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Friday, April 29, 2011

Monster First Birthday Party: Inspiration Board

Tomorrow I’ll be setting up and shooting a Monster First Birthday Party! It's going to be so much fun! Here’s the inspiration board to hold you over until next week…Have a good weekend!
Ideas pulled from:
        Monster Pillow, Lollipops and Banner – Kara's Party Ideas
        Monster Tissue Box – Kaboose
        Monster Cupcakes – Hostess with the Mostess
        Monster Wreath and Buckets filled with marshmallows –Makin' Mud Pies
        Monster Cookies – Paula Deen
        Rainbow Jello – Funky Polka Dot Giraffe
        Monster Cupcake Toppers – Posh Little
        Monster Buttons – Esty seller Buttons and Badges

Thursday, April 28, 2011

First Birthday Party Decorations for Less Than $1!

The Story
At my Wine & Cheese party, I was joking with my friends that they never take me up on any of my services, especially with their babies’ birthdays coming up. My one friend jokingly replied that I could decorate her daughter’s first birthday party with a budget of 99 cents. Hardee har har very funny.

The Challenge
As a few days passed, I thought, I should totally do it! My friends know that I am very competitive and love a challenge. Even if I made up this challenge for myself lol. So I did it…first birthday party decorations for less than a dollar! Granted, it wasn’t that hard since I don't throw anything away because it can probably be reused for something.  And I’m a crafter with lots of excess supplies and scraps on hand from other projects. But regardless, my only purchase for the party totaled $0.98 including tax! Buy one get one free streamers from Party City, score! And lemme tell you, while I kept my eyes open for supplies at my usual stores (Michael’s, Target, and Joann’s), there’s not much for less than a dollar these days!

The Supplies
n      Paper/cardstock/envelopes and ribbons (a lot leftover from my wedding 2 years ago!)
n      Paint stirrer sticks from Menards (free!)
n      Pictures printed from a color printer (free!)
n      Printable banner from Love of that Sillie Smile (free!)
n      White plastic cups and purple fabric (leftover from Mia’s party)
n      Baby food jars (free!)
n      Tissue paper (never throw these away people!)
n      Plastic skewers from an Edible Arrangement (thanks for saving them for me Mom, see where I get it from guys?)
n      Soup cans (free!)
n      Tablecloth/plates/cake stands (good versatile staples to have on hand)
n      Streamers – buy one get one free from Party City for $0.98 including tax
BOOYAH! I’m in charge! J
 Print, cut, glue to envelopes. Open flap of envelope, string ribbon, lick to seal and ready to hang!
Baby food jars can always easily be incorporated into baby showers/birthday parties. And are free!
Create a ruffle effect with streamers and glue to paint stirrers. Print pictures from a color printer on regular computer paper. Cut and glue to cardstock then tape and glue to stick. Embellish with bow. Cute alternative to a monthly banner J
Plastic cup wreath idea from Twig & Thistle. Ruffle streamers, glue to cup. Print name from word. Embellish with bow.
More ruffled streamers and bows around soup cans. Cake Pop tutorial from Little Miss Momma (dessert costs not included in $1 budget). Or just order them from Danielle Shannon. The birthday girl definitely liked the cake pop...

The Results
Here are some notable comments from the day:
n “This is way too much money for a first birthday party.”
Me: I didn’t spend more than a dollar!!
n “Ok fine, but how much time did you put into it.” And “You wouldn’t rather spend your time doing something else??”
Me: I did it in two weeks notice! And sure I may have stayed up late a few nights, but it makes me so happy! J My agreement with Doug is that I can do my crazy projects if it doesn’t a) Keep me from doing my normal household duties and b) Take away from family/Mia time. And I’ve kept to my end of the bargain. So no, I wouldn’t rather be doing anything else! I love what I do, and that’s why I do it! J

And there you have it! Didn’t think it could be done huh? Would you have guessed it was all for a dollar and in two weeks? Does it look like it was done for $1? I hope not! Moral of the story, you can still do fun and pretty things without spending a lot!

linked up here:
Sweet Shot Day

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Party Ideas: Easter Egg Decorating Brunch

Back in March, my friend who lives in DC (the one who threw the super fun Top Chef Potluck Challenge Party) asked me if I had any ideas for her Boozy Easter Egg Decorating Brunch.  After I sent her a bazillion emails with ideas throughout the month, here’s how her party turned out….
I mean seriously, I wish she threw these kinda parties in Chicago! She told me she didn’t have a lot of time to craft and that she didn’t take a lot of pictures. Um lies! On both points! Didn’t she do a fabulous job? It’s no wonder her friends want to hire her as a party planner J And she doesn’t even have a Michael’s/craft store within 20 miles people!

Decorating Details (as told by the hostess):
  Egg filled vases - with green grass on the bottom
  Basket “vases” - filled with tulips (idea from Martha)
  Egg decorating station - was a hit!  We all reverted to our 10 year old selves.
  Favor/Cupcake table - Next to the cupcake stand, I placed egg crates so people could take the eggs they decorated home.  I used clear 6-egg egg crates, added pastel color adhesive paper to make labels, and topped the labels with floral stickers.  I also placed the jelly bean tin party favors here.
  Champagne Punch - I put Easter eggs under the base of my beverage dispenser and added pink bunny ribbon to the top of the base.  The punch included champagne, St. Germain liqueur, frozen raspberry lemonade, ginger ale, and fresh fruit.The champagne glasses had hot pink and teal bunnies tied to the stem of the glasses and were served on a white serving tray with a neon green middle. 
  Other Drinks - I also served champagne, raspberry lambic, and peach lambic. (Mindy here - These are beers. And who wouldn’t want to attend this brunch with that much Champagne?!? And when I suggested adding tags, she said “But I don’t have access to a printer.” Umm hand writing is an option people! J)
  Hummus Shooters – idea from Modern Moment Designs
  Bagels – served in a basket
  Veggie Dips – served in tiny silver cans from the chiles used in a different dish (removed the labels)

She found most of the ideas on her own and executed them wonderfully. I think people just need me there to talk through ideas and cheer them on to say “You can craft!!” haha. and I like that J

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

How to Watermark Your Photos

You may have noticed that lately, my pictures have been collaged and/or watermarked. If you’re wondering how to do it too, I use It’s free! I use it to resize and edit my photos before uploading to blogger. 

As I imagine most blog surfing crafters do, I save pictures of projects that I like to my “Ideas” folder on my computer for inspiration later on (not to steal them and repost or anything like that without giving credit where credit is due - because that's just wrong).  It’s always helpful when the creator has their website marked on their photo so I can go back to their tutorial and/or give them credit for getting my creative wheels going. Now that I’m getting picked up in more Google searches (woohoo!) I decided to do the same so you don’t forget me if you’ve saved my pictures for inspiration J

Check out how to watermark your photos (it's super easy) with this tutorial from Darcy. BEFORE watermarking your photo, I would recommend editing and saving it. THEN watermark it and save it under a new name. I say this because you may not want a watermark on your photo when you print it or use it for something else. This way you don't lose all the editing that you did to your photo. I learn things the hard way!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Introducing {Baby Noah}

Last weekend I took pictures of my friend’s family since their precious Baby Noah arrived a month ago.
Before I met the little man, mom described him as chill. And he totally was! He only cried a few times, phew!
But, you can't have a baby photo shoot without some crying, right?!
Isn't the rocking chair gorgeous? It's been passed down the family.
Baby Noah also has a two year old brother, Elijah, who was so much fun!
I think they have a well rounded athlete on their hands...
In the two hours I spent with the family, I learned a lot of great parenting tricks from mom and dad. My favorites being, “Does Baby Noah have any boogers in his nose?” or, “Is there a giraffe on his head??” to coax Elijah closer and to look at his little brother haha.  Reading "Daddy Kisses" worked like a charm too...
Thanks for letting me spend the afternoon with you guys! J
linked up here:
Sweet Shot Day

Thursday, April 21, 2011

As Seen on {Spearmint Baby} Again!

Shari over at Spearmint Baby takes submissions for a “Photo of the Day” series and how could I not submit Baby Erin!? Thanks Shari for featuring Mia’s birth story and now my baby niece! J
It’s been a busy month for me and will stay that way until June! But that’s how I like it sometimes J Next week I’ll have Baby Noah's photo shoot, a first birthday party decorated for less than a dollar (yeah. You heard me right. It’s doable people!), a monster first birthday party inspiration board, and maybe my "craft space" for you. Come back and check it out! Have a wonderful Easter, I hope it's not 35° this weekend like it is today!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

DIY Floral/Spring/Easter Baptism

My friend Karen requested my help in planning her daughter’s baptism because she wanted to add personal touches but thought she was "non-creative" with no knowledge of how to become a “crafty party planning mom."  A month and a half later, after many trips to Michael’s, Target and the Dollar store, late nights rolling streamers and acquiring glue gun burns, and fighting the urge to give in and just spend the money buying real flowers, she proved herself wrong. And I’m glad! 

After emailing back and forth many times (the possibilities are always endless!) Karen decided to go with a floral/spring/Easter theme. Her crafting time was quickly ticking away but with the hours of help from Dad, friends, and family, they made a bazillion flowers and got the crepe paper wreath and topiaries (tutorial from the House of Smiths and inspired by the Sweet Survival) done exactly the morning of the baptism. Dad also deserves recognition for getting involved (giving up weekends, even until 3am!) and adding personal touches like little Reese’s candies in the buckets for his baby girl Reese J

Karen successfully dolled up a plain old park district recreation room to look bright and springy. I thought the kids loved the centerpieces (or “sabotaged” them as she said lol) and some guests will be reusing them for Easter décor.  Yippee for dual purpose and not going to waste! The pretty little celebrant even (accidentally) matched the décor.

Decorating Details
DIY Crepe Paper Flower Topiary Centerpieces (~$10/each)
    Easter pails as the base ($2/each from Target)
    Floral blocks for support ($0.50/each from Dollar Store)
    A dowel spray painted in white ($1/each from Michael’s)
    Styrofoam ball ($5/each from Michael's)
    Crepe paper (aka streamers) for the flowers ($20 for 4 rolls) 
    Shredded paper and candies as the filler ($3 for 3 bags at the Dollar Store or make your own for free)
    Yellow ribbon for more color ($5 for 2 rolls at Michael’s)
Gift Box: Empty diaper box wrapped in wrapping paper.
Giveaways: Cookies by Danielle Shannon displayed in baskets filled with Easter grass ($2 for 3 bags from Michael’s) 

Lessons Learned (as told by a new crafty party planning momma)
  Craft ahead of time and after baby is asleep.   
  Shop around and think "outside the box."
  Visit the venue beforehand. 
  Don't be afraid to ask for help. At the start of this "project", I wanted to do everything on my own.  I wanted to OWN this and not have anyone help me.  But in the middle of it all, life events got in the way and I had to focus solely on my family which put me VERY behind on my project.  Despite the hiccups along the way, I packed the streamers, glue gun, glue sticks, and scissors in my bag and worked away even though I couldn't be at home.  My niece and cousin even helped and after a few hours we had over 100 flowers. J  Also, Dad was a BIG contributor to the flower making.  There were some sloppy ones made but I came to the conclusion that "I should be thankful that he's even helping."  The night before Reese's baptism, we stayed up until 3am finishing what became OUR project instead of MINE. ♥
  Don’t use a glue gun with shorts on. haha

This whole process was very stressful having to juggle baby, work, my family, my dad being at the hospital, cooking, cleaning, laundry, yada yada but in the end, I'm happy with how everything turned out considering we had 100 guests.  This was my first attempt at party planning and after all the stress, lack of sleep, multiple glue gun burns and help from family setting the end, EVERY thing was worth it. Of course, I wish I did more decorating and I even saw some spots that could've had potential.  But....there will always be her 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th birthdays and Cotillion to plan..haha! 

It turned out wonderful Karen! Don't you worry, you have plenty of pretty parties ahead of you to plan.  I love helping people with their creative sides (and then I get to use mine too hehe), encouraging them along the way and seeing how it all turns out. The process may be super tiring, but in the end when it’s all beautifully said and done, it’s worth it! Let me help you plan a party (or do it for you), you’ll love the outcome, I swear!

Monday, April 18, 2011

DIY Baby Girl Gifts - Leg Warmers

With newborns, baptisms and first birthdays (and for no reason for Kira and Mia J), I whipped up over a dozen leg warmers the other night. It only takes about 5 minutes per pair using this tutorial from Samster Mommy and adult socks from Target. I also thought about giving a pair of matching socks to the mommas (Mother's Day is quickly approaching! and I could use some new socks haha), but didn't have time to go back and get them. Legwarmers are great for little chubby legs to wear under pants in the winter and under dresses in the spring. Considering we woke up to snowy slush this morning in Chicago, it's not exactly dress wearing weather yet. 
Instead of just rolling/folding them up, I tied them into little bows for adorable gift giving. Cute right?!  

linked up here:

Friday, April 15, 2011

Introducing {Baby Erin}

My SIL never asked me, but I wanted to take pictures of the little girl growing in her belly. Before Erin arrived, I had been dreaming up all sorts of staging in their beautiful home which you’ve already seen here, here, here and here, haha. When I told my SIL that I wanted to do a newborn photo shoot for her, she gladly accepted my offer J And so I introduce you to my new niece...
At least someone will put this beautiful headband to use!
Maybe she didn't like the headband? Or the tutu? Or me shuffling her around, disturbing her warm peaceful sleep? 
But some good ol' milk, burping, and cuddling helped put her at ease. 
 She likes to cuddle J
And is very indecisive about whether she wants to be awake or asleep.
Hey there pretty girl!
This little bundle of joy arrived a few days late. But now that she's here Mia can't wait to play!
I thought this was too funny not to include. Look at how big my itty bitty baby got!

As with some art projects, not all of the fabulous ideas in my head translated to my finished product. But after going through the 300 pictures, I was pleasantly surprised with what I came up with.  *sigh* There will always be a lot to learn. I’ll be meeting baby Noah tomorrow, yippee!  Practice, practice, practice!
linked up here:
Sweet Shot Day