Chocolate Cavity-Maker Cake

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When I want a rich, chocolatey cake this is my go-to recipe.  It’s heavenly when it’s just warm and the chocolate chips are gooey.  Enjoy it with a hot cup of coffee or tea!  I got this recipe from my dad who printed it off of allrecipes.com.  It looks like their version is slighty different from mine, though.

Chocolate Cavity-Maker Cake

Ingredients:

  • 1 box dark chocolate cake mix
  • 1 sm. box instant chocolate pudding mix
  • 16 oz. sour cream
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 C. canola oil
  • 1/4 C. milk
  • 1/4 C. coffee
  • 1 C. chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease and flour a 10″ bundt pan.  In lg. bowl combine cake mix, pudding mix, sour cream, eggs, oil, milk, and coffee.  Beat until well blended.  Fold in chocolate chips.  Batter will be thick.  Spoon into prepared pan.  Bake 1 hour or until cake springs back when lightly tapped.  Cool about 10 minutes in pan, loosen sides with thing spatula or knife, and turn out onto wire rack to cool completely.  Dust with powdered sugar to make pretty.  Best served warm.

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Ninja Party Invitations

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My second son has a birthday party coming up and the theme that he wanted to go with this year was Ninja!  I found this fabulous and easy homemade Ninja party invitation on Pinterest, from Mommie Forever.  Thank you for this great idea!

The original post did not have step-by-step directions, so I just winged it, wung it–you know what I mean!  My son trimmed some black 12×12 scrapbook paper and folded it in half for me.  It kind of gave our ninja a wide-head appearance, but I really was not worried.  The boys who would be receiving the invitations aren’t too picky about that sort of thing.  😉

After that, we trimmed some kraft paper to about 4″x1 1/2″.  Then I just eyeballed it in trimming off part of the bottom to make a small incline from the bottom middle to the outer edge.  This was taped to the front of the card, where the ninja would be peaking out of his hood.

Next, we affixed some googly eyes to the kraft paper, where the eyes would be.  My son had fun placing them in all kinds of silly positions.  These ninjas really had some major eye issues.  Our googly eyes were smaller than the example’s; if I had to do it over again, I’d get the big googly eyes.

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Finally, I quickly typed up a little party information sheet which we cut out and taped inside each invitation.  Include information like: date, where it will be taking place, RSVP number, activity info., etc.

Have fun trying out this easy invitation design!  It was nice to be able to do it with my sons.

Zelda or Link Party Activities

I’d like to share with you the activities we did for my son’s Link birthday party.  For me, the activities are always the hardest part to plan, so I hope this helps you get a head-start on your party plans.

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Our decorations for this party were almost laughable, but that’s to be expected with such short-sighted planning.  As I was busy in the kitchen preparing the food, my husband put up the few decorations that I had.  I told him to do whatever he wanted and this is what he came up with in a short time.  There were the typical twirled streamers over the table.  On the table we had a cheap plastic tablecloth in green.  My husband did something cool with the beam.  He hung up these bug decorations that I got from Oriental Trading (I’ll post the link later; their site isn’t working right now.), and then twisted/crumpled streamers to make them look like hanging vines.  It was a cool effect.

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The favor bags were very easy–just some plain brown paper sacks decorated with fancy script letter stickers.  The stickers were at Walmart and had quite a few letters in each package.  I thought the fancy script fit the theme well.  Once the kids were done decorating their bags, we moved on to BINGO.

IMG_0377 crI just realized that I didn’t get any pictures of the kids playing BINGO.  I guess I was too busy calling the spaces.  The picture above shows the basket of prizes–Hershey’s bars, Andes mints and Rolos.  I got them because the colors fit the theme and they didn’t contain nuts.  I printed off BINGO sheets from this Pinterest link.  So…all the sheets ended up being the same.  The kids noticed it and I just told them they’d all be winning every time.  Once they started getting candy, they weren’t too upset about it.  😉  It was so funny to hear twelve kids call out “BINGO” at the same time.  We used dried beans as counters, but use whatever you have.  Side note–it’s very satisfying to vacuum up the beans afterward.

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After BINGO the kids had a little treasure hunt for “Ruppees.”  I found some acrylic gems on Oriental Trading (link will be added when their website is working) and thought that they were a fair approximation of a Rupee.  We hid them mostly in plain site in our upstairs hallway and the boys’ bedroom.  The kids were told that they had to find two of each color (red/blue/green) and then turn them in to “buy” their party favors.  Some of the kids were done quickly and a few took longer and needed assistance.  When the kids turned in their Rupees they got to take their favors from the basket.  My husband officiated so that there was no grabbing or fighting.  We followed this activity with a coloring activity so that those who were finished didn’t have to sit around waiting for the others.

IMG_0367 crFavors are really tough.  I just have a hard time thinking of things that the kids will like, that don’t cost too much, and that parents won’t dread.  This is what I came up with for this party.  Only one item follows the theme of the party but really, the kids don’t care.  Our favors were fruit snacks, cheese crackers, colored pens, Rupee perler bead keychains from etsy, and scented markers.  In addition to this, the kids had candy in their bags from the BINGO game.

IMG_6589 crAs a time-killer we also did some coloring of a Link coloring sheet that I found online.  I told the kids we were having a coloring contest and that they should try to be creative.  We ended up with some very funny-looking Links.  One of them even delivered pizza!  Each kid got to show their picture to everyone else and then we decided what award they should win for their picture.  For instance, the one on the bottom left won the Reddest Face Award.

The last thing we did was to watch some LEGO Ninjago on Netflix.  I wanted to end with an activity that got everyone calmed down before leaving and that would allow kids to leave at differing times, without too much fuss.  It was a great transition activity.  Overall the party went great.  When you have that many kids in the house and there is no fighting or crying, and everyone stays occupied, you can call it a success.

Let me know if you’ve ever had a Link birthday party and what you did.  I’d love to hear from you!

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Zelda or Link Party Food

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Well, I’m finally getting around to posting the food we had at my son’s Link birthday party.  This party was so poorly planned, you wouldn’t believe it.  The day before, we sat down to figure out the food and activities.  I’ve been quite busy of late and extras like this have fallen along the wayside.  As luck would have it, everything turned out fine and the kids had a great time.  Check out all of our party food below!

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I had some really grand ideas for the cookies we were going to make, but because our plans were last-minute, we had to simplify.  I got two pre-made cookie dough logs.  My husband and son baked them and we let them cool so that we could decorate them the morning of the party.  We made both red heart Life Cookies, and yellow Triforce Cookies.

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I used Wilton decorating icing to decorate the cookies.  I didn’t even bother with tips, but just squeezed out some red heart shapes and yellow triangles.  So simple.  The other items in this picture are decorating pearls, and the chocolate frosting we used for the cupcakes.  (Side story here–the baking section of Walmart was completely picked over.  Not one container of white/vanilla/normal frosting, except 2 cans of this chocolate kind!)

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I’ve made these acorns before, but this time they were Guardian Acorns.  They are very simple to make.  Use icing to attach a snack-size cookie to the bottom of a Hershey’s Kiss.  Use a bit more icing to attach a butterscotch or peanut butter chip to the top of the cookie.  That’s it!

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Snack Pack gelatin was our Chu Jelly.  This was another item that was picked over at the store.  I wanted more colors, but this was all they had.

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Plain meatballs in the slow cooker became Dodongo Meat.  These were a big hit with the boys!  Go figure–boys liking meat.

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Bean and bacon soup became Elixir Soup.  Here was another thing that went over better than I thought it would.  Some of the kids added meatballs to their soup.

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For Cucco Wings I got a box of appetizer chicken wings with the sauce included.  I should have gotten two of these because they were very popular!

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We had one beverage and it wasn’t bright red to stain anything!!  Lemon-lime Kool-Aid became Energy Potion.  I sweetened it with flaked Splenda and it didn’t taste overly sweet at all.

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I am loving this new method of doing birthday cake at my house–make some cupcakes and let the kids go crazy decorating their own!  We had chocolate frosting, the leftover pouches of Wilton decorating icing (red/yellow/green), and the decorating pearls that were in forest colors.

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The tableware was all purchased at Oriental Trading, except the paper straws that we found at Walmart the other day.

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The boys made little signs to go with each of the dishes.  We messed up a bit on the chicken wings–we started off by calling them Ooccoo Wings.  My husband graciously informed me that they should be Cucco Wings.  Thank you, my dear.

I hope you’ve gained some fun and easy ideas for your Link/Zelda theme birthday party.  Let me know what you think or if you have any additional ideas!

Zelda or Link Party Invitations

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My eldest son has a birthday party planned for later this month.  He wanted to go with a Link theme for this birthday, though I always get it mixed up and call him Zelda.  We decided to make our own invitations just because it would be fun.  So I ordered a stamp on etsy called the Hyrulian Crest.  It was rather expensive at $29.95 but now that I have it, I can see that it’s a quality product.  Also, it is a lot bigger than I thought it would be.  We had to make cards that are full sheet of paper folded in half.  The light green card stock seemed to fit the Link theme perfectly.

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We used an invitation stamp with fancy lettering inside.  I already had this and it seemed like the old-fashioned script fit the world of Link very well.  I let my son make his own invitations as part of his schoolwork.  He really enjoys hands-on projects like this.  They didn’t turn out perfect, but he got the satisfaction of finishing the job himself.

These invitations are nothing fancy, but they are a great starting place for anyone who wants to make their own Link invitations.  I’ve started trusting my kids to do more, instead of taking over because of my perfectionistic nature.  Not everything has to be perfect.  That should be my new mantra.

Let me know if you have ever done a Link or Zelda party, and what ideas you had.  Party on dudes!

Birthday Word Scramble Present Hunt

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My kids and I came up with this fun activity for my husband’s recent birthday.  I had gotten him a bunch of Star Trek books, but didn’t want to just wrap them up and hand them over.  So we orchestrated a word scramble present hunt.  Fun!  Above you can see a stack of books that we wrapped.  I just used leftover Christmas paper.  We made a list of places to hide the books, then made little paper tags that had that word scrambled.

While my husband hid in my craft room, the rest of us proceeded to hide all of the books around the house.  When we let him out, we would give him a scrambled word tag to unscramble and he would go off in search of the gift.  When he found that one, we gave him the next clue.  He chose to open each gift along the way, though you could save that until they are all found.

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Because there were so many books, we chose to put some of them in gift bags.  I didn’t want to spend the whole day wrapping presents, y’know?

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We hid gifts all over the house, and somehow the clue for this one never made it into my husband’s hands.  I discovered it hanging in the shower the next day.  We really enjoyed this present hunt and the kids asked if I would do it for their birthdays, too.  If you try it out, let me know how it went for you!

Frozen Party Invitations

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This post contains affiliate links.

This was my experimental and amateurish attempt at making Frozen birthday party invitations.  I should have used some white to help give it some contrast.  Oh well, there’s always next time!  The process was fairly easy.

Materials:

Directions:

1. Trim 12″ x 12″ card stock in quarters, or whatever size you prefer.

2. Apply a piece of silver glitter tape across the bottom of the paper.  Trim edges.

3. Apply a piece of blue glitter tape diagonally across the upper right-hand corner.  Trim edges.

4. Use alphabet stamp with blue ink pad to stamp invitation message on front.

5. Use snowflake stamp set and ink pad to stamp snowflakes on front.

6. Use Stickles to outline snowflakes as desired.  Let dry.

IMG_46346. On other side, apply strip of snowflake washi tape.  Trim edges.

7. Using “You’re Invited” stamp and blue ink pad, stamp in middle of paper.

8. Using purple ink pad and snowflake stamps, stamp a series of snowflakes across top edge of paper.  Let dry.

Frozen Party Decorations

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This post contains affiliate links.

Usually I don’t go overboard with decorating for parties.  I don’t have a very good eye for design and have a hard time coming up with creative ideas.  This time I went above and beyond (for myself, at least) and got things looking nice for my daughter’s Frozen birthday party.  I’ll post the pictures for you and include links to the items I bought.  That way if you want to try to reproduce some of the look, it will be easy peasy.

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On the table I used a cheap plastic tablecloth that I got at Dollar General.  The beauty of this is that you can just leave the trash on the table, gather up the whole bundle and toss it in the trash.  Easy cleanup!  I also used Frozen plates and purple cups from Oriental Trading.  The cups have frozen stickers on them that I got at Walmart.  The glittery snowflakes in the middle of the table also came from Oriental Trading.  They are somewhat flimsy, but will last for a couple of parties, if you’re gentle with them.  The teal napkins and pink cutlery came from Dollar General.

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This really long Frozen birthday banner came from Oriental Trading.  It comes with numbers to indicate the child’s age, which can be stuck on the heart in the middle with the included double-sided foam tape.  Below the banner I have foil snowflake garlands taped to the beam, and paper lanterns hanging over the love seat.

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Until our broken ceiling fan gets fixed, it’s the perfect place to hang things!  I hung more paper lanterns and foil snowflake garlands here, over the table.  I really liked the atmosphere this set up, having a focal point above the table.

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I put more paper lanterns over the corner lamp.  The foil snowflake garlands went around each window and doorway.  Also, I put curling ribbon cascades on the chairs.

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I’m sorry that this picture is a bit dark.  I hung more lanterns over the short china cabinet.  On top of the tall cabinet there are two glittery, green Christmas trees.  These just happened to be out already for the Christmas season and they tied in perfectly.  Finally, you can see the gift in the foreground.  I used the last of some Christmas snowman wrapping paper I had to wrap her present.  Chances are you have some Christmas wrapping paper that would be appropriate for a Frozen party.

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Here’s one last look at the party room.  I could have gone all out and decorated the adjoining living room, as well.  To save my sanity I chose not to.  Now that the party is over I took down the lanterns and birthday banner, but left the snowflake garlands up.  Part of my Christmas decorating is already done!!

Curling Ribbon – Light Blue

Curling Ribbon – Purple

Curling Ribbon – Royal Blue

Foil Snowflake Garland – apparently Oriental no longer carries these, but I’ve included a link to something similar

Frozen Birthday Banner

Frozen Dinner Plates – 8 pk.

Glitter Snowflake Centerpieces – 2 pk.

Paper Cups – Purple – 2 dozen

Paper Lanterns – Light Blue – 6 pk.

Paper Lanterns – Lilac – 6 pk.

Paper Napkins – Blue – 50 ct.

Plastic Forks – Bright Pink – 100 ct.

Frozen Party Activities

Here are a few activity ideas for your Frozen themed party.  I kept things fairly simple because I don’t have a lot of time for extravagance right now.IMG_4743

1. Make paper crowns.  I got our crowns and jewels from Oriental Trading.  We used packing tape to keep the crowns secured, because the paper tabs didn’t work.

IMG_46992. Play a Mitten Matching game.  This was also purchased from Oriental Trading.  I was surprised at the quality of it.  It will definitely stand up to years of play.

IMG_47393. Send home Frozen treat bags.  I got the stickers, wands, pencils and treat bags from Oriental Trading.  I also threw in some Little Debbie cakes and chocolate mint patties.

IMG_47574. Make paper snowflakes.  There are tons of tutorials and videos to help you figure this out.  Here is one website to get you started.

5. Watch the Frozen movie.  If you don’t have time to watch the whole thing, you could just skip part of the beginning.

I hope this gets you started with a couple of ideas to keep your party guests occupied!  I’ll include links to the items I bought on Oriental Trading so you don’t have to spend a lot of time searching.

Gold Paper Crowns

Self-Adhesive Jewels

Mitten Matching Game

Snowflake Treat Bags

Star Wands

Snowflake Pencils

Frozen Stickers

Frozen Cake

IMG_4696My middle daughter just turned four years old and wanted a Frozen-themed birthday party.  As a mother of five, I no longer have time to make elaborate cakes.  This simple cake fit the theme and was super-easy to make.  I hope this post helps another mom who is in search of an easy to make cake for her little princess.

Ingredients:

  • 1 box white cake mix + ingredients to make it
  • food coloring (red & blue)
  • 1 1/2 tubs white frosting
  • purple sparkle sugar
  • white/clear sparkle sugar (optional)
  • chocolate balls (blue & purple)
  • 2 8″ or 9″ round cake pans

Directions:

Make cake mix batter according to package directions.  Once the batter is done, divide evenly into two bowls.  In the first bowl, mix in enough blue food coloring to tint the batter a pale blue color.  In the second bowl, mix in enough red and blue food coloring to tint it a pale purple color.  Grease pans if cake mix directions call for it.  Pour blue batter into one of the pans, and purple batter into the other.  Bake according to package directions.  Allow pans to cool for about 10 minutes.  Then loosen sides of cake and carefully invert onto a wire rack to cool completely.  Once the cake is cool, place a small dollop of frosting in the middle of the plate you will be serving it on.  Place one cake on top of this.  Level top of this cake using a serrated knife to remove the dome.  Frost the top of this cake (it will be the frosting in between the layers).  Place second cake on top of first.  Frost sides of both cakes.  Then frost top of the cake on top.  To make the purple snowflake, pour purple sparkle sugar into a small zip-top bag.  Snip a very small piece of the corner off.  This will allow you to pour the sugar out in a line to make the snowflake.  Use clear or white sparkle sugar on the rest of the cake top to make it more glittery (optional).  Use the chocolate balls to decorate the bottom edge of the cake, where it meets the plate.

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IMG_4726When you cut into the cake, it will look something like this!

IMG_4695This photo will give you an idea of the types of things you can use to decorate this cake.  As long as you find cake decorations in the right colors, it doesn’t really matter how you decorate it.  That’s the beauty of tying into the theme using colors.  As a last note, I do NOT recommend the Wilton Cake Sparkles pictured in the photo.  I tried them before putting them on the cake, and they tasted terrible.  😦