Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes


 As I mentioned in my previous post, I went to a birthday party and made two fun cupcake recipes!  The first recipe I ventured was a strawberry lemonade cupcake, and you can view how that turned out here. The second one was a chocolate peanut butter cupcake.  Yum to both!  Although I have to admit the chocolate peanut butter ones were my favorite.

   I got the recipe for the chocolate peanut butter cupcakes from Annie Eat's Blog, although lack of ingredients caused me to tweak the frosting recipe a bit.  Being my biggest critic, there are a few things I would change about the recipe:  Next time I will save myself the trouble and use a devil's food boxed cake mix instead of making the chocolate cake by scratch.  The made from scratch recipe was a little dry for my taste, and the devil's food cake mix I usually get always turns out moist and delicious.  I wouldn't change a bit about the peanut butter balls that go in the center of the cupcake, those were DELICIOUS!  However, some of them did kind of disappear and left a little hole in the center of the cupcakes, but some turned out fine and were still intact in the center.  The ball disappearing didn't effect the taste, though, it was just kind of weird.

   On a really great note, I can honestly say this peanut butter frosting is the best frosting I have ever tasted!  Annie Eat's recipe called for a cup of frozen whipped topping, which I didn't have, so I used 1/4 cup fat free vanilla coffee creamer and two spoon fulls of marshmallow creme instead.  Everything turned out great in the end so I'm sure no matter which ingredients you choose to use, this frosting will not disappoint!


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes


   For a friend's birthday party I decided to go all out and make some cupcakes:)  I had two different recipes I had been wanting to whip up, so what better time than a birthday?!  One of the cupcakes that I  tried out was a strawberry lemonade cupcake.  I got the idea for this concoction from Easy Baked's Strawberry Lemonade Layer Cake but went for the full touchdown by making cupcakes instead.  The cake recipe called for a boxed strawberry cake mix, so I used a strawberry boxed cake mix and followed the directions accordingly. However, the baker noted that the lemonade filling she used was not a good consistency to ice cakes (or cupcakes) so I followed her tweaked recipe for lemonade frosting.

Fluffy Lemonade Frosting
8oz package of cream cheese at room temperature
1 packet of Kool-Aid Lemonade
yellow food coloring
7 ounces of marshmallow creme
1/3 cup powdered sugar
8 ounces cool whip

Directions
1.  Cream together the cream cheese, Kool-Aid packet and food coloring (to your desired color) until well mixed.
2.  Then add the marshmallow creme and powdered sugar.  After that mix beat in the cool whip until everything is mixed and has a fluffy texture.
3.  Refrigerate the icing until right before serving.

   The frosting was a cool consistency, light and fluffy, but with enough base that the icing didn't run off or melt.  I am usually impressed with boxed cake recipes, and this strawberry mix was no different- the cupcakes turned out moist and delicious.  All in all, they really did taste like strawberry lemonade and were a fun summer twist to usual strawberry cupcake!


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Canvas Art

   I've been itchin' to do some canvas art and ran across A Beautiful Mess's blog post that had just the inspiration I needed.  They show you how to do some cool wall art with vinyl letters.  I love how easy it is to do, how hard it is to mess up, and how artsy the end product looks!


   I ended up using a Bible verse that means a lot to Wil and I but you could do a cute quote, song lyrics, names, silhouettes, etc.  Here is a step-by-step tutorial on how to make your own canvas art:


You Will Need:
A Canvas of any size
Vinyl letters 
Scrapbook paper (this will be the background for the letters)
Mod Podge
Acrylic Paint
Paint Brush or sponge


1. Cut the scrapbook paper to be the size of the canvas you are using.
2. Mod Podge the canvas, lay the scrapbook paper on the canvas and then Mod Podge over the scrapbook paper.  Wait for this to dry.
3.  Cut out the vinyl letters and place them on the canvas to make sure everything fits and looks right.  Once you're satisfied peel the letters off and stick them where you want them on the scrapbook paper.

4.  Paint over the whole canvas.  












(I used a "China Blue" over the whole canvas and then did little splotches of white here and there.  Then, my husband suggested I add some moss around the edges, so, I added some moss around the edges just for him:)  I splotched "foilage green" around the edges with a sponge brush for the mossy look.  Then I VERY lightly went over everything again with the "China Blue" to give it a faded look.)

5.  After everything dries peel the letters off.  The paint bled a little around the edges for me but I liked the way that looked.  If yours bled and you don't like how it looks then just chip it away with your fingernail or a knife.
6.  Mod Podge over the whole canvas again so that everything stays in tact and the paint won't come off if it gets wet.  Once that coat dries you are done!  Proudly display it in your home or give it as a sweet gift!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Photographer

  Let me just start out by saying our photographer was amazing!  It was absolutely a blessing from the Lord that we found someone with such an incredible talent at such a great price!  Emily Rodgers was actually recommended to us by another photographer that we had liked but was already booked for our date.  We looked at her website, met with her and both agreed she was the one.  We loved the bright colors and her creative edge AND she had a wedding package for $2,100.  Yes, this is still pricey- especially for the budget that we were on- but it included an engagement picture session, 6 hours of wedding shooting, a coffee table book, and a cd of all the pictures she took.  The cd itself saved us so much money because we didn't have to pay for each individual print.

  The best advice I have for finding a photographer at a good price is to keep looking, they really are out there.  The more expensive they are doesn't always mean the better they are.  When I started out looking I got so discouraged at the high prices and was afraid I would have to settle with a cheap photographer and risk having awful pictures. I was pleasantly surprised, though, I kept looking and asking around and realistic options started popping up.  Emily was our favorite, but there were other options around the same price point.

  This did end up being about a fourth of our budget, but pictures were very important to us and we were willing to pay for them.  If you are looking for less expensive options look into friends or family that do photography as a side hobby.  I have friends that took this route and their pictures turned out great.  If that isn't an option for you, look into local schools or photography clubs for some students that would be willing to do it for a great price to get experience.  Don't get discouraged, options are out there for any budget and a blushing bride is going to look good in any light:)



Friday, July 13, 2012

Fresh Finds

Handpainted Toms!


You can get them at Black Bird Creations.  She does all sorts of custom art on shoes, this one just happens to be one of my favs.


Chick-fil-a Grilled Chicken Nugget Meal!




Yes, that's right folks!  For about a year now I have been getting the kids meal at Chick-fil-a just so I could get the grilled chicken nuggets rather than fried chicken nuggets.  BUT one day I was super hungry and a kids meal just wouldn't suffice, so I pleaded with the guy at the counter for an 8 count grilled chicken nugget meal.  To my surprise, he said "sure, what would you like to drink."  Uh, SAY WHAT?!  He said "no problem, we do that all the time, its just not on the menu."  This has been life changing, to say the least.  Thank you Chick-fil-a for always coming through for me.


Capri Blue Volcano Candle




ABSOLUTE BEST CANDLES!  I first found these candles at Anthropology and fell in love.  They smell so wonderful.  Amazing.  Literally.  I ask for them for every Christmas and Birthday.  They were the Capri Blue Volcano candle at one point, but are now called Reserve Fire.  You can get them here from Amazon.com!

My New Golden Stella Clutch




 I am crazy about this new clutch!  I love the bright colors and the sunburst design.  There are so many clothes in my closet I can put this with, and it comes with a chain if you don't want to use it as a clutch!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Wedding Food

"Food is essential to life, therefore make it good"  Truett Cathy

   Well said Truett!  And since food was essential at our wedding, we made it good!  Wil and I had all of our absolute favorite foods served: Chick-fil-a chicken strips and nuggets-with Chick-fil-a sauce of course, Mcalister's chicken tortilla soup, Silver Spoon's spinach queso dip, Panera Bread cinnamon crunch bogals (just like the bagels except in little balls), mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, brownies and funfetti cake!  Not only was it a unique way to add character to the wedding, it was cheaper than using a caterer.  Here's the breakdown: (All of these prices are based on serving a little over 200 guests.)

12 trays of Chick-fil-a chicken (7 strips, 5 nuggets) x $70.24 ($64+ $6.24tax) = $842.88
38 quarts of Mcalister's chicken tortilla soup x $7.70 ($6.99 + $.71tax) = $292.60
20 quarts of Silver Spoon spinach queso (chips included) x $14.19 ($12.99 + $1.20tax) = $283.83
Mashed potatoes/Mac and cheese bar $350
Panera Bread cinnamon crunch bogals $111
Coffee/tea/water/flavored creamers  $130
Cheese and cracker trays $130

Food Cost:  $2,140.31



   Our wedding was at a resort, so thankfully they had tables/chairs/plates/cups/silverware/etc. for us to use.  The food was set up at stations using warming/serving trays as well.  (We picked the food up from the restaurants and transferred them to the warming trays.)  We were able to get the tables, chairs, etc for free, so the only added expense was the labor.  $940 went to the servers for room set up/take down, food preparation and service during the reception.  

Food + Labor
GRAND TOTAL:  $3,080.31
This is for a full meal and dessert for a little more than 200 people.*

   Yes, that still is a lot of money, but it is way below average for full meal for a 200 person wedding.  It averages to about $15 per person, and we had plenty of leftovers for the out of town guests to munch on the rest of the weekend!  


* We had a friend make the cake- and she paid for the ingredients as a wedding gift- so that cost is not added into the budget, but at around $1.20 a box you can't go wrong!  (****Please please please use rainbow chip icing with your funfetti cake, its soooo much better than funfetti icing!)



*A couple of our cousins made the brownies for Wil's grooms cake, and they also paid for the ingredients as a wedding gift.  




Thursday, July 5, 2012

July 4th Flag Cake

   Happy Independence Day!  I had a wonderful time with in Florida with family, and I hope everyone else did too!  We celebrated the good ol' American way- grilled out hamburgers and hotdogs, read the Declaration of Independence at dinner (courtesy of my daddy :) and proceeded to read the names of the signees haha), decorated a flag cake, gave the kiddos some sparklers and ended the day watching "The Patriot."  Yes, I would say our family is pretty patriotic.


   The flag cake that we celebrated with might look like it took a chunk of our day out to decorate, but it was quick and easy.  I also want to note that I cannot take credit for making it; my sister-in-law and my sweet little niece baked it and iced it while I took fun pictures of them.  I did cut up the fruit though, if that gives me enough credit to put it on my blog, haha!

   We baked a regular funfetti cake- using a box mix- simple and easy.  Let that cool completely and then set it on your platter.  Top the cake with cool whip dabbing it around to give it the fluffy texture.  Then make a square in the top left corner with blueberries, and stripes with cut up strawberries.  We cut the strawberries up in little pieces where the reddest part of the pieces could be on top.  We were kind of sad that only one piece of cake would get blueberries, so we spread the left over strawberries and blueberries around the whole cake.  Easy Peasy!



Sunday, July 1, 2012

Centerpieces


   To recap from my wedding flowers post, I saved so much money by doing my own flowers for my wedding!  Total cost of flowers for my wedding (includes 1 bridal bouquet, 5 bridesmaid bouquets, 7 boutonni√®res, 5 crosages, centerpieces for 22 tables, cake/sign in/food/gift/etc. table decor, and enough leftover to decorate the honeymoon sweet, AND tax) was $635.85! My bouquets were traditional, big and full, but I wanted to go a different route for the centerpieces- to save money, as well as, do something a little different.  This may have been my favorite DIY project I did for the whole wedding too!

   My wedding colors were teal and cranberry so each centerpiece had a vase with either teal rocks or cranberries floating in water.  I borrowed over 20 vases from friends and family. (As soon as I knew I wanted vases in the centerpieces I just started calling and emailing.  Almost everyone you know has AT LEAST 2 vases that they can spare for a week or so.) Think about how much money you saved right there!  The vases will all be different, but I really liked how it made each table unique.  (Don't forget to keep track of who gave you what vases so that it will be easy to return them.  I put a small piece of tape with their initials on the bottom of the vases.)  Then I had long sticks, lilies and alstromerias filling the vases.  We had some teal ribbon left over from doing the bouquets so we wrapped that around some of the vases that had cranberries in them.

   About a month before the wedding, Wil's mom and I cut a bunch of branches from her yard to use in the centerpieces.  We spray painted some of them cranberry and then sprayed the others with an adhesive and rolled them in tiny crystals.  I love how this added a little touch of detail and wasn't too over the top.  Then we went by a landscaping store and found a HUGE bag of gravel rocks for $11.00.  We laid the rocks out and spray painted them teal.

   After we put the flowers and sticks in the centerpieces, we hung some tea light candles from some of the branches.  It was very elegant and romantic with the lights dimmed.




   Price Breakdown:

Vasees: free!  :)
Rocks: $11.00
Spray Paint:  $10.00
Spray Glue: $5.00
Crystals: $5.00
Cranberries: $25.00 ($2.50/bag)
Tealights: free! leftovers from my brothers wedding- SUPER cheap though!

= $56.00 TOTAL 
(for 22 centerpieces and table decorations for the gift/food/sign in/drink/cake/etc. tables)
* I didn't add the prices of the flowers, but I have a cost breakdown of the flowers here.

These are some pictures of my practice attempts at home.  Make it your own and have fun with it!:)