DIY Dye Painted Cloth Napkins

A really easy way to transform a table is by customizing the table linens to match your theme. For my Forth of July Meet & Greet event at West Elm I wanted to teach attendees a way to customize fabric napkins in a way that doesn’t end up being overtly patriotic so that they might be able to use the napkins throughout the Summer. I chose to teach a DIY Dye Painting craft that creates fabric napkins with almost a water color effect. I liked the effect so much that I chose to create matching printables with the watercolor look too complete the party. Stay tuned this week to see the free printables.  (sneak peek here!)

DIY Dye Painted Cloth Napkins

Supplies Needed: (Links are affiliate links. Affiliate link purchases help support this blog.)

Directions: 

*Please be careful working with dye. It wil dye your furniture, clothing, etc. It is very important to protect your space and be careful when painting with this dye. If you are worried about getting it on your hands then use latex gloves to protect them!

  1. Make your dye: Mix 2 Tablespoons of Liquid Rit Dye with 1/4 tablespoon of salt, and 2 Tablespoons of water.
  2. Place several layers of wax paper down underneath your white napkin.
  3. Paint shapes on your white napkin using the dye. The napkin will cause some bleeding of the dye. Small, intricate designs are not suggested for this type of fabric painting.
  4. Let the design dry. The drying process can be as quick as 30 minutes. I let mine sit overnight. The overall print will be lighter than that painted. Some of the dye will also bleed during the rinsing process… making the watercolor effect I was speaking of before.
  5. Rinse each napkin separately under cool water until water runs clear. Put in dryer or hang to dry.
  6. Wash the napkins in a separate load and not with your regular clothing in future washings. The dye may bleed in the next few washings and you don’t want to get the dye on other cloth items.

Some painting ideas…

Finished Product…

 

Super Last Minute, (Fairly Inexpensive) Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

Hey… did you know Mother’s Day is SUNDAY? Yea, the thousand and one posts about it on social media and the blogosphere reminded me too. I actually mailed out my gifts this year BEFORE Mother’s Day. (Though, likely, they will still be late.) A serious accomplishment for me nonetheless.

I do have good intentions. I actually love all the ideas that come up right before Mother’s Day on all the blogs. I think, “Wow. Next year I am totally going to do that.” Then the year passes by and it is suddenly May 5th. And, while I am sipping on my margarita I inevitably realize that another Mother’s Day is approaching and catching me unprepared.

If I am this terrible at remembering Mother’s Day—and, I’m a mother—I really can’t be terribly upset that my husband completely forgot that Mother’s Day is this upcoming Sunday and might have planned to be at a Timber’s game.  I’m guessing my two-year-old hasn’t planned to make me breakfast in bed or created me a stunning card creation. (slacker)*

Super Last Minute and Not Too Expensive Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

I thought I’d help a hubby out and share my favorite picks for Mother’s Day. While being a mother is gift enough—and all that jazz— I sure do like a well-thought-out gift.** This momma doesn’t have expensive tastes, loves a sense of humor, and appreciates thoughtful/useful (yet still fun) gifts. Maybe, just maybe, you haven’t figured out a gift for your momma (or baby mamma) these gift ideas will be helpful for you as well.

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Were you on top of things this year and remember to show mom a little love?

*While my husband’s memory is not made for remembering holidays and such… he shows me every day how much he loves and respects me. I like to rib him a little about his forgetfulness, but seriously, he is awesome. The kid is a total slacker though. ;-)

** Anyone who knows me knows this is a joke. Sure, I like a pretty little gift as much as the next person. But, I cherish things much higher than baubles. Happy Mom’s Day out there to everyone who made it this far in the post!

 

Happy Cinco De Mayo

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Happy Cinco de Mayo! I am a little sad that it fell on a Monday this year. I’ll be working all day and most the night tonight. But, I’m hopeful to fit a margarita in somewhere.

I’m currently loving this printable by the Lovely Lauren if A Fabulous Fete! I saw it on her Instagram a month or so ago and fell in love. I thought it was the perfect reminder! She was kind enough to make a printable out of her work and sent it to me just in time for today! I’ve already posted it in front of my computer at work.

Get your own “Know when to give up and have a margarita printable” by Lauren of A Fabulous Fete (Only $5!)

Love Lauren’s style and want more for your Cinco de Mayo celebration? Check out these greatCinco de Mayo free printablesfor drink stirrers and flags!

Irish Whiskey Cocktail with Honey Clove Syrup & Savory Cocktails Review

AWCP-OldIrishCocktailPinterest

 

Happy St. Paddy’s Day!

How are you celebrating today? Are you kissing someone Irish, wearing green, or enjoying a tasty dish of Bangers & Mash? I’ll be celebrating by whipping up a cocktail with an Irish twist!

This past winter I was sent the book Savory Cocktails by Greg Henry (affiliate link) for review. I’ve been making my way through the book getting creative with drinks such as a Perfect Martini and Salad Bowl Gin & Tonic. Enjoying the tart and refreshing combinations of herbs and liquor. As I was working on creating a cocktail in honor of St. Patrick’s Day I wanted to find something that would pair well with Irish Whiskey, so I picked up the Savory Cocktail book looking for ideas.

While I can drink a bourbon with just ice, for me Irish Whiskey has a bit more of a bite to it and I wanted something that would smooth out the flavor while keeping its notes of honey and citrus. (Not all Irish Whiskeys are the same… so, I may still discover something I can drink sans mixers.)  That is when I stumbled upon Henry’s recipe for Clove-Infused Honey Syrup… the combination is PERFECT. It is smoky, rich, smooth, and sweet.

Irish Whiskey with Honey Clove Syrup

How to make an Old Irish Cocktail:

Ingredients:

  • 1 oz Clove-Infused Honey Syrup
  • 2 oz Irish Whiskey
  • Freshly Squeezed Juice of 1 Orange
  • 1 orange slice for garnish

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients over ice in a rocks glass (I love my large ice cube mold for my whiskey drinks— the larger ice cubes don’t melt as fast or water down my cocktails as quickly.)
  2. Garnish with orange slice
  3. Sláinte! 

Old Irish Cocktail from A Well Crafted Party

How to Make Clove Infused Honey Syrup

Recipe from Savory Cocktails by Greg Henry shared with permission

  • 2 tbsp whole cloves
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1/2 cup honey

“Place the cloves in a small, nonreactive container and lightly crush them with a wooden muddler. Add the warm water and honey; stir to combine, then cover and set at room temperature for 2 to 3 days. Taste the syrup; add more honey if you feel it is too strong.

When your syrup has the taste you want, pour it through a wire-mesh sieve lined with a double layer of damp cheesecloth; discard the solids. Store refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 month. Makes about 1 cup.”

 


Disclosure: I was sent a copy of “Savory Cocktails” for purposes of review. All thoughts and opinions above are my own. I’ve also included affiliate links in this post. Items purchased from affiliate links help this blogger earn a small percentage of the sale. Thank you for supporting this blog.

Real Party: Opal Apple of My Eye Baby Shower

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Apple Themed Baby Shower for After Baby is Born

My little sister had a baby in January! Since she lives in Oklahoma and I wanted to meet the baby, I decided to wait to throw her a baby shower until after the baby was born. I’m a big fan of Sip & See parties after little ones are born and ready for company. (Check out the awesome Pumpkin-themed Sip & See my sister threw for me.)

Opal Apples had contacted me a few months earlier about the possibility of throwing an Opal Apple party. After trying out their apples and LOVING them I agreed to throw an apple-themed shindig. Luckily for me, my sister and brother-in-law are both teachers so an apple-themed baby shower was perfect for them! The party decor was all supplied by Opal Apples– they sent fun paper lanterns, fans, and poufs that really gave the whole event a celebratory feel.

We decided an “Apple of My Eye” themed open-house-style sip and see where guests could stop in for a light lunch and tasty desserts while they meet the new babe.

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Apple Themed Party Sip & See Menu

We wanted to have a light lunch with healthful options for guests since it was the middle of the day and we were pairing the food with lots of apple-desserts. Our menu included 4 salads, freshly baked croissants, and desserts:

  • Steak Salad with Arugula & Spinach, Thinly Sliced Red Onions, Blue Cheese Crumbles, Opal Apple Slices, and Balsamic Vinaigrette
  • Grilled Chicken Salad with Romaine Lettuce, Opal Apples, Dried Cranberries, Parmesan Cheese, & Apple Cider Vinaigrette (check back tomorrow for a recipe!)
  • Chilled Cucumber and Tomato Salad
  • Pasta Salad with Ham & Tomatoes
  • 3 Cheese Croissants
  • Mini Apple Pies
  • Caramel Apple Pie
  • Apple muffins
  • Italian Creme Cake topped with thinly sliced Opal Apples

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Shower Activity

We made the event an open house style party so people could come and go so we didn’t plan a lot of activities for the party. I am not a huge shower-game fan anyways. (Check out the post about the robot baby shower my friend threw for me that had GREAT baby shower activities!) We did want a couple of things people could do if they didn’t feel like chatting.

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We had a great time celebrating my brand-new nephew and getting to see friends and family throughout the day. A big thank you to Opal Apples for the great party decor and for introducing me to the tasty, yellow apple.


This post was sponsored by Opal Apples. The thoughts and words in this post are my own. More information about Opal apples: Opal is a bright yellow apple that is like none other with its beautiful appearance, distinctively crunchy texture, floral aroma and a sweet, tangy flavor. But one of the most incredible, and natural features of this non-GMO apple is that it does not brown after cutting so it stays crisp and fresh in your salads and your kids’ lunchboxes.

Real Party: Aged Birthday Party

aged birthday party washington wine

This year I turned the big 3-0. I thought it would be much more significant or earth shattering than it ended up being. I mean… my mom was 29 until she turned 39. So, I expected to really feel sad about the end of my 20s.

I didn’t really care so much this year… as a matter of fact, I was actually sort of happy about turning 3o. I feel like I’m in a good spot in my life and I’m pretty happy with where I am in life. So, this year’s party I really wanted to celebrate the fact that I am happy in my age and that I think maybe I’ve even improved with age. What a better way to celebrate the great things about aging than celebrate with other things that get better with age… like wine, cured meats, pickled items, aged cheeses, and wonderful friends.

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photo 4 photo 3 washington wine meat cheese party photo 2 (1) wine tasting party

I celebrated with a ladies night “Aged” birthday party. Maryhill wines, a Pacific Northwest winery, provided me with bottles of Zinfandel, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon to taste and serve with a selection of aged meats and cheeses. And, of course, chocolate! It was fun catching up with everyone and enjoying how different wines paired so nicely with different meats and cheeses. I especially loved the pairing of the Maryhill Zinfandel with chocolate laced cheddar. (Yes, that is really a thing and yes it is delicious.)

I’m pretty easy to please. But, this was probably one of my favorite party menus so far. The food was easy to put together with quality, store-bought items and a few pretty platters and bowls. The wine selection was limited (three different red wines and one white wine option) but, tasty and paired wonderfully with the food items. I actually set the entire thing up with the help of a couple of friends after I left work.

The decor for the evening was simple. I like the look of chalkboards for this time of event… something about the classic look of a piece of black slate with white chalked writing. I labeled the food items with a white gel pen on black cardstock and then wrote a quote on a big chalkboard in my kitchen. This party can definitely be brought up another level with a more coordinated and styled look. But, it was also perfect as a laid back event.

These photos were all from my iPhone the evening of the party. Next week I’ll be sharing some more photos, some menu & decor ideas for a slightly fancier “Aged” party, and some “Aged” party printables. I have birthday printables as well as printables I’ve created for a fun “Aged” New Year’s Eve event. But, for now, let me leave you with this question:

How do you feel you’ve improved with age?

Comment below! Leave your twitter handle and I’ll tweet out your comment as well!

Holiday Recipe: Baked Eggnog Custard with Cinnamon Whipped Cream

Baked Eggnog Custard Holiday Recipe // A Well Crafted Party

There is nothing quite like a great holiday dessert.

This dessert recipe is perfect for a holiday dinner for two— or you can make a larger batch and serve it at a holiday bash! I love how the baked custard creaminess of this dish makes me want to sit in front of a fire and cuddle up close to someone special. The eggnog, cinnamon, and molasses cookie crumble makes it taste like the holidays. I created this eggnog custard from a seriously delicious eggnog I found at Whole Foods Market called Traderspoint Creamery Grassfed Eggnog.

Eggnog custards are by no means an original idea. A simple google search will yield several delicious recipes. My recipe breaks down the process down to the simplest, easiest recipe that still yielded a delicious result. I upped the difficultly and the taste just a little with the custard toppings. But, if you are looking for a quick, easy dessert to wow your loved ones then this eggnog custard is a great base!

Ingredients for the baked eggnog custard

 

Baked Eggnog Custard with Cinnamon Whipped Cream and a Ginger Molasses Cookie Crumble

Serves 2 — Approximately 1 hour (though, most of that is oven and cooling time)

Ingredients:

  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup Traderspoint Creamery Grassfed Nog
  • Dash of Salt
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar (1 for the custard and 2 for the whipped cream)
  • 2 4oz ceramic oven-safe dishes
  • 1 ginger mollasses cookie crumbled
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • One baking dish with at least 1 inch sides

eggnog custard

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. In a bowl, whisk together the egg, 1 tablespoon of sugar, a dash of salt, and eggnog. Pour the mixture in to the two ceramic dishes.
  3. Put the two ceramic dishes in the deep baking dish. Fill the baking dish with water so that the water comes up halfway along the sides of the ceramic dishes.
  4. Bake the dishes for approximately 40 minutes. The tops of the custards will puff and brown.
  5. While baking the dishes, make your cinnamon whipped cream. Using a handheld or table top mixer, whip the heavy cream until it begins to have stiff peaks. Add in the remaining sugar (2 tablespoons), cinnamon, and vanilla, and mix. Be careful to not over beat your whipped cream or it will begin to clump.
  6. After the custards are out of the oven, let cool, top with whipped cream and the cookie crumble.

Only top the custards with toppings right before serving. Serve at room temperature for a thinner custard. Or, chill in fridge for a few hours for a thicker custard. Both are delicious!

Check out these other great eggnog custard recipes that I’ve tried and liked:

  • Baked Eggnog Custards by The Kitchn — larger yield than my recipe and has alcohol in it! YUM.
  • Real Simple’s Eggnog Custard doesn’t have eggnog in it, but the flavor is amazing and rich.

 

Giveaway: Macy’s Holiday Parade in Portland

Photo from Macy's Portland Parade

Photo from Macy’s Portland Parade

Did you know Portland had a Macy’s Parade? Well, they do! The day AFTER Thanksgiving… you know the day, Black Friday, Macy’s brings the fun from NYC to the streets of Portland. All the fun of you don’t even have to get out on Thanksgiving Day!

When I was a child I was in pageants. As a tiny beauty queen I was usually in parades rather than getting to watch the parade on the side lines. One of our family stories is something that my grandmother told over and over again.

She used to say that after I spent the morning smiling and waiving from an elaborate parade float, I was upset to hear that the parade was over.

“Did you enjoy the parade?” she asked.

“No,” I’d complain, “I didn’t get to see it!”

Photo from previous Macy's Portland Parade

Years later I learned to appreciate both the opportunity to be in a parade and to watch the parade. But, because of that story, I’m excited to see what my son think’s of his very first parade. Really makes me wish my grandmother were here to see his face too.

I typically avoid going out on Black Friday. Sure, the sales are AMAZING. But, crowds and I do NOT get along. However, my son is now 2 1/2 and the idea of him experiencing his very first parade is just too good of an incentive. I can’t wait to see how his eyes light up when local bands march through, floats ride by, and as he see’s Santa.

Photo from previous Macy's Portland Parade

Photo from previous Macy’s Portland Parade

Portland’s Macy’s Holiday Parade

The Portland Macy’s Parade takes begins at 9 AM on Davis Street, makes it’s way down Broadway, turning at Alder, making its way down 4th Avenue, and finishing on Flanders Street one hour later.

The 2013 Portland My Macy’s Holiday Parade will feature 25 inflatable floats, local middle and high school marching bands, nearly 650 costumed characters and much more! A new red “Believe” Santa’s Mailbox float and Yes Virginia costumed characters have been added to the line-up this year. (If you haven’t heard of the red Believe Mailbox, and the Yes, Virginia campaign, then hop on over to Macy’s website to read about their commitment to give to the Make a Wish Foundation.)

The parade will conclude shortly after Santa dashes in his sleigh past Macy’s, heading directly from the North Pole to his Portland holiday post in Macy’s Santa-land, which opens at 11:00 AM. Santa-land is open November 29 through December 24 on Level A of the downtown store.

Win a Chance to Sit VIP at the 2013 Macy’s Holiday Parade in Downtown Portland on November 29!

Winners get the opportunity to sit VIP at the Macy’s Holiday Parade– in the perfect position to see all the action! And, I’ll be there with my family to celebrate alongside you! I have a limited amount of VIP seats to award.

*Winners must be able to attend the parade in Portland on November 29. The prize is only for the VIP tickets and does not include any additional expenses. Please read the guidelines in the Rafflecopter below and enter to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Not in the Portland area? Well, no worries, you can still watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade (or attend if you live in NYC!) on NBC from 9AM to Noon EST. Or, follow along via twitter at #macysparade! And, I’d still love to know…

What is your favorite Holiday Parade memory?

 

Holiday Mingle Pt. 2: Tips for Bloggers from PR Pros

Bloggers working with companies

One of the craziest things about this whole blogging thing is getting to a point that your email inbox is filled to the gills with companies wanting to work with you for one thing or another. Blogs are great formats for sharing products and opinions about products/ businesses– and, boy are companies realizing it!

Each blogger must come to a decision about his or her blog and whether they want to work with PR companies and what guidelines they plan to utilize. It is a wild-wild-west out here. There are really no set-in-stone rules yet. Many people who blog are not people with years of experience working with publications. Though, the content they are churning out is worth something and the time that they spend on creating that content should be worth something too. But, deciding the worth is the hard part.

It is also quite difficult balancing the line of being simply a promotional fountain that spews out whatever a company will pay for to being an open, honest review with absolutely no obligation to a company. We aren’t quite journalists, yet we aren’t a particular company’s marketing team either. Unless companies, advertisers, or readers pay a blogger then a blogger is making NO money for work that takes hours and hours to complete. A blogger MUST find a comfortable position for where they stand on these issues for their blog.

These are not only issues that I’ve come across in my blog, but they are issues that every blogger I know has had to deal with at one point or another. Which is why I was thrilled to get the PR perspective at a recent Portland Bloggers meet-up sponsored by Little Green Pickle, the 2013 Holiday Mingle.

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Tips for Bloggers for Working with Companies and PR Representatives:

These tips come from the awesome Public Relations professionals that donated their time and expertise, and got in a room with their competition, to talk about blogging. If you are a blogger (not just those in Portland) and want to get involved working with some really great PR pros then check out their websites and contact them via email. They love that, by the way! The PR Panel consisted of  Carrie Welch of Little Green Pickle, Meaghan Burns of Broussard Communications , Lisa Hill of Lisa Hill PR, Heather Jones of Heather Jones Consulting, and Vicky Hastings of Maxwell PR . (Click on over to their websites and connect with them via email or Twitter TODAY!)

Tip One: Be Ready to Work with Companies

  • Have your blog up to snuff! Doesn’t everyone have that list of to-do items they want to get done for their blog? I know I do… the PR pros said not to wait any longer. Get your site where you’d like it right away.
  • Have an updated media kit ready to go! A simple one page explanation of your site, your site’s demographics, your numbers, and your guidelines will suffice.

Tip Two: Get Your Numbers Up

Many bloggers hate to talk about this side of the blogging world. Numbers matter. That doesn’t mean that small blogs have no shot. But, it does give incentive to work on getting your numbers up.

  • Most PR pros look for at least 10,000 Page Views Monthly– ideally, Unique Page Views
  • Most PR pros aim for at least 1,000 followers/fans for each social media platform

The panel said that it definitely isn’t ALWAYS about the numbers. Having a dedicated following in a niche field is also a great way to get in with working with good companies.

Tip Three: Act Professional

Think of your blog as your store front. You want to keep it looking nice, have the shelves stocked full (content!), and you want to provide great customer service. Interact with companies in a professional manner by answering those emails, sending updates on posts, and presenting your expectations and guidelines from the beginning.

Now, I’m the first to say that this isn’t easy… bloggers are often working more than on just their blog, life can get busy, and email inboxes can get a little bit insane. The thing to take from this though, is that being upfront, honest, and professional will help you in working with companies.

Want More?

For more tips from the PR Panel at the Holiday Mingle check out the post over on the Portland Bloggers blog. To read more about the Holiday Mingle and the awesome companies that were in attendance click on over to my first Holiday Mingle Re-Cap. To check out the websites of the people that helped make the Holiday Mingle happen…. click one of the logos below!

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Guest Blogger Beaux and Belles: How to Choose the Perfect Wedding Photographer

I’d like to introduce to you Brittany from Beaux and Belles– she is A Well Crafted Sponsor and has taken the opportunity to guest post here on the blog. If you haven’t been over to Beaux and Belles, but you love parties, then you should hop on over. Brittany features events, party trends, and tons of inspiration. Today she is sharing her tips on choosing the perfect wedding photographer.

Photographer

Photo via Pixabay

Determining which photographer to choose for your wedding or event can seem like a very daunting task. With these questions, you will be prepared and well-equipped to make the right decision!

Ask the Photographer about his/her experience and style…

  1. What do you do to make your images unique?

  2. Why are you an events photographer?

  3. What is your photographic approach/style?

  4. Are you full-time or do you hold another job as well?

  5. Do you have a portfolio I can review and may I have a list of references?

  6. Have you ever photographed my venue before? If not, will you do a site inspection before?

  7. Have you ever worked with my other vendors?

  8. Can I provide you with a “must-have pics” list or inspiration board?

  9. Do I feel a connection with this photographer? Am I comfortable?

  10. Does the photographer listen well and address my wishes?

Ask the Photographer about his/her contract and pricing…

  1. Do you have my date(s) available?

  2. How far in advance do I need to book with you?

  3. Can I see a sample contract?

  4. What travel fees do you charge if my venue is out of your area?

  5. Are you photographing any other events on the same day?

  6. If my event lasts longer than expected, will you stay longer? Do you charge extra?

  7. What packages do you offer and can I customize it?

  8. How much is the deposit? Do you offer a payment plan?

  9. Do you have liability insurance?

  10. What is your refund/cancellation policy?

Ask the Photographer about his/her day-of procedure…

  1. What time will you arrive and for how long will you shoot?

  2. What do you suggest as a timeline for the day?

  3. How many photographers will be at my wedding and who are they?

  4. How many pictures will you take?

  5. Do you bring an assistant to the event?

  6. How will you be dressed? (Should be professional.)

  7. What information do you need from me before the event day?

 

Ask the Photographer about his/her after-event procedure…

  1. How extensively do you edit images for the final album?

  2. What does the final product look like? (album, digital CD, etc.)

  3. How long after the event will I receive the photos?

  4. How long are online copies available for viewing/ordering?

Photo via Pixabay

Photo via Pixabay

I hope you found this post helpful in your search for the perfect photographer. The most important thing is to find a photographer that is professional and that you are comfortable working with. And don’t worry about bombarding the photographer with these questions – most photographers have a lot of information in brochures and on their website that can help you find the answers to each of these questions before you even set up an appointment!

About the Author: Brittany Ryan is the founder and editor of the event planning blog, Beaux and Belles: An Event Planning Blog. It is an inspiration and reference site for all things related to event management and entertaining. At Beaux & Belles, you can find everything from tabletop settings for the home to stunning layouts and visual displays for the weddings and corporate events. On a more personal note, Brittany uses this space as her creative outlet to document her journey towards becoming a certified Event Planner. Brittany currently caters to the DFW community. With every event, Brittany’s aim is to plan something that is meaningful, memorable, classy, and fun! In her spare time, Brittany enjoys fine dining, traveling, a glass of red wine, and creating fond memories with loved ones.

 




A big thank you to Brittany for sponsoring A Well Crafted Party and sharing her tips!If you are interested in becoming a sponsor of A Well Crafted Party then hop on over to my ad page to see what I have to offer!

Love ‘em or Leave ‘em Party Trends: Paper Straws

Party trends come and they go— some are classic, and others are fads. Thinking through the many trends that I play around with or decide to leave out of my events, I came up with the following series.

Love ‘em or Leave ‘em Party Trends

I’ll feature a different party trend every so often and share my thoughts on the trend. Then, I’d like to hear whether you LOVE them or would rather do without. Each month I’ll throw all of the commenters names in a pot from all of the Love ‘em or Leave ‘em comments and choose one winner who will get their choice of the party trends. So, let me know in the comments about your true feelings of these party trends for a chance to win your favorite of them all. 

Paper Straw Party Trend

Paper Straws

Do you Love ‘em or Leave ‘em?

Reason I Love Them:  Paper straws are super cute. I love the instant style that they can give a drink. I also love how they can be utilized in so many different ways. They needn’t be straws at all—but instead a cute party decor in the form of a garland,  cake bunting, or a drink flag. I like that they come in different colors, and different designs.

Reason I’d Leave Them: They are super, duper impractical! Have you ever drank out of a paper straw? Yep, sorta tastes like paper. The longer a paper straw sits in the liquid the more icky and squishy they get. Even the really good ones that have a nice waxiness that keeps them from disintegrating give a different taste/feel after sitting too long in liquid. Maybe I’m just picky?

Overall…I’d vote for loving them. I will likely use them for other forms of decoration rather than drinking straws for most of my parties. But, darn it, sometimes you just want to elevate a drink in a way that only a paper straw can do.

Your turn… do you love ‘em or leave ‘em? And, why?

Comment below for a chance to win one of the featured “Love ‘em or Leave ‘em Party Trends” this month!

A Fairytale Halloween

Fairytale Halloween // A Well Crafted Party

Happy Halloween!

For the past six years my husband and I have hosted a Halloween party at our home. We (or, should I say… I) love this holiday. I love the theatrical nature of it. I love the multitude of themes. I just love it.

We’ve done several different themes over the years. So, this year, when we were looking over our budget and schedules we were sad to have to tell everyone that we were not going to have a party. But, just like that, I found a full-time job after two years of searching and working from home part-time. Then, suddenly, the party was back on the table!

Without a ton of planning, we pulled off a fun Fairytale themed Halloween party over this past weekend. Our friends helped out a ton by bringing over food or beverages. We decorated the tables with items we had on had, found inexpensively at the grocery store, or made.

I was a terrible blogger (as I have been over this past month) and didn’t take any photos of the party before the party actually happened! Thankfully, I have two wonderful friends in Bee (The Spicy Bee) and Suzannah (Adventures in Dressmaking) who brought along their cameras and snapped some shots.

Fairytale Halloween // A Well Crafted Party

Cinderella’s Pumpkin Cupcakes made by Bee. Recipe is up on her blog today!

This post is going to take a bit to load because it is going to basically be a photo dump of the event. I’m sure I’ll come back to this party next year sharing all the little details. But, for today, I wanted to leave you with some fun Halloween pictures to help put you in the holiday spirit!

Fairytale Halloween // A Well Crafted Party
Fairytale Halloween // A Well Crafted Party
Fairytale Halloween // A Well Crafted Party
Fairytale Halloween // A Well Crafted Party
Fairytale Halloween // A Well Crafted Party
Fairytale Halloween // A Well Crafted Party
Fairytale Halloween // A Well Crafted Party
Fairytale Halloween // A Well Crafted Party
Fairytale Halloween // A Well Crafted Party
Fairytale Halloween // A Well Crafted Party
Fairytale Halloween // A Well Crafted Party

Fairytale Halloween // A Well Crafted Party

Jason and Suzannah– Iron Man and Black Widow (Iron Man is totally a Modern Day Fairytale, right?)

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Our little family as The Little Mermaid– 15 years later.

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Bee and her hubby as Little Red and her Lumberjack

I hope you all have a lovely and safe Halloween. Tonight the little guy is going trick or treating for the very first time!

Featured: Three Tips for Making Kid’s Parties Fun for Everyone on Cup of Ting

3 Tips for making kid's parties fun for everyone // A Well Crafted Party featured on Cup of Ting

 

I was thrilled when Ting of Cup of Ting asked me to share a kid’s party post with her readers. One of the hardest things for me to learn when I went to having all adult parties to parties that also included kiddos was HOW to throw a party in which everyone could still enjoy themselves at.

Hop on over to Cup of Ting to read 3 Tips for Making Kid’s Parties FUN for Everyone!

Behind the Scenes: Sunjin Lee Wedding Dress Designer

Behind the Scenes of a wedding gown designer // A Well Crafted Party // featuring Sunjin Lee's Studio Space

How do you go to sketching and dreaming about designing buildings in Korea to having your wedding dress designs strutting the catwalk in Portland, OR? Well, you fall in love.

At least, that is what Portland wedding dress designer Sunjin Lee did! She met her husband (who also acts as her business partner in many aspects) in Paris, fell in love, and ended up trying on tons of wedding dresses with unhappy results. Her decision to try her hand at making her own wedding dress is what brought her to today,  just a few years later!

A Modern Love Story

Of course, that is boiling down a romantic, long-distance relationship down to the nitty gritty there. The couple stayed contacted for nearly two years after meeting in Paris, Sunjin in university in Korea while her husband was in the states. The whole thing was sort of a romance that you’d read in a modern storybook. Strong female lead from traditional background with no intention of getting married really meets dashing, talented, and smart young man in a town far from both their homes. They fall in love to be parted by schedules, plans, and obligations. The young couple work for years, traveling back and forth, keeping their spark alive until they are reunited again. I’d read that book.

wedding gown designer Sunjin Lee's architecture sketches

When Architecture and Gown Design Collide

I had the amazing opportunity to visit Sunjin Lee’s studio in Portland, Oregon to see her work and her work space. I also got to talk with her for an hour about life, love, and her passions. Her studio walls give glimpses into her love of architecture, Paris, fashion, and wedding dresses. She has bookshelves packed to the rafters with wedding and Vogue magazines. Two full walls lined with tulle, silk, embroidered, and beaded dresses. A wall covered in gorgeous sketches of buildings. It is a sight to see.

Sunjin Lee pointed out the sketches to tell me a story about meeting her husband. She pointed out a sketch looking up at the Eiffel Tower. All of the sketches are gorgeous.

“Wait,” you drew these!?” I asked. Yep, she drew them.

She tells me about going to school and training for a career in architecture. You can see her love for great architecture in the dresses she designs. She uses strong lines in many of her bodices, she plays with the shape and structure of the dresses using fabric and structure. She tells me how she lets designs of the past inspire her work. She points out a gorgeous high-low wedding dress with 3/4 sleeves, “this shape was popular in the fifties.” It is neat to see her crafts playing together so nicely.

hand stitched beading and sequins by Sunjin Lee for her own wedding

 

Behind the Scenes of Sunjin Lee's wedding gown studio featured on A Well Crafted Party

Where it All Began

Sunjin Lee tells me how she got started in wedding dress design only 3 years ago. After trying on several wedding dresses she didn’t find exactly what she wanted. She also found out that having someone make her a specialty dress would take much more time than she had. So, she thought about what she wanted and decided that she could do it herself. And, boy did she!

She actually wore three wedding dresses throughout her wedding day in Hawaii. One of the dresses was a Nicole Miller dress (actually, the same dress I wore on MY wedding day!) and the other two dresses were of her own creation. She shows me one of the dresses she wore that had a mermaid skirt and had been hand-beaded by her with thousands of sequins and beads. She showed me how the beading worked its way up the skirt so it shimmered like water on a mermaid’s tail. Perfect for a beach wedding.

I promise that I’m trying to convince her to publish the photos of her own wedding day so we can all see the dresses in action!

Junjin Lee's studio space featured on a well crafted party

 

Sunjin Lee's studio space featured on A Well Crafted Party

 

Gift Sunjin Lee gives all of her brides featured on A Well Crafted Party

Where She Works

Sunjin Lee’s work space is a home-sewer’s dream. She has a huge table ready for cutting, bolts and bolts of fabric piled beneath it. Ribbons, beads, threads, and other sewing supplies are available everywhere you look in the room. She shows me one of the items she seems most proud of… a shadow box with a dress sketch and material swatches.

“I give one of these to each of my brides with swatches of the material used to make their dress and a sketch of the dress they are wearing,” she explained. It would be an absolutely treasured keepsake for any bride.

See Her Work in Person

The young Portland wedding dress designer has been creating her dresses for around three years. She now has two collections of dresses to her name, have seen her dresses on brides, received the 2013 Best Couture Gown Designer award from Oregon Bride, and will see them walk the runway this Friday’s Mimosas & Gowns Portland Fashion Week Bridal Show. Tickets are still available for the show if you’d like to see her work in person!

A BIG thank you to Sunjin Lee for letting me peek into your studio space and for chatting with me for so long. You are an instant friend!

Disclaimer: I was not paid for this interview and studio tour. I am a part of the Portland Fashion Week’s Style Collective and will be receiving free VIP tickets to visit the shows. However, no post requirements were asked of us and this post was all my own idea and Sunjin Lee’s awesome story. All opinions are my own. Tickets to Portland Fashion Week are still available! Purchase tickets now to get in for just $20 or pay $30 at the door. There are 6 shows in total, 35 pop-up boutique shops, and 3 after parties. I hope to see you there!

 

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