Eep! Sorry for the absence over the past three weeks… graduation season has descended upon me! Over the past few weekends, I’ve had the pleasure of celebrating three (!!!) graduates. Oh, and my birthday too. But that’s for another post.
My first graduation party of the season was over Memorial Day weekend and was one that I actually hosted. My beloved Mister E graduated this year with his Master’s Degree in Engineering. Yup, he’s a smarty pants. He’s taken the bulk of his graduate classes online in the evenings or on the weekends over the past four years, and let me tell you, it has NOT been an easy journey! I couldn’t be any more proud of my fellow and wanted to let him know it by throwing a small party with close friends in his honor.
You’ll have to forgive me since the only pictures I have of the party are of the food. You would think that I would have at least thought to snap a picture of the grad boy himself.
Oh, and for any of you shrewd readers that might have not recognized the dining room table pictured above as my own – it’s not! Our friend, Kyle, graciously opened up his house for the party so that we could make use of his backyard.
Alright, but back to the food.
I also prepared individual veggie cups inspired by Pinterest. I found the clear, plastic tumblers from a party store and spooned about two tablespoons of Ranch dressing into the bottom of each cup. I then placed sliced veggies up on their ends in the cup for easy serving. (I used red, green, yellow, and orange bell peppers and cucumbers for my veggies.) I really liked the convenience of the cups and would most certainly make these again for a party.
For dessert, I made a Kahlua ice cream cake. I’ve been making this cake for years, but since it’s only on the rare occasion, I’ve somehow have never blogged about it before. It’s really delicious and I plan on doing a separate post on it sometime in the very near future.
Also laid out as dessert were these chocolate grad caps that I made. I think that they are so stinking cute and were so easy to make! I’ll get into the details of them in just a minute.
Looking back on the pictures, I realize that there wasn’t as much food as what it felt like in the moment. I was so exhausted from making everything that by the time the party started, I would have thought that I had just made enough food to feed a hundred people! No matter though. All that work was certainly worth it to celebrate Mister E’s accomplishment. I’m so proud of that guy!
The very next day, Mister E and I had another graduation party to attend, this one being for my cousin and her boyfriend who both graduated college with their bachelor’s degree.
Aren’t they so cute in their cap and gowns? It was a great party filled with a huge abundance of food and wonderful times spent with family.
And before I knew it, the very next weekend I was sitting on a plane headed to Florida for my younger brother’s high school graduation.
It was very bittersweet seeing him all decked out in his cap and gown. There’s nearly an eight year age gap between the two of us which means that I have very vivid memories of him as a baby and toddler. When he was just a few years old, I was put on baby sitting detail for him. Because of this, I’ve always felt more maternal towards him that what I probably should. But I can’t help it! Look at how cute he was when he was younger!
My, how fast they grow up!
Oh, and his injury above was from when fell while he was climbing out of his crib at night as a baby. Amazingly, (despite the time he locked himself in a car by himself as a toddler, ran into oncoming traffic at the age of three, climbed onto the roof at the age of four, or ran away at the age of five) that has been his only injury to date. No one can accuse my brother of lacking a sense of adventure!
Also making his high school graduation bittersweet was the fact that he was graduating from the same high school I graduated from eight years ago. I don’t know why I found this so sentimental since it’s quite common for other siblings to graduate from the school. I think it’s because my family moved around a bit when I was younger so I never had the real sense of “putting down roots” while growing up. Having my brother graduate from the same school as me seemed to solidify the fact that we do indeed have roots put down somewhere.
The day of his graduation, it poured cats and dogs outside. This wouldn’t have been problematic except for the fact that the graduation ceremony was supposed to take place outside on the football field. It was truly a miracle that the skies offered some relief starting just an hour before things were set to begin. We couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful night to celebrate on!
Of course there was cake to celebrate with afterwards! On my brother’s request, my mom made a triple layer chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. He was very adamant about the triple layer part! I broke out my cake decorating skills to write the message on top and draw a panther paw (our high school’s symbol). And the diploma and graduation hat were actually decorations that my mom used on my graduation cake eight years ago!
Of course I had to make the same chocolate graduation caps that I made for Mister E for my brother since they were so easy. When preparing for Mister E’s party, I had come across this recipe for the caps that called for using Reece’s peanut butter cups and After Eight thin mints. I swear that I searched high and low for the thin mints in my grocery store, but after coming up empty handed, I ended up doing some improvising that I think worked out even better.
Chocolate Graduation Caps
- 16 Reece’s peanut butter cups
- 16 Ghirardelli caramel squares
- 16 mini M&Ms (brown color)
- 1 tube of decorating frosting (found in the baking aisle of most stores)
Directions: Unwrap all of the candy. Turn the Reece’s peanut butter cups over so that the bottoms are facing up. Place a small amount of frosting on top. Turn the Ghirardelli squares over (so the smooth side is facing up) and press down onto the frosting. Pipe a line of frosting on top of the square starting in the middle. Working slowly, bring the line of frosting off the edge of the square and loop in back around. Place a mini M&M on top of the frosting in the middle of the Ghirardelli square (logo side down).
Tip: If your chocolate is soft or if you are working in a hot area, you can put your chocolate in the freezer for 15-20 minutes ahead of time to help firm it up. The graduation caps are best stored in the fridge. For longer storage, they can go in the freezer in an airtight tupperware container.
Congratulations to all of this year’s graduates!