Tag Archives: budget friendly

A Very Vintage Halloween

21 Oct

This year, we massively scaled down our production. There wasn’t any way we could top last year’s  decorations and we didn’t have enough time to go all out this year. It just didn’t feel like October without a Halloween party though, so we threw together a last-minute vintage party theme. We both adore vintage Halloween pictures and decor and we wanted to have an intimate and scaled down retro bash.

We picked out a favorite vintage Halloween picture for our invite and created our invitation using Pingg. I really used to like Pingg but after I sent out the invitations I noticed that they’ve added way more annoying ads to the site, so I think we’ll go back to Evite if we throw another party.

I found some fun vintage games to play as well. For “Spooning Match,” we  tied two spoons together with a 6-inch piece of ribbon and then had couples race to finish a bowl of ice cream and for “Ducking for Apples,” we tied  apples to fishing wire and then had guests try to finish an apple for a prize.

For the decorations, N spent the whole week cutting out 113 construction paper bats. He then made a papier-mâché moon and we dropped a glow stick into it to give it a nice eerie glow. I wish the pictures could show how amazing the moon looked!

N stuck most of them to the wall and then we hung a few for a 3-D effect.

We placed the dessert table, jam-packed with mini muffins, Italian cookies, caramel apples and candy, below the bats. I bought some spiderweb shaped collage paper from Target and then taped them together to create a table runner to place over the purple table cover. Our awesome Halloween tree served as a perfect centerpiece and some battery lit candles finished off the effect.

For the bar, I made some spiked apple cider from this  Martha StewartShrunken Heads in Cider” recipe. It was okay, but far too much effort for the overall taste.

N threw together an awesome graveyard for decorating the bar. He used an old artist’s clipboard as a base and then he shaped hills using chicken wire. He then papier-mâchéd and covered it all with real dirt to create the ground. For the grass he used, well, real grass. To scale it though, he ground it up in a coffee grinder and then glued little bunches all over the graveyard. The tombstones are all made of card stock and the “trees” are really pieces of a dead tomato plant (damn you Topsy Turvy Upside Down Tomato Planter!) Anyhoo, I really loved his walnut pumpkins too, they each have their own distinctive features. The “stems” are pieces of twisted paper painted green.

Our good friends Tiff and Joe (check out some of their art in my earlier posts) drew and then hand cut the scaredy-cat, the dancing cats and the rats. They looked killer!!! Here’s Tiff’s scaredy-cat at the base of the bar.

You can see Joe’s dancing cats on the mantle.

N and I created the colorful vintage kitty out of construction paper. N first drew the cat on black construction card stock paper based off of a vintage design we found online. Then we traced and cut out the various pieces out of colored construction paper and layered them on with glue. I love how this turned out. We gave it away as a prize for the best costume.

We got this idea from Martha Stewart’s Halloween Central. Joe didn’t need the templates though and he free-handed the rats. They really creeped everyone out!

For the living room, we just draped white sheets over all the furniture to make it look like an abandoned house. N hung up some banshees from the ceiling and we used candle light to make it feel more haunted.

For the food table, Joe and Tiff suggested this awesome crêpe paper decoration. It really helped to fill up the space and it was just stunning! Who knew crêpe paper could still be such an awesome addition to a party.

For the backdrop to the food table, here are our versions of some vintage looking decorations, again from Martha 😉

Even though our party was way more last-minute and smaller than most years, we had a blast. Happy haunting!

Advertisements

May the Birthday Be With You

17 Aug

I rarely actually have the lavish budget or the extra hours during the week (or months, depending on the size of the event) to pull off a beautifully detailed, high maintenance gala. (Oh, what I’d give for a chance to do a no expense spared event…)

Sometimes though, it’s actually the last minute, pull a rabbit out of the hat, ideas that just execute so well. For N’s birthday, I really wanted to plan and design a fantasy Star Wars table setting. Unfortunately, due to (inset excuse here), I found myself scrambling the night before the party to figure out something, okay, anything. And that’s when I found these over at Toy-A-Day:

And Bingo!!!!!!

I googled Star Wars Paper Toys and came up with hordes of sites that feature Star Wars paper craft, from origami Yoda to intricate Death Star models. Since it was already pretty late in the game, I settled on the easiest ones I could find.

We’d decided on a brunch and to make things really easy (read; to give the hostess a chance to enjoy some yummy mimosas) we set up a waffle bar along with fried chicken, french toast, muffins, bacon, fresh fruit and coffee.

For the tablescape, I simply covered the table with “space” (as in outer) pattern fabric we had left over from a previous Halloween party and scrunched up yellow fabric to use as a runner using fabric left over from my mom’s birthday tea.  Some free form folded white paper napkins resembling little spaceships / airplanes added a little something different and something to safely throw at certain people 😉 Then I arranged the little paper cutouts my Mom and I had cut and taped the night before all around the table.

For the centerpiece, I took a cactus in a little terracotta pot and arranged some flowers around it to cover any exposed dirt. Then I wrapped the pot in the same fabric as the tablecloth and set a big round vase over the whole thing to try to give it more of an out-of-this-world feel. As you’ll see, the fabric kind of got away from me, oops…

If I had had more time and resources, I’m sure it could have been much more impressive, but, I have to admit, I was pretty stoked with the results. And the food – well, I think a picture of my plate will say it all 🙂

Blitheful Birthday: Tea Anyone?

24 May

With an endless array of simply stunning tea party inspiration on the web, it’s so easy to spray out in a hundred directions. My greatest hurdle for this next event wasn’t deciding on the food, venue or guest list but rather in trying to reign myself in to create a cohesive design. Originally, I had every intention of creating a romantic but modern Georgia peach-ish gala. So I sent out this invitation using Pingg

I happen to favor tone on tone or working with hues and my hubby N was nudging me to play outside my comfort zone and I somehow ended up with something completely different when I got home from the fabric store…

While my super helpful MIL and great friend Lena were finding me teacups, N and I spent a full day browsing this awesome antique store to find the last six, which would later serve double duty as presents to mom. I picked up some ribbon, fake jewelry, mini topiary trees and boxes from Michael’s and the Dollar Tree. The rest of the decor, I found around mom’s house.

My MIL also went on a mad mission to find authentic scones and she seriously scored. These were so delicious!

And check out these adorable petit fours.

This whimsical cake creation was very yummy too

We made some tea sandwiches using a Martha Stewart Recipe and then just improvised the rest with our own recipes;

We also served some “spa water,”   to go with all that tea.

The pièce de résistance was this amazing hat from Nordstrom. On the day of the party, N, my dad and I presented her with the hat and told her to go get pretty so we could setup.

I had so much fun playing with all this color and I think it the mix of bold vibrant colors in her serene garden was really stunning. I hope you enjoy!

Winter Whimsy; A Tablescape Challenge

2 Jan

This last year has been a lesson in evoking joy amidst dearth, a course in moderation. I’d always understood moderation as a lack, a void in place of what should be. The glass is half empty mentality prevailed in the face of the daily barrage of what we have all had to adjust to; the recession, job losses, tight budgets, cuts and, in some cases, losing it all. Though I’m not exactly an optimist exemplar, décor has acted as an outlet of cheer for me.  I’ve injected joy into my life through tablescapes, cookies, parties and décor, hoping for temporary relief and the anticipation of future pleasures. What I’ve imparted from the year is this; Creativity burgeons, especially where there is lack, even on the most austere canvas.

All the pretty snowflakes:

Very budget friendly, a little time consuming. Especially if you need to make around twenty to decorate the perimeter of a room. If you have fingers, paper, tape and a stapler, you can make these.

3-D Paper Snowflake

We needed to sit around twenty-six people, so we decided to have one long table. Instead of decorating them all the same, I created three different themes. Here’s the first:

N said this lotus napkin fold looks like little mistletoe.

I made the little Christmas trees using card stock, stick-on jewels and Martha’s tutorial.

This mini-vase is an ornament with the top removed. I stuffed it with a few branches of holly and a little pine. A sheer red ribbon hid the rough edges of the opening in the ornament. The base is a napkin ring.

The second table is much less traditional than the first. You’ll see I used the little ornament vases for continuity throughout the tablescapes and it really tied them in together despite how different they were.

For this napkin bow, I just tucked the ends of the napkin into the napkin ring.

This time, the bases for the holly arrangements are candle holders.

Martini glasses filled with ornament balls were extraordinarily easy to make and added a little flirty fun to the setting.

The last table could really double as a New Year’s Eve setup.

For the napkins on this table I used a French napkin fold topped with an inexpensive ornament from Michael’s.

The containers flanking the vase are actually ornament boxes. Found objects around the house often provide me with unexpected inspiration.

For a finishing touch, I hung over-sized ornaments from the ceiling. It’s kind of difficult to tell from the picture how good they looked in person.

And finally, here’s our dessert bar:

Now – Bring on the New Year!

Found Objects Thanksgiving Decor

27 Nov

After having decorated for the Thank You Dinner for our parents, I decided I wanted to do another table setting using a bouquet of flowers and found objects around the house. Thanksgiving at my mom’s house this year presented a perfect opportunity to do so and here’s what my sister and I came up with.

We really wanted to create a mix of modern and traditional so we re-purposed these decorative vases. We took apart the bouquet and cut some stems from her pomegranate tree to fill them. Instead of using a runner, we arranged the eucalyptus and sunflowers around the centerpiece. I wasn’t too sure about the satin red table cover, but it’s what we had and I thought it would work much better than white. I’m also learning that what may begin to look cluttered in person translates very differently in photos. I think I need to start adding more elements to the table to keep it from looking sparse.

For the place settings we just folded napkin pockets and then tied raffia in a bow. Some daisies from mom’s garden complemented the yellow sunflowers.

My hubby N took this shot and I really like this angle.

We decided to create a buffet and using material from my wedding and household objects (a pot, ice bucket, bowl and box) to create height. Then we went around the house looking for decorative pieces. I really love how it all came together and the lighting in this pic is really stunning.

Here’s a close-up of the super yummy turkey and lamb mom made.

After dinner, I rearranged the centerpiece in a corner for mom.

And finally, my cherry blueberry pie from All Recipes and Green Beans from Food Network.  Although most of the food was mowed, we still have leftover turkey and homemade cranberry sauce so I can make a yummy sandwich for lunch today. Happy Turkey Day everybody!

Tablescape for a Fabulous Fall Feast

10 Nov

Fall Dinner 040

Last Sunday we invited all the parents over for a thank you dinner. Each time we come up with a crazy party idea our parents go above and beyond in helping to decorate, cook and temper our last minute madness. The Creepy Carnival was no exception and we really wanted to thank them for all their hard work. The most difficult part was coming up with the menu. When you’ve got two old school mama chefs it can be a little intimidating for an amateur to impress them. I settled on a mix, Burberry Rice for the Persian side, a vegetarian spinach and mushroom quiche for the vegetarian and a lemon chicken for the boys. I got some of the recipes from one of my favorite sites, allrecipes.com Check them out if you haven’t already done so, they have a plethora of amazing dishes and a recipe for the best damn chocolate chip cookies in the world!

My mom and MIL brought some flowers,  two fall mix bouquets and fresh daisies frm my mama’s garden so I centered the table scheme around them.

I took apart the first bouquet to create a runner from the leaf stems. I’m a huge fan of tone on tone and I loved the red leaves in this arrangement.

Fall Dinner 002

Fall Dinner 024

Fall Dinner 027

Fall Dinner 015

The little red “berries” were also cut from the bouquet and I used them to embellish the serve ware. I wrapped brown ribbon around a white napkin, attached the “thank you” cutout, left over from a bridal shower earlier this year, and then slipped a leaf under it. I think the “berries” really completed the look. (I really have to take a floral arranging course so I can find out what all these gorgeous flowers and fillers are called!)

Fall Dinner 012

We also found some mini pumpkins, on sale from Halloween, for seventy-five cents a piece. I attached a thank you cutout to them, rubbed the tops with a little pearl powder and then arranged the squash and mini carnations around them.

Fall Dinner 022

Fall Dinner 023

These votive holders are actually napkin rings, I just slipped some tea lights  into them.

Fall Dinner 029

Fall Dinner 047

Here’s the Burberry Rice, a yummy mix of tart and sweet.

Fall Dinner 054

Thank you for visiting sentimental sublime and happy holidays to you and yours!

Creepy Carnival Update; Specimen Jars, Gruesome Bears and Demons, Oh My!

15 Oct

Well, our projects are creeping along now!

A couple of days ago I finished my specimen jars, not bad huh?

Creepy Carnival 050

The cost was – free! (I sound like such a cheapskate huh?)  Well, I really did have all the elements at home, so why go out and buy stuff, right? So, I found some old jars  and sprayed the lids black. As I’m sure you guessed I used red and yellow food coloring for the water in the jars and filled them up about halfway using warm water. Then, on to finding stuff to put in the jars. This part got a little interesting and I really began to realize how much easier it was coming up with ideas for specimen jars when I was five!

Coagulated Virgin's Blood

Sun dried tomatoes packed in oil for the “Coagulated Virgin’s Blood.”

Hobgoblin Testicles

Dried limes for the “Hobgoblin’s Testicles.”

Demon Embryo

Wild caperberries for the “Demon Embryo Sacs.”

Faerie Hearts

Faerie Hearts

Dried (and now re-hydrated) cranberries for the “Faerie Hearts.”

Carnivorous Ectoplasm

Globs of dried hot glue for the “Carnivorous Ectoplasm.”

It took a little experimentation to figure out what would work, and I’ll admit that most people probably don’t have wild caperberries or dried limes hanging around. Details.

For the labels, I used Power Point, mainly because I like that I have tremendous creative control and few formatting issues. That and I’m too lazy to figure out how to do it in Word. Microsoft Clip Art had all the designs I was looking for, just type in “swirls,” “flourishes,” or “decorative elements” and you should get some pretty cool designs. I recolored some of them too.  The Blackladder font Arana Muerta’s Witches’ Kitchen suggested worked out great. I tried to use her tutorial, but I was too impatient to let the ink dry for more than 10 minutes on the plain paper and the ink kept running during the tea soak. Luckily, I had a few sheets of antiqued paper from Michael’s so I used that instead and skipped the soak altogether. I had to do a few test runs on plain paper to determine the right size for the jars and the “Faerie Hearts” label is still a little too big, but I accidentally printed that on my decorative paper. Since I’d run out, I was stuck, but it doesn’t look bad enough for a drive to Michael’s. Then I sprayed all the labels with some matte clear coat for acrylic paint and cut out the designs. Using a glue stick, I carefully coated the backs of each label and stuck them on the jars.

2009-10-15 Creepy Carnival1

Demon Embryo Specimen JarCoagulated Virgin's Blood

Hobgoblin Testicles Specimen JarsCarnivorous Ectoplasm Specimen Jar

We also finished decorating the bears and it really was a bit tough coming up with ideas on what to do. Plus, it feels a little creepy ruining the cute bears, but hey, it’s all in the name of Halloween, so I guess I’ll just have to bear through it. (Yes, I know, that was horrible.) I’m kind of worried they look a little too similar, but there’s really not much else I could think of other than tearing them, bloodying up their faces and bodies, burning their fur and painting their eyes. We even re-sewed a couple with yarn (thread was invisible on their fur) and decapitated one. That sounds so bad. So here are our gruesome little bears:

Gruesome Bears

And my hubby created some shadow demons, or demon shapes cut out from the cardboard that was behind some old framed posters he didn’t want, painted black. There’s a  big white wall in the space and with some lighting adjustments, these should come out really great. He’s planning on making three more and I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next.

Creepy Carnival 038

Creepy Carnival 061

I forgot to post this last time but we found these decorations at the Dollar Tree to give away as prizes for the carnival games too.

Creepy Carnival 017Creepy Carnival 018

Phew, now on to this weekend, we still have A LOT to do.

%d bloggers like this: