Sunday, March 29, 2015

Hopping Down the Bunny Trail : Off to the races

While we all know of a certain fabled rabbit who famously lost his race against his rival the tortoise, we thought this holiday we'd give bunnies their due and host a race all their own. 
With a fleet of wind-ups at the ready (on sale for 88 cents), you can cheer on your favorite furry friend as they cross the finish line. If tiny tikes will be part of your spring festivities this easy DIY activity makes a fun addition to the ubiquitous egg hunts and sugar binges. For adults, add springtime cocktails and friendly wagers.

I used
Wind-up Bunnies 
(my dollar store and supermarket had lots of these)
Printable with names and finish line banner copied to desired size
skinny ribbon
tiny party favor trophies 
Egg topped floral picks or wooden skewers 
Flower foam ring (cut in two- a serrated bread knife works well)
a stretch of faux grass (by the foot at home improvement stores)
or green paper or felt taped together
Faux flowers, eggs or other spring accents
 Bunnies are easily identified when sporting their names
Simply cut out name icons and tape to strip of ribbon. Wrap around bunnies'  tummies and tape to fit securely on other side. 
The paper names can be trimmed to size to make sure they don't interfere with the winding mechanism or bunnies' movement.
Attach paper Finish Line banner to ribbon and tie or tape to wooden skewers or floral picks.Decorate foam with flowers.
Roll out faux grass or roll of green paper and set up finish line
Set Bunnies at the starting gate 
And Hoppy wins by a tail
 The closing ceremonies
 Mini jelly bean filled trophies for the champs

Please note, with aims of their own these little ones can hop off track, make a simple rule that when they run out steam they can be rewound and gently redirected.

Wind up bunnies: center: tin bunny from left and right Bunny with rider and carriage, both German c1910, ebay 
Before iPads and x boxes these were the tech toys of the day

Not just for Easter: for other times of the year or for those who don't celebrate the holiday, simply change the decor and wind up characters to suit your theme. This would be fun for a child's barnyard themed birthday as well.

A Happy Easter
Delightful Spring!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Irish liqueur Potato Candy: a childhood treat grows up

While I admit I'm someone who indulges my sweet tooth year round, there are some treats which sadly only make a fleeting appearance on holidays (jelly beans, candy canes and conversation hearts all have their hay days) and comes St Patrick's Day my go-to confection has always been Irish potato candy
Ironically neither authentically Irish nor a potato (although some recipes call for them), this century old, rather humble looking spud-shaped candy originated not in the Emerald Isle but in my home city of Philadelphia, Pa. In the rush of "green everything" which appears March 17th, this brown quirky confection is a delightful blend of coconut, sugar and cream cheese, sprinkled with cinnamon to resemble Ireland's famous crops. This year I thought I'd revisit this classic childhood delight, trying a more a "grown up" version with a splash of liqueur, hint of coffee and dusting of dark cocoa. While there are many of these "spiked" versions online, some incorporating nuts, whiskey or mascarpone cheese (yum), I opted for this adaptation, tweaking it for a more adult palate. 

You'll Need
1/4 cup butter (softened)
7 oz. shredded coconut
(you can use sweetened or unsweetened according to taste)
4 oz.cream cheese (softened)
2 cups confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 teaspoons Irish liqueur
(Bailey's, Irish whiskey or other liqueur)
1/2- 1 teaspoon instant coffee2
 1tbsp Cocoa powder and 1 tbsp cinnamon (mixed)
Add instant coffee to liqueur and stir or warm in microwave ten seconds to dissolve and set aside.*the addition of coffee yields a slighter darker color 
than "normal" potato candy and can be omitted if desired
 Beat butter and cream cheese until blended
Add vanilla and liqueur mixture and then blend in sugar a bit at a time
stir in coconut
Chill 1 hour or more
Once chilled, mixture can be molded into potato shapes (this gets messy)
roll in cocoa mixture brushing off extra coating and chill again (about 1/2 hour)

For a fun way to serve or give, you can make your own tiny bushel baskets from clear plastic cups and Popsicle sticks.
If desired brush sticks with a quick wash of paint for a rustic look and trim with scissors to size. Hot glue around cup and let dry. Wrap a band of paper or ribbon around basket gluing in place. 
I created labels using images from
             Line with wax paper and fill with potatoes. Pop in a toothpick with label 
      Display on a moss lined tray and add Irish accents
Serve with Irish Coffee or an after dinner drink
Greens and an Irish flag add spirit

       Yeat's Country, card from gift shop at  drumcliffe tea house
      Kylemore Abbey, Connemara, Interior Kilronan Castle Hotel
Photos CPaul2011
celtic knots from Graphics Fairy 

For more St. Patrick's day ideas visit our past posts
Bailey's and berry Pavlova
Ireland in a Jar terrariums