A girly marine life

A Girly Marine Life Baby Shower

This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase through them I will receive compensation at no additional cost to you.

This past weekend I threw my sister a girly marine life baby shower. I wanted it to be classy and pink. She bought Baby Girl marine life bedding, so I also wanted it to go with that. Too many themes? Never! I also had to plan something for a very small crowd. She had a separate baby shower at work and most of our family lives far away, so the guest list was minimal. When you’re having a small shower, you don’t want to go overboard, but then again, babies are fun and you kind of always want to go overboard for them. I have to confess something about this though… This was not my normal frenzied party. I had  a LOT of help.

You see, my grandma and my aunt drove over to Tennessee to attend, and my aunt brought my twelve-year old cousin with her. He entertained my son. My grandma and aunt took turns helping me and watching my daughter. And my mom came by to help with everything else. So, really, this girly marine life baby shower was created in the exact opposite manner of anything else I do. That doesn’t mean it looks perfect – even if I have help, I still don’t care that much about decorations. You’ll see what I mean. I do think this is doable for busy people though, if you start early enough. I actually began decorating a week in advance, little by little, and that definitely helped.

Ideas for a Girly Marine Life Baby Shower

1. Decorations

This is the girly marine life baby shower I threw for my sister. Lots of undersea fun! #babyshower #marinelifebabyshower #underseababyshower #marinelifeparty #underseapartyideas #girlbabyshower

My main goal here was jellyfish. You’ve seen those hanging jellyfish decorations before, right? Well, if not you’re welcome to steal ours, but we got our inspiration from Nathalie at Press Print Party. Mostly it involves hot gluing things to paper lanterns, but you’ll have to ask my mom or Nathalie for specific instructions because I surely didn’t touch those. I can tell you we used this package of lanterns if you like a variety of sizes. They had different colors too. So once I got those made, I wanted a blue background. I picked up a tablecloth roll at Party City to make the background. As you can see, I was too lazy to get a ladder and too short to reach the ceiling, but whatever.

This is the girly marine life baby shower I threw for my sister. Lots of undersea fun! #babyshower #marinelifebabyshower #underseababyshower #marinelifeparty #underseapartyideas #girlbabyshower

My other decor includes some seaweed made out of grapes, an idea I stole from Indulgy. Then I tacked some clear balloons to look like water bubbles on my blue background. The cool opalescent pink tablecloth and table skirt also come from Party City. That’s about it. Not much too it, really, even though it looks like a ton of decorations to me.

2. Food

This is the girly marine life baby shower I threw for my sister. Lots of undersea fun! #babyshower #marinelifebabyshower #underseababyshower #marinelifeparty #underseapartyideas #girlbabyshower

In my mind, I was serving an elegant spread of seafood. I’ll let you be the judge of how it turned out. First I went with actual seafood. Shrimp is easy and relatively inexpensive (for seafood) so I tried this cajun guacamole recipe. I do make my own guac. It’s basically this recipe, but with half a can diced tomatoes instead of roma. I put the extra guacamole out too, because who doesn’t want chips and guac? I also made this crab dip, which I’d never done before but was delicious.

This is the girly marine life baby shower I threw for my sister. Lots of undersea fun! #babyshower #marinelifebabyshower #underseababyshower #marinelifeparty #underseapartyideas #girlbabyshower

For my other food, I wanted to make some non-seafood items that still fit in, so I did cucumber sandwiches and cut a few of them in the shape of starfish with this cookie cutter.  If you use soft bread, it will go through just fine, but I suggest separating it before you lift the cutter. Then I made some chicken club bacon sushi rolls. I got the idea from Delish, but that’s not the recipe I followed. I swear I’ll get around to posting my version one day. The punch was this super easy pink recipe, but I made seashell ice cubes. Then my mom and I made these cute “pearl in oyster” cookies. So, not all exactly seafood, but it all fit together in the end.

3. Cake

This is the girly marine life baby shower I threw for my sister. Lots of undersea fun! #babyshower #marinelifebabyshower #underseababyshower #marinelifeparty #underseapartyideas #girlbabyshower

If you are a regular reader, you may remember I learned about pull-apart cakes from my friend who created this potty training cake. I decided to implement my own version for this girly marine life baby shower. There are other versions of octopus cakes out there, but my problem with them is that they’re all gigantic. I had eight people at this shower, myself included. I didn’t need the twenty-four cupcakes that come in a box, let alone a whole other set. So I made a smaller version. I do have specific directions for that, but I don’t want this post taking eight years to read, so head over here to check that out.

4. Diaper Cake

This is the girly marine life baby shower I threw for my sister. Lots of undersea fun! #babyshower #marinelifebabyshower #underseababyshower #marinelifeparty #underseapartyideas #girlbabyshower

This was my first time making a diaper cake, and I like having visuals. The tutorials I looked at didn’t really have a lot, so again I have a separate post if you want step-by-step instructions. But, I’m glad I made it because the height certainly added something to the visuals of the party backdrop. Plus it was fun to have a little surprise in the middle. 🙂

5. Games & Party Favors

This is the girly marine life baby shower I threw for my sister. Lots of undersea fun! #babyshower #marinelifebabyshower #underseababyshower #marinelifeparty #underseapartyideas #girlbabyshower

I’m actually not a fan of baby shower games, so I didn’t put much effort into these. We played the regular can’t say “baby” game, Baby Price is Right, and guess the number of candies. That’s it. We’re lame. On a side note, I noticed I have a lot of UK readers, so if you’re looking for your own version of baby games to buy Party Ease can help you out. For party favors, I chose to make chocolates. I’d never done that before, but it was pretty easy. I bought this mold for the ice cubes and I figured I might as well use it! We put the chocolates in some pink candles and everything looked lovely.

Well friends, what do you think? Would you consider this a girly marine life baby shower a success?

This is the girly marine life baby shower I threw for my sister. Lots of undersea fun! #babyshower #marinelifebabyshower #underseababyshower #marinelifeparty #underseapartyideas #girlbabyshower

 

thanksgiving hostess

5 Items Every Thanksgiving Hostess Needs

These five items every Thanksgiving hostess needs aren’t for the casual Thanksgiving hostess. If you know you’re only hosting one year and then it’s back to your mom’s, there’s really no point in storing this stuff. But, if you have the “good kitchen,” you probably want to make things easier on yourself. Instead of rushing out to buy the same things every year, just keep them on hand. Trust me. I’ve been hosting either Thanksgiving and/or Christmas dinners since 2008, and I cannot tell you how many times I realized I had nothing to cook a turkey in the day of the holiday. On the plus side of that, I did learn to use a dutch oven in my oven. Anyway, here we go.

Items Every Thanksgiving Hostess Needs

1. Good Dishes

Items every Thanksgiving hostess needs #thanksgiving #entertaining #thanksgivingdinner #dinner #thanksgivingideas #hostingideas
We’ve moved twice since we got these yet we still have the original packing material.

You don’t have to go out and buy the fanciest dishes around. You don’t even need to buy Thanksgiving themed dishes, although I did find these turkey ones at Pottery Barn if you’re interested in going that route. My good dishes were picked to go with some Peruvian pottery my husband and I bought on our honeymoon. Yes, of course a honeymoon in Peru is romantic. But it does mean my dishes are hardly Thanksgiving-y. It’s still better than serving on mismatched plates or terrible-for-the-environment paper plates. Don’t care about the environment, only cost? If you host twenty Thanksgiving dinners, you’ll wind up spending just as much replacing your paper items. Think about that.

2. A Roasting Pan

Items every Thanksgiving hostess needs #thanksgiving #entertaining #thanksgivingdinner #dinner #thanksgivingideas #hostingideas
Yum, turkey is my favorite.

I already mentioned I somehow always forget a pan big enough to roast a turkey. That won’t happen anymore! I’m taking my own advice and using a real roasting pan. You can pick up those aluminum ones at your local grocery store, but again, what’s the point of doing that every single year? I know it’s a little extra storage, but trust me, a roasting pan is one of the items every Thanksgiving hostess needs. Plus you can do lasagnas in them, and those aren’t just for special occasions. Oh wait! Are you a turkey fryer, not a turkey roaster? Then completely ignore this item, and try not to burn your house down. 🙂

3. A Real Tablecloth/Runner/Place Settings

Items every Thanksgiving hostess needs #thanksgiving #entertaining #thanksgivingdinner #dinner #thanksgivingideas #hostingideas
This is not my table. Mine is currently covered in a plastic tablecloth for a baby shower. Irony?

Please don’t put out a plastic tablecloth if you host Thanksgiving every year. I know I use them a lot in my blog – in fact I have a whole post dedicated to them – but that’s because I don’t want five hundred real tablecloths sitting around my house. I do, however, have permanent place settings for Thanksgiving and a real tablecloth for Christmas. You don’t need to have a big table. You don’t have to have fall-themed placemats, although they are amazing.  But you should have your table looking nice.

4. A Pie Server/Cutter

Items every Thanksgiving hostess needs #thanksgiving #entertaining #thanksgivingdinner #dinner #thanksgivingideas #hostingideas
I have a more pie shaped one somewhere, but I can’t find it. Seriously you guys, don’t move once a year.

You don’t need a pie pan, or a recipe for pie, or even to be in charge of dessert yourself. But everyone eats pie on Thanksgiving, and if you ask someone else to bring the dessert, there’s a good chance that’s what they’re bringing. Make things easy on everyone and have a pie cutter ready to go. I have a traditional one and it’s served me fine, but there are some really crazy contraptions out there if you want to have perfectly even pieces.

5. A Tradition All Your Own

Items every Thanksgiving hostess needs #thanksgiving #entertaining #thanksgivingdinner #dinner #thanksgivingideas #hostingideas
My tradition is making someone else clean the “good kitchen.”

Okay, okay. Technically this isn’t an “item,” but I’m putting it on my list of items every Thanksgiving hostess needs anyway. Do you want to say what you’re thankful for? Have your kids make turkey hands? I think if you’re going to be the one doing the bulk of the work every single year, you get to create your own traditions and everyone else has to go along! If you don’t already have one and need some ideas, check out this list of traditions. Now you’re set to host a great Thanksgiving every year!

Items every Thanksgiving hostess needs #thanksgiving #entertaining #thanksgivingdinner #dinner #thanksgivingideas #hostingideas

Items every Thanksgiving hostess needs #thanksgiving #entertaining #thanksgivingdinner #dinner #thanksgivingideas #hostingideas
halloween costumes for babies

Easy Peasy Halloween Costumes for Babies

This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase through them I will receive compensation at no additional cost to you.

Need some easy peasy Halloween costumes for babies? Sure you do, if you’re like me and you think you’re not going to dress them up then do it anyway. My son was six weeks old on his first Halloween. I had no intentions of buying a costume for someone that little. Nor did I want to make one when he could wiggle out of it. Then I thought of all the pictures I’d be missing out on. So, that Halloween morning I went through my house and figured out a plan. I did the same thing last year, only slightly more in advance. I’ve determined there’s no point in paying for costumes you’re never going to use again and they only wear for five minutes, so I decided to share my ideas with you.

Easy Peasy Halloween Costumes for Babies

1. Toga Baby!

I decided my son would be Julius Caesar when I realized I could make a toga out of a napkin and it would fit him. I also happened to have the headpiece lying around from an actual toga party many moons prior.  If you are a crafty person, you’ll probably already have this stuff stashed away as well, but if not you can get these items at most dollar stores or superstores. All you need for this is a napkin or pillowcase, a decorative rope or sash, a stem of a fake plant, and a safety pin or two to hold it together. This will work best for babies who can’t walk yet, but it’s great for pictures and it can be used for boys and girls.

2. The Hulk

I like this because it’s all clothes the baby can wear over and over. My son had green sweatpants and a matching green bug shirt. Since the Hulk doesn’t have bugs crawling all over him (or if he does they’re invisible), I turned the shirt inside out and drew on a six pack. So easy! I did have to cut up a pair of purple leggings (they’re a bigger size than the sweats so they fit), but I can straighten them back out into shorts for my daughter next summer. This is Cat and Jack from Target, but it’s last year’s, so I found another you might try here. It’s important that the pants and shirt match colors since it’s supposed to be skin.

Easy Peasy Halloween Costumes for Babies

3. Snow White

I’m pretty sure you could do any Disney princess with clothes you already have for your baby girl, but mine happens to look like Snow White. If you need inspiration for a different princess, I suggest perusing Polyvore’s Disney ideas. They’re for adults, but you’ll get the idea. For this one you will need a blue onesie, yellow leggings or skirt, a white jacket (mine comes off her holiday dress), and a red hairbow. If your blue onesie says something, turn it inside out. That’s it. You’re done. Granted, my skirt is actually a homemade circle skirt (I use this tutorial; you only need fat quarters and elastic). But, I put her in those anyway so she can be more girly in her brother’s hand-me-downs.

Easy Peasy Halloween Costumes for Babies

easy peasy Halloween costume ideas for babies.

As you can see, these really are easy peasy Halloween costumes for babies. For the most part it’s just a matter of collecting the appropriate color clothing and turning them inside out. Don’t have kids but somehow King Google sent you here anyway? Check out last week’s Halloween dinner party post – maybe that will be more your speed!

Three easy peasy Halloween costume ideas for babies. #Halloween #HalloweenCostumes #babycostumes #babyhalloweencostumes #DIYcostumes #cheapcostumes #cheapHalloweencostumes
Three easy peasy Halloween costume ideas for babies. #Halloween #HalloweenCostumes #babycostumes #babyhalloweencostumes #DIYcostumes #cheapcostumes #cheapHalloweencostumes
host a halloween dinner party

Ideas for a Dark Halloween Dinner Party

This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase through them I will receive compensation at no additional cost to you.

Hosting a dark Halloween dinner party is a fun way for adults to celebrate this holiday without having to dress up as either a slutty or terrifying  anything, and won’t we all be much happier that way? Okay, okay, I’m going to a crazy Halloween party, and I do plan to enjoy it, but I’m not throwing one this year and I’m not going to fake one just for the blog. But I really do think a dark Halloween dinner party will be a lot of fun, mostly because I’m pretty sure the internet exists only to horrify us and give us recipes, sometimes simultaneously. In this case, we’ll be going with both.

I’ve hosted plenty of fancy dinner parties in my day, but they are a lot of work, and Halloween is all about fun. Instead of trying to impress everyone with your kitchen skills, I think it’s a good idea to focus on easy recipes but make them look kind of creepy. It’s not as hard as it sounds. Ever seen a rambutan? Food is plenty scary enough on it’s own. Of course, I don’t know where to find a rambutan, so we’ll be sticking with things you can actually do at home. And for once we won’t be skipping decorations!

Dark Halloween Dinner Party Decor

Last week I told you all I think the only Halloween decoration you need is cobwebs, and that’s still true, but for this I’m going to add three more, yes, that’s right, THREE MORE decorations. Is my sarcasm coming through? I hope so. I really don’t find a total of four Halloween decorations all that impressive, but then again, I don’t need a pumpkin patch on my table either. The only part of the house I’m going to decorate is the table, since that’s where everyone will post up. I realize people have different sized tables, but I have a big one and a small one, so you’ll get to see examples of both.

1. The Cobwebs

Host a dark Halloween dinner party!

Well, you knew they were going to be included, so here we go. For a big table, I like cobwebs coming down from the chandelier. For a little one, I like little jackets on the chairs. If you have a chandelier to decorate at your dark Halloween dinner party, you can stick to the chandelier itself, or do a little extra work and pull it down to the table. If you do this, you will want to stretch the cobwebs really thin so people can still see each other from any part of the table. For the chair jackets, there’s really no need to stretch anything, but you should only do the back side. You don’t want your guests going home covered in cotton.

Host a dark Halloween dinner party!

2. Dead Flowers

Host a dark Halloween dinner party!

No, not fake flowers. Straight up dead ones. I want the atmosphere of my dark Halloween dinner party to be like someone set the table a long time ago, and for whatever reason, they were never able to return. For this, I suggest you buy your flowers a couple of weeks in advance, leave them in the sun, and don’t water them. There are ways to speed up up the process if you need to, but what could be easier than forgetting to take care of something? My flowers actually wound up with more color than I wanted for these pictures, but they’ll be super dead by the time Halloween dinner gets here.

3. Gourds

 

Gourds are so weird! I love them. Pick up a couple and throw them on the table somewhere. Pumpkins are fine as well. That was my original plan, but I found an awesome decorative gourd set at Walmart and decided to use that instead. They had some that were legit moldy and gross, though, so if you’re getting them early you might want to pick up fake ones. Here’s a set that looks like it would fit in. If you want to keep with the theme, I’d stay away from pumpkins with faces, but that’s about it.

4. A Messed Up Tablecloth

I wanted a really holey one, like mice had eaten it or something, so that’s what I picked up. But, it wasn’t long enough for either table, so it became a table runner. The tablecloth I used underneath on the big table was purple, because I like purple better than orange, but you could do any color that floats your boat. In fact, you don’t have to have one at all if you don’t want. I can’t even find one to fit on my smaller table. It’s too big of a square. I did see this tablecloth after I already took all my pictures, so that is what I’m using when I actually throw the party.

How to Make Black Food for your Dark Halloween Dinner Party

Okay guys, this is too easy. All you have to do is color one of your dishes black to keep the vibe going. You can be fancy and use squid ink, or you can use black food coloring. You want to be gentle with food coloring. A little black goes a long way. Obviously you can’t dye just anything, but the choices are surprisingly bountiful. What you need is something kind of mushy. I had some shrimp and grits and mashed potatoes to practice on. You can see how they turned out. The taste wasn’t altered at all, but don’t they look disgusting? I do have a complete menu you get when subscribing to my newsletter, and there is a recipe with squid ink included if you’re curious about that. You can subscribe below. Now go have fun hosting a dark Halloween dinner party!

Hosting a dark Halloween dinner party is super easy and fun! #halloween
Hosting a dark Halloween dinner party is super easy and fun! #Halloween
Hosting a dark Halloween dinner party is super easy and fun! #Halloween

 

the only

The Only Halloween Decoration You Need

This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase through them I will receive compensation at no additional cost to you.

The only Halloween decoration you need is fake cobwebs. There. I said it. You don’t have to read the rest of this, all your decorating problems should be solved. Still here? Great! Let me explain. In general, I’m not big on decorations. I don’t even get carried away for my kids’ birthdaysBut, when it comes to Halloween or Christmas, I love the nonsense. That doesn’t, however, mean I suddenly get tons of extra hours to spend on decorating. My husband will help with Christmas, but he’s not a Halloween fan, so anything I do I do on my own. That’s where cobwebs come in.

To be clear, while I think cobwebs are the only Halloween decoration you need, I’m not against other decorations supplementing it. But if you only have the time or budget for one thing, go with them. For one thing, they’re super cheap. You can get 200 sq ft on Amazon for $5, and I’m sure they’re at the dollar store if you (unlike myself) can find the time to get over there. For another, they’re good for any type of Halloween party. Halloween dinner party? Check. Little kid party/decorations for trick-or-treaters? Check. Spooky party for adults? Yup. College party? Also yes. So, you see what I mean. You can buy a big bag and throw eight different parties without redecorating. But, they can get time consuming if you let them, so I have a few helpful hints for you.

Tips for the Only Halloween Decoration You Need

1. Cut them up first.

This is simple enough. Instead of trying to figure how much you need for each spot, or spending too much time trying to figure out how to rip them apart, just cut your big block of webs into pieces. Then you know right away how much you’re working with for each spot and when you run out you shrug and move on. The only exception here is outdoors – if you’re doing your porch/bushes/whatever, it’s fine to go crazy and use the whole thing. They’ll stretch from place to place. Before you cut, stretch the webs out and see which way they’re running and cut with them, not against them.

Cutting vertical gives plenty of room to cut; cutting horizontal not so much.

2. Use the spiders.

I know the spiders are stupid. But if you find yourself with a big chunk of spiderweb you don’t like, throw a spider on it and stop worrying about perfection. Done. In the following pictures you will see that I draped a cut up chunk of web over my chair. I didn’t stretch it out at all other than to pull it from one side to the other. Then I put a spider on the thickest part, and it looks fine. That’s going to clean up real nice too – I’ll just lift it off and throw it away.

3. Start at the top.

Say you’re doing a dinner party. Do you have chandelier above your table? Start there. If not, try the backs of chairs. Having a party in your living room? If you can reach the fan, go for it. If not, how about a fireplace mantle or the tops of windows? Drag a chair or a step stool over and go crazy. It can be really tempting to do cobwebs everywhere, but people tend to notice things up high before they look down, so why waste time on the coffee table? Starting up also means that when you get to the bottom you don’t have to tape or pin any parts of the spiderwebs.

Draping over the top of the stairs, no tape required to start.
When you’re done you can let the spiderwebs hang at the bottom. Still no tape, no hassle, no one cares.

That’s pretty much it. Seriously, you guys, the only Halloween decoration you need is fake cobwebs. Yes, you’ll have to throw them out when you’re done, but then you don’t even have to worry about storage. How nice! Next week or the week after (I have some costume ideas to share too; we’ll see which one seems more urgent soon). I’ll show you what I did with the spiderwebs for a dark dinner party.  I will be adding a little more to the decor, but the cobwebs are the star of the show.

The only Halloween decoration you need is cobwebs! #Halloween
planes, trains & Automobiles Party

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles Party

I threw my son a planes, trains, and automobiles party this weekend. He turned two, so we based it on modes of transportation, not the Steve Martin/John Candy movie, although that would be an interesting party too, don’t you think? Anyway, I knew for awhile this was going to be my theme because he’s obsessed with cars and trains. Would you like to know when I prepared for this party I knew I was throwing? That afternoon. Seriously. I took my mom to the store with me to pick up balloons, decorations, and even food. Prepping is not for me. Now you know to avoid my house if the world ends – and shut the door on me if you see me coming, since I’ll probably be there to rob you.

Anyway, excuse my end of the world obsession, let’s get back to the planes, trains and automobiles party. I’m sure some of you other bloggers who read this think I’m exaggerating about how little time I have. You know how much work goes into a blog. But to be fair, I’m including this blog in my crazy schedule, or lack thereof. When I throw a party, I don’t want to deal with decorations. In fact, even seeing other people’s exhaust me. Why do you go through all that work?I did get balloons, but I swear it was no trouble since I got them at Party City. Everything else I decorated with was a toy. Yes, that’s right. I saved myself not only the trouble of horrible streamers and other bad for the environment decorations, but also the trouble of wrapping presents. Hooray!

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles Party

Please excuse the terrible pictures. My husband turned the train on before I was ready, so I had about thirty seconds to take a whole bunch of them before my son destroyed everything. I’m not the type to recreate things, so these will have to do.

The Decor

Here’s the general feel. You’ve got a train track around the presents, a cake (and the rest of the food, eventually), airplanes on the chandelier, balloons, and your standard Happy Birthday banner that we will use for every birthday party until it falls apart.
Planes and a train make up the bulk of the decor.
This $10 battery operated train from Walmart actually did turn on and run around the track – until the 2-year old swiped it.
These Party City planes doubled as party favors. Instead of cutting off the tags I used them to tie them very simply to the chandelier and they came right off when needed.
Bought some balloons and tied them to the table. So easy. The other side had a Thomas the Train balloon as well.

The Cake

It’s a box cake with buttercream frosting. I made two colors, black and green, for a road and grass. Then I threw a few toy cars on the road and scribbled a message. Why yes, those are his plates from his 1-year old birthday in the background. Because, seriously you guys, he can’t read. Who cares?

That’s it. Wow, right? Can you imagine an easier way to throw this party? I can’t. Believe me, if I could have made it easier, I would have. I know my creations aren’t the most beautiful thing in the world, but you know what? It was a lot less stressful doing my version of a planes, trains, and automobiles party than trying to copy a professional party planner’s version. The cake was delicious despite not being beautiful. My son loved all of it. I’d say the party was a success, wouldn’t you?

A Planes, Trains & Automobiles Party for a Toddler
potty training cake

How to Make a Potty Training Party Cake

This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase through them I will receive compensation at no additional cost to you.

I’ll be honest, I don’t need a potty training party cake right now.  My son likes to tell me his toys are pooping and put them in his potty, but heaven forbid he sit on it himself. But, my best friend’s daughter recently potty trained, so of course they had to celebrate. When she was looking for cake ideas, she couldn’t find what she wanted, so she created one herself. I, being the good friend I am, saw the picture and immediately decided to steal it for the blog. Her response? Let me know how it does on Pinterest. Lol. So, people, pin away!

Now, my friend called her party a “panty party,” and the cake she did is for girls. For some reason she didn’t take pictures of the entire process (what a slacker, right?), so I had to make my own. Since my son’s older than my daughter, I figured it made sense to do one for boys. I’ll just leave the potty training party cake on my counter until he potty trains in a few months or so and then we’ll eat it. Kidding, you guys.  We’ll eat it all in one sitting like healthy people. This looks like it’s going to be pretty complicated, but it actually isn’t. The secret? Cupcakes and a willingness to be a little messy. It’s called a pull-apart cake, which I’ve never heard of before, but is apparently a thing.

Instructions for Making a Potty Training Party Cake

How to make a potty training party cake
The perfect cake for a panty party.

What You Need

24 unfrosted cupcakes in wrappers
2 batches buttercream icing (the thicker the better here – I like this recipe)
Food coloring
Fondant & Edible Spray Color (optional)
Other cake decorating items, like candies or ready made decorating icing (optional)

What to Do

No, I did not mean to have two types of cupcakes. My dog enjoyed 11 chocolate ones so I had to make more (he’s fine).
First frost. Is anyone else reminded of Mrs. Doubtfire?
Second round. So much frosting! The kids will love it.
  1. After you’ve baked your cupcakes (it is totally acceptable that they come out of a box), it’s time to set them up. First prepare a surface for  your cake. It needs to be quite big, so you might have to make one out of cardboard. I used my pizza pan. Cover it with aluminum foil. This is where the cupcakes will go.
  2.  Start with 2 rows of 6 cupcakes, then a row of 5, then 4, then 3, then 2. You may have less at the end depending on how big the tops of your cupcakes are.
  3. Push the cupcakes as close together as possible. This will help prevent frosting falling through the holes, although it’s probably going to fall through at least a little. That’s why you covered your cake tray in foil. 🙂
  4.  Smear your first batch of buttercream frosting all over those cupcakes. Have fun with it, no one’s going to see this part! In fact, this frosting doesn’t even have to be colored. You might still have some gaps in frosting here but that’s fine; just make sure they’re not too big.
  5. Put the cupcakes in the fridge to chill the frosting for at least 30 minutes.
  6. Decide what colors you want your underwear. I’m lazy and decided to opt with white for the main part, but my friend used a couple of colors for hers.
  7. Once your cupcakes have chilled, get them back out and frost all of them again with your main color. There should be no gaps this time.
  8. Add your lines. You can do this with cake decorating tips, or you can do it the real frenzied way and draw them with tube frosting. Start the top of the underwear line under the second row of 6 and the bottom of the line above the row of 2.
  9. Decorate however you see fit. The girl’s potty training party cake has stars made of fondant and colored by edible spray. I can’t tell you how to do that as I would never be bothered to use fondant, but I’m sure there are 8 million tutorials online.
  10. Put it back in the fridge until it’s time to eat. Serving is easy – just pull off a cupcake! I would note that they come off a lot cleaner if you let the cake sit out a bit beforehand. If you do it when they’re still cold the frosting will break in weird places.
Making some lines (don’t mind my terrible attempt at stars).
First we had a panty cake, now we have a tighty whitey cake.
A little mess when you pull apart, but that’s alright. Toddlers don’t judge your cake skills.

Bonus Decoration Idea

I may have mentioned over and over again that I hate decorating, but I have an idea for this one that won’t take much time. Besides balloons (because every kid party really does need balloons), why not string some underwear up and hang it someplace? It’s the same basic concept that these baby showers use with baby clothes. Just get yourself a couple packs of underwear, which you’re going to need anyway unless you’re also making this potty training party cake for giggles, and either hang them on a string or clothespin them right side up. Alright, moms and dads! Go convince your kids to use the potty so they can get this awesome cake!

A potty training party is the perfect way to celebrate your little one. #kidparty
how to

Quick Guide to a Maid of Honor Budget

This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase through them I will receive compensation at no additional cost to you.

Ready to really look at your maid of honor budget? I have to warn you, it’s going to be scary. You might not like what you see. Let me go ahead and tell you now, the average amount of money a maid of honor spends on a wedding is a little over $2000. Yep. $2000 and you aren’t even the one walking down the aisle. Kind of a bummer, right? It’s okay though. I’ve got this all figured out for you. A while back I mentioned I’d been a maid of honor three times already and had two more times upcoming. Well, those two upcoming weddings have both been canceled (one for a happy reason, one not, if you’re nosy), but I was already planning the parties so I might as well share what I know.

You may have noticed that in general I’m less concerned with cost than I am with time. That’s not because I’m not good at budgeting. My husband and I met working at a bank. I’ve also worked in financial aid, and I’m currently a bookkeeper, so I know where my money goes. I just get really, really frustrated when people ask for my help getting their budgets together and then  completely ignore me. But, I figure in this case I will never know if you stick to your maid of honor budget or not. So I will pretend you all walk away from this not spending a dime more than you meant to. Hooray! Now let’s get to everyone’s favorite topic: math.

Know Your Responsibilities

Okay, MOHs. Have you already said yes? Did you do so before or after checking on what all your bride expected? This is super important for your maid of honor budget, and if you got really swept up in the moment and said yes right away, you might be in trouble. Let’s get a list going. You’ve got to buy your dress, any accessories the bride wants to force upon you, pay for your hair and makeup if she demands it, throw a bridal shower, travel if it’s out of town, buy gifts for both the shower and the wedding, and, of course, throw the bachelorette party. That’s a lot, right? Less than the men spend. Their average is only about $1300. Still crazy, but not as high as it is for the ladies.

Maid of Honor Budget

I have attached a worksheet  above to help you get started. Go ahead and look at it. The first column is the average spent per item, not anything to do with your actual maid of honor budget. But, the unfortunate thing is your bride isn’t going to know how much she wants you to spend on a lot of this stuff up front. She should know if she’s having a destination wedding (you’ll obviously know if you live in different places), and she’ll probably already have thought about dresses and bachelorette parties, but she’s not going to hand you a guide to all of it, unless she’s Bridezilla, in which case you should run now. So, when you first start planning, I would estimate high on the things you don’t control, like the dress. Then pick the total you want to spend and spread it out from there.

Start with a General Maid of Honor Budget

Did you pick your total? Good. I’m not going to give you a specific number here because I don’t know your budget. You might be able to throw away $5,000 for funsies, but maybe you’ve got $500 max. You have to decide what works best for you and your wallet. Now, if you only have $500, you should make your bride aware of that right now. Seriously, right now, go call her. I forbid you to go into debt for the most important day of someone else’s life. Most likely your bride will either get you some help or agree to some money-saving items somewhere. I can’t help you if she doesn’t. I’ve never met an unreasonable bride. Seriously, I haven’t. I know they exist, but in my experience it’s always been more important to have the people we love around us than to have matching $300 wedding shoes.

Now that you’ve decided on a number, you can break it down. If you have to travel, add that in first. It’s non-negotiable for the wedding, so if you need flights check Google flights or Southwest to get an idea. I monitor flights all the time with Airfare Watchdog, and you could try that for a couple of weeks to see what you’re looking at, even if you aren’t ready to buy. I’ve been getting their alerts for years, and honestly, there’s not a lot of variance. Summer travel is more expensive. So are Fridays and Sundays. If you see a really good deal, you book it, and if not at least you know the cost. Gifts will run you at least $100. Whatever’s left, split between your bridal shower and bachelorette.

The Bridal Shower

Do you really have to throw a bridal shower? I don’t know. I didn’t throw one for my sister. It didn’t make sense to. She lived in California, I lived in Nevada, my parents lived in Tennessee, her in-laws lived in Arkansas, and the rest of our family was in North Carolina. It would have been a very small shower, so we skipped it. For one I did a combination shower/bachelorette. So I’ve actually only thrown one separate bridal shower. My own MOHs (yes, I had two) threw me a surprise one the weekend of my bachelorette party, but I never asked for one or expected it. I think this kind of depends on your age and your distance from family. Typically this is the thing moms want to go to, but young friends don’t care as much.

If you are throwing one,  you need to ask if the bride’s family will be helping you. If you’re the bride’s sister, it’s a good bet, but iffy otherwise. Some mother-of-the brides want their hand in everything, others would get annoyed if they had to participate. I wound up being able to use the MOTB’s house.  She cooked all the food, while I brought all the games and prizes. If it turns out you’re co-hosting or the family is splitting it with you, you can half your budget. If you’re on your own, it is what it is. You can DIY most things and cook on the cheap if you need to. But, if you’re printing out a bunch of games and using your own ink, it might be cheaper to buy them. Etsy has some, but you can get a bundle like this on Amazon.

The Bachelorette Party

You need to know as soon as possible – will you be traveling for the bachelorette party? If so, your maid of honor budget just exploded. The good news is you are not responsible for paying everyone’s travel costs. That would be insane. If none of the other bridesmaids can afford it, you shouldn’t be traveling. You can split the cost for things like gas, hotels, and meals. Unfortunately, you’re still going to be in charge of any decor, snacks for the party, games, and activity costs for both you and the bride. The other girls might offer to help and it’s fine if you take them up on it, but you shouldn’t expect it and you need to budget up front.

If you’re not traveling, you’ll likely have a bigger crew to entertain, but cut out the hotel costs. You’ll still need to come up with a transportation plan if you’re all drinking. If you’re going out on the town, it’s reasonable for the girls to pick up their own bar tabs. If you’re staying in, you’ll be expected to provide the libations and food. One other consideration is the ever so popular bachelorette party shirt. If your bride really wants them, I say get them, but you need to get that money up front from the other girls. Otherwise you might wind up with thirty shirts you don’t need. Also, you know I’m not a fan of decorating anyway, but the dollar store is more about bridal showers than bachelorette parties, so if you’re budget doesn’t allow, just skip it. But, don’t forget a sash for the bride.

Adding it up

Let’s check out that maid of honor budget worksheet again. We’ve got five columns. You don’t need to do anything with the first two. I used what I could find for the averages, but I did have to do a little bit of guesswork. Research showed the average total was $2062 and my guesswork gave me $2053, so we’re at least in the ballpark. One note, I put travel costs on bridal shower, but not bachelorette. If you have to travel for a bridal shower, you should plan for the bachelorette at the same time so you don’t pay for transport twice. If you’re traveling for the bachelorette but not the bridal shower, you can use the activities column to estimate your costs.

Okay, so now the important columns. For the third, you’re going to work backwards. You already picked your budget right? Go through and estimate your costs so that they add up to your budget.  It’s a good idea to estimate high on all the major purchases, like the dress and shoes. Then once you actually start buying things, you can use the fourth column. Once that’s somewhere between 1/4 and 1/2 filled out, redo your estimates on the remaining items. If you managed to estimate high on all the first purchases, you can always up the budget for the parties or gifts. If you’d rather save your money and those parties seem to be staying within your maid of honor budget, you save money. Hooray!

 

 

Being a maid of honor can cost upwards of $2000, so it's important to start budgeting ASAP. This includes a worksheet to help you make sure you don't overspend on someone else's big day! #maidofhonor #MOH #budget #wedding #bridesmaid
style sneakers

How to Make Easy 4th of July Table Decorations

This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase through them I will receive compensation at no additional cost to you.

First, let me say if you want really easy 4th of July table decorations, go buy out the Dollar Store’s patriotic section. It’s there, trust me.  I do acknowledge that pre-made things already exist. But, like I talked about last week with simple red, white and blue foods, sometimes you want to participate in all the crafting fun the world has to offer. In this case, we’re going to go red, white and blue again, but instead of using twenty-five million tiny American flags, we’re going to look at the fastest ways to get junk on your table and make people think you’re creative.

The first rule of easy 4th of July table decorations is to keep it really simple. Why are you decorating your table at all? Probably because it’s going to have food on it, right? That, or you’ll be eating on it. Either way, if you cover the entire thing with decorations, you’re going to run out of room. I love looking at those beautiful tables from professional party planners, but they’re always so crowded. We don’t need a whole garden or miniature Revolutionary Battle field to feel festive. The second rule? Don’t stress too much. My Easter brunch table took me literally five minutes, without thinking, and it got lots of compliments. Sometimes I think busy people get graded on a curve, and I am totally okay with that.

Ideas for Easy 4th of July Table Decorations

The Tablecloth

Real frenzied hostesses don’t care about smoothing it out. 🙂

I’m not really a fan of the flag tablecloths, if I’m being honest. Too busy. You can probably find really nice reusable ones with less busy patterns, and maybe I’ll add that to my future goals, but right now my toddler likes to sit on the table and make a mess after everyone leaves. I’d rather throw said mess away. So, to start your easy 4th of July table decorations, you might as well start with some plastic tablecloths. That’s right, plural. Instead of picking one color and running with it, grab yourself one red, one white, and one blue. This will add a little patriotic splash without going overboard, and then you can use only one color of plates and silverware (or all patriotic ones) without feeling like you’re missing something.

The only issue here might be positioning. In theory, you should be fine to spread the three colors out evenly. That’s the easiest way, of course, and it’ll give you a nice balanced look. But, it is going to look a little like France’s flag if you go with blue, white, red. Okay, not a little. It’s going to look exactly like France’s flag. If your friends no nothing about foreign countries, that won’t matter. If they’re the type to call you out on it, you can point out France was our ally during the Revolutionary War. Or, you could simply put the colors in a different order. You can see from the picture that I did the red and white horizontally and the blue vertically. It took zero extra work. If you’re worried about overhang, just don’t unfold them all the way. Even easier.

Flowers

Fanciest flower arrangement ever, probably.

If I had time and energy, I would scour supermarket flowers until I found red, white and blue bouquets. That might be easy when it’s actually the 4th of July, I don’t know. I’ve never tried it before. I can tell you it’s definitely not easy in the beginning of June. You don’t necessarily need to get only red, white and blue. I mean, you can get a few different bouquets and pull out the ones you want, or just use colors that are close. Red is going to be easy. It’s the other two that are the problem.  There are probably plenty of blue and white flowers at a florist, but I can’t be bothered to go to a florist.

Luckily, there is always another option for flowers. That is, of course, fake flowers. Fake, fake, fake. I don’t even try looking for ones that seem realistic. They’re easy 4th of July tablecloth decorations, not your wedding centerpieces. You can buy a set of white, a set of blue, and a set of red, or you can find those specially made patriotic bunches. Then stuff them in a vase. You don’t need anything in the vase, even if it’s clear glass. But, if you’re scared of people seeing the fake stems, I’ve got one more idea for you.

Red, White and Blue Anything

No need to buy frosted glass vases when you have a paper bag to the rescue!

Great idea, am I right?  You can go to the dollar store and buy some of those balloon weights. They’re fancy. You can get yourself a cupcake stand and put the patriotic cupcakes you made in there, then stand it up like the beautiful centerpiece it deserves to be. Got some red, white and blue socks lying around? Get really crazy (and a little unsanitary) and throw those on there too. Who cares? What’s really important is what food you’re putting on the table, not what you’re decorating it with.

For the record, I don’t actually recommend socks as your easy 4th of July table decorations. I’m going with paper bags, no joke. They’re the kind I’m sure less busy people turn into luminaries or something, but they’ll just be hanging out on my table… with vases of fake flowers in them. Simple, right? It hides the fakeness of the stems while adding a little festiveness. You could also put the bags by themselves, or line them up. I tried all those ideas, but you are going to have to excuse my photography this week. I’m getting ready for maternity leave, so I’m extra swamped right now. I had about five minutes to get good shots, and it turns out I couldn’t do it. But hey, I could get the stuff on the table, so now you know they really are easy 4th of July table decorations.

Final Thoughts

You can wave your flag inside if you want – but please don’t serve food on it.

I know I’m a very busy person, but even if you’re not, don’t feel like you have to design a party people will talk about for years. Let’s face it, the only way you’re going to pull that off is if someone accidentally sets himself on fire. While that is pretty common, it shouldn’t be our goal. Out of my 31 4th of July holidays, I can only remember the decor from one of them, and that is because it was the first time I hosted the barbecue myself.  That doesn’t mean it’s not fun to make a party look good. It just means you don’t have to stress about it. And finally, if you only have time for one decoration, skip the whole table and wave your American flag. Yes, of course they’re available on Amazon.  Plus, it comes with a bonus: You can use it all year!

Easy 4th of July Table Decorations can be both cheap and fast. #FourthofJuly
how to

4 Easy Red, White and Blue Party Foods

This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase through them I will receive compensation at no additional cost to you.

Easy red, white and blue party foods seem like they’d be a dime a dozen, don’t they? The 4th of July is a major American holiday, and we also have things like Memorial Day and Veterans Day where we abandon all meaning and focus on burgers and other foods that have nothing to do with combat.  Okay, so we don’t all abandon the meaning – I personally live with a Marine who did three tours in Iraq, so our family does some actual memorializing on those other days. But no one knows anyone from the Revolutionary War, so if you want to focus on easy red, white and blue party foods instead of that guy who killed the other guy with a musket, no one’s going to judge you. Yet, it feels like our guests really will judge us for not having food shaped like an American flag, doesn’t it?

I’m positive this whole nonsense with color coordinated food became a thing because of Pinterest. As much as I think it’s nonsense, though, I kind of love it. It’s festive, right? But here’s my problem. I think my definition of easy is different than other people’s. I need a dish that’s going to be ready to go in five minutes. Earlier today I read an article that was supposed to be “last-minute” 4th of July ideas. Then it had Rice Krispie Treats prepared with Popsicle sticks dunked in frosting and sprinkled. What?! That’s not last minute.  And what’s the deal with dipping ice cream sandwiches in sprinkles? Seriously, who leaves ice cream sandwiches sitting out? Ug. This is why I have to post these obvious easy red, white and blue party foods ideas – so we busy hostesses can participate without getting carried away.

Ice Cream Cups with Red and Blue Fruit

Pro-tip: Ignore what I’m writing and use patriotic sprinkles on everything instead.

This is my take on all the colorful 4th of July desserts I could find on Pinterest. I don’t disagree the other ones aren’t easy; it’s more that they’re time consuming. Do you know what I’m going to be doing the week before the 4th of July this year? Giving birth. So I feel like there’s a good chance I’m not going to want to hang out in the kitchen. But my family will probably wind up over here since it’s easier than me packing up the kids and dogs and going there, so I’ll attempt to have some sort of sustenance. The gist of this idea is to skip skewering and lining up anything. I admire people who have the patience to put strawberries and marshmallows on fifteen different sticks, or alternate rows of pretzels and cherries to make an American flag. But I’m not that person.

Do you actually need directions for this, friends? I feel like you don’t, but here’s what you’re going to do:

1. Go to the store.
2. Buy vanilla ice cream cups and frozen red and blue fruits (like cherries, blueberries, etc.)
3. Take everything home.
4. Don’t let the ice cream melt.
5. When it’s time, take the tops off the cups and sprinkle with berries. Or, put the berries in a bowl and let everyone else do that, those lazy bums.

See?  I knew you didn’t need instructions. If you want, you could completely skip berries and do red and blue M&Ms. Or get any flavor ice cream with said M&Ms, as they make this lovely patriotic bag that you won’t have to sort through and comes with white ones. To each their own, I say.

Red, White and Blue Cupcakes

Could you put this in the shape of a flag? Sure. But I swear you don’t have to.

Do you want to make a glorious multi-colored, multi-layered cake? Well, then, go nuts my friend. You won’t find the directions here, but you can send me pictures in the comments and try to make your case as to why it’s faster than making regular cupcakes with different colored frosting. I will admit, this is not a last-minute idea. You need about an hour to make and frost cupcakes, right? I’m honestly asking,  I haven’t made them in one day in a long time. Even if they’re out of the box, which mine are, they have to cook and cool. I’m going to skip the sarcastic instructions this time, but as always, you have a couple of ways to do this.

The first method is to use some food coloring in a white frosting (bought or homemade frosting- no one cares), or separately buy red, white, and blue frosting.  The second method is to frost them all one color and use red, white, and/or blue paper wrappers. I either go with white frosting and red and blue wrappers, or white frosting with patriotic wrappers like this (I also use these for the Patriots at football parties – not a fan, I just love theme food for football). If you want to skip the wrappers all together, use a white cake mix. Now, if you want to tell me these aren’t ridiculously easy red, white and blue party foods, may I also suggest, once again, ignoring what I say and using patriotic sprinkles?

Cheesecake Dip with Strawberries & Blueberries

easy red, white and blue party foods
I always enjoy a halfway healthy plate.

There really aren’t a lot of naturally blue foods, are there? There’s more red, but nothing as vibrant as the strawberry. That’s probably why every red, white and blue food on Pinterest includes the two of them. Some are really lovely, like these white chocolate frosted strawberries with blue sprinkles.  But, come on. If I don’t have time to line up things in a flag formation, I don’t have time to dip all those strawberries. I don’t feel like stuffing them with cheesecake dip either, but… Cheesecake dip is actually really quick to make. Too quick, honestly, it’s probably responsible for a lot of unnecessary weight gain. So why not use it?

Here’s a really easy recipe. Then get out your serving platter, put a bowl of cheesecake dip in the middle, and set up your strawberries and blueberries as you see fit. Feeling crazy? Give it some sprinkles, why not. I think by this point you can see what the real point of this article is, right? If you want to make easy red, white and blue party foods, all you really have to do is make sure people can see all three colors at the same time. Sure, you can make them fancier if you want to. And one day, when your children are grown, maybe you will.

Red, White and Blue Pitchers

Easy Red, White and Blue Party Foods
I honestly don’t know where to put the sprinkles here. My world view is ruined.

Okay, so drinks may or may not count as easy red, white and blue party foods, but they’e still festive. Have you seen the patriotic drinks floating around online? They look cool, right? Well, they are. But there’s also a little problem with them that make serving them kind of pointless. The first couple of people to see it will get the full effect. Everyone else is going to see two colors, a purple blob, or somewhere in between. Of course, that’s if you put it in a pitcher. If you put it in individual servings, well, you’ve just signed yourself up for individual servings. Did you have any plans to enjoy your party, or were you cool with being a bartender all day?

My solution to this is 110% cheating. Just put the three different drinks in three different pitchers. Or, only serve one red drink and one blue drink, but use pitchers with white lids. You can even include a sign telling people how to make their own patriotic drink if you want to use ingredients in a recipe like this. Personally, I can live without Hawaiian punch, so I always use cranberry juice. There’s a bonus if you try it this way: your red drink can become vodka cranberries, if you don’t have sneaky kids running around. If you have no kids at all, you could go straight up alcoholic and mix a red cocktail, a blue cocktail, and a clear one. Fun!

Now go out and make some easy red, white and blue party foods!

I love making red, white and blue foods for patriotic holidays, but I don't have time for complicated stuff! #FourthofJuly