why don’t we – build something with cardboard

cardboard camera

Cardboard is such a great crafting material – we’ve been collecting a lot of it in preparation for Halloween crafts. When I saw the trailer for the new Boxtrolls movie with my kids, I instantly thought – that is so cool. They make not just crafts, but an entire village out of cardboard! That is some serious sustainable living:)

I was really excited when the Imagination Foundation asked me to share about an awesome contest they are running, to get kids creating – with cardboard!


The mission of the Imagination Foundation is to find, foster and fund creativity and entrepreneurship in children around the world. That might be one of my favorite mission statements ever! Focus is working with them to sponsor a Boxtrolls Cardboard Challenge, where kids can create and build crafts inspired by the movie, using cardboard boxes as the main resource – just like the Boxtrolls themselves do.

The contest encourages kids to create their own crafts out of cardboard boxes for a chance to win prizes, so cool! It runs from 8/25-9/29. To enter (I know we will) share your creations via Twitter or Instagram by tagging the photos with the hashtag #TheBoxtrollsCC – that’s all it takes. The perfect reason to get crafting with the kids this weekend.

One Grand Prize winner will be picked on September 29th and receive an “Imagination Box” for creative play, including an Apple iMac, an iPad Air, Microsoft Office, The Print Shop and Kid Pix softwares, a $500 Discovery Store.com gift card, and a $1000 Michaels Arts & Crafts gift card. Music to my crafty mom ears!


To encourage this creativity even more. There will be events hosted across the country where kids can have a chance to craft, and bring their crafts + meet the charachters from the movie. See here for the list of cities and dates.

Joining in the contest sounds like such a fun way to bring a great movie to life for my kids. I adore the idea of creating art from the media we are exposed to and I am looking forward to seeing the Boxtrolls when it comes out September 29th.

See a full list of contest rules here.

This post is done in promotional partnership with the Imagination Foundation and Focus. The contest excitement is all mine.

(Top photo by Eduard Bonnin)

Posted September 19, 2014 2 Comments
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afternoon tailgate revelries

Afternoon tailgate party

Hosting a good tailgate is on my wish list every fall. We are not a huge sports family, but living in our Alma Mater’s rival city gives us a good chance to bring out the spirit every fall. To support our team being in town – I partnered with Smirnoff Ice to host this year’s afternoon tailgate. We had a blast celebrating over the weekend, bringing a fresh twist to what you’d expect a tailgate to be. Mainly… pretty, festive and fun!

Use a bookshelf for an instant tailgate bar set up!

When planning a tailgate one of the first issues is where the heck to put the food and drinks. I love the idea of repurposing a book case from the house to hold all the game day necessities. We used our faithful Ikea shelving unit, and a simple fold out table to create enough space serving space for the party.

Tailgate bento boxes

As much as we love and provide the normal tailgating grill fair, it’s fun to think out of the box a little! Using cheap plastic organizers, small bowls, and a folded section of tissue paper we created tailgating bento boxes for pre-game snacks.

Our friends loved getting to have their own smaller portions instead of having everyone reaching into the chip bag at once. Nice cheeses, crackers, and tomatoes from the garden were an awesome way to inject a little style and substance to the afternoon’s food – you can always use the boxes for more traditional chips and dips too.

Stickers turn favor bags into great tailgate servers.

Popcorn and chips are right at home in small favor bags. We adorned small paper favor bags with bright game days stickers to keep everyone’s spirits high.

Use adhesive stickers to make your pillows talk - great for a tailgate!

I ended up on quite a typography kick for this tailgate. Using words is a great way to turn any decor item into a game day essential. One normal tailgating issue is hard fold out chairs for seating. Stacking up pillows is an awesome way to make everyone feel more at home. I brought our tassel pillows in on the team spirit by using vinyl decal stickers to cheer and chant. Go team!


Gussing up our tablecloth was of course a necessary element. I used lengths of Washi tape and small pom poms to create a fun and festive game day look. And no tailgate is complete without the drinks! Here are a few of my favorite combinations for festive team mixology.

Typography ice cubes

Typography ice cubes

Typography ice cubes

Ice cube letters!

Ice cubes that can cheer… Why yes – of course!

Using a plastic ice cube mold we created a berry blend that pairs perfectly with Smirnoff ice original to create a jolly rancher fizz. Plus your friends will love the talking combinations that can be made with this festive party element.

To make enough letters for a party, fill the trays a couple days before hand. As the ice hardens remove the letters and place on a cookie sheet covered with wax paper. Continue refilling and saving letters until you have the right amount for whatever it is you want to say. This party tip would be awesome to use for birthdays and hosting evening drinks also.  

Posted September 18, 2014 2 Comments
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soft pretzels for the party appetizer win


By far the best party appetizer I know of is a soft pretzel. I’m not certain I know a single person who does not like soft pretzels. Do you? They can be served a hundred different ways – although my favorite way to serve them is with sesame seeds and spicy mustard. Pretzels are a constant party go-to of mine for starting things off right.

I recently learned that you can buy the pretzel dough they sell behind the food counter at Costco/Sam’s Club uncooked (just like the churros!). We grabbed a package of it for our last party and it was a hit! The pretzels have that perfect buttery bread flavor everyone loves. Purchasing the dough pre-made and unfrozen is such an easy update for our gatherings. A nice cooking break in the midst of a very busy fall.

You can make any shape pretzels with the dough, I love this look of large circle for a modern take on the beloved appetizer. Sprinkled with a dried spice and served with your most favorite dipping sauce – soft pretzels for the party win, every time!

The best party appitizer - pretzels

Before I learned this pre-bought dough trick, I used this favorite recipe for making our pretzel dough perfect every time. It takes a bit more work, but is definitely worth the time. We also tried a gluten free pretzel recipe recently and it was pretty great – I loved the idea of giving the dough a baking soda bath to maintain the correct coloring.

I’ve been on a party appetizer kick lately – we even had friends over just for apps and zerts last weekend (thank you Tom Haverford), which was way easier than dinner and also more fun! Find more easy party appetizers by checking out my latest Foodie collection Meatless Party Appetizers at Foodie.com


This post is done in promotional partnership with Foodie.com – thanks for supporting our sponsors!

Posted September 18, 2014 2 Comments
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bright and festive party garland

Bright Funky Party Garland

Some parties don’t need a theme, they just need a bright burst of awesome color. In fact, I think it’s the key to turning any space into a party spot – a big burst of whimsy and color.

Which is exactly why I am loving this funky garland for fall. Just when colors begin to mute and dusk starts creeping up. BAM! Color.

A strand of festive fun will liven up birthdays, Halloween parties and anything in between.

Bright Funky Party Garland

Bright Funky Party Garland

Bright Funky Party Garland

Bright Funky Party Garland

Bright Funky Party Garland

To make the bright and funky garland, collect 20 sheets of bright cardstock paper.

Start by cutting out 6 inch long oval shapes from the paper. We cut our ovals in various sizes, from 2 inches to 8 inches, for added spunk. Fold each oval in half and secure with glue (or double sided tape) over a thin string to make the garland. That’s it! Party-ready in under 10 minutes.

I love that you can make this garland in an array of colors and sizes to make it work for gussying your own party or mantel display this season.

Bright Funky Party Garland

Bright Funky Party Garland

The bright and funky party garland also makes a gorgeous display anywhere around the house. Say… above a crib!?! Giving your small party effort an even greater festive return.

(Photography by Erin Holland for A Subtle Revelry).

Posted September 16, 2014 1 Comment
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planet cake toppers and a milky way cake

Planet Cake Toppers

A couple weeks ago we received a fun package of books in the mail. The new Ricky Ricotta series by Dav Pilkey & illustrated by Dan Santat. The books were immediately whisked away and it was literally a full hour before I heard another request from the twins. As new readers, my kids love books almost as much as they love chocolate cake:) These half reader/half comic books (with an included flip section) couldn’t have been more of a win for my dinner making sanity.

To showcase how much we loved the series, I took inspiration from Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot solar system adventures to make a set of planet cake toppers. The cake toppers are a fun project to incorporate a new school year’s learning about the solar system into a tangible and festive afternoon. Making a milky way chocolate cake takes the concept into complete party mode. It’s a fun combination for a birthday party, school bake-sale, or star themed playdate.

Planet Cake Toppers

DIY Planet Cake Toppers

DIY planets

To make the planet cake toppers we used a package of ping-pong balls (mom tip: Target has them on clearance in the sports end cap this week). We also used a couple white foam balls for added texture.

I looked up a list of each planet’s coloring and grabbed my selection of paints that matched pretty close. To be fair, this project is more artistic than scientific, but the kids and the cake sure didn’t seem to mind! Begin painting each ball for a different planet and allow to fully dry, about 4 hours. The kids got in on the painting fun and we learned together in the process. Earth was definitly our favorite to create.

Turn the planets into cake toppers by using the pointy end of a kitchen skewer. Hold the painted ball in one hand and carefully poke the skewer directly through the other side. Cut down the skewers if needed for sizing.

Planet Cake Toppers

Planet cake toppers

Planet Cake Toppers

After the planets are completed, make a Milky Way cake to go along with the theme. Find the nearest frosted chocolate cake and sprinkle coconut flakes to form a solar star display.  

Posted September 15, 2014 3 Comments
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why don’t we – brighten up with candles

Happy Birthday Candles

Happy Friday! I am normally a huge fan of party candles, and after a week of evenings getting noticeably darker – I’ve found myself especially drawn to lighting them. I may have had 15 different candles lit throughout the house one night this week! Pretty sure I almost set the fire alarm off;)

Candles are the perfect way to brighten up anything from a cupcake to an entire room. So why don’t we brighten up the longer nights by building a collection of noteworthy candles?

Here are some of my favorite candles to buy and DIY:

Candles in pretty cups make a gorgeous statement for fall

Harvest rugby striped candlesor make them yourself, we did!

I love this Be Dazzling candle by Kate Spade

Glitter candles for a cake

Tapers in sand never get oldtry our festive version right here


Pretty party candles by the dozen

Painted concrete holders

Tea lights in wisks – very fun

PS. Short on time? You can turn almost anything into a candle – it is one of my favorite things to do. Try it yourself with nuts, fruit, colored pencils, wine corks and matches. Just please always be careful when wielding fire filled cakes. Happy lighting!

(Photo by Ina Peters for A Subtle Revelry)

Posted September 12, 2014 1 Comment
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