Dipping Into Some Fun

On Sunday, I had a total win at our Super Bowl get together. It was a casual family watch party, but when everyone started chiming in on what they were bringing, I was at a complete loss. Wings, meatballs, buffalo chicken dip….all the classics were there, and I was stumped on my contribution.

Let me mention that as much as I love making parties look pretty and can nail everything coming together, I am no Julia Child in the kitchen. In fact, I tend to stick to basics or hire someone else to do the cooking (but man, can I make a spread of food look good :)).

So after hearing all of the savory deliciousness, I decided I needed to take the sweeter route and bring some sort of dessert. But I wanted it to be a snacky dessert if you will–something that could set out with everything else and still have a laid back feel to it.

Alas, funfetti dip…it was perfect! I had made a variation of this in the past, but it was more of a funfetti cheese ball. This was a yogurt-based dip, which made it slightly (ever so slightly) healthier than the cream cheese version I had made before. By bringing this, I balanced the savory treats, and it was easy to eat, especially with the little ones we had there. And the best part is it’s super easy to make!

Ingredients:

-1 box funfetti cake mix
-1.5 cups vanilla yogurt
-2 cups Cool Whip
-1 tsp. vanilla extract
-sprinkles
-animal crackers
-Nilla Wafers

Directions:

Mix together the funfetti cake mix, vanilla yogurt and Cool Whip. Add in the vanilla extract and stir until it has a nice whipped consistency. Garnish with colorful sprinkles and serve chilled with animal crackers and Nilla Wafers.

The cream cheese version of funfetti dip I had made for Easter was also a huge hit, so I’ve included the recipe below for you all to decide which one you like better!

Ingredients:

-1.5 cups of funfetti cake mix
-1/2 cup powdered sugar
-3 Tbsp. sugar
-1/2 cup butter
-1 8 oz. package of cream cheese, softened
-sprinkles
-Nilla Wafers

Directions:

In a large bowl, beat together softened cream and butter. Add in the funfetti cake mix, sugar and powdered sugar and beat until well combined. Place mixture in plastic wrap, bring in the corners and form the mixture into a ball surrounded by the plastic wrap. Freeze for 1.5 hours or until the ball keeps its shape. Once firm, roll the ball in sprinkles until it’s completely covered. Serve with Nilla wafers.

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Repurpose & Reuse

If you know me well, you know I love a good bargain! Marshall’s is my jam, and so is the Dollar Stop at Target. I also love “redecorating” my house by taking all my knick knacks and decor off the shelves in my house, bringing them to a central location and then redistributing everything among the house to make it feel like I purchased new decorations.

So, it should come at no surprise that I love dual purposing party decor. Everyone always complains that parties become so expensive. Instead of purchasing disposable decor or things you will never again use, why not purchase things you can reuse not just at future parties but in your everyday.

My first example has to be one of my favorites (maybe because it is yet again baby related and I am in total baby mode), but it came from a shower I attended for my friend Mariette. The hostesses created a clothesline of onesies that adorably matched the shower’s color scheme, but they also were coordinated and numbered up to 12. The mama-to-be could use them in her baby’s month photos. Instead of the generic stickers, she is now equipped with 12 onesies to dress Conrad in (happy one month, little man)!

Eclectic dishware has been a trend at weddings and parties that have a romantic, antique feel. And styling a table full of mismatched dishes is not only easy to do, but it requires very little purchasing. If this is the vibe you’re going for, raid the cabinets of your mom, grandma and even an antique shop or two, and you can collect all sorts of ornate China, colorful glassware and pieces with character for a very small price.

Photo courtesy of Codi Shandel Photography.

And when you do have to purchase party-specific items, try and purchase things that can be reused from celebration to celebration. I am someone who LOVES color, but most of my serving dishes are plain white with maybe a small monochromatic detail. This way, you can work them into any color scheme or decor theme. Below are a few links to items that I find myself consistently using every time I host friends and family:

Bash Beverage Tub from Crate & Barrel ($89.95)
I have this one, which is the larger version and works well if you host a lot of parties or bigger gatherings. If you tend to have more intimate events, they also have a small version  ($69.95). I chose the silver one, but now that I have collected more servingware, I almost wish I would have purchased the gold one. There’s lots of fun, neutral colors available, including graphite, silver, gold and copper.

Place Card Holder Set from Pier 1 ($28.95)

Technically, these are called place cards, but I prefer to use them as buffet labels. They’re dry erase, which makes them easy to reuse and a nice, neutral color to match my servingware.

Double Sided Chalkboard from Target ($59.99)
The one I own is actually from Hobby Lobby, but here’s another great option from Target. These work great for welcome signs on your front porch, menu boards, photo opps, etc.

The Gift of Gifting

I’ve been told quite a few times that I have a gift. A gift for…gifting if that’s even the way to say it? For lack of better words, I’m a good gift giver. I pride myself on recipients truly enjoying what they receive, and I’m always one to be able to recall someone’s birthday (currently working on getting better at anniversaries)!

I attribute this quality 100 percent to my mother. She always seems to know exactly what to get people for a special occasion, and she spends hours at Hallmark finding the perfect card that accurately describes the person she’s sending it to. I’ve definitely learned from the best 😉

So if you struggle with what to buy people for holidays or find yourself being that forgetful friend, I have a few tricks for you. First and most importantly, I always use the mindset that gifts do not have to be tangible items. For example, a simple handwritten note when someone conquers a challenge or has a rough week means far more than anything money can buy.

But if a tangible gift is much more suitable, here are a few ideas for you:

For the person who has everything….
Ahh these people are the worst! If they want something, they buy it themselves. They leave no options for us to surprise or wow them with the latest and greatest because they already have it. In these instances, I say experiences are best. Think concert tickets, a night out planned totally by you, a sporting event, sign them of for a class, etc. You’re gifting them a memory versus an item.

For the humble at heart….
Make a donation in their honor. If they are a pet lover, make a donation to your local humane society or start a scholarship in their name with a group of individuals. This is also a great route to go with older recipients because, let’s be honest, a lot of older people don’t want to collect anymore stuff.

For almost anyone…
Don’t get them the item they mentioned to you they would like while they were at the mall the other day. Chances, are they will buy it themselves once they have the money for it. Get them something they wouldn’t personally buy. Make them a massage appointment and cover the fee, including tip! Restore a piece of furniture in their home that they’ve been “meaning to do for years.” Or have all of your parents’ home videos transferred from tapes to digital files.

For the practical person….
Think useful luxuries. Pay for a year of Amazon Prime or Netflix subscription for them. Find out what their favorite magazine is and purchase an annual subscription.

For someone sentimental…
Take all their high school or college T-shirts they have saved in a box and have (or make if you’re that talented!) a T-shirt quilt made out of them. Purchase a cute recipe book or card box and fill it with recipes from friends and family. Find the wine that was served at their wedding, and purchase a bottle from the year they were married. The more personalized the idea, the more it will mean to him/her.

Hopefully this post has drummed up a few ideas for the next time you have a gift to give. And who knows. Maybe yours will be their favorite yet!

Little Princess Lair

Photo compliments of Catherine Rhodes Photography.

I had so much fun creating Parker’s nursery! A friend came by the other day and made the joke that I took my party decorating skills and used them in my home. It’s so true! If you have an eye for creating pretty and cohesive designs, it easily transitions from creative space to creative space.

The first thing you notice in her room are these 3D flowers. They were the foundation to her nursery design. Often times, these types of creations are used as a photo booth backdrop or behind a head table. But I also noticed on Pinterest that people were using them in their house as well. Through Pinterest, I found ForeverPetalsbyVee and could not have been more pleased with the product or customer service of this seller. I sent her a digital swatch of the color scheme I was going for and within two weeks, the flowers were sitting on my doorstep shipped from San Antonio.

From there, I just had fun with all the girly elements and chose a few different prints to mix and match for depth. I incorporated stripes, some dots and a touch of scallop. Of course I had to make sure there was some personalization too. We hung a wooden monogram on the wall, had an accent blanket monogrammed to hang on her crib and ordered a personalized crib sheet. The sheet was is from Carousel Designs. They have all sorts of cute bedding that is totally worth checking out. And with all her monograms, I feel like I am single handedly keeping The Southern Rose in business.

I know I am committing a crime because all the personalized items won’t be able to be reused with our next child, but we did try to be strategic in the selection of the wall color and furniture. We decided to go with grey walls and white furniture because it could easily transition from female to male if we happened to have boy next.

I might have gone a tad over the top, but when you spend time in the middle of the night in the rocker and change countless diapers at the changing table, the extra fluff seems completely necessary.

Oh, and I know I mentioned this in a previous blog post, but the lamp was one of my greatest purchases for her room. Originally, I bought it because it was cute and matched the color scheme, but what I didn’t realize is that it’s a touch lamp. Since the outlet it’s plugged into isn’t connected to light switch, the touch lamp has been a blessing when you have full hands.

 

Product Info:

-Curtains: Twill Light Blocking Curtain in Pink, Target

-Crib: Little Seeds Rowan Valley Linden Standard Crib in White, Wayfair

-Dresser: Little Seeds Rowan Valley Laren 6 Drawer Double Dresser in White, Wayfair

-Rocker: Delta Children Middleton Nursery Glider Swivel Rocker Chair in Cream, Target

-Wall Art: 3D Flowers, ForeverPetalsbyVee

-Wall Art: Wooden Monogram Painted White, The Southern Rose

-Lamp (Not Pictured): Turned Table Lamp Touch Control in Mint, Target

-Bedding: Crib Blanket, The Southern Rose

-Bedding: Customized Crib Sheet in Blush, Carousel Designs

-Paint: Tin Lizzie, Sherwin Williams

Making the Best of Small Spaces

Sometimes renting out a venue for an event really just isn’t in the budget, and that’s OK! Hosting an at-home soiree can be just as exciting and just as beautiful. Usually, the biggest issue when it comes to hosting an event at home is space because let’s be honest, most people’s homes are not made for 30+ people.

So for today’s blog post, I’ve pulled together a few tips and tricks for making your home a little bit more conducive for hosting a crowd.

1. Create a two-tier food display.
In lots of modern-day kitchens, there is a center island or peninsula that serves as a small breakfast bar. With other counters being used for clean up, food prep or beverage service, it’s nice to be able to have more space to serve from. My suggestion? Move your bar stools and replace that area with a 6-foot or 8-foot table depending on the length of your counter. By doing so, you’ve now created a two-tier serving area that has more surface area without taking up too much more space.

2. Maneuver your furniture.
I know it sounds crazy! My husband always looks at my like I am slightly off my rocker when I ask him to help me shuffle the couch to a different room or move our kitchen table, so it’s off centered in the room, but moving your furniture can improve the flow of the entire event. Plus, sometimes it makes way more sense to spend a few dollars renting or borrowing chairs that take up less space, so all your guests can be in one area at a time versus trying to cram in extra chairs around your pre-existing furniture.

3. When in doubt, move guests out.
I know I talk so frequently about not relying on the outdoors events, but if the weather is nice and you have the yard space, use it to your advantage!

3. Invest in a few folding tables and chairs.
They don’t even have to be pretty folding chairs and tables (although, that always does help the look of an event). Just having a few tables on hand that provide space for food service, gift tables and additional eating areas plus a few extra chairs can tremendously help ease your stress in having guests over. I promise that you will use them for birthdays, holidays, bridal showers, BBQs, etc. They make a great wedding registry gift!

4. Create decorations that are multi-purpose.
Use snack food as a way to fill and decorate your tables. Fill cute color-coordinated pails with munchies, so they add accents to the table while serving as food dispensers, or hang a monogram letter that doubles as a guestbook. It not only helps for small spaces but keeps your budget down as well!

Be Bold With White

For anyone who knows me, I am all about color! The bolder and brighter, the better. In fact, it’s not shocking to see me adorned in neon workout gear or a bold nail polish color on my toes, and I might have slept in a room growing up that was painted “Taxi Cab Yellow.”

But over the years, I have slowly embraced a more neutral side and become totally OK with the color white, and I strongly encourage you to utilize white or another neutral when planning an event. I know all my designer friends out there are cheering right now because they’re all huge fans of “white space.”

Take this for example. Never in a million years did I ever think I would own white dishware. You want to know a secret? I now have not one but two cabinets FULL of white dishes. When Ryan and I started registering I put up a huge fight to not have white dishes, but in the end we compromised on a textured white pattern that was designed by the one and only Kate Spade. See? I still won there. The best part? She has all sorts of different accent plate designs that can be mixed and matched within the white dishes.

And when it comes to throwing a dinner party or putting appetizers on display at a get together, I am so glad I have all those white dishes. They are the foundation to the tablescape that allows other dishes to pop or guests to really appreciate the colors of food that are situated on their plate.

 

Photo by Scott Patrick Myers Photography

For a wedding, a classic ivory base palette can really allow for greenery to pop or touches of gold to couple with it to create a clean and glamorous design. I even surprised myself with choosing to use all white flowers at my own wedding with only greenery to accent the soft palette. I did, however, incorporate a fun, bold stripe that acted as my accent “color,” even though it was black and white.

Photo by D-Squared Designs

Now for those of you who are the complete opposite and own a wardrobe full of black and white clothing, you might want to embrace color a bit more. Maybe try a fun tassel earring in a bold color coupled with your LBD to make a statement at your next party. Or, make a bright bouquet of tulips the centerpiece at your next dinner party among the other neutrals on the table. And keep in mind, prints can be a neutral! Yes, my girl Stacy London confirms that. Think about it: leopard print is full of browns and blacks…yes, neutral colors.

Photo compliments of Redbook Magazine. 

So I am challenging you now! If you have incorporated the entire color of the rainbow into your home decor, try embracing the neutral side of things. And if color completely scares you, take a few baby steps by adding in one pop of it at a time.

Valentine’s Day Fail

Yes, I had the ultimate Valentine’s Day fail this year. This would definitely fall in the “oh my gosh” category of this blog. I tend to be someone who over celebrates everything (shocking, right?). I wanted to do something sweet for my co-workers, but I didn’t have elaborate plans for a homemade gift or sweet. So while I was at the grocery store, I picked up a tray of cupcakes. Hyvee makes great cakes, so I knew they would be delicious, and they were beautifully decorated in reds, whites and pinks.

I was on a roll for the day enjoying my day off and checking things off my list when all of a sudden, the car in front of me slammed on its breaks, and everything went flying. Yes, including the adorable cupcakes I had JUST purchased.

Originally I contemplated just writing a cute poem to explain the situation and bringing them to work as is. But then they kept staring at me, and I couldn’t do it. So, here is how I made lemonade with the lemons that life threw at me!

First, I unwrapped each cupcake and cut the top off. Then, I pulled apart each individual cake and added a dollop of frosting in the middle. I rolled them into balls to start my cake ball conversion.

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I am also posting my work space as I was creating the balls because I feel like every food blog I see, each step is so properly styled, and the cooking surface is spotless. Well, this my friends, is reality. This is what my work space looked like:

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Next, I tossed the cake balls onto a flexible cutting board and cookie sheet and stuck them in the freezer for 30 minutes. I tidied up my space and worked on some other Valentine’s treats in the meantime.

Once I pulled out the cake balls from the freezer, I melted vanilla almond bark and gave each of the cake balls….a bath in chocolate….for lack of a better phrase. Since some of the crumbs from the cake ended up in the chocolate, I also melted a small portion of milk chocolate and drizzled it on top since the cake balls weren’t stark white.

image4 And yes, I also rinsed off each “Happy Valentine’s Day” pick and used them to decorate the cake balls. Note to anyone who tries this: if you are mixing in hot pink and red frosting, you might end up with pink tinted hands.

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!

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