Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Peace, Love & Tie Dye

Please excuse my tardiness, but what's that saying, "it's better late than never," right? Peace, love & gymnastics was the theme for my nieces 9th birthday party this year. I designed the invitation in Photoshop, printed on card stock and my sister mailed them out in colorful envelopes.
My niece and I had both been dying to make tie dye cupcakes and thought what better occasion to try them out! The first time I saw them on Pinterest I immediately got overwhelmed and thought they must be extremely difficult to make. Boy, was I wrong! Take a look at the step by step photos below. Just to keep you enticed, I won't show you the inside until further down in the post.
First, I divided the cupcake mix into separate bowls and from there added food coloring. Honestly, I just eyed the amount of drops. Since I knew I wanted my colors vibrant, I went pretty heavy on the coloring. I used both neon and assorted McCormick food coloring.

Next, I spooned equal amounts of each color into each baking cup. Trust me here, it does not have to be perfect. They will turn out great regardless. I saw certain cupcakes that I liked better than others during my research on Pinterest so I decided to spoon in the darkest colors first, purple and blue landing them on the bottom. You'll see how cool it looks in the end!

Lastly, I followed the baking instructions just like I would any other regular cupcakes and let cool. Keep an eye out on them during the last few minutes to avoid them overcooking and the colors turning dark brown. 
As a part of the goodie bags, we wanted to give them a tie dye shirt to take home. To avoid the messy cleanup of a bunch of 9 year olds tie dying, we decided to do it beforehand (beforehand as in last, last minute the night before. We purchased plain white packs of Hanes t-shirts and one tie dying kit from Hobby Lobby. To speed up the process, tackled it almost like an assembly line. Green all the way down the line, then purple and so forth. It made it much easier than dying them individually. Here's a candid shot of my niece, which she'll probably hate me for in 10 years but I couldn't resist. She was so focused on the project it was too precious not to capture.
The day of the party, it was a bit of a fiasco setting up, with only about 15 minutes left until the guests started arriving. We were able to string up the shirts as a part of the decor. Above the shirts I hung a banner made out of paint swatches from Walmart. I recommend getting them there because they are significantly larger than swatches at other home improvement stores. The banner look is classy but cute and can be customized for any color scheme and event.
I found tie dye plates and napkins on clearance from shindigz.com, an awesome party supply store. I made customized tie dye stickers for the goodie bags and cups. We set up a mini candy car for the kids to fill their goodie bags. Parents probably hated us for the candy overload, but oh well.
Since the party was midafternoon, we provided chips, a fruit tray, drinks and of course cupcakes. After about an hour of the kids playing and parents snacking, we decided to sing Happy Birthday, eat cupcakes and open gifts. I bought a cupcake stand from Hobby Lobby and used a 40% off coupon which ended up costing no more than $10. It's a great addition to any centerpiece and was very simple to assemble. 
Now before I reveal the cupcakes, I have to say they turned out better than I ever expected they would. The kids were absolutely outside of themselves and so was I! I will definitely be making these again for different holidays and events. You can easily do any color combination.
Compared to past birthday parties, we definitely cut costs without skimping on the overall effect. Parents, keep in mind, you don't have to break the bank to throw a great party that the kids will enjoy. This indeed, was another great birthday for the books. Check out some other photos from the party.

 Hope you enjoyed it! Now go out and bake some tie dye cupcakes!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Flower Bouquet

For the last couple years, I have had the honor to help my niece shop for Mother’s Day gifts. It’s hard enough to find the perfect gift for my own mom but even more difficult when allowing an 8 year to pick out a gift for her mom. First it’s a diamond ring then it’s a shopping spree. Thanks to Pinterest we were finally able to agree on something. Flowers that never die. I knew it would be spot on for both my niece and sister. Here is the pin we found and used as a reference.
About a week before Mother’s Day my niece and I visited the local craft store to gather materials. She felt fully involved since I let her pick out the canvas size and different paint colors. The following items are what we used to complete the DIY project which cost no more than $15.
6 Different-Deco Art Americana 2 oz. Acrylic Paint Colors
11x14 Canvas
Round Foam Paint Brush (for bow, stem & writing)
As soon as we got home, she begged to get started. This is example of why this was a perfect DIY Mother's Day gift for both my sister and niece! Not only did she have a BLAST making this, I loved seeing her get in touch with her creative side.
First we started off centering the hand prints portion of the "flower bouquet" on the canvas. We let this dry overnight and picked up where we left off a few days later. The flower stems were the next part, which were pretty simple. The bow was added last to make it stand out from the other colors.
Since my spacing wasn't exactly accurate, the top looked a little empty to me. My niece used the round foam brush to write a special message for her mom.
Needless to say, it was the perfect present for any mother. Knowing my sister, I'm pretty sure she cried when she saw it. Now they both get the pleasure to see her beautiful artwork that is sure to brighten anyone's day!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

DIY Pita Pizza

For my 25th birthday my family and I celebrated over a few glasses of wine and these DIY Pita Pizzas. I was inspired by a few Pinterest recipes, but since I knew everyone had their own favorite pizza, I picked up a variety of pizza toppings.

Wheat Pita Bread

Pizza Sauce
Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
Turkey Pepperoni (or regular)

Crumbled Sausage
Chopped Onion
Chopped Green Bell Pepper
Since I like thin crust pizza I sliced the pita into 2 crusts. Either way, the pita holds up nicely and tastes delicious. Next, I brushed olive oil on all crusts and baked at 450 degrees for about 8 minutes to harden before adding toppings. Keep an eye out to prevent burning with the thin crusts. Once those are ready add sauce, cheese and all the toppings you desire!

Pop back in the oven on 450 degrees for another 10 minutes depending on the amount of toppings. Let cool then ENJOY! My sister gave me a pizza stone and I loved the way it cooked the pizzas.

Pita Pizzas are a quick and convenient menu option for any occasion. Guests will love the fact they are able to customize their own meal without spending time in the kitchen making dough from scratch. I encourage you to get creative with the topping set up. DIY topping bars are trending in the food and beverage industry. Below are some different bar ideas that I've recently see.


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Make Pinterest a Reality

If you're anything like the rest of America, you have probably spent hours on end dreaming that your Pinterest boards were an actual reality. Well...I'm here to show you that I made that dream come true for one of my very best friends' 25th birthday.

Just a little innocent stalking was all it took. Ok, don't act like you've never "social stalked." Basically, I kept up with her pins during the months leading up to her birthday and found resources where I could purchase pinned items or items very similar. In this case, you never have to worry if they actually like your gift or not, because they pinned it.

In order to personalize the gift and make the obvious correlation to Pinterest, I printed off small print screens of the actual pin and attached it to the gift with a string of hemp. It all came together rather niceley. The birthday girl was stunned when she reazlied these were actually gifts that she had pinned.

I apologize for the not so great photo quality, but it was the only one I took. When planning, I went ahead and printed off extra pinned items just in case I wasn't able to find the product. For instance, I printed off a couple different Essie nail colors that she had pinned. Good thing I did, because Ulta only had one of the colors. I would have to say this gift idea was a success because it was personalized, wasn't too time consuming, plus you determine the budget.
Essie Nail Polish--Highlighter Clutch(her original pin cost $126 so I settled for a "knock-off")-- Big Bow Earwarmer
I also purchased 4 pumpkin spiced cupcakes from a local bakery and paired them with the pin below. We were all so excited and in the moment I completely forgot to take a photo of the actual cupcakes.

Next time you're struggling to find the perfect gift, let this Pinspire you. If you try this gifting method, please share your stories, as I would love to hear them!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Carnival Birthday Party

Forgive me that this is from July, but it turned out way too cute not to share. We celebrated my nieces 8th birthday at a condo on the beach so we were pretty limited on space in the room. Her mother and I knew everything need to be quick and easy to eat since the kids were running back and forth between the room and pools. I noticed a lot of Carnival Themed parties on Pinterest that seemed relatively easy to put together yet still very cute. Below are a few pinspirational posts that helped me put together this party.

If you know me, then you know I figured out every way possible to cut costs during the planning of this party. The most expensive items were the cake (which was only $30 thanks to Groupon) and the old fashioned Coke bottles.

I used pop corn tubs as goodie bags stuffed with rock candy, candy buttons, strips of button candy, silly straws, glow stick bracelets and mustache props for pictures. I was only able to find the strips of button candy and rock candy at Cracker Barrel which were a little pricey for me. I found the carnival style suckers at Big Lots for cheap (less than a buck a piece) and wrapped the stand they came with in red wrapping paper that doubles as a cake pop stand.

As far as the identifier stands, ice bin, drip trays and drink dispenser, I was able to borrow from the catering department from my work. I think the little details such as the food labels, ketchup and  mustard bottles, old fashioned coke bottles and popcorn containers are what made the carnival theme stand out. I designed a simple template in Photoshop for the identifiers and printed on blank business card sheets. Even though the party were all girls, they LOVED it and heard many of them raving that it was the best party they've ever been to. Needless to say my niece was the coolest chick in school for quite some time.  

Friday, December 14, 2012

Holiday Office Gifts

Searching for an inexpensive Christmas gift for a co-worker or neighbor? Look no further. I struggled searching for co-worker gifts for both male or female that wouldn't break my bank. Below are a few crafty gifts I put together in less than 24 hours that my co-workers absolutely loved.
These are the "booze bouquets" for the males in the office. It was nice because I was able to customize each on based on their favorite liquor and candy. I bought the beer mugs, filler and Styrofoam from Dollar Tree. I was extremely surprised to find such good quality beer mugs for only $1.  The mini liquor bottles ranged from .99 to $3 at the liquor store. Candy was about a buck a piece and I already had the kabob skewers and glue gun. With just a little research and pinspiration I was more than satisfied and impressed with how these turned out plus they were a hit with my co-workers!

Now we all know how picky women can be with just about everything so I had to be careful when deciding on a gift for my female co-workers. After searching for hours on Pinterest for affordable DIY gifts, I was immediately pinspired by an adorable sock and nail polish kit. I mean what women doesn't use nail polish, socks or nail clippers?
I decided to to add a few minor touches to mine. The total cost for each for each was less than $10.
Mason Jar (Dollar Tree) $1.00-- Socks (Target) $2.50--Nail Polish (Walmart) $3.00
Clipper/Nail Filing Kit (Walmart) .98
I added burlap squares and mini Christmas tree ornaments for the final touches. The ladies loved them!
Now this last DIY gift is probably one of my favorites. Under the Pinterest category, Holidays & Events, Hot Chocolate Kits seemed to be very trendy this time of the year. I was able to find this simple, latch jar from the Dollar Tree along with the ingredients except for the Hershey's Peppermint Kisses (Walmart) and Kahlua. The presentation of the gift is perfect for the holidays and most everyone I know always appreciates a cup of hot chocolate.
I hope I made your holiday gifting a little easier. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!