Friday, July 11, 2014
Sunday, June 29, 2014
Thursday, June 14, 2012
A few months back several Pinterests pins inspired me to put together a fabulous 1st birthday celebration for my daughter. I have always felt that if I am going to spend a bunch of time on Pinterest, I need to at least put that time to good use and make the things I pin, save the family some money and hopefully inspire others. Otherwise Pinterest, like so many other sites on the web, will be nothing more than a time sucker.
This June I was able to pull off the most amazing first birthday party ever! It was fabulous! I know my daughter won’t remember, but I hope with photos she can see how much we treasure her and all the people who wanted to share her day with her! I was inspired by fellow pinners, bloggers and crafter all over the web. From the cake to the table settings, I took my inspirations and made them work for me. Granted, I don’t think anything I did is worthy of the front page of any magazine, but nonetheless, it was beautiful and within my abilities…and I believe yours too. Anyone can do this, and trust me, doing it yourself will save you so much money!
First, let me share some photos with you of the party with you. Then I will go step by step with each item and tell you where I got the inspiration, where I bought the supplies and how you too can achieve the same thing. Sounds fun, right? Well then, let’s get to it!
Can you say PINK!! Love it! The funny thing about all that you see is that the most expensive items were the ones I had to buy already made. The candy in the candy bar was from The Sweet Factory http://sweetfactory.com/. Much of their items can be bought online, but I warn you, it is very expensive. It cost me $45 for all the candy you see on the candy bar (not the homemade chocolate items). Crazy, I know! But, I saved so much money everywhere else that I could afford to splurge on the candy bar.
My first inspiration was a party setting photo from this Pin http://pinterest.com/pin/216806169531685517/ (Photo [left] by Nancy Aidee) and from this blog http://www.cakeeventsblog.com/search?q=party+hats. This elegant table setting is so easy and so appealing. It appears to be a white linen table cloth with a green fabric runner. The party hats also seem to be fabric (outer). If you have the materials for this on hand this would be the best way to go. I did not have this on hand, so I made a trip to the local Dollar Store and bought one white and one pink rectangular table cloth. The white one I unfolded to cover the entire table. It was a little too big, so I folded up the edges and hid the excess under the table cloth itself. The pink one I unfolded only once and left it folded long and narrow so as to make the runner. (Photo [right] by Amy West).
The party hats I made were made from craft paper for scrapbooking. I found some really nice paper packs from Ross for a great price. The actually price was close to $15, but at Ross I got it for about $2.50. Deal! Here is a link to a great party hat tutorial from Piggy Bank Parties http://www.piggybankparties.com/oink/2011/07/tutorial-lil-party-hat.html. Find discounted scrapbook paper at your local craft store, Dollar Store or Ross. Sometimes you can also find them at Walmart and Target. I used a coupon at Joann’s to buy less than 2 yards of some trim for the bottom of the party hats. I used green rickrack for the boys hats and pink rosettes for the girls.
My supplies for the party hats are photographed here. You’ll see some fun fuzzy pink baby yarn, green acrylic yarn (not in photo), green ribbon, pink satin ribbon, green rickrack, pompom makers, rosette trim and a hole punch. I did not use rubber bands in my hats, though I wish I did now. I would recommend using the rubber bands even if you plan to use ribbons to tie the hats on. I have seen that people use hot glue to attach the rubber bands. I think that would work nicely. I used tape to hold my hats in place once wrapped. I just stick a piece of tape to the inside flaps to hold them in place. Then I used the hole-punch to make a small opening near the bottom of the hat to attach the ribbons. Make sure you don’t put the hole too close to the edge of the paper or you may have them rip on you when the children try to put them on.
After the ribbon was attached, I hot glued the rickrack to the green hats and the rosettes to the pink hats. The pompoms were the final touch. I used a store bought pompom maker that I already had on hand to make these, but you can also use a fork to wrap your yarn. I have seen a few tutorials on how to do that floating around Pinterest. I hot glued the pompoms to the tops of the hats. Done!
Next, I made cupcake wrappers. I had seen them many times on different Pins on Pinterest. I saw these wrappers for sale in many stores, but at steep prices. I again turned to inexpensive scrapbook paper and decided to make my own. I bought paper that cost between .33 cents to .60 per sheet. I got 4 wrappers out of each sheet of paper. You do the math. I made 30 wrappers and spent about $4. Try finding store bought ones for that cheap! I did invest in a paper punch for the accent at the top of the wrapper, that I have to say, I am NOT impressed with and I will not buy another one anytime soon. They don’t seem to work well, they get jammed often and fail to cut through the paper all the way much of the time. I would have preferred to use plain old scrap book craft scissors, though simpler designs, I know they work!
The pattern for the cupcake wrappers can be found at Skip to my Lou Blog http://www.skiptomylou.org/2009/10/23/free-digital-cupcake-wrapper/. But you can also make your own template using this tutorial Pin: http://pinterest.com/pin/216806169531813279/ Blog: http://domesticgoddessadventures.blogspot.com/2009/08/cute-cupcake-wrappers.html. Super easy!!!
And here are the finished cupcakes with the wrappers. Don’t forget the double stick tape! I used the tape versus glue to hold my wrapper together at the join point because it worked fast, no dry time and no messy residue that might get on your cupcakes. Do you see the decorations in the cupcakes? I bought the least expensive, dullest looking cupcake picks, then I bought some inexpensive flower embellishments stickers and stuck these stickers to the picks! There you have it! They were so pretty I had a very hard time throwing them out afterwards! The pennant flags were really inexpensive picks from Joann’s.
Now, for the cupcake recipe…which was a HIT! Everyone loved them and I have to admit, they were one of the best cupcakes I have ever made….but I always make awesome cupcakes! The trick is to make them from scratch! And try not to go overboard on the sweetness. Cupcakes that are too sweet are borderline inedible. Also, make sure you use a moist cake recipe. Dry cupcakes are just gross. I got the cake recipe from this pin: http://pinterest.com/pin/216806169531798327/ and this blog: http://annies-eats.com/2010/09/03/snickers-cupcakes/. This recipe is perfect! I love the addition of sour cream to the batter!
These are the ingredients for Annies’s Eats chocolate cupcake (to which I had to double and it work perfectly!) :
- Yield: 20 cupcakes
For the cupcakes:
½ cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
½ cup hot water
2 cups all-purpose flour
¾ tsp. baking soda
¾ tsp. baking powder
¾ tsp. coarse salt
16 tbsp. unsalted butter
1½ cups sugar
2 large eggs plus 1 egg yolk
1¾ tsp. vanilla extract
2/3 cup sour cream, at room temperature
(visit the blog link for the baking instructions)
For the filling I made a strawberry Gelee inspired by a recipe I found at this pin: http://pinterest.com/pin/216806169531757507/and this blog: http://stickygooeycreamychewy.com/2010/07/02/strawberry-shortcake-cupcakes/. I had to add more gelatin because I added more preserves and strawberries than what the recipe called for. But I think you can play around with it to your liking and still come out with a very tasty gelee!
Here is SGCC’s recipe for strawberry gelee:
- Strawberry Gelée
- · 1 cup strawberry puree
- · 1/4 cup sugar
- · 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- · 2 tablespoons cold water
- · 1/2 envelope unflavored powdered gelatin
- · 1/2 cup diced, fresh strawberries
Read more and get the baking instructions at: http://stickygooeycreamychewy.com/2010/07/02/strawberry-shortcake-cupcakes/#ixzz1xWGuExBu
I also used SGCC’s recipe for the Strawberry Mascarpone Frosting. I modified the recipe and substituted some of the butter for margarine and I also used a bit more strawberries and jam.
Strawberry Mascarpone Frosting
- · 1/4 cup softened butter
- · 1 8-ounce container mascarpone, at room temperature
- · 1 8-ounce brick cream cheese, softened
- · 1/2 cup fresh strawberries, pureed
- · 2 tablespoons strawberry jam
- · 4-5 cups powdered sugar
The birthday cake itself I made for just my daughter just in case she decided to literally dig into it. She actually had no idea what to do with it when we gave it to her, until I actually cut her a piece and gave her a bite. She figured it out quickly after that and devoured here little slice of heavenly cake! For her cake I made a a double layer chocolate cake with a strawberry butter cream and cream cheese frosting. The center filling was the frosting and a thin layer of sliced strawberries. The flowers on the outside were made with sugar sheets I bought from the craft store. The frosting itself did not come out the way I was hoping it would. I wanted to pipe rosettes onto the cake but I was running out of time and did not give the frosting enough time to chill in the fridge. As a result, the frosting was a little runny and it pooled at the bottom of the cake. I’ll be the first to admit that I am NOT a baker…but what I make always tastes amazing. So, while the cake was a bit of a mess, it tasted incredible!
The inspiration recipe for this cake is from The Little Red House blog. I saw this pin http://pinterest.com/pin/216806169531761739/ and was in awe! I made the cake following her recipe listed below. The frosting recipe for her Strawberry Buttercream I modified a little. The recipe tasted very good, but I chose to add some additional ingredients at the last minute when I realized I did not have time to allow the frosting to set in the fridge. I added 1 4oz package of cream cheese, a couple tablespoons of strawberry preserves and 1 extra cup of powdered sugar. It still didn’t stay put, but it tasted divine!! Please visit The Little Red House blog for baking instructions.
2 ounces semisweet chocolate
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup boiling water
6 TBS butter, melted
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup milk
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter
1/2 cup strawberry puree (a large handful of strawberries thrown in the food processor)
1 tsp pure vanilla
5-6 cups powder sugar (depending on how thick you want your frosting. I needed it a little bit thicker so the ruffles would hold up. Ruffle tutorial here.
cream together butter, puree, and vanilla. Add powdered sugar a little at a time until you reach the consistency you like.
When shopping for decorations I found some really neat new products from Martha Stewart sold at Joann’s. What I wasn’t impressed by were the prices! I saw this pin http://pinterest.com/pin/216806169531261506/ with this image (right) and thought someone had hand made these…but nope. The decorations on the right are $16.99 for 5 pompoms from Martha. I thought, I can do better than that, and I did. I went to the Dollar Store and bought a few packages of tissue, each package of course only $1.00 each. I took each package of paper and cut them in half. I ended up with two stacks of tissue, several layers thick. From there I followed the tutorial at this blog http://twoyellowbirdsdecor.blogspot.com/2011/09/tissue-paper-flower-tutorial.html and made several of these tissue pompoms for .50 each…..not to shabby, eh? $2.50 vs $16.99!
Here are mine.
For the paper hearts garland that you see above my sliding door (above), I used the left over scrapbook paper from the party hats and followed the tutorial Minnesota Mom’ s blog. It is a wonderful tutorial with really great step-by-step photos. I got the idea from a pin that linked to an Etsy store. These paper hearts can be found for sale on sites like Etsy for about $15-$20. But, using your left over scrapbook paper, you can make it for less than $3.00. And it is sooooooo easy!! All you need is some 1” strips of paper, a ruler, a stapler and some string…or in my case I used fuzzy pink yarn. Check out the tutorial linked above for the simple instructions.
From this pin http://pinterest.com/pin/216806169531685655/ I found Totally Fabulous Finds blog, which is a totally appropriate blog title! I bought two large rolls of crape paper from Target for about $2.99 each. I still have a bunch of the paper left over. I followed the tutorial at http://todaysfabulousfinds.blogspot.com/2011/01/crepe-paper-flowers-and-girls-valentine.html and made loads of these little rosettes. I rolled mine a bit tighter than what is shown in the blog tutorial. I then hot glued them to the lemonade bottles, frames, doors…all over. But, word of advice, do not hot glue anything onto plastic surfaces or painted surfaces….yeah, that is a bad idea. The glue will not come off easily, or on painted surfaces (which I didn’t do) it may remove the paint. A hot iron and an old towel should remove whatever is left over. You would just place the towel over the glue residue and take a warm-hot iron and gentle run the iron over the towel until the glue melts and adheres to the towel…hence why you would use an OLD towel. However, using hot glue on most metal and glass surfaces is fine and easy to remove. Hopefully you can avoid gluing to poor surfaces as I did now that you read about my mishap.
The tutu my daughter is wearing is also homemade. I came really close to just buying one, but it took forever for the store to respond to my inquiry on a custom order. I decided not to take a chance in ordering from them for fear that it would also take them a long time to get my order done. I scoured over many pins on Pinterest until I found the look I was going for. I then scoured some more for the best tutorial on how to make a tutu and found The Ribbon Retreat blog and this tutorial: http://www.theribbonretreat.com/blog/how-to-make-a-tutu.html. I followed her instructions fairly closely, however I used a paper towel roll to hold my tutu as I added tulle as I had seen in another tutorial. I also had to buy some bulk tulle as there were very few colors in the roll of tulle. The tulle roll was much easier to work with. You only had to cut for length, whereas the bulk I had to measure and cut for length and width. I used three colors; a soft pink, a dusty rose, and antique white.
It was a fun little project that only took a couple hours to make. She looked so precious! My recommendation to you if you decide to make your own is to error on the side of adding too much tulle versus too little. I would squeeze as much as possible on there next time for the most fullness. I would also recommend going a little shorter than I did. My daughter tutu came down to her knees and got messed up as she crawled around. I am also going to experiment and try running a stitch very close to the top just under the elastic band to see if it keeps the tulle a bit more set in place. Not sure if that will look good yet, so I’ll have to post an update later.
The rest of the work for the party prep involved covering Oreos, pretzels, and marshmallows with white chocolate. This isn’t as easy as it sounds. White chocolate seems to cool faster than real chocolate and I had to work fast. Also, the Oreos would come apart when dipped in the warm chocolate and I had to hold them together with my fingers to prevent the filling from falling out into the chocolate. What a mess! But, they got done and they look decent enough. I did add a little red food coloring for the pink ones and I sprinkled them all with some decorating sugar. I thought they were a little too sweet for me, and preferred the cupcakes, but they kids seemed to enjoy them. Next year I am going to make my own homemade marshmallows, and skip the chocolate covered Oreos. Maybe I’ll do chocolate covered strawberries instead. That is a whole lot healthier.
I think that covers everything. Feel free to message me if you have any questions. I really enjoyed planning and preparing for this party. It was so great to see it all come together. Even though some of the items I made did not come out exactly as I had wanted them to, all in all I am so pleased with the results and I have to remind myself how much money I saved by making almost everything myself. The added bonus of the sense of accomplishment and the knowledge that one day my little girl will see just how much her mommy treasures her made all the work worth it!
So, don’t just PIN all these amazing things! Make them! Plan your own Pinterest inspired party! You can do it!!!!
Saturday, April 14, 2012
So excited to send this baby blanket off today to Baby T! I am so happy to be an auntie to my very first niece (through my direct family). For the main part of this blanket I used a very easy stitch from Caron.com. It is free and you can print and download a copy at http://www.naturallycaron.com/projects/sheina/sheina_1.html
I used Paton Beehive Baby Chunky yarn, which I found to be very soft and appropriate for a baby blanket. I used about 3 skeins of each color to complete this project. It is almost the width of a baby crib and several inches shorter. For the top and bottom edge I had to play around a bit with different styles. I did not care for the border in the Caron pattern so I came up with one I thought more appropriate for a little girl. This border reminds me of a princess crown. It is so simple to make and would look nice as a trim on almost anything.
The pattern for this is as follows:
Chain the length desired in multiples of 6 plus 2ch. For instance, I chained 104. That is 102 (a multiple of 6) plus 2. If you do the same you should, in the end, have 17 crown points on your border. (17 X 6 = 102 + 2 = 104 chains). Hope that makes sense.
Sc in 2nd chain from hook, *skip next 2 ch, (3 dc, chain 4, sl st in base of first ch of the last ch four group, 3 dc) all in next ch. Skip 2 ch, sc in next ch*, Repeat from * to * to the end of row.
If you are making this trim on a blanket like the one I have made, you should make a row of sc around your blanket first and then apply this trim. The instruction would be the same except that you will be stitching in sc and not chains (ch). On the corners of this blanket I just sc, ch 1, sc, and then continued down the next side with the crown pattern.
Thursday, April 12, 2012
We are currently learning about planets and studying images from the Hubble space craft in science class. I never anticipated that it would turn into a lesson on creation and our Heavenly Father. My son says to me as we are studying an image of space showing dozens and dozens of galaxies, “How did they all get there?” Indeed!!! I had to explain to him that each galaxy had the potential to have many solar systems just like Earth’s. He didn’t realize just how big a galaxy was or that our own galaxy has innumerable solar systems that some estimate in the millions or billions!!! Each system could potentially hold planets with conditions like Earth’s. Absolutely incredible fact on its own…and here we were looking at an image sent back from Hubble of numerous galaxies, of which millions of billions of solar systems potentially existed on each! It really boggles the mind.
My son says to me at this point, matter of factly, that he just doesn’t understand how anyone can believe that there is no God, no creator. When we consider all that makes up the universe, and the fact that there is no perceivable beginning or end to it, to assume that there wasn’t a creator seems foolish. It is as though you can see God at work forming the stars from within clouds of gaseous nebulas emanating the most beautiful colors and designs! You think the Grand Canyon is majestic, if only we could sit at the foot of a Nebula!