s’more brownie & marshmallow whip

I’ve had a sweet tooth all week. I’m not sure what’s up with me, but of course my kiddos love it. So yesterday we were debating over whether or not to have s’mores or brownies for dessert… so we compromised and the outcome was incredible!

AND I was able to make it dairy-free so that my little guy could enjoy them too!

Here’s what you’ll need:  Duncan Hines Chewy Brownie Mix, Chocolate Graham Crackers, Butter (I used Smart Balance Lite, vegan, for my little guy) and Kraft Jet-Puffed Marshmallow Creme.

And here are the simple steps:

  1. Make your crust ~ crush one bag (1/3 box) of graham crackers and mix with 1/4 cup softened butter 
  2. Prepare the mix ~ with eggs, oil and water as directed
  3. Layer ~ place thick layer of your graham cracker crust in a 8×8″ pan and top with brownie mix
  4. Bake ~ according to box instructions
  5. Serve ~ with a dollup of marshmallow creme

And with summer, BBQs and tons of outdoor fun just around the corner, why not make them brownie bites! They’re easy to serve, easy for guests to manage while mingling and the perfect portion size.

As always, I hope you’re inspired to craft, bake and create!

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simple patriotic favor idea + free printables

These mini gumball machines are perfect favors for the July 4th holiday! It’s not always necessary to give favors, especially at low-key family gatherings like most of us will host this weekend, but if you can squeeze it into the budget, it sure can be fun

And what’s better, they can be placecards when dressed up with our FREE printables. We designed placecards/favor tags, straw slips and napkin rings for our contributing article with Mom magazine. Download your templates now. And as always, I hope you’re inspired!

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DIY! 4th of July party ideas

I ran across Lisa Storms blog this morning and just fell in love with these simply and clever DIY party ideas for the 4th of July! You already know I love crepe so the little ruffle vase is just too cute, but it’s probably the “let freedom ring” that got me. And she did all this with Fiskars paper punches and a little creativity.  Hop over to Lisa’s blog to learn more!

By the way, yesterday’s shoot went extremely well. Just imagine: eight little models + bright colors + water & sun + a dash of sugar = the perfect summer afternoon. I plan to share the new collection invitation and thank you tomorrow with pictures and DIY details from the shoot coming soon.

As always, I hope you’re inspired!

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thinking red, white & blue

Although the rain refuses to go away here in Ohio (like eight straight days now…) I’m dreaming of summer and my idea sketch pad has quickly moved on from Easter and is now looking a bit more patriotic. Here are just a few of the things that are inspiring me this morning.

More to come on what my sketch pad doodles will turn into. In the meantime, I’ve been nominated as a Top 50 Mom Craft Blog on Babble. If you up for it, I’d love your vote! Click here and scroll until you see “The Celebration Shoppe” and then give us your thumbs up. Thanks!

 As always, I hope you’re inspired!

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FREE summer printables!

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Amy from Living Locurto asked me to guest blog for her this week, while she’s off on a Carnival Cruise {green with envy}, and she asked that I give a free printable away to her readers! So I thought since summer is starting to wind down… I know… it’s very hard for me to think that way too… I would give away the printables we created when we styled the backyard BBQ for the July-September issue of Mom magazine. I’ve already given them away here, but just in case you missed them, here’s another chance! (Oh, and if you’ve not seen it yet, here’s the full article.) 

The printables were created with our patriotic holidays in mind, but I chose a variety of patterns, all in primary colors, so they can be perfect all summer long!

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Here’s a closer shot of the straw slips I used, which can also be perfect as toothpick skewers in sandwiches, etc.,

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the napkin rings, and

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the placecards, which can also work great as favor tags.

Download the set now! And if you’re new here, please come join me on facebook, twitter, or sign up for offers (in the upper right corner) so you don’t miss out on future freebies!

Happy Monday everyone!

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real parties: end of summer fun

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When I was browsing the web to find just the right images to pull together yesterday’s back to school party post, I stumbled across Brooke at Cheeky Kitchen and Jaimee at Sophistimom, two talented women who are also moms and friends. I was instantly inspired by their posts about an end of summer picnic they had with their children last year. The photography is beautiful, the recipes are yummy and their writing style is engaging. If you’ve not met them yet, you must meet them now!

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I’m absolutely in love with Brooke’s unique lunch pail (the kind of buckets you get when you go to your local orchard) idea. They’re simple and yet make such a statement in her beautiful photography. In Jaimee’s words “Within each basket was nestled a sandwich to satisfy the most ravenous sweet tooth, a vintage book, confetti corn, and a root beer.

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Don’t you just wish you had been invited along on this adventure?!

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And the food looks amazing! (There are many more photos that you must hop over and see on both blogs.)

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As you likely are, I’m inspired to plan a end of summer/back to school picnic for my boys. I hope we have as much fun as it appears these two families had! Happy Wednesday everyone!

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patriotic inspiration

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As we’re all gearing up for a fabulous long weekend, I thought I would share a few last minute ideas for desserts:

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And a few DIY decorating ideas:

Have a safe and fun holiday everyone!

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press: styled bbq for Mom mag

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The backyard BBQ article I styled at the request of the fabulous Natalie Klein of Hot Moms Club for Mom magazine is finally here!

DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE PRINTABLES NOW!

The assignment had two parts. First, create a look that could be perfect for the upcoming July 4th holiday, as well as all summer long. My immediate thoughts went to mixing traditional patriotic patterns and colors with traditional summer colors, hence the pops of yellow and green! The second part of the assignment was to involve the kiddos.

My tips are in the blue boxes to the right on each page and here on the first page of the two-page spread. You can see my lemonade service and apron craft (the burgers belong to Chef Sam) in the images.

  • Lemonade service - mason jars are a charming way to bring the party outdoors and colorful straw slips are the perfect way to help your guests tell their beverages apart (get these FREE printables).
  • Flowers - I went with these beautiful sunflowers, the traditional yellow and a vibrant red (dyed by the florist), nestled in a bright blue tin vase to give the table a little pop.

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Here’s a closer look at the apron craft. I stopped in the craft store and picked up white, child-size aprons, fabric paint, stencils (you can find just about any shape and lettering) and sponge brushes. I set the boys up outside and placed wax paper (to contain any paint that may bleed though) between the apron and the table. They held the stencil in place with their hand, then using a round sponge brush dabbed the stencil on. It was really quite easy with quick clean up.

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And here on the second page you can see my ice cream service idea, my choice of primary dot plates and napkins from Inviting Company and the invitation craft.

  • Ice cream pails – For the ice cream I picked up some red and white mini pails and some clear plastic cups. I’m a big fan of pre-scooping your ice cream before your guests arrive and refreezing the scoops on wax paper. It just takes too much to scoop while they’re there; I’d rather be mingling myself! For serving, I arranged the pails on a tray, filled each about 1/3 way with ice, inserted the plastic cup and then popped in my cones. And if you have a variety of flavors you can take orders and use a cute little tag (get these fun tag/placecard printables FREE) so you don’t get your orders mixed up.
  • Invitation craft – since I own a custom invitation company my first reaction was to design something fabulous, but since the assignment was to make something the kids could help with, I went “old school” and used scrapbooking supplies (cardstock, vellum and ribbon) and a fun star tablecloth weight as a little favor.

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Make sure you pop over to my post from Monday to see closer shots of the printables I used to style this article!

Thanks again to Natalie and the wonderful ladies at Hot Moms Club for giving me this opportunity. And thanks to Jennifer Sbranti of Hostess With The Mostess for mentioning me to Natalie. I’m honored to be in these fabulous ladies company! And finally, thanks to my little boys for sitting still long enough for us to get these fabulous pictures of them. Of course the ice cream helped! {wink}

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As always, I hope you’re inspired to craft, bake, create and celebrate!

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red, white & blue inspiration

patriotic-pop-ups

Today’s post is a bit of a prelude to the excitement around here. But before I tell you all about it, I want to share some true patriotic inspiration with you from the fabulous crafters and planners at Martha Stewart, a group of people that inspire me often and this latest issue didn’t disappoint. I was candidly taken aback at what they did with pop-ups. You know, those paper party pieces that are often thought of as inexpensive looking… well not when the Martha team puts them together, with a little added style that is. The ones above are the only ones I could locate on the site, but make sure you pick up this month’s issue for some truly super fun ideas that will have your July 4th table looking beautiful in no time.

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And then there are so many fabulous ideas from previous years. I fell in love with the star table runner idea and actually used a version of it on my own table last year. I also thought the sand & firework centerpieces were quite clever, as well as these festive utensil sleeves. Remember, everything doesn’t have to be matchy matchy. As a matter of fact, I’m a huge fan of mixing and matching patterns and fabrics when entertaining.

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 A few other craft musts to bring your table together are these patriotic pinwheels. You can find all of these ideas, and a ton of others, in one location on the Martha Stewart website. Make sure you scroll through the entire bunch!

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As for my big announcement, it’s actually tied to the upcoming patriotic celebration. I was asked back in April by the talented Natalie Klein of Hot Moms Club to style a backyard bbq bash for the summer issue of Mom magazine. The idea was to create something that could be perfect for the upcoming July 4th holiday, as well as all summer. The ice cream you see above was one of my favorite images to style. I picked up these sweet little pails from the craft store and some clear plastic cups. I filled the bucket 1/3 way with ice and inserted the plastic cup (because let’s face it, who knows about paint these days), then added my star sprinkled cones and served them on a red and white speckled tin tray. And since I love my readers so very much, I’ll be giving away the placecards you see attached to the serving bucket, as well as straw slips and napkin rings in tomorrow’s post when I share the entire article.

As always, I hope you’re inspired for your next celebration!

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beverage services to wow

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Born and raised in the South, transplanted to Ohio in my mid 20s, I need a few things to keep me grounded in my Southern roots. And laugh if you wish, but one of those things is my Southern Living magazine. {wink} The articles, the recipes, the images of the region… ahhhh!

So this weekend when I curled up with a cup of coffee and the latest issue, I saw this perfect shower idea for a beverage bar (right image). The half carafes are simple, inexpensive and a very cute way to offer multiple choices.

After going to the web, I found a few more things, like this chalk board beverage tag idea. The only thing I would do differently is use a whimsy template for a more ornate look. 

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And what about these very clever berry ice cubes (inside the drink) and decorative bottle coolers (around the drink). Love it! And for those of you that know anything about the South, creative ways to keep your beverages cold in the summer is a necessity!

Happy Monday!

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