Tag Archive for Celebrations

Name That Glass

Even before I treated myself to a digital cutter, I knew I wanted to try glass etching. I’d heard it was really easy and I knew what I wanted to try as my first attempt.

My husband and I belonged to a Bible study where each couple in the group took turns bringing either an entree, side dish, dessert, or soft drinks.

Every Wednesday, as we threw away paper plates and plastic cups, my stomach turned. I hated seeing all that trash week after week, so I proposed we buy reusable dinnerware. I offered to take up a collection and do the shopping myself.

I found a set of glasses for about $1 each. Problem is…in a group, you set down your Coca-Cola, walk away to get seconds, and then can’t remember whose glass is whose.

So, I used my SIL’s cutter (since I hadn’t purchased my beloved Silhouette Cameo yet) to make a personalized stencil for each glass, one per group member.

I finished off the edges with masking tape to prevent any leakage from the etching cream.

I pressed firmly to make sure there were no bubbles in the stencils.

Then I gooped over each one with a nice, thick layer of glass etching cream and let it sit for 10-15 minutes. That’s it!

Then, I rinsed off the cream, peeled off the stencils, and TA DA! Instant personalized glasses!

The group LOVED these and it made it so easy to keep track of our drinks!

Since then, I’ve done many more glass etching projects: mustache drinking glasses, a monogrammed 9×13 baking dish, picture frames, candy jars, flower vases, beer mugs, etc.

These may be simple projects, but their uniqueness makes a huge statement! Etched glass is perfect for weddings, showers, parties, and one-of-a-kind gifts.

How about you? Want anything etched? Tell me your vision and I can make it happen!

Madeline’s Moments

It’s always fun when family commissions you to make something! The following book was created for my cousin Alisa to give to her niece (and god-daughter), Maddie, on her confirmation day.

Madeline, who at the time was 7, loves writing and sketching. This book was intended to be a combination journal/sketchbook and also a place where friends and family could write letters/prayers.

I love the lime green/chocolate brown combo and this paisley paper allowed me the chance to throw in some hot pink accents.

LOVE. This. Paper!

Bronze letters were strung on a brown ribbon and attached to the cover with star-shaped brads.

Seriously, this paper! aah!! The colors, the whimsical pattern. Love it.

The star brads continued all the way around the back cover as well.

Since the ribbons wrapped all the way around the book, they allowed it to be tied shut.

My cousin let me know that the book was a hit. Several family members wrote letters to Maddie, shared photos and stories, and drew pictures.

If you’d like to make a keepsake album for a loved one, email me! I’d love to make one for you!

Cake Pops!

I love cute party treats and cake pops are one of the items I’ve been trying to perfect.

Ever since Bakerella starting showcasing the cute little goodies on her blog, I’ve been attempting to learn the ins-and-outs of the entire process. Believe me, there is more of a learning curve than one might think!

Below are some of the examples of the pops I’ve made in the past year. Not only did I love making these for my friends, I also enjoyed stretching my mind to come up with creative ways to display them.

It’s a Boy! pops for my friends Heather and Alex. I made these to share at our Bible study group before baby Owen arrived. I was able to score a green picket fence display rack from Hobby Lobby for free! The styrofoam base works perfectly for displaying cake pops.

I also made some cake balls (minus the stick), just to give that a try. YUM!

This set of cake pops was created for my friend Mandy’s birthday party. She invited all her friends over to dreadlock her hair, and I knew the occasion called for chocolate and sprinkles!

Mandy is an amazing writer, so I wrapped a plastic container with fabric covered with words. I added a green stripey ribbon and a cork-board M.

To help the cake pops stand upright in the container, I filled it with dark chocolate and white chocolate chips.

These cake pops were made for my SIL’s baby shower. A baby girl, could you guess?! :) It was fun playing around with different combinations of sprinkles and decorations. Again, the display was from Hobby Lobby (free), with a coat of pink paint and a sparkly tulle bow.

I failed to get a shot of the last batch of cake pops I made. They were for a wedding shower, and I made round ones and also tried my hand at shaped ones. Hearts. Not as easy as I anticipated.

I only took the best-looking pops to the shower. These were the “defects” left behind to be consumed by my family. ;)

This photo shows a couple of the things that I need more practice to perfect…funky-shaped hearts and cracked candy coating (and there are so many variables that can cause cracked coating, argh!)

But, considering that Bakerella herself only ever shows 5-10 pops at a time, I’m sure even she has at least a few duds in every batch of 48. :)

 

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#106: Dessert Cups

In September 2009, I started a cupcake adventure. (At this rate, I may never finish! And, I’m not sure I even want to, so, ha!) If you haven’t read about it yet, you can do so here.

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Need a simple way to make a dessert that doesn’t require many ingredients? You’ve come to the right post!

Ingredients:

  1. Candy Melts by Wilton or Make’n Mold wafers or other baking chocolate (regular chips in chocolate, white chocolate, mint, etc. work fine, too.)
  2. Cupcake papers (save your cute ones for another project…this is a good chance to use up those out-of-season or mismatched ones!)
  3. Fruit or other “filling.” I chose to use thawed, frozen strawberries from my grandparents’ farm. Yummy!

You start by melting the wafers in a microwave or double boiler.

You then use a pastry brush to get a dip of chocolate…

And “paint” a layer of chocolate all over a cupcake paper like so:

Here’s what a single layer looks like. You can tell by the transparency of the chocolate in the bottom that it’s important to do several coats! At least with candy melts. I’m not sure you’d have the same problem with chocolate chips or other baking chocolates.

I did a total of three coats and had some issues getting a smooth coating. The first coat was a little tricky to get on, and after that, subsequent coats of warm chocolate kept melting the previous coats.

So…they looked a little globby, but since they were going to be covered up, it wasn’t a problem! :) I refrigerated them for 15-20 minutes to make sure the chocolate was nice and set.

Once the chocolate had cooled and hardened, next came the really fun part! Peeling off the paper! The three coats made them nice and sturdy, but I still worked carefully to remove the wrappers.

Here they are peeled and ready to be filled!

I drained my strawberries and placed a scoop in each cup. I wish I had had more berries to go around and some whipped cream to top them off!

The original recipe suggested drizzling the fruit with raspberry sauce, but I just sprinkled each one with a pinch of sugar instead.

Darling!

Since making these, I’ve thought of so many fun ways they could be used! Mini ice cream bowls, “baskets” for Easter treats, pudding cups, yogurt parfaits.

You could even use them as mini serving bowls to hold nuts, mints, sprinkles, garnishes, and other small party foods.

And since Candy Melts come in so many colors, you could even make these bowls in pink or blue for a baby shower or in a bride’s wedding colors.

The best part? No dishes to wash…just serve and eat!

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Tony & Melanie

One of my favorite kind of books to make is a wedding guest book! It’s exciting to be a part of a day that marks a new beginning for a loving couple.

Melanie and Tony asked me to create a one-of-a-kind guest book for them. The Scripture verse “My lover is mine, and I am his” graced the cover.

Their wedding colors were earthy tones, so I mimicked this in their book using soft, brown recycled paper, brown satin tie ribbons, and earth-toned papers for the pages.

A nice, green paisley paper added the finished touches to the inside cover.

And no wedding book would be complete without a little personalization!

Names and a very important date, all surrounded by heart-shaped brads.

Tony and Melanie, thank you for allowing my art to be a detail in your special day. Here’s to many, many years of wedded bliss!

A Journal for Kelley

 

Personalized, handmade gifts are always a great thing to get someone beginning a new chapter of their life.

So when Kelley was graduating, Donna knew that a Z as in Zebra journal would be a great gift for her.

With your name on the front, there’s no mistaking it’s yours!!

I love funky geometric patterns, and this one portrays all the fun, exciting, scary, new adventures most graduates are just itching to embark upon.

Inside the front cover, Donna wanted to include an inscription with the verse Jeremiah 29:11

So fitting!

Donna, thank you for asking me to make Kelley’s journal! It excites me to think of all the dreams and plans and big ideas its pages contain by now! :)

Memory Books

Perhaps you remember the photo album I made for my niece, Ensley Grace last year.

Well, 2011 saw the addition of more little babies into our extended family. It was only fair that they get their very own memory books, too!

Today’s post is a showcase of the baby photo albums I’ve made this year.

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My newest nephew, Ethan Craig, was born on August 3. Let me tell you, boyish fabric is hard to find!! Even the prints that are blues and greens are usually paisleys or florals. Then there’s camouflage and trucks, but there’s not really any fabrics in between the two extremes. That said, I was able to find a geometric patterned one for Ethan’s album.

I just love these circular letters! They worked so well with this fabric, too!

Despite the fact that this album is for a boy, I couldn’t resist adding a little bling to the spine. :)

Black ribbon ties hold the memories inside.

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Niece Madilyn Rose arrived on October 21st…the first girl in a household of three older brothers! As you can imagine, her mommy was excited to finally have a baby to dress in  frilly, girly PINK things!

Her book was ultra-girly as well. Lots of pinks…the letter brads, the tie ribbons, and the rhinestones!

The inside pages were a fun orange-sherbet color. I LOVE how this turned out with the outside pattern. This book may be one of my favorite combos that I’ve done. In fact, I liked the cover fabric so much I bought extra yardage so I can use it again in future projects.

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In addition to the books I made for our family members, I was also hired to design books for other people’s loved ones.

This gender-neutral jungle book was created for a grandma to house all her photos of her grandkids.

The inside paste pages were chocolate brown, and each page held 4×6 photos, 2-up.

The spine was made of reinforced Davy board wrapped in leafy cardstock. The two patterns complemented each other perfectly!

Ahh, the memories that will be contained in these pages. Makes my heart smile just thinking about it.

Photo albums are among my most prized possessions. I treasure the memories they contain and I would love to make a one-of-a-kind album for someone special in your life! Email me for more details.

Practice = Perfect

Though I love to decorate cakes, I can admit that there are a few things I still need to practice. The following cake (made for Easter) reminded me that I still have plenty to learn. Well, not so much “learn” as just improve!

Writing is one. It’s difficult to figure out how much space you’ll need to pen your message on a cake. Sometimes the icing consistency throws you for a loop. Sometimes you just work too fast and things get sloppy. I’ve run into all of these obstacles. Another big area where I’d like to continue to improve? “Fonts”…meaning: I can print on a cake and I can do your run-of-the-mill cursive, but that’s about it. I’d like to spend more time perfecting some other typestyles.

Looking at this photo now (two years after I made this cake), I wish I’d spent more time smoothing the icing. It’s not bad, but there’s still room for improvement.

I’d also seen this cool diagonal design in a magazine and wanted to try it. However, in my excitement, I didn’t plan it out as well as I could have, and the bottom row of diamonds ended up getting a little wonky. If I had done my due diligence, I would’ve used toothpicks to space out the markings evenly.

But as they say, “live and learn.” I think it’s important for all artists to document their work and reassess their growth from time to time. We can learn so much by looking back.

Surely all of us at least have a photo that makes us wonder WHAT we were thinking in choosing a particular hairstyle. :)

How about you? Do you have old photos that teach you lessons about life?

Woodland Birthday: Part 2

The day of Beau’s first birthday, I woke up excited and nervous. Sort of the same way I felt on the morning of my wedding. Is that weird? I’m sure some would say it is.

I’d also like to mention how much of a thrill I get out of planning a party on a limited budget. It forces me to get more creative! Maybe that’s why it reminded me of my wedding…I did the same thing with that event: achieved the biggest WOW possible for just a fraction of what other brides spend.

At any rate, I had been planning Beau’s woodland party for months and wanted everything to be perfect!

I’m SO GLAD I thought to book the amazing Abi Martin as the party-day photographer. There is no way I would have been able to corral my kiddo, play the part of hostess with the mostest, AND capture all the details and precious moments of the party. Abi is not only a talented photographer, she is also incredibly fashionable, VERY personable, and a dear friend to my family. Abi, thank you for capturing our day. I am speechless over these photos.

Beau’s birthday banner was one item I was able to create WAY in advance. It’s hard to tell, but I added glitter glue around each letter. I also attached each circle to the ribbon using tiny brads. That way, the skunk and the number could be changed out for future parties, or I could even sell it to someone with a different name! :)

Remember my sketch from Tuesday’s post? Messy though it was, it helped me pull off this spread:

I LOVED deciding which snacks we should include for this theme. These chocolate nests were one of the first things I thought of. Because one of our guests has a peanut allergy, I substituted butterscotch chips for the peanut butter called for in the recipe.

I framed 12 photos, one favorite from each month of Beau’s life, and interspersed them among the decor.

Stanley the Gnome helped hold down the fort.

I found this cool jar at a Hobby Lobby outlet store here in town and filled it with rocks, moss, and a doe and her fawn.

Here’s a shot of the goody bag contents: one finger puppet, one bird whistle, two colored pencils, two magnets, all contained in a burlap bag.

And since I believe in EVERYONE getting a party favor, I made acorn cookies for the adult guests.

Another shot of the food table, this time, with my cake topper included as the centerpiece. You’ll notice the cake stand is perched on top of  a log. FREE! from my in-laws’ woodpile! :)

Me and my birthday boy. He’d just woken up from his morning nap, so he looks a little stunned. But, MAN, if he isn’t just the cutest thing I’ve ever seen! :)

The cupcakes below are exactly what I envisioned as I was planning out the food table. I’d never covered cupcakes in fondant before, but the technique worked perfectly for creating smooth mushroom tops. The white polka dots were made out of royal icing that I blopped out and dried several weeks in advance. The risers were borrowed from my friend Mikie and covered in green Canson paper that I cut to look like grass. The cool thing? Mikie used these same risers (sans grass) last summer at the baby shower she co-hosted for Beau and me.

For those who aren’t huge fans of fondant, we also had a handful of buttercream-topped cupcakes with paper toppers I made.

To balance out the sweetness, I made sure to include some good ol’ Chex mix!

Another easy (read: inexpensive) centerpiece I made was a 14″ tall cylinder vase full of acorns (picked up off the ground at my in-laws’ house!) and topped with a friendly gray squirrel.

“Trail Mix” is a necessary component of any woodland party, wouldn’t you say? I made Fawna’s version using peanuts, sunflower seeds, raisins, mini marshmallows, and Reese’s Pieces. Sweet AND salty. Mmm.

Here’s the cake topper from Tuesday’s post. Doesn’t he look right at home on top of that two-layer chocolate cake? :)

 

Whenever I host a party, I’m always looking for new ideas for cute displays. I used B’s party as an opportunity to try another technique I’d seen: creating paper cones to hold snacks.

Interesting side-note: this “grass” is actually the bottle drying rack we received as a shower gift when Beau was born! I just added a thin hunk of styrofoam to the base so I could insert the sticks that held up the cones.

I also made my little birthday boy a shirt, using scraps of fabric that my mom and mother-in-law already had in their attics. I’d only made two other shirts before, and the design for them was much easier. I was curious to see how easy it was to create a character using multiple pieces and interfacing. It worked well! And now that the shirt has been through the wash a few times, the canvas I used for the beard and eyebrows is beginning to fray a bit around the edges, making it that much more beardly. :)

Seeing as how it’s been over 100 degrees every day for the past month (or since time began, it seems!), I made sure to have icy-cold drinks. I had a simple ice-water-with-lemon combo in a huge cookie jar I’ve had for years and I made cherry limeade punch in a cool drink dispenser I borrowed from my friend Natalie.

I received many compliments on the punch. And it couldn’t have been easier to make! I used this recipe, with a slight alteration. I started with a double batch, following the recipe as written. Then, because it was a bit tart for our liking (and I needed to make sure we had plenty), I added an additional two bottles (2-liters each) of Sprite. Perfect!

Beau’s little pals were so cute in their swim suits. Check out this guy: such a poser! :)

One of my artsy-mom friends has the cutest kiddos! We were so glad they could come to our party!

We had a puddle pool available and B and his little friends had the best time filling up cups, containers, and squirty fish.

After swimming, it was time for cake! And, boy, did Beau like it when we all sang “Happy Birthday to You.”

He started with a small nibble of fondant, before realizing that the entire cake in front of him was not only destructible, but tasty, too!

And he wasted NO time tearing it up!

The last picture is one my sister Sonny captured. It’s so fun to see the pure joy on his face!

Oh, what messy fun it is to turn one!! :) I love you, baby boy. It’s an honor to be your mama. Mwah!

Woodland Birthday: Part 1

In my last post, I mentioned how much I LOVE planning parties. So, you can imagine my excitement when 2011 started and I realized my baby would be turning one year old.

In June.

Nevertheless, I began brainstorming early because, as any artist-mom knows, there isn’t a lot of free time for being creative (unless coming up with an idea for dinner counts).

The first thing I did was choose a theme. I had seen enough buzz on Facebook to know that many of my fellow moms were doing zoo, farm, or jungle themes for their babies’ first birthdays. I wanted something a more unique for B’s first birthday party, but I liked the idea of an animal-based theme. So, after plenty of lost sleep (WHY does my brain go 100 MPH when I’m trying to fall asleep at night?!), I landed on “woodland” as my focus.

I scoured the web for ideas and began constructing my inspiration board. I found photos of things I knew I wanted to include and also made a list of buzzwords I felt related well to the theme:

I knew I wanted to make favor bags for all of B’s little friends, so I began by contacting a friend of mine who had used burlap for her wedding (table runners, etc). She had scraps that she was more than happy to part with, so my mom sewed little square bags to contain the favors (picture coming in Thursday’s post).

Then, I began ordering a few specific items off Amazon, including these warbling bird whistles (probably more familiar to us parents than our kiddos!) The whistles came in four colors and we made sure no siblings received the same color.  I included a note with the whistle so people would know to “just add water.”

I found a picture of woodland critters online that I thought were darling, so I used the image as a template and re-drew them in Illustrator so I could use them throughout the party. I made these magnets using flat gemstones. Each guest got two magnets in their goody bag, and, again, no siblings received the same ones.

I also managed to find some really awesome colored pencils that were made from twigs! Each guest got two pencils apiece.

One of my favorite items in the goody bags were some woodland finger puppets. I found the instructions for sale on Etsy and ordered both sets of woodland animals (10 in all). My mom made two of each critter and I’m kicking myself now for not getting a photo of all of them together! Each child received one puppet. The leftovers (below) will be going in a time capsule for Beau to play with when he’s older.

Next, I began to focus on the food table (isn’t that everyone’s favorite part of a party?) I knew I wanted to make some signs describing the food, and though I’d made table tents in the past, I had always wondered if they could have a more 3D aspect.

They CAN! After messing around with some scrap paper, I felt confident that my little woodland signs could be more like pop-ups than flat pieces of paper! Most people probably wouldn’t notice the difference, but to me, this experiment was a big success!

Naturally, I wanted to have a great cake for Beau’s first birthday! What sort of baker would I be if my own son didn’t have a cool smash cake to destroy?! Since I have limited experience with fondant, I enlisted the help of my friend Anya, who is a fondant figures GENIUS! She came over to my house and gave me a lesson in figure-making. Since the party details didn’t include the eager beaver, I decided he would be perfect for the cake topper.

I did learn how to cover the cake board on my own, and added some chocolate-covered chow mein noodles as a dam…they also served to hold up the beaver’s tail since our 100-degree weather and high humidity kept making it want to break off! (ACK!)

And, of course, no party of mine would be complete without some sort of schematic. HA!

Since the party was going to be held at my in-laws’ house, I transported all my decor the night before and planned how I wanted the table to be set. Naturally, in my rush to get out the door, I had left my camera at home. So…I drew a sketch that would embarrass my art school professors. :)

But, it got the job done and made the day-of prep MUCH easier. It also gave me a spot to write down what else I needed to grab from my house…something that would not have been possible with a photo.

Come back Thursday and see how all the elements came together! I couldn’t have imagined the party would go so well!