Monday, February 28, 2011

Tea Time Inspiration

I love tea, and I drink plenty of it, but one thing you'll rarely catch me doing is gulping it down from a plain-Jane mug. Since I can't have a pretty tea party every week, I break out my favorite tea cups any time I brew a pot of hot tea. I'm a huge fan of using fancy serveware and china every day. What good is it doing you collecting dust? To inspire you to bring out the good stuff for your next tea time, I thought I'd show off a few of my favorite tea cups in my collection. If you don't have your own, start by picking up a pretty little teacup from a secondhand store, or splurge on something fancy and new.

Up top is the creme de la creme, my Franz porcelain teacup in a Sweet Pea design. These are little pieces of art, and cost a pretty penny. Naturally, mine was on deep discount when I bought it. I'm far too cheap to pay $80 for a teacup! If you ask me, a little Franz goes a long way. A full tea set in this design would be overkill, but one carefully crafted teacup is divine.

Believe it or not, this Royal Albert Old Country Roses Teacup is the workhorse in my cabinet. Even though it's bone china, I use it more than any other. It was a gift from my mentor in college, but, in additional to its sentimental value, it's just perfectly shaped for sipping tea. I highly recommend you pick one up if you're just starting out.

This retro cutie is something my mother picked up at a yard sale for about 50 cents. It used to have a matching cup in blue, but sadly it broke.

Finally, lest you think I'm all pinkies lifted and girly tea time, here's another favorite of mine. Who says tea can't be badass? I believe I picked up this upcycled cup from Bread and Badger at a Renegade Craft Fair a few years back. It's small, but mighty!

How do you take your tea? Straight out of the mug, or in something a little snazzier? Am I the only one regularly using a teapot these days?

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Design Sponge DIY: Chalkboard Globe

Next time you see a globe at an affordable price, snatch it up! Then head to this tutorial on Design Sponge to make your own custom chalkboard globe. It's a simple makeover with a great look!


Saturday, February 26, 2011

Shopworthy: Blue Bell Bazaar

Vintage Chalkboard ($87)

Alas, if only I were in Chicago. Then I could check out all 7400 square feet of vintage goods and nifty finds at Blue Bell Bazaar (2229 S. Halsted, Chicago). Instead, I've been combing through the online offerings in BBB's Etsy shop, www.etsy.com/shop/bluebellbazaar. Here's what I'm coveting:

First of all, more parties should have bingo. And you could get creative figuring out what you want your bingo balls to look like! Second, I'm dying to get a bingo cage and fill it with blown-out eggs for Easter! Vintage Metal Bingo Cage ($76)

Chandelier Painting ($67)

Antique Camera by Kodak ($58)

I dig this painting's vibe. Perhaps because we have the same glasses? 1970s oil painting ($59)

Friday, February 25, 2011

Ice Cream Cake Pop Cones

Aren't these cake pop "ice cream" cones gorgeous? I found them over on KraftyKym {spotted via Sarah's Party Perfect}. Kym got the idea for these cone pops from Bakerella, who has some equally pretty pops, along with instructions. Click here for Kym's take on the pops, and here for Bakerella's original post. Hooray for ice cream!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A Neato Shop

Here's a clever little online store—it's called NeatoShop, www.neatoshop.com, and in addition to some funny t-shirts you might like, in their shop I found an excellent selection of ice cube trays. Colored and shaped ice might make a great detail for your next party. Here are my picks:

Gin and Titonic Tray

Ice Princess Tray and Straws

Cool Jewels Ice Tray

Chillbots Robot Ice Tray

Defrosty the Snowman Ice Cubes


Cake Stand Love: Roll the Dice With RE

I long to visit RE, a lovely-looking hodgepodge of a shop with reclaimed and unique goodies, located in England. Basically it's a little treasure trove of new and found wares. What I'm most interested in are their vintage 19th & 20th Century Pressed Glass Cake Stands. From what I can tell, you order by size...then surprise! You wait to see what you end up with. Not to be outdone, RE's selection of vintage 19th & 20th Century Pressed Glass Comports looks stunning as well. If anyone takes the plunge and orders one be sure to send us a picture of what you get! In the meantime, take time to explore RE (www.re-foundobjects.com/shop). It's not just glassware—you'll find all manner of cool there.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Friday Giveaway Winner: Cake Pops


Congratulations to Christine, winner of last week's Friday Giveaway. Christine said, "I've been dying to make some cake pops but haven't had a reasonable excuse yet. Maybe the book will be it. My favorite cupcake flavor is strawberry with strawberry-cream cheese icing. Yummy!" Christine, you get a copy of Cake Pops by Bakerella. Enjoy your cake pop making! To claim your prize please send me an email at hostess {at} host-itnotes.com.

As for the rest of you lovely folks, I'll try to have another giveaway this week, so stick around!


Printable Thread Bobbins

Just what my new sewing supplies need—adorable printable thread bobbins. These cuties are designed by Wild Olive and available for free download! Print and wind, baby!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Death By Cupcake Toppers

If (like me) you're not very good at frosting cupcakes, here's a great store that'll give your cupcakes a professional look. Death By Cupcake makes hand-cut, hand-painted edible fondant cupcake toppers. Make any ol' cupcake you like then slap one of these beauties on top! It's not limited to just cupcakes either—visit Death By Cupcake on Etsy for some unique items like custom Converse sugar cookies, Lego Indiana Jones cookies, and all manner of cuteness. Check out some of the awesome cupcake styles you'll find!

Silhouette Cupcake Toppers

Woodland Critters Cupcake Toppers

Valentine's Day Cupcake Toppers

Friday, February 18, 2011

Friday Giveaway: Cake Pops

I've missed Friday Giveaways. Haven't you? This week I perused the prize shelf (I shop for you guys all year round and keep a little stock of fun things for days like this) and have decided to give away a copy of the fabulous Cake Pops by Bakerella!

My dear friend Cathy gave me a copy of this book for Christmas, along with an insanely cute and easy-to-use cake pop mold (seriously, aren't I spoiled?). You're not quite that lucky, as I'm keeping a firm grip on my mold, but I did pick up a copy of the book and it could be yours! To enter leave a comment with your favorite cupcake flavor below. The contest ends at midnight (PST) on Monday the 21st. I'll announce the randomly selected winner on Tuesday. Good luck!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

DIY Cupcake Wrappers

Now here's something handy: High/Low Food/Drink has a quick how-to on making your own decorative cupcake wrappers (thus saving you money). You can even download their template. Click here to head there now. {Spotted via Cupcakes That Take the Cake}

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

An Oscar-Worthy Party

And the award for best-looking Oscar party goes to...Twig & Thistle! Remember their beautiful downloads from last year, perfect for throwing your own Oscar Night soiree? They've very sweetly updated the downloads with a 2011 version. Click, print, and start nominating which friends to invite. Darling stuff! Click here to head to Twig & Thistle now.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Party Paper Goods You Can Print at Home

How have I never seen My Grafico?! It's a digital arts and crafts store, meaning there are tons of great designs you can purchase for download and printing at home. The prices are reasonable—the design set above is $9.95 to download—and so far I love the selection. For party planners there are pages of invitation sets to choose from. The best part? $1.00 designs!!! It's like a digital design dollar store! Here are my favorites from the dollar bin:

Now head to My Grafico and buy from their group of great designers! Oh, and there are freebies! I'm in love.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Fabric Flower Cupcake Toppers

Spotted via Hostess with the Mostess—who featured terrific photos from this gorgeous monkey-inspired birthday party—I am completely taken with these fabric flower cupcake toppers. Paiges of Style threw the party (see it here) and hit it out of the park with this great DIY craft. It looks like these are a breeze to make. I say why stop at topping cupcakes? I want to mix these pretties in with my next floral arrangement! Get the full tutorial here.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Big Burger Birthday Party

Further proof that simple things are the best inspiration—check out this outstanding burger party. Yep, that's right, it's a children's burger birthday, and it's adorable! Spotted over at P is for Party, this is a little boy's first birthday bash. Burger cake, burger cupcakes, veggie "fries," Happy Meal-esque boxes... P is for Party has plenty more pics plus sources to help you throw your own. Click here to head there now!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Valentine's Day Wrapping Project

Chris from Celebrations at Home has a great wrapping project up just in time for V-day. You can use scrap paper to create a heart-shaped rosette to top your package. Cute stuff! Click here for the tutorial.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Personalized Valentine's Day Notebooks

Brooke over at Inchmark has a cute tutorial for heart-themed notebooks using plain old pocket notepads. She even posted a link to an editable PDF so you can make your own. I love that all the work is done for me! One quick trip to the office supply store and I'll be set. Click here for the post and instructions. Then feel free to send me a notebook!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Pizza From the Heart

I had so much fun making Valentine's Day bento boxes this week—I wasn't ready to put the heart-shaped cookie cutters away just yet. I decided to put a little extra love into dinner by making a heart-themed pizza or two. I took the larger heart cutter to a few slices of salami. Tip: For a cleaner cut try a dense meat with little fat or keep a paring knife on hand for fattier slices. Feeling brave? Freehand your hearts using kitchen shears!

I took a tiny heart cutter to a jarred roasted red bell pepper with great results! The fresh pepper holds the shape beautifully, but you might lose a bit of the look after cooking. I thought artichoke hearts were appropriate for my hearty pizza too. Who can resist wordplay in their food?

Try making heart pizza for a low-key V-day dinner with some extra fun. What will you be savoring on Valentine's Day this year?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Bento Be Mine

With Valentine's Day coming up, I've been thinking of special, unexpected ways to celebrate the holiday. Combine that with a recent lunch in Japantown and the discovery of a new Japanese dollar store, and Valentine's Day themed bento boxes seemed inevitable.

First, the sweets:

I filled my strawberry box with a few key treats. First I tucked a peanut butter cookie behind my heart-shaped brownie. Then I slipped in a chocolate covered strawberry. Earlier I had sprinkled my just-dipped strawberries with toasted sesame seeds—I like the way they mimic the look of real strawberry seeds. With a food-safe marker I drew a heart on a miniature marshmallow and placed it by the strawberry. Finally, I scattered blueberries around the edges to fill any extra space.

Next I tried my hand at a double-decker box. This time in addition to the brownie and strawberry I included a chocolate-dipped fortune cookie (I removed the paper fortune before dipping), raspberry licorice, a heart-shaped rice krispie treat, and miniature brownie hearts. It's twice the fun of the first!

Finally, because not everyone is a fan of sweets—hard to believe, I know—I wanted to whip up a savory box. I decided to fill my adorable elephant box with sandwiches and a salad.

The sandwiches, assembled on pre-cut heart-shaped bread, are like afternoon tea finger sandwiches. I chose a cream cheese and cucumber flavor, plus one with egg salad and sprouts. The rest of the box is filled with a veggie salad. To make the salad I used a tiny heart cookie cutter which I pressed through thin slices of carrot, cucumber and radish. Seasoned with a bit of salt and pepper it was a simple but adorable little salad!

Enjoy making your own portable bento box valentines!

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