My Funny Valentine…

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Ah, St. Valentine’s Day…one of my favorite holidays since childhood. All the reds and pinks and candy. Memories of making valentines for everyone in the class and exchanging candy grams with my friends.

This year I wanted to bring Valentine’s Day back to basics and make my own simple V-Day cards. In case you forgot, Valentine’s Day is this Friday, so you still have time to make your own sweet treats.

For some seriously adorable handmade holiday cards, check out Cherry Blossom Tree Designs!

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Inspired by these handmade beauties, I will show you how you can personalize your valentines this year:

Card #1 Heart of Gold 

Card #2 S.W.A.K.

Heart of Gold

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Valentines don’t have to be romantic or for your significant other. They can be given to friends and family as a token of how much you love and appreciate them. This ‘Heart of Gold’ card is for my parents, since their unconditional love comes from their hearts, which are made of gold.

What you need:

  • Card stock (plain or with preferred design)
  • Mod Podge (I used a glossy finish since I already had it. You can also try Mod Podge in a matte finish for paper products)
  • Foam brush or regular brush
  • Stiff paper to cut out heart stencil (any heart-shaped stencil you might already have)
  • Scissors
  • Gold glitter
  • Gold paint pen

First, select the size of card stock to be used and decide if you are making a horizontal or vertical design.

Take a sheet of thick or stiff paper (I used resume paper) and cut out a heart shape that will fit comfortably on the face of the card. This will create a disposable stencil. You can try the grade school method I show below or use something like a heart shape cookie cutter to trace the stencil.

You can use the cut out heart for another card idea or other craft projects.

Line the heart stencil on the face of the card and make sure it is centered. Since I folded the paper to cut my heart stencil, I used the center fold as my guide.

You can tape the stencil paper onto your table or place weighted items on the corners to help keep paper in place.

Grab a generous amount of Mod Podge on your brush and apply an even layer of glue over the heart stencil. Try to keep the application even on the edges of the heart, otherwise the glue can bleed under the stencil and warp the shape.

Let the glue dry for about 20 seconds so it becomes tacky. Then apply your glitter over the glue. Try to apply the glitter evenly.

Let the glitter sit on the glue for another 20-30 seconds, then use your clean finger to gently press the glitter onto the glue.

Allow the glitter to adhere to the glue for 15-20 minutes (follow drying instruction listed on the bottle).

Once the glitter has rested for the necessary time, you can carefully shake off excess glitter and clean the edges with your clean finger, tissue or clean brush.

Then, realign the stencil over the heart. Try to be as exact as you can so the edges match up.

Dip your used brush into the Mod Podge and gently apply another even layer of glue over the glitter. This layer will seal the glitter and avoid fall out.

Allow the top layer of glue to dry for 15-20 minutes.

Once the top coat is dry, brush off remaining loose glitter and proceed in using the gold paint pen or marker to write the text.

*You don’t have use the same text or glitter color. Go ahead and use whatever colors and text you want!

S.W.A.K. (Sealed With A Kiss)

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The ‘S.W.A.K.’ card was inspired by one of my favorite stationary and sticker sets from Lisa Frank (remember her?).

This card can be as cheeky, sexy or sentimental as you want. For my version, I will include a personal message listing a few ways kissing a certain someone is my favorite thing to do!

What you will need:

  • Card stock (plain color may allow the lipstick to pop more)
  • Your favorite lipsticks
  • Pen or marker of your choice
  • Hairspray (optional)

This card is so simple, yet so cute. The idea is to have your own kisses fill the card like love confetti. You can do a random pattern like I did, or if you have more space on your card you could do one kiss per reason/written line.

To begin, I went ahead and used a gold paint pen to write the main text (you can leave space on the inside to write a personal note).

Once the ink is dry, get to smooching!

I chose a mix of pink and red lip colors that were vibrant and matte (Sonia Kashuk & Maybelline are awesome). I wouldn’t suggest using a moisturizing lipstick or lipgloss, as the color can transfer and smudge very easily.

Apply a thick layer of lipstick to your lips, adding extra pigment to the center.

Pucker your sexy pout and plant that sucker straight onto the card. Hold and press your lips then gently rock the card side to side to capture your entire lip.

Write your message and remember to seal the envelope (and your special someone) with a kiss!

Optional: To help seal the lipstick, I applied a light mist of Moroccanoil hairspray. The hairspray acts as sealant that dries instantly. Please DO NOT use a heavy spray or gel hairspray. Only use a hairspray that has a fine fist and low alcohol content. And of course, do not allow this card or hairspray to come into contact with heat or flames!

*You do not have to use pink or red lipstick. If you have a signature color that will drive your special someone wild–use it!

*Before you KISS, click here: Try a homemade lip scrub to make sure your lips are smooth and hydrated!

The most important thing to do for Valentine’s Day is have fun and celebrate L.O.V.E!

XOXO Liz

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DIY: Alice’s Tea Cup Candles

Alice's Tea Cup Candles

Alice’s Tea Cup Candles

It’s February and I am on a crafting kick, fueled by inspiration from a few special occasions coming up this month.

My recent project is transforming vintage inspired tea cups into candles. The tea cup is the ultimate dainty, feminine and whimsical accessory. Whether you choose to use it for tea time or as a decoration, who doesn’t love a cute cup and candle?

My sister gave me my first miniature Barbie tea set when I was really young, and I was stoked. The little set was legit and made me feel like such a lady. And then my fascination with tea time was born!

Below is the most similar image I could find that resembles my first tea set:

Screen Shot 2014-02-06 at 1.32.29 PM{Photo Courtesy of The Find}

What’s great about this DIY idea is that while the candle burns, it actually looks like a cup of tea and once the candle is done, you can clean out the soy wax and re-use the cup for real tea (or to hold jewelry, candies, flowers)! It’s also a fairly easy process and can be inexpensive if you shop around for the materials and are clever with items you already own.

The cute factor is sky-high and they make sweet, thoughtful gifts for a housewarming, birthday, party favors and even Valentine’s Day.

Bright Idea: As a gift, I would pair the tea cup candle with a tin of tea or tea cakes and macarons.

Another inspiration comes from my birthday a few years back, when I planned a grown-up Alice in Wonderland theme (including libations served in tea cups). I would have loved to have made tea cup candles for all my guests!

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Tick Tock, Tick Tock…It’s Tea Party Time!

I purchased the main materials (soy wax, wicks and fragrance) from Michaels (approximately $15.00). I picked up a few tea cups from HomeGoods (average price $8.00 per cup and saucer) and I also recommend checking out your local thrift store or ask friends and family members if they have any tea cups they can part with to help lower cost.

I prefer soy wax as it tends to burn cleaner and longer than regular wax. I suppose you could try to repurpose chunks of left over wax or melts, but I would suggest that you stick to one fragrance or make sure the fragrances you combine will complement one another and that the colors will not clash.

Since this was my first attempt, I decided to go ahead and buy wax at the store with a 40% off one item coupon instead of ordering online. Going forward, I recommend checking online to buy these items in bulk and for a better deal. Trust me, one pound of soy wax was just enough to fill three tea cups. If you decide to do try this project with young ones, please make sure to monitor them and the stove!

What you will need:

  • Tea cups of all variety (the more the merrier and a tea party you will certainly have!) *Make sure the cup can withstand a heat range of 120° to 160°.
  • At least one pound of Soy candle wax (or any type of wax you prefer) *You will need to use more wax than you think.
  • Waxed wicks *Make sure to measure the depth of your cups, bowls or containers and use a wick at least one inch taller.
  • Fragrance/Scent (optional)
  • Wax Dye (optional)

To Melt the Wax:

  • Double boiler (optional) *I will show you how I used a tin can and metal milk frothing jug.
  • Old saucepan with spout (optional) * If you choose to use an old pan, make sure you are okay with dedicating this for candle making only as wax can damage the sauce pan. You can probably purchase an old one at a thrift store for minimal cost.
  • Candy thermometer (optional)
  • Pair of tongs with rubber/silicon grip
  • Heat resistant glove
  • Hot glue gun and glue stick to adhere wick to bottom of cup

What I had at home instead of a double boiler or a pan I could “damage”:

How to make a Tea Cup Candle:

First, you will need to clean and dry the cup.

Use the hot glue or a temporary adhesive to allow the tab of the wick to stay in place.

Fill the saucepan about half way with water and begin to boil. Once you achieve a strong boil, you are ready.

I had to experiment with the amount of wax to place into the tin can. I learned quickly that you will need to double, if not triple the volume of wax as it will melt to about 2/3 the original volume.

I did not have a candy thermometer handy, so I used my best judgment on the status of melted wax. If you do have a candy thermometer, pay attention to the heating instructions on the soy wax. Soy wax tends to be softer so the melting point could range from 122° to 160°. The wax I purchased was microwavable, but I chose to use my stove top.

I used a saucepan and 14.5 oz clean green bean tin can to create a double boiler effect. The double boiler essentially uses the heat from the boiling water to heat the wax in a separate container (not all waxes can or should be melted in a microwave), and this is the quickest way to melt the wax.

Once the wax begins to melt, use a disposable chopstick to stir the wax. Once the wax is completley melted in the tin can, change the heat setting to low and allow the wax to cool slightly (about 30 seconds). Once the wax has cooled you can add dye or fragrance if desired (read the instructions for each).

I used the chopstick again to mix in the fragrance into the wax. I used my tongs to grab the middle of the tin, squeezed it tight and carefully poured it into the milk frothing jug.

Moving somewhat quickly, I used the milk frothing jug to transfer the wax into the cup. Pour enough so the wax reaches about half an inch from the rim. I placed another chopstick across the cup to prop up the wick to keep it straight.

Allow cups to cool undisturbed for at least 4-6 hours before burning.

Cut the wick to about 1/4 of an inch and enjoy!

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I cannot wait to include one of these beauties as part of a tea party themed bridal shower this weekend! If you are in New York, you might be familiar with the lovely brunch spot, Alice’s Tea Cup (there are a few locations, each one a “chapter”).

This is the perfect venue to indulge in tea time and exchange your personalized tea cup candles!

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{Click on the photos above for the original links}

XOXO Liz

Pin Point: How to Upgrade Your Bobby Pins With Nail Polish!

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It’s time for an upgrade. Banish boring bobby pins and embrace one-of-a-kind style. I will show you how to personalize these hair essentials…with nail polish.

Personalizing bobby pins (or any hair accessory for that matter) is so easy that I have actually been doing this since middle school!

All you have to do is paint your bobby pins with nail polish, add any embellishment you want with super glue and voilà! You have instant updated hair flair. (On the flip side: Use the longer tip of the bobby pin as a nail dotter/nail art tool.)

This is a great, inexpensive way to revamp old pins or create a custom look. This DIY tutorial is simple and goof-proof enough for children to do as well.

What you will need:

  • A piece of paper or thin card board to secure bobby pins and catch excess paint
  • As many bobby pins as your heart desires
  • Your favorite nail polishes (My fave right now is anything from Julep. The more variety, the better!)
  • Any embellishment you want. (I like to use rhinestones (new or ones that have fallen off other things) or broken pieces of jewelry)
  • Super glue to adhere embellishments (optional)

Steps:

  • Slide bobby pins onto paper or cardboard, flat side facing you. The wavy side should be worn underneath the hair, facing the scalp. The bumps are what grab the hair so the pin will stay put!
  • Line bobby pins up at least half an inch apart (to avoid pins sticking together).
  • Select the nail polish color you want and make sure the paint is not dripping off the brush.
  • Gently sweep the color along the flat side of the bobby pin. If you like, you can create multi-colored designs.
  • Once the bobby pins are painted, let them dry for about five minutes. You do not need to seal the paint but feel free to use a top coat if desired.
  • If you wish to add embellishments, wait for the nail polish to dry completely. Apply the super glue (I prefer the gel formula) to the embellishment first and then press it on to the flat side of the bobby pin. Allow at least three minutes for the super glue to dry.

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Julep Colors: Winona, Eva, Valerie, Oscar

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Perfect Match:

I bought these gold and ivory bobby pins a while ago from H&M and transformed them into little match sticks by adding a some red (Julep color Sheila) to the tips!:

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*You can try different types of paint if you have them handy. I use nail polish because I have loads of colors to choose from, they dry quickly (you could literally do this project anywhere, on the go) and it’s been my tried and true method for nearly 20 years. Wow, that sounds like a long time!

*For glitter/translucent shimmer polishes, you might want to paint a base coat with a complementing color to help make the finish more vibrant.

*Try updating office supplies and other accessories with nail polish (i.e. Color code keys, makeup brushes or paint plain paper clips and thumb tacks). Yes, I have used bobby pins as substitute paper clips and ear bud clips!  

*You can even create a red bottom tape dispenser like I did below:

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You can find this tape dispenser from Staples.

Bobby Pins Tips

XOXO Liz

New Year’s Eve: Champagne, Diamonds & Caviar

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It’s New Year’s Eve, and I am ready to soar into 2014!

There are many #hashtags to celebrate and goals to achieve in the new year so I wanted to share my current inspiration for 2014: Champagne, Diamonds & Caviar.

The color combo of golds, silvers and black is classic, chic  and all over Pinterest (think Great Gatsby meets Audrey Hepburn)! I love how strong, elegant and edgy this ensemble feels and I think it truly embodies how I feel right now.

Since I am awaiting the arrival of my official bar cart, I decided to go ahead and create a mini-tablescape for a New Year’s Eve celebration. All items are from Michaels, Target, T.J. MaxxWorld Market and Marshalls. Like memories and party dresses, some items are new and some are old/re-purposed.

I had a blast putting this quick and versatile arrangement together in 15 minutes or less. Whatever the occasion, make it fun, fabulous and full of surprises.

I hope this puts a smile on your face, like it does mine and that you will also be inspired to kick off 2014 with a bang!

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XOXO Liz Signature

The Art of Being Thankful

Keep Calm & Gobble On Courtesy of Cherry Blossom Tree Designs

Keep Calm & Gobble On
Courtesy of Cherry Blossom Tree Designs

Happy Thanksgiving! What a difference one year makes. This time last year we were dealing with the aftermath of Sandy (thankfully I only lost power, Internet access and some of my sanity, sigh), trying to buy our first Christmas tree (a real one!) for our first apartment (a bigger one!) and just trying to muddle through the rest of the year.

I can say that I have a very long list of things and people I am thankful for and each year just keeps getting better. To you, my friends and family–thank you for making this year pivotal and fulfilling.

We each have our own way of expressing gratitude and humility. I call this the art of being thankful. There is no minimum or limit when it comes to thanking someone. Sometimes it’s just a simple smile and acknowledgement that warms the heart. A hand written card also goes a long way 🙂

Here are a few highlights of my first truly adult Thanksgiving, complete with first time cooking a turkey and things that make this holiday such a joy for me. I will be updating throughout the day and hope you are having a fabulous day giving thanks 

XOXO Liz Signature

Big Sister Banana Nut Muffins

Having a big sister usually means you have a best friend for life. Someone who knows you longer and better than anyone else; who protects you and teaches you everything they’ve already learned about school, style, boys and life. As my big sister and I grow and become wiser, I have a lot to thank her for since she has always been a source of love, inspiration and of course great baking ideas.

Here’s a super easy, possibly healthy way to bake scrumptious banana nut muffins. Turn your weekend (or any day) into a sweet treat!

So I woke up yesterday, made my coffee and went to grab a banana and lo and behold, the last three I had were soft and brown. Somehow this always happens.

Then my sister popped into my head. One time when I visited her she just happened to have fresh, homemade banana nut muffin bread seducing me from inside the oven. She gave me a tip to salvage any over-ripe bananas with her quick recipe and I wanted to share this with you.

Well, I didn’t have a loaf pan readily available and decided to use the foundation of her recipe and modify it to make muffins.

{What You Will Need}
Good news is  you probably have many of the ingredients already and you can be clever and substitute when necessary.

3-4 over-ripe bananas (mashed)
3/4 cup granulated pure sugar cane (or white sugar)
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt (or regular salt)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon of baking soda
2 cups whole wheat flour (or all purpose flour)
1/2 cup ground or chopped nuts (skip for any food allergies)
1 egg
1/2 cup vegetable oil
Lemon juice from one whole lemon (or 1 tablespoon of bottled lemon juice)*
A little extra lemon juice, sugar and brown sugar to create a simple glaze
1 Toothpick

*I love the taste of lemons and add them to recipes whenever I can. For this recipe, I used the juice inside the batter to work in tandem with the Baking Soda. Since I didn’t have Baking Powder (which has a combination of Baking Soda and Cream of Tartar to help breads rise), the lemon juice should bring enough acid to react with the Baking Soda (click here for a more thorough explanation of pH chemistry for baking . Apparently, baking soda + lemon juice is great for a green household cleaning agent and can also safely whiten teeth!).

First, pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees and grease muffin pan or line with liners (I prefer pretty little liners).

I used a small 4-cup processor to chop and grind whole nuts. I had to use the last bit I had from the container, so some of the pieces were already small. I just pulsed the processor twice for each setting: chop and grind, chop and grind.

To mash the bananas, I took the easy way and used a spoon to cut and press until I achieved a smooth, thick consistency.

In a large mixing bowl, add the smaller ingredients, the sugars, salt, oil and egg. Mix these into a yellow paste. Then add the mashed bananas and chopped nuts and mix together.

Next, incorporate the flour, baking soda, vanilla extract, spices (cinnamon and nutmeg) and the lemon juice. Mix all ingredients evenly until you have a medium thick batter.

Tip: I use my Ikea ice cream scoop to transfer batter into the muffin pan. This helps me control the portions and minimize mess.

Once all the cups are full of banana batter, place the tray onto the top shelf of the oven and set the timer for 20 minutes. By this time the muffins should rise and take on a delicious medium brown glow. Take a toothpick and insert into the muffin in the middle of the tray and one on the outer edge. If no batter sticks to the toothpick, they are done! If batter sticks, whomp, place the tray back into the oven for another five minutes and check again.

At this point, I use a trick I saw my sister use to finish muffins. Make a simple glaze by mixing about a tablespoon of lemon juice and sprinkle in some white and brown sugar (add a dash of cinnamon if you love cinnamon like me!). Use a silicon basting brush to mix and drizzle the glaze over each muffin while they are still warm and let it can cool naturally. This will give you a pretty sheen for display and a yummy, slightly tart first bite.

Tip: This in another big sister tip. If you end up with extra batter for any cupcake or muffin mix and need to only bake a few more, make sure to begin placing the batter in the middle of the tray, moving outward. Since the cups on the outer edge can heat a little differently, starting in the middle when you only have a few cups to fill will help ensure a more even distribution of heat.

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My version is not overly sweet or dry but I can’t guarantee that you will be able to eat just one. I apologize in advance : )

Now you have a fool proof way to make banana nut muffins. Go ahead, bring these to  your next brunch or to the office. Your friends and coworkers will thank you. Just don’t forget to thank your sister, younger or older or twin, for all they have done 

{Cuteness Alert}

Speaking of muffins, here’s an adorable handmade “Stud Muffin” card  from Cherry Blossom Tree Designs. Very cute but not edible!

Available: Cherry Blossom Tree Designs

Retail: $3.50 USD

Do you have a favorite tip from your sister? Let me know!

XOXO Liz Signature

It’s Party Time!

This is just a quick morning post to wish everyone who was born on August 15th the most fabulous birthday ever!

I plan on savoring my special day with the ones I love dearly and celebrate through the rest of this weekend–kisses to all who have wished me well : )

Speaking of savoring, I made some confetti ‘funfetti’ birthday cupcakes…I could eat these for days!

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DIY: Here’s a sweet recipe you can try yourself, courtesy of {The Cake Blog}

Dress it up: And remember to make it pretty by adding a cupcake topper such as this one from {Cherry Blossom Tree Designs}!

Available: Cherry Blossom Tree Designs

Retail: $12.99 for a set of 12

Happy Bday CBTD

Mon chéri, I am off to enjoy this beautiful birthday, cheers!

Happy Birthday to all my fellow Leos! May your day be bright and your smile even brighter XOXO!

XOXO Liz Signature