These little jars are so cute for teacher gifts, hostess gifts, and just-because gifts! It takes a little patience to collect the jars, but then it is pretty straight-forward to put everything together. Materials: empty jars gold spray paint metallic … Continue reading
I had so much fun last weekend hosting a Stella and Dot Trunk Show with afternoon tea for my girlfriends!
I’m especially proud that our stylist Stacey and I are each donating 10%, so 20% of the total sales, to the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. If you feel so inclined, you can check out their beautiful jewelry, bags and accessories and participate in the fundraiser through May 25, 2013.
Here’s a glimpse at our fun girls’ afternoon, which I hope to turn into an annual event!
- I was excited to use my eclectic mix of vintage tea cups, plates, and serving dishes that I collected for a baby shower last year.
- Fresh flowers are a beautiful touch. I clipped some Cala lilies from our garden, and on of my friends brought a colorful bouquet that looks beautiful on the coffee table. I’m brainstorming about something similar I can put there long-term.
- Paper lanterns are so popular right now, and I’ve been looking for a way to use them. I love the garden feel these lanterns created for our tea party. I hung them using fishing line and clear Command Mini Hooks.
- Tea cup garland – this was a fun and easy project. I was cutting out paper tea cup silhouettes to make signs for the food, and I was inspired to string some together with lace to make this little garland that I hung over the buffet. I love the romantic feel of the colors and patterns.
- New table runner and trivets – I’ve been meaning to make these for a while out of the same fabric I used for cushions on our hallway bench. They worked perfectly for our party and will get lots more use in days to come.
- Luggage tag party favors were a last-minute project using some of the same prints as the tea cup garland. I printed the names on cardstock backed with decorative paper and slipped the paper into these clear vertical badge holders and added luggage tag loops.
- Cheese plate for a savory snack
- Fruit salad in a watermelon basket – everyone said, “My mom used to do that!” My mom did, too!
- Coffee cake – a great sour cream cake that my mom also made.
- Cookies – classic Walker’s shortbread and some cute flower-shaped sugar cookies
- baklava – hubby made this. SO good.
- Tea – LOVE this vintage candy tin I found in an antiques shop on my birthday. It fits a collection of tea bags perfectly.
- Citrus water
Are you feeling inspired by our charming afternoon tea party? Here are a few of my favorite pieces from the Stella and Dot collection, if you’d like to participate in our fundraiser:
Thank you so much to all my friends who came out to socialize and shop for a cause. I’m looking forward to seeing you next year!
Well, this past Sunday was pretty wonderful, not least because my primary source of sustenance was scones and cupcakes. I’ve spent much of the past few weeks preparing for my friend Nicola’s baby shower, and it finally came together! There will be more baby shower details in upcoming posts, but let’s start with the tea party.
I was completely in love after attending a baby shower at DarTealing Lounge last year. Afternoon tea is such a luxurious event, and DarTealing offered top-notch teas and treats in an absolutely charming setting. One of the things I loved was the mix of patterns and styles in the teacups, plates, and silverware. This approach took all the pressure off of using china – break one, and you can replace it with something completely different! Lovejoy’s Tea Room over in Noe Valley has a similar atmosphere and is also a popular place for showers.
Until recently, I didn’t own much in the way of accessories for tea myself, but I did have two sets of little plates that have great sentimental value. Here’s how I came to own them… Even after many years, old losses and grief will sometimes surface. Seven years after my mom died, I was pregnant with our second baby, and I was overcome with sadness at my mom’s absence. With her incredible insight, my manager at work – and dear friend – suggested that I reach out to some of my mom’s friends over my Christmas vacation. I didn’t mention the sense of loss that drove me to contact her friend Mrs. McCulloch, but when I arrived at her house – for tea – it was clear that our meeting was special for both of us. She told me stories about my mom, some that predated me, and one story was about a time they had been browsing antique stores together, and Mrs. McCulloch had fallen in love with some vintage plates. My mom went back later to buy the plates and gave them to her friend. That snowy day when we met, her friend gave them to me.
When my dear friend Nicola heard this story, she determined that she and I should have our own afternoon tea party, and it took us a while to get around to it, but after Thanksgiving last year, we enjoyed an afternoon of sandwiches, tea, and board games. As an early Christmas gift, she brought me two beautiful teacups that day, and so the collection was born.
When it came time for me to plan Nicola’s shower, it seemed only natural that a tea party should be part of the theme. It was the perfect excuse to use my treasured plates and cups and to build on my collection. This was treasure hunting at its best! I browsed local thrift and antique stores as well as eBay to discover a colorful array of teacups and plates. The beauty of this approach is that you’re not tied to one particular pattern, and you can choose the best deals. Each piece is a great conversation starter, and even cups that might not be beautiful on their own gain a new appeal when mixed together. It’s like a beautiful patchwork quilt. Bonus: with all those different patterns, people are less likely to get their drinks mixed up!
Here are some pictures of my old and new treasures at the party. I love how it all turned out, and I admit I still have my eye out for some more good deals on cute teacups and serving items.
Since this was a Storybook-themed baby shower, I can’t believe I forgot to bring out the Peter Rabbit and Bunnykins cups!
Remember when I lined my living room shelves with Imperial Trellis wallpaper? It’s the perfect place to store all the new teacups and other pretty items!
Of course, a tea party would not be complete without sandwiches. Maura, my cohost, and some of our other friends helped make this gorgeous spread, which tasted as good as it looked. The sandwiches were:
- egg salad with curry
- cream cheese and smoked salmon
- cucumber and Boursin cheese
- cucumber, tomato, and hummus
I made the cupcakes and am so happy with the results. I actually started with Trader Joe’s boxed cake mixes, but I customized them as follows. Thanks to Sophie for the decorating help!
- Lemon cupcakes with lemon frosting. Starting with yellow cake mix, I added the zest of one lemon, the juice of third of a lemon, and about a tablespoon of lemon extract. For the frosting, I added juice from another third of the lemon and a couple of teaspoons of lemon extract.
- Chocolate cupcakes with mocha frosting. Starting with the chocolate cake mix, I added some cocoa to make it extra chocolate-y. For the frosting, I made a mix of hot chocolate powder and instant decaffeinated coffee powder in as little water as possible (about half a cup). We used this liquid instead of water when mixing the frosting.
I cut a watermelon to look like an old-fashioned baby carriage and tied a ribbon on it for decoration. I used sewing pins to keep the ribbon in place. I’ve seen much more elaborate versions of this, with orange slices for wheels and more decorations, but even with many friends helping in the kitchen, we ran out of time. It was still cute, and we definitely needed a healthy break from the cupcakes!
Scones and shortbread
The scones were a mix of bakery scones and Trader Joe’s frozen blueberry scones, baked up with an egg wash and brown sugar sprinkled on top. These are really surprisingly delicious. Our friend Beth made her family’s shortbread recipe, which is amazing. I am waiting to get the recipe from her, because it tastes so much like my mom’s, and it holds a printed design well, so I want to try my patterned rolling pin with it.
If you’re planning your own tea party, you can find many more inspirations by browsing the menus at Lovejoy’s, DarTealing, or one of the other amazing tea rooms.
You can also try this ducky cake I made for another baby celebration!
Many of us at the party were already talking about making a semi-regular event out of “cupcakes and crafts,” so hopefully I will get lots more use out of all my “new” old china… and get to enjoy more cupcakes! Also, look out for more baby shower ideas coming soon!
Do you have some plain towels calling out for a bit of interest? Adding some ribbon or a beautiful fabric – or both – to some towels is an easy way to transform them. The finished products make great accents for your home and would be great housewarming gifts! The sewing is all straight lines, so a forgiving and doable project. These plush towels were lovely already, but I felt like dressing them up a bit. I used a band of fabric and some bias tape.
Before you start this project, prewash the towels and fabric, so they won’t pucker later, if they shrink unevenly.
I started by cutting strips of each fabric to the width I wanted and joined pieces end to end to make a long strip.
Then, I joined the strips of different fabric to each other and ironed down a seam allowance on the top and bottom.
Finally, I cut sections a bit wider than each towel and pinned it onto the towels, folding a seam allowance on the ends before sewing the fabric to the towel.
This was really an easy project, and I think it makes a big impact! I used a little bit of the green and white fabric to decorate a basket in the vanity, to tie the room together.
A funny story along the way: ever wonder what the kids think of all these craft projects? Our six year-old saw the fabric pinned to the towels in my sewing room and asked, “But won’t the pins hurt?” It reminds me that all my great ideas might seem a little crazy to others.
Now that I’ve decorated these towels for our master bathroom, I’d love to try some more. I’ve seen some very pretty versions of this idea on tea towels or burp cloths, all of which would make great and special handmade gifts.
And with these towels, our master bathroom is pretty much done, do that room tour will be coming up soon!
The idea for these brilliant clothespin wreaths came from Kirstin at Kojo Designs, who made it as a tea wreath, and it is one of my favorite projects.
O Tea Wreath, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. You are
- easy to make
- eco-friendly, reusing items that would other get recycled or trashed
- a showcase for gorgeous papers
- frugal, using up small scraps of paper
- the perfect gift – beautiful, unique, and useful!
- versatile – start with tea and adapt for many other displays
I think Kirstin’s tutorial pretty much covers it all. I had only a few variations for making mine. I also loved thinking up new ways to use these wreaths!
Here are the simple steps with my tips.
Creating the wreath base:
- Cut a cardboard wreath using sturdy corrugated cardboard or two pieces of thinner board glued together. I used a plate for tracing the outside circle and a scrapbooking template for the inner circle, though you could also use a cup. If you are using scrapbooking paper, make sure your wreath is no bigger than 11 inches in diameter, so you can wrap the 12 inch paper around.
- Cut your paper in a circle 1/2 to 1 inch bigger all around than your wreath. The more room you have the easier it will be to wrap the paper around. I used a beautiful wrapping paper called Hydrangeas by Kate & Birdie. I’ll have more projects with that paper coming up!
- Center your cardboard base on the paper and glue in place. I preferred to use a glue stick for this step, to give a smooth finish.
- Cut tabs around the outside and the center. I didn’t cut all the way to the cardboard, so the the tabs would not show on the sides.
- Glue down the tabs in the back. I used the glue stick here, also.
Creating the clothespins:
- You can find wood clothespins online or at a hardware or craft store. Try the dollar store, too!
- Cut strips of paper the width of the clothespins. This is a great way to use up all sorts of small scraps of paper that are too beautiful to waste. To cut the thin strips, I used the trusty quilting ruler and mat I used in making the fabric growth charts.
- Glue the strips to the pins. I used white glue to attach the paper to the clothespins, because it soaks into the porous surface of the wood and leaves a smooth finish. I spread the glue on one pin and then pressed it against a second one, to get a thin layer that completely covered the side of the pin.
Finishing the wreath:
- Using a glue gun, attach the pins around the wreath, with the clips facing outward.
- Loop a ribbon around for hanging. You could also use some adhesive strips on the back, if you don’t want to see the ribbon. I like the 3M picture hangers I used for putting up the oversize wall initials.
I made several of these wreaths for Christmas and birthdays recently, including teacher gifts, and they were always a big hit. I made them in a variety of colors for many different looks
While I gave the wreaths away with tea bags, my friends and I have found new uses for these beautiful wreaths. Here are some of our ideas. I’d love to hear yours, too!
- Appreciation wreath – My friend Monica used hers to write messages of appreciation to her kids. She used index cards cut in half and wrote in a different color for each child.
- Inspiration board – I’m using mine to pin ideas for craft and DIY projects.
- Photo display – what a pretty way to display your favorite pictures!
- Card holder – for holiday cards, birthday cards, business cards.
I think there are lots of great uses for the decorated clothespins themselves, too. You could
- Mount the pins on a rectangular backing for a memo board or photos.
- Put magnets on the back to use on fridges or magnet boards. If you don’t have a fridge that holds magnets, you can stick the clips directly on the fridge with a removable adhesive, which is what I did with these clips for kids art.
- Set up a “clothesline” art gallery and use these pretty clips to easily hang and change the kids’ projects.
- Clip together papers or swatches to organize your office or craft room.
Thanks again to Kirstin at Kojo Designs for this wonderful project idea. It has become a standby for me, and I hope you will let me know if you come up with new ideas for these beautiful wreaths and pins!