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G. Tolley

Jurassic Park Birthday Party — June 8, 2017

Jurassic Park Birthday Party

I think in another life I could have been a party planner because I’m always trying to find reasons to celebrate and throw events for. Out of all these shindigs, no party is bigger each year than my birthday. My birthday is towards the end of the school year, so it kind of acts like a beginning of summer soirée. Palm leaves have been everywhere this past year, and this inspired me to have a Jurassic Park influenced party.

 

As always, I begin on Pinterest looking for ideas. The two main places on the site where I usually find stuff is on the Holiday & Party explore page. If I’m looking for more specific pins, I go on the search bar.  

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Now that I found some inspiration, I started making a list of guests and getting out invites. If you’re interested in making your own invitations, I’d recommend using the website Canva. What I like to do is make the invites the size of a photo that can be printed off at Walgreens. It’s cheaper than having them professionally done and is easier than printing them off at home.

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From there, I got to work on the decorations. If you have a best friend as crafty as mine, you have to take advantage of her free labor. Off of Pinterest, we made four big display pieces for the party.

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Photo booths have become a staple nowadays for parties. For this backdrop, you will need three bundles of yarn, 1/4-in x 100-ft sisal rope, and a 1-inch dowel rod. Full instructions on this backdrop can be found on Ruffled Blog. http://ruffledblog.com/diy-suspended-tassel-backdrop/

 

Next, we made a huge Jurassic Park sign. There isn’t instructions on this, but I’ll try to tell you how we did it.

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The base of the sign was made out of cardboard. We took a large Target box and cut it into one big sheet. In order to have a cleaner sign, take whatever side the label is printed on and draw out the shape of the sign out in pencil. With a box knife, cut out the sign and plug in a hot glue gun. From another box, cut out four-inch strips of cardboard. Glue on these cardboard braces onto the bendable parts.

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In a well-ventilated area, spread on half a pint of fast drying spackle all over the clean side of the cardboard. This will give it texture and smooth out the cardboard. This might take a couple hours to dry. Afterwards, paint it with gray spray paint. Later on, we added more detail with an airbrush around the edges.

For the letters, we used a roll of craft foam, acrylic paint, and the hot glue gun. Before starting this, we created a template by patterning out the letters onto cardstock. Next, we transferred them onto craft foam and cut them out. Since the font is layered, we made two versions of each letter. One of the versions must be larger than the other, as the smaller one needs to be glued on top.

The acrylic paint will be absorbed into the foam if you don’t prime them. In order to prevent this, paint two layers of glue before painting. Let this dry overnight. Then, paint on three coats of red and yellow paint onto the foam.

Once everything is dried, glue on the letters onto the cardboard. Our sign was light enough that I was able to hang it on the outside gutters. I was able to do that by securing it with command hooks.

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Also, I recreated the “When The Dinosaurs Ruled The Earth” banner from the movie. Just like with the sign, we first made a template for the letters before starting. Because this is so long, we had to use a roll of brown craft paper in order to get the right length. Finally, we traced on the letter and filled the outline in with black paint.

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The final thing I made for the party was a pinata. Basically, I followed the instructions from Studio DIY’s post on a DIY Hairspray Piñata. I changed it up a bit at the top to more resemble the Barbasol can from the show.

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The night was a blast, and I got to spend it with my closest friends. Who knows, maybe before the end of the summer I’ll throw another party.

DIY Embroidered Hat — March 22, 2017

DIY Embroidered Hat

Spring has sprung in the Midwest. One trend I’m obsessed with is embroidered hats. I thought I would try to recreate a floppy straw hat inspired by Eugenia Kim. This tutorial will be easier if you have a basic understanding of sewing.
First, gather all of the materials. Whatever you decide to embroider will determine what kind of needle you use. For me, a regular point needle worked since the hat was soft enough to easily weave the needle in and out. Thicker materials, such as baseball hats, might require a stronger needle that is specifically made for embroidery. Beginners should try using a self-threading needle or one with a larger eye.

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Now it’s time to decide on the design. My design was drawn on with a marker so that I had a pattern to follow. Another way is to trace one on by using the method used in the painted pumpkin DIY, tracing over the pencil outline with a marker. Just keep in mind that whatever you decide on will take longer than expected. Personally, my design took two bundles of thread, and the whole process took over 5 hours.

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After beginning by cutting a two-foot piece of thread, thread your needle and knot the other end. I find that if you use too much thread at once, it may cause it to bunch up and become a mess.
First, pull the needle in through the backside or whatever side no one is going to see. For this project, I used a satin style stitch, which goes back and forth between two points in order to fill in a line. I’m probably not describing that well, so I’m linking a post by Sublime Stitching that describes this a lot better.

How to Satin Stitch

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When you begin to run out of thread, find a stopping point and pull the thread through the front so that the thread is now on the backside. Remove the needle and make a knot that’s close to the fabric. Cut off any extra thread, and repeat the process again.
After I finished my design, I went back through the stitches and made a few of my lines thicker. Also, I filled in any spots where you could still see the fabric underneath. If you’re looking for a cleaner look, go around the outline of the design and make a border.

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Momofuku Birthday Cake Balls + Cake Fail Story — January 7, 2017

Momofuku Birthday Cake Balls + Cake Fail Story

I was planning on sharing a recipe and a few pictures of a bomb Momofuku Milk Bar inspired cake that I was going to make for New Years. The only issue is that it didn’t turn out so well. Everything was looking good until I baked the first of three cakes in my six-inch spring pan. The recipe didn’t create a lot of batter to start off with, but I still followed through with the directions thinking that I’d just have thinner layers or that they would rise in the oven. Secondly, the recipe I followed used a seven-inch pan, so I thought I would need to let the cake bake longer than the time stated. Each layer came out about 1/6 of an inch and baked for only half of the time. After baking the three thin layers, they cooled as I created the icing and topping. Next came the assembly. I started off with placing down the first layer and painting on a milk and vanilla mixture to keep it moist. Then, I frosted on a thick layer of icing with some of the rainbow streusel topping on top. When I repeated this step, the following layer of the cake crumbled into pieces when I tried to pick it up. Trying not to panic, I tried to jigsaw it back together on the cake plate. With semi-success, I moved on to the frosting. The dense icing didn’t pair well with the crumbly layer beneath it, creating a clumpy mess. Next, I added another layer of topping and moved on to the final layer. Again, the cake fell apart as I added on the icing and streusel. It was a hot mess. I’d already spent two and a half hours making this cake, so I wasn’t going to give up just yet. One thing I learned from many years of unsuccessful baking is when in doubt, just dump it in a mixer. In my standing mixer, I tossed in the cake and combined it with the remaining icing and topping. After mixing it on a medium setting for a minute, I found myself with a fantastic recipe for cake balls. Below, I’ll list my recipe I used, but to make it easier on yourself, just bake the cake in a 9×13 pan and bake it for somewhere between 30 to 45 minutes. I haven’t tried this, but make sure to watch your cake and use the toothpick test to make sure it’s done. 

Momofuku Birthday Cake Balls Recipe 

Ingredients 

For Cake

  • 1 stick butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons light brown sugar, tightly packed
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cups rainbow sprinkles

For Cake Soak

  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For Frosting 

  • 8 tablespoon butter, at room temperature
  • 2 oz. cream cheese
  • 2 tablespoons corn syrup
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder

For Crumb Topping 

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup cake flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons rainbow sprinkles
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Directions 

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Starting with the cake ingredients, cream together the butter and sugars for two minutes on a medium setting. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the eggs, then mix again for two minutes on medium. Scrape the edges of the bowl and make sure everything is combined. Add in buttermilk, oil, and vanilla, and mix on medium for seven to eight minutes or until it’s white. This part took almost 15 minutes for me. Don’t rush this part!
  2. Add in the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt, and sprinkles) a little at a time. Make sure you mix this on a low setting so the flour doesn’t fly everywhere. Mix this for about one to two minutes or until everything is combined. Bake this in a greased 9×13 pan for 30 to 45 minutes or until the toothpick comes out.
  3. While this is in the oven, start on the frosting. Cream together the butter and cream cheese for two minutes on a low setting. After this, pour in corn syrup and vanilla and continue to mix for two to three minutes. By now this should be smooth and glossy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add in the remaining ingredients (confectioners’ sugar, salt, and baking powder). On a low setting, mix this until it’s incorporated. Set this to the side for now.
  4. After the cake is finished or if you have double ovens, heat the oven to 300°F. For the crumb topping, combine the sugars, flour, baking powder, salt, and sprinkles in a bowl. Pour in the oil and vanilla, and mix with a fork until crumbs form. Bake this for 15 minutes on a baking sheet.
  5. From here, either you can make a layered cake like I was attempting, or combine the cooled cake into a mixture with the frosting and topping on a low setting. Then roll them into 1 inch balls. Place them onto a wax paper lined baking sheet and put them into the freezer for an hour. 
  6. Melt down a bag of chocolate chips by placing them in a microwave-safe bowl and melting them on 30 second intervals. Then, drizzle this on the frozen cake balls.
DIY Mug — November 23, 2016

DIY Mug

It is fact that America runs on coffee. Honestly, I can’t stand it. I know there’s hundreds of types of coffee all having their own different taste and smells. I think I’ll just stick to hot cocoa and tea. As the holiday season approaches, you might be like me and have a stack of people to buy gifts for. With a packet of hot cocoa mix, these mugs make a perfect holiday gift for any age.
The basic two things that you will need for this project is a mug and oil-based sharpies or other water safe paint pens. It’s optional but rubbing alcohol can help make your design last longer.
I found the best place to pick up cheap mugs is at your local Dollar Tree or Dollar Store.

Start off by removing any stickers or tags that might be on the mug. Then with a cotton pad or paper towel, clean off the surface with rubbing alcohol. Doing this locks in your design by having a dirt free surface for the paint to stick to.
Have your design picked out and in front of you. Pinterest is where to go for finding inspiration for these kind of projects.

Using your markers, draw on the design.

For people who can’t draw to save their life, make a stencil like what was used in the DIY pumpkin craft. If you can’t do either, bribe a friend who can.

Any mistakes you make can be erased before they dry using rubbing alcohol.

Let this set for three days so it can properly adhere to the mug. Place the mug into a cool oven on a baking sheet. Turn oven on to 425°, and let it bake for one hour. Under no circumstances should you open the oven during this because the change in temperature could cause the mug to crack.

After this, turn off the oven and let the mug cool inside. For best results, let it sit overnight.

I love this project and already whipped out a few extras for presents. These mugs are machine washable, but I would only put them on the top shelf.

DIY Painted Pumpkin — October 12, 2016

DIY Painted Pumpkin

Countdown: 19 days until Halloween! I know if I carve pumpkins now they will be rotten by the end of the month, so I thought I would attempt to paint them this year. Parks and Rec is one of my favorite shows, and I couldn’t resist doing this DIY. I’ll post the link to the original post from Pinterest below.

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Before you begin, make sure your quote or saying is printed off and large enough for your pumpkin.

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Grab a sharpened pencil and scribble on the backside of the piece of paper to cover all the letters, while also making sure the image isn’t seen through the backside.

Now take your paint of choice. I would go with acrylic, and then paint the surface of the pumpkin. Depending on the brand, lighter colors such as yellow will need at least a second or third coat to make sure everything is completely covered. Let this dry for about an hour.

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Tape the piece of paper onto the pumpkin, and trace the outline of your design with a pen. This should transfer the outline onto the pumpkin. When peeling off the tape, be very careful so that patches of the paint don’t come off. If this happens, just paint another layer on top.

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Take either a Sharpie or paint pen and fill in the outline. From here, I recommend sealing this with mod podge or acrylic sealer. Mod Podge Clear Acrylic Sealer in Matte is my go to for this.

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Link to OG post: http://styleandcheek.com/2015/10/26/pinterest-picks-diy-pumpkin-decorations/