Friday, April 29, 2011

{Foodie Friday} Macaron Love

At the beginning of the year, I set forth some Foodie goals for this year.  I've already made truffles and Swiss Meringue Buttercream.  In the next few days, I'll be attempting one of the more difficult goals for the year: Macarons!
I’ve already gathered a few recipes, and will definitely be sharing the results at the end of the process.  Even if I end up with flat, footless cookies, I'm sure they will be it will no doubt be worth the effort.  In the meantime, here are a few resources I've found:

Desserts for Breakfast - Rose and Basil-Dark Chocolate Macarons

Tartlette - Pistachio - Cocoa Nib Macarons With Bourbon Buttercream

Not So Humble Pie - Lemon Mascarpone Macarons

Thursday, April 28, 2011

{Lessons Learned} Easter Bunny Buffet

I have to admit, this was probably the easiest set-up I've done so far.  From the time I started setting up to the time the table was ready, it took maybe 2.5 hours.  Of course, this doesn't include the prep work involved in all of the decor and embellishments.  It definitely helps that I only had to take care of one small part of the whole day, not to mention that I was able to set almost everything up the night before so that the kids could be surprised in the morning (the jelly beans in the pail and on the cake stand were added last minute).
Not technically a good picture, but that sunshine just makes me happy.

What I'm definitely realizing is that I have one incredibly inefficient method:  I like to do a mock set-up of the main buffet before the event.  It hasn't been much of an issue with some of the other parties - the Barnyard and Toy Story mock-ups were up and down pretty quickly.  I usually do this to get an idea of scale and to see if I need more filler.  This time, however, I set up the whole table in our playroom and kept adding to it over the week beforehand.  Part of my problem is that I don't really know exactly how I'm going to do some things until I can see it come together.  Definitely time-consuming.

As far as budget goes, the Husband mandated a $100 budget for the table, and I tried really hard to stick to it.  Of course, I went over a bit, but not by too much.  In addition to re-using on=hand items, there were a lot of $1 and $2 items from Target, Wal-Mart and the Dollar Tree.  Still, it adds up quickly.  My best estimates are that I actually spent about $130.  This includes all of the materials to make the backdrop frame and my splurge items from Dainty Delights.
Low cost project: Repackage this...
...into this!

All-in-all, it was a successful event, so I'm feeling redeemed from some of my lower moments earlier this year!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Easter Party Part II

Since our family Easter get-together was put together 'by committee' (as my in-laws would say)-and I've already shared my Bunny Buffet-I wanted to share the rest of the day with you.  My sister put together dozens of eggs for the kids to gather, and my stepmother cooked an amazing buffet with all the traditional Easter foods, from lamb to jelly beans!

Easter Baskets waiting in the kitchen
Grabbers for picking up Eggs

Lawn Decorations

Easter Buffet
...from the other side
Love the little bunny butter dish!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

{Real Parties} Easter Bunny Buffet!

As I mentioned last week, I celebrated Easter with my family this weekend.  We all worked together to have a day of fun and festivities for the kids (T plus her two cousins, aged 6 and 4).  I put together a "Bunny Buffet" that the Easter Bunny left for the kids for being such wonderful cousins to each other.
Although I used all the spring colors, I focused the primary colors on aqua/teal and yellow - all inspired by this pretty aqua chiffon I found months back at $5 for 5 yards.  Unfortunately, the sun was shining right through the french doors behind the buffet, so you can't see the fabric all that well, but it was all soft and shimmery in person!

I've already shared with you how I created the Candy Coated Popcorn and the Wrapped Easter Bunnies.  I just spray painted the mason jar collars to match the color scheme and added a crepe paper rosette to the front.  I also added a jelly bean garland (tutorial coming soon!) to the Easter Bunny boxes to give them some color and dimension.

These treats were the big splurge of the party.  I had fallen in love with Dainy Delights' creations back at Christmastime, and I was finally able to get some of Renee's treats.  I love the little Faberge-style eggs, and am still marveling at the incredible detail of those cookies!  The kids were so excited at all of her work.  I would definitely recommend Dainty Delights to anyone looking for sweet treats that also double as sweet works of art!

Do the flowers look familiar at all?  They are all paper flowers from T's first birthday party.  I simply spray painted them in the buffet colors - and I LOVE how they turned out.  I've loved the effect of spray painted craft paper for a while, but I was pleasantly surprised to see how well the nooks and crannies of the flowers took spray paint.

The banner was made using my Silhouette and shapes available through their online shop.

A full view of the buffet for you.  It really was fun putting together a special treat for my wonderful niece and nephew (and T, of course).  I wish I got to see them more often, but it only gets more difficult as time goes on.

I'll be back with the details of the other aspects of our Easter party within the next couple days.

Monday, April 25, 2011

{Mama Monday} The Sweetness of Easter

Easter is truly a joyful event.  Growing up Catholic, it was always fun to see Easter come as it also meant the end to Lent - a somber time of reflection and penance.  Add to that the excitement to see warm, spring weather and fun centered around kids; and the day was a blast.

I think T had fun as well....

Hunting for Eggs

Opening Eggs after the Hunt

Now that we're back home, the storms are raging, and the temperatures are cooler than this afternoon in Virginia.  Still, I will cherish having spent the weekend with my family.  I hope that you had a wonderful Easter, and that you were able to spend some time just enjoying each others company.

A rare photo of all three of us together...
I'll be back tomorrow with pictures of the "Bunny Buffet" I brought with me.  Happy Monday!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

{Inspiration Board} Easter Bunny Buffet

This weekend we'll be celebrating Easter with my family and two of T's cousins, so we're throwing a party by committee.  My sister is in charge of the Easter egg hunt, my stepmother is making dinner, and I'm bringing the Bunny Buffet full of treats for the kids.  What are you doing this Easter?

Here's a little bit of my inspiration in advance....

Sources (from top to bottom):
Fabric Backdrop & Display - Blair Britt Events via Amy Atlas
Thread Nest - Crafterholic
Robin’s Egg Garland - Sweet Little Smoothie
Bouquet - DebbieCoFlowers
Paper Flowers - Eloise Corr Danch
White Paper Flower Backdrop - Party of Six
Bird Painting - Karin Grow

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

{From FAIL to WIN} Candy Coated Popcorn!

Monday I posted about some of the major FAILS I had when trying to put together Easter treats.  Basically, I knew I wanted to use leftover green candy melts and Easter sprinkles I just HAD to get when I saw them in the Target Dollar Spot.  Oh, and I also didn’t want to purchase anything else.  Which meant raiding our cabinets for something that would be both tasty and pretty with those items.

Add to the scenario that it was already after 9 o’clock on a work night and I had to be up at 5:30 the next morning and you will know that I was getting desperate.  Desperate enough to try putting chocolate on animal crackers.  Seriously.  

After finally admitting that even the little one’s treat stash wasn’t working, I saw this:
What's better than the combination of sweet and salty?
Am I the only one who thinks the sugar sprinkles add a pretty sparkle?

And then I remembered, that I had these:

Put them together and this is what you get:
Candy Coated Popcorn in a Jar!
Not necessarily the most original idea out there, but sometimes you need to work with what’s on hand.  Just like the Easter bunny wrapper, I haven't put together my embellishments - so you'll just have to wait until next week to see what the final package looks like!

(Seriously, don't think that I'm purposefully holding out on you.  I wish I had pictures of the final packaging...but I just don't work that of this morning I still don't know exactly how I'm going to embellish any of my Easter treats!)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

{Roundup} Free Spring Printables!

Last week I posted several free Easter printables available on the internet.  Now I'm back with a roundup of printables that are generic enough to leave up for weeks after the bunny decor has come down!  Many of these could be adorable for your Easter decorations as well, so I didn't want to wait too long to post them.

Where You Can Find Them:
Consider the Lilies - LadyBird Ln
Spring Has Sprung - Saying It Sweet
“Spring” Banner - At Second Street
Fly A Kite &  - LadyBird Ln
Spring is Sure to Follow - While He Was Napping 
Pink & Yellow Flower - While He was Napping   
Spring Party Circles - It is what it is
Keep Calm & Shine On - Crafts & Sutch

Monday, April 18, 2011

Easter DI Fails

We all enjoy sharing a successful project.  Thankfully there are hundreds of fantastic projects out there for amazing, adorable and/or breathtaking DIY projects.  This post isn't one of them.

In the quest for coming up with something fun and inexpensive, I pulled out some leftover green candy melts and Easter colored sprinkles.  I knew that there must be SOMETHING I could do with them that was different.

Well, here are a few things NOT to do when using the aforementioned materials:

Don't think you can make cute little chocolate-sprinkle Easter Egg cups with plastic Easter Eggs.  Either I did everything wrong in all my trials, or you will always end up with large pieces of chocolate and sprinkles that don't end up remotely looking like egg cups.

Don't then panic and raid the toddler's meager, end-of-week, snack stash looking for something-anything-that will work with chocolate and sprinkles.  Because you just might end up with these disasters:

Chocolate covered...what the heck is that anyway?  It started out as some kind of animal cracker.  Now it's just a hot mess. (And there you have the first time I've ever referred to anything as a 'hot mess'...thank you very much.)

And no...animal crackers just don't look good with chocolate and sprinkle 'boots'.  Total move of desperation there.

I did end up figuring something out.  Come back later in the week to find out the totally unoriginal treat I ended up making. (Go ahead and guess in the might be fun!)

Friday, April 15, 2011

{Trend Spotting} Fun & Healthy Food

Just like so many other people, I've spent hours upon hours drooling over dessert buffets posted by dozens of event designers, moms and other bloggers.  That said, I always try to make sure that healthy options of some kind are available at the parties I put together.  At T's first birthday, I made the caprese toadstools and the vegetable tray.  Fresh berries & tea sandwiches were available at the 60th birthday tea party.  Fruit baskets and vegetables were available for Little Bear's Barnyard Party.  I even got some guacamole and fresh fruit in at the Toy Story birthday party last month. 

This is why I'm so incredibly happy to be seeing more creative and fun ways to incorporate healthy foods into party displays.  My absolute favorite is this vegetable display from My Bride Story:

Homespun with Love put together these adorable vegetable patch cups:

...And you know something has to be a trend when you start to spot it on Hostess with the Mostess.  Check out this Octopus' Garden display that was designed by Suzanne of She Paperie:

I've had other ideas for how to incorporate healthier alternatives into parties, and will be working on some ideas for my party in May.  Do you think this is actually a trend in the making...or just a few fun ideas?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

{Roundup} Free Easter Printables!

I can’t believe Easter is just over a week away.  Since Easter’s so late, there have been tons of free Easter and Spring printables over blogland.  As a result I’ll be posting two printables roundups over the next week!  Today I’m featuring printables that are clearly Easter related and next week I’ll post printables that are more generically Spring themed. 

Where You can find the goodies:
    Candy Bar Wrapper - Parties and Patterns
    Printable Easter Basket - More Style than Cash
    Jesus has Risen - A Step in the Journey
    Get Your Peeps On - Flamingo Toes (Simple Version) (“Yo” Version)
    Easter Subway Art - Making Messes
    Pink & Green Party Circles - Peace Love Cupcakes via Catch My Party
    Bag Topper - It is What it Is
    Amazing Grace - Madigan Made
    Easter Collection - It’s Always a Party at the Parkers (donations to Operation Shower requested)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

{Tutorial} Easter Bunny Wrapper

Here’s a quick idea for dressing up all those Easter bunnies  you’ll be putting out or giving away in  just a few days.  Cover the boxes with Easter colored craft paper and embellish with  paper flowers, ribbons or rhinestones!

Boxed Chocolate Rabbits
Graphite Paper
Scrapbook or wrapping paper
Unsharpened Pencil

 1.  Layer the the chocolate rabbit, graphite paper and patterned paper with the graphite paper and patterned paper facing up.

2.  Holding the paper firmly, rub the unsharpened pencil over the top of the patterned paper to transfer the outline of the opening to the back of the paper.  (A couple notes: I tried a couple of different items and found that the old-fashioned pencil worked best.  Also, if you're using a thick paper transfer the image to a piece of printer paper and create a template)

3.  Double check that the image transferred well.  You should see a fairly distinct outline of the window.

4. Callously stab the rabbit in the gut and cut out the window shape.

5.  Line up your cutout with the window on the box.  Use double-sided tape to keep down the areas around the neck.

6.  Wrap up the rabbit like a present and embellish!  (I haven't yet decided how I want to embellish these, so they are still plain...but
you get the idea!)

Linking up to the parties listed on the left, including:



Tuesday, April 12, 2011

{Inspiration in Action} Paper Flowers

As I was preparing for T’s first birthday last year, I practically hoarded links to paper flower tutorials and other inspiring photos and parties.  I happened to go through these links the other day, and found this tutorial from Morgan over at Pepper Design Blog:

Just gorgeous, isn't it?
This method for making paper flowers is so simple, I probably made two dozen of them.  Though none of them made it into my posts for T’s party - mostly because they were intended for projects that either didn’t get used, or didn’t get finished in time to be used.  One such project is this wreath that I made as a prop for the photo booth (that no one used...grrr):
I combined a bunch of the paper flowers I made using Morgan's tutorial, as well as flowers of my own design and glued them to a large embroidery hoop.  Although those flowers didn't get much action at T's birthday party, I've pulled the wreath out of storage, and am hoping to use that wreath in a different way this Easter.  How do you reuse previous crafts?

Monday, April 11, 2011

Back in the Saddle Again...

Thanks everyone for bearing with me while I took a short break from party blogging.  I really needed to take some time to cherish some moments with my family.  If you're wondering what happened, a week ago last Thursday, I received a phone call from my father with the news that an uncle of mine had suddenly and unexpectedly passed away.

Now, I can’t claim to have been extremely close with this uncle.  But once upon a time, I could have claimed more.  His children were the closest to my brother and I in age.  We spent many vacations and Thanksgiving holidays together.  I slept on the floor of their daughter’s room, and played parachute army men with their youngest son.  This is the uncle that helped coach me when I was learning how to ski; and this is the couple that gave me the best relationship advice I ever took – “marry your best friend”.

I can’t imagine the pain that my aunt and cousins are experiencing right now.  I have so many fond memories of that family, and seeing them at the funeral was one of the most difficult things that I’ve ever experienced. 

In the past few months, I’ve been so focused on planning parties, working, and writing this blog that sometimes the Husband has felt like he was on the back burner.  He’s so busy with work and school that I hardly get to see him.  It’s been good to take some time to spend with each other; to hug each other more often and say ‘I love you’ more earnestly.

One of the reasons I took on the challenge of a year of parties before officially entering the industry was to test out the time constraints of party planning with a family.  It’s definitely been an eye-opening experience, and I’ve already been adapting my business plan based on the experiences.  With that said, there’s less than two weeks until my next party display, and I’ve got my work cut out for me!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Time Out

I know I've been MIA lately, and I've tried several times to comment on others' posts or to write a post of my own; but I just can't come up with the right words to say right now.  What it boils down to is that I received some terrible news last Thursday that has crushed the party spirit in me.  The Husband, T and I are okay-and I'll be back soon-but for now I need to spend some extra time with my family.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Basketball Party Fun Food!

In the last couple days I've featured a pub-style party and different basketball themed decor.  But you know you're most interested in the food when you're at a party.  You could easily serve pizza, wings, nachos or the normal party foods...but it's so much more fun when the food display is interesting too!

Start off your night with either a DIY hamburger bar (Shiny Happy Art) or hot dog bar (Holly Hadsell Entertaining) and some crackers and cheese (Hungry Happenings).  The presentation of both buffets above keeps life simple for the host(ess) and looks great too!  I absolutely love the cheese and crackers shown above, from Hungry Happenings - there are several other ideas for basketball themed food at that site, so go check it out!

You know I have a sweet tooth, and any of these treats would fit the bill for a March madness party.  Who wouldn't want these cake pops from Mom’s Killer Cakes or the amazing basketball themed cookies from Rollin in Dough?  Whoopie pies have been all over the place lately, so why not try making these basketball decorated whoopie pies from Mom Endeavors.