Sunday, April 29, 2012

Weekend Wrap Party & the $0 Present

Did you have a fab weekend? Or even a half-way decent one? Hope so! 

The weekend wrap party is something I started awhile ago to help me share a little more of my life with you, in hopes that you'd share yours with me. So please let me know what you did this weekend too...whether it's linking to your blog or just leaving a comment. I want to get to know you! :-) 

Our weekend was busy as usual. I had to work Saturday until 2:30pm doing a live remote broadcast then we had a wedding. The wedding was for my friend Jessica. You may remember I went to her bachelorette party & talked about it here

The wedding was awesome & I helped her with a little project that I'll share with you for this Wednesday's post. 

My handsome date ;-) 

And yes...this was the only picture from the wedding. I forgot my camera on the island in the kitchen. foul! :p 

Sunday afternoon, Mike & I made good on part of my dad's Christmas present. My dad is a PE Teacher & he also directs his camp, Camp Icthus, every summer. His recent love has been kayaking. Before Christmas, my dad had mentioned a couple times wanting us all to go kayaking together. Mike & I are pretty busy with work & it just seems like our weekends fill up so fast. We realized that one of the best presents we could give my dad is a gift of time. So for Christmas, we set a date in advance to head out on the open seas lake.'s really true what they say, "some of the best gifts in life are free!"

Getting ready to put em in! 

It was a gorgeous day, weather-wise! We were out for about an hour & a half & man is it a good workout. The peacefulness of the lake made me long to do this more often. I love getting in a good workout at the gym but it just doesn't compare to the beauty of outside. 

I was a little fearful, okay a lot fearful of encountering snakes but we didn't stumble across any. We did see two enormous osprey nests & ospreys. One of the nests had little babies in it. We also saw a heron that was at least 4 feet tall. That's one of the things I adore about my dad...he loves nature & knows so much. He's really a brilliant man. I always loved taking nature walks with him because he knows what each tree, leave & animal is & usually has a cool story to go with them. I unfortunately can't remember all of that but I look forward to my children being able to explore with their grandfather (my dad) all that nature has to offer. 

That's me in action. I looked a hott mess! ;p We rode down to my parents in Mike's jeep, with the windows off & I should've taken a picture of my naturally curly hair for comedic purposes. may have scared you from ever stopping by Parties for Pennies again. ;p 

My dad, Me & my hubby Mike

It was such a wonderful afternoon. It was peaceful & almost like a little getaway from the hustle & bustle. Not to mention...I got to spend quality time with my dad (& mom & brothers). 

Here are a few more pics from Sunday - 

I got my mom a yellow rose bush a couple of years ago for Mothers day with notes on all the branches. She used to always tell my sister & me that she was growing "roses" not "weeds." Weeds are beautiful on the outside but not genuine on the inside. Roses are beautiful on the outside & genuine on the inside.  She cared about growing up girls that loved others, God and were genuine. On each of the branches I wrote specific ways in which she taught me (gave me an example of) how to be beautiful on the inside. It was so neat to see that small bush grow into something so beautiful & full! 

This is my parents new kitchen. I wish I had the before shot. It is truly amazing the transformation. I'm so thankful they were able to do it. They have sacrificed a lot over the years. There were four kids, my youngest brother with special needs & a lot of doctor visits...and my dad was supporting us all on one teachers salary. The first house we lived in most of my life had one bathroom for 6 of us.

It was fun to be able to eat the great meal Mom fixed for us in their new kitchen! 

I fell in love with their new pantry! Soo much space! your turn! What did you do this weekend? Any kayak trips or weddings? Tis the season. ;p 

Thanks for stopping by! Come back this Wednesday for a great Wedding project! 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Mothers Day Dipped Planters

I keep saying these words..."I can't believe _______ is right around the corner." This began just before December 2011. Am I just getting older? Anyways...Mothers Day is approaching (insert common quote I just mentioned ;p) & I wanted to do a project that would be a really inexpensive Mothers Day gift. This can also be a hostess gift, party favor and/or place setting. 

I saw this quote on pinterest & loved it. If you're a mom, Stephanie looks like she has some great advice & insight. Click on source to check out her blog.

My mom's name is Kay. And she is the most beautiful woman in the entire world. This quote is so true. She is what home feels like to me, she is the person I can feel most comfortable bawling my eyes out in her arms, she is my #1 fan (besides my dad & husband), she is the best listener in the world, there is no better human example of Gods love than her love & she is one of the reasons this blog even exists. 

My grandmother, my mom & I used to craft all the time growing up. Some of the best memories were sitting around the kitchen table hot gluing away! :-) I've got a bit of a perfectionist complex so I'd get really frustrated when I messed up. I'd want to just throw it away & start over but my mom would say...there is never a mistake you can't make into something beautiful. She gave me the courage to go to the edge creatively even if it didn't turn out how it was supposed to...and let me tell you of all the "trials" I've done for this blog...there have been plenty of "errors." 

I've got another Mothers Day/Birthday gift coming her way but I decided on this project because of several reasons. 

1) My mom & dad just redid their kitchen & it's been a long time coming. It looks awesome though! Maybe I'll share the before/after with you?! 

2) My mom loves using herbs in her cooking. She's the best cook! 

3) Dipping is in! I'm not talking about dipping as in chocolate dipped cone. Oh man, but that sounds really good right now. ;p 

I'm talking paint dipping. 

If you follow Centsational Girl, you know she talked about the trend here. She goes more in depth but basically it's the illusion of dipping your furniture or accessory in a different colored paint than the rest of the piece. 

Can you believe this was from an IKEA piece? Check out her blog to find out how she did it! 

Here's what I started with - 

I got the pots at Michaels for a little over $2 for both. The acrylic paint I already had, as well as the gloss enamel. I also picked up two herbs for a little over a $1 each. 

First you paint a base color on the two pots. I ended up doing about three coats. 

I didn't want to literally "dip" the pot in the paint because I didn't a whole lot left. I was nervous I wasn't going to have enough. I tried to tape around the pot. That didn't work. I tried to tape a piece of paper around the pot & it kept slipping. So...I grabbed a rubber band out of our junk drawer & it worked perfectly. I secured the rubber band around the pot & then started painting below the rubber line. 

After I painted the "dip" color, I sprayed it down with some gloss enamel spray by Martha Stewart to add the final touch. 

Then, I just planted the mint & rosemary into my dipped pots. 

I hope they help brighten up my mom's new kitchen! 

You could attach a special Mothers Day message to a toothpick & stick it in the plants. If you wanted to add a special message you could say, "Thanks for helping me grow in _________, Mom. Happy Mothers Day!" Have your children fill in the blank. Ask them how has Mom helped you? Was it going over your math homework that's so tough? Helping talk through relationship issues with friends at school? 

I know the flower pots have been done before but the paint dipping adds a fun modern twist! 

Stop by next week for a tutorial on wedding/party signs! 

If you're a mom...What has been the most meaningful Mothers Day present? 

P.S. If you want to see what I did for Mothers Day last year...go here. 

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Sunday, April 22, 2012

Weekend Wrap Party - Earth Day Style

Hope you had a great weekend & did a little celebrating of Earth Day! Our overflowing recycling bin is evidence we celebrated to the fullest! :-) The best part was our trash can had hardly anything in it. Call us the king & queen of Earth day, if you'd like. Just kidding. It was a great weekend & I did celebrate Earth Day. 

If you're stopping by Parties for Pennies for the first time, I work in radio (that's my full-time dealio). Two Saturdays of every month I do a live broadcast from a car dealership (Carriage KIA/Nissan). This past Saturday, I wanted to do a project for Earth Day.

I found a really cool idea on this blog. You make seed starters out of recycled paper. 

Basically you take shredded recycled paper & tissue paper, soak in warm water, pour into a mold (or cookie cutter), squeeze the excess water, take out of the mold, sprinkle with flower seeds & let dry. 

Once it dries, you can plant it in a pot & wait for pretty flowers to grow. It was a fun project for the kids to do! 

If you want more detailed instructions go to the blog I got the idea from here

This is me & my little friend Rea! It was her birthday this past week so she was wearing her pink birthday dress. The best part of my job is seriously being able to meet such awesome listeners like Rea & others. 

We had a nice rest of the weekend too...hope you did as well! 

Stop back by Parties for Pennies this Wednesday for a Mothers Day project. :-) 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Balloon Art

Balloons are to parties like cake is to icing (and yes, I meant it in that order ;p).

If you're stuck in a rut of the same plain jane balloons from when poofy bangs were in style, how about busting out some balloon art.

What is balloon art? Well...I think I made it up. I've never heard the term before...but surely someone somewhere has used that term before. This is just the Parties for Pennies version.

Let's start with what you're gonna need -

You're going to need some balloons. Shocker, huh? 

- Acrylic Paint 
- Paint Brush 
- String 
- Hot Air (if you don't have any around, I'll lend you some of husband says I have plenty. ;p) 

For my balloon art, I wanted to make a banner for my sister. This is a really awesome year for her. She just got engaged & is in the middle of planning a wedding. She's also my best friend &...well...her name only has 3 letters. ;p So Meg gets a balloon art banner. :-) 

I decided to do a chevron pattern & circles. I grabbed some white acrylic paint, a brush & my canvas (a balloon). 

I thought about using tape to outline the chevron pattern but I was afraid it'd pop the balloon. So I grabbed two post-it notes from the junk drawer & those were my guide. :-) I used the post-it note technique for the first line then eye-balled the rest. 

Yeah...I eye-balled the letters too, if you couldn't tell. ;p The circles were super easy too. I started with small circles & then gradually increased their size with my brush. You could buy balloons with the polka dots on them but this way, you can customize them yourself & save a few dollars. And here at Parties for Pennies, every penny counts. 

How can balloon art add to your next party? Well, you could use string & make a banner like I did. You could also fill them with helium & paint them, like above. They could also take the place of  paper laterns for decorations. Or you could let them wander free amoung the dust bunnies on the floor. (We have a dog so there is always a dust bunny somewhere) It would be kinda fun to walk in & see these pretty chevroned/polka-dotted balloons covering the floor. 

As far as the type of balloon art you do, well that's completely up to you. I played around a little & kinda dug the swirl look below. 

It got smudged a little in the drying process so it looks a little rough. ;p 

I will say that I attempted some market/pinterest research for YOU! :-) Have you seen the tutorials floating around showing a way to inflate balloons without helium? You basically use baking soda, baking powder & vegetable oil. Mix those ingredients up in the balloon & blow it up. The problem with this method is that once it goes up, if you pull it even slightly down, it falls. With as many times as I change things around while setting up a party, that would be no bueno for me. So for what it's worth, that's my research conclusion. ;p 

Here ARE some helpful tips to get your money's worth if you do pay for helium - 

(1) Spray balloons with hair spray - this will lock in the helium & keep it from escaping. 
(2) Don't overinflate - sometimes you have to keep an eye on whoever is inflating them. 
(3) Put the balloons in a plastic bag as soon as they are filled. 

These tips will help your balloons to last longer. I've paid extra for that "balloon food" (I don't think it's called that but it serves the same purpose as flower there ya go) & the balloons started deflating the NEXT morning! Ugh. ;p Hope these tips are more helpful. 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Weekend Wrap Party - Jessica's Bachelorette Party

How was your weekend? I hope it was Ah-Mah-Zing! ;p 

Mine was filled with estrogen. A lot of it. ;p 

This past weekend, I went to a Bachelorette party of a friend & former co-worker, Jessica Railey. She's getting married in a few weeks to a great guy & I can't wait to see her as a beautiful bride. 

Since being married, my times out with the girls are few & far between so it was wonderful to have a girls night out. We started out with some "gifts" for the bride at the W Hotel Midtown. Dinner was at Alma Cocina & I tried fried avocados for the first time. Pretty yummy! :-) 

We ended up dancing the night away at Havana Club. 

That's my sister in the purple, me in the middle & Skyrocker (Lindsay).

Besides the inappropriate dancing of a random guy, it was a really fun night with an amazing & gorgeous group of girls! 

Besides the Bachelorette was a really busy weekend with church, blog stuff, errands & taking Guinness to the ER :-(. 

What did you do this weekend? 
 If you're looking for a great way to spice up your next party, check back on Wednesday! 

P.S. If you want to see what we did for my Bachelorette Party, click here

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A Healthy Alternative to Cake Pops

In my dream world, I could eat cupcakes for breakfast, chocolate chip cookies for lunch & cake pops for dinner. Ofcourse we know that wouldn't be good for my waistline or my heart. In fact, you may have seen the 60 minutes segment about sugar being toxic. Here's the article in case you wanted to check it out. I am not saying I agree completely with this article but it did make me think of the typical party menus. Amy Atlas & her dessert buffets have expanded the typical party sweets from lonely cakes to whoopie pies, cupcakes, chocolate-covered oreos, rock candy, cake pops & shortbread cookies. As dreamy as that is, we could probably do with less sugar-laden options. 

I'm sure this is not an original idea but I was hoping this would inspire you to add a little "healthy" into your party buffet. 

Here's what you need: 

* Flower Cookie Cutters - these were from WalMart & only set me back $2.88. 
* Melon Baller 
* Bamboo Skewers 
* Assorted Fruits

Here are some tips to make this project a little easier - 

1) Cut the fruit about 3/4 inch thick. If it's an inch or more it tends to be too bulky & a little big for the mouth (I was the test feel free to insert a jab here ;p). 

2) If one of the pieces of fruit is a little stubborn (the watermelon seemed to be a little more slippery), use a small piece of a tougher fruit at the base to secure. I used a small piece of cantaloupe at the base of a watermelon flower to keep it from sliding down the skewer. 

The watermelon easily fit the cookie cutters, slicing the watermelon 1/2 inch thick length-wise. The cantaloupe...was a little more tricky. I used the same cutting strategy as the watermelon but it gave me less space to use. 

Big Reveal...

I used the pineapple as the "vase" but the watermelon would've been a good option as well as a regular vase. 

For the daisies, I used a melon baller to cut out a center & inserted a "ball" from another fruit. In order to keep it in place, I just inserted the skewer all the way through the center of the melon ball. 

What do you think? A great addition to your summer dessert buffet? Do you think your kids will enjoy fruit better when they're like this? 

I'll be honest...I love fruit, but I gotta have some chocolate every once & awhile! :-) 

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Weekend Wrap Party - Easter

How was your weekend? I hope it was wonderful but I know holidays are not always easy for if it was a little tough...I'm really sorry & I hope something happens to make you smile this week. 

Mine was a little different than most Easters. For some background on me...I became a Christian when I was 4 years old. I grew up in a Christian home, with a great family & have definitely done the "ritualistic" aspects of Easter since...well, since I can remember. I love Easter. I love wearing a pretty spring dress, spending time with family, eating a great meal, maybe even some easter candy and of course celebrating the real reason of Easter. 

(Rew kids from Easter past - I'm the one in the flowered dress) 

My Easter weekend this year started out going salsa dancing with my sister & two other sisters (we have been on several "sister dates" in the fun!) on Good Friday. When I agreed to go, I totally forgot it was Good Friday (I mean, has Easter not snuck up so quickly?). I felt a little bad about not doing something honoring Good Friday but when I talked to my friend Kauri she reminded me that Easter weekend is about celebrating something wonderful Jesus did for us. I just tried to celebrate by dancing...just with the girls...not with a latino man. ;p It was a wonderful time with the Easely sisters & of course my awesome sister, Meg. 

Saturday, we had some friends over that graciously helped us paint the downstairs "man cave." We bought a house built in the 60s & have been working on it little by little. Painting things ourselves is one of the ways we've tried to save money, but the man cave is a little large & it was a lifesaver that the guys volunteered to help. So thank you to Mike Spessard, Sean Fennelly, Austin McDonald, Tony May & Jeff Carter. 

Our basement was just a concrete slab & we've built it out as the money has come in. We're a little adverse to getting into debt! This is the coveted "man cave." :)

Sunday, I ended up going to Dalton, GA to meet my friend Kauri for brunch. She's one of my best friends & I simply adore her. It was one of those times where I really felt like I needed to spend some quality time with my friend. I love my friends very much, and want to spend more time with them. But for a while I was so focused on a career; and since I have a pretty good family support system...I think I've honestly taken some of my friendships for granted. This is really crazy because I have been blessed with some amazing friends!

We had to get our picture taken with Kelly, from Cracker Barrel. She made this awesome Easter hat that had everything except for peeps on it. :p 

That's a great way to have fun despite having to work on a holiday. In fact, Kauri & I think it would be a great Easter tradition. 

Even though my Easter was not a traditional one, it was wonderful. To me, Easter is a time of rememberance. Remembering why we celebrate it. Ironically, I got the greatest Easter lesson from an episode of The Walking Dead (TWD) that Mike & I watched Saturday night. I know. I'm pretty sure no pastor used that in his sermon Sunday morning. ;p 

It was the first episode I've ever watched of TWD. I'm not much of a zombie fan but it's filmed here in Atlanta. If you follow show, we watched the last episode of the first season. There's a scene where it seems like there's no hope - that they just have to wait and die. No way out. I got this horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach. What a miserable & depressing place to be. Feeling like there's no hope. No solution. Nothing more than that moment. 

On the drive up to Dalton this morning, I was listening to a song by Natalie Grant called "In Better Hands." There is a part that says, "But there is hope when my faith runs out." I thought back to the scene in TWD. That is what Easter is about. Because Jesus came, died then rose from the dead, we have hope. When we can't quite grasp eternity or we don't quite understand something or long for something tangible. In those quiet moments where you think, "Is this all?" "What's after this?" The Easter message is what says, "There's hope." 

I hope your Easter was wonderful & that your week is hope-filled. 

Got a great idea for a "dessert bar" for this weeks party-project. Stop by on Wednesday. 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Friday Party Feature - Musical Birthday Party

I know what you're thinking..."Heidi, it's not Wednesday or Monday. Why are you posting?" Depending on your feedback, I may make this a weekly thing. Watch out! :p 

I wanted to share this adorable birthday party with you. My friend & co-worker, Morgan Braswell, planned a musical birthday party for her son Mason that turned 1. She had some really great & thirfty ideas that I thought you would love. 

I want to apologize for the pictures. I think it may be my fault. I couldn't get them to upload to a large size. At least you'll be able to get the jist of Morgan's great ideas!

Morgan made her own "staff" of musical note cupcakes. 

Morgan made the musical notes out of melted chocolate. If you want to do this (or any other shape), print off (or draw) your shape, lay wax paper over it & trace with the chocolate. Allow to dry & you have your cupcake accessory.

This next idea was brilliant! Morgan wanted to make edible pianos so she took graham crackers, white chocolate & pieces of hershey bars as "keys." Apparently the taste was pretty AH-MAh-zing! 

She strung a musical note banner. 

And here's the birthday boy. So cute! 

Happy Birthday, Mason! 

Thanks so much to Morgan for letting me share her creative ideas & adorable pictures.

If you have a party you'd like to share or if you've tried a Parties for Pennies project yourself, I'd love to feature you on the blog. You can comment here or email me at: 

Hope you have a great Easter! 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

DIY Flower String Lights

Easter & Spring make me daydream about picnics, outdoor tea parties & evening dinners on the patio. What does it make you dream of? 

If you're planning a Springtime party & need a little help with the ambience, look no further than your left over egg cartons (from lots of egg dying ;-) ) & old Christmas string lights. 

We're going to take a left over styrofoam egg carton, string lights & some acrylic paint & transform them into flower string lights. 

Start with a styrofoam egg carton & cut out each egg cup. I basically followed most of the lines of the carton. I cut it to form a flower shape. 

I picked out several spring acrylic paint colors to color my flowers. 

In case you can't tell from the picture above...I'm not an artist. Never taken an art class before & my parents refrigerator is not technically considered an art gallery. ;p 

I'm sure your "egg carton flowers" would turn out a lot prettier. At least no one would mistake them for real flowers. ;-) 

Once you have them painted, just gently push the lights through the bottom of the egg carton flowers. As long as they're styrofoam, it should be fairly easy. 

Below is what the string looked like when I had them all attached. 

Now, they're ready to hang for your garden party. :-) 

You don't have to only have these outside...they would really enhance an indoor garden party or a Tangled party. But if you do want to light these suckers up...

Think Mike would be opposed if I asked if we could string these in our bedroom? They're so pretty. ;p 

So...don't throw those egg cartons away after you get your dye on! :-) 

Hope you have a good Easter! What are your plans? 

If you're wanting a cheap Easter place setting, check out my post from last year.

Click here to see how to do this. 

Oh...and I usually don't post on Fridays, but you'll have to check back on Friday. I'm going to "crash" a party for a 1 year old & it's all about music. 

The 36th AVENUE

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