Today marks one week of success with my Stopping Spree! I know that one week isn't much to brag about, but it does give me some motivation for the remaining 51 weeks. My readers motivate me, too. Thank you for sending me emails, texts, and Facebook messages with your feedback and post ideas. I genuinely value your support!
In January of 2011, a few of my teaching pals and I started what we called Project Life Club. We met about once a month to work on our Project Life albums or family blogs. Over the last year, I’ve grown much closer to this group of girls, and I feel so lucky to work with such positive, kind, and FUNNY ladies.
Hot Cocoa Bars are pretty trendy right now, so after selecting that as my theme, it was easy to collect ideas. Naturally, I turned to my BFF for inspiration. Have you met Pinterest yet? We crossed paths in July, and we have been inseparable ever since.
*Disclaimer: This is a Pinterest-heavy post. If you have an aversion to the greatest idea sharing system ever created, you probably won’t find all my pinteresting very interesting.
Ok, now for the party details!
I made these cookies from a Better Homes and Gardens recipe. Here's the link to BHG, where the recipe originated. They're called White Chocolate Cherry Shortbread cookies - and this is what they're supposed to look like. Study this picture carefully before you move on.
On Pinterest, they were nicknamed “the best Christmas cookie ever.” It’s not Christmas anymore, but I’m always up to try any cookie boasting a reputation as “the best.”
I thought the cookies would improve once they were in the oven. Um, not so much. They never flattened or melted right. Sad day.
The important thing is that they tasted great; they just looked homely (at least compared to the photo in the recipe). At this point, I was OVER the cookies, so I didn't even bother to dip them in white chocolate.
In hindsight, the directions said to use baker’s white chocolate, finely chopped. At the grocery store, I found white chocolate chips and thought, “Total score! Now I don’t have to chop any chocolate!” But I think that was the problem. The chips were just too big and didn’t melt into the cookie.
Anyway, my ever-courteous friends all said the cookies were delicious, and it’s the thought that counts, right?
I also served crackers, cheese, grapes, and carrots…and of course, hot cocoa for dessert!
The hot cocoa was fab! Zero complaints. Check out the recipe here.
I used small, galvanized pots to hold different hot cocoa toppings. These little pots are serious multi-taskers. I use them in the spring for starting seeds and in the summer for planting herbs. And now, they get to add “serving dish” to their resume. I offered: marshmallows,
Andes mints, peppermint Hershey Kisses, whipped cream, candy canes, and sprinkles. Basically, I used up all my leftover Christmas candy (savvy money saving!).
I went with a red and white theme because I have an impressive stash of red and white stuff. I know that in January, lots of people take a break from red (after all January is wedged between Christmas and Valentine’s Day – both red-loving holidays). But red is one of my favorite colors, and I never tire of it. The photo below is dark, but you can get a general idea of the Cocoa Bar set-up on our kitchen island.
I already owned all the decorations. I bought the paper lanterns at Target in November. You’ll likely see them featured on this blog again on Valentine’s Day. And 4th of July. And Christmas.
I saw these chalkboard mugs on Pinterest and was like, “Those would be perfect!”
I was jazzed because plain white mugs and chalkboard paint are both things I already own. On Saturday morning, I read the directions only to find that you don’t use normal chalkboard paint for this mug project. You have to use special ceramic chalkboard paint. Being that I’m on a Stopping Spree, I can’t buy that special paint…but just in case you’re wondering, the ceramic paint is backordered on Amazon until late February. (Apparently, half of
thought, “Those mugs would be perfect!”) America
So…Plan B? I cut some 1-inch strips of red/white polka dot paper, looped the strips around the mugs, and attached the ends with glue. Super simple, FREE, and I think they added some cheer to plain mugs.
I dipped plastic spoons in two kinds of chocolate and topped them with sprinkles. It was such an easy process that I’m pretty sure that I’ll be making them again this year.
(Oops. I may have just spoiled your Christmas surprise.)
I used both milk and white chocolate.
Then I put them in the refrigerator to harden the chocolate before sliding them into plastic bags with cute red twist-ties.
Later I slipped the spoon sets into the most adorable paper bags. Kraft paper and polka dots…TOGETHER?! Dreamy. And hard to part with. Really hard.
But guess what?! After all that, I FORGOT TO GIVE OUT THE DANG GOODIE BAGS!!
I'll confess that my first thought when I found the undistributed bags was, “It’s a sign! I’m supposed to save the polka dot bags for something else!”
But then I had a short talk with myself about how it’s OK to use the things I love. In fact, one might even say it’s ideal to use the things I love…that is why I bought them, after all. In the end, I decided that I would just bring the goodie bags to school for my friends. Crisis averted.
Here's a photo of us chatting and sipping on cocoa.
And of course, what gathering is complete without the obligatory tripod/self-timer shot? (Or is that just at my house?) From left to right: Me, Anna, Kelly, Stephanie, Becky, and Hailey.Kelly and Becky each had a baby last month, and this was my first chance to meet the cherubs.
Say hello to beautiful Molly.