Best of 2011

Not only is it hard for us to believe that Sunday is the start of 2012, but we also can't believe that we already have 4 months of blogging under our belts.  We have had so much fun sharing our party ideas and baked treats, and even more fun hearing from our readers.  We want to thank all of you for making it so worthwhile!

You can see our most popular posts in the upper left of the blog, but we wanted to wrap up the year by re-featuring some of our own faves from our earliest days of blogging.  Enjoy!

Tapas and Sangria Bridal Shower- Leah's very own shower

DIY Paper Rosettes - special thanks to Pinterest!

 Bachelorette Party Games - and the ever popular "Fundies"

Big Reds and Bubbles - our first baking event!

10 Money-Saving Tips for your next Shower

Thanks again to our loyal followers, and remember - we want to hear from you!  If you are planning an event next year, or you would like to feature a recent shower you've thrown, drop us a line.

Have a safe and happy New Year!

New Year's Eve Drinks

Can you believe Christmas has already come and gone?  As exhausting as this time of year can be, it's always a little sad to bid farewell to one of the best baking seasons of the year!

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But alas, we're giving ourselves a break from baking since New Year's Eve is upon us. We wanted to share some fun cocktails to boost those post-Christmas spirits (pun intended).


Vodka Slush
Just because it's cold outside doesn't mean you can't treat yourself to a slushy.  Try your hand at this super easy mix of frozen vodka and fruit juices. This is a tried and true recipe we've been using for years, so here's an insider tip: mix the ingredients and then pour into a (relatively) shallow casserole dish. It will freeze quickly and can be scooped and served in any type of glass.

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Winter White Cosmo
This recipe hails from Bonefish, by way of Michelle (Jac's sis, who you've met here!). We made several variations over the holidays, but the original Bonefish martini calls for white cranberry juice, cranberry vodka, Cointreau, a splash of lime and some frozen cranberries. We liked ours with regular vodka and a splash of champagne!

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Pomegranate Prosecco
Speaking of champagne... here are more bubbles for you! You're probably familiar with floating fruit in your prosecco, makes the ordinary glass just that much more special. But what we loved about this Pomegrante Prosecco from the Hard Rock Cafe (of all places!) is that the bubbles make the pomegranate seeds float up and down in the glass like a lava lamp (a much prettier, more delicious lava lamp). You can add a splash of pomegranate juice, just the seeds or even pomegranate vodka to spice it up.

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Apple Cider
We could keep going with all the martinis and champers, there are so many combos we love. But for those of you lucky enough to be somewhere cold on NYE, this one's for you. There are several recipes out there, some call for dark spiced rum and others bourbon. We recommend you get your favorite hot apple cider and pick your poison!

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Mulled Wine
Winter's version of sangria - it's red wine that's warmed and spiced, then topped off with some brandy. Here is a pretty easy recipe we found from Ina Garten.

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We hope you all have a fabulous NYE and pop bottles responsibly! What concoctions will make the rounds at your NYE party this year?

Cookie Swap and Ornament Exchange

There is something about the month of December that just makes people want to dig out their baking sheets and oven mitts and share their sweet treats with the most random of randos.  So what better excuse to bake even more treats than by throwing a cookie swap?!

A cookie swap is where each attendee brings a batch of cookies, and everyone gets to bring home a few of each kind.  Although you could impose some pretty hard-core rules in terms or quantities and flavors, we like to keep it pretty casj.  It’s just a great excuse to get together around the holidays and come home with a greater variety of cookies than you would make on your own.


The cookie swap that Leah attended this year included the following yummy flavors:

Andes mint cookies
Sugar cookies with frosting
Brownie cookies
Pudding cookies
Mint chocolate forget-me-nots
Chewy gingerbread with Hershey's Hugs
Snowman poop!  (chocolate cookies rolled in powdered sugar)
Chocolate nut bars
Strawberry santa hats

A word of caution – do not attempt to try all the cookies in one sitting or you will have a special kind of hangover the next day.  And if you’re wondering which were Leah’s...


This year we started a new tradition by adding an ornament exchange to the cookie swap party.  We allowed stealing gifts like a white elephant gift exchange, but instead of opening gag gifts we each got to go home with a cute ornament.  The favorite of the night was a handmade ornament by Alyssa of Cheeky Couture Boutique commemorating the 4 years we have been doing (almost)-weekly dinner meet-ups.



Alyssa’s baby was also there for her first ever cookie swap.  Check out those adorable leg warmers!


The cookie swap and ornament exchange were a great way to share gifts with our friends without having to break the bank.  Plus, it's the perfect excuse to get together right before the holidays.

Last but not least, we want to share this really fun drink that Jac tried this year.  A peppermint martini!  You can find the recipe here.


We hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday season and we look forward to sharing all the fun blog topics we have coming!

But before you go, we want to hear from you!  Have you ever been to a cookie swap?  What’s your go-to holiday cookie or drink?

Christmas Gift Guide for the Baker

Christmas is just 6 days away! For those of you still doing some last minute shopping (you are not alone) here are some of our fun gift ideas for your favorite baker.

Beautiful Kitchen Tools



Sure she might have your standard plastic measuring cups, and we're all for being "useful" but who says that means it has to be BORING? Jazz up her kitchen with some funky versions of her everyday baking tools. Anthropologie has some great measuring utensils that would really add some wow to her kitchen.


Apron



Yes, bakers really do wear aprons! I mean, have you ever tried working with powdered sugar?? You may be up to your elbows in dough but you can still look cute doing it. Just make sure you get one that's machine washable!


Perfection Sticks


The KEY to making uniform cookies. These perfection sticks are used as a guide when rolling out dough to ensure even thickness. They come in three sizes for different types of cookies or crackers. Rolling pin rings are a similar tool and would make a great stocking stuffer!

Kitchenaid Mixer Accessories

This is a custom design from a Pioneer Woman giveaway

Every great baker needs a great mixer, and the odds are that your favorite baker already has one (if not - GREAT gift idea although they can get pretty pricey).  There are tons of accessories that you can purchase to go with their mixer, from attachments to decorative decals to extra bowls. 

Chocolate's Best Friend



A baker's secret ingredient - espresso powder. This magical stuff can be used to enhance the chocolate flavor  in any dessert without adding a coffee flavor.  It'll have people asking "why the %#@* are these brownies so much better than mine?!" which is what we all strive for :)

Meringue Powder



Following the same logic as above, any quality ingredient will really go a long way with a baker. Meringue Powder is used to make royal icing and can add up price wise because you have to use so much of it! We've heard this brand is one of the best!

Bakerella Cake Pop Kit



Every baker dreams of being a Bakerella. This kit includes literally EVERYthing you need to create her unbelievable designs.  A book with step-by-step instructions for 10 designs, a stand, sticks, cello bags, gift tags and ribbons to wrap up 48 of your own creations!

What are you giving your favorite baker this holiday?

Christmas Cookies

Holidays are always better with sweets! We've been busy in the kitchen and thought it was time to give y'all a sneak peek  at what you're missing. ;) It's not too late to put down your spatula and email us for your holiday order!



Penguins in Sweaters: We found this tutorial over at Eighteen25 and they are the invention of Callye (her blog here) who is an amazing cookie artist! We always check her out for inspiration and died when we found these penguins! They are the perfect size, and appropriate for any and all winter festivities.


Snowflakes are a personal fave of ours - and these are no exception. White flakes, swirled with icing, edible pearls and dusted with edible glitter, make a beautiful addition to any holiday table.



Christmas Trees decorated with red ornaments and sparkling lights.


The idea for these reindeer came from Pinterest (of course!) at The Baking Sheet. It was our first visit to Loren's blog, and we read she created these before she even started blogging. We used a gingerbread man cookie cutter (upside-down) to create these adorable Rudolphs all tangled up in the Christmas lights!

 

Candy canes done with red sugars on white or white sugars on red. Either way festive and delicious!


Christmas ornament cookies so detailed you'll want to hang them on your tree instead of eating them!



Don't forget, we customize! If you don't see something you love, or have other ideas feel free to contact us. How fun is it to give someone (or yourself!) a big box of this....




Happy Holidays SASS readers! As always we would love to hear from you! Share your holiday party pics on our facebook page and let us know what you've been busy with! 


Guest Post: Cupcakes and Cocktails by the Bargain Blonde

Today we are excited to feature a guest post from one of our favorite bloggers, The Bargain Blonde!  She shares tons of fun tips about saving money (along with other hilarious shenanigans), and we recently posted our own money-saving ideas on her blog.  Today she's recapping her Cupcakes and Cocktails shower for us, and we're so excited to share it with you!

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Hello Sweet & Sour Shower fans!  I am Lindsey from The Bargain Blonde and I am thrilled to be guest posting today for Leah and Jac.  These two talented (hot) blondes definitely know how to throw a party, so I am humbled to know they approve enough of my latest shower to let me divulge all the deets for you. I'm 27 and it seems like my social calendar for the past five years has consisted of weddings, weddings and more weddings. But not my wedding.  You know the movie 27 dresses?  I could totally star in it.


Needless to say, if there was such a thing, I could be professional bridesmaid! And everybody knows a professional bridesmaid must know how to throw a proper shower. Here is how I (along with 2 other bridesmaids) recently threw a "Cupcakes and Cocktails" bridal shower on a budget for our friend Courtney: I bought paper from an invitation store, but designed and printed myself to save on costs:


Obviously our theme meant we needed cupcakes, so we ordered these lemon cupcakes (brides fave) using a Groupon:


Lucky for us, a little thing called "Cupcake wine" exists so we stocked up.  As an alternative to wine, I also made a raspberry champagne spritzer by adapting a Padma Lakshmi recipe I found online.  The cocktail table:


I bedazzled the "bride-to-be" wine glass (97 cents) using scrapbook stickers found at Wal-Mart. Total cost = $5.  The spritzer recipe was designed to individually serve in glasses, so I winged it to create a self-serve bowl of the spritzer.  Most guests opted for the spritzer and it was so easy to make!

What you need: 
3 bottles extra dry champagne
About 9 scoops of Raspberry sherbert (3 per bottle)
5 to 7 fresh mint leaves
Garnish with strawberries
Place mint leaves and sherbert in bottom of serving bowl.  Pour champagne over the top, mix and serve. 

To save money, host your shower in between typical meal times so guests don't expect a full-fledged meal.  We hosted ours from 3 to 6 and were able to get away with dips and "finger foods". Our menu consisted of these 3 ingredient sausage balls, dill dip and veggies, fruit kabobs, antipasto kabobs, Gouda dip w/ pita chips and spinach dip & chips (not pictured).Yumm-o.
 
 
A full shot of the food table:
 

The DIY floral centerpieces were made using recycled wine bottles.  Instructions here. I painted the "Eat, Drink and Be Married" sign for the food table using acrylic paint and wood ($2.99)  from Hobby Lobby. Personally I think details make a party.  Floating candles in large mason jars made for some easy DIY coffee table decor:
 


Instead of having guests write a generic message for the guest book, we had them fill out these cards for the bride that I found online as a free printable.


The shower was a success and I didn't have to break the bank.  Here is the happy bride-to-be opening her gifts:


See?  A little resourcefulness goes a long way.  If you like my bargain ideas, be sure to hop on over to my blog for bargain tips on beauty, fashion, decor and more! And before I go, I must give Leah and Jac one more big thank you for having me here today.  I hope I did you ladies proud.  XOXO

Liebster Blog Award

Last week we received a fun little comment on our blog from Casey over at Stress Case letting us know she had given us the Liebster Blog Award.  We hadn't heard of this before so we were admittedly excited (and a little confused), but thank you Casey for thinking of us! 



It turns out the Liebster Blog Award is given to up and coming bloggers who have less than 200 followers.  Liebster is a German word meaning 'dear, sweet, kind, nice, good, beloved, lovely, kindly, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing and welcome'.

To keep this award going by passing along to other new deserving blogs, we must now recognize five other bloggers with less than 200 followers that have really stood out in the crowd.

The rules for the Liebster Award are:
1. Thank the person who gave the award and link back to their blog.
2. Reveal your top 5 picks and let them know!
3. Copy and paste the award on your blog post.
4. Have faith that your followers will spread the love too! 

Here are our picks for favorite blogs with less than 200 followers:

1.  Easy Made Invitations - Lindsay was one of the first bloggers we got to know, and we've even traded guest posts (that you can read here and here.)  She makes adorable handmade invitations that are perfect for any shower!

2.  Maggiano Takes Austin - Amanda blogs about the goings on in her life.  She is such a sweetheart, and we are so glad we met her through Ruthie.  We hope to get to meet her in real life someday soon! 

3.  TV My Wife Watches -  We realize we've featured this dude a lot lately, but we have to admit we can't get enough of his blog.  His sick sense of humor keeps us coming back for more again and again.

4.  The Thread Austin - One of Leah's coworkers who blogs about cool Austin stores, restaurants, and happenings. 

5.  Life with Laura - Laura is a great writer and shares stories about life with her 89 year old grandpa.  We have such a soft spot for grandparents!

So thanks again to Casey for sharing this with us!  Hope you guys had a great weekend, and stay tuned tomorrow - we have a really cute guest post from the Bargain Blonde!

Holiday Gift Guide for the Entertainer

With the holidays upon us, shower-throwing has taken a back seat. December is big for weddings and engagements, but not so much the in-between. So we're taking a break from the ushe to bring you something else we love - presents! Here's a list of gifts that we promise your favorite hostess will love!


Place Cards

These place cards from Lisa Leonard Designs are great because they are magnetic and therefore reusable. You can use any type of paper, for any holiday, and they even double as food labels. Perfect for someone who is always entertaining.





Warming Trays

There is nothing worse than a beautiful table of food, that's all gone cold. Look at this gift as something the receiver can use, but the giver can enjoy also! Like when your husband buys you lingerie, or you buy him  nose hair clippers.....




Drink Accessories

We gave a few ideas over in our Stock the Bar post, but the holidays are a time to cheers too! Festive peppermint drink mixes, barware, or even this recipe cocktail shaker will be making cheeks rosy for years to come.



Party Plates and Platters

We don't mean re-gift those holiday platters of cats skiing in sweaters, those are still a don't. But believe it or not there is modern tabletop decor out there - and people want it!


And while we're on the topic of plates... finger food plates anyone? While they can't fit more than a cheese cube, they're hilarious and at least make a great stocking stuffer!




Games

If you read Leah's Surprise Birthday post, you know we are always down for a game. Whether it's a family celebration or all-girls cocktail party, a little competition can spice things up and take the pressure off the hostess.



That's quite an eclectic mix of gifts! What are you asking for this holiday season?