Merry Brides

LIVE WITH PASSION!

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CANDY CORN JELL-O SHOTS!

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Obviously it goes without saying (but I will anyways) that these would be perfect for any fall gathering or Halloween party. The flavor ends up a yummy orange cream concoction and you can even make these the night before your party, which is always a plus in my book.

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Candy Corn Jello Shots, makes 20 shots

  • 1 box orange-flavored Jell-O
  • 3 envelopes Knox unflavored gelatin
  • 7 oz. sweetened condensed milk (1/2 of a 14 oz. can)
  • 2 cups water 
  • 1 cup vanilla or cake vodka (add more if you like strong shots)
  • yellow food coloring
  • tall shot glasses (I used these)

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Pour 1 cup of water into a small saucepan and pour 2 packets of the unflavored gelatin into the water. Warm the water and gelatin over a low heat, stirring occasionally, until all the gelatin has dissolved (about 5 minutes). Remove pan from the heat and add 1/2 your can of condensed milk to the mixture. Stir until the ingredients combine. Add 2/3 cup vanilla vodka. Cover and set aside half of your milk mixture and evenly distribute the other half throughout your 20 shots (just don’t fill them more than 1/3 of the way full). Refrigerate your shots until firm (30-40 minutes).

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When the first layer is firm, pour another 1 cup of water into your saucepan and add 1 packet of gelatin. Warm the water until the gelatin dissolves, remove from heat, and stir in the box of orange Jell-O until that dissolves as well. Add 1/3 cup vanilla vodka. Evenly distribute orange layer on top of white layer and refrigerate until chilled.

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When your orange layer is solid, retrieve the second half of your milk mixture and add in a few drops of yellow food coloring. You can also only make half of the milk mixture and repeat the orange layer recipe with a yellow-colored Jell-O instead. You get more of a transparent color when you use Jell-O and a more opaque layer when you use the condensed milk, but either works!

Distribute your yellow layer on top of the orange and put it back into the fridge until set.

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Whoa!! These guys are looking authentic! Once all your layers are set, you are ready to serve your candy corn creations.

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Filed under alcohol vodka halloween jello shots

5 notes

How To DIY Printable Wedding Stationery

image                             Vintage Printable Wedding Invitation

I spend my days buried in wedding invitations. First I designed, printed, assembled, and shipped invitations to brides. Now I help brides create their own gorgeous invitations at home. DIYing your invitations is a great way to save money and it is much easier than you may think to get jaw-dropping one-of-a-kind pieces.

The DIY invitation process can be as simple as using a printable template to print, trim, and ship. Or if you are the crafty/creative/move mountains type of person your invitation suite can be as elaborate as your mind can dream up. 

image                          Engagement Party Invitation Printable

However you approach your invitations the following five tips will save you from a hand-made disaster and lift you into invitation folklore.

1. Splurge on fancy envelopes. 

Splurge is subjective as spending a few extra dollars on good quality envelopes to coordinate with your DIY invitations is still going to save you a bunch of cash over more traditional invitation options. The best part of DIYing your invitations is you get them to look exactly as you want, and this includes not being restricted to the envelopes that come in ‘the set’. Buy envelopes in a coordinating color to your invitations or wedding theme. Envelopes come in every color under the sun, and all different paper finishes, from bold and sparkly, to ever so slightly nuanced. You will be amazed at how opening a luxurious envelope sets a positive tone for the reader. 

image                            Bachelorette Party Invitation Printable 

2. Use a standout font. 

I’m a bit of a font collector and love to come across a new and unusual font, particularly when the font is free! There are tons of free fonts available online and a quick Pinterest search on ‘free fonts’ will bring up collections of fonts to suit any need. Your font choices can set the mood as much as the graphics and envelope color. Fonts can be bold, daring, vintage, casual, personal, classic, and romantic. They can say punk, and gothic, or black tie affair. My rule of thumb is to use two fonts on your invitation and carry these throughout your invitation suite. Use a standout font for the bride and groom’s names, such as a handwritten, script, or vintage font. Use an easier to read font for the rest of the details.

image                   Watercolor Floral Wedding Invitation Printable

3. Trim to size. 

As a designer, this is the oldest trick in the book to take your invitations from looking home made, to looking professionally finished. You can create your invitation in any size (just make sure you can buy envelopes to fit), with the standard invitation size being 5×7”. When designing your invitations you can fit two 5×7” invitations on one sheet of paper (hello to saving on printing costs). Design the graphic to go just past the edge of the 5×7” border, this is called the bleed. Allow about an 1/8” bleed so that when you trim your invitations down you don’t end up with any white space around the border of your invitation.

Remember to keep your text well within the 5×7” border though. It’s also worth noting that postage varies by invitation size, so it might be worth a trip to the post office with your invitation mock up to get an accurate price for your budget.

image                         Brown Lace Wedding Invitation Printable

4. Paper quality matters.

 The endless possibilities of paper for invitations will put you in a tizzy. First I recommend using a heavier card stock than your standard printer paper. I find 65 lbs to 90 lbs works well and can be handled by most home printers.

Second, get creative with your paper choices. Don’t just think white or cream, though if you have a colorful design to print these are probably your best bet. If you have a neutral color design play up the paper color.

image                                    Happily Ever After Printable

A black and white design can be printed for pennies at your local copy shop, and can look fantastic on the right paper. Also consider doubling up your paper. Use a colored, patterned or textured backing card cut to 5×7”, and print your design and details on a slightly smaller sheet of plain paper that can be adhered on top with double sided tape. Corrugated card, vellum, and scrapbooking paper all make good backing cards.

image                         Winter Wonderland Invitation Printable

5. Check, check, and re-check. 

Before committing to print your entire invitation suite print off one copy and look over it for alignment issues, spacing, spelling, dates, grammar etc. Have a second set of eyes read over to catch anything that you may have missed. Then read over it one final time before hitting the print key. There is nothing worse than printing off 100 copies only to find instead of May 23, you typed May 2. Who wants to have a wedding three weeks earlier?!

Invitations set the mood to your wedding, and with a little bit of patience and planning you can create a custom suite without the custom price tag.

 *** A special Thank You to Michelle, owner of Insite Creative Designs for allowing us to use her photos. You can see their entire line of Printable Downloads Here.       

image                  Tiffany Blue Checkered Bridal Shower Printable

Filed under DIY Printables Invitations Bachelorette Party Invitations Wedding Printable

4 notes

How To Choose Wedding Table Linens

image                                    Damask Linen Table Runner

Specialty linens such as table cloths, napkins and chair covers are the perfect way to transform a wedding reception room at a reasonable price. The influence of these décor products can have a powerful impact upon guests who first walk into a wedding reception room since the tables and chairs that linens cover tend to cumulatively have the largest surface space in the room.

When choosing reception décor, most event planners agree that the table linens are a great place to start. When choosing a table décor color palette, it should preferably be one that coordinates with colors and styles already used in the invitations, ceremony and bridal wear. Choose your table linens first and then build the rest of your table décor such as flowers around these fabrics.

image                                   Fuchsia Polka Dot Table Runner

Tip: When choosing your table linen colors, you want to make sure that your table linen fabric you chose don’t clash with the room where the reception is being held. Also an important point is not to worry too much about matching the linens to individual room items such as carpet. Items such as carpet, are generally not in favorable bridal reception colors and most people will only notice the impact of the fabric colors such as table cloths that are on the top of the tables.

image                                          Brown Burlap Tablecloth

Trend: Autumn colors such as chocolate, bronze and copper continue to be strong base colors year round that give an alternative to the traditional wedding colors. These fabric colors are often combined with strong contrasting colors (i.e. chocolate table linens w/tiffany blue napkins) to create a dramatic color palette in a room. Strong color combos this year are chocolate/citron, copper/ivory and chocolate/pink.

When ordering your linens, be sure to know your table sizes and also chair types. Your reception venue should be able to help you plan the seating arrangement and layout which would ultimately determine your table sizing. If you are having a cocktail reception, remember to order linens for this as well. 

image                                     Red And White Linen Napkins

Tip: Make sure to order extra napkins, as this tends to be utilized by serving staffs as well as guests. A 10-20% overage on napkins beyond your guest count should be sufficient.

While linen choices should be narrowed down towards the beginning of the reception process, linens should preferably be reserved at least 6-10 weeks before your wedding date to ensure that the items you want are available. Remember to think creatively, as linens are a great way to customize you wedding reception and impress your guests.

image                                     Damask Table Round Runner

Trend: Traditional wedding fabric colors such as white, ivory, gold and pewter are always in demand. Consider adding accents of other colors in items such as napkins or chair ties to bring all of the room colors together. Strong color combos this year are black/white, gold/rose and ivory/silver.

****  A special Thank you to Fantasy Vintage Bridal for allowing us to use their photos.

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You can see the entire line of Fantasy Vintage Bridal Here.  Or visit them on Facebook.

image                          Anchors Away Nautical Table Runner

Filed under linens wedding decor wedding linens table runners table decor reception decor tablecloth

4 notes

Engraved Wedding Gift idea

Q. I am getting married in a few months and I am already over my wedding budget so I am planning on skipping the bridal party gifts. Rather than gifts, I am treating my bridal party to a nice meal after the wedding rehearsal. My sister thinks I will look tacky if I don’t give gifts.  What do you think? Any ideas for affordable gifts

A. Congratulations on your engagement. I absolutely agree with your sister. These special people have been by your side through thick and thin, and now they’ll be standing by your side on one of the most important days of your life. You should say “Thank You” for being a sister / brother, for being a friend with a personalized gift.

Gifts don’t need to be expensive to have a special meaning. You can make a gift extra special by having it etched or engraved. Personalized gifts will always hold a special place in your loved ones heart and home.

Here are some affordable gift ideas I found on Cooper Allison Customs. I like their products as they are custom etched with a laser… No chemicals are used. You can customize all these products with special photos, names or dates.

image                                 Customized Etched Pint Glass Set 

image                             Custom Etched Pyrex Baking Dish

image                            Custom Stainless Steel Etched Flask

image                                   Custom Etched Wine Glasses

image                            Custom Etched Maglight Flashlight


*** For more information on engraved gifts, please visit Cooper Allison Customs

Filed under etched glass engraved gifts bridal party gifts engraved engraving

18 notes

How To Master The New Metallic Body Art

image                              Metallic Temporary Jewelry Tattoo

Dare to sparkle! One of our favorite new options for boho and beachy brides – The “flash tattoo.” Flash tattoos echo the look of traditional temporary tattooing methods, but have a laid-back, modern vibe.

image                                CheriTatts Metallic Temporary Tattoos

Flash Tattoos are metallic, jewelry-inspired temporary tattoos that we’ve seen at music festivals, and at the beaches this year and I think they are headed for bridal as well. The gold foil and pretty patterns are gorgeous. Think delicate peacock feathers, cuffs formed of leaves, chevrons, florals, and a host of other beautiful designs to choose from. 

image                                      CheriTatts Metallic Tattoos

How to use:

1. For the best looking tattoos, ask a friend to help position your tatts so your skin does not twist or stretch. 

2. Make sure your skin is clean, dry and free of any oils or the tattoo will not adhere. 

3. Remove from the clear plastic envelope and cut out the tattoo as close to the edge as possible and then remove the clear sheet on top. 

4. Place the tattoo face down on your skin in the exact position you want it to be and hold a wet cloth against it for about 30 seconds. 

5. Peel the paper aside then pat gently with the wet cloth. 

6. Be sure not to twist or stretch skin until the tattoo has had time to set (at least 10 minutes).  

How To Remove:

To remove your  jewelry tattoo simply soak your skin in baby oil, olive oil or coconut oil for one minute then gently scrub off. Repeat as necessary. Apply lotion to moisturize and soothe the skin area.

Will naturally wear off within 3-5 days. (Avoid soaps and lotions to make it last longer)

image                                    Metallic Temporary Jewelry

If you want a natural jewelry look, I suggest picking the tattoo that works best with your personal style of jewelry, then layering it with a few of your favorite real life pieces. Think one delicate faux cuff peeking out from between a stack of bracelets or sitting quietly alongside an over size watch. The idea is that it becomes an illusion—the kind of thing where people have to ask, ‘is that your jewelry or is that a tattoo?’”

Even the most substantial of the designs will fade within three  to five days—which somehow only adds to their easygoing ephemeral appeal. Because what’s more precious than jewelry that flashes and fades with the moment?

image                               Temporary Metallic Jewelry Tattoos

A Special Thank you to Cheri Trendy for allowing us to use their photos.

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You can see the entire line of Cheri Trendy Flash Jewelry here.

Filed under jewelry flash tattoos metallic tattoos jewelry tattoo temporary tattoos

8 notes

DIY: Bow Tie Ring Pillow

You don’t have to be a master seamstress to construct this swanky ring pillow.

You Will Need:

  • Ink-jet printer 
  • 1 yard of menswear fabric, a silk weave works best 
  • White pencil 
  • A handful of batting 
  • Cord that matches the fabric

Directions:

Download this  "Bow Tie Ring Pillow" template and print two copies. Cut out the shapes along the lines with scissors.

Lay the templates on the back side of the fabric. Trace with a white pencil, and cut out the shapes with scissors.

Pair up each up shapes front sides facing inward, and pin along the edges.

For each shape, hand sew along the edges, leaving 2 inches open in the narrowest part of each bow shape. For the band, leave one of the shorter ends opens.

Turn each bow and the band inside out.

Stuff the bows loosely with batting.

Stitch the bows closed, and stitch the band closed, too.

Stack the bows on top of each other, the smaller one on top.

Wrap the band snugly around the center of the two bows. Trim it to fit and stitch to the bottom of the connected bows.

Turn the bow over so it’s facing right side up, and loop a matching cord under through the band and use that cord attach the rings to the pillow.

Filed under ring pillow diy sewing

8 notes

Handmade Jewelry Gift Ideas

image                                 Heart Rose Gold Pendant Necklace

Q.  Do you have any ideas for affordable bridesmaid gifts? My bridesmaids and I agreed not to give each other gifts but I still think I should give them some sort of token of appreciation. Two of my bridesmaids are teenage girls. Any ideas?

A.  When is doubt Jewelry is always a safe bridesmaid gift. Instead of something she’ll never wear again, give her a gift she’ll love to wear daily (even after the wedding). 

My husband Matt likes to joke that I am an Etsy addict and I must admit there is smidgen of truth to that fact. I enjoy shopping for handmade jewelry as it’s unique, and made with lots of love. After an Etsy search, I found a shop called Priyasha which sells affordable jewelry for bridesmaids of any age. Here are a few cute ideas…

image                       Rhinestone Four Leaf Clover Charm Bracelet

image                              Rhinestone Infinity Charm Bracelet

image                            Handmade Purple Floral Jewelry Box

image                           Elephant Charm Leather Cord Bracelet

image                                 Rhinestone Sun Charm Bracelet

image                               Handmade Koi Fish Jewelry Box

You can see the entire line of Priyasha Jewelry here.

SPECIAL OFFER: 10% DISCOUNT

Priyasha Jewelry was gracious enough to offer us a 10% discount on all orders until 10/31/2014. To receive your discount please type in the code: MERRYBRIDES10 at checkout.

Filed under jewelry bridesmaid gifts gifts jewelry box handmade 1

13 notes

10 Hidden Wedding Costs

                         

Wouldn’t it be great if you had a bottomless bank account that allowed you to splurge on any and every wedding detail you fell in love with? It would certainly make planning a whole heck of a lot easier. The reality, however, is that most couples are constrained by a budget and it’s not normally a good thing to go over it.  Yet no matter how careful brides and grooms are with their wedding spending, some costs just sneak up on you and all those little things can soon throw your wallet (and your sanity) for a loop. So because we understand the importance of a wedding budget–and sticking to it!–here are 10 of the most common hidden costs you should be prepared for during the wedding planning process.

                                                 Red Love Birds US Postage Stamps

Postage

Depending on your guest list, stamps will be an unexpected cost. It’s especially high when you have an oversized or oddly shaped invitation that takes additional postage.

And don’t forget: You also need to include postage on the response card: A one ounce first-class stamp is now $0.49. With these latest increases from the US Post Office that’s $1.19 per invitation suite. If you’re sending 100 invitations that’s an extra $119 you didn’t plan for.

Lighting

You’ve rented your venue, so you’re all taken care of right? Not so fast. I once did a party in an old historic space where the bride had already booked the reception before hiring my team. We then found out that none of the old lights in the reception space were on dimmers. During the day, the space was basically a cafeteria, so you can imagine the light levels. There’s only so much you can do with candles, so make sure you’ve got good lighting for your dance floor and band or DJ. Keep in mind that lighting is probably the most important design element for a nighttime party, and creating it can cost hundreds to tens of thousands of dollars extra–so this is one element you don’t want to get blindsided with.

Feeding your Vendors

Brides know they need to provide meals for their guests, but many don’t realize they’re also expected to feed the vendors at their reception, most notably band members/DJs, the photographer and videographer. Remember, they all get a break that night and they all have to eat.

Welcome bag delivery

Brides put a lot of thought into what to put into their out-of-town guests welcome bags, so it’s important that they all arrive on time and to the right hotel rooms. Believe it or not, some hotels charge $5-$7 per bag they hand out to guests, but might not advertise it before couples book their block of rooms.

Alterations

Getting your dress altered–which most brides need to do–can cost a pretty penny, depending on what you need to do to it. A simple hem can be less than $100, but moving zippers or fixing beading can cost $500.

Gratuities

Many brides and grooms aren’t thinking about tips the night of the affair and should either ask a friend or family members to take care of distribution if they don’t have a wedding planner. Fifteen percent is the minimum acceptable industry standard. Most hotels and venues will charge you a 23 percent service charge that includes the gratuity. This number adds up fast.

Corkage Fees

You might think you’re saving money by bringing in your own wine and champagne, but many reception sites will charge a corkage fee for each bottle they open up for you during the event. Couples may actually lose money depending on the fees.

                              

Shipping

Shipping will be a huge expense if you’ve been shopping at home and are having a destination wedding. Choosing to ship your wedding gown properly can cost you upwards of $100, insured. Don’t forget to add these items into your personal overall budget even though your wedding planner is tracking your vendors. She doesn’t know what you have been buying and stashing at home!

Sales Tax

Vendor estimates typically don’t include tax–and that can add another 7-10 percent onto your final bill, which can really hit your bottom line.

Bridal Party Gifts

By planning ahead you can save yourself a large bill right before the wedding. Giving out candy or edible items as favors is always a favorite, but you can even go green and give away plantable items like seeds or small plants. For bridal party & family gifts, start researching early and look for things that speak to each person. By putting this in your budget ahead of time you’ll avoid any last minute scrambling if you forget a gift for someone.

Filed under wedding costs finances money

65 notes

How To Decorate Cupcakes With Piping Tips

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Decorating cupcakes with piping tips is not that hard at all!

If you are completely new to decorating cupcakes, I will show you a couple of must have piping tips/nozzles and how their designs look frosted on a cupcake.

I personally love large decorating tips, definitely prefer them over smaller ones.

Remember: You can never ever have too many decorating tips!

What I usually recommend is to first practice piping on a board first, to get the hang of it.

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MOST POPULAR TIPS

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Use a pastry bag, fitted with a large round tip to pipe, beginning in the center, swirl the tip and release as you pull up to form a peak and soft top. It depends on what you prefer on “how high” you want to pipe.

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A star decorating tip will create an “ice cream” look. Starting in the center, swirl around with even pressure and leave a cute peaky top.

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The first time I used this tip I fell in love with it.  It’s an  Ateco tip (no. 848) which creates wonderful swirls!

You can use a different piping technique with Ateco’s 848 tip and create this cute design, same tip, different look:

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As you can see in the photo: Depending on how much frosting you pipe and with how much pressure: It changes the look from very bold and thick, to a rather “slimmer” look. Just pipe as you like it best.

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Say hello to the Wilton Decorating Drop Flower Tip (1F)

It is pretty cute! When you frost it like I did, it leaves a little hole on the very top. I would suggest to place a cute candy heart etc. on top to hide the hole.

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Now here comes a classic! Star tip (Wilton 1M)

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You can make a classic swirl or create a beautiful rose on top of your cupcake. I absolutely love those, they look so real and they are so easy to make:

Start in the center and slowly, but with even pressure, move your decorating tip in a circular pattern around your center.

I adore Wilton’s B6 Star Tip

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Again, you have the option to frost a classic swirl, like I’ve mentioned above (Ateco tip 848) – absolutely cute!

Or just pipe in the center of the cupcake and as you go up, with even pressure, leave a cute peak at the top.

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NOTE:

You can create beautiful swirls. if your frosting has the right consistency. Make sure it does not become too soft and runny.

If your frosting is too runny and soft, just add in a little bit more icing sugar and mix again. If it ends up being way too thick, you can add a little milk to it.

Here’s a little overview for you guys, feel free to save it.

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*** A very special Thank You to Niner Bakes.

Filed under icing tips frosting cupcakes decorating tips frosting tips cupcake decorating cupcake frosting desserts baking

18 notes

How To Buy Makeup Brushes

image                           9 Piece Professional Chevron Makeup Set

Who doesn’t want flawless skin, glowing cheeks and eyes that really pop? Here’s a secret every makeup pro knows: Gorgeous makeup is as much about the tools you use as the products you apply. Brushes make all the difference when it comes to getting a professional-looking makeup application.

For starters, you only need a few basic brushes.The following tips will help you pick out the best brush in each category as well as help you care for each properly—so they last for years.

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Powder Brush

Those vintage powder poufs may look glamorous, but these days, makeup artists agree that bigger and fluffier is not better when it comes to applying powder. Skin looks more radiant—and foundation more realistic—when it’s not matte all over. The modern approach: Choose a powder brush with a medium-size, slightly rounded head, which will let you dust powder only where needed, like the nose, chin and forehead, while keeping cheeks bare and rosy. Before buying, run the bristles along the back of your hand a couple of times; the tips should feel feathery, the bottoms should be snugly clenched inside the ferrule and none should shed onto your skin.

To keep your powder brush in tip-top condition (and prevent breakouts), wash the bristles once a week.

Foundation Brush

Time to move on from that foam wedge—a foundation brush with a blend of natural and synthetic bristles will get you a much more organic-looking finish. The natural hairs lift and sweep the makeup’s pigment, while the synthetic bristles prevent the brush from soaking up too much foundation and getting gunky (this also saves you money over time, since you’ll use less makeup). A flat shape with a contoured tip lets you easily blend your makeup—even into the inner corners of your eyes and around your nose. Just keep in mind that it’s important to wash your foundation brush after every use to help it keep its shape, prevent bristle shedding and remove oils that can cause breakouts.

Concealer Brush 

A concealer brush should be small and very stiff, allowing you to dab and blend makeup exactly where you need it—even atop a tiny, bright-red blemish. Synthetic bristles are ideal, since they don’t soak up makeup and give you more precision. A flat brush with closely-packed nylon bristles is perfect for applying concealer evenly on trouble spots and hard-to-reach places like the sides of the nose. Also, nylon is durable and easy to clean, which is very important for keeping skin clear. Take a minute to wash your concealer brush after every use, or the bristle tips will stick together and be less effective at blending. 

Shadow Brush

For shadow that slicks on smoothly, look for a brush with short (about 1/2”), soft, very densely packed bristles. A shadow brush should feel smooth, soft and silky—not bristly, stiff or too chiseled. The brush you use for applying shadow to your lid should be flat and the one you use in your eye crease should be tapered at an angle. Or, go for a good multipurpose brush that has a half-moon shape. Shadow brushes don’t need to be washed as often as those used on breakout-prone swaths of skin, but lathering yours up at least once a month will keep your brushes performing at their peak

image                                                   Kabuki Brush

Kabuki Brush

The Kabuki brush is like a powder brush, only squatter, with more densely packed bristles, which helps you achieve more coverage where you need it. You can also use a kabuki to give foundation or bronzer an airbrushed-looking finish or to apply cheekbone shimmer. Kabuki brushes are very user-friendly and easy to handle, Look for a kabuki that feels firm, thanks to lots and lots of bristles. Grip it by the handle and hold at a 90-degree angle to your skin, moving the bristles in a circular motion to blend makeup on. Wash your Kabuki brush at least once a week.

Brow Brush 

Those inexpensive brushes with a brow brush on one side and a lash comb on the other work great for keeping wayward hairs in line and removing clumpy mascara (the metal combs are most effective at this). But many pros now prefer to use a spooley brush, which looks like the tip of a mascara wand. It’s one of my most essential brushes—it’s the best for making brows look very groomed and you can also use one of these for de-clumping mascara. It’s also ideal for combing brow pencil through the hairs to make it look extra-believable; the spooley sweeps the powder into little hair-like streaks. Wash your brow brush or spooley brush at least once a month.

Lipbrush

Lipbrushes are great when you want more control over how sheer or bold a lipstick looks, letting you paint it on in thin layers while creating smooth edges. Many have handy retractable tips so you can carry them in your handbag with zero mess. Look for one with a firm but bendable tip made from synthetic fibers, which will smooth lipstick or gloss onto lips without getting goopy. Also, synthetic hair doesn’t hold on to lipcolor through cleanings—that’s important when you’re switching shades and want to start fresh. Even if you’re a one-color kind of girl, you should still wash your lipbrush daily to avoid bacteria buildup and stiffness. 

Eyeliner Brush

This tool is handy for blending your pencil liner into your lashline to make eyes pop. You can also dampen it and use it to apply powder eyeshadow as liner. This gives you a softer, more diffused effect than using regular liner. A liner brush can even double as a brush for applying shadow in your eye crease. Look for a small brush that’s firm and very squared-off—“like the corner of a razor blade. It should be made from synthetic bristles, which will help keep your lines precise. Because this brush is used so close to your eye, wash it daily to prevent bacteria buildup. 

Brushes range from budget-friendly to uber-expensive. You should use the best brushes you can afford. Altair Beauty offers several reasonably priced sets of professional makeup brushes which I really like as they contain no animal hair and are completely Vegan…..

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This 9 Piece Pink Chevron Makeup Set  is perfect for a beginner or a skilled professional, as it has all the necessary tools you need to start creating perfect looks for everyday, and special events!

The cute Chevron print coupled with the classic gold aluminum handles makes these brushes fun for bridesmaid gifts.

For a flawless, airbrushed finish try Altair Beauty’s Flat Top Foundation Kabuki Brush Set. It is is great for applying all liquid, cream, and even powder foundations.

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Filed under beauty makeup makeup brushes brushes

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The Benefits of Using Real, Natural Soap

image                             Natural Shea Blossom Goat Milk Soap

The next time you walk down the soap aisle at your favorite store enjoying the fresh, clean scents and the bright colorful packaging, pay attention. Look at the labels. The vast majority of the products on the shelf don’t say ‘soap’ on their labels. They might be called beauty bars, moisturizing bars, or body bars, but not soap. That’s because these bars aren’t actually soap and can’t legally claim to be; they’re detergents. The manufacturers have removed most of the ‘good’ stuff that occurs in the soap making process, and replaced it with synthetic lathering agents and harsh chemicals. These cheap, plentiful detergent bars are not only bad for your skin, but they’re also bad for the planet, too.

What’s so bad about it?

Commercial soap manufacturers make it a practice to remove the glycerine that is produced during the saponification (soap-making) process. The glycerine is a highly profitable substance, often sold to other companies who use it to make lotions and moisturizers, which your skin, now dried out from the harsh detergent ‘soap,’ desperately needs.

Most commercially produced bars contain synthetic lathering agents, artificial colors, and a slew of chemicals we can’t even pronounce. Antibacterial and antimicrobial soaps often contain triclosan. Triclosan is a toxic chemical that is known to cause cancer. According to the National Coalition Against the Misuse of Pesticides (NCAMP), manufacturers of a number of triclosan-containing products claim that the active ingredient continues to work for as long as 12 hours after use. Consumers are, therefore, exposed to triclosan for much longer than the 20 seconds it takes to wash their hands or face.

Always remember that your skin is porous and absorbent. It absorbs whatever it comes in contact with, much the same as sticking something in your mouth. Chronic use of chemical laden products will cause the body to store the chemicals in the body fat or even in the brain. With enough accumulations of toxins in the body, illness can occur.

These nasty chemicals and toxins are now finding their way into our eco-system. Every time that lather goes down the drain, those pollutants are going with it. A recent government report  revealed that synthetic chemicals from soap, body washes, shampoos and other healthcare products were sneaking through the filters at water purification plants. The list of offenders included phthalates, which are linked to reproductive disorders in both humans and animals, and parabens, a preservative, which links to cancer.

image                                       Organic Lemon Peel Soap

What’s the alternative?

All natural, organic, handmade soap. There are several small businesses, selling extremely high quality, all natural, organic soap - yes real soap. Sure, these soap bars are generally a little pricier than the detergent bars you’ll find at Wal-Mart. But the difference is these soap bars are actually good for your skin, and are good for the planet.

Choosing the right soap

Just because it’s handmade doesn’t mean it’s good for you, however. You need to understand a few things about the soap making process to know what to look for.

There are basically three ways to make soap. One common way is called “melt and pour” soap. There are even melt and pour kits you can buy to make cute soap shapes with your kids. These are generally glycerine based soaps. 

image                                Handmade Jigsaw Puzzle Soap

The other two methods are “hot process” and “cold process.” The hot process method utilizes heat after the saponification process has taken place, while the cold process method does not. The cold process method takes the most time, but is undoubtedly the best method for producing the highest quality soaps.

Now, we need to discuss the ingredients. Soap bars are made using a combination of oils or fats and lye. Lye sounds a little scary, but all the caustic qualities of the lye are removed during the saponification process. When the lye interacts with the oils or fats, it creates glycerine. The type of oils and fats used make a difference in how hard or soft the soap bar ends up being, and how well it lathers.

image                         Handmade Organic Celendula Citrus Soap

With handmade soaps, just like with commercially manufactured bars, you need to read the labels. You want to find soaps that use only pure, organic oils or fats. If plants are used in the bars (many bars incorporate seeds and petals from various plants) they should be certified organic. Avoid any bars that use artificial colors or fragrances. These are synthetic chemicals and you don’t want them on your skin or going down your drain. If you want a colored or scented soap bar, look for one that uses organic essential oils and natural, organic colorants.

Another nice ingredient to find in your soaps is Bentonite clay. Bentonite clay is often used to increase lather in soap bars. It has the added benefit of being a natural detoxifier. Bentonite clay binds with and removes toxins from your body, and it’s extremely eco-friendly.

image                     Handmade Pumpkin Harvest Goats Milk Soap

Some other common ingredients you should look for in natural soaps are coconut oil for a fluffy lather, cocoa butter for moisturizing, shea butter for it’s superior moisturizing and skin care properties, castor oil for a creamy lather, jojoba oil to promote silky soft skin and sweet almond oil for extra moisturizing. 

To sum it up, the best soap for your skin and our planet is a handmade, organic, all natural  soap bar. Once you’ve tried one of these lathery treasures, you’ll never again be satisfied with ‘store-bought’ bars. So do yourself and your world a big favor and start using REAL soap.

**** A very special thank you to Katts Bath And Body Boutique for inspiring this blog….

image                          Handmade Natural Halloween Bath Fizzies

You can see the entire line of Katts Bath And Body Boutique all natural bath and body line here

Filed under natural beauty beauty organic soap natural soap organic soap handmade soap

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Homemade White Hot Chocolate

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This homemade white hot chocolate recipe from Gimmie Some Oven will be a welcome treat as the temperatures drop and the days grow shorter.

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 cups of milk of your choice (or you can substitute heavy cream or half and half, or do a mixture)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 8 oz. white chocolate, chopped into small pieces (or white chocolate chips)
  • whipped cream or marshmallows for topping

METHOD:

Stir together milk, vanilla and chopped white chocolate in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the white hot chocolate comes to a simmer. (Do not let it come to a boil.) Remove from heat and serve immediately, topped with whipped cream or marshmallows if desired.

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Filed under Hot chocolate fall drinks white chocolate fall autumn drinks beverages recipe diy chocolate

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Vintage Bridesmaid Dress Ideas

image                                      Vintage Kotobuki Lace Dress

Q. I am getting married in a few months and want my 16 year old sister to be one of my bridesmaids. Should she be a regular bridesmaid or a junior bridesmaid? Also, I have no clue what type of dress she should wear. I am having a vintage 1930’s era wedding theme.  Should my bridesmaids wear matching dresses or should I let them choose what they want?….Any suggestions? Thanks

A.  Congratulations on your engagement. Your sister is definitely old enough to be a regular bridesmaid. Junior bridesmaids are generally between the ages of 8 to 14 years old.

If there’s one wedding-planning challenge that rivals picking out the perfect wedding dress, it’s choosing dresses for your bridesmaids. While some brides may stick to tradition, choosing one dress style and color for everyone, it’s becoming increasingly popular to wear dresses in a variety of styles and hues. Any why not? We all know the common complaint among bridesmaids is the requirement to purchase a dress they’ll most likely only wear once. Opting for a selection of dresses in varying silhouettes and colors not only allows you the opportunity to fit and flatter a variety of body types, but also adds interest at the alter and makes for compelling wedding day photos.

Here are some fun vintage style dresses from View Halloo Vintage which would be great for a younger bridesmaid.

image                                       Vintage Pink Lolita Dress

image                                                 Vintage Gray Dress

image                         Vintage White Lace 1930’s Ruffle Dress

image                              Vintage Baby Blue Ruffle Dolly Dress

image                                 Vintage Victorian Gray Ruffle Dress

*** A special Thank You to View Halloo Vintage for allowing us to use their photos.  You can see their entire line of handmade vintage dresses here. For a 10% Discount  on all items, please use the Code: MERRY when checking out.

Filed under vintage bridesmaid 1930's retro vintage dress

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DIY Confetti Dipped Balloons

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SUPPLIES:

  • Balloons*
  • Gold Foil Confetti 
  • Decoupage Glue or Mod Podge
  • Paint Brush or Foam Brush

* If you are filling your balloons with helium, so they float, you’ll need to make sure you do not add too much confetti to the balloons or they won’t be able to stay up! It’s best to sacrifice one balloon as a tester so you can see how much confetti it can handle. If you’re just filling these guys with air and letting them bounce around on the floor, then the more confetti the better!

TO MAKE

Take your inflated balloon and paint on the decoupage glue to the bottom of it. You need a thin but even layer. You can either paint a straight line around so you have a very defined confetti “dip” or you can make the top edge of your decoupage area rough so it looks a little less perfect. Either way, once you have your glue on there, go ahead and start dipping and sprinkling confetti on. I found the best way to do this was to hold a balloon over a large bowl of confetti and pick up a handful at a time and press it onto the balloon. Shake the balloon so all the excess confetti falls off, then let it dry.

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The confetti stays on pretty well with just those steps, but for extra security you can also add another layer of the decoupage glue overtop of your confetti and let it dry. (It will dry clear.) If you do this, make sure you factor the extra bit of wait from that second layer in so you don’t end up weighing down your balloons!

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Aren’t they just so sparkly and fun!? As I always say, confetti makes everything better.

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*** Special Thank You to DIY Studio for sharing this fun tutorial. All photos courtesy of DIY Studio.

Filed under DIY Balloons Party Decor confetti gold party bridal shower new years