Tuesday 26 February 2013

A dozen wedding dessert ideas!

I am glad to welcome a guest on M&P! US based Savannah Brinkley wrote this insight on how to make your wedding look expensive without blowing your budget. Her secret is to go for one eye-catching piece - and it's more than ok to accept professional help for it! - then DIY on the details. That's exactly what I did on my wedding... With the help of my wonderful bridesmaids that spent the night preparing Brazilian sweets with me!
xx Z

Sweet DIY Wedding Treats 
by Savannah Brinkley, guest editorial 

Although you may be a master when it comes to DIY projects, homemade gardens or bathroom reconstruction are a bit different than creating special treats for an entire wedding. Unlike home improvement projects, weddings can’t be done over if mistakes are made. Planning and launching a wedding is not a simple feat and even the best of us may feel the need for a little help from professionals when it comes to our special day.

Photo Credit: Dessert table by StyleMePretty.com

There is no harm in accepting professional help and it doesn't need to blow your budget. The secret to keep it personal is to incorporate your own unique touch to the details. You don't need to cook the main meal, but you can, for example, make the desserts! One of the latest trends in reception dining is having a multitude of lovely sweets and other goodies for your guests to enjoy

Baking may not be akin to brain surgery, but unless you are an experienced baker, particularly one who bakes for the masses, making you own wedding cake may be a daunting task. Your wedding won't be less personal if you choose to have a professionally made cake, like these great value M&S wedding cakes. It's worth spending a bit on an eye-catching piece and adding little touches around it if it will give you piece of mind. There are plenty of simple DIY recipes that you can easily make and the secret is to know which ones go with your cake and your theme. [that's exactly what I did on my wedding for exactly the same reason!]

Tiny pies and cupcakes are just a few examples of the sweet treats that your guests are sure to love. [like the Brazilian recipes Quindim and Beijinho previously published here]Candy bars are popular fixtures at children's parties, but they can also make a great addition to the desert table at your wedding! 

Creating a dessert buffet with a variety of treats is a great way to offer your guests an assortment of goodies. Matching the candy bars to your colour scheme is easy and will bring cohesion to your table. Use trays and plates to establish depth and height to your display. Be sure to take advantage of your flowers and other table features and don’t be scared to use coordinating details, like linens and ribbons. 

Small bites of decadent baked snacks are the way to go when designing luscious desserts for your wedding. But mouthwatering baked goods, like cake pops, doughnuts, sweet pretzels and s’mores drizzled in caramel sauce are everyone's favourites and work great as well, particularly with more informal receptions.  

My dessert table, simple but totally in theme with the wedding!
Photo by Graham Morgan

If you plan on having a summer wedding, cool desserts like ice-cream and gelato make the ideal treats to beat the heat, but you can also display your wedding colours on shot-glass parfaits. Or if you want to keep it even simpler, shaved ice liqueur infused in tiny little glasses will look great. 

Want to make your desserts unique? Try your hand at creating homemade whoppie pies with fluffy crème centres or waffles dipped in chocolate. If you have the time and patience, desserts like crème brulée can add some sophistication to your buffet. If, on the other hand, you're running out of time, why not design a "build-your-own cookie station", with delights like macaroons, raisins, coloured sugar, chocolate chip and biscotti for your guests to make their own cookies. Remember to make your dessert table enticing by arranging a fancy display with a bake-shop appeal and your guests will surely adore.

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Inspired on Savannah's post, I went searching the web for recipes and came across this incredible website I had to share with you. Tastebook.com has tons (seriously, if you could weigh all the dishes it would be tons) of amazing recipes. Check this link for a few wedding dessert ideas. 

Saturday 23 February 2013

Felt needle book tutorial

This tutorial is very special to me. You know when you set yourself a challenge but end up finding reason after reason to postpone it?! I bought the felt to make this project over a month ago, but kept telling myself "later...". Well, today I did it. And I am so happy that I couldn't wait to write this post!

Since when I first saw the picture below I thought two things: 1) This is so very cute! 2) If only I had a sewing machine. Problem out of the way, it was now a matter of gathering the materials.

Photo Credit: Paper Fish @ Etsy

The obvious ones were easy to find: felt scraps, assorted buttons and satin ribbon were already in my crafty kit. But what about the metal parts?! I didn't even know how to search for them, as I couldn't figure out what they were called (that tells you something about how long I've been in this craft business). Well, after looking for these rings in pretty much every single haberdashery section I came across, I found the eyelets kit by Milward (this site sells it, but I got mine from a shop in Windsor). As I couldn't find these exact clip on binding rings, I bought regular 25mm split rings (like the ones we use for key rings) on Ebay.

So let's get down to the tutorial:

1. I started by cutting 6 pieces (3 x 3 inches) of felt, then with the help of a glass I marked and cut the circles.

2. I drew the bird on a piece of paper first, just as practice, but if you feel confident enough you can draw it straight away on a piece of felt. I started by hand sewing the wing to the bird, then the bird to the colour I had chosen to be the cover of my book.

3. I cut 3 pieces of ribbon of about 2 inches each, folded and placed them in between two circles of felt. Making sure to hold the ribbon in place, I set my sewing machine to the most basic stitch I could find (it's literally called "straight stitching") and joined the two bits together. Note: I found it much easier to move my circle anti-clockwise. I am not sure if this sounds obvious, but as a beginner when it comes to sewing machines, I thought it worth mentioning.

Photo Credit: Zaira Brilhante, with iPhone 4S

4. With my pages ready, I went on to attaching the eyelets. I simply followed the instructions on the back of the box. Cutting the hole on the felt was easier just by rotating the tool (instead of hammering, as advised). Sticking both parts, however, required a very firm hand and a few goes (I don't think my downstairs neighbours appreciated the hammering on a late evening).

5. I added the buttons last, being careful to hide the knot inside the fold of the ribbon and in between the two pieces of felt. That was it, now I only had to pass my pages through the slip ring and my needle book was ready!

I find this so handy to carry pins and needles when you're going away for the weekend. It's just the right size.  I might make another one and experiment with lace and other types of fabric. Maybe I will add a pocked, as the one on the top of this post. But this one is just perfect for me and so pink!!! I love it!!!

Friday 22 February 2013

M&P under maintenance...

Hiya! Just a quick post to let you know that the blog is going through some design/template updates, so apologies in advance for the weird things you might come across during the next 48 hours...

I hope you will enjoy the final look in the end! =)

Tuesday 19 February 2013

Post-Valentines update

So here I am, a bit later than I expected - due to some intense film editing work that came along - but nonetheless keeping my promise of showing you my Valentines gift to Mr. Hunter.

We swore to keep it small as we celebrate the date twice a year (in Brazil, Valentines is on the 12th of June), so I gave Mr. Hunter a t-shirt, but I put some thought into it. As he is a massive Big Bang Theory fan, I decided to present him with a Bazinga!

And this leads me to the DIY part of the gift: The card. Sometimes creating your own card makes all the difference. For this one I used the same technique you can see in this selection and printed it on an old book page.

The idea also came from the Big Bang Theory, as Sheldon Cooper's character loves his spot on the couch and is very protective of it. =)
He got it straight away and really appreciated it!

Well, for those of you who love or know someone who loves Big Bang, I am making it available to download, just follow the link. It's made to fit half an A4, but you can adjust the percentage when printing it to 85% to fit a standard card size (10.5cm x 15cm).

Photo Credit: Zaira Brilhante, with iPhone 4S.

Mr. Hunter is pretty much Chandler, from Friends, so he never ever smiles in picture!

Wednesday 13 February 2013

❤ Pre-Valentines Post ❤

Valentines, as every "meant to be romantic commemorative date", is always a struggle for me. Mr. Hunter is a guy. That should suffice and require no further ado.

Whilst any cute, loving or thoughtful idea would make my heart melt - and somehow, despite knowing Pinterest exists, Mr. Hunter struggles for ideas... On the other hand, to please him, unless I surrender to the safe option of any sports related gear, I have to start thinking about what to get him weeks, if not months, before...

Just as an example: When we got married, I had to pretend I had a freelance job to go to his football (soccer, if you're on the other side of the Atlantic) team ground, buy a jersey, contact the press office, buy some pretty good fabric marker, get the jersey & marker shipped to the press officer that was sympathetic enough with my gesture and who got the entire team to sign it for me, then I went and had it framed and - hold your breath... - last but not least, had to still hope with all my hopes that QPR would be promoted to the Premier League that year! Luckily enough they were... 

I guess the point I am trying to make is that somehow it's so much harder to be creative and original when you want to give a present to a guy! Most of the times they don't care about cute or it never cross their minds how much work it goes into baking or sewing or preparing any handmade gift, so it can really put you off... Below, however, a couple of suggestions for you in need of a last minute idea. 

And if you're curious to know what I got him this Valentine, I am afraid you will need to come back Friday or it will spoil the surprise! :)

Personalised Beer bottles
1. If you're not going out, but having a meal at home, why not surprise him by buying his favourite beer, but changing its label to something you personalised? If Photoshop is not your best friend, this website is one of the many out there that helps you with it...

Less than 5 minutes on the website, with a little help on Photoshop

Sound Canvas Art
2. Is he into music? If so, he will probably enjoy this one. If it is too early for you to go with the "I do", why not settle for "I love you"?! You'll need to record you voice and open it using a sound editor software to see (and, if you want, print-screen) the "wave". I use Audacity, but there are many other free ones out there. With the pattern in hands, you can blow and get it printed/framed, use as a reference and paint it on canvas or simply make a sweet little card.

This amazing heart was made by Aimee Weaver, but why not try yourself? 

Tuesday 12 February 2013

Sewing sewing sewing

I am so sorry I've been away for almost 10 days! I am making up for it this week... And I should come back tomorrow evening with a proper Valentines post.

In the mean time, did I say I am in love with my sewing machine?! If I didn't have so many things going on at the moment, I think it would be pretty hard for anyone to detangle me from it... Anyway, on my online research for sewing patterns, I came across this lovely selection by See Kate Sew and I though I had to share it. Enjoy!

Selection by: SeeKateSew.blogspot.co.uk

Sunday 3 February 2013

A few Photoshop tricks: Instagram inspiration

Ok, so I won't pretend I am an expert on Photoshop. However, I read a lot. The same way I like to know a bit about coding for the web (html, css basics) I like to know my way around making pictures that little bit more interesting. So I thought I should share the last insight of Photoshop I learnt.

I love Instagram. I know I don't post pictures as much as I would like to, but that doesn't stop me from loving the idea of a bunch of filters that make a sometimes average picture, taken with a mobile phone, a super edgy image.

I have a terribly old version of Photoshop, so I am sorry if this looks outdated. I also don't know if this is "old news" for most of you, but I want to write about using layers as "masks" to achieve an "Instagram like" look. I know you're probably thinking Instagram has a x amount of different filters/looks to choose. Well, if you know the principles behind it, you can double or triple those to fit your needs.

Original picture I took yesterday in Brighton...
... and after I played around with it in Photoshop.
This might be a bit of an extreme example, but I was inspired by the 1977 filter. 

Basic principles:

Layer dominance - The top layer is always dominant, so if you want to create a filter, that "new layer" should be placed above the one with your main image.

Blending and opacity - You probably guessed by now that for you to be able to see through that top dominant layer you will have to change its opacity to something below 100%. When thinking of Instagram, there are two elements that repeat in pretty much every filter: the light varies from the centre to the edge of the pictures (usually a lighter centre and a darkened edge) and some filters have a yellowy twang to it whilst others have a blueish twist. When talking about colours and light, we say some are a warmer filter, some are colder. (Again, I am not trying to be a specialist, far from it, just sharing some pretty basic information I learnt with time).

Click on the image to see it bigger

Getting started - First thing I did was to create a new layer, then tint it with that pink colour you can see (rgb: #EF4277).  Under the layer blending properties, I changed its opacity to 40%. I also disabled the green channel by unticking the box. 

Next step - I added another layer, a white one now. I also changed it's opacity to 40%, but under the gradient overlay option, I chose Radial for style and ticked the box for Reverse, so the brighter part was the centre, and not the edges. I raised the scale to 110%, but I could be bolder if I wanted, by reducing it, or make it softer, by increasing it to up to 150%.

Last but not least - I selected my main image layer again and played a bit with the Brightness/Contrast. In the end, I chose to keep the contrast as it was, but reduced the brightness to -20.

That's it. Well, my point is not to show you how to create this particular effect, but how you can add as many layers to achieve the effect your want on your chosen image. The secret is playing around, finding out what you like and what makes your picture stand out. I learnt it by trying many tutorials like this in photos I took and, after being extremely frustrated for not achieving the look I wanted, despite following the exact steps, I realised I had to learn the principles and make my own choices... I guess it's a bit like life, isn't it? You live, you learn... Said Alanis :)

Photo & Effects by Zaira Brilhante