Toadstool Cupcakes

For my son Gabriel’s first birthday I made Vanilla Cherry Toadstool cupcakes. I make all my cupacakes gluten free and dairy free. The one exception on these cupcakes is the M&M’s. I’m also big on semi-homemade especially when it comes to parties.

What you need for the cupcakes

1 box cake mix (I use Betty Crockers gluten free yellow cake)

1 teaspoon of vanilla.

Use white cupcake wrappers for these cupcakes. Just follow the mixing and baking directions on the box adding a teaspoon of vanilla to the mix before baking. Then let the cupcakes cool.


1 can of frosting (I use Duncan Hinez butter cream frosting)

1 small jar of marischino cherries.

1 cup powdered sugar

Red food coloring

1/2 cup white M&M’s

Drain the cherries completely and then blend them up in a mixer or I use my magic bullet. Mix cherries and frosting then use the powdered sugar to stiffen as the juice from the cherries will make the frosting more liquid. You could also use cherry extract if you wanted to instead of the marischino cherries. I would use 1 teaspoon. Add your red food coloring. It takes a lot of food coloring to turn frosting red so be prepared. Another option would be to use red sugar and coat the frosted cupcake with that to get the red color.

Once the cupcakes are cool you can frost them and then add your white M&M’s with the letter side down. These are so simple and so cute for any forrest, fairy, woodland, or gnome party.



My husband likes to think of himself as the soup master. One of his favorite soups to make is chili. He insists that real chili is made with meat chunks not ground meat. So we usually make our chili with cubed steak or some cut of beef. We also have a ton of pasta sauce, I’m working on about four dozen jars right now. So we make chili using pasta sauce. After we served this chili at our sons birthday party we got lots of requests for the recipe so here it is.

1 onion
1 bell pepper
1 pound cubed steak
1 can of corn
2 cans of kidney beans
2 jars pasta sauce (any kind)
2-3 tablespoons chili seasoning
olive oil

Sauté onions in olive oil. Then brown your meat. Add all the other ingredients heat until the chili starts bubbling then turn it down to low and let simmer for at least 4 or 5 hours. We generally make our chili the night before. Cook it on the stove leave sit overnight and continue cooking in the morning. You could also cook it in a crockpot overnight on low. Salt and pepper to taste. This chili recipe is super easy and so delicious we serve it plain, over pasta, or with a side of rice. This is our kid friendly party chili so it’s well seasoned but mild. We serve it with hot sauce on the side so anyone who likes it a little bit spicier can add as much as they like.



Magical Woodland Party Menu (it’s gluten free)

This is the menu for my sons Magical Woodland first birthday party.  I like to keep my menus on the healthy side. Especially for kids parties. I also want everyone to enjoy themselves and feel like they’ve been to a party when they’ve left.  All of my recipes are or can be made gluten free.  Many of the recipes are also dairy free or easily made that way by buying dairy free ingredients.  The only exception was the “snail swirl sandwhiches” which I made some that were gluten free and then bought some already made that contained gluten for my guests to enjoy. 

It is difficult for me to work with large amounts of gluten in my own kitchen because of the risk of cross contamination, even a few small crumbs can make me sick.  I don’t want my medical issues to interfere with my ability to throw a great party or my guests to enjoy themselves.  The great thing is if you do it right no one needs to know.  Even the pasta dish which was made with brown rice pasta everyone wanted the recipe for.  Several parents asked me how I got their kids to eat peas and wanted the recipe.  Unless I tell people they can’t really tell that there’s anything different. 

Snacks and Appetizers:
Babe Gabe trail mix
Orion’s chocolate muddy buddies
Nuts for the squirrels
Caterpillar kabobs

Snail Swirl Sandwhiches (spiral sandwhiches)
Mossy logs (pesto pasta salad)
Toadstool deviled eggs
Split Pea Soup
Gnome Made Chili
Magic Mushroom Soup

Fairy Berries and Cream (make your own parfaits)
Acorn Hershey kisses cookies
Cherry Vanilla Toadstool Cupcakes
Mint Brownie frog Cupcakes

Fairy Punch
Gnome Brew (apple cider)

Mushroom Soup

This mushroom soup was one of the most sought after recipes from my sons Magical Woodland birthday party. Mushrooms and the woods seemed like a natural fit. What could be more earthy and rustic than mushrooms? The recipe was originally from the Moosewood cookbook and was called Hungarian mushroom soup.


12 ounces of sliced mushrooms (we used a mix of baby bella, oyster, and pearl white mushrooms)
2 cups of onions chopped
2 tablespoons of butter
3 tablespoons of flour (we used corn starch to make it gluten free you can also use any gluten free flour)
1 cup of milk or cream
2 teaspoons of dill weed
1 tablespoon Hungarian paprika
1 tablespoon soy sauce (in place of soy sauce to make gluten free we either use gluten free soy sauce or amino blends)
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups stock (we use Pacific brand chicken stock because it’s gluten free)
2 teaspoons lemon juice
¼ cup parsley
½ cup of sour cream
Parsley (optional as a garnish)


Saute onions in 2 tbsp of stock, salt lightly
Add mushrooms
Cover and simmer for 15 minutes
Melt better in large saucepan
Whisk in flour
Add milk and cook stirring frequently
Stir in mushroom mixture and remaining stock
Cover and simmer 10-15 minutes
Add salt, pepper, lemon juice and dill just before serving
Garnish with Parsley


Magical Woodland First Birthday Party

For my son Gabriel’s first birthday party we decided on a magical woodland theme complete with gnomes, fairies, and forest animals. The party was a great success the kids had so much fun! I got a ton of compliments and requests for recipes and directions on how to make some of the fun cool things we had at the party. I will keep adding to this post and I will post separately some of the recipes and directions. I wanted to get some of the pictures posted now just to give an overview of what the party was like. I have many friends and family members who have been anticipating the recipes from the party. I’ve started by posting the menu. The recipes will be linked to the menu as I post them.


The invitations were amazing. I found them on etzy. The woman who did them was awesome to work with. She customized my invitation exactly the way I wanted it and also customized return address labels and printable party circles. The name of her shop is Paper and Pigtails. It was $15 for a a pdf file of the invitation that I could then print out as many as I wanted. The circles were $10 and again she customized them to fit exacly what I wanted. The return address labels were $6 and now these are all pdf files I own forever.




I collected some pictures of Gabriel to have at the party. The decor was all very natural and woodsie. Because it was fall there were small pumpkin gourds. My mother created some natural centerpeices and terrariums using moss and twigs and rocks and pinecones and parts of tree stumps. I brought bowls of pinecones as well as some that were just placed on the tables. I had a few mini pine trees and small pots of mums that I bought at the grocery store that I also put out on the tables. For the tableclothes I used a sage green plastic cloth and on the tables where the guests sat there were burlap table runners.


My older son Orion insisted his brother needed green cupcakes. So naturally I thought frogs. What better flavor for a green cupcake than mint. So these are mint brownie frog cupcakes.


How could I resist I had to do toadstool cupcakes. The toadstools are vanilla cherry flavored. I used white M&M’s for the spots.


I would love to say that I made this little gnome onesie but I actually bought it on etsy. The name of the shop is called The Wishing Elephant. The gnome is pieced out of felt and attached with fabric glue. Alas the shirt did not survive the day but the gnome was resued and given a second chance as a Christmas stocking.


This was big brother Orion’s shirt for the party. This one I did make. I found a printable coloring page online of a gnome house. Orion loves houses. Using my copier at home I copied the image to the size I wanted and then just used it as a pattern to cut out my pieces of felt. This picture just shows the pieces laid out before they were attached by sewing them on.


For the party favors I found free printables online and made my own paper party favors. There were owl masks, frog masks, beaver masks, assorted animal ears, homemade coloring books that were made using my moms book binder and not shown in this picture were gnome finger puppets.


Nuts for the squirrels. On every table I put small mason jars with assorted nuts in them. I printed out labels and hot glued them onto the jars.


Orion’s Chocolate Muddy Buddies is the Chex mix called Muddy Buddies or some people know it by the name Puppy Chow. I named it after big brother Orion because it contains three of his favorite things Chex cereal, chocolate, and peanut butter. I filled mason jars with the Muddy Buddy mix and placed them on all the tables. The labels I printed out and glued on with a hot glue gun. This is the crack of all Chex mixes. Amazingly addictive. This recipe should come with a warning label.


Baby Gabe trail mix is also a Chex mix the recipe is slightly altered from the original. I called it Baby Gabe because we always have little containers of various mixes of snacks for Gabriel and we just call them all Baby Gabe trail mix.


This is the gnome house tent that I made with a whole lot of help from my mom and my stepfather. The frame is made from two hula hoops and PVC pipe. I will post a link to the website I got it from. I will also give my own detailed instructions in my own post.


Caterpillar Kebobs were a huge hit. I really look for ways to encourage a good amount of healthy snacking at home and at parties. These cute little guys really paid off. The kids love them and the tray was empty by the end of the party. I just used bamboo shishkebob skewers put the grapes on sideways and added the eyes by using mini chocolate chips and a little frosting.


There is the Birthday Boy! My mom and I made these gnome hats and jackets for the party in several different sizes. It pays to hire a professional photographer.


On the main food table I attached these small felt owls and birds. These would be easy to make yourself. I found these in Target for $1 a piece and bought all that they had in the store knowing I would find a way to use them at the party. Now they hang in our house on our porch/toyroom.


Gnome cousins! My son has twin cousins that are three weeks older than him. The idea of the three babies in gnome costumes was party of the inspiration for this party.


The kids had so much fun dressing up.


I started this tradition with my first son and carried it on with Gabriel. On the actual day of their first birthday I get a hand and a footprint impression from them. Because his birthday was before the party I was able to bring them to the party.


There was a photo booth for the party. The kids loved it. Really it became the main activity for the party. I collected discounted Halloween costume items like wigs and wings and masks along with the gnome costumes that we made. The little blue toadstool photo prop was made by a friend who offered to bring it to the party it ended up being the perfect thing.


Even the adults got in on the dress up fun!


Fairy Punch



More table decor made by my mother.


The birthday boy and his great grandma.


The kids loved this gnome playhouse that was made to look like a tree stump it was occupied the whole party.


The dessert table. The dessert menu included these toadstool and frog cupcakes as well as a make your own parfait station which I called Fairy Berries and Cream that included yogurt, berries, granolla and whipped cream.


I love this shot. The photographer did an amazing job.


The birthday boy and his family. That’s me on the right.


The colors of the party were mostly earth tones with a few touches in red and white to represent toadstools.


Acorn cookies. These were made to look like acorns using hersheys kisses, small sugar cookies, and mini cinnamon chips.


The woods are full of fairies!


More table decorations. You can see the burlap table runners. The trees I found at Target in the dollar section and added the acorn bells. The small birdhouses were also a $1 at the craft store and were given away after the party as party favors.


Gnome brothers.


Let them eat cake.


No party is complete without Aunt Sarah and her euchalale.


On the main food table I placed large bowls of apples and tangerines. They look pretty and make for healthy snacks.



More dress up fun!

Decorating for Valentines Day

Before I had kids I would have thought you were crazy if you told me I would have an entire bin just for Valentine decorations. Somehow it seems less like work when you see the kids faces light up when they see the new decorations. I try to keep things simple. New dining room table decor is a must, swap out the christmas wreath for a heart. A few touches here and there a blanket, window clings. I changed out the Christmas ornaments in a few centerpieces so that only the red and silver balls are out. It took me half an hour. Every room has a little something and instead of being sad that the Christmas decorations are gone the kids are over the moon about Valentines Day!







Valentines Suprise

This year I surprised myself. Tonight when I opened my pink bin full of Valentines stuff I found things I didn’t know I had. It seems last year I vaguely remember shopping clearance 70% off at Target after Valentines Day. Turns out I have a new tablecloth, plates, placemats, a heart shaped wreath for the door, a fleece blanket, window clings, pirate valentines, and cookie cutters! Oh boy!!! I think I might surprise myself again next year. I do love clearance shopping!!!








How to Make a Pinwheel

There are decorative pinwheels and pinwheels that really spin. This picture tutorial shows both. The directions are basically the same until the end. Once your paper is cut and folded into a pinwheel if you want your pinwheel to be purely decorative you can cut a paper circle and glue it to the center. For a pinwheel that spins you can use decorative push pins, a bead, and a wooden dowel or in my case today a pencil. To make a pinwheel you need to start with a square piece of paper. 20120113-120403.jpg