Category Archives: Birthdays & Celebrations

Super Simple Diaper Cake with Step By Step Instructions

Step by Step Diaper Cake Instructions! So easy anyone can do it!

I’ve always loved diaper cakes, thought they were absolutely adorable. With the upcoming arrival of a new family member, I thought this was the perfect time to try one out. I was pleased to learn that it wasn’t as hard as I always thought it would be and am excited to share this simple diaper cake with you! For this diaper cake, I used two packages of diapers, you can make the cake larger with more diapers

Step by Step Diaper Cake Tutorial

Step 1: Find something round you can use a guide. I found a couple of embroidery hoops that worked perfectly for me, but you could use anything round. I’ve even seen tutorials where they used skillets and pots. Just make sure you have a couple of different sizes so that you can make different layers.

 

 

Step 2: Line up the diapers stair stepping each slightly from the last one. Then place them into the loop, curving them around to fit properly. If you haven’t put in enough diapers, you can easily place another in to make a tighter fit.

Super Easy Step by Step Diaper Cake Tutorial

Step 3: On the bottom layer, place something that will serve as a stability pole for

the upper layer. I used a bottle of baby oil, which is great because it serves dual purposes (stability and gift). Tie a string or ribbon around them to hold them secure when you remove the loop.

Step 4: Secure the bottom layer of the cake to a stable platform, I used the top of a box wrapped with tissue paper. Utilize the ‘stability pole’ for securement. You can use a hot glue gun or even glue dots. A strong tape may work as well, it won’t be seen.

DIY Diaper Cake

Step 5: Repeat the previous steps for the next layer. (If you’d like to do another layer, place another ‘stability pole’ in a different place to hold the third layer on. If it looks a little crooked, don’t worry it will work out when the project is complete.
Step 6: Decorate your cake! I used other baby gifts, securing them with pins or tape. The sky is the limit! I also used tissue paper to help make it a little prettier. Have fun with it, Mom to be will love it so don’t think you are over doing it.

DIY Diaper Cake Tutorial

Be Sure and Check Out 

 

Our Amazing Baby Registry Gift Guide!

Originally posted 2015-10-06 06:31:45.

Photography Tips to Help You Take Shots Like a Pro Every Time!

The combination of families for a lifetime of love and happiness is the most important thing about a wedding.  The photography is second, distant but super important.

4 Tips that Simplify Wedding, Event & Life Photography

Photography is such an important part of preserving memories of any special occasion, especially weddings.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked through our wedding album in the last 11 years, but it always brings me joy to do so.  Seeing the love of a newly wedded couple flow through the photos, the laughter and happiness, is  like a warm blanket on a cold night or that perfect glass of iced tea on a hot summer day.

The only problem is that we don’t all have an unlimited supply of funds for our weddings and great photography is not cheap.  Fortunately, it’s totally plausible for us to learn to take great pictures or even just ensure that we get some of our most desired shots through a little research.  It’s difficult to ‘practice’ wedding photography, as one doesn’t typically go to weddings constantly and events such as these are not ones where we want to realize too late that we missed something great or used the wrong camera settings.

One thing I absolutely love is how easily accessible the internet has made sharing pictures and such.  I love that there are all these platforms that make a Wedding Photo Swap so easy.  The candid shots from guests can often be some of the best ones to see!  I’ve gathered some tips to help you make shooting great shots a little easier!

4 Tips that Simplify Wedding, Event & Life Photography

Simple Photography Tips

  1. ISO Settings

If you are using a manual camera, ISO settings are  a lot to remember! Here’s a quick and easy list that totally simplifies the setting requirements:

Daytime: 100-200

Darker settings: 800-1600

For Movement Shots: use a higher shutter speed and higher ISO

  1. Angles

Different angles bring different feelings within shots.  To make your subject even more compelling, shoot from a lower angle by lying on the ground or crouching when you take the shot.

  1. Scan the Full View!

Often after we’ve developed a photo, we realize that there was something unsightly in the background that we didn’t notice. Getting yourself in the habit of looking completely around the view before you take a shot will save you a ton of frustration later!

After you’ve scanned the surroundings, now is the time to make sure the subjects are in good order.  Double check that hair is in place, no double chin is appearing, or a top doesn’t need to be adjusted to keep things in or hidden.  When we look at a photo of ourselves, we naturally look first at our own perceived flaws.  Catch them and modify your shot (or politely help them to do so) before they become a permanent frustration in the photo album!

  1. Make Your Subject Comfortable

I find that the best shots have natural, real facial expressions in them.  Everyone has a fake smile that they use, but a genuine smile or shot of laughter jumps out of a photo.  I often pretend that I’m adjusting things and make conversation, this helps my subjects relax and I end up getting genuine smiles as I ‘accidentally’ click at the right times.  It’s an art, but you can do it.  LOL

If you are interested in free wedding and event resources, check out this post!  It’s an ever-growing list so be sure and check back from time to time!

If you practice and incorporate these tips into your photography, they may help you spend less time when processing your photos.  I absolutely hate that part, so I’ve done my best over the years to eliminate the need for it!  I would love for you share your own tips for making photography simple!

 

 

JaneGreen House Party

JaneGreenPartyWe had an amazing time having a Jane Green House Party!  The ladies and I enjoyed discussing Tempting Fate and are looking forward to having a follow up party to discuss Another Piece of My Heart!!!

The author, Jane Green, provided a great intro video to get the conversation rolling then we chatted about the book as we snacked on some amazing Moravian Cookies from the Salem Baking Company and enjoyed hot tea from Twinings Tea Company.  If you haven’t had their Vanilla Chai or Orange Cinnamon teas, I highly recommend them!  I think all of my guests will be heading to the store for those!

Parties just wouldn’t be complete without goodies, so each guest took home a copy of Jane Green’s Another Piece of My Heart, a Tempting Fate Sampler, recipe cards and a ‘Mix and Mingle Key Lime Margarita Mix!  Can’t wait to get together again!

Sending out a special thank you for my friends that could make it!  For those who were ill or unable to come, you missed a great time!

It’s a lot more fun when you can join in, so since you couldn’t be here personally I have decided to provide a winner with some party swag of their own!  swag

disclosure

Originally posted 2014-03-28 20:11:35.

#DisneySide @Home Celebration Party

DisneySwagMy friends and I had the most awesome time with a group of very excited little ones!  Much planning happened, but we can talk about that another time!  Today, I want to tell you all about our DisneySide party!  My bestie and I had a ton of fun planning!  We even got her girl to join us in coming up with the games and leading them!

In the picture is the fabulous swag provided for our party!  The inspiration for the bags came from Pinterest!  Follow the link to check out my board.  The cards came straight from my Bestie’s imagination!  She is amazing!  I used the Cricut Paper Doll Dress Up cartridge to cut the castle out and we traced and cut Mickey’s head with a cookie cutter.  I thought they turned out pretty great!

The Games

OlafWe found this printable Olaf via A Thrifty Mom.  I took it to the local print shop and had it blown up then laminated.  Altogether it cost about $5 and an hour or so of time.  As for Olaf’s nose, my Bestie cut out carrot shaped pieces from foam.  We stuck on some sticky tack, blind folded the kiddos and sent them on.  The laughter that filled the room was priceless!  Couldn’t have thought of a better way to let them enjoy the game!  They went back repeatedly to re-pin the nose as eventually the game became what was the silliest place to pin it.  LOL.  Love the sound of children’s laughter!

balloons  Included in our DisneySide @Home Celebration Party pack were yellow balloons.  Initially, we couldn’t figure out what to do with them.  We decided to hang them from the ceiling as part of the decorations but the kids had more fun ideas.  Balloon fights and games ensued and kept the party hoppin’!

 

 

 

bingoAnother fabulous addition to the party pack was Disney Bingo.  The kiddos had fun playing using super yummy skittles to keep their Bingo spots!  No worries about cheating, I think they’d rather have eaten them than added in extras!

Food

foodLast but certainly not least we had to have some yummy snacks!  The kids enjoyed hot dogs, cheetos, fruits, veggies and just loved cupcakes!  I don’t know if the party or the sugar hyped them up more, but they sure had tons of fun!

I can’t wait to have another fabulous party!  All of our Moms are looking forward to booking a reservation at Disney!  We hooked them up with a wonderful woman to help them plan the perfect vacation and look forward to hearing their amazing stories!  If you are needing help planning, be sure and check out this page!  Let her know My Crafty Zoo sent ya!  They will help you get the vacation of your dreams!  I’m looking forward to being able to plan one of my own!

All in all, the party was a huge success!  We had happy children and happy Mommies!  Not a single complaint!  Especially when the little ones went home and went straight to bed!  Pretty good night for all of us if I do say so myself!

disclosure

Originally posted 2014-03-20 06:27:17.

DIY Rainbow Treats

Not only are rainbows beautiful, they were sent as a promise from God.  These quick and simple little treats are perfect for Easter, March, or even Rainbow themed parties!

DIY Rainbow Treats: Quick & Simple

I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth. Genesis 9:13

On a recent trip to Sam’s Club, a demonstrator was making these adorable treats and they were so perfect, they had to be shared!  The entire month of March we see rainbows with a pot of gold at the end.  During Springtime, they are prevalent throughout Easter and frequently seen across the clouds in the sky.

Continue reading DIY Rainbow Treats

Wedding Day: 13 Tips For The Perfect Day

Tips to Make Your Wedding Day a Success

We have gathered 13 fabulous wedding day tips to help make your day perfect!  When you are done here, be sure and check out Event Planning 911, stocked full of free resources, tips, custom invitations and more!

 13 Tips for a Fabulous Wedding Day

Weddings in one word: stressful. It’s the most amazing day of your life. You get to marry the person of your dreams, but surprises and roadblocks make it feel like the day will never happen. Everything will seem to be going against you on the days leading up to your wedding day. There will surely be a problem with the cake or the dress or the venue. Just the thought will make you consider eloping.

You have nothing to really fear though. When you take the right steps and are prepared for anything, your perfect day will go off without a hitch. Here are ten tips that you can take to ensure that your walk down the aisle is super smooth.

 

  1. Start Getting Fit and Looking Sharp Months in Advance

It’s only natural that when people get married, they want to look their best. Whether that’s losing weight, getting a brighter smile, or starting a skin care regimen, there are all sorts of ways that you can start planning now so that you’ll be the most splendid version of yourself on the big day.

 

To get fit, and also to keep the stress to a minimum, exercising outdoors is ideal. No matter the season, you can find season-appropriate hiking gear. The exercise will not only help you achieve your fitness goals, but research has shown that being in nature helps to elevate your overall mood and reduce stress.

 

To ensure that you and your soon-to-be life partner have winning smiles in all your wedding photos, you will also want to pick up a set up waterpiks. Use these along with regular brushing to eliminate plaque and get a brighter, whiter smile.

 

  1. Discover Your Dream Dress ASAP

This is for the ladies. You want to make sure that you find the wedding dress of your dreams as soon as you’ve said yes. You would be amazed at how many women put off the dress buying stage for months, thinking they can lose just a few more pounds before getting fitted. But when you go to buy your dress, there will be so many options that it will be a very involved and difficult process to find one that really is perfect for your style and the ideal vision of how you want to look when walking down the aisle. And the fitting? Remember, you can be fitted for the dress right before the wedding, so there’s really no sense in putting it off.

 

  1. Make Sure You’re Organized

No matter how much cash daddy dished out to make your day special, it’ll be a mess without organization. The size of the wedding isn’t a factor in this either. Big or small, if a wedding hasn’t been properly organized there are going to be some nasty bumps along the way.

 

Have a notebook set aside where you jot down the ideas you have for the wedding. Write down the tasks that need to be done in here as well. Organize them into a logical order and determine when you need/want each task to be done. Checking these things off will show you the progress you’ve made as well as make everything feel more manageable. Plus, if you think of something new then you can just write it down.

 

  1. Make Sure You’re on The Same Page

Everyone is told that the wedding day is the bride’s day, but that isn’t true. A marriage is a promise between you and your partner. There shouldn’t be just one day dedicated to what one person wants. You want to incorporate things that you both enjoy so that this day is the most important day for you both.

 

While you both may love your friends, siblings, and parents, they aren’t apart of your marriage, Make sure the person you’re on the same page with is the one you’re marrying and no one else. They’ll have some good intended ideas but you shouldn’t change anything about your wedding just because they said you should. The only two opinions that matter on this issue are yours as a couple.

 

  1. Handle the Big Stuff First

The best way to tackle your “to do” list is tackling the biggest tasks first. These elements include the guest list, venue or venues, and the budget. But in addition to the wedding, the big stuff includes getting the other things that will change after the wedding day settled and out of the way. Many couples move into a new home after they get married, but if that’s something you’re planning, you want to think about those plans right now, not later. The planning for the wedding will be stressful enough, so be prepared ahead of time by looking into homeowner necessities like a home warranty lender months in advance of even purchasing a home.

 

If you don’t live together already, you will also want to think about what kind of mattress to share as a couple. That way, on the day of your wedding when you walk into your dream home, everything including your mattress will be perfect, just the way you planned it.

 

When you have all of these things in order, the more enjoyable part of planning begins.

 

  1. Be Flexible

While the perfect June wedding seems like something to aim for, it will make your search way easier if you have flexible dates. When you don’t have a date set in mind, it becomes easier for the venue you’re interested in to accommodate you. Popular venues are usually booked months in advance. When you don’t have a date in mind, it helps to stop disappointment before you can feel it.

Check out our Wedding Collection! Perfect gifts for the Bride & Groom only at theapollobox.com!

In addition to scheduling, you also want to be flexible in other areas of your life, including your attitude. Many people hear the horror stories of the bridezilla who torments everyone trying to get things her way—don’t become that person, not toward your friends, family, or even your fiancé. Instead, be flexible. So your partner likes to come home and spend the evenings playing high-stakes live casino games. While you might prefer he spend that time with you, don’t try to control every aspect of his life to meet your expectations. Becoming a control freak in the months leading up to the wedding will show in the tension on your wedding day. To avoid all that, stay flexible.

 

  1. Narrow It Down to One Venue

A wedding is an extremely personal thing. It can be either a religious ceremony or a civil ceremony. When it’s a civil ceremony, it makes it easier to combine venues to fit all of your functions. Doing this can save you money on transportation and time.

 

  1. Secure Your Suppliers Early

To avoid disappointments and last-minute cancellations, secure your videographer, photographer, hair stylist, and makeup artist as early as you possibly can. They have schedules to keep too, so you want to think about these things as soon as possible.

 

  1. Make Sure Your Suppliers Are Recommended and Reliable

 

Just like with buying any service, research is key. Spend your time perusing their portfolio to see if their aesthetic matches yours. Set up a meeting with them so that you can gauge your interactions with them. You want them to make you feel comfortable, happy, and confident.

 

  1. Show Your Suppliers What You Want

You got wedding inspiration from somewhere. Show that to those you’re working with. Whether it be pictures from a wedding magazine or photos off of Pinterest, show where you got your ideas, so they know what you expect of them.

 

  1. Pick Up a New Talent

You might feel like you don’t have time to pick up a new talent, but when the wedding day rolls around, you’ll wish you had. Your wedding is your day to shine, and what better time than to astound your friends and family by showing off your new singing skills that you honed through online professional singing lessons? Maybe you can sing your vows, or you and your loved one could partner up and sing a duet for the whole audience.

 

  1. On the Big Day, Delegate Tasks

You don’t want to be running everywhere on your wedding. Assign jobs to your wedding party so that the photographer knows where you want them, the suppliers are paid, and people are gathered where they’re supposed to be. You’re supposed to be carefree on this day so give everything to everyone else.

 

  1. Hire a Planner

If planning seems too much for you, there is one simple solution: a wedding planner. Planning is an underestimated art that is time-consuming. Wedding planners work to ensure you are not stressed. They do everything on the above list for you, so the day isn’t the only day that you’re relaxed.

Event Planning 911: Free Printables, Resources, & Custom Invitations

Event Planning 911: Free Resources for weddings, graduations, announcements & more

Planning an event is fun for me, but I’ve recently seen first hand how stressful it can be for some!  A dear friend is planning her wedding and it seems to be causing some serious anxiety for her.  Of course, I’ll help as much as I can.  There was a twinge of guilt when I had to admit that I didn’t plan my own wedding, My Uncle, whom I’ve worked with in helping other brides with their day, did all of the arranging and planning for our wedding.  I was and still am very grateful!  If you live in Arkansas, or want to have the best for your wedding, check out this wedding & event planner!  I assure you, you would not be disappointed!  What I did do, completely on my own, is our wedding invitations.  This just so happens to be what my friend is battling at the moment.  So, like any good

Event Planning Help: Free Printables, Resources, & Custom Invitationsmatron of honor, I thought I’d do some research for her.  What kind of blogger would I be if I didn’t share with you as well?

Event Planning Help: Free Printables, Resources, & Custom InvitationsBasic Invites has a selection worth looking into!  Not only do they have beautiful custom wedding invitations, they also have photo, graduation and party invitations, and for after: collage thank you cards that are out of this world perfect!  I love that they have both foil and non-foil cards as well as SO many different colors and a ton (over 40) of colored envelopes!  They are truly gorgeous and I wish I’d known of them when we got married!  Fortunately, I know of them now and will be using them in the future!  While there won’t be another wedding, there will be plenty of other events!  With graduation coming up, I think they’ll come in handy soon!  I have yet another niece who insists on growing up and graduating soon.  Plus the first will be getting married in the next couple of years.

Continue reading Event Planning 911: Free Printables, Resources, & Custom Invitations

Monster Cookie Recipe

Making Book Clubs Fun…With Food

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With summer’s arrival, it’s a great time to break out the stack of unread books for pool time or beach lounging. At least we always think that’s what will happen. Often, the summer ends and our reading list has barely budged.

A great way to ensure you get to some of those great reads is to create (either for yourself or your kids) a summertime book club. Rather than picturing you and your friends curled up next to a fire discussing your most recent reads of a hot cup of coffee, a summertime club begs for a summertime solution.

Some ideas:

1) Pick books with a setting near you that you can visit with a group.
2) Pick books with action in the plot that you and your friends can try. Choose a book with sailing in it and then have your book club take a sailing lesson together.
3) Hold your meetings on the beach or by a pool.
4) Play games related to the book.
5) Base your meetings around food related to the book.

The last is my favorite (and the easiest to do.) I’ve included my wife Nicole’s super-secret recipe for Monster Cookies below that we serve at Jack Templar Monster Hunter events. They get more accolades than the books. If you try them, you’ll see why!

Enjoy and have a great summer.

MONSTER COOKIES

cookie_time_hand_painted_wooden_sign_9f644067
Monster Cookie Recipe

Ingredients:

Combine:
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cup chunky peanut butter

Stir in:
4 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup M&Ms

Preheat oven to 350
Bake for 13-15 minutes
Do not over bake…or the monsters with strike!

Enjoy with a copy of Jack Templar and the Monster Hunter Academy.
jack-templar-and-the-monster-hunter-academy-b-L-r5puG7

Jack Templar and the Monster Hunter Academy (Book 2)

After barely surviving the onslaught of monsters that tried to kill him the day before his fourteenth

birthday, Jack Templar leaves his hometown on a quest to rescue his father and discover the truth

about his past. Joined by his friends Will and T-Rex, and led by Eva, the mysterious one-handed monster

hunter, Jack sets out for the Monster Hunter Academy where he hopes to find answers to his questions.

Little does he suspect that the Academy is filled with dangers of its own, many of them more terrifying

than anything he’s faced so far.

 

 

Jack Templar: Monster Hunter

Orphan Jack Templar has no memory of his parents and only the smallest details from his Aunt Sophie

about how they died. The day before Jack’s fourteenth birthday, things start to change for him. At first

it’s great: A sudden new strength helps him defend his nose-picking friend “T-Rex” from the school bully,

and even his crush, Cindy Adams, takes notice. But then a mysterious girl named Eva arrives and tells

him two facts that will change his life forever. First, that he’s the descendent of a long line of monster

hunters and he’s destined to be in the family business. Second, that there’s a truce between man and

monster that children are off-limits…until their fourteenth birthday! Jack has only one day before

hundreds of monsters will descend on his little town of Sunnyvale and try to kill him.

As if that weren’t enough, things get even more complicated when Jack discovers that the Lord of

the Creach (as the monsters are collectively known) holds a personal grudge against him and will do

anything to see that Jack has a slow and painful death. To stay alive and save his friends, Jack will have

to battle werewolves, vampires, harpies, trolls, zombies and more. But perhaps the most dangerous

thing he must face is the truth about his past. Why do the other hunters call him the last Templar? Why

do they whisper that he may be the “One?” Why do the monsters want him dead so badly? Even as

these questions plague him, he quickly discovers survival is his new full-time job and that in the world of

monster hunters, nothing is really what it seems.

Amazon * Barnes &

Noble

Awards for Jack Templar Monster Hunter

Book of the Year Finalist by Forward Magazine

Next Generation Indie Book Finalist

Indie Excellence Finalist
Parents Choice Recommended Book Award

Author Jeff Gunhus

Jeff Gunhus grew up in Cyprus, Greece, and Saudi Arabia where there was a distinct lack of television.

He quickly found books were the gateway to incredible adventures, fascinating characters and

unbelievable discoveries. Now, with five children of his own (all who watch too much television, in his

opinion), he has enjoyed revisiting his old books and reliving those adventures all over again.

Originally posted 2013-06-20 00:14:24.

Bow Napkin Folding Tutorial

Hey everyone!  You may remember the recent book review I did “Top 100 Step-by-Step Napkin Folds“.  While I was unable to do a giveaway on this one, the awesome people who allowed me to review the book has decided to let you have a sneak peak!  Above is an example of one of my favorite folds!  This is how each of the step by step tutorials are written out.  Hope you enjoy and that you’ll consider visiting here and get your copy today!  Your friends and guests will think you are super fancy!  The book will be our little secret!  😀

Originally posted 2013-02-15 06:00:00.

Top 100 Step-by-Step Napkin Folds Review

napkin.collage
Hey everyone!  Here at the Zoo we love having people over for dinner and what not.  Feeding people is Chief Zoo Keepers favorite hobby.  Generally, he does all the cooking and the house and any creative bits are my job.  I recently came across this book and was super excited to try it out.  At the time, we didn’t use cloth napkins but you know I just had to switch!  I’m really glad I did, because it really has saved a lot as far as napkins are concerned and they just seem so much nicer without much effort!
ISBN-10: 0778804232
ISBN-EAN: 9780778804239
Price (USD): 29.95
Format: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 224
Published Date: Oct 2012
The book contains exactly what it says: 100 Step by Step Napkin Folds!  I had never explored this area, never really cared to before, but I am super glad I did!  It is so easy and really adds such a special touch!  Each fold has a picture to picture step instructions to make it all the more easier, and I promise you can do this!  It just takes a few minutes and once you fold one of the designs, you are left wondering why you had never thought to try it before!  They have really fancy folds and even informal cute folds to fit any occasion!
Denise Vavaldo is the author whom has catered over 10,000 parties!  She founded Food Fanatics which focuses on recipe development, food styling, and catering.  Through her firm, Denise has catered the Academy Awards, Governor’s Ball, Hollywood Wrap parties and even more!
The book can be found here at Robert Rose Publishing for $29.95.  If you ever have people over for dinner, or even want a special meal for you and your loved ones, you’ll be glad you got it!

 

Originally posted 2013-01-11 14:48:00.