Creative Accomplishment

I need creative outlets and projects in my life like a fish needs water to survive. I've thrived on the creative process since I was a child and love that feeling when I see something that inspires me and I think to myself I can make that and I can make it better. During the time I planned my wedding, I constantly had ideas and thoughts of things to make and try. Now with the advent of Pinterest I am bombarded with things I want to try. Nothing thrills me more than when someone proclaims "You made that?!"

I almost always have a project or three that I'm working on and this year was no exception. I tried new recipes like The Carbomb Cupcakes. I scrapbooked my way through our Hawaiian Honeymoon and made my own wedding album on Adormapix. By far the biggest undertaking of the year was the quilt for my grandmother.

My grandfather was a very well dressed man, and I could probably count on one hand the times I've seen him without a starched shirt and tie on. He passed in February at the age of 85 and when my grandmother was ready and started going through his belongings, I asked her for all his ties. Over the next few months she gave me bags of them over 60 in total and I started the quilt in May.

I was inspired by a photo I had found through a google search, and while I have a background in sewing I had never quilted before. I chose fabrics at Joann's that had a menswear feel, like cotton shirting and pinstripe suit twill. I transferred and embroidered the names of all 20 of my family members on to the sashing of the quilt. Then I started basting and stitching the ties and putting everything together. I hit some roadblocks and improvised somethings but I finished the quilt in November and gave it to my grandmother on Thanksgiving. She was surprised and thrilled and so glad to have something so tangible to remember him by, she loved the you could still smell his signature cologne on it. It brought a lot of my family members to tears. Its large enough for her to use it on her double bed but i think she wants to hang it in the living room for all to see. 

Renee at work helped me take some incredible photos of it.



Check out the photo above... On the left is my dad Carmen age 20 circa 1976. On the right is my brother Tom age 18 in 2011. They're practically twins. My amazing mother figured out how to clone her husband. My brother recreated this photo for my parents Christmas gift this year and I just think its the coolest thing ever.


101 in 1001: #80 Make a Shadow Box to Display Seashells

I accomplished my first item on my 101 in 1001 list! 

A few weeks ago I read THIS post on Offbeat Home.  When I was a kid, I was fascinated with seashells and I wanted to be a biologist. I had a massive collection of sea shells and other oceanic items. Ever since I left home for college they have been packed up in shoe boxes at the top of my closet. I had always wanted to display them some how but didn't really think that a shadow box was big enough (I have some larger pieces in the collection) plus i didn't know where you bought on or how i would go about making one. I also didn't have a place to display them. When I saw the letterpress drawer turned shadow box I thought it was a great idea, and hey now i have a house to put it in.

As soon as I saw the article, I clicked over to Ebay, figuring many of the readers would have the same idea as me. I found a large letterpress drawer for a reasonable amount and started bidding. A day later, I won! The Letterpress drawer was on its way to my house. It arrived on St. Patrick's Day and that weekend I got started.

 It was pretty dirty and someone had written the letters for each tray on the wood. My Dad was just as fascinated with it as I was. When he was in college he used to work for a printer as the type setter so he used them all the time and explained to me what he used them for.

Once I cleaned the drawer, I painted the whole thing with 2 coats of indoor latex paint (Behr - Neptue Blue) the same shade as a dresser in the room where this was going.

After it dried, I attached 2 picture framing hooks on the back and got to work placing and arranging my collection.

I walked away from it for a day or two and rearranged again, before hot gluing them in place.

Jon hung it up for me in our spare room (the nautical room).


Car-Bomb Cup Cakes

Disclaimer: This is not an easy recipe to make and does take quite a chunk of time but well worth it. I also doubled the recipe as I was bringing these in for my coworkers 21st Birthday.

I found the recipe here at SmittenKitchen. She does a really good job of explaining the recipe but i made a few changes and additions.

From Wikipedia:  Irish Car Bomb: The name refers to the drink's Irish ingredients - typically Guinness stout, Baileys Irish Cream, and Jameson Irish Whiskey. The whiskey is floated on top of the Irish Cream in a shot glass, and the shot glass is then dropped into the stout. Once mixed, the drink must be consumed quickly because it will curdle.

For the Guinness Chocolate Cupcake you will need:

1 cup of Guinness
1 cup (2 sticks) Unsalted Butter
3/4 cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
2 cups All-purpose Flour
2 cups Sugar
1 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
3/4 tsp Salt
2 Eggs
2/3 cup Sour Cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line your cupcake trays with liners (I found fun shamrock ones at Micheal's).
In a sauce pan, bring Guinness and Butter to a simmer and then whisk in Cocoa Powder until smooth.
Let it cool slightly. (I used the whisk on my hand mixer it worked much better than by hand)
In one large bowl, mix Flour, Sugar, Baking Soda and Salt.

In another larger bowl, beat eggs and sour cream with a hand mixer.

Add the Guinness Pot to the Egg/Sour Cream mixture and beat just until mixed.

Slowly mix in flour mixture while using the electric mixer.
Using a rubber spatula fold batter until completely combined.

Fill cup cake liners 3/4 full and bake for 17-18 minutes. tooth pick should come out clean. Let these cool on a wire rack.

While those are baking you can get started on the frosting.

For the Bailey's Irish Cream Frosting you will need....
3 cups Confectioner's Sugar (Powder Sugar)
1 stick of Unsalted Butter - Softened!
1 8oz Package of Cream Cheese - Softened!
1-2 tbs. of Bailey's (taste 1st before adding that 2nd tbs.)

In a large bowl mix Butter and Cream Cheese with a hand mixer until fluffy.
Slowly add in the powdered sugar mixing as you go.
Drizzle in the Bailey's and mix thoroughly.
For the Whiskey Chocolate Ganache filling you will need....
8 oz of Bittersweet Chocolate
2/3 cup Heavy Cream
2 tbs. Butter
2-3 tsp of Jameson Whiskey

In a saucepan, boil water.
In another sauce pan, heat the cream until starts to simmer.
Add in your chocolate chips, remove from heat, and after about a minute stir the melted chocolate until smooth.
If you need to get to smoother place the pot over the boiling water pot to create a double boiler.
Add Butter and Whiskey and mix well.
Thicken and cool the ganache in the fridge before filling the cupcakes.

Putting the cupcakes together.....
Using a garnish knife or a apple corer, cut the centers out of the cupcake. DON'T GO ALL THE WAY TO THE BOTTOM.
Fill each cupcake with ganache, the easiest way is to use a pastry bag or a ziplock with the corner cut.
Then ice each cupcake with the frosting - use a knife or make it fancy by using a piping bag.
Then Enjoy!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!


Reviews: Be Our Guest

McFadden's Catering/Lakeside Manor Catering - Gibbsboro, NJ

Kevin McFadden and his staff did a wonderful job catering and running the show at my wedding. Almost a month later people are still commenting on how good his food was. Kevin has his own facility on the lake in Gibbsboro, NJ, but is also on the preferred list at the Camden County Boat House at Cooper River Park. His facility is nice and spacious but the boathouse just blew us away. His prices are extremely reasonable and you get a lot for the money.

He has tastings once a month so you can try his food before you even book him. He has a suggested menu but he's very flexible about customizing it. The cocktail hour spread was a large array of veggies, fruits, cheeses, crackers, and antipasta, plus many served hot items. The portions were large and well put together, plus the cake was included if you use one of his bakers (he gave me a discount since i used a different baker).

He includes over 20 colors of linens and a full bar set up. John the Bartender was essential in planning our liquor order with canal's (we were able to return unopened bottles). The bartenders were great and made sure everyone "had a good time."

When my guests arrived at the boathouse almost an hour before cocktail hour Kevin didn't even hesitate about opening the doors early and serving them. His staff is wonderful and helped carry down every last box to the cars at the end of the night.

During the planning process Kevin met with us at least 6 times going over all the details and tasting food. He arranged for special consideration at the boat house for us to get in early on friday to drop off stuff and set the room up. He is super attentive and his wife is the travel agent that help us book our awesome honeymoon. There is no way my wedding would have been as successful as it was with out him! 


Reviews: With This Ring

Canzi Creations - Philadelphia, PA

Roy of Canzi Creations custom made both my Engagement ring and our wedding bands. Located on Jeweler's Row in Philadelphia, he doesn't have a big show room but he is an amazing craftsmen. He has great ideas and suggested a beautiful band to really compliment my engagement ring. It was awesome to see our designs in the 3-D CAD pics he sent us before we made our decisions we were able to tweak the designs and make them perfect. The prices were great, the work was phenomenal and the turnaround time was about a month from design to rings in hand. I will be using him for all our jewelery needs.


Gifts for our Besties

As we get closer to the wedding, I can't help but feel so very loved and Jon and I really want to express our gratitude to our friends and family for being such a big part of our wedding. It means so much to us to have them standing up there with us and giving our marriage their support.

I already mentioned what we're giving our parents - Digital frames with our engagement photos in them and once we get our pro pics we'll add those too.

My cousins - Erica, Larissa, Miranda, and Bella. Erica is singing and Larissa, Miranda, & Bella are reading. They are getting custom headbands from Magdalina Designs.

The Bridesmaids - Natalie, Jackie, Rachel, Amanda, Sonia, and Olivia are getting goodie bags filled with Flip Flops, a headband, a necklace, a fruity coach change purse and I will also be covering the cost of their makeup.

The Groomsmen - Mike, Jack, Peter, James and Mike are getting goodie bags that include sunglasses, socks, pocket square, and monogramed flask with 2 cigars.

Since my brother is only 17, he won't be getting any cigars or Jameson in his flask instead I picked him out an awesome pair of wooden plugs for his ears.


First Glimpse of my Florals

My mom and I took a little trip to visit Darlene and go over our floral order and surprise, surprise look what she had for us to see....

Its a mock up of what our tall centerpieces will be! I think we'll be using short votive candles instead of long tapers and she'll be draping strands of pearls through the arrangements


Fun with a Glue Gun

So remember awhile back around Christmas time that I had purchased a decorative lobster trap. It sat around in our office for about 4 months and I finally did something with it. When I was at Sonia's house last weekend, we were in Baltimore and I purchased 2 squeaky rubber crabs from a souvenir shop for $6. I gathered up my glue gun and some other fun things and got to work.

The two crabs became a Mr. & a Mrs.

And they were placed on their new home making a perfect Lobster Trap Card Box.

While I was gluing things, I also prettied up our Bathroom Baskets.


DIY: Cake Pedestal

The window of the bakery was filled with beautiful display cakes in all shapes and sizes, the one thing they all had in common was that they were all displayed on beautiful cake stands. At the end of the appointment I asked her if she could show us what options she had for us to use. Unfortunately, our cake was too large to go on one of the stands she had but she would look at her suppliers and if we found anything we liked we could use that.

Our Requirements
  • 16" in Diameter, at least
  • Must be able to hold at least 100 lbs
  • Must be very stable - no wobbles!
After 2 hours of googling, surfing Etsy and Ebay and hunting through T.J. Maxx, Marshalls, HomeGoods, etc. I couldn't find anything larger than 12" and under $60. Then I started looking for materials to make my own. I had seen DIY tutorials on Weddingbee where the poster used a vase or glass and a plate. Still no luck. Everything was either too small or too big or the plate was to curved or it had a ridge.

Walking through Target, I found it! A wooden candle holder meant for a 3" pillar. It was about 7" tall and had a cool shape to it I bought it for $10 figuring we could cut the platter part from wood easily. After scouring Michael's and only finding 6" & 8" wood plaques, we headed to Lowe's. Instead of getting a sheet of wood to cut up we found precut circles meant for table tops or barstools. At 18" wide it was a little bigger than we need but it works. Also needed were screws, screw in "eye" hooks, and paint.

Materials Pic

Jon did all the hard labor, I just did the decorating.

1. Remove the metal dish on the top of the pillar

2. Find the center of the 18" wood disk and mark 4 screw holes

3. Match pillar up so it will sit in the exact center (Super Important! If its not in the center the balance will be off potentially making easier for it to tip once the cake is placed on top.

4. Make sure the stand is level and test with weight

We thought it was a little too shaky so I ran to Micheal's and picked up the 8" wood plaque to place on the bottom - same process as top. Then we tested again. Much more stable!

5. I then sanded the whole thing. I really wanted to get all the finish off the candle pillar.

6. I painted the whole thing with 3 coats of Valspar Tropical Sea. Letting it dry between each coat.

7. At this point, you can spray with a shiny finishing spray.
8. After letting it really dry for a few days I measured the circumference and did some math, I screwed in the eye hooks equally around the underside of the dish.

9. Once they were all in I started beading, first all the dangles, then all the swags using beads I found at Michael's.

 The finishing touch was a 15" mother of pearl scalloped charger plate I found at Pier 1.
    The Final Product

      Total Cost: $40 ish

      7" Pillar from Target: $10
      18" Wooden Disk from Lowe's: $10
      8" Wooden Plaque from Michaels: $5
      8 Screws: $4
      10 Eye hooks: $2
      Sample can of Paint: $3
      Beads: $26 but I'm using them for other projects too.