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Monday, July 27, 2009

Little Chunkies and the Ickies!


So, this weekend was pretty much a bust! I didn't get much done in the way of my 'Wild Things' party. On Saturday, I did however, get to take pictures of my Little Chunkies, for his Baby Elmo 1st Bday party invitation. That was a lot of fun. I must say trying to get a 10 month-old baby's attention away from a lollipop and Elmo is a hard task. I was able to get a few good shots in there. When I finish the invite, I'll be sure to post it for you. Sunday was much less productive; I was feeling a little under the weather with a case of the ickies so, I took some (much deserved) time for myself and just took it easy.

My goal this week is to get the whole 'Wild Things' party collection complete and ready to display. I also signed up for an Etsy account. I plan to start selling my handmade party goods on there. Once I get that done, I'll be in Baby Elmo heaven. I've already warned my step-daughter, that I'm in party plan mode. I've found lots of cute ideas online and have come up with some unique ones myself. I'll be sure to post an inspiration board for both parties this week (pinky swear).

So, it's Monday and I'm back to the daily grind. If you didn't know, I have a full-time, grown-up job. One day, I might be able to say, 'Au voir!' to my day gig and work my party biz full time. That's my dream after all. In the meantime, I'll keep trying to make the world a happier place one cute cupcake and fabulous birthday party at a time!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Wild Things Party Decor



This will be a very short post. I've been having a case of the ickies this week. So, I only got a few things done for my 'Wild Things' party. I'm still working on a banner, tags & bags. Here is a sneak peek at some of the designs I've done for the Where the Wild Things Are party.



Now, the crown I designed myself but, I can't take credit for those adorable 3-D character figures. Those were courtesy of Joe at toy-a-day - check out his blog - it's neat! He makes a toy a day, you can print out the template and make some for yourself. I haven't decided whether I'm going to adjust the template and make favor boxes out of them, use them as a fun activity, or just decoration - maybe you can help me decide.

As I'm getting things together for my 'Wild Things' party, I'm also working on a Baby Elmo First Birthday party for my Little Chunkies, Tyrese - he's my grandson (long story folks, but yes, I have a grandson)! I hope his mama will let me get as carried away as I possibly can with the party decorations (HI APRIL!). I think this will be lots of fun! More on that party in the next few weeks.

In the meantime, have a great weekend!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Wild Thing Cupcakes and Weekend Finds



My plan this weekend was to decorate my Max & Moishe cupcakes, do some party designs and then post them yesterday. However, my weekend filled up quickly - well, my daughter's weekend filled up quickly with birthday gift shopping (more on that later), a splash party and picnic - thus, I had to play mommy. So, I took the time last night to design the cupcakes for my Where the Wild Things Are party collection! I'm telling you this party is going to be a production by the time I finish. While, I think my Moishe cupcake needs some refining, I think they came out pretty close to what I'd envisioned (see my post-it notes sketch above). My daughter thought they were so funny and scary! She couldn't wait to eat them! In any case, here they are:

Moishe & Max


Moishe - My favorite Wild Thing creature.


Mischievous Max!




In my last post I told you that I'd share with you how I made the invitation. Here's a little back story. I don't consider myself an artist, I just like to create things. I look at something and think about how I can make it my own. In this case, that's what I did with the invitation. My mother is a graphic designer and has been pushing for me to use Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop to do my graphics for my party creations. Well, I have little patience for all the whoozie-whatzits that both of those programs have - and I mean, I have kids - shortcuts work best for me. I'm sure every real graphic designer's head would spin if they knew that I just used the drawing tools in Microsoft Word to do the invite. I know my mom's almost did - HI MOM!

The idea for the invitation was to do a take on the book cover, play with the 'wild rumpus' parade from the book, and incorporate Max's journey on the land boat to the forest where the creatures lived. I think it looks pretty okay and I was able to achieve the look I wanted.

I'm still adding more to my inspiration board, so I promise I'll share it with you before the end of the week.

So, as I stated earlier, the kiddies and I needed to get a birthday gift on Saturday. We went to Target to quickly go in and get a gift for the birthday boy. As soon as we walked in my plan was foiled; the Mini Diva, ran right to the dollar section - and I could not resist.

I love the dollar section in Target, but it's dangerous! I did pick up a few items to add to my inventory, like glitter pencils and cupcake notebooks for a Princess Party - in, ahem, April. As we 'looked' through the bins at all the new items. I realized that the Target dollar section is the perfect stop for real quality party favors when you are on a tight budget. Look at the fun finds that would be perfect for a Dr. Seuss themed party:

These would make really fun gift bags:




To put inside the gift bags - markers, notebooks....



Mini Diva in the Hat!




In my next post, I'll share with you my favor bags, napkin rings and the fun party hats I'm working on!!!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Let the Wild Rumpus Begin!



This is going to be a very quick and short post. For all you Maurice Sendak fans, my big top secret theme for my next party collection is (drum-roll please).... TAH-DAAAAAH!!!! 'Where the Wild Things Are'! It's my favorite book of all time, and I'm so excited to start creating this collection.

For the past three days I've been working on the invitation and I am amazed at how I even did it and even more amazed that it actually looks good - in my opinion). I'll go into some of the details about it in my next post, but here's the draft of the invitation for starters (you can click the photo for a close up):




I'm no Maurice Sendak, but what do you think?


This weekend, I plan to decorate some cupcakes using the Max and Moishe characters and that should be lots of fun for my daughter. Hopefully, I can fit in a banner, party hats and Max's 'King of all Wild Things' crown. To my amazement there are very few 'Wild Things' parties online. Even still, I was able to put together an inspiration board that I will share with you on my next post, as well.

You just don't know how excited I am to be working on this project. The movie is due to be released on October 16th and it is right on time for Halloween! I am thinking this will be a perfect theme for my daughter's annual Halloween party! Can't wait!


Oh - and in case you're as big a fan as I am, check out the trailer for the movie!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

My Next Great Party Idea: Shhh, It's a Surprise...


While I was brainstorming on the theme for the next party collection I wanted to create, I was thinking that it had to be something that I haven't seen much of. Personally, I like to stand out with my work and take what is in at the moment to the next level. In any case, I knew that the next theme had to be easily duplicated, non-gender specific, provide me with lots of fun ideas for games, activities and decorations. I finally had a 'DUH' moment and when it finally came to me. I would create a party collection based on my absolute favorite book ever!!! Ironically, I recently remembered seeing a trailer for the soon-to-be release of its motion picture. What perfect timing!

I remember the story well, but admit that I'd only read the book in recent years to my daughter, and her enthusiasm for it didn't quite match mine. So, it's consequentially been shelved. Maybe it was a bit too much for her; but for me, I know it's a beloved classic.

Just to get my creative juices flowing, I started surfing the internet and looking for all the images from the book, and I immediately came up with ideas for decorations, invitations, games & activities and food! I must say that, in my search I didn't find a lot of party ideas or partyware and it could be the lack of popularity. However, I believe once the movie is released, there will be lots of product on the market and a new found love for this tale.

I know you all are curious as to what the theme is and what I have up my sleeve; for now, my lips are sealed (even though I'm bursting at the seams to spill it). Being a wife and mom lends me only so many hours in the day. So, you'll have to give me a few days to knock out my first project for the party, but to give you a hint, it involves a wild imagination, a magical forest with loving creatures and a lesson in what happens when you back talk your mother! If you know the story you can pretty much figure it out!!!

I'll keep you posted!

Monday, July 13, 2009

I Heart Strawberries!

 

Strawberries have to be one of my most favorite fruits. In fact, Strawberry Shortcake is indeed my favorite all-time dessert, go figure. Unfortunately, strawberry picking season is well over in my neck of the woods (Maryland). It is, however, just popping up further Northeast in my old neck of the woods (New England).

As a child, I remember going strawberry picking, usually during a class field trip. I remember how big and lush the fields looked and how muddied up our boots and pants would get. One day, I plan to take my kiddies out to a patch and let them have their own experience. But, for now, they'll have to stick to picking strawberries out the produce aisle from the neighborhood Giant grocery store!

Since it was my daughter's idea to make some 'delicious pank (it's really pink, but she picked up a southern accent from my mother-in-law and so....yeah) strawberry cupcakes, with strawberry frosting and a strawberry on top', I thought it would be cute to dub these delicious confections, 'Nikki's Divalicious Pink Strawberry Cupcakes'; anything for my baby girl.

When thinking of creating the perfect strawberry cupcakes, I wanted them to taste as organic as possible. So, I macerated fresh strawberries and pureed them. I then added them to my basic vanilla cupcake recipe hoping they would look pink. Instead, they looked like this:



Not exactly what my dear baby girl requested, but they did have an organic feel to them. Then it occurred to me, when we make the frosting it will definitely be pink and all will be right in the world. Besides, the frosting is my daughter's favorite part anyway - see?



Next, I whipped up a delicious basic buttercream frosting and mixed in finely chopped fresh strawberries and then piped the frosting onto the cupcakes.





I was so excited to take a bite of these babies that I almost forgot the most important thing; The Little Diva reminded me to add the strawberries on top. What a finish! They looked great and tasted soooo good, just like strawberry ice cream. My husband even liked them and he is so not into sweets.

We even had some without strawberries on top - just as good!

I had plenty of extra cupcakes that I shared with my taste testing panel....errr, excuse me my co-workers and got rave reviews. Here is another look at the finished product - too bad you don't have the eater-net!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

First Birthdays!




Yesterday my daughter came to me and made a request for yet another, item on her Princess Party wish list for her birthday. After her request I reminded her that her birthday isn't until April and she will have to wait a long time for a lot of the 'really fun' things she wants for her party. I did tell her though, that it would not be a problem to make 'beautiful pink cupcakes with strawberries' in the very near future. So, this weekend, that is what I and the Mini Diva will be baking in the lab. Be sure to check back next week to see how that went.

Since both of my children have already celebrated their birthdays this year (the Mini Diva turned 4 and my son is 1), I thought I would share with you some of the fun I had decorating for both of their first birthdays.

I think the most favorite part of my daughter's 'Baby Diva' themed 1st birthday party was the adorable hot pink high chair swag and pink carpet that we rolled out just for her. At the time, she was just barely walking, but as Divas do, she sat plopped on her 'thrown' and munched on hors d’ oeurves the whole time. She ate it up (the attention - well, and the food too).

Here's a picture of the Diva in her high chair - swag and all:


I took a different approach for my son. It was around the time of his birthday when I decided I'd start my CWBD business. I was loving all the inspiration I was seeing on all the different blogs. Coming off the heels of my daughter's Dinosaur party I knew I didn't want a 'theme' for him, so I just kind of went with some fun neutral colors. I chose red, white & baby blue for the decorations I threw in some fun polka dot dangles, streamers and red balloons. A small gathering with just family were on the guest list with some light finger foods and cupcakes! It was perfect. Check out his spread:




Looking back at these pictures I am excited about what I did and what more I plan to do with my creativity. Above any party I do, the parties for my kids are by far the most fun and rewarding. A friend once told me that she thought I really threw the parties for myself, and the kids just get to participate. That is partly true. Either way, I say, thank God for my kids. They give me inspiration to create, imagine and make-believe. Without them, I wouldn't be able to begin to do what I love - and moreover have fun doing it with them and for them.

Here are a few more pictures from the kids'First Birthdays.


My 1st circle birthday banner - part of it, at least


Here is the other part of the banner with my son's name


Yummy cupcakes!


Birthday Diva's tablescape


Lots of fun pink & purple to go around


Take note of the hot pink carpet - fit for a true Mini Diva

Monday, July 6, 2009

Pink & Brown Baby Shower

One of my good girlfriends recently sent me an invitation to a baby shower for her 2nd child, another little girl. As my gift to her - and an opportunity to finally put my Cricut machine to use - I decided to plaster her home with all my cupcake & party fabulousness! She told me that she was planning on decorating the baby's room in pink and brown, and I went with the same color scheme for the shower decorations.

Along with some other girlfriends, we pooled our talents together to create a memorable shower for a very dear friend.

I am thinking of using this same idea for a girl's birthday party collection - with a twist....stay tuned for more on that!

Here are some photos of the shower:

Delicious Chocolate Cupcakes - they were a hit!




My 'Martha' Poms - I used to make these all the time in grade school - funny how things always make a 360!



The Cricut designed banner


Welcoming door sign


This was supposed to be a yard sign, but we hung it from the mom's new brick mailbox!


Click here for more shower pics.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

I'M INSANE! WHAT WAS I THINKING?






Welcome to my blog! I just finished coordinating a party for a close friend's son - in the midst of taking care of 2 sick babies and a sick (and grumpy) husband to boot! How did I do this? Why did I do this? Lord only knows. If it weren't for my complete love for all things party-riffic, (and that I am almost definitely certifiable) I wouldn't have gotten half of the things done for the party that I did. (I must warn you now that this entry gets a bit winded - it's in my nature to ramble, I can't help it. If you don't want to read the whole thing and be amused by my antics click here to see the party pics - my feelings won't be hurt).

So, a little background about me and how I acquired the opportunity to put my stamp on this birthday bash. For years I've loved to plan parties, events, showers, yada, yada, yada (do people still say that?). I mean I even changed my concentration in college from Journalism to Public Relations just so I could spearhead events! I got involved in so many activities during college that if there was a party to plan - I was doing it. After college - I planned my own birthday parties, dinners and New Year's Eve bashes with all the glitz and glamour my meager budget could afford. Eventually, I got married and had kids. I think we all know what comes next....the kid's birthday parties! (Why did God put that tree in that garden when he knew darn well, Eve was going to tempt Adam?) Giving me children was God's way of enabling me to go to extreme lengths to showcase my love for creating a fun party atmosphere that would make all the parents in attendance wish to be a kid again. Well, after finally deciding that I should do what I love, I created Cupcake Wishes & Birthday Dreams (CWBD). CWBD is the business I started in order to combine the two (non-family) things I love most - baking fun & delicious sweets and planning fun parties & showers! I'm just getting started and with the man upstairs hooking me up - I plan to be a success! So, now that you know that bit of information - let me tell you why I'm insane.

My friend emailed me about 2 months ago looking for advice on what party items to buy for her son's birthday party. Well, it just so happened that same week is when I started CWBD. I let her know that I would be happy to offer my services to her. I never thought she would take me up on my offer - but she did. After a consultation and meeting of the minds, we agreed on a Spiderman theme and some fantastic ideas for her son's party. I was so excited; this was going to be my first paid party and I was going to turn it into a super duper bash. Over the course of that following month I tinkered away at designing the decorations. Well, just so happens that the week when I was putting all the finishing touches on everything my kids got sick - followed by my husband.

I'm sure some of you can imagine what that is like and I'm sure some of you have even been there. Either way - it ain't a cake walk handling all of that (Full-time day job as a Database Administrator [snore], 3 different Doctor's appointments to make sure no one had the Swine Flu, BEING A WIFE & MOM). Needless to say, I stayed up until almost 4 am for 6 days straight trying to take care of my family and knock out the rest of my handmade decorations like napkin rings, party hats, favor bags, the banner, the birthday crown....and whatever else my loopy mind thought I should have for the party.
Eventually, I realized about 3 days before the party that my initial plan to do all the elaborate decorations I'd planned would have to be wittled down to something a bit more realistic, given the condition of my family and household. My friend was disappointed, but thankfully understanding and I continued to work 'round the clock for those next 3 days. I even went to my friend's house to set up for the party the night before, babies in tow (big mistake - I'm sure you can imagine how that went).

The day of the party finally came and I'd gotten maybe 2 hours of sleep within those 3 days. I was up at the crack of dawn baking cupcakes that morning and boxing up items to take with me. My husband loaded up the party table & truck and I was close to the finish line. I was making buttercream frosting and had a batch of cupcakes in the oven; I knew by 1:00 I would be at my friend's house in enough time to have everything set up.....and then it happened (cue in crying baby and whining toddler sound feed now). It was the simultaneous toddler temper tantrum and the, 'Mommy I'm hungry and need attention NOW!' baby wail. What do I do? What any mom would, I took care of my babies. Well 2 hours later, it's 1:30 and I still have to pick up balloons and get to my friend's house at least by 2:00 at this point to even have things set up by 3 PM.
After getting the balloons, gingerale for the punch and running back home to pick up the punch bowl and ladle I'd forgotten , I made it to the party site with 10 minutes to spare. Definitely not enough time to create a wall of multi crepe paper streamers, a gigantic spiderweb made of yarn or an elaborate balloon bouquet, but definitely enough time to do the basics. With the help of an early guest and another friend, it turned out okay. Personally, I wasn't satisfied because there was so much more I wanted to do, and that I promised to do and I just didn't have the time to do it. Fortunately, my friend's son & his guests enjoyed his party, and from what I heard, the parents were impressed by the decorations.

I don't think many planners would consider doing what I did for the cost of doing it. Yes, I feel guilty because I don't think I truly delivered, but I did learn some valuable lessons.


I learned that when you're in busines for yourself, you really are. You are your own fall-guy. In order to have a business, you might want to have a helper, be it a sitter or a friend to just help out - in case you do have sick babies (btw, I have a sitter and she's my mother-in-law. She keeps the kids all week - I like to give her a break on the weekends, she deserves it) or need someone to do errands while you measure wall length long cuts of crepe streamers until 4 in the morning. I also learned that you can only do so much and you should be honest with yourself with what you can and cannot do - and clearly communicate that to the client - friend or no friend. They have no clue that you're running on 2 hours of sleep and that your husband had no dinner 2 nights in a row. Also, I think that even though I enjoyed putting together that party, I over-extended myself and over-exerted myself. As a result, I have a sore throat and whatever icky thing my kids have (the doc says allergies, I think it's the plague) - My number one priority should be to take care of myself.

All in all, business is business, and I love to do what I do, but there is a small line between expectation and reality and if the expectation is bigger than the reality, guess what???? REALITY BITES. So, in the future, I will remember to pace myself, be realistic and try my very best not to go insane!



Favor Bags

CWBD Signature Cocoa & Cream cupcakes

Party Crown Close Up

Check out more pictures from the Spiderman Party!

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