Archive for December, 2009

Walking in a Winter Wonderland …

Thursday, December 17th, 2009
First, let me say that I am not a big fan of snow or even cold weather, but there is certainly something intriguing and magical about waking up on Christmas to find snow.
The likelihood of that happening in this part of NJ, though is slim.  Oh well … enjoy these Winter Wonderland Inspirations!
photo credits: hot cocoa and snowflake marshmallows from Martha Stewart; peppermint ice soap from Elegant Rose Boutique, snowflake ice sculpture and event design by Prego Events, a gorgeous setting for a winter wedding and a beautiful newlywed couple too by my absolute favorite photographer Marie Labbancz, giant tissue party poms give your party a festive mood no matter the theme by Party Poms, a stunning winter centerpiece of hydrangeas, crystals and branches by Petal Pushers Weddings, this elegant hair flower fascinator is by Virginia Geiger Jewels and woud be lovely for a winter white wedding or your holiday cocktail party, snowflake placecards add a touch of whimsy to your tablescape – and let your guests know where to be seated by Timeless Paper, a darling snowflake hair accessory by Handmade by Anne Potter

Santa Holiday Gift Tags Giveaway …

Thursday, December 17th, 2009
Congratulations Marnette, SuzeFashion, and Nutshell Farms!  Please send me an email danielle@bellezaeluce.com and let me know how you would like your tags personalized and your mailing address.

There’s still time to Enter the Giveaway

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009
There are 5 ways to enter:
(Enter up to 5 times by doing the following)
1) Post a comment here about the tags or anything in my shop
2) Become a follower of Belleza e Luce and leave a comment letting me know you did, or if you are already a follower let me know you are.
3) Tweet about this giveaway and post here with the link.
4)Write about the giveaway on your own blog and post the link here.
5) Post about the giveaway on Facebook and leave a comment with the link here.
Contests ends tonight at 11pm (Eastern).

DIY Christmas Presents!

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

Time is running out … I have exhausted the malls and I’m proud to say that many of my Christmas gift purchases are handmade or vintage from fellow Etsy sellers this year.  Still there were just a few more people that I couldn’t think of what to give (the receptionist at Cibella’s dance school, for example).

In my endless googling search for creative and unique gifts, I came across this tutorial from Just a Girl.

Tile Coasters
So pretty, very easy to make and a thoughtful gift for the holiday season! 
This weekend, I purchased tiles from Lowes, a stamp and ink pad from AC Moore, and yesterday Cibella and I had a try at stamping while Luca napped.  They turned out great – a few smudged ones, but since Cibella basically did them herself – I inked and she stamped – I was very pleased.  She was quite proud to tell her Nonna that she made them, too!  I’m going to buy a few more so Luca gets to make some as well.  I will post some pictures of our creations soon.
And for those, who would rather purchase already made tile coasters, visit oolalachic’s shop for some wonderful designs.

{Holiday Giveaway!} Santa Holiday Gift Tags Set

Friday, December 11th, 2009
As the wrapping of presents begins, add an extra special touch to your packages with these adorable gift tags featuring none other than Jolly Ol’ Saint Nick himself!
These fabulous tags are 2.5″ in diameter, printed on heavy linen cardstock and are available in sets of 12.  Each tag can be personalized or the To/From fields can be left blank for you to hand write.
To spread some holiday cheer, I will be giving away 3 sets of these Santa gift tags.
ENTER TO WIN!

There are 5 ways to enter:
(Enter up to 5 times by doing the following)
1) Post a comment here about the tags or anything in my shop
2) Become a follower of Belleza e Luce and leave a comment letting me know you did, or if you are already a follower let me know you are.
3) Tweet about this giveaway and post here with the link.
4)Write about the giveaway on your own blog and post the link here.
5) Post about the giveaway on Facebook and leave a comment with the link here.
The fine print:
Winners will be chosen on Wednesday, December 16 at 11pm Eastern.  Comments received after this time will not be eligible.  Open to US residents only.  Winners will be chosen by random.org.

Have you planned a fabulous party?

Thursday, December 10th, 2009
Part of the fun of having a party is sharing the details and the pictures!  I love pictures – there are never too many!  Showers, Weddings, Birthdays – children, tween, adult, parties because the sun is shining or it’s snowing – I want to see them!  I’m looking forward to seeing your wonderful soirees!

Real Parties: Handy Manny 1st Birthday

Thursday, December 10th, 2009
When my little guy was about to turn 1, I was originally planning a Hundred Acre Wood Pooh themed party.  All that changed when he became fascinated with Handy Manny.  This grew even more as my dad would let him help him out around the house.  I knew I needed to change themes – and fast!
First I created the invitations to resemble Handy Manny’s shop sign.

 

and since I couldn’t decide which one I liked better, I designed a second version as well!
Since Luca’s birthday is the end of October, the weather here can be cold or oddly warm.  As much as I would love to be able to plan the weather, I cannot, so the party was held in the gym at the school of our church.  This turned out to be a great idea (I hosted his second birthday there 3 weeks ago).  There was plenty of room for all the kids to run around and play!
One of the first projects I created were the tablecloths.  I purchased paper dropcloths and paint brushes from Home Depot, and Crayola paint.  I laid the cloths out on the grass in the yard and with my daughter’s help we splattered paint over all the drop cloths.  This was a messy and fun activity!  If you decide to do this, have an area preferably indoors where the cloths can be laid out to dry overnight.  One drop cloth made 2 tablecloths.
Here is the children’s craft table with playdough, Handy Manny and tools coloring pages and crayons were added to the table after this was taken.
When my dad heard the theme for the party, he immediately went to work on the centerpieces – red toolboxes just like Handy Manny’s!  Each toolbox had Mega Blocks and plastic toys to encourage building – both children and adults got in on the fun!  Each child was able to take a tool box home at the end of the party.  I have Luca’s displayed in his room – it goes with his Cars themed bedroom great too!
I used yellow Caution tape to block off areas that the kids could not play near.  On the walls my dad and I traced the characters with a projector and painted them.  Also on the walls were pictures of blueprints (how to build a birdhouse, a toolbox, etc) just like in Manny’s shop.

Chips, pretzels and other snacks were placed in orange paint trays
The children ranged in age from 1 year to 4 years, so I didn’t have any real structure to the party or games, per say.  I had music from children’s artists playing (Dan Zane, Imagination Movers, Choo Choo Soul, etc) which encouraged dancing and running.  Other activities for the children included this hopscotch puzzle mat
a giant bowling set
When each child arrived they received a hard hat to wear for the party.
I made a pull string pinata to resemble the tape measure, Stretch.  I prefer pull string pinatas so no one gets whacked in the head and the kids all feel like they opened the pinata together.
Inside were plastic tools and plastic character figures purchased from the Disney Store.
Here is the birthday boy by his cakes and cupcakes that I made.  The large red thing was my failed attempt of making a tool box.  I started working on the cake too late in the week and really didn’t think it through.  This year’s cake was great!
As you can see, Luca enjoyed his cake!
For the favors, I set up Mr. Lopart’s Candy Shop.  Guests were invited to fill up their take-out boxes with as many goodies as they wanted.  I purchased the candy in bulk from Candy Warehouse and choose novelty and old-fashioned candies.  My older cousins, aunts and uncles especially liked the walk down memory lane as they picked out their favorite childhood treats.
The take out boxes had favor tags shaped like hammers attached to them
The tags for the kids had their names on them.
Because Halloween was only the night prior, I had additional children’s favors which included playdough, safety goggles, a hammer, stickers, and room for their pinata goodies – non candy option.
The party was a success and I had a fabulous time building it!
Hammer Tags can by found in my shop

NEW! Printable Gift Tags

Friday, December 4th, 2009

I just listed these adorable printable gift tags.  Print as many as you need, cut or punch out and tie to your package with a pretty ribbon or use double sided tape to attached it to the package.  I can personalize the To/From fields or they can be left blank for you to fill in yourself!

Sweet Treats

Santa hats and sweet birds

You can find these special holiday tags here.

Look for more gift tags being listed through the weekend!

Ciao,
Danielle

Children’s Cookie Decorating Party

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

I love to bake and I’m thrilled that my 3 year old daughter is showing such enthusiasm towards it as well.  I am looking forward to making our family’s favorite Christmas cookies in a few weeks with her and hoping that my son will want to help too!

A fun way to get together with family and friends with small children is to host a cookie decorating party.  Keep it casual and low key and follow the lead of the little one’s.

Some tips and inspirations to get you started:

  • Host your party on a weekday afternoon, if possible since weekends tend to fill up in advance with other holiday festivities.
  • Roll out white (or red or green) butcher paper on your table for simple cleaning up.
  • Provide the cookies, icing and decorations for the party (see below for Martha Stewart’s fabulous sugar cookie and royal icing recipes)
  • Create a placesetting for each child with a stack of cookies to decorate and small cups of various sprinkles, gumdrops, chocolate chips, etc to decorate with and have bowls of icing in varioius colors with brushes down the center of the table for them to share.
  • Offer milk and eggnog for a festive beverage and consider having some healthy snacks for adults and kids to munch on.

Some more fabulous ideas & inspirations

Create the festive mood with this gingerbread cookie invitation from Belleza e Luce ; Send your guests home with their creations in these festive boxes from Wilton; Your little girl adore helping out in the kitchen with this fabulous retro inspired holiday apron.  Guess what?  They come in adult sizes too!  Find it at Lover Dovers Clothing; Offer your guests hot chocolate and refreshments on these charming gingerbread man and Christmas tree mugs and plates from World Market; Protect the little chefs’ clothes with these disposable aprons and throw in a chef’s hat for some fun pictures.  You can find them at Kids Aprons; These absolutely gorgeous cookies are almost too good to eat – almost!  Pick them up for your holiday party or buy some for gifts from Sarah Bisher; This very cute gingerbread mobile would be perfect to hang from the ceiling as a centerpiece for the party.  Find the details at Martha Stewart; A bright and cheery display of various candies and toppings for your sugar cookies from Real Simple; Send the mommies home with their own favor they are sure to enjoy – Cookie Sugar Bath Scrub from Doctor Sweet Tooth; Another favor that adults and children alike will love – hot cocoa cones.  Make them yourself or contact The Desperate Diva
Onto that super yummy sugar cookie and royal icing recipe from Martha Stewart

Sugar Cookies

Makes 2 dozen

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons brandy, or milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Royal Icing, optional

Directions

  1. Whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar; add dry ingredients, and mix until incorporated. With mixer running, add egg, brandy (or milk), and vanilla; mix until incorporated.
  2. Transfer dough to a work surface. Shape into 2 discs, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with nonstick baking mats or parchment paper; set aside.
  4. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes, and transfer to prepared baking sheets, leaving an inch in between. Leftover dough can be rolled and cut once more. Bake until lightly golden, about 10 minutes; do not allow to brown. Transfer to wire racks to cool.
  5. Decorate with Royal Icing, optional

Royal Icing

If you’re decorating cookies for children, pregnant women, or anyone with compromised immune systems, use meringue powder, found in the baking aisle of most markets, instead of raw egg whites.

Makes 2 1/3 cups

  • 1 box confectioners’ sugar (1 pound)
  • 5 tablespoons meringue powder, or 2 large egg whites

Directions

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine sugar and meringue powder. Mixing on low speed, add a scant 1/2 cup water. For a thinner consistency, usually used for flooding, add more water. A thicker consistency is generally used for outlining and adding details. Mix until icing holds a ribbonlike trail on the surface of the mixture for 5 seconds when you raise the paddle.

Happy Baking!

Danielle

Come One, Come All!

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

I’m taking the plunge!  After months of contemplating, should I, I’m jumping in feet first into the blogging world!

For close to 9 years I have enjoyed planning parties down to the final detail and with all those small details – the invitations and party paper goods that go with it!  I’m looking forward to sharing inspirations, designs, and real parties with you everyday (or thereabouts!). 

The blog is only one of the new and exciting things going on around here!  Holidays aside, I’m very busy with new party lines currently being finalized covering birthdays, weddings, babies and everything in between!  All of this for the launch of my website in early January.

Stay tuned!

Ciao,
Danielle