While I tend to feature larger parties on yamf, I’m much more a fan of small gatherings for several reasons. One being that I dislike when too many conversations are going on at once and I can’t seem to insert myself in any of them. Two, I’m really bad at estimating how much food to make. And three, our table can only seat six people. So I’ve made it a goal to invite smaller groups over for casual dinners monthly. The newly released title, The Set Table: the Art of Small Gatherings by Heather Shuckburgh, is inspiring me to be thoughtful in planning each one and include special touches like colorful napkins, a mix of patterned plates, or a silver cup of flowers. Maybe pretty details will distract from the fact that I’m no Julia Child.
One time we were at a party and Ryan successfully convinced everybody that my favorite band is Smash Mouth. That embarrassing occasion inspired these mini button name tags that are meant to not only be an accessory for your guests, but a conversation starter. You can see all the details right here on Julep. I think my favorite one might be Truman: banned from Chilis for life. Thanks to Kirsten for designing these!
Some other posts from the week you’re sure to like:
- Leif has the prettiest items for your tabletop
- I need a new phone cover – diy it or buy something rad?
- It’s about that time to do another homemade pinata round-up
- 7 of my fave online sites to buy affordable art
- Do you know what faux-dermy is?
- Best of the week!
Today’s tutorial was created by the talented Alana of Humunuku. Why didn’t I know image transfer was so easy? I can’t wait to try this on muslin bags for party favors.
Once I discovered how simple image transfer is, I wanted to customize every item in reach. This technique can be used in so many different ways. Think gift tags, invitations, party favors or even and art project for a rainy day. Try it, you’ll be hooked.
To make your own image transfer you’ll need:
- Photo Copy or Printed Image (printed with toner not ink jet ink)
- Something to print on. A card, paper, ribbon, tags, etc.
- Design Art Marker (Preferably the clear blending color or a light grey)
1. Make a photo copy of an image you’d like to transfer. If you are using something with words, you will want to reverse the image. A contrasty image seems to work best and is most clear.
2. With toner side down, place the image on the surface you’d like to transfer the image to.
3. Using the designer art marker, ink up the entire back of the image, pressing down firmly. Sometimes I go over the important parts a few times to get it very saturated.
Remove the copy and it’s done. Easy!
I am a flats girl all the way. I probably shouldn’t be, I’m fairly short and shoes with a heel might help elongate my sturdy (a nice word for meaty) legs. But I can’t seem to break my flats habit so I’m going to set fashion advice aside and embrace my true love.
This year while I was going through my seasonal closet purge and surge, I realized all my beloved flats were thrashed so I had to start fresh. I may have gone overboard with nine new additions but you know when you run out of something like toothpaste and then you end up buying it every time you go to the store for weeks? That’s what happened here. So today I’m sharing my closet full of flats in hopes that somebody will benefit from my shopping by finding a favorite pair for themselves.
I should mention that I labeled the shoes at full price but I didn’t actually pay full price for any of them. It pays to wait for the sale that is bound to happen within a couple of weeks.
sources: Loly in the Sky Carla Flat (all of the shoes from this brand are handmade and reasonably priced at $40, they’re darn delightful too), Lucky Brand Emmie Flat, mary janes from Target (no longer available but if you’re really lucky, you might find them in your local store), Wanted Nautical Stripe Skimmer, Old Navy Perforated Flats (on sale!), JCrew Factory Cap Toe Flats (on sale!), Banana Republic Abby Flat (my fave pair so far, I waited until they had a 40% off sale and used reward dollars – I want to make my work to get a deal clear), Kimchi Leather Peep-Toe Skimmer (comes in 6 different colors!), Calvin Klein Prelia Ballet Flats (on sale!)
Today is my birthday so the coolest cake maker in all the land, Lyndsay Sung of Coco Cake Land, whipped up this masterpiece.
I’ve really been inspired by fast and easy (but still cute!) parties lately. Make a few decorations, throw them up on the wall, blow up a balloon, frost a cake and then sit down and eat from a giant bowl of chips. Simple! Easy! Cute! Maybe a bit lazy! Who’s with me?
Of course, the insane-in-the-membrane stacked party tables and decorated to the max 1st birthdays are still super fun. I’m constantly dazzled by such parties and dreaming of stuffing my face with all the fancy snacks. But hey, how about a cute party with a mellow little theme, such as sailing? Tie it together with some blue, red and white, a dash of stripes and some cute wavy ocean buttercream. Then, take seven minutes and make this super easy cupcake liner garland.
It’s that easy. Promise.
You will need:
1. One 7 inch layer cake, baked and cooled and ready to frost.
2. Four cups of vanilla buttercream tinted with a bit of gel food colouring. I used ⅛ teaspoon of Sky Blue and a toothpick dab of Leaf Green. Need a recipe? My friend Rosie has lots of wonderful ones, including this one.
3. A piping bag fitted with an open star 4B tip.
4. Craft paper, scissors and a few wooden skewers to make your sailboat toppers.
5. Two dozen or so mini cupcake liners, a few feet of string and clear tape to make your garland.
To make the garland:
1. Squash a bunch of mini cupcake liners so they become flat paper circles. I used this cute stripey pattern, which happens to have a white circle on the bottom, giving it a floral look. I used 24 liners for my garland.
2. Tape one side of the flat cupcake liner to your piece of string. Tape the next one beside it, and so on and so forth. DONE.
To make the sailboat toppers:
1. Cut out sailboat shapes using scissors. Tape to a wooden skewer.
2. Cut out a round sun or moon. Or, how about a grey cloud? Tape to wooden skewer.
3. Cut out another shape for a Happy Birthday topper, if you so wish.
3. If you want to get wild, tape some Japanese washi tape around a wooden skewer for some matching mini cupcakes or to plunk into the cake too. DONE.
To frost the cake:
1. Frost and fill your cake as you normally would. If you’ve never done that before, visit here for a great step by step tutorial.
2. Now, take your piping bag… do a few practice swirlies on a paper towel or a plate if you like. Then, start creating some wavy swirls in any fashion you fancy until the whole top of the cake is covered!
Pipe away! Don’t be shy! Ocean waves aren’t perfect!
Hang up your garland using some tape. Plunk your cake toppers into your wavy ocean buttercream. Put your feet up and have a snooze before your guests arrive. Or, have a slice while you wait for your party to start…
My whole family loves chocolate but one sister in particular is a mega fan. She doesn’t classify something as a dessert unless chocolate is involved and spends in inordinate amount of time trying to figure out why so many people make mediocre chocolate chip cookies. So for her birthday last week instead of sending her a predetermined box of chocolates, I hand picked my favorite chocolate items (yes, I’m obsessed with Chocolove and feature it in nearly every post) and packaged them up sweetly. It’s a box of happy that takes less than 5 minutes to put together. Plus, moms would love it too (unless your mom is allergic to chocolate in which case, I send my condolences).
sources: box from IKEA, happy card from Ship & Shape
Today’s post is from Sharon, the party genius behind Cupcakes and Cutlery.
This month is a SUPER busy birthday month in my family. And given that our very own Melanie is having a birthday next month, I thought I would do something birthday related. I wanted to make a simple pennant banner that you can personalize with whatever flair you like.
All you need is some canvas fabric (I’m sure other fabric would work as well but canvas has a bit more weight to it), a rotary cutter, a pencil, a yard stick, a wooden dowel, adhesive (I just used Glue Dots because I had time constraints but a glue gun would probably work really well), a stamp and stamp pad and whatever items you want to decorate your banner with. And maybe some Nerds. You know, just for a snack while you are working.
I used the yard stick to lay out my pennant shape (pennant is another fancy way to say triangle if you weren’t aware) and used a pencil to mark the lines. Use the rotary cutter to cut out the shape. I did not get all technical and measure and all that. I kept it easy and just eyeballed it. Make sure to leave about an inch extra material at the top so you can fold it over the dowel and adhere it to itself.
Fold over the top inch of the banner. This is where you will put the dowel. I ironed the crease to make it a bit easier to work with but you don’t have to. Make sure to trim the ends on both sides of the folded flap so they are even with the front sides.
Grab a stamp pad and stamp. Stamp your banner in any way that you want. I will warn you, some inks will dry better than others. The kind that I used didn’t ever fully dry and would definitely smear.
When you are done, lay the banner face down on your work space and then add the dowel. Secure the fabric to the dowel with your adhesive of choice.
Tie ribbon or string to one side of the dowel. Determine the length that you want your ribbon hanger to be and then cut the ribbon from the spool. Tie the loose end to the other side of the dowel.
Now that you have your basic pennant banner done, you can add whatever flair you would like. I made these simple patterned fabric tassels to adorn it. For this one I decided to keep it simple. The other stuff that I added didn’t add anything so I took it off to keep it from getting too busy.
If you have been following along with my craft contributions on YAMF you know that I like things that can be easily customized. This banner can be changed very easily to make it in more boy friendly colors (I’ve got two little boys who are not fond of pastel-y girl colors) by just sliding the ribbon and yarn off the ends and adding other colors.
I just love the simplicity of just one large triangle. And if you are feeling more creative, you could certainly hand paint or stencil something on it instead of stamping. Happy birthday to us all!
I should preface this post by stating that I’m not a photographer and would never claim to be. I take photos out of necessity. But, I have taken some steps that have improved my photos immensely in the last year so I’m sharing them today with novices in mind. These are basic, you won’t become the next Annie Leibovitz by implementing them, but if you’re just looking to take your photos a step up from auto, this might help. I should also mention that none of these steps involve that fancy of equipment (I have a basic DSLR) or editing.
Step One: Get a Better Camera
The first thing I did was upgraded my point and shoot to a DSLR. I take all my photos with the Canon EOS Rebel T2i (there’s newer models now) which I bought at Costco. It’s pretty much the most basic DSLR you can get which is perfect for beginners. Last year I bought this 50 mm lens and now almost use it exclusively. I would argue that it’s the best $100 I’ve ever spent. It’s especially good for tabletop/still life photos.
Step Two: Learn About Aperture, Shutter Speed, Depth of Field and ISO
When I first bought my camera, I forced myself to read through the manual. I was determined if I was going to spend that much on an item that would learn how to use it well. I didn’t take into account that reading dry, instructional material is not how I absorb information best. Then I took an Alt Channel online course entitled DSLR 101 taught by the fabulous Justin Hackworth. He explained the basics of aperture, shutter speed, depth of field, and ISO. Having even a shallow understanding of these topics (whether by reading or learning from a pro) will help you in taking better photos, period. When I learned about the AV setting and started using it, it became my new automatic mode. I was amazed that it would automatically blur the background for me. Ha! Here’s a blog post written by Justin for a good starting point if you want to know more about aperture.
Step Three: Use Natural Light & A Make-Shift Studio
I can’t remember the last time I used the flash on my camera. After taking step two, you’ll understand the settings well enough to adjust according to the lighting situation you are in but in general, shoot while the sun is up and your house is light filled.
For project photos I take for the blog, I drag my table next to my sliding glass doors and lay down a piece of white poster board. Then I use a folding white display board (the kind you would display a science project on) and stand it up facing the window as a light reflector, a tip I first learned from Ez. It creates a well lit setting for your subject without heavy shadows.
For photos of Beck I open up the curtains and if they’re posed, I face him towards the light.
Step Four: Go Manual
I’m sure a lot of you breezed through the first three steps since you’ve probably heard it all before, but this last step is what probably affected my photography the most. One day when Jennifer Little was taking photos for me I was complaining about how when I was taking photos using the AV setting, if the light wasn’t good enough the result would be grainy. She switched my camera over to manual mode and adjusted the shutter speed to 1/100 and the aperture to F3.5 so that the light meter was at 0 (these settings were according to the light that was in the room at the time). Ever since I’ve kept the shutter speed at 1/100 and then adjust the aperture and iso according to the light (sometimes I fiddle around for a while) so that the meter stays near 0 (or above if I want it to be over exposed like when I’m taking a photo towards the window and want the light to be blurred). Wow, what a difference! Not only has the lighting in the photos improved, they’re much more crisp. And I stopped being lazy and manually focus my photos now too.
If that whole paragraph was utterly confusing to you, this post about how to shoot in manual mode explains it more in depth.
I have a lot more to learn but those are the (very doable) steps I’ve taken to improve my photography in less than a year. Also, taking a lot of shots and editing them down afterwards doesn’t hurt either. Thank goodness for digital photography.
My birthday always lands really close (if not on) Mother’s Day and I’ve already made it perfectly clear to Ryan that I will not tolerate any of this combination of holidays business. I expect separate gifts for each occasion from each Beck and Ryan. Luckily for them, all they need to do is slap Beck’s face on something like this card and I will deem it satisfactory. You can find directions on how to make your own card right here on Julep.
Have a sunny one friends!
Today’s post is from super crafter and cute mom, Amelia of The Homebook. I’ve never played Wahoo but this diy is leaving me ready for a game night.
Wahoo! Have you ever played? This game was a staple of my childhood. It’s fun for all ages (as long as all players know how to count) because there’s really no skill involved—it’s all based on your luck of the dice. Which means my competitive husband, who usually beats me in every game, sometimes loses. Precisely why I like it! Even better, it’s quite easy to make your own game board, as pretty as you like. I think that means everyone is a winner.
Here’s what you’ll need:
Find the center of your sheet of plywood (12inches) and make a mark with your pencil. From that center mark, measure 1 ½ inches up, down, left and right, and mark with your pencil. From each of those marks, make 5 more marks, 1 ½ inches apart, forming a cross on the board. Make a mark on each side of those marks, 1 ½ inches apart, so that eventually each “arm” of the cross has three rows of six marks. Once your cross is formed, make 5 marks, 1 ½ inches apart, diagonally in each corner of the board. (You can sort of eyeball this part.) Phew! Are you still with me? It’s easier than it sounds, I promise.
With a ½ inch bit, drill a hole at each pencil mark, except for the first mark you made, the center of the board. Erase that! Leave that un-drilled! Once all the holes have been drilled, sand the board until smooth.
Paint the wooden balls, five in each color. Let dry.
Using the tip of a paintbrush, dab dots onto the blocks to look like dice. Make 4 dice, one in each color. Let dry.
Round up some friends and start playing! You can find directions on how to play Wahoo HERE. Good luck!
See more from Amelia on The Homebook