Pool Party: My Nephew’s 1st Birthday

Pool Party 1st Birthday: Under The Sea Cake

I come from a very large family, and my nephew turned one last week and so we celebrated in style.  It was a collaborative effort by friends and family with ideas from everyone and Pinterest. It turned out so cute I thought I would share some of the highlights. The cake above came from the very talented Creative Wine-O, check out her facebook page here. The detail was stunning. The beach ball was the “smash” cake and even the sand dollars were edible.

Pool Party 1st Birthday: Watch Me Grow Time Line

To celebrate his first revolution around the sun my sister made a timeline, featuring a picture from each of his 12 months. Use ribbon and clothes pins to hang. Make sure you put it in a place that is easily accessible so all guest can admire it.  We also used this as the back drop when he ate his birthday cake. We placed his high chair in front.

Pool Party 1st Birthday: Fish Craft

We hung a fishing net ( available at party stores) over the main food table and attached sand molds to it. We also had a craft table so that some of the older kids could make paper plate fish to hang in the net. We also used sand buckets and shovels to serve some of the food in.

Pool Party 1st Birthday: Shark Bite Fruit Salad

Pool Party 1st Birthday: Shark Bite Fruit Salad

One of the highlights of the food table was this awesome watermelon carved into a shark by my brother-in-law. We then filled it with various cut up fruit.

Pool Party 1st Birthday: Blow Fish Fruit Platter

He also made a cantaloupe into a blow fish.

Pool Party 1st Birthday: Fish Veggie Tray

Vegetables morphed into a tropical fish.

Pool Party 1st Birthday: Octopus Spinach Dip

Spinach dip was turned into a jolly octopus using a bread bowl and pretzel sticks.

Pool Party 1st Birthday: Hummus Beach

Make your own hummus beach by spreading hummus in a shallow tray ( I used a clear lid to a casserole) and decorate with drink umbrellas and Pretzel Crisp crabs.

Pool Party 1st Birthday: Dolphin Finger Sandwiches

I found a dolphin sandwich cutter at Sweetbay, perfect to make mini sandwiches for the kids.

Pool Party 1st Birthday: Bait Bucket

Swedish fish and gummy worms turned into an edible bait bucket decoration.

Pool Party 1st Birthday: Party Favors

Each child got to take a bit of the fun home. Our good family friend made party buckets out of plain sand buckets decorated with stickers and ribbon and filled with beach themed goodies from the dollar store.

It was a true success and a joyous celebration of one of our youngest family members birthday.

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Red White and Blue: Berry Basil Sangria

Red White and Blue: Berry Basil Sangria

This is a light and refreshing sangria that is perfect for summer and the festive colors make it the go to drink for the 4th of July. Want to make a pitcher for the kids, substitute the wine with white grape juice.

1  1.5 liter bottle of Pinot Grigio

1 cup water

1 cup sugar

1/4 c basil

1 c white grape juice

1 c strawberries washed and cut into quarters

1 cup blueberries

1/2 liter club soda

Place Strawberries and blueberries in a large pitcher, cover with 1 cup of wine and place in refrigerator for at least 1 hour- overnight.

Basil Berry Sangria

In a small sauce pan add sugar, water and 4 large basil leaves. bring to a boil and stir until sugar dissolves and then turn off heat and let cool. This is a basil simple syrup. It is great for many mixed drinks. I like it with Gin and tonics.

Basil Simple Syrup

Add 1/2 basil simple syrup (straining the leaves out) the rest of the wine, grape juice, and club soda to the pitcher with the fruit.  Taste and add more simple syrup if needed ( This will depend on your tastes and the sweetness of your wine) Add some more fresh basil leaves. Serve over ice. Garnish with more basil and fruit if desired.

Red White and Blue: Berry Basil Sangria, perfect drink for the 4th of July

Chipotle Sweet Potato Soup

Chipotle Sweet Potato Soup

This is a simple soup with natural ingredients that is big on flavor. Perfect for lunch or with a sandwich or salad at dinner. It is also vegan/vegetarian so it is a meatless Monday favorite.

Chipotle Sweet Potato Soup

2t olive oil

1 yellow onion chopped

4 clove garlic chopped

6 cups sweet potatoes peeled and cut into 2″x 2″ pieces

4 c water

1/2 t dried Chipotle Powder ( found in the spice aisle, a little goes a long way )

1 lime zest and juice

1 t salt

Fresh herbs or arugula for topping if desired.

Heat oil in a 2 1/2 quart sauce pan over med high heat. Add onion and garlic and saute for about 5 minutes. Add potatoes, water, salt, lime juice, lime zest and chipotle powder. bring to a simmer, cover and cook 30-40 minutes. Let cool slightly by removing from heat. Add to blender in 2 batches if necessary and puree. Add back to pan and keep on low until ready to serve. Add chopped herbs or arugula if desired.

Chipotle Sweet Potato Soup

Gifts that keep on giving: Booze Baskets

Finding a perfect gift for someone is difficult, getting the right size or color or worrying if the receiver already has one etc… I recently got a new neighbor and was wondering what to get her. I knew what colors she likes and we were already friends so I kind of knew her tastes but still had no idea. Then I remembered that she said her new house would have a signature cocktail…mojitos. Well what could be better than all the ingredients for her new house drink. I always save my Christmas gift baskets, you know the ones that different business send out with stale nuts and cheap chocolate, the basket is probably the best part. I found one in my closet that would fit all of the needed supplies. For the Mojito basket I put white rum, club soda, a muddler, limes and a mint plant. I also made a batch of simple syrup and filled a glass jar with it.

Simple Syrup is easy to make and a great addition to mojitos, iced coffee and iced tea. I actually made a double batch so I could keep some for myself.

Add equal parts sugar and water to a pan, bring to a boil and remove from heat, let cool and store in the refrigerator.

To keep all the contents from falling out, I used some clear shrink-wrap, which is now available at my dollar store and tied a bow on the top. Voila, gift giving made easy. This basket could easily be done with a different drink theme. Margaritas, cosmos, martinis. Now I can’t wait to join my new neighbor for happy hour by the pool once she gets settled.