Saturday, December 19, 2009

I'm on Tip Junkie!

Tip Junkie is hosting their 2nd annual Christmas Card Contest, and of course I've entered. You can go and vote, if you would like... hint hint. I'm number 3 - the gingerbread house.


Monday, December 7, 2009

Gift Advice

this is just my dad's side, even missing a couple!

I have a HUGE family. It is so extended that I celebrate 3 separate Christmas gift giving events. Christmas Day is with my husband's family, Christmas Eve is with my Dad's family and the Barter Family Christmas Party is celebrated with all of my Mom's side of the family.

So, here is my question: I have drawn the name of my sister-in-law for the grown-up gift exchange, and I'm torn with what to purchase. My fabulous sister-in-law Kim, is a working mother of two and a recent breast cancer survivor. Young and hip and super smart, I want to get her something slightly more personal than what I have chosen to give my brother-in-law (not that there is anything wrong with "The Book of Basketball").

My dollar limit is $50 (max!)...

Here are your choices, all found on Etsy:

Jewels by Kat's Bijou Resin Glazed bracelet

Batiz Jewelry's Peridot and Sterling Silver Bracelet

Or should I go with something completely different?




Friday, December 4, 2009

December? Really?

I'm just now realizing how close we are to Christmas, and just how far behind I am. I've been meaning to post about some home decorating (on a tiny budget) that has been going on around my house, but, well, I HAVE TO CONCENTRATE ON CHRISTMAS!!

Let's start with the family Christmas card. I really do enjoy sending out a funny card. I think it's probably in my genes from my dad's side of the family. When I was young, I remember him signing our family holiday greeting cards with as random a name as he could come up with. There were fairly tame signatures like, "Mickey and Minnie Mouse", and then there was my all time favorite - "President and Mrs. Carter" (back in the day that was some cutting edge stuff!).

So, to outdo last year's Barnes Family Christmas card:

I think I've come up with a doozy, but you all will have to wait to see it. Let me just say that my husband is already irritated that he will have to pose for not just one portrait, but two.

Stay tuned! And visit my gingerbread house holiday card on Tip Junkie.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Thanks and Giving from Paper & Cake

This Thanksgiving marks the one year anniversary of Paper & Cake printable partyware, and it has been quite the year! We want to show our appreciation for all of the support you have given us - with your business, your blog posting and your kind response to this creative endeavor - by offering you a little thank you gift.

The Paper & Cake "Thanksgiving" collection includes all you will need to entertain your family in style:
    * Invitation + Envelope
    * Menu
    * Place Cards
    * Wine Glass Tags
    * Napkin Rings / Vase Wrap / Candle Wrap
    * Party Food Label
    * Recipe Card
    * Favor Box
Download yours here, and please pass it on!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Paper & Cake: Sail Away Party collection

sailboat place card, vase wrapper

How about this for a versatile party collection? Paper & Cake have unveiled their "Sail Away" themed printable party collection, and it is perfect for everything from Baby's First Birthday, to a Family Reunion, to a Bon Voyage Farewell to a Baby shower.

placemat, customizable invitation, cupcake picks, thank you notes, two styles of envelope

It includes more items than any Paper & Cake DIY party kit yet!

Customizable Invitations with Matching Envelopes
Door Sign
Pennant Banner “Celebrate”
Cupcake flags
Cupcake Wrappers
Paper Boats (can be used as place cards or general decorations)
Captain’s Birthday Hat
Cone Party Hats
Favor Boxes with Gift Tags
Thank You Notes with Matching Envelopes
Food Labels
Straw Markers
Pin Wheels
Craft Snack Boxes (which also makes super cute Hamburger Boxes)
Napkin Rings (can double as vase and/or candle wrappers)
Paper Lanterns
Full Patterned Sheets

lanterns, snack boxes, straw markers, pinkwheels, favor box, gift tag, cone hats

pennant banner

Whew! And all this for only $10. Visit the Paper & Cake Printable Partyware shop today.

Friday, October 23, 2009

oh Bats!

home sweet home

It may look like Halloween is my favorite holiday, but in reality, its pretty far down my list - somewhere between Groundhog Day and Administrative Professional's Day. Having kids generally complicates matters, in that the pressure to decorate, at least for major holidays, is worse than the peer pressure I received in High School to ditch class. These days, I just expect that if the neighbor's houses are decorated, I need to (remind me to send a thank you note to the neighbors).

Anyway, a couple of weeks back, I noticed Martha had put together this little number, and it has been in the back of my mind ever since.

I love the dramatic effect you can get when you repeat the same element over and over and over and over and over... oh, well, you get it.

So, searching online for a simplified (sorry Martha, your template is way to complex) I did find an outline of a bat, that I then changed to fit my needs.

Next, I racked my brain to figure out what I could cut it out of that would be a least slightly weather proof (I do live in southern California, so its not like we have snow to contend with), and practically free.

Ah ha!

The leftover black plates from the Pirate birthday party! I traced the template onto the back of the plates, cut them out, and used blue painters tape to adhere them to the front of my house.

I did run out of plates for the full effect that I was hoping to achieve, so I think I'll run next door and ask if I can borrow some from my neighbor.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Event Invitations coming out of my Ears

For some reason, I don't really know why, but I've gotten this reputation for being able to design event invitations?

Okay, maybe I do know why... but I still think its pretty funny when my sister's sister-in-law, or my other sister's college roommate call me up for help. Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy a good invite now and again, but it is like they say, "When it rains, it hails the size of watermelons directly on your head".

What do you think? Shall we (Paper & Cake) design an entire downloadable tablescape around these invites? or are they just a little on the obscure side?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Parties Parties Everywhere!

I know, I know, it seems as though I've run out of things to say.

But in reality, I've been designing my little heart out! Paper & Cake are bursting at the seams with downloadable party supplies in the making. Baby showers, Birthday parties, Holiday decorations... you name it - we are working on it.

Here are sneak peeks at just two of the parties - hot off the press!

Cute huh?

Lavender & Toile
a baby shower, baptism or first birthday

Sail Away
a baby shower, baptism or first birthday

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Featured: Creative Parties & Showers

Remember this party? A "Jungle" theme for my daughter's first birthday - the first of MANY birthday parties to come. It is being featured today on Creative Parties and Showers... thanks Shannon!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

As I leave for the MS 50 Mile Walk

quilt 2004

quilt 2006

quilt 2007

quilt 2008

It's Thursday morning, and I have about 6 hours before I leave for the weekend. This is the weekend of the annual Southern California MS Challenge Walk, 50 miles over 3 days to find the cure. I'm sure you already know all about it because I've only written about it a million times over the last 6 months or so.

A couple of things I just wanted to say (really quick because I have yet to pack)...

First, this is the 4th year I have made (obviously with the help of my Aunt Janet) a quilt with the previous year’s walk t-shirts to raffle off to the walkers, volunteers, family and friends who participate. I am happy to say, that it is done – as of last night at 11pm – nothing like waiting till the last minute. Isn’t it beautiful?

Thank you Aunt Janet.

Second, every year on the same exact weekend of the Walk, my husband travels to Oregon for his annual cycling trip across the state. The same exact weekend. Every year. So, we do call upon our friends and family to help us care for the kids. They graciously come and stay, carpool and feed, entertain and love our children for 3 days.

Thank you Pat, Gina, Missy, Julia, Brenda and Tova.

So, think of me? While I walk? I'll probably be complaining, and growing a new set of blisters, and definitely having a good time being silly, seeing old friends, and raising awareness for this disease that needs a cure.

walking in '03

walking in '08

Sunday, August 16, 2009


That really is my only question. Yes the economy is bad. Yes unemployment is at record highs. But, come on!

Here is what happened: I finally decided to get off my rear end and go to the gym. The kids were with their favorite babysitter, I uploaded my favorite workout songs to my ipod, put on my super cute new workout outfit and headed to the gym. I had to leave my purse in the car because I was going to have lunch with myself afterwords and I obviously needed some money to do so. After parking, I shoved my cute new purse under the seat, locked the car and went inside. A little over an hour later, after a really nice workout (it was, and I'm not even lying) I saw this:

Sad. But, true. Someone broke the passenger window, opened the door and took my purse. I do blame myself for being just so stupid to think that my purse was safe, I'm also pretty mad at myself for thinking my purse was safe.

They had a maximum window of 15 minutes (between my gym arrival time, and when mall security left the note on my window), here is what they got:

  • cute new purse (Target brand) value $24.99
  • 2 year old green patent leather wallet from my sister (Nordstrom brand) $priceless
  • $0.00 cash
  • 4 credit cards (which they proceeded to use)
  • drivers license
  • ticket stub from the 2008 New Orleans Jazz Fest
  • 5 colon bill (Costa Rican money, from my honeymoon in 1995)
  • approx $100 in gift cards

What am I most upset about you ask? My green patent leather wallet (it was the perfect wallet!), and the gift card from Williams-Sonoma that I didn't get to spend on the cute little cake stand I was going to get. Oh well, I'll get over it some day.

Thanks for listening, and for being so understanding. I am going wallet shopping, I'll let you know what I find.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Tea (& Cake) for 10

For my daughter Autumn's 5th Birthday party, she asked for a Tea Party theme. I'm pretty sure the reason she asked is because only a few months earlier, she watched me throw a tea party for my mother's birthday - and it was pink and sparkly and grown-up.

So, as usual, I did some research online to see what kind of inspiration I could come up with. The first thing I uncovered, was how to make a teapot cake (more on that nightmare later) and also, I found a very cute teapot piñata.

With my research complete, I began as I always do, with the invitations...


To start, I drew a simple teapot shape. Using the airbrush tool in Adobe Photoshop I outlined the edges in pink and added polka dots and decorated the "lid" in shades of green. After printing these on my home color printer, I (not too carefully) cut out the shape and used a dimensional tape to adhere the teapot to a flat pink card. Do a cute little matching label (thanks Avery), throw them in the mail, and there you go!

This ended up being a little bit of extra work than I'm used to - what with all the cutting - but we were only inviting 9 little girls (and two of them sibblings) I really only had to make eight. Easy, right?


Two words: flowers and teapots (paper teapots). Those really were the only decorations - simple, very inexpensive and visually stunning (if I do say so myself).

If you've ever read any of my birthday party how-tos, you have see these fishbowl style vases before. I own three of the small size, and one large one and they are the most versatile decorating staple I own. For this party, I purchased pink and white roses from the grocery store (they were on sale, how can you go wrong with that?) and arranged them with two shades of pink curling ribbon from my ribbon box, and placed them around the house.

As for the paper teapots, my mother drew these 3 teapot shapes which I then transferred to a thick cardstock along with the invitation teapot (no computers here ladies). Using 8.5x11" paper in different shades/patterns of pink, I traced and cut teapots until I could trace and cut no more. Using regular old scotch tape, I affixed a couple dozen of these to the windows and glass doors around the house.


As this was a tea party, coming up with food items was a snap! When your guest list is just kids, make the food choices appetizing for them - if not necessarily for you. We offered apple scones, pumpkin muffins, turkey and cheese sandwiches and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

To make the sandwiches look slightly more fancy, I used alternating pieces of wheat and white bread cut into triangles without the crust (kids don't like the crust anyway, right?) You could also use a cookie or biscuit cutter for more variety.

I also served a vanilla DECAF tea (oh please make sure it is decaffeinated) with lots of milk, and lemonade on the fancy china. The girls were so careful and respectful of the dishes - it was so nice!


I'm sure everyone understands me when I say, at these birthday parties I try to save money whenever possible. This craft project is no different. On 6ft tables (from my garage) I set out baskets full of art supplies (from my kids art supply bins) and cut more teapots out of cardstock for decorating with rubber stamps, stickers, glitter glue, crayons and markers. The only item I purchased, were some cute little plastic tea cups with saucers to decorate, and to be part of the party favor bag.

Right after the craft, the kids all played dress up. I placed the full length mirror from my closet against the wall, and filled up a toy box full of our dress up things, as well as a few items we borrowed from a neighbor. It was a HIT! These little girls who came already dressed in cute party clothes piled on more sparkly frilly layers and topped that off with a crown, tiara or fairy wings.


Does anyone else have an unnatural obsession with the Cake Walk activity from their childhood? I can not help myself but to come up with any/every excuse to plan a cake walk! Using a (borrowed) heart shaped cake pan, box-of-cake mix and can-of-frosting, I made 10 of the cutest pink sprinkle covered cakes. I put them all on a 6" cardboard cake round and added a paper doily for good measure.

You've never heard of a Cake Walk before? Well, let me explain how it works. First, mark a large numbered circle on the ground with chalk (if you can't use chalk then whatever you do use has to stand up to marching and running and stomping little feet so choose carefully). We had 10 guests so we numbered our spots on the ground 1 through 10 (you can certainly have more numbers than that, but, depending on how many guests you have you can always take turns). We played music as the girls marched in a circle, and when the music stops everyone stands on one number.

Technically, you then pull a number out of a "hat" and call it out - whomever is standing on the number gets to go choose a cake as their prize. Now, these girls were all 5 and under - and I think everyone here remembers my personal guideline of "non-competitive games"- so we did stretch the truth a little and called out numbers that didn't necessarily correspond with what was written on the paper, just so that each child won one cake, fair and square (and I didn't have to make more than 10 of those cute little heart shaped cakes).

Now if that wasn't enough, we also had a Piñata. Not just any Piñata, a teapot Piñata!


Let's just say, it is always a smart idea to have a back up plan... just in case. A bakery nearby should do the trick.

This cake was a nightmare for me to make! I'm not even going to tell you how to make it, there are so many places online that you can go to that give you step by step instructions, like here and here.

My problems began when the "directions" I found online called for angel food cake baked in a round Pyrex glass mixing bowl. Well, after the angel food blew up, I switched to regular cake (box of cake mix) and baked cake in the mixing bowl 3 times. What a mess! I just wasn't grasping the idea that the regular cake was to heavy to hold itself up. At about 11 o'clock the night before, I gave up, and told myself I would order a cake the next morning at 10am. At about 7am, I gave myself one last chance to put it together. I slowly assembled the bottom and top halves with a sliver of the third round in between. About a ton of buttercream later, it was finished - and it even looked pretty cute.

Tip #1: Try using cardstock for the handle and the spout.
Tip #2: Use a beautiful platter rather than a cake board covered in tin foil.

But in the end, with the look on my daughter's face, it was kind of worth it. Don't you think?

To wrap it up, I hope you have gotten at least a couple good ideas to help you
with your next tea party. Just use your creativity to make any theme your own, spend as little as possible and make it look homemade - even if it isn't!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Good news and Bad news

Which do you want first? Okay, we'll start with the bad news:

I'm so sorry I have not posted about the Tea Party Birthday as I had promised. I've just been overwhelmingly busy.

But, I do have some good news...

Our Paper & Cake products will be appearing ON TELEVISION!!! The (sister company to the will be doing a segment on budget birthday parties, and, if live television goes at all in our favor, our downloadable birthday party supplies will be on Good Day New York.

That is TV people!!! Am I the only one jumping up and down?

Woo Hoo!

Okay, I'm done.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Duty Shirker

Yes ladies (and gentlemen?) I am shirking my duties. I have promised to bring you home made parties, and what not, and as of late I've been too busy to post anything.

How about this... what if I promise to write about this "Tea Party Birthday". Will you still love me?

Check back with me in a day or two, and I'll tell you how I threw this fabulous 5th birthday party.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Paper & Cake ~ A Baby Shower

favor basket, napkin rings, vase wrapper, place card & cupcake picks

invitation, envelope, front door sign and gift log

We are really having a great time over at the Paper & Cake printable partyware factory (my tiny home office). Our team of designers are happily churning out collection after collection (totally true) of original and easy to use decorations.

This is just a sampling of our "Under the Sea" Baby Shower collection. In it, you will find everything you need for a party, including:
  • Invitation + Envelope
  • Pennant Banner
  • Food label picks
  • Cupcake picks
  • Bottle Labels
  • Cupcake wraps
  • Placecards - tent style
  • Gift log
  • Game sheet
  • Candle/vase wrappers/napkin rings
  • Lawn sign/door banner
  • Thank you notecard + Envelope
  • Favor Basket
  • Full sheet Illustrations - print on iron on transfer paper to make cute onsies!

cute toddler tshirt and onsies made with "Under the Sea" illustrations

Add your own cloth napkins and china for a special day that the Mom-to-be will remember forever. Visit our Etsy shop or the Paper & Cake blog for more information, and download this $8 collection today.

cupcake wrappers & cupcake picks with the pennant banner in the background