a response. I mean, this was a HUGE, crazy step. This beautiful lady is like THE Martha Stewart of event paper. She is like Oprah. In fact, I think Oprah may have been her client in the past! I know the Obama’s have! Please go visit her website here. Your jaw will drop when you behold her gorgeous talent and you will see what I mean.  My faith was again tested as thoughts of Joseph and his story of being imprisoned after doing the right thing began to flood my mind . . LOL!  My anxiety was in vain however, as she responded with such grace and kindness!   I have absolutely loved “meeting” her online and have fallen in love with her precious family and their story of adoption.  Have you ever met someone who has made you want to be a better person? She truly is that kind of person. Thank you Loralee, for your gracious kindness, patience, and inspiration! You are beautiful inside and out!

Thank you also to my mom and dad, a friend from church, and three of my 10th grade Sunday School girls I have taught for the last four years for all their help in crowd control and with crafts! And most of all, thank you to my wonderful husband, who worked tirelessly setting up, tearing down, cleaning, crafting, and even running to the fabric store for me (his worst nightmare) and dressing like a “Daddy Dolly” with his spikey hair slicked to the side all in the name of love for me and his princess. I love making memories with him! :)

This is the dollhouse I made my girl for her gift last Christmas. It greeted our guests as they arrived at the party!

11x17 Welcome Sign

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This precious, little vintage school desk was my Grandmother’s who was an elementary school teacher. The vintage baby carriage and vintage dollhouse were borrowed from two of my dear friends. :)

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This vintage baby carriage held the take home bags for the guests to carry all their favors and crafts home!

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I made these travel paper doll magnet set party favors from this tutorial! The trays are from Dollar Tree and the paper dolls are cards from etsy shop, Crafts by Jilly found here. They matched the invitations perfectly!!

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The boys had magnet paper car sets too! The cars are stickers from Dollar Tree that I adhered to magnet sheets and I made the race track background with Storybook Creator 4.0 by Creative Memories.

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The Dessert Table …

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Parisian Macaron recipe found here … naturally gluten free!

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Homemade Marshmallow Pops recipe found here. I substituted corn syrup for maple syrup and honey.

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Persnickety Prince Chocolate Chip cookies by Two Prince Bakery Theater found here.

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Gluten free sugar cookies recipe found here adapted from this cookbook.

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Meringue Flower Pop recipe and tutorial found here.

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I made the lollipop flags with washi tape from Crafts by Jilly etsy shop found here. :)

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Sprinkles Strawberry Cupcake recipe found here. I substituted all-purpose flour for equal parts coconut flour, white rice flour, and tapioca flour and added 1/2 teaspoon of xanthum gum to the recipe. :)

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My first ombre ruffle cake! Every year I say I am going to take cake decorating classes and never get around to it.  Then I get so frustrated with myself! I followed this tutorial instead. Don’t look too close! For awhile, I thought her cake would look more like the Mad Hatter’s hat than a pretty ruffle cake!

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The night before the party, with the leftover cupcake batter and frosting, I decided at the last minute to attempt my first doll cake. I followed this tutorial and used a miniature Madame Alexander fairy tale doll from a set I bought my girl for her birthday. This princess was the perfect size!

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I made these stuffed fabric paper doll party favors from a swatch of fabric my mom found on etsy. I will feature the “how-to” on a future blog post. The little bags were embellished with fabric flowers and pretty crocheted lace tape from Crafts by Jilly etsy shop found here.

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Thank goodness for Velcro! That is what adhered these dollhouse windows and door to our table cover, but shhhhhh! Don’t tell anyone. :)

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I made these 3D personalized paper dollhouse place settings for each guest. My girl actually designed this one, picking out the colors and paper herself!

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I saw this idea on pinterest. :)

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My husband made this tiny dolly-sized banquet table. :) Tree stump chairs are repurposed from last year’s Woodland Fairy Party found here,  here, and here.

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I love that my little guy is in the background eyeing the party treats! He couldn’t wait to savor all the sweetness! :)

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Personalized Custom Name Banner

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Water bottle wraps

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Can wraps

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Straw pennants  … another Loralee Lewis inspiration!

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My pennants were a little wonky and my square punch “chewed” the paper a bit.

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'Tea with Dolly' photo op! The hanging dollhouse lanterns were a 1/2 off the clearance price special at my local Pottery Barn! Another custom banner and the drapes were borrowed from my dad. :)

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I love this girl so much it hurts. We waited eight years for this bundle of Sugar and Spice and all shades of pink. She is my dream girl come true.

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The best part … she was born on our eight year wedding anniversary! Happy 5th Birthday to my Princess and Happy 13 years of marital adventure to my Man! My life is rich and full of side-stitching laughter, joy and loveliness because of you! A man of integrity, honesty, hard working, trustworthy, kind-hearted, tender and compassionate toward others, forgiving, faith-filled, “well built and handsome.” You are my Joseph.

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PS … be sure and check back for more party posts, recipes, and DIY dollhouse party tutorials! I will feature all the “real-life” baby dolls that attended our party as special guests in my next post … . :)

GLUTEN FREE/CASEIN FREE BAKERY GIVEAWAY {healthy post monday} …

imageMy friend, Dorangela, over at Two Prince Bakery Theater, is celebrating a full website makeover with a fun giveaway and SALE today through March 31! She is an excellent resource for information, recipes, and tutorials. She also has a shop that offers yummy gluten free/casein free and vegan baked goods such as gluten free cupcakes and cookies, as well as fun pre-made Baking Kits. She has graciously sent me some of her “Persnickety Prince” chocolate chip cookies and  … YUM. They were so good! She even offers “Bakery Swag” such as cute twine, bags, containers and supplies for cute gift-giving and party presentation. She is a SAHM of two darling boys with food allergies and she has mastered the task of offering yummy treats that are allergen free. She is also an amazing event stylist. Her blog is full of inspiration and ideas for birthday parties and holiday celebrations.  You must check out her awesome Vintage Spiderman party she gave to one of her sons. Hop on over to her site by clicking here and enter her giveaway for a HUGE bundle of fun twine and a $30 gift certificate to her shop! And be sure to LIKE her Facebook page by clicking here to receive updates on future giveaways and shop specials!

Feel free to read her GUEST BLOG POST she wrote for me last year by clicking here. She is truly an expert in providing fun, allergy safe treats and parties for children and adults. Plus, she is SUPER DUPER nice and a great friend and resource to have! :)

 

 

WARDING OFF THE SICKIES: {healthy post monday}

Every night before we go to sleep, one of the many things we pray for as a family is for God to “keep our bodies healthy and strong and protect us from illness.” By God’s grace, we have stayed free from flu viruses, stomach viruses, ear infections, colds, sinus infections, and everything else that is floating around. My kids are not in school yet, but they are in various classes and activities around other children 5-6 times a week.  I know that our health is 100% in God’s hands and I am so thankful for the health He has given us thus far. However, I know He has also placed great responsibility in my hands for the health of my children and the food choices I make for them daily. I take their nutrition very seriously and purposely plan each meal with their health in mind. I am not a nutritionist, but I have learned a great deal from other experts and from much of my own research due to my health struggles over the past six years. Because I value knowledge and experience from others, I want to share a few things we are learning and doing to keep our family free from illness and to hopefully encourage you as well … .

#1. WHOLE FOOD, ORGANIC, NON-PROCESSED, GMO-FREE & GLUTEN FREE DIET:

As much as possible, we give our kids whole fruits and vegetables, mostly raw to not destroy any nutrients by cooking with heat. And we buy as much organic food as our little budget can afford. We either juice raw produce or make fruit and veggie smoothies almost every day to give them a wide nutritional variety, concentrating mostly on Super Greens such as kale, spinach, and chard, as well as carrots, celery, berries, lemons and limes. This ensures they get a balance of vitamin C, A, calcium and antioxidants.  Being a gluten free family, we are also avoiding the inflammatory response grains produce that lead to many illnesses. We also avoid GMOs as much as possible.

#2. FISH OIL (COD LIVER OIL):

We have recently begun incorporating fish oil “gummies” with the most nutrient dense meal of our day, usually dinner. You can read the benefits of this by clicking here. Plus, my kids LOVE them and ask for them every day. :)

#3. BONE MARROW BROTH:

My freezer is full of homemade chicken bone broth and two batches of beef bone marrow broth are cooking right now in my oven. We try to give this to our kids once a day with their fish oil gummies.  They LOVE it!  Matt & I pour it in a coffee mug and drink it throughout the day, especially if we are fighting the sniffles.  You can read the benefits of what we call “Liquid Gold” at our house by clicking here. A great chicken broth recipe can be found here. A great beef broth recipe can be found here.

#4. GOAT DAIRY &/or RAW COW’S MILK:

I’m so excited we have found a co-op that drives to a raw milk dairy regularly to provide us raw cow’s milk! You can read the nutritional benefits of raw milk by clicking here. We also give our kids goat dairy yogurt and add ground flax, chia, pumpkin, and sunflower seeds. You can read the benefits of this by clicking here and here. Dairy produces excess mucus and an inflammatory response which is linked to allergies, runny noses, sinus infections, ear infections, etc. We avoid all regular dairy and limit our intake to only goat and/or raw as much as possible.

#5. ESSENTIAL OIL THERAPY:

Every night we use Tea Tree Oil, Eucalyptus Oil, and Lavender Oil on our kids’ feet. This provides anti-viral and anti-bacterial protection you can read more about by clicking here. I try to remember to arm them with the oils before we leave the house for the day, but most of the time I forget or run out of time.

#6. SLEEP:

We try to provide our kids ample sleep each night and during the day when they need it. This is essential for a healthy, strong immune system.

Again, I am no expert. But by God’s grace and the little steps we are taking as a family to stay healthy, we have managed to avoid all the illnesses that have seem to plague this season so far. I hope you are encouraged and are staying healthy as well! I don’t have any photos related specifically to this post, so here is a little family portrait taken by the waiter at our annual Valentine Family Dinner Date. You can tell I took great lengths to wad my hair in a knot fix my hair for the special occasion. :)

Gluten Free Organic Sugar Cookies: {healthy post monday} …

Hi there! I’ve been working hard in my kitchen to make a special treat for you …

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Special organic gluten free treats for Valentine’s Day!

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"Gluten free," you say … "is THAT a yummy treat?" you ask …

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My mommy’s gluten free and organic cookies are a VERY, YUMMY. MMM-MMM …

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MMMM! A very yummmeeee treat!

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Would you like me to share them with you?

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This one looks good, right here …

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I will pour you some tea too …

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Now, take a bite … do you like it?

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Ohhhh, Haley does! See her face? My mommy says that is her sugar-coma face.

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Now, for the true test of the yum-yum factor … my baby brother will try one out.

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Take a BIG bite, Bubby!

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Hmmmmm …

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I think he likes it! He really likes it!

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Here Daddy! I will share one with you …

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'Cuz you're my REAL Valentine. :)

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Yep. My gluten free organic sugar cookie treats are the best! My mommy will share her recipe with you at the end of this post. :)

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Melissa speaking: These are MY Valentines. My Love Bugs. My True Loves.

Tomorrow I will share the finished project I made with the rest of the photos from this photo shoot and another I did last Saturday.  :)

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GLUTEN FREE SUGAR COOKIES

(adapted from EASY GLUTEN FREE BAKING cookbook found here)

Dry Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups of white rice flour, plus more for dusting

1 cup of sweet rice flour

1/2 cup of tapioca starch

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons xanthan gum

Wet Ingredients:

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened

1 1/2 cups of granulated sugar (I used coconut sugar)

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/4 cup water, as needed

Icing (optional) I googled Martha Stewarts Royal Icing recipe

1. In medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients.

2. In large bowl, cream (on medium speed) butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, blending well after each addition. Add dry ingredients and vanilla, alternating a little at a time; blend until a dough forms. (If a sandy mass forms instead of a dough all, add 1/4 cup water and mix for 30 seconds. If dough comes together on its own, omit the water from recipe).

3 .Divide the dough in half. Pat dough into rounds, wrap tightly with plastic wrap, and chill for 4 hours or overnight. (I usually put 1/2 of dough in the freezer for another time, wrapping tightly).

4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove dough from the refrigerator and allow to stand at room temperature for 15 minutes. Get ready to work your arm muscles. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

5. Generously dust a clean, dry work surface with rice flour. Roll dough about 1/4 inch thick. This is a great stress reliever and arm workout. Take a few deep breaths, do a few neck rolls, then beat that baby down to submission, until she rolls out a smooth, even cutting surface. See link posted below for an easy tip ensuring evenly rolled out cookies at 1/4 inch thick. Using assorted cookie cutters, cut dough into desired shapes. Place cookies on prepared sheets.

6. Put baking sheets in the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes. This ensures they keep their shape while baking.

7. Bake first sheet of cookies until lightly golden brown. (Baking time will vary depending on size of cookie and oven. Mine bake for 11 minutes).

8. Remove cookie sheet from oven and cool on wire racks, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer cookies directly onto racks to cool completely. While first sheet is cooling, bake second sheet of cookies.

9. Ice cooked cookies, if desired. I used this natural food dye to tint the icing pink. Just a few drops go a long way. It is a great option to the dyes filled with chemicals concocted in a science lab.

For the cheater’s short version of how to put royal icing on the cookies, see this post. 

ENJOY! :)

Grain Free Organic Peanut Butter Caramel Cupcakes {healthy post monday} …

Saturday, I hosted a baby shower for my baby sister. It was so much fun! I will share more tomorrow, but today I wanted to disclose how my “not so smart” decisions can turn out to be the best decisions ever. :)

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I wanted to make the food something a 9-month-preggo-mama would really get excited about. Anything chocolate was out, because my sis doesn’t eat chocolate. Her favorite flavors are cinnamon, peanut butter, and caramel. I googled and searched my favorite healthy websites and cookbooks and didn’t find anything that excited me. My goal was to make something similar to Panera Bread Cinnamon Crunch bagel (see next Monday’s post) and a really yummy, gooey peanut butter or caramel cupcake. And of course, the finished presentation had to be cute! LOL.

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So THE NIGHT BEFORE THE SHOWER, I “married” Elena Amsterdam’s Paleo Vanilla Cupcake recipe found here with her Macadamia Nut Caramel Cluster candy recipe found here, and morphed it a little to create this cupcake …

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Peanut butter-caramel FILLED vanilla cupcakes … grain free, gluten free, Paleo, and HEALTHY! And yes, they passed the taste test. They were YUMMMMMEEEE. :) Elana Amsterdam’s Gluten Free Cupcake Cookbook found here has so many different flavors and of cupcakes and they are all delish. :)

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Princesses can patiently wait for their delicious cupcake …

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Busy, growing princes can not. :)

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So here’s how I did it:

I made the Vanilla Cupcakes from this recipe (doubling the batch, but not together. I made 9 cupcakes, then repeated the recipe to make 9 more) and poured them into 18 lined cupcake wraps, then set aside (do not bake yet). You can find the adorable Chevron cupcake liners from CraftsbyJilly etsy shop.

Then from this candy recipe, I melted 1/2 cup of fresh honey roasted peanut butter from Whole Foods bulk bin and 1/2 cup of organic Agave Nectar over low heat in a medium sauce pan. I stirred in 1 tablespoon of vanilla and 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt. I dropped 1 heaping teaspoon of peanut butter mixture on top of each cupcake and baked at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes.

The frosting recipe is Sprinkles Vanilla Frosting recipe found here. I left out the peppermint and doubled the vanilla extract, and used organic powdered sugar. You know, Sprinkles? The famous cupcake shop in NY, Dallas, LA, etc? It was so creamy and thick. Like ice cream. :)

The fondant buttons on top were made with this recipe and tinted with this natural food dye (Confession: I had already made the fondant from a previous event and it was frozen in my freezer. Fondant keeps a long time if wrapped properly in the freezer).

Now here is a sneak peak of tomorrow’s post about my sister’s shower … it was seriously the most fun shower I’ve ever attended  … except for my own, of course! :) You can see that the food label wasn’t exactly honest, because I decided to “upgrade” the cupcakes at the last minute! LOL. :)

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