19 November 2015

{Holidays} Family Photo Tips and Holiday Cards

For years, the simple thought of having Family pictures taken put me off !
My kids are quite close in age so for the longest time there was always a baby at home. And a baby meant I felt I had absolutely no time or energy to organize a family picture session, let alone plan the outfits and look put together on the pictures !!! I was simply exhausted and could not cope with the stress of it...

So of course, no family pictures also meant no picture Christmas cards, I used to resort to buying impersonal ones....

Last year, this changed !
If only I had known earlier that with a little planning the process was not as dreadful as I thought...

Here are a few tips learnt the hard way (!), I am no expert, but with 3 young children I am pretty organized, and it is do-able !!!

It won't come as a surprise but planning early is the answer ! The last thing you want is to have your photos taken so late that you will have to rush order your cards...

In an ideal world, you want to be able to order your cards in November, giving you plenty of time to address them by hand and send them long before the holidays.

Therefore your pictures should be taken well before Thanksgiving, possibly even in September or October... I know it is hard to plan this early but there are many advantages in having your pictures taken in the early days of fall.
First of all it is less cold ! and that means more wardrobe options :) you can pretty much dress however you like in September, you cannot in December when it is freezing...
As well as giving you some room on what to wear, you will also get more options for a shoot location earlier in the season. I live in California, so this is not a big problem for us, but I imagine people living in colder parts of the country trying to get young children to pose for pictures outdoors in the snow... not the easiest.

This was probably the biggest put off for me ! Planning what to wear !!! And have some sort of coordination between us...!

After a few family photo shoots the trick for us seems to be to start with one garnement, usually a dress for one of my girls and start matching the other outfits.

Here are a few exemples... On all those pictures, one of the girls is wearing a flowery dress and our outfits colors are matched to the dress. This is a simple enough rule for me and seems to be working well. I tend to stick to only one garnement with busy patterns.

Choose somebody you will feel comfortable with, it could be a professional or a friend, but whoever it is, you want them to capture your family truly.
We worked with Lilla Kuknyo for our pictures this year and we love how she managed to capture us :)

And don't forget to book them early...

Now that you have done all the hard work, have fun choosing a design for your holiday cards !!!
This year I ordered our cards from Tiny Print and I absolutely love them !!! They turned out perfect.

After browsing through the many designs I picked two that I thought would compliment our pictures well. I chose the elegant foil stamped design for our family and the fun colorful one for our friends.

Personalizing the cards was very simple and options were well explained. The download of my pictures to the Tiny Print website only took seconds. The whole process was very easy.

And of course, the finished products are gorgeous ! Especially the foil stamped cards, I am so very pleased with how they look !
I got the enveloppe and liners to match, and now everything looks so elegant and special.

Disclosure: All words and opinions are my completely my own. Items for review were provided by Tiny Prints at no cost. No other type of compensation was received for this review.

11 November 2015

{Festive recipes} Apple roses

This recipe from TipHero has gone viral on Facebook and I am sure by now you have all seen it !! I couldn't resist trying it and it definitely lived up to my expectation.
Not only were these Baked Apple Roses pretty easy to make, they were also as beautiful as pictured in the video !!!

Here are a few tips learnt during the process :)
- use pastry that is still cold. If at room temperature you will struggle to "control" the pastry and it will stretch quite a lot. I use frozen pastry which I thaw in the fridge for a few hours before using. I then only take the pastry out 10 minutes before using, so it is cold and easier to handle.
- when baked and cooled, brush with a little apricot jam to give the roses a nice shine
- use the best quality puff pastry you can find as it will make all the difference... I use the frozen puff pastry from Trader Joe's but unfortunately it's only available around Thanksgiving.

These will be perfect for our Christmas gathering !

Have you tried them ? What did you think ? 

3 November 2015

{Festive recipes} Panna Cotta with Pineapple-Cranberry coulis

Panna Cotta is such great dessert for entertaining. Not only is it quick and easy to make, you can also make it a day or two before the event, perfect !

I took the opportunity of a Halloween girls' night to try out this recipe and it was a success, it will make a great Holiday dessert.

I love the combination of the tangy pineapple-cranberry coulis with the creamy panna cotta.

This Panna Cotta has been my trusted recipe for year, and the coulis was adapted form this recipe.
My only advice is to use small containers. The ones pictured above ended up being too large, I will use shot glasses (or similar) next time.

Pineapple-Cranberry Panna Cotta
(approx 8 shot glasses, depending on size)

Panna Cotta

400ml Double cream/Heavy whipping cream
50g sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 sheets gelatin (mine are 2g/sheet )

Place the gelatin in a shallow dish filled with cold water and let stand for a few minutes until soft.
Bring the cream+sugar to the boil. Remove from heat source. Add vanilla extract and gelatin, mix well until gelatin has dissolved. Let cool at room temperature.

Pineapple Cranberry coulis

2 cups diced Pineapple (I used frozen)
1 cup Cranberry
3/4 cup fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons sugar
3 sheets gelatin

Place the gelatin in a shallow dish filled with cold water and let stand for a few minutes until soft.
Cook pineapple, cranberry, juice and sugar in a pan for a few minutes, until fruits are soft (the pineapple has to be cooked or the coulis won't set and you won't be able to make layers).
Transfer to a blender and blend until smooth. Then sieve to remove the pineapple fibers.
Add the gelatin to the fruit puree while it is still hot and mix well until the gelatin has completely dissolved.
Let cool.

Pour a layer of cream in each glass and place in fridge or freezer until cool and set (15 to 30 minutes). Take the glasses out and pour a layer of coulis. Place back in the fridge for 15-30 minutes until set. Repeat until you have the number of layers desired.

Note: If you do not wish to create layers and only want the cream with coulis on top, then there is no need to add gelatin to the coulis.

Here is another presentation I really like (bottom picture). The photo is from the very talented Tracey Soul:

1 November 2015

{Festive recipes} Cranberry Pavlova

With Halloween over, I guess we can say the Holiday season has now officially started !!!
So for me it's time to start thinking about the end of year menu and to try out a few new recipes. We will be having guests over for Christmas so I am planning a festive cocktail evening with lots of nibbles for December 24th and a more traditional dinner for Christmas day.

For the next couple of weeks, I'll be sharing some of my favorite recipes and some new finds which I think will be perfect for holiday entertaining.

Today I am excited to share this fabulous Cranberry Pavlova which is one of my favorite holiday recipe. I have done the mini version as well as the full size Pavlova and we love both. I will be making the minis for our Cocktail evening.
You can find the recipe here.

16 October 2015

Day of the Dead Party

This year for Halloween I was inspired by the vibrant colors of the traditional Day of the Dead designs.
Those colorful skulls were so fun to work with and I enjoyed making all the colors pop !!

I hope you get inspired by the pictures !

For this party I used items from Day of the Dead partyrange from Oriental Trading.
Styling and Photography: That Cute Little Cake

Disclosure: All words and opinions are my completely my own. Items for review were provided by Oriental Trading at no cost. No other type of compensation was received for this review.

2 September 2015

Owl Baby Shower

I cannot believe the summer's come and gone !!! Those past months since my last post have been crazy. End of school year busyness was followed by summer holiday chaos :) And now the kids are back in school and into the routine we go...
I miss our summer's freedom and disorganization but at the same time it feels good to get my routine back :)

Today I am finally posting pictures of this very sweet baby shower my friend Jini and I organized for one of the mums in school.
The whole concept started with the adorable diaper cake Jini made. The owl and tree design in blue and green was so cute we carried it throughout and added bright yellow as an accent.

I love the overall look of the table. Simple, somewhat rustic (with the wood and burlap elements), but still elegant...
I hope you will enjoy the pictures.

Styling, Cookies and Photography: That Cute Little Cake (with special thanks to my friend Jini)
Mini bundt cakes: Nothing Bundt Cake

26 May 2015

{Recipe} Double Caramel Cupcakes

I have made caramel cupcakes before but I was never really satisfied with the frosting, never really liked the combination of caramel cakes with vanilla or chocolate icing...
For the Corcodile Party I knew I needed some caramel colored icing so I looked for a caramel frosting recipe and I have to say, I am soooo pleased with the result.
These were totally delicious !!!! Double caramel goodies !!!

I used my trusted Caramel Mud cupcake recipe for these and a new caramel frosting recipe. Enjoy !!!

Recipes adapted from:
Cupcake recipe: The Australian Women's Weekly Cupcakes and Fairycakes
Caramel Frosting: Bon Appetit

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