Nov 8, 2015

DIY Military Family Wall Art | Home is Wherever You Are

You may have noticed that I've been a bit silent on the blog front. Things have gotten full time crazy over here. We've got big exciting things happening, not the least of which is that we bought a house! Aaaaahhhh. And not just any house, but one that needs major renovations before we move in. I've never been so excited and so nervous at the same time:). This is an answer to a long term prayer and I am beyond thankful. I'm sure you will be hearing more than you want in future blog posts, so for now we'll just leave it at that!  

All these thoughts of home and moving and family reminded me of a piece of art I did a while back for some friends. Like most military families, our friends move around quite a bit. They came to me wanting something for their walls that tracked their various living places, but with the idea that home is more than a house or a city. After a little brainstorming we settled on this simple, graphic, and sophisticated design that could be easily updated with future moves. 

The whole project turned out to be very simple to make. I cut the USA map out of bristol paper using my Silhouette Cameo. After sketching the words carefully in pencil first, I used a Nikko G nib to calligraph 'home is wherever you are' across the blank white map. 

Instead of the classic 'push pin' in the map, we went with a small gold dot drawn in with a gel pen. 

To give the map a bit of dimension on the wall, I used sticky foam squares to raise the main portion of the map up from the black paper background. Hawaii and Alaska were a bit too small to raise up, so they were glued down flat. The end result was simple and I love it. I hope it reminds them of all the homes they have shared and the people they have met along the way. 

As a little bonus piece for the kiddos, our friends also wanted a copy of this adorable artwork found at Hobby Lobby. DIY word art (not calligraphy) scares the tar out of me, but I gave it my best shot! Armed with more bristol paper and a black marker, I made a black and white version after only about three total failures.  

I hope you find a little inspiration from these pieces to customize your walls with pieces you love.

Aug 24, 2015

Confetti and Calligraphy | An Engagement Party

I have been so excited to share this party with you!! I made myself wait until I got through a bit of my blogging backlog, but I can't wait any longer. This might just be one of my favorite parties yet.

This also happens to be the very first party I have ever been paid to plan. And while I still don't plan on starting a party planning business any time soon, I must admit it was pretty fun. It didn't hurt that my 'clients' were two super awesome friends of ours.

Our friends were throwing an engagement party BBQ in honor of their brother and his fiancé. The original inspiration for the party decor was the bride's love of funfetti cupcakes and the fact that the couple met at a first birthday party for our friends' daughter. I loved the idea of a very festive confetti theme, and decided to make it slightly more adult and fancy with the addition of calligraphy accents.

A calligraphy and confetti door sign welcomed the guests to the party.

Inspired by my calligraphy table runners for the cookies and milk engagement party, I created black and white versions using song lyrics from the music for their first dance.

It turns out you can make something pretty fancy looking with a roll of kids art paper, a pencil, an eraser, and a big Sharpie.

I chose turquoise as the primary background for the black and white calligraphy. Small colorful floral arrangements of spray roses, dahlias, and freesia kept the confetti theme alive on the tables.

I also created a custom piece of calligraphy artwork that doubled as a party decoration and a gift for the lovely couple to take home.

One challenge with a confetti themed party is how to incorporate the confetti without making a huge mess. We contained the confetti in a few ways. Clear balloons make a great place to add a little confetti and these are an easy DIY touch.

Take tissue paper and fold it several times and insert it into a 1" circle punch to make custom confetti. Then take your confetti to a party store when you place your balloon order. Use clear balloons and stuff them with a handful of the confetti. This is easier with two people, one to hold and one to stuff. Try not to crinkle the confetti so it lays nice and flat inside the balloon. The stores will inflate your confetti filled balloons and have them ready the day of the party. Diddams did not charge any extra for the confetti and only stipulated that it had to be made out of paper.

For a little fun with this after the party (or during!), if you pop the balloon the confetti sprays out and showers you. That will make a mess, but it would probably also make a great picture. 

The second way I got a confetti effect in the decorations without the mess, was by creating confetti garlands.

I used my Silhouette Cameo to cut different sized circles in all the colors of the party. Then I took a stack of circles and sewed straight through the center of each circle one at a time to create a garland. This was the first time I had ever sewn a garland and it was by far one of the easiest and quickest ways I have ever put one together. Try it! Just realize it might dull your needle a bit. I made enough confetti garlands to hang down throughout the house and give the impression of falling confetti.

With the theme based around funfetti cupcakes, these cupcake wrappers made the perfect complement to the featured dessert.

I was able to squeeze in one last confetti decoration and use Washi Tape (yay!) in packaging the utensils. For a backyard BBQ, It seemed like a convenient (not to mention cute) idea to package the utensils and napkins inside a glassine bag so the guests could hold it all easily with one hand while filling their plates.

And the confetti washi tape was too good to pass up.

By all accounts the party was a success and the guests loved the festive theme. They sent a few photos for me of the final party prep.

Here's to wishing Edwin and Amanda a lifetime of wedded bliss.

And to you for your patience with how many times I said 'confetti' and 'calligraphy' in this blog post.

Supplies List:
White frame - Michaels
Flower vases - Michaels
Art paper roll for table runners - Michaels
Tissue paper and cardstock - Michaels
Sharpie - amazon
Utensils, plates, table cloths, napkins -
cupcake wrappers - amazon
Washi Tape - Pretty Tape on Etsy
Glassine bags - wrap works on Etsy

Aug 23, 2015

Made with Love | A Free Printable Calligraphy Gift Tag

Here we go...I am attempting a quick blog post. I'm trying to get better about spontaneous blogging, no overthinking, no worrying, just a few thoughts and something fun to share. I have to say after years of primarily technical writing as an engineer, I have found it surprisingly difficult to write with my personality instead of extracting it out.

Today's 'quickie' is for all you fellow Makers out there, a little love for your handmade gifts. You spend hours lovingly hand making gifts for friends and family, and I think that deserves a little something special for the gift wrap.

The inspiration for this tag actually came from a friend. She is knitting a number of gifts for friends and family and asked if I could create a calligraphy design that she could print on care instruction cards. After a few tries, I had a design I was happy with and I am sharing it here free for anyone to use!

So here you go. You can print it, resize it, cut it into any desired shape. Have fun with it! Just please do not use this tag for profit or sell it.

I'd love to see how you style it and your handmade gifts as well. Tag me on instagram @theselittleloves or find me on Facebook. Need inspiration for handmade gifts? Here are a few of my most popular handmade gift ideas: a bunny ear teetherwaterproof picnic blanket, grilling prep plates, burp cloths, family celebration plaque, monogram art.


Aug 21, 2015

The Littlest Mermaid | A Sparkly Teal and Purple First Birthday Party

Look at this stuff, isn't it neat? Wouldn't you think my collection's complete? Wouldn't you think I'm the girl, the girl who has...everything...

I can't tell you how many times I sang this song while planning my niece's first birthday party. The first time I broke out into a passionate rendition of Part of Your World, my family was amused. The second time perhaps they were a bit annoyed. I'm guessing by the fourth time they were slightly concerned for my mental health. What can I say? My love of The Little Mermaid runs deep. It probably has something to do with the fact that I was 6 when the movie released and every song is etched permanently in my brain.

This party was fun for so many reasons, not the least of which was that I have had way too much pent up 'girl party' energy. This was the first birthday party for my niece! I now have two nieces, but until now the birthdays have been all, nemo, planes, cars. I practically begged my sister-in-law to let me throw this party. She agreed and I promptly bought out the fabric store of sparkly teal and purple tulle. I must have been asked about 5 times what I was making while walking through the fabric store.

The decorations all started with the idea to make seaweed. Very girly, pretty seaweed. We hung seaweed from tables, chairs, the front door, the gift table, even the chandelier. The tulle naturally twisted when cut into the seaweed strips and gave it the perfect look. Check out my DIY seaweed blog post for detailed instructions on how to make your own!

The seaweed made a great backdrop for the party garland.

Big impact for a cheap price.

A few seahorses even found their way into the seaweed for effect.

Instead of going full 'under the sea' I kept the decorations to the prettier of the sea creatures: mermaids, seahorses, starfish, and clam shells.

Everything was purple, teal and white and almost everything had a shimmer or a sparkle.  Even the utensil packets were held together with sparkly green washi tape. Like I said, pent up girlyness.

My Silhouette Cameo cut the glitter paper (the kind individually wrapped in a plastic sleeve that doesn't shed glitter) like a dream.

Purple floral cuttings from my mom's tree, a party store net, a fish bowl sand scene, and some capiz shells finished off the look.

As an afternoon party, we kept the food simple with croissant sandwiches, chips and dip, and fruit salad. Fitting with the color scheme of the party we turned lemonade teal by using blue raspberry water enhancer drops.

The desserts, as always, were my favorite. All the cookies were decorated with a glaze icing with a royal/buttercream icing for the detailing. 

Inspired by sweet sugar belle's use of a whale cutter turned into a mermaid, I attempted my own version. I couldn't believe how well they turned out! Using a food coloring pen to draw a guideline on the cookie before decorating is genius and a huge help for an elaborate cookie. 

I clearly had way too much fun with this cookie theme.

My SIL requested two cakes, a smash cake for the birthday girl and a larger cake for cutting and serving to guests. With two cakes, you need two cake toppers, which we of course DIY'ed using bamboo skewers, glitter paper, ribbon, and a glue gun. 

Ombre rosettes covered each cake, one in purple and one in teal. I highly recommend this white velvet cake, with a cream cheese frosting, and raspberry preserve filling. Delicious!

And easily color-able if you want a little surprise for guests when cutting the cake. 

Our darling Grace was the star of the show and it was a blast spoiling her on her big day.

Like these decorations, but not enough time to DIY? Check out my etsy listing here while it lasts!

Supplies List:
Glitter Paper, Ribbon - Michaels
Utensils, plates, cups, washi tape - Hobby Lobby
Mermaid, shell, seahorse, starfish patterns - silhouette design studio
Tulle - Joanns
Favor buckets - Target and Hobby Lobby

Looking for more mermaid party inspiration? Check out my mermaid party pinterest board here.

This is not a sponsored post and all supplies were purchased by me or my family.

May 3, 2015

Lightning McQueen: A Cars 3rd Birthday Party

And now start the years of child-requested birthday party themes. It all started like this...

Over Christmas I casually asked my son 'what kind of party do you want for your birthday?'.  Silly me thought he wouldn't understand the question. Wrong. He is my child. Of course he knows what a party theme is. He paused, very carefully considered this question, then answered 'A Lightning McQueen birthday party!' And there you have it. It could have been worse.

At first I was a little sad that I didn't get to pick anymore, but then I realized that I now knew exactly what would delight him on his special day. And although technically a licensed character party, it didn't mean I had to plaster Lightning's face on every single party supply. So I looked for a little inspiration. I found it in the grocery checkout aisle, oddly enough.

For about a year and a half my son has asked for a Lightning balloon almost every time we go to the grocery store. The grocery store owners, in their plan to make checking out a constant parenting battle (candy, balloons, movies...come on!), place balloons at the checkout lines. My son's favorite happens to be a giant balloon of Lightning in all his bright red glory against a blue backdrop. Color scheme...check. Or should I say KaChow? Red and blue, with a little black and white check pattern thrown in for good measure. And I could finally have an excuse to delight my little one with his favorite balloon. In fact, this balloon is still keeping us company, floating beside his trusty sidekick Mater in our living room.

With the color scheme settled, I ordered a host of adorable party supplies. I picked one item with Lightning's face and the rest was in the solid colors of the party theme. Just enough, but not overdone. See those checkered flag cups? They get a sweet personalization later. Just wait until we get to the party favors!

Next came the invitations. It should be no surprise that I am usually a DIY invitation kind of person. However, my limited artistic skills stop far short of being able to draw a convincing Lightning McQueen. Instead, I found some adorable cars artwork on Etsy for use on the invitations and a cars garland that might just get its very own blog post. As is my party custom, I bought a special washi tape for envelope decoration, this time in a road pattern.

To keep the party from being a visual assault of Lightning's face, I brainstormed other elements to complement the theme. It turns out there was a lot to choose from: tires, license plates, Route 66 signs, checkered flags, traffic cones, roads. I picked two and got started. Just kidding. I used all of them. Why not? Tire and license plate garlands complemented the cars character garland perfectly. Route 66 signs were altered to say 'Cole is 3' and placed around the yard as decoration.

All the tables were covered with red and blue table covers to which I added DIY road table runners and traffic cones (or 'cozy cones' as my sons calls them). I made 4 of the road table runners for a whopping $5! Taking a black paper table cover, I cut it into 4 long strips and then added pieces of white duct tape.  Big impact for a small price.

Checkered flags were added in small doses to the party. Dessert plates, favor cups, and as part of the crepe paper backdrop for the dessert table.

I made five strands of crepe paper garlands to form the backdrop for the dessert table. In hindsight I would have either made 4 more full garlands or added three more. The effect was fun and festive, however, and looked great on the invariably windy day that is always Cole's birthday.

We had fresh fruit (strawberries, grapes, blueberries) portioned out into blue chevron treat cups. Red forks wrapped in blue napkins with road washi tape rings sat in blue metal pails, while Lightning McQueen and checkered flag plates provided large and small options for guests. The red and white striped straws were the perfect touch to the cups I order for every party. 

The party was set in the afternoon from 3-5, so the menu was kept fairly simple. For snacks we provided fresh fruit and feta/caramelized onion tarts from Trader Joe's (always a party favorite). Dessert were my standard go-to lineup of Mexican chocolate cake (also in cake pop form) and the best sugar cookies you have ever tasted.

My son delighted in the cake more than I could have hoped for. He is still talking about it. It didn't hurt that it had two new surprise cars on the top as a gift! He loved the road and the tires and the 'cars sign' (as he calls it). I loved how bright and graphic it turned out.

A blue '3' candle was the final touch. 

It turns out that cake pops are my baking cryptonite. I am convinced that those beautifully decorated and smooth cake pops are created in a lab somewhere by an evil villain bent on making bakers feel inferior. I just can't seem to get it right. Sugar cookies and fondant cakes, I can handle. Cake pops keep me humble. At least they taste good! I got over my frustration with them and served them anyway. The traffic light idea was too cute to pass up. Florist foam bricks covered in tissue paper served as an inexpensive alternative to a cake pop holder. 

And now the sugar cookies. Ah, the sugar cookies. Sometimes these stress me out worrying that the decorations won't turn out like I picture them in my head. This time, it was pure fun. We had Lightning cookies, tires, checkered flags, Cs made into roads, red and blue 3s, and even a few piston cup cookies.

Drinks were also kept simple with water, lemonade, juice boxes, and Sangria (for the adults). 

Perhaps the best decision I made in planning this party was the entertainment. We purchased a Bounce House from amazon to serve as dual party entertainment and a birthday gift. Win win. This might just be the best $180 I have ever spent. The kids were fully entertained for the whole party and it stores up in a bag to be pulled out easily for any play date or party. Well worth the money in my opinion. In fact, I'm pulling it out next week for a random play date on a Wednesday.

We threw in a few inflatable tires and the kids went nuts.

Remember those checkered flag cups from earlier? They made the cutest personalized favor cups for the kids. I cut red vinyl with my Silhouette Cameo with each kids name in a free Cars font (Magneto) I found online!

Each cup held a toy cartiny traffic cones, a fun straw, gummy snacks, and fruit leathers.

And finally, I tweaked the invitations to make a few thank you cards.

As I write this post, I feel as if the party details are fun and happy, but pale in comparison to the joy I felt that day. My son delighted in everything. He got it. I won't ever forget the smile on his face as people sang him Happy Birthday.

Three might just be the perfect age for a birthday.

Catch My Party

Party Supply Resource List

Lightning McQueen Plates - Partypail
Checkered Flag Plates - Partypail
Red forks - Partypail
Blue Napkins - Partypail
Blue Chevron Treat Cups - Partypail
Red Plastic Table Cover - Partypail
Blue Plastic Table Cover - Partypail
Black Paper Table Cover - Partypail
Red Striped Paper Straws - Partypail
Checkered Flag Cups - Partypail
Premium Plastic Cups - Partypail
Free Cars Font - Magneto
Cars Artwork - Etsy
Bounce House - Amazon
Inflatable Tires - Amazon
Drink Dispensers - Pottery Barn
Cookie Stand - Crate and Barrel
Three Cookie Cutter

{All party supplies were purchased by me with the exception of the plates, forks, napkins, straws, cups, and table covers which were provided by This is not a sponsored post and all the opinions are my own.}