Cookie, Cookie

I haven’t had much time to blog this week, but stayed tuned next week for some new recipes. Strawberry muffins anyone? I did however, have time to bake another batch of chocolate chip cookie favors for Carlie’s second birthday party, which is tomorrow. As with the cookie tags for my dad’s party, Christie designed the tags, and I supplied the baked goods.



I’ll post pictures from the party next week. I’ve got a barley salad melding in the fridge right now. Yum!


Cookie Tag Favors

My father turned 60 on April 22, and to mark the occasion, I planned a dinner for him at Carmine’s in NYC last night. Though it’s loud and bustling (it takes months to get a reservation) the food at Carmine’s is worth the wait. It’s simple, old-school Italian cooking served up family style, so everyone gets to share. To give the birthday dinner a helping of our homemade touch, Christie and I banded together to create cookie favors. She made these tags:

And I made another batch of the Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies, put them into cellophane bags and attached the cookie tag with a piece of brown ribbon that Christie included:

So cute! I put a cookie favor next to everyone’s plate at the restaurant. It was a clever, chic way to add a bit of personal style to the evening. I often think that Christie and I should go into business together one day. Cambio and Calcaterra? It has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?

Dyeing Easter Eggs

One of my favorite Easter traditions is dyeing eggs. I loved it as a child, and thanks to my two little cousins, Elissa and Amanda, I’ve been dyeing eggs well into adulthood too. Given all of my egg experience (ha!) I knew that the pastel pretties would be making an appearance on my Easter dinner table this Sunday. I picked up two purple metal buckets at Kmart last week, which, when filled with “grass,” are the perfect vessel to display Easter eggs. I’ve got a busy week, so I decided to get a jump on my prep work today. First task: egg coloring. Last year I interviewed prop stylist, Paul Lowe, for a Country Living story and he gave me a delightful dyeing tip: Instead of using a store-bought kit, Paul suggested adding 4 teaspoons of white vinegar to 2 cups of warm water, along with 10 drops of food coloring. The vinegar allows the dye to adhere brilliantly to the shell. I used 2 teaspoons of vinegar to 1 cup water, since I only had a dozen eggs, and played around with the amount of food coloring to get different gradations of color. I’m happy to report the homemade dye worked fabulously well! My crafty friend Sarah came over to color the eggs with me—and brought coffee and flourless cupcakes from Tarallucci e Vino, which were delicious—and we caught up while the eggs soaked.

We made blue, red, yellow, green, and purple eggs. The purple are a little more brown than I would have liked, but as you can see in the photo below, they don’t look so bad next to the other colors. To get striped eggs, Sarah and I wrapped them with rubber bands. I’ve heard that masking tape works better, but I didn’t have any.

I’m going to put one bucket of eggs on each end of my table. We didn’t blow out the yolks, so the eggs—which are now in my refrigerator— can serve as an appetizer too!

I highly recommend this technique as these are the most vibrantly colored eggs I’ve ever dyed! Thanks for coming over Sarah! And for taking these photos. Happy Easter!

Photos courtesy of Sarah Johnson

Save Me A Seat

When I started updating this blog regularly, I basically had no idea what I was doing. And though I’ve only been posting for about a month, I am AMAZED at how much I’ve learned. (Well, I’m still figuring out Twitter, but I digress…)  I’m having a great time writing Made By Michelle, and I still can’t believe I have readers. Some of whom are people I don’t actually know! But aside from filling a much needed creative outlet for me, blogging has become yet another thing that my best friend Christie and I have in common. Christie and I have been friends since we were 13 and 12, respectively, and she is my Gayle. We talk almost every day, sometimes for over an hour, and it is a rare 24 hour period that goes by without a text, email, or phone call from her. Christie is now a stay at home mom to an adorable 21-month-old little girl, Carlie, but before Carlie was born, she was an elementary school teacher. Christie is beyond creative (seriously, I am in awe) and she’s recently channeled her energy into starting a new custom invitations, place cards and party favors business called Save Me A Seat. She got plenty of practice when, as my matron of honor, she helped me plan my wedding last year. Most of the paper crafts at my shower were hand made by her, and she also made the place cards for my rehearsal dinner and wedding. She is incredibly talented, and I wanted to share some pictures of her work here, lest anyone be in need of a fabulous favor, invitation or place card. And while these aren’t technically made by me, I did have a lot of input in the color scheme and design so it sort of counts. But mainly, this post is just an opportunity to tout a very important person in my life, one whom I have no idea what I’d do without.

Fun With Photo Books

Over the past couple of days I’ve been going through all of our wedding photos as I try to choose the ones I want to include in our album. My extremely talented photographers (and friends) Leslie dela Vega and Julie Mack took more than 4,000 photos that night (!) and from there, they edited them down to about 1,000. My job is to narrow them down even further to 300. It’s a daunting task. So far, I’ve flagged 414 as potential keepers. Thankfully Julie, who is designing my wedding album, has been patient with the amount of time it’s taking me to do this.

A far easier task was going through the amazing photos Leslie took at our rehearsal dinner. I had some time yesterday afternoon so I decided to organize them into a Shutterfly photo book. I absolutely love it. Our rehearsal dinner was such a fun and memorable way to start off our wedding weekend and going through all of the pictures reinforced how lucky John and I are to have so many wonderful people in our lives. (In this shot, John and I are looking at another photo book that my bridesmaids, Emily and Tiffany, made for us.) Oh how we love photo books!

Chocolate, Chocolate Everywhere

I’m a bit under the weather with a head cold, so today was the perfect day to stay inside and put together the Easter baskets for a story I am currently working on. The confections have been rolling in all week long and today I received two bags of the most beautifully wrapped chocolate bunnies, lambs, pigs and chickens from Jacques Torres, a chocolate boutique here in NYC. I’m feeling better already. Thanks Jacques!

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like…Easter?

Though Easter isn’t until April 4th, I’ve got Peeps and Pez dispensers on my mind these days, as I have an assignment to write about how to make kick ass kid-friendly Easter baskets. (I get to assemble the baskets too!) Many local shops were kind enough to send me samples of their products and more will be arriving throughout the week. Yesterday’s booty: Chocolate covered Peeps! Tasty, yes, though I’m holding out for the shipment of Cadbury Mini Eggs, my all-time favorite Easter candy. What’s your favorite?