Engagement Gift Basket

Your friend just got engaged, what do you get the couple? What is a good engagement gift? There aren’t many do’s and dont’s for presents to the newly engaged. This is something I’ve come up with that’s a nice gesture, but nothing too overdone!

Working on these engagement baskets a few times, I have varied the ‘sweet treat’ inside. Most recently, I opted for bride groom cake pops.  Cake pops seem to be nipping at the heels of the popular 2013 cronut. In the past, I have also made bride groom chocolate covered strawberries and pretzels. What makes the treat ‘bride groom’? Half are dipped in white chocolate and pearlized sprinkles (bride) while the other half are dipped in milk or dark chocolate with some tuxedo like adornments.  These groom cake pops were jazzed up with mustache sugars from Target.

Engagement Cake Pops

Engagement Gift Basket

  • White basket and tissue paper
  • Engagement card
  • Bridal magazines
  • The Five Love Languages by Gary D. Chapman
  • Champagne, sparkling wine, wedding themed vodka
  • Bride groom themed sweets

Engagement Gift Basket

Pop Fizz Clink!Engagement Gift Basket

Sharkbowl Holiday Gifting

As a Michigan State grad, one of our favorite spots on Grand River was The Landshark. The best drink to order, with a crowd, was a Sharkbowl. The cocktail (with an extreme punch) is literally served in a bowl with a fistful of straws and, if it was a lucky night, lots of shark gummy candies. Usually a crowd would order a couple of Sharkbowls with “teams” challenging each other to race to a finish.

While many of my college friends have moved away, I decided to recreate the infamous Sharkbowl as a surprise Christmas gift in the mail. I can see this being a fun crowd pleasing punch for upcoming gatherings (BCS Bowl Championship, Winter Olympics opening ceremony, the Super Bowl, etc). Note: The shark gummies are a must in this concoction!

Sharkbowl
12 oz cranberry juice
12 oz lemonade
12 oz lemon lime soda
12 oz soda water
2 shots tequila
2 shots rum
2 shots vodka
Dash of grenadine
Ice
Shark gummy candies

Mix, serve in a bowl over lots of ice, add a handful of straws, gather the crowd and ready-set-go!

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Happy Halloween!

Happy All Hallows Eve! Did you carve pumpkins? Are you dressing up or passing out candy? I decided to carve pumpkins for the sole purpose of roasting the seeds. Yum!

Jack-o'-lantern

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds
Olive oil
Salt
Pepper
Garlic powder
Red pepper flakes
Chopped onion

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Rinse the pumpkin seeds separating as much of the pulp as possible. Spread out on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Place in the oven at 300* for about 10 minutes to dry out the seeds.

Remove from the oven, drizzle olive oil over the seeds and combine with seasonings to evenly coat. Increase temperature to 350*. Continue to roast in the oven for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the seeds have turned golden brown.

Trick-or-Treat! Happy Halloween

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Spooktacular Halloween Owl

Halloween season is upon us! What are you dressing up as this year? I usually tend to create my costumes rather than buy. I guess that’s just how I am with A/MY/ Crafting abilities. Inspiration for this year came from Martha Stewart’s Halloween edition magazine. I personally think I blew her rendition out of the water. Create your own spooktacular owl mask with the below.

Halloween Owl Mask

Large plastic frame glasses (remove the lenses if you prefer)
Feathers
Stiffened felt
Hot glue gun
Scissors
Bling

I started by popping the lenses out of the frames I’d purchased at Claire’s. (The owl costume isn’t quite complete without feathered eyelashes–they don’t mix with the lenses.)  Try to proportion the beak to the frames.  Create the cut so that its semi-rounded on the top and triangular at the bottom.  The stiffened felt works nicely because you’re able to get a good crease by just folding the beak in half.  Once folded, place hot glue around the inner nose of the frames.  Place and center the beak until it’s firmly affixed in place.

Halloween Owl Mask

From there, begin places feathers along the top corner of the glasses with hot glue.  The more feathers, the more fierce the mask.  Like the beak, hot glue the feathers on the inside of frames. Finish things off with rhinestones (i.e. bling from the product list) for extra flare. Halloween Owl Mask

Halloween Owl Mask

Idea soured from: “Owl Glasses.” Martha Stewart. http://www.marthastewart.com/853514/owl-glasses. Web. 23 Oct. 2013.

Happy Halloween! From one spooktacular owl to another! Cheers!

Owl Halloween Costume

Bib Bouquet

I recently became an Auntie!  Well, not officially by blood, but this was one of the first of my friends to have a baby.  I was on pins and needles waiting for the arrival.  What did I do while I waited for that impending due date? Made a bib bouquet! I knew that I would want to bring a gift to the hospital visit.  I didn’t want to go with flowers (they’d probably get enough of those).  The most useful, practical, and crafty idea I could come up with was this bouquet.  Instead of flowers, or cupcakes, or candy, they’d get things that the baby could use! I really couldn’t find much information on the internet to get me started, so this is what I came up with.

Bib Bouquet: New Baby Gift

Cotton bibs

Burp cloths

Cotton onesies

Basket, tub, or container

Styrofoam half ball

Pins

8 in. lollipop sticks

Tissue paper

Bib Bouquet

Start by placing the half round Styrofoam ball into the center of the basket.  Set aside.  Take a bib and fold in half the long ways (hot dog style as it was referred to in grade school).  Place a lollipop stick on the inside of the bib, near the top where the Velcro closure is.  Place a pin in and around the stick to hold in place.  Roll the bib completely around the stick.  Use a second pin to hold the bib’s rose rolled shape.  Insert the ‘rose’ into the Styrofoam.  Continue until all bibs have been rolled.

Follow the same steps for burp cloths.  These will be larger pieces to work with.  Fold in half lengthwise as above, roll, and pin.  This rose will be a larger size.  Same with any onesies that are used.  Fold in the arms and legs, fold again in half ‘hot dog style’ and roll around the lollipop stick as tightly as possible.

Some online tutorials suggested using floral tape.  I started with that and it failed miserably.  I wouldn’t recommend wasting the investment.  The pins worked just fine. (You’ll note the floral tape disaster in this picture)Bib Bouquet

Strategically place the completed roses throughout the basket.  Finish with tissue paper and ribbon.   Finally, a baby gift that’s useful and gets many second-looks & compliments as its carried throughout the hospital!

Bib Bouquet

Newborn baby gift

Refinishing Furniture in /A/MY Style

If there is one thing to learn about refinishing furniture is that it requires an insane amount of patience.  It’s definitely not the easiest thing in the world, demanding a lot of time, space and ventilation!

Here are some before pictures of classic, antique pieces I’d received from my Grandmother.

Desk "Before"China Cabinet "Before"

Step 1:

Sanding

Remove all drawers and hardware.  I found that a sanding block works the best.  It covers a lot of area and allows you to go to town.  This isn’t a quick step.  Just when you think you’re done, sand some more!  Make sure you’re getting as close to the bare wood as you can.

Step 2:

Stripping the Finish

This is part of the process where you need to be in a well ventilated area. With a clear weather forecast, I set up shop on the back porch working on this large project outside.  Be very careful.  The product I chose to use to strip the old stain is: Zip Strip.

Cover the area liberally with newspaper.  Use full length rubber gloves.  Have a bucket of water on hand; if any of the product comes into contact with skin, you’ll need to immediately rinse the area.

Apply Zip Strip to all areas of the furniture.  Don’t be shy.  Use an inexpensive paint brush for application that will later be disposed of.   Zip Strip has a texture similar to rubber cement.  Watch for it to begin to bubble over the surface.  At that point you can use a metal scrapper to begin removing the layers of stain.

Zip Strip Stripping the Finish

Depending on the depth of the stain, you may have to repeat the process to strip away more color.  The scrapings that come off of the piece need to be collected and disposed of properly as the product is flammable.  Again, this is not the cleanest phase and requires precautions.

Step 3:

Staining

After the wood has had time to set and dry after stripping the finish, a tack cloth is required to wipe down any excess dust or debris.  The staining process then comes into play with three products: Pre-Stain, Stain and Polyurethane.

I recommend applying the products with a foam roller and/or foam brush.  Also have a clean cloth on hand to smooth the stain.  I actually used something called a “staining pad”.  This product is a foam block covered in terry cloth.  It made for an even application.  Apply a careful eye to watch for air bubbles or drips.  Ensure you have a smooth, clean finish with the stain.

Tack Cloth Minwax, Sherwin Williams Stains

Step 4:

Enjoy the Handiwork

The after pictures are here!  The process is well worth the sweat and tears.  I take pride in reviving old pieces that have been in the family.  I’m now able to use and enjoy them everyday!
China Cabinet

China CabinetDesk

Wedding Limo Decor

Did someone call for wedding themed party bus decorations?

I admit, it’s probably not the first thing you think of on a wedding day, but it somehow ends up feeling essential!  It seems like the traditional bride & groom car send-off is fading.  There isn’t as much opportunity to decorate a car for the newlywed couple.  I decided to bring some of those touches inside the wedding party limo.  What’s needed?  A “Just Married” sign and a classed up “tin can alternative”.

What’s needed to craft the above? Patience, creative mood, and the following:

 

“Just Married” Sign

1 Black foam board

1 Spool of tulle

Tacky glue

1-2″ Poly foam brush

Bling (sequins, beads, and sparkle)

X acto knife and scissors

Refine the shape of the basic foam block.  Use an x acto knife to carve away sections of the blocky square shape.  Map out the spacing and shapes of the lettering.  Stencils may be used if you’re not comfortable with free hand.

Treat the tacky glue as if its paint.  Create a palette for yourself, dishing out a fair to large amount of glue into a disposable bowl.  Dab the foam brush into glue and begin to “paint” the lettering.  As a best practice, start with 1-2 letters at a time.  You don’t want the glue to dry before the application of glitz.  Mindfully place a combination of beads and sequins over the wet glue.  Continue through to complete the message.

Let dry overnight.  With an x acto knife or large sturdy hole punch, create holes in the top corners to loop through ribbons of tulle for hanging.

“Tin Can Alternatives”

Styrofoam craft spheres

Cupcake liners

Pearl tipped sewing pins

Hot glue gun & glue

Craft string

Purchase several packs of decorative cupcake liners varying in shape and size.  This project uses a surprisingly large quantity of liners to cover the entire surface.  Feed a pin through the center of a cupcake liner.  At the bottom base, place a dime sized amount of hot glue and push into the styrofoam.  Be prepared to have hot fingers and glue string overload!  Alternate and space the patterns and sizes to cover the ball.  Tie and loop a bit of craft string to the top of a craft pin, add a dab of hot glue and center into the top of the ball.  This serves as the anchor for hanging.

Happy decorating!