What I've Been Up To With My Cricut

by Jillian Leslie on

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I was recently sent a Cricut Expression 2 by the nice folks at Cricut, and I've been busy.

I have to say, there is a learning curve to using your Cricut, so don't be surprised if it takes a little while to get the hang of it. That's what I discovered for myself, and is also why I recommend starting with some easy projects, like those found on the Tags, Bags, Boxes & More 2 cartridge. (Perfect cartridge for party people, btw.)

Look what I created with it! I can't wait to use these favor boxes and paper tea cups at the small tea party I'm throwing for my daughter next month.

They were so simple to cut out and put together. Plus, my daughter likes pushing the buttons and pealing the paper off the cutting mat once the machine does its magic. She now thinks we're crafting wizzes!

To do this project, I also used the Cricut Craft Room, which is an online resource that's free, and allows you to see the entire library of Cricut images, as well as lay out your projects on your computer screen. I found it of hugely helpful and a much easier way to make adjustments to my designs.

I've also been looking at Cricut videos on YouTube and there are some super helpful ones out there.

Now the good part... This Friday we will be giving away a Cricut Expression 2 worth $299. So stay tuned for my post on Friday, and thank you kind people at Cricut!

Where will my Cricut adventure take me next?





Tips For Putting Together An Awesome Dessert Table (Part 1)

by Jillian Leslie on

I got an email a few weeks ago asking me for tips on how to put together a dessert table. I thought this would make a perfect blog post. So here are my basic ideas (click on the photos to see what parties they're from)...


Think about your guests first and what they might want on a dessert table. If you are having kids, I recommend nothing too fancy or messy. Some staples might be cupcakes, Rice Krispie treats, cake pops, chocolate dipped marshmallows, and chocolate covered Oreos. Here's a fun kids dessert table with just a few simple items on it, but notice the impact.


Pay attention to the colors of the desserts to make sure there's harmony on the table. One way to add drama is to limit the number of colors you use. I love how all the desserts here fit the color scheme.

Another great example of thinking about color is this pink ombre table.


Add lots of different heights. It makes everything more visually interesting. Use different size cake stands and dessert trays. Also, wrapping boxes in pretty wrapping paper and putting containers on top of them is another great way to create levels.


Apothecary jars are always pretty. Save On Crafts has a great selection, but shop around because you can usually find them on sale at places like HomeGoods and Pier 1.


If you're planning to add party printables to your table (which I always recommend because they aren't expensive and add so much), I recommend printing them on glossy brochure paper to make them pop. If you need to find great party printables designers take a look at the designers in our party vendor directory. We've got the best of the best. Look how these gorgeous printables tie this whole table together.


Adding a backdrop gives your dessert table some depth and adds a frame. Here are some easy backdrop tutorials from our site to give you ideas. Plus here's my Pinterest board of backdrops. I had to show off this backdrop because the striped curtains make the carnival theme come alive.


Some people like to label everything on a dessert table, some people like to label nothing. I prefer to label only things that might confuse people (like the flavor of the cupcakes), however, if you have cool creative names for things, like these "Tie Fighters," I say go for it and label everything!


Check out other dessert tables for ideas and inspiration. I even have an entire Pinterest board dedicated to dessert tables I've seen on our site. Definitely be inspired by others!

Stay tuned for Part 2, where I share tips from our readers who gave me great ideas on Facebook. If you have a tip I've missed, please add it in a comment.

RECIPE: Microwave Chocolate Cake (No Joke)

by Jillian Leslie on

Today is my birthday! So in celebration, I thought this would a fun recipe to post.

This cake was made in my microwave in 45 seconds, I kid you not.  Party trick, maybe... But also not bad for a chocolate cake you can make in less than a minute. My daughter, who is five, thinks it's beyond delicious! :)

Here's how you do it (adapted from a few I found on the Internet by googling "chocolate mug cake")...


Ingredients: {makes 1 mug cake or 2 ramekin cakes}

  • 4 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg – beaten
  • 3 tablespoons skim milk
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil


Into a small bowl add: flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, salt, egg, milk, and vegetable oil. Mix to combine.

Pour mixture into a regular sized coffee mug or two smaller ramekins.

Microwave on high for one minute and 30 seconds in a mug, or 45 seconds in a ramekin. If needed (if cake batter is still gooey), microwave on high for additional time, checking every 15 seconds. Don't overcook or it will get very spongy.

Now the key here is to eat it fast while it's hot. If you let it sit, it will get rubbery. This recipe is definitely worth a try because it's so fun and weird. And if you need a very quick chocolate fix, nothing beats it!

FREE Mardi Gras Printables from Wanessa Carolina Creations

by Jillian Leslie on

We've got another set of  Mardi Gras printables to give away. This "It's Mardi Gras Time!" collection was designed by Wanessa of Wanessa Carolina Creations. How fun are these!

The collection includes: cupcake toppers, straw flags, an "It's Mardi Gras Time" banner, cupcake wrappers, and patterned paper.


Thank you, Wanessa for creating such a snappy collection! To learn more about Wanessa and see more of her designs, please visit her blog, Facebook pageand Etsy shop.

FREE Mardi Gras Printables from Love Party Printables

by Jillian Leslie on

How cute are these?! Ana of Love Party Printables designed the most adorable "Little Children" Mardi Gras printables just for us. I can't tell you how excited I am to give these away. Thank you, Ana!

The collection includes everything you'll need to throw a fantastic "Fat Tuesday" celebration: straw flags, cupcake toppers, napkin rings, a "Mardi Gras" banner, water bottle labels, tented cards, invitations, favor tags, labels, and mini cake bunting.


Here are some designs from the collection...

Have fun with these... Can't wait to see what you do!

To learn more about Ana and see all her great designs, please visit her Etsy shop at Love Party Printables and visit her on Facebook.


GIVEAWAY: Win a $100, $75, or $50 gift certificate to Sugarsticks Parties

by Jillian Leslie on

Sugarsticks Parties is all about "making life lovelier" through their fully personalized birthday, baby shower/christening, and holiday party decor, as well as their full line of adorable stationery. The items are assembled and shipped directly to you, ready to go out of the box!

In celebration of Sugarsticks Parties' new party decor shop, they are offering a $100, $75, and $50 gift certificate to three lucky readers. But, you don't have to win to join the celebration. All readers will receive a 10% discount on purchases in the shop by using the coupon code: LOVE10.

Take a look at their beautiful designs... How great would these look at your next party!

My personal favorite is this s'mores party!

To enter the giveaway, just "like" Sugarsticks Parties on Facebook and leave a comment saying you did so at the end of this post.

For 2 additional ways to enter:

Good luck!!
We’ll pick three winners at random on Thursday, February 23nd at 10:00PM (PST).  Any entries after that won’t be considered, sorry. We will use random.org to generate our winner and will notify you by email.

RECIPE: The Best Nutty, Crunchy, Not-too-Sweet Granola

by Jillian Leslie on

I was approached by Activa Harvest Picks to come up with a recipe that would compliment their fruit flavored yogurts. So the first thing I did was buy some Harvest Picks and try it.

I tasted the strawberry and peach flavors and I thought they were fruity (I like the little pieces of real fruit inside), creamy, tangy, sweet, and quite yummy. If you like fruit flavored yogurt, I definitely think you should try this. My husband is now a convert.

My goal was to come up with a granola recipe that would compliment the yogurt perfectly. I wanted it to be crunchy, nutty, flavorful, and not too sweet (but sweet enough), as not to overpower the yogurt. And guess what? I think I achieved it. My secret is the added salt in addition to the honey and brown sugar. I must say, this really brings out the flavors.

This granola is so simple to make and so delicious don't be surprised if you never want store-bought again.


  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup slivered almonds
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon flax seeds
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut (if you love coconut, add 1 cup)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • Activia Harvest Picks yogurt


Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine the oats, nuts, flax seeds coconut, salt, and brown sugar.

In a separate bowl, combine the honey and oil.

Combine both mixtures.

Pour the granola onto a 2" sheet pan. Spread out evenly.

Cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes to brown.

Pour your yogurt in a bowl or mug, top with granola and enjoy!! Yum!!

Warning: Don't leave the granola on your counter. My husband and I finished off the entire bowl in a day and a half.

New Activia Harvest Picks is a deliciously fruity and silky smooth yogurt. You will enjoy a Harvest of real fruit in every silky spoonful.

Compensation was provided by Activia via Glam Media.  The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Activia.

Recipe: The Easiest Cold Sesame Noodles

by Jillian Leslie on

This cold sesame appetizer is our go-to recipe for any potluck that we're invited to. What's great about it, is it's simple to make, and can sit out for a while at a party and the flavors just keep getting better.  It got a great earthy flavor from the soba and sesame seeds, with a little bit of heat to make it interesting.


  • 8 oz. whole-wheat capellini or soba noodles -- once cooked, add a touch of sesame oil to keep noodles from sticking
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon chili oil
  • 2 teaspoons lighted toasted sesame seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon lime juice
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/4 of  red bell pepper, diced

In a bowl, mix soy sauce, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, chili oil, sesame seeds (leave a little left over for garnish), lime juice, and garlic.

Toss in cooked noodles, 2/3 of the cilantro, and 2/3 of the red bell pepper. Refrigerate. Right before serving, garnish with the remaining cilantro, red bell pepper, and sesame seeds.

Voila! Delicious!!

DIY: My Homemade Valentine Cricut Project

by Jillian Leslie on

I've been talking with the people at Cricut about doing a giveaway with us. (I know, pretty cool.) Well, the giveaway is coming soon, but in the meantime, they sent me a Cricut Expression 2 to try out for myself.

Let me preface this by saying I'm a total beginner and I don't even have any Cricut cartridges yet. But I needed to get crafty because at my daughter's preschool, the rule is that the valentines need to be homemade and the kids need to help. So, what better way to make homemade valentines than with my new Cricut?

I can't tell you how much fun I had cutting out these hearts. I used a couple of the designs that come with the Cricut, and my daughter helped glue them on. Then we hand-stamped some extra hearts using silver ink. My daughter was sick all weekend so this was the perfect project to keep us busy.

Here's my new Cricut.

Here's the machine in action, cutting out the big hearts. I used scrapbooking paper and cardstock, both bought at Jo-Ann's.

The coolest part... removing the designs from the sticky cutting mat.

And now we've got 28 homemade valentines! My daughter is hand signing them all on the back.

I will be posting about my other Cricut projects, and the more I learn, the more I'll share, but I just wanted to give you an idea of what I've been up to this weekend (besides feeding my daughter lots of Tylenol and watching Barbie movies).

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