birthday

OUR FAV CAKE RECIPES

Cake is one of our favorite food groups. Here are our three best recipes! Click on the title for links.
Treat yo self.
Now remember, eat cake for breakfast! We approve.
xo

RECIPE: DONUT CAKE

 This cake may look insane and tricky, but it’s the EASIEST cake you could make! Decadent? Yes. Delicious? Yes. Difficult? NOT AT ALL!
INSTRUCTIONS:
1. Buy a store bought cake or make one from a box… normally I’d say absolutely not, but when you’re going to cover it with donuts, you might as well. I made this one with an angel food cake box mix since that’s my mom’s fav and it was her birthday!
2. Buy plain or glazed donuts in regular and mini sizes from the store. Donut holes would have been really cute, but they didn’t have any that day. The minis were from a Hostess bag!
3. Make the glaze (recipe below). I divided the glaze up into three bowls and tinted them with food coloring
4. Pour the glaze just on top of the cake and let the sides drip down. Top with sprinkles and let dry.
5. Dip the tops of the donuts in the glaze and top with sprinkles and let dry.
6. Pile up the donuts on top of the cake and secure with tooth picks. That’s it.
GLAZE RECIPE:
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tbsp butter, very soft
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbps hot milk
Mix all together. If the glaze is too thick to be drippy, add a little more milk. If it’s too runny, add more powdered sugar. Divide the glaze into three bowls with a little more glaze in the color you’ll use for the cake. The glaze dries pretty quickly so make sure to cover with saran wrap pressed to the top if you make ahead of time.

This is a great glaze for frosting sugar cookies too!

This would be so yummy with a chocolate ganache or caramel or peanut butter… yum the list goes on!
ENJOY!
-L

THE BEST CHOCOLATE CAKE!

It was my husband’s birthday yesterday, and every year his two requests for gifts from me are: 
1. “Don’t spend money”
2. “Bake my favorite chocolate cake”
I’d say I get off pretty easy!
Update: The picture above is the cake I made for MY birthday! It’s the same cake recipe but with peanut butter frosting (recipe below)
Not to toot my own horn… but I’m going to. This cake is the BEST. It’s super m-o-i-s-t (don’t say it out loud) and super chocolaty in a not-to-sweet way. It’s pretty easy too!
THE BEST CHOCOLATE CAKE EVER EVER EVER
Cake Recipe
Adapted from Ina Garten
Ingredients:
Butter, for greasing the pans
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans (I use bread flour)
2 cups sugar
3/4 cups (good!!) cocoa powder 
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk, shaken
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 extra-large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon (good) pure vanilla extract
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee
Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 
Butter two 8-inch x 2-inch round cake pans. 
Line with the bottom of the pan with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans. I like to flour the pans with extra cocoa powder!
Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined. 
In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. 
With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. 
With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. 
Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 25-30 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Always bake for a few minutes less if you’ve never made this recipe before, so you don’t over-bake the cakes. You can always add more time, you can’t take away! 
Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.
CHOCOLATE FROSTING RECIPE
Adapted from Magnolia Bakery
Ingredients: 
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temp
2 tablespoons whole milk, room temp
12 ounces chocolate, melted and cooled (I use Ghiradelli 60% bittersweet chocolate)
1 tsp fleur de sel or kosher salt
1 teaspoon (good!!) vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
Directions: 
To melt the chocolate, place in a double boiler over simmering water on low heat for about 5-10 minutes. Stir occasionally until completely smooth and no pieces of chocolate remain.  
Add 1 tsp of fleur de sel or kosher salt (my secret ingredient).
Remove from the heat and let cool for 5-15 minutes.
In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat the butter until creamy, 3 minutes. 
Add the milk carefully and beat until smooth. 
Add the melted chocolate and beat for 2 minutes. 
Add the vanilla and beat for 3 minutes. 
Gradually add the sugar and beat on low speed until a desired consistency is reached. I whip it for a couple minutes so it’s nice and fluffy!
My two cute helpers
Ari said “Happy Birthday, Daddy! Daddy, how old are you turning? Oh wow, 32? Does that mean you’re going to go bald soon?”

UPDATE: I just made this cake for my birthday but with peanut butter frosting! Recipe as follows:

PEANUT BUTTER FROSTING
Ina Garten
Ingredients:
1 c powdered sugar
1 c creamy peanut butter
5 tbsp butter, room temp
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 c heavy cream
Directions:
Beat all ingredients except the cream in a mixer on low until creamy. Add the cream and beat on high until fluffy and smooth. There was enough for the top and middle layer of the cake, keeping the sides bare. You may want to double the recipe if you’ll be frosting the whole cake.

You are going to LOVE this!! Enjoy!
-L

ARI’S 4TH BIRTHDAY – PIZZA PARTY!

Ari turned 4 yesterday! I cannot believe I have a four-year-old. What?! After Max’s 1st birthday party last month (HERE) I was pretty spent, so it was music to my ears when Ari declared he didn’t want a party! Background… he’s not too into other kids his age and much prefers adults. We’re working on it at preschool and with play dates, but honestly it was his birthday, so he should get to do what he wants, right? Ari’s request was going to his fav pizza place, Mellow Mushroom, with just the family. So that’s what we did!
I kept decoration to the bare minimum (to my standards) and just made these little pizza party hats, a pizza cake, and pizza tattoos
Pizza Party tattoos in our Etsy shop HERE
For the pizza cake, I just used sour straws and chocolate cheerios for the “pizza toppings”. I tinted frosting red for the middle layer and yellow for the top. You guys… I totally attempted a brown crust out of frosting and failed miserably. Scraped it off and stuck with a clean yellow top! 

I thought these pizza hats turned out pretty well and were super simple! For the tutorial and more DIY party hat ideas, click HERE.

Here’s my birthday boy checking out his cake sans pants.
That’s a wrap! Now to move into our new home NEXT WEEK…. oy.
-L
Ari’s Modern Animal Themed 2nd Birthday Party HERE, HERE, and HERE.

ARI’S ANIMAL THEMED PARTY: PART 1

Today’s #TBT party series features Ari’s 2nd birthday. At two, Ari was obsessed with going to the zoo, so I went with a “Party Animal” theme and made it modern with solid, bright colors. Everything I did was DIY– you can totally pull this off if you have the time and plan ahead!
My talented twin sister, Ellie, of Aunt Ellie’s Sweet Treats, made her famous gourmet rice krispie treats Campfire Crispies and cut them out in animal shapes. These. Are. Amazing. If you’ve never tried, you’re missin’ out on life, my friend. Order HERE. You deserve it.
DIY chalkboard trays tutorial HERE / Spoons by Shop Sweet Lulu
DIY fringy toppers tutorial HERE / Baking cups by Shop Sweet Lulu
Remember those yummy frosted animal cookies you ate as a kid? I made them out of sugar cookies, tinted frosting, and sprinkles. 
Not gonna lie… these bad boys took me a loooong time. But worth it right? Tutorial HERE.
’cause it’s a camel.. get it?
Nana Lou’s famous punch (for adults!). This zookeeper needed three one after all this DIY-ing!
Yep, that’s me enjoying zookeeper punch. 
I made teeny little party hats for these fellas.
Animal canister DIY – fill with animal food: goldfish, teddy grahams, and animal crackers
I took a picture of Ari every month – well worth torture! See all three years HERE.
PHOTO BOOTH
Photo booth backdrop and party hat tutorial HERE
I absolutely adore this picture! Lauren and Piper, Ari and me, Amara and Jenni. Obviously our kids are super photogenic.
Homemade funfetti cake! Mmmm… Topped with spray-painted animals of course.
Part 2 of Ari’s Animal Theme Birthday Party click HERE: DIY’s
Part 3 click HERE: Party favors, games for the kiddos, details
-L

AMARA’S FIRST BIRTHDAY

For our “throw back thursday” series, we are revisiting my daughter’s first birthday party. I had ideas and color schemes running through my head since before her birth. The party was held in September, which makes for such lovely weather here in TN….usually. It is also my birthday month, so it is just an all around happy time of celebration for us. I knew I wanted to hand make the invite rather than get something printed, create a pinwheel photo booth backdrop, and use peach and mint in my color scheme. Thats it! 

^^ The invites were my FAVORITE part of the celebration. I ordered mini chalkboards, painted and cut each envelope out of watercolor paper and did a peach ombre water color, and sweet Leah did beautiful hand lettering on every. single. invite! Then, we finished it off with a photo envelope liner. I believe we did that for 28 or so. Then, I attached a chalkboard tag with some gold and cream yarn. The most special part, for me, was that they were each hand delivered. I just feel like your invite sets the tone for the entire party, and I wanted it to be special, and for each of our guests to know just how much it meant for them to be there, and how much time was taken to make their invitation a beautiful one. ^^
^^ I found doilies in the dollar section at a local craft store, and folded them over a piece of yarn, and voila. I didn’t want to take them down after the party because they made my yard look so pretty! ^^
^^ My sweet friend, Lori, covered an “A” in moss. I just wanted a little something to set outside of the door. ^^
^^ Yarn wrapped letters are a favorite of mine. I set out some of Amara’s favorite books with a pair of her baby shoes to add some sweet touches. I finished off the mantle with a ribbon – esque garland. Mine were just strips of fabric from Wal-Mart. Believe it or not….it was the only place where I could find the perfect shades of peach and mint. ^^
^^ This pinwheel backdrop was such a labor of love for me. It was a LOT of work, but I absolutely loved how all of the photo booth shots turned out. I think I cried when I was forced to break it down and throw it out. I need a studio so I can hoard all of my labors of love, right? haha! ^^

^^ My husband put together a one year video to show at the party, and to hand out as party favors. We took our cake outside and sat around some hay bales that we bought for the party ( which stayed in our yard for a good two months after the party). It was perfect. We just hung a white sheet off the side of our pergola, and borrowed a projector from our neighbor. ^^
^^Leah and I with our littles!^^