Gender Reveal Party ~ Baby Medina

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decor3Even before my pregnancy, I knew that I wanted to have a Gender Reveal Party.  It seems to be an increasingly popular trend these days, and a new wrinkle to the traditional baby shower. In addition to celebrating the forthcoming child, you the get the added bonus of learning the gender of your child with family and friends (usually in some type of creative way).

For a while, I stored away ideas and inspiration on my phone and Pinterest. When I learned that I was pregnant, my excitement grew because I was able to begin work on all of the ideas that I had stored away. The big day was on August 31st, and I knew that in order for my ideas to come to fruition, I needed months to make them happen.

I wanted our guests to be involved so I created a Cast Your Vote table. I went onto tinyprints and ordered an invitation. I built my inspiration around this color and design.  The theme colors were sky blue, pink, and white.

 

Invitation ~ My inspiration for design.

Invitation ~ My inspiration for design.

 

Here is my sketch book of my designs:

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My checklist of essentials that I wanted to have at the party:

- Cast Your Vote table
– Dessert table
– Old Wives’ Tales area
– Photo Backdrop (instagram style)
– Prizes for the winners who guessed the right gender
– Buffet table

 

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Cast Your Vote! I hand drew with chalkboard marker paint. I LOVE how easy these markers are to use and how smooth they write.

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Hand made mustaches and lips for photo taking opportunities. I’ll have a separate post of how you could make these!

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Ina Garten’s very own recipe of Beatty’s chocolate frosting. I absolutely love her recipes, so fail-proof!

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Lovely sugar cookies, made by yours truly. I had a lot of patience this time, to slowly decorate the crowns and whales. I adore the M’s.

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Partial view of the homemade desserts table setup.

dessert table, cast your vote table, and divider table

Voila!

 

Old Wives' Tales area ~ I made these for people who needed help with deciding if they think it is a girl or boy.

Old Wives’ Tales area ~ I made this as a “resource” for people who needed help with their guess.

 

The party was a success!  I loved the facial expressions and all of the compliments that I received from friends and family who have attended.

Photo backdrop, painted and oil pastel by yours truly.

Photo backdrop, painted and oil pastel by yours truly.

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As you can see, we are having a BOY!  We are thrilled to finally know what the gender is and to finally be able to decorate the nursery.

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Get ready… set…

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Go! BLUE!!!

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Super excited~

 

Homemade:
20140906-094805.jpg – Italian wedding cookies (I tweaked the recipe to make the cookies softer)
– Vanilla cake mix with Ina Garten’s chocolate frosting recipe
– Pink and blue rice krispies
– My cousin’s homemade crackled lemon cookies (divine!)
– Sugar cookies
– Red velvet cake
– Team Pink in a milk bottle – Muddy Buddies

 

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the IKEA lack table, repurposed stylishly

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I put off working on this project for almost two years.  I was nervous to get started on modifying the IKEA’s “lack” tables.  I came across a website, Ikea Hackers, from my Pinterest page.  I was immediately drawn to the picture and knew I had to make one.   I wanted to repurpose the table to give it a high-end feel to the apartment.   The outcome was a success!

My friends, Olivia and Iram, kept urging me to work on it and that they would help me if I needed it. The only thing that kept me from moving forward was the upholstery nails itself!  I determined that I would need  about 1300 nails (to cover all four sides of the table).  I kept an eye on Amazon, hoping to find a good deal, but the best I could find was $120.  (so I figured that I’d save up and put this project on the back burner)

Per my usual weekend routine, I swung by MaryJo’s and lo and behold, I found upholstery nail tacks!  I quickly calculated the cost.. and would you know?  I saved more money at the fabric store over Amazon. It was roughly $62, that saved me $53! WIN!

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How I started the project:

I decided I wanted to individually nail in the tables with the antique silver nails I have found.

I measured out the spacing of the table with a pencil and marked where I would hammer in the nails.

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I saw that MaryJo’s recommended a rubber mallet.  I did not want to spend $9 on a mallet that I doubt I’d reuse.  So instead, I used: my own hammer, leftover heavy duck cloth fabric, and a rubber band; I created my own make shift cushioned hammer.  It worked really well, because you don’t see the “metal on metal” mark on the nails, while  keeping the nails protected.

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And then it was hammer time.  I wanted to ensure that the lines where as straight as possible and evenly nailed in place as I could.  I have to admit, it was very difficult.  As you can see below, I started from the top, then nailed the bottom, then skipped to the bottom, and finally nailed the sides.  I just wanted to see pieces of the nailing come together.
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But it got a little tricky when I started nailing the bottom of the top half of the table. Also, I needed to keep it stabilized, so it would not move. I went to Lowe’s and found me the necessary materials.

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Since there was already an existing hole in the bottom of the table, I flipped over the side of the table and pulled out a drill driver. I drilled each of the four holes through into the bottom of the legs. Then I had to drill in the nails from the underside of the top table into the leg of the nails. Mission accomplished! The table itself is now sturdy and sound.

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The end result…
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I say stylish and contemporary!

Enjoy!
Love,
sunshinebelinda

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Project spent & materials:
– 2 Ikea “LACK” white tables at $9.99 each
– 55 bags of 25 count matte silver nail heads at $1.19 each / $66.37
– 4 wood screws #10 x 3-1/2″ flat head phillips
– drill bit and drill driver
– pencil to mark areas of where to nail
– time, patience, and math.

delicious red velvet cupcakes

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Whenever I visit Washington DC, I crave cupcakes (particularly the red velvet) from Georgetown Cupcakes. I still remember my first bite; I fell in love. The cake mix was so moist, the frosting was light and airy, and was not cloyingly sweet. It was perfect! I instantly realized why their cupcakes were such a hit and why people were routinely waiting several minutes or even hours for their cupcakes!

Since I don’t go back to Washington as often as I’d like to, and since I love to bake – It’s only natural that I would try to find the recipe for their signature cupcake and put my baking skills to the test.

I stumbled upon Pop Sugar Food’s website and read over the recipe about 10 times and watched the video for about 5 times.

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Here is what I have learned:
– The butter:  should definitely be at room temperature.  Mix on medium then high until mayonnaise like consistency and then add the sugar until light and fluffy (it took me almost 5-6 minutes)
– The eggs:  fully incorporate them into the butter/sugar mixture one at a time on “stir” mode, but only enough where you no longer see the yolk.
– Red coloring & cocoa powder:  mix together for a few seconds ahead of time, and set aside.
– Frosting:  the butter and cream cheese should both be at room temperature. Afterwards, I would put  them in my mixer stand and beat them at medium-high 8, for about five minutes (sometimes a little longer until I feel like the butter/cream is a mayonnaise like consistency).  When I add the sugar, I let the mixture become fluffy (looks like mashed potatoes).  In doing so, this will allow the frosting to become airy.

 

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This recipe was heavenly and scrumptious! Remember, just be patient, and the outcome will be rewarding.

hearty chicken pot pie

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The smell of the crisp cool air and warm colors of the tree foliage could only mean one thing, chicken pot pie (okay it could mean more than one thing!). It is time to make chicken pot pie. Well, I can make it anytime, but every time I bake these.. It is always a reminder of how delicious it would be during a cold season. I want to thank my favorite chef, Ina Garten for her lovely recipe. I had to put my own twist on the recipe, just to be unique.

The top crust:
– flour
corn meal (yes!)
– butter
vegetable shortening
– cold water
baking powder
– salt

The bottom crust:
– flour
– butter
– vegetable shortening
– cold water
– baking powder
– salt

I had to buy a large food processor, because my mini processor was just not worth the extra effort. I have my corn meal, flour, salt, and baking powder in the holder. It is important to have the butter and shortening to be extra cold. I pop the diced butter and shortening in the freezer before I drop them down the tube of the processor. Afterwards, I added iced cold water to meld the crust dough. I quickly knead the dough, onto a floured board for 30 seconds and then wrapped it in a plastic wrap. I let the dough sit in the fridge for about an hour. (I had added the corn meal to the recipe. I felt the crust is distinguished from the bottom crust, and it has that extra corn meal taste to the palate).

The filling:
– hand shredded chicken
– frozen sweet peas
– sliced carrots
– diced onions
– more diced onions – frozen
– parsley
– thyme
chicken stock
– chicken bouillon
– salt & pepper
– flour
– butter

The filling is the best part! I love, love, LOVE the chicken to be shredded. It just gives it a more homemade feel to the pie. So yes, I sit there for about 20 minutes or so, just shredding a whole chicken by hand. By the time I am done, I just want to sit down and relax. But no, I have to persevere and continue this long process. The recipe book Ina Garten wants you to season the chicken and cook it, and then dice them. I like to roast my chicken with aromatic fresh herbs and garlic.

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Following the recipe to make the filling itself -

The picture below is a mixture of butter, onion, and flour –
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Hot chicken stock with chicken boullion on the side to add to the butter/onion/flour mixture.
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After the filling is done, I went back to the dough and rolled it out to the right size of my ramekins. I did not like the ones I previously used.. So I went out and bought 4 pieces of square ramekins. I am a sucker for Le Crueset items! Aren’t they pretty?

So here is me rolling out the dough:
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I scooped the filling into the dish carefully.
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It was time to pull out the dough that has the corn meal mixture — This would be the crust (brushed with egg mixture and sprinkled kosher salt and black pepper):

Just crimping away~
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After 1 hour of being in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.. Lovely…..
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Here is my own plate of pie! SCRUMPTIOUS!
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This is for my husband who loves eating this. Also for Raj, who also had his own dish, and had the “itis” afterwards (food coma). Haha!

The picture below is an old picture I took last year.  :)

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oatmeal cookies delight

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I have always been a fan of oatmeal cookies. But baking them, on the other hand, is something that I tend to avoid.

Last week, I was craving for a cookie dessert. I flipped through my various recipe books… Julia Child, Wolfgang Puck, Belinda’s collection of recipes, but after some deliberation, I decided on Ina Garten’s Raisin Pecan Oatmeal cookie.

I had pretty much all the ingredients that I needed, except for the pecans. I had plenty of walnuts that I had kept frozen for freshness. (My friend’s sister came over from California and brought over bags and bags of fresh nuts.)

So during dinner, I gathered all of the ingredients and had about 5 batches worth of dough. The recipe came out to be over four dozens.

I had recently bought a new cookie sheet, and loved how much dough I could fit on one sheet pan.

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I laid them out and used my large silicon spatula, dipped it in water and flattened the cookies ever so slightly.

Per the recipe, it said to bake about 350 degrees for 12-15 mins. I had to bake mine for 18-20 minutes. 18 minutes for the chewiness, and 20-22 minutes for a tad bit crunchy. I was hesitant to try these lightly browned cookies.. But after the first bite I could not help to have another helping of two… Or four! Even my husband couldn’t help himself to these bad boys (and he’s typically not a big fan of oatmeal cookies).

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I found myself wanting to invite friends over to help me finish the cookies with tea.

All in all, I found a great recipe I will bookmark for the bake sale that I hope to hold in October! Charlotte – keep a lookout at work!

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bookcovers for art

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Over the past three and a half months I have bought books, non-stop.  My addiction to young adult fantasy & romance, thriller, and adult romance has gotten me to about 20 books alone through Amazon.

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I absolutely have to have hardcover books. The sturdiness allows me to not have to worry about the creases in the spine of the books and slightly worn edges.  I know that it sounds a bit obsessive-compulsive, but I promise you I am not.  I just happen to like it clean and neat.  So to make it seem even more crazy, I gently put away the mint book sleeves in a stack, tucked away behind more books.  Then I grab some paper brown bags, and start making book covers for the ones I have bought to read.

I use brown paper bags as book covers; and use a white chalk pen on the side to make it look pretty!  They have a dual purpose: on the one hand, it protects my books from the shine, and on the other hand, it makes for beautiful art on my table console.  I cannot help but smile at what I’ve accomplished and the finished product.

Okay, I have to admit, I did come across this website which inspired me to make it look the way that it did below.  Thank you EdiTORIal

Here is how I did it:

What you need
– scissors
– large enough paper bag to cover a book
– tape
– white chalk marker (or permanent/glitter marker)

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I tore open the brown paper shopping bag, where the enclosure is met.

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I laid down the book, and cut off the excess paper that is not needed.

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I folded the paper at the spine, and marked where I need to make a small angle cut.

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The cut I have made above is necessary for enveloping the front and back of the hardcover books.IMG_4646

Afterwards, I folded down the left and right side of cuts (seen in the picture above) I have previously made.  The fold should meet where the book fits.  Now you have pentagon like shape that is formed.

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I removed the book, flipped the paper over, and saw where the two lines I have folded for the spine. I quickly used a pencil to see where I would write the letters in white chalk maker (just to make it centered).

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Then I flipped the cover back where you can see the exposed pentagons, and placed the spine book on top of the pentagons.  I opened one side of the book flap, and folded the brown paper on one side over, and I did the same to the right side. Then I folded the top left and right corners where the book flap meets at the edge, and folded down, to give it a neat look.

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These neat look, is where you will need to tape down the folded corners to prevent the covers from unraveling.

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Now if you do this with a lot more books, you’ll have a nice collection of covered books that can be neatly displayed on a table or on a bookshelf.  It makes it more uniform and unique, and truly art to be displayed.

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Yours truly,

sunshinebelinda

Back to School Tip:
– I used to cover my school books all the time back in high school and college.  More importantly, the college books were expensive!  If I kept the book in great condition, the more money I’d get back.

semi-upholstery complete!

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project #3 – two seat cushions

I finally finished the couch! All the pieces are finally done. I put together the two seat cushions with the white duck cloth (heavy fabric, that has a canvas look and feel to it), put together the four pillows, and finally the two accent pillows. All in all, it really made our apartment look more spacious.

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How did I do it? It started out with a lot of measuring and a self-delivered pep talk (You can do this! You can do this!). If you have been following my projects, you have probably seen my Pinterest project #2 (where one seat was covered). At the time, when I covered it, I quickly hand-stitched the fabric. The reason? I had left over fabric and wanted to see if I had enough to cover one seat cushion. I liked the look so much that I decided to leave it there. Sadly, I had to unravel the stitching and correctly sew together the pieces to the seat cushions.

Two weeks ago, I went to the fabric store and bought some more duck cloth and zippers for my project. This time, I remembered to buy fabric chalk, so I could mark the lines where I would be able to cut neatly. If you do not have the marking tool, but crayon works just as well (preferably yellow on a lighter colored fabric).
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Afterwards, I measured out the seat cushions and added 1/2″ to each side to leave room for stitching. Then, I laid out my patterns on the floor to account for each of the sides of the rectangular prism. The tricky part was getting one panel that will have a zipper, so I could slip the cushion through like a pillowcase.

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After I sewed together all of the pieces, it looked like this from the inside with all the frayed edges.

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After I turned the cover inside out, the pillow looked seamless and smooth. I was so excited to slip the cover over the old brown microsuede!

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Here is the outcome of the cover!

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I put the two seat cushions along with four large pillows and two accent envelop pillows together….

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Not only am I happy with the overall look, my husband also approves! It is like having a brand new couch!

Total breakdown of cost and labor:
duration of the project – 4 months (but can be finished in 4 days, if committed)
5.5 yards of (5 yd x 58″) semi off-white duck cloth $12.98/yd
1.5 yard of French writing pattern $12.98/yd
1 Fatt Batt bag for two envelope pillows (size: crib)
2 Fatt Batt bag for four large pillows (size: twin)
needle and thread to secure the batting (self)
1 large neutral maxi-lock thread at $8.99/roll
2 – 24″ seat cushion separating zippers $5.40/each
4 – 18″ invisible zippers $2.40/each

about > $180.00

Regrets/Feedback/Compliments:
– Yes I have spent quite a lot of money on this project. Nevertheless, I am happy with the final look. Not only does the apartment look a lot more inviting, but it also makes my apartment look contemporary and chic!

- I would probably do it all over again! It took me many months to finish this project.

- I truly want to thank my two friends Olivia and Iram, for letting me borrow their sewing machines! Yay!

- It is always fun to have a craft day with friends!