Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Easter Cupcake Printables and Giveaway Winner

The Winner of the Easter Egg Decorating Party Pack is....

Congratulations Alicia!!!!

Over the weekend I took the kids to an Easter Egg hunt hosted by a friend and offered to make my delicious cupcakes for the guests. 

I found these a few weeks ago, nothing fancy, I just liked the colors but decided these colors would be what I'd use for inspiration to tint the frosting for the cupcakes.

I made my Triple Vanilla Cupcakes and piped on some tinted swirly frosting....mmmmmmm

I was also busy this weekend designing Easter graphics and making these toppers - (Esty shop coming soon - I SWEAR)

My friend had this beautiful tiered stand and we displayed some of the cupcakes on it.  You may have seen it here before.   

Since I'll be busy for the rest of the week and engrossed in 'Princesspalooza', I'll do a freebie today.  Here is a download of the cupcake toppers I made.  They should cut perfectly using a 1.5" circle punch or you can cut them out by hand.  Affix them to a toothpick or cocktail pick with scotch tape.  You can also use them for favor tags.  If you use them I would love to see some pictures so send them along.

Check back next week to get the final details on 'Princesspalooza'!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

More Princess and The Frog Sneak Peek, Early Giveaway and the Friday Freebie Winner

The Winner of the Princess and The Frog Party Pack is.....

Congratulations Stevie! Please be sure to contact me within 72 hours of this post to receive your prize!!!

Okay, okay - I know I said I'd announce the party pack winner and the next giveaway on Saturday and now it's after 11 PM on a Sunday.  Well, amongst other things, I have been so focused on getting things together for, what I know call "Princesspalooza" that I forgot to post....sorry, my bad.

In any case, while I was out this weekend picking up items for Princesspalooza I went to one of my FAVORITE stores EVER, The Christmas Tree Shops!  I know what you're thinking....what do Christmas trees have to do with parties?  Well, it's actually a bargain store with just about everything you can imagine. There are seasonal items, party items, toys, food, houswares & toiletries!  They have a bit of everything.  They recently opened a store near me and that just makes my day.  I'd only shopped at the one in CT - but I guess the stores are expanding.  If you have one near you - GO!  While I was there I got all of this!

I actually got more than what is here - but I got everything for under $100 before taxes!!!!  I LOVE CHRISTMAS TREE SHOPS.

Since I didn't get to post the giveaway winner until today and since I most likely won't be able to post a giveaway this Friday (due to Princesspalooza) and I didn't do this week's giveaway, here's what I'm going to do....for Easter I thought a great idea for a party would be an Easter Egg Decorating party. You know, invite a few kids over, get the eggs out on the table, and decorate!  Now, given Princesspalooza is the day before Easter, I'm certainly not getting into all of that.  What I can do though is give away a pack of goodies to get the party started for one of my followers!  Here is what you'll get:

Giveaway has ended!

You will receive:
- Classic Egg Dyeing Kit
- Sticker Book
- Martha Stewart Egg Dress Up Kit
- Foam Door Hangers Kit
- Marshmallow Egg Candies
- Glitter Pens
(Prize Pack does not include, basket, grass or accessories - sorry)

....and because Easter is right around the corner, the contest will end on 11:59 AM on Tuesday, March 30.  To enter you have to do the following:
- Be a follower of my blog or become a follower
- Leave a comment why you want to win

- Post a link about the contest on your blog or Facebook page
(be sure to send a link back in your comment to verify your post)

Good luck!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Thursday Inspiration: Superman Party

Okay, so I'm hired to do a party and I immediately start to shrink into a small girl, in a blue dress, who just drank some mystical juju when I find out that the birthday boy wants a Superman themed party - and you know, I HATE CHARACTER THEME PARTIES. .  (Why God, Why?????  Didn't I just convince my own child it wasn't necessary to buy a whole kit 'n kaboodle of Princess Tiana party products?  Why now do I have to succumb to the dreaded character themed birthday party AGAIN!!!!)....and scene. 

Well, having to do another character party gave me another challenge.  How can I take this theme and make it into something not so....themey.  I am currently doing that with my daughter's party.  I designed a Tianna-like princess for her invitations, purchased a limited amount of character products and kept within the color scheme for the rest of the party.  If I did that for her, I can certainly do it for another child.  So, I searched online, and came up an inspiration board for his party!

Photo Credits:
Happy Birthday Banner, Cake & Bubbles; balloonsSuper Hero Capes; Star Bunting; Popcorn; Stars; Lollipop Bouquets; Cape Craft; Superman Logo; Cake Box Favors

I always get excited once my inspiration boards are completed.  It makes me want to get to workin'!  So, I might fuss and grumble at the concept of a character party, but I know that I can still create a unique party for a special birthday boy or girl!

REMINDER!!!!  This week's giveaway for a custom Princess and The Frog themed party collection ends tonight at 11:59 pm.  Click here for details on how to enter.  Also, tomorrow's post will be either delayed or postponed due to a personal matter that needs some attention.  In the event that I'm unable to post tomorrow, the Friday Freebie will be posted on SATURDAY and I can tell you, it's a GOOD ONE.  You don't want to miss it.  Please check back to see what the big giveaway will be!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Tip Tuesday: Tips for Planning Kids Parties Part 2 - The Dollar Store is Your Friend

For the second post in my five-part series on Tips for Planning Kids Parties I am going to give you some sage advice - LIVE, BREATHE, LOVE THE DOLLAR STORE. It's very easy philosophy to follow and not a hard thing to do.  Just go there and saunter, meander and stroll down the aisles and take it all in. 

Dollar stores have an expansive amount of items that are just as good as those you find at the party stores. This is because most of the items are remnants and leftovers from warehouses that get passed on. I have found plenty of decent items at the dollar store for my parties. When it comes to party supplies & decor, the dollar store can definitely be your friend.  Here are my tips on shopping at the dollar store (or as I like to call it the 'DOLLAH STOW').

Stick to your list
When it comes to planning parties I try and keep costs as low as possible and in this economy every dollar counts.  You can always go there for the basics like plates, napkins, cups, utensils, candy, snacks, gift wrap & bows, games, party favors and a host of unique items to create a fun-filled event.  You can even get your balloons there!  It is however easy and tempting to want to put everything you like in the cart.  Go in there with a list of what you need and a budget.  Otherwise, you could easily turn your bargain shopping trip into a wallet busting disaster.

Somtimes, there is a good reason it costs a dollar.  Don't look to buy dollar store items and hope for an investment piece.  Some things you will find are just not going to hold up.  A lot of the toys you'll find are not going to be made with the greatest quality.  I purchased a butterfly net for The Mini Diva over the weekend - and it lasted all of 2 hours.  So be careful when purchasing items for goodie bags or favors.  Consider the age of your party guests and use your best judgement.  Realize the purpose you have for the item and determine if it's worth purchasing.

A bit of ingenuity and imagination will see you through.  You might not always find an item that matches your theme exactly but, with some creativity you can take items you've purchased at the dollar store and use some crafting items to make them your own.  I am currently working on making tutus for the Princess party next month.  I found some dress up tutus for sale at the dollar store! I purchased several bouquets of fake flowers to enhance them and they are so adorable.  There are even sites dedicated to using dollar store finds to create budget friendly party decor.  Check out dollar store crafts for some ideas.

Pick your favorite and stick to it
Depending on where you live, there are several dollar store franchises to choose from.  Prices generally ranges from $1 to under $20 per item. I prefer The Dollar Tree (where you can shop online wholesale) and my local mom-pop shop dollar store, Clinton Dollar.   I just know what to look for at these particular stores and when to go to get the good stuff, plus the customer service is up to par.  If for some reason you don't have a dollar store near you, check out the dollar &  bargain bins at Target, Walmart or one of the larger craft stores.  There are always great party items there as well.

These are just a few of my tips on 'dollah stow' shopping.  Please feel free to leave a comment on any tips you might have.

Also - don't forget to enter this week's giveaway for a custom Princess and The Frog themed party pack!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Cupcake Monday: Cupcakes for a Cause

This weekend I made a batch of cupcakes for a great cause.  Last week my friend, Kayte, who is participating in the March of Dimes March for Babies Walk, asked if a group of her girlfriends at work would rally 'round and bake some treats for a fundraising bake sale. Kayte lost her daughter Annabelle a few days after she was born prematurely and wants to raise $1500 for her team

I am always wanting and needing a reason to bake something so, it was not even an option for me to NOT do this.  I decided to make Chocolate Coffee Cupcakes and I made cupcake toppers with the March of Dimes Logo on it and another topper to Walk for Babies.  I piped on some tinted vanilla frosting an voila!

I even made a quickie bake sale banner fashioned with a March of Dimes Cupcake that I designed.  If I had time (and this wan't my day job) - there would have been a dessert buffet with all the fixins'!

I also made Vanilla Toffee Crunch Cupcake Pops, but I was only able to snap a picture on my cell phone and the picture didn't come out so great....but word is they taste delicious!

Please, if you would like to make a donation to Kayte's team, please go to her team site for more details.

Also don't forget to enter for a chance to win an awesome custom Princess and The Frog themed party set courtesy of Cupcake Wishes & Birthday Dreams!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Friday Freebie! Giveaway Winner and a Royal Prize Package

The winner of the Disney's Princess and The Frog DVD Giveaway is....

Nancy, along with the majority of the contestants answered the triva question correctly.  Anika Noni Rose, voice of Princess Tiana from the movie are both native Connecticutonians (isn't that a mouthful).  Congratulations, Nancy on your win!!!

Okay - so, I'm totally riding the whole Princess and The Frog wave here.  I mentioned before that I don't really like character theme parties, but my girl was insistant. So, I designed a Tiana and frogs to use for the decorations I made.  Everything is custom made.  Actually, I'm still in the process of making decorations for The Mini Diva's party and expect to be wrapped up with all the essentials this weekend.  So, I thought it would only be fitting to share the wealth!  I made a bunch of extra items and decided to use them for this giveaway!  So, today's Friday Freebie will be a custom party pack courtesy of yours truly!  The party pack is valued at $90!!! 

Here's a peek at what you'll get:

In the party pack you'll receive:

8 Fill-in invitations
8 Fill-in Thank You Cards
8 Party Hats
1 Happy Birthday Banner
12 Cupcake Toppers
1 Welcome Sign
8 Treat Bag Toppers
8 Napkin wraps
8 water bottle wraps

I keep saying that I'm going to open an Etsy store to sell my wares, I mean, why not!  

To enter the giveaway you must follow this blog or become a follower.  You also have to leave a comment as to why you would like to win.  A winner will be selected by random and announced in the next Friday Freebie post.  The contest will end on Thursday, March 25th at  11:59 pm.


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Thursday Inspiration: Caterpillar Party Inspiration Board

I've said it before and I'll say it again, I'm insane.  I'm working on getting all the odds and ends finished for my daughter's Princess and the Frog themed birthday party that takes place next month.  Well, it would be just my luck I have two munchkins (and one big munchkin) all born in the month of April.  So, along with planning for The Mini Diva's party, I'm also knocking out a few items for my son's birthday.  I have completed the invitations, mailing labels and door sign - but I'm trying not to lose my head. Fortunately, he was born on the very last day of the month and we can celebrate his birthday in May. 

For today's inspiration, I'm going to show you the inspiration board I created for his party:

I can't wait to really get into this party!  It's going to be small, mostly boys party - but it is going to be lots of fun and I can't wait!!!  I initially wanted to do The Hungry Caterpillar as the theme, but that has been done before and there are actually party sets that you can purchase online. I really dislike licensed character party sets.  I like to use my creativity and do my own thing.  So, I thought that I'd just do a plain old caterpillar party.  For this party, expect a lot of color, a lot of mess and most importantly, a lot of FUN!!!I'll keep you posted as things come along.

DON'T FORGET!!!!  You have until midnight tonight to enter to win this week's giveaway!  Click here for more details.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Tip Tuesday: Tips for Planning Kids Parties

When I first started writing today's tip I started out with the intention of sharing five tips.  However, I realized halfway into the post each tip had a backstory and a lesson and this post started to get too long.  So, I'll be posting one tip for the next five Tip Tuesday posts.  It's like a series!

I have had four (going on five) years of practice when it comes to planning my own kids' parties and let me just say that with each party I have taken away a great deal of knowledge.   One of those things is learning why less is more.

Today's Tip: Eight is enough

If my parties were a 70's era hit tv show and Willie Aames was my brother, I would have known that inviting too many people to a kid's party is not the best idea.  I also would have taken a clue from those fill-in invitations at CVS that only allow ya to invite eight people.  I could never figure the reason behind that until last year when I had a house full of kids and felt a smidge overwhelmed. 

In the past I have had a house full of family, friends, kids & parents over for my kids' birthdays.  Anyone that knows me will tell you I love a good party, but really, I can't remember anything about them except how stressed I'd get from doing so much.  This might not make since for an event planner, but we're talking about my daughter and son here.  I should be able to see how excited they are and not why my poor child didn't get a piece of cake at her own party!

I think a good rule of thumb is to invite a maximum of eight guests to your child's party  if they are under eight years old.  I once read somewhere that you should invite as many kids as your child's age plus two.  I always thought that was a silly concept - until The Mini Diva's last bday party.  In hind site there were too many people, too many kids of different ages, and she got pushed out some activities and games when the attention should have been on her.  I was so busy going back and forth between the parents and my friends and the kids, that I was too overwhelmed to know that she wasn't having fun as she should have been. 

It really makes life easy for you and also allows your child to enjoy the party guests if you keep the guest list at a low number.  A good example of how this works best is another party we threw for The Mini Diva.   I got rsvp's from six kids and only two girls showed up.  At first I was a little sad for my daughter because she was so excited about the party - but there were so few guests.  I was also mad at the parents who didn't show because I'd bought all those cute party sets and favors from Party City and then not to show up - ugh.  Well, when it was all said and done I realized she had just the right amount of party guests and I didn't feel overwelmed.  A good time to be had by all!

In the next Tip Tuesday post I'll share with you why you should steer clear of the grocery store bakery - I have a horror story that will make you cringe!  .....and don't forget to enter to win this week's Princess and the Frog DVD GIVEAWAY!!!!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Cupcake Monday: Somewhere Over the Rainbow.....

No, this has nothing to do with Dorothy and her little dog too.  It's about the most delicious cupcakes I have ever made. 

I don't typically celebrate St. Patrick's day but, I have.  From the little bit that I did celebrate in my yester-years - I remember bars and beer.  I'm sure there's more to it than beer, but....that's what I (vaguely) remember (beer - lots of beer).  So, when I found this recipe I knew that it would be a perfect choice for my St. Patrick's Day Cupcake Monday post. 

Can I just say, THEE BEST cupcake that I have ever tasted in my life!  I thought my Mocha Chocolate & Red Velvet cupcakes were the be all to end all....I was SO WRONG.  

Mmmm-mmmm - Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes with Bailey's Buttercream Frosting

I followed the recipe with a few of my own additions and topped the cupcakes with a green candy wafer as a nod to St. Patrick's Day.  If you make these you could top them with shamrock shaped sprinkles, chocolate mints - I even saw cute Oreos with a green filling that would look purdy in them.   Not to leave the little ones out of all the cupcake fun, we also made 'A Pot of Gold at the End of a Rainbow Cupcakes'

I made these on a whim.  I used butterscotch candies and Rainbow Fruit Rollups to create the look of the rainbow and gold coins.  I piped on some cream frosting to make a cloud and iced the cupcake with yellow vanilla frosting.  If I had more time, I would have made actual pots out of dark chocolate and molded them inside of muffin tins.  I've even seen mini cauldrons during Halloween that could hold cupcakes in them.....(hmmm, note to self: keep an eye out for mini cauldrons to use for pots of gold SPD 2011).

Eh, It's not a perfect representaion of a pot of gold, but I think ya get the point ;)  Either way, The Little Diva and her baby brother enjoyed them and mom and dad paid for the sugar rush that ended around midnight.

For more cupcake fun, check out these adorable 'Cupcake Critters' from Avery.  You can download the templates and use the print outs a variety of different ways to create the type of look you want.  Looks like a great activity for an Easter party or Spring themed baby shower.

Check back tomorrow for budget friendly tips for throwing a kid's party  and Don't forget to enter to win a copy of Disney's Princess and the Frog DVD!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Friday Freebie: Calling All Princesses & Frogs!!!!

The Winner is......


Tori is the winner of a Carrot Cupcake Kit complete with all the fixin's.  Tori, please contact me within 72 hours to recieve your prize, and congratulations!

Sorry, I'm posting so late today, but I've been busy!  This week's giveaway is for all the princesses of the world. I was doing a lil' shopping online today for The Mini Diva's party.  While shopping, I ordered her a copy of Disney's Princess and the Frog which comes out on Tuesday the 16th.  Not only did I pick one up for her, but I also got an extra copy for ONE LUCKY FOLLOWER!!!!.

To qualify you must follow or become a follower of my blog AND partake in a bit of trivia.  Answer the following question and post your answer in a comment.  What do Anika Noni Rose, the voice of Tiana in Disney's Princess and the Frog and I have in common?  (Here's a's all about location) Good Luck!!!!

Now, I can probably guess that most of ya'll won't have a clue what the answer is, but here's another way to find out; re-post my giveaway on your blog OR on your Facebook page (send me a link with your post and leave it in the comments section) and I'll give you another hint. 

Contest ends on Thursday, March 18th at 11:59 pm and a winner will be announced in the next post on Friday March 19th.

OOOOH, I love games!  Good Luck!!!!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Thursday Inspirations: Princess and the Frog Inspiration Board

I'm working on my daughter's 5th birthday party.  I think 5 is a milestone's like half a century, the year most kids start kindergarten and I think the point where we realize they're not babies anymore - but we dont' ever really want to admit that, do we?  Now, if you've been reading for some time, you know The Mini Diva is all about the parties and has been planning this 'Princess Party' since April 5th, 2009 - her birthday is April 4th.....mmm-hmmm.  So, after Disney came out with Princess and the Frog she immediately wanted to have a 'Tianna' princess party. 

For today's inspiration I thought I'd share the inspiration board I created for the party:

I've decided the color scheme will be PURPLEAQUA & CITRUS GREEN.  I'll incorporate decorative elements into the space such as frogs, crowns, tiaras, gems, glitter, lots of tulle & some satin.  The food will be made from recipes in the Princess and the Frog cookbook we have.  We'll play music from the movie soundtrack, as well as, some jazz music to infuse the sound of the Big Easy into the party.  As a fun way to include guests into the mix, we're going to have dress up costumes for all the kids.  Activities will range from a 'froggy' version of musical chairs to face painting.  Finally, we'll wrap the party with a special surprise for the birthday girl.

I'll be sure to post pictures after the party.  In the meantime, check back tomorrow to find out who our Friday Freebie winner is from last week and to enter to win another weekly prize!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

'Tip Tuesday' - Preventing Cupcake Disasters

I have had my fair share of cupcake disasters.... these - that I mentioned in a post last week.  I made these hat shaped cupcakes for a Big Hat Brunch and they were gorgeous....until I put them in the car and they melted and shifted in the carrier.  Fortunately what they lacked in presentation, they made up for in flavor.  Luckily they were also for an understanding friend and really they could have looked a LOT worse!

There have been plenty other mishaps to date but, I've successfully recovered and learned how to do better next time.  I've done a lot of research online, watching instructional videos and reading recipe books.  Mostly though, I let my instinct guide me.  Once you get a sense of what you're doing, you have to go with your gut when it comes to baking. 

As I was thinking about what to post for today's tip, I thought ya might like to know how to recover from or prevent a cupcake baking mishap.

Spring back!
Cupcakes tend to cook to doneness within 18-20 minutes (at 350 degrees).  Because I'm paranoid and I've learned my oven has a mind of it's own,  I check the cupcakes around 15 minutes and gently poke them in the center to see if they bounce back slightly. If they bounce back they're done.  If not, they stay in for another 2-3 minutes.

Cool Out
When the cupcakes come out of the oven allow them to sit in the baking tins for about 5 minutes and then remove them and let them properly cool down for about 30-40. The cooling down process will help the frosting adhere to the cupcakes an prevent them from seeping into or sliding off the cakes.  This tends to work for me because I take them out 1-2 minutes early and then they don't dry out.

In a Rush
Try not to rush making cupcakes - or whenever you bake.  However, if you are pressed for time and say you have a motherload of cupcakes to make.  You can freeze the cupcakes or put them in the fridge to cool down if you want to move on to another batch.  Also make sure your tins are not hot/warm when you put the batter in the pans - the cakes could come out a bit flat or overcooked.

Wrap it Up
Another trick you can try to ensure a moist & fluffy cupcake is to wrap the cakes in plastic wrap once they're out of the oven.  Now, I know what I said before about cooling them down.  However, this method should be used when they have cooked a few minutes longer than required.  In which case your cupcake will probably be dry and wrapping them in plastic will trap the heat.  Put them in the fridge to slow the carry over cooking process.

Speaking of Dry...
Brush overbaked cupcakes with a simple syrup or flavored liqueur if they are a bit dry.  This might not save the cupcake entirely, but it should give them enough moisture to make them bearable.

Jack Frost
Frosting can be forgiving - but make sure that you apply it to cooled down cupcakes. If you had them in the fridge - let them sit out for about 20 minutes or to room tempature.  Cold frosted cupcakes are not that good - at least to me. 

Stuck in the middle
NEVER bake your cupcakes in the lower or upper half of your oven.  I did that once and the bottoms of my cupcakes came off with the wrappers and they were a bit dry.  Always bake them in the middle rack.

What to do with leftover, dry, too cakey cupcakes.....Make some trifle!  Cut the cupcakes into bite sized cubes and layer them in between whipped cream and berries for an easy dessert!

These are just some of the basic tips I have on the topic of cupcakes.  If you have any questions or suggestions of your own - please post a comment or email me.

......if you are in the mood for cupcakes don't forget to enter to win the Friday Freebie!  A Carrot Cupcake Kit complete with cupcake mix, paper liners, frosting, sprinkles, cupcake wrappers and candy toppers! 

Monday, March 8, 2010

‘Cupcake Monday’, Oscar Bash ‘Recap’ and Princess and the Frog Sneak Peek

It’s 'Cupcake Monday' and this weekend I made one cupcake two different ways.  I tested an Orange Buttermilk Cupcake recipe that a coworker gave to me, which she found in a local paper.  I made some adjustments and added my own spin on it….here’s what I got:

Orange Creme Cupcakes_2

Orange Creme Cupcakes
They came out soooo good and tasted super delicious!  After I made these, I wanted to try and do a cupcake for the Easter Holiday.  After toying with a few ideas, I finally came up with this:

Blue Extreme Close Up Easter Basket Cupcakes_10
It’s a candy Easter Basket….
Blue Close Up Easter Basket Cupcakes

I like to call these babies, ‘Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket’ Cupcakes.  I put so many jellybeans in the ‘baskets’ that they kept spilling out!  That’s how I came up with the name -  Ha-ha!  Can you guess what the baskets are made out of?

Yellow Close Up Easter Basket Cupcakes
Rainbow Easter Basket Cupcakes _2
Rainbow_Easter Basket Cupcakes _3
Rainbow_Easter Basket Cupcakes_1
How cute are they though?

I might pull a Bakerella on you and show you the step by step instructions just in time for Easter.  Actually, I did take pictures as I was making them, but my fingers looked all gnarly from lack of manicures and frankly, I wasn’t ready to give you all that much of me yet ;)

So, onto other things… my so called Oscar Bash.  Wanna see how it went…….?????

My Oscar Night
(Crickets chirping in the background…)  IT WAS A TOTAL BUST!  LOL!

That’s me in my PJ’s, on my bed, a glass of Ballatore, a bowl of popcorn, my Oscar Bingo & Ballot, and a pile of laundry to fold.  Hey, sometimes it happens.  It seems that things came up and some people just couldn’t make it at the last minute.  So, I decided to make it a party of one – and I still had a good time and guessed 13 winners from the top awards (does anyone really know what sound mixing is?).

Okay, so I’ve been staying up many a late night working on The Little Diva’s Princess and The Frog party.  Here’s a sneak peek at what’s in the works:



The Little Diva came down while I was snapping these pictures and started giving me a bunch of suggestions as what to do with everything.  A little party planner in the making – so cute!  I’ll post more as things come together.

Don’t forget to enter to win this week’s Friday Freebie and check back tomorrow for a party planning tip!

Photo Credit: Twizzlers

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