Welcome to my blog!

This is a place to share my many ideas, (along with a story or two), about party planning from the theme to the thank you note, organization from your closets to your kid's artwork, and home decor, from wall color to window treatments. I have a passion for graphic design, fine art, photography, interior design and a great party! Creativity and the visually aesthetic get my juices flowing and I hope this blog can be a place to have fun exchanging ideas and resources and help your creative juices flow too!


Sunday, May 29, 2011

Let's Hear it for the Red, White and Blue!

Memorial Day and Independence Day are the two holidays where we Americans are given the green light to go full-on red, white and blue.  As with every holiday, I look to the celebration maven, Martha Stewart, for inspiration on decor and food but  I've also included some great ideas from other very creative sources as well.  Just click on the links for recipes and directions and have fun!

While there are so may ways to make your own, festive invitations and a good selection of well designed, fill-in-the-information cards out there, if you're planning a more formal shindig, or just want the convenience of custom invitations, these graphically cool ones from Tiny Prints, are a great way to go.

Some other websites for fun Fourth of July invitations:

Here are a few of my favorites from Martha Stewart:

Four-Star Dining Decorations

Fireworks Table Setting

Patriotic Napkin Rings

Easy Sand Castles

Oodlekadoodle Primitives: Flag Wreath

Whenever I think of a fourth of July celebration, I'm reminded of the classic Martha Stewart, flag sheet cake my mother used to make.  Not only is it so visually cool, but it's incredibly delicious as well. 
Below are just a few of the many fabulous looking (and no doubt, tasting) red, white and blue desserts from Martha and other creative bakers and foodies.

Martha Stewart: Flag Sheet Cake

Martha Stewart: American Flag Tart

Martha Stewart: Flag Cupcakes

Martha Stewart: Pretzel Sparklers

Martha Stewart: Red, White and Blue Parfaits

Bella Limento via Babble: Red, White and Blue Jell-O Stars

Gimme Some Oven: Stained Glass Jello

Brooke McLay via Babble: Patriotic Krispy Star Pops

Brooke McLay via Babble: Rice Krispie Treats

Pennies on a Platter: Patriotic Pops

Bake at 350: 4th of July Ice Cream Sundaes with Cookies

Brooke McLay via Babble: Red, White and Blue Cake-in-a-Jar
Love from the Oven: Patriotic Push Pop Cake

17 and Baking: 4th of July Flag Cake

Bakers Royale: 4th of July Fruit Pops

The Sisters Café: 4th of July Strawberries

Taste and Tell: 4th of July Toast

Betty Crocker: Red, White and Blue Pancakes

Chasing Fireflies is a great source for unique, luxury items like these, for every season or holiday.

4th of July Treat Hat

Liberty Lollipops

Happy 4th of July Gumballs
Clear paint cans, and polka dot ribbons like the ones here, can be found at Michael's.
You can make your own label on a computer or create one by hand.
Star-Spangled Cookies
Mason jars like the this one can be found at most supermarkets.

We're attending our second annual fireworks watching party tonight, and last year, for my hostess gift, I brought cupcakes, not knowing there's a making one's own cupcakes tradition hosted by the neighbors.  Whoops!  This year I wanted to bring something just for our gracious hostess, so, noticing that she used the same fabulous dish washing liquid that I do Mrs. Meyers Lemon Verbena, so I bought her a bottle and accompanied it with a patriotic dish towel and oven mitt set (and flag).  I'm already thinking about what I could bring next year if we are invited (I sure hope so!).  Does anyone have any great red,white and blue hostess gift ideas?  Share them here!


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

"Fire Engine Birthday Party!" (part 1)

Ever since my son's nursery school field trip in the fall to our local fire station, he's wanted to go back. I told him I'd take him to visit soon but I never did, and whenever we'd drive past the fire station, which is almost daily, he'd say that he wanted to go in.  Cut to when I was planning my daughter's Barbie birthday party in February and we both asked him what kind of birthday party he would like.  Not seeming to understand the question, I gave him a choice.  "Would you like a fire engine party or a dinosaur (his other recent interest) party?"  His immediate response: "Fire engine birthday party!"  And there you have it.  So, for the past 3 months, he has been referring to and  informing everyone he knows that he will be having a "fire engine birthday party".  Here's the kicker: he's been convinced we're having it at the firehouse.  We drive by and he points to it and says things like, "after we go to the grocery store we can go to my fire engine birthday party!" All I would think was what a let down it would be when the day of the party arrived and we'd be in our back yard and not at the fire station : /  And then, a small miracle happened.  The flier for my daughter's elementary school spring fair came home and included was a list of the silent auction items up bidding.  At the top of the list?  "Firetruck/ambulance for a child's birthday party!"  Retail Value: priceless.  PRICELESS INDEED!  I instantly became a mother obsessed.  That truck would be mine!  I waited patiently for the spring fair, which had been postponed several weeks due to weather, to arrive.  The evening of the fair arrived, I took my mission seriously and for a $100. donation to the school, I had won my fire truck!  Now, the listing was for a fire truck/ambulance and  I had been wondering all along, "does that mean no fire engine and just one of the red rescue trucks?"  It didn't really matter because I knew my son would be thrilled with any form of the fire department showing up at his party, but I really wanted a full on fire engine.  I also wondered, "would the fire fighter coming be dressed in his full fire fighter garb?"  I mean, they're heavy and hot and it will be June and maybe they'll just wear their blue uniforms, which would be fine, even though the full fire fighting suit would be so cool.  So, next, I make the call to the fire department to go over the details of the event and the super-nice, fire fighter I spoke with said, "so they'll probably be a fire truck and an ambulance and about 4 or 5 fire fighters."  Whoa!  I told him to bring extra oxygen for my 3 year old son.  I was too embarrassed to ask if the fire truck was the big fire engine and any of the fighters would be in their big, heavy, fire fighting gear.  I was pretty sure I had already sounded like enough of a dork when discussing the date and time of the party and when to arrive.  I figure I'll be surprised by the whole thing.  It'll make it that much more exciting :)  Oh, the fire fighter added that I shouldn't panic if they didn't arrive on time because if there was a call, they'd have to take it (well, I sure hope so!) but that they'd be here.  Sweet! : )
"Fire Engine Birthday Party" planning is under way!  Stay tuned...

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Barbie Birthday Bash

For her 6th birthday, my daughter asked for a Barbie party.  At first, I was overwhelmed with how much you can do with this 52 year old, American icon as a theme, so I decided to start where I typically do: with the invitation.  I really liked the, "Barbie All Doll'd Up" custom invitation I saw on a party store's website as well as the coordinating Party Supplies, so I used most of it with the exception of the table cloth and I used different necklaces and balloons.

Invitation: My daughter wanted her friends to bring one of their Barbie's to the party and we could take photos of each guest with her doll and perhaps put one a photo of the guest in one heart of the picture frame and a photo of her Barbie in the other (see Party Activities) or simply for some unstructured Barbie play.  Not wanting to assume that all of the guests had a Barbie doll, I contacted all the girls' mothers to ask if each girl had a Barbie to bring and mentioned that if they did not, we would provide one for them to use.  When I found out that each girl did, in fact, have a Barbie, I included a printed strip of paper on hot pink scrapbook card stock reading: 

Please bring your favorite Barbie, 
to Ella's 6th Birthday party!

The Cake: I looked up how to make a Barbie cake on the Internet but that task seemed too daunting for a novice baker like me, so I asked my friend who recently started a baking business, if she'd be up for the task and lucky for me, she was!  I bought a Barbie doll that at I thought most resembled the invitation to give to my friend for the cake and we decided on the colors based on theme, figuring turquoise would pop against all the pink decor.  Then my friend suggested some cake pops as an additional treat.  The cake was strawberry with blue frosting layers and the cake pops were chocolate because every party needs a little chocolate : )
Note: When my daughter realized that she could keep the Barbie that was in the cake she squealed with delight.  Bonus!

Party Activities:
  • Stick the sunglasses on the Barbie from the party store.  The winner got a hot pink boa!
  • Decorate your own picture frame (wooden hearts that I thought looked like sunglasses to fit the theme) with a variety of paints, glitter glues and glitter-foam stickers that fit the color scheme and theme.
  • Color pages from Barbie fashion coloring book with markers.  (My daughter decided she wanted everyone to be able to cut out the pictures and glue them onto decorative felt, so we added that option to the project and the kids LOVED it.)
  • Open Barbie play
  • Dancing to a mix of the girls' favorite songs, OF COURSE!
Keepsake: Taking photos of the girls and their Barbies to fit the picture frames wasn't logistically possible, so instead, I took a group photo of the girls to send along with their thank you notes.

Customized invitation (you can even choose your own font & colors)

A tiara, necklace and sunglasses for each place setting so the girls could glam-up.
Fresh cut flowers set the tone for a sophisticated luncheon and roses smell divine.
(Light pink roses for the dining table and hot pink for the buffet table)

Barbie cake and sparkling cake pops
(The ceramic pots are from a craft store)

My friend (and party helper) wanted in on the crafting action :)

Stick the sunglasses on the Barbie

Loot Purses (filled with Barbie notepads, pencils, erasers, lip gloss & tattoos) 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Tubtrug Love!

One of my favorite organizing solutions is Tubtrugs!  While created as a gardening and lawn care tool, I've used them for everything but!  I have them in the play room, my son's room, the kids' bathroom, the hallway and the closet!  They're versatile, colorful and best of all, environmentally friendly.  They may be on the pricier side for a storage bin, but I believe it's better to spend a little more for something that will is virtually indestructible and can serve a multitude of uses, including an ice bucket, a splash pool and even a sandbox!  Do you love Tubtrugs as much as I do?  Tell me about it!

 Here are some ways I've used my Tubtrugs:

Winter: hats, mittens, scarves
Spring/Summer: sporting gear

Hall Closet:
Winter: spare hats, gloves, scarves
Spring/Summer: helmets, pads & other gear

Child's Bedroom:
Toys, stuffed animals, books

Bath/Water Toys

Play Room:
Play food, blocks, dress-up clothes, anything!