Monday, April 30, 2012

Easy Cinco de Mayo Centerpiece

Last summer, my friend (and 2010 bride-client), Sugi hosted a fiesta themed housewarming. I was happy to help create the centerpieces for her tables -- all you need is to buy cacti, succulents or flowers and plant them in large and small cans from the "ethnic" aisle of your local grocery store.

More ideas on our Pinterest board, "Fiesta"!

Photo by Vera Devera (c) 2011

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Oinks & Hops: A Teal & Green Ombre Beer Tasting & Whole Hog Roast

I turned 34 last Wednesday and wanted to throw a party that reflected the things I love: (1) the colors teal and green, (2) pork and bacon and (3) beer!

When I looked at other "beer tasting" parties for inspiration, everything I saw was masculine. I thought, hey girls like beer too! So that's why I decided to do a beer tasting with a feminine touch -- i.e. lots of pretty paper, flowers and teal and green. In addition, I love pork! My friend has a caja china -- which is one way to roast a pig above ground. We placed 80 pounds of pasture raised pork from Marin Sun Farms inside the wooden caja and put hot coals on top -- the radiant heat from the coals slow roasted the meat over four hours.

Putting Pork + beer together, I came up with a clever name for my party theme: Oinks and Hops! I asked guests to bring a 6-pack of beer (assigned by first name) of varieties ranging from lager, stout, wheat beer, amber ale, and more to share and taste.
Caja china for hog roast - photo by Brittany Piehl (c) 2012
 Alison of Two for Two Cakes baked my desserts and I styled the spread. My cake was a chocolate Guinness stout cake with cream cheese frosting and a chevron pattern topped with a mini bunting banner from Etsy shop, Potter and Butler. I happen to have a "Keep Calm and Carry On" poster in our living room and love the saying so much that I had Lush Prints make a custom rubber stamp with the saying, "Keep Calm and Eat Bacon," which I used to decorate craft paper favor boxes for mini chocolate donuts. Alison also made "Oinks" -- usually called Twinks -- that were made of Devil's foodcake with maple buttercream and candied bacon. And continuing the beer theme, we had mini root beer float cupcakes -- vanilla bean cake with a sarsaparilla extract. 

Vanilla bean root bear float mini cupcakes - photo by Vera Devera (c) 2012

Some of the stands were metal fruit baskets (with honeycomb die cut) that I turned upside down to place the cupcakes on top of. Porcelain pigs with mini cards denoted the flavors. For weeks, I toiled over making tissue paper fringe -- which I strung together with fishing line. I hung them from a curtain and tied glitter glass numbers, "3" and "4" to the middle. The backdrop for my desserts was comprised of the fringe curtain, honeycomb paper flowers and white tissue paper poms tied with teal fringe and gold foil centers.

Outside we strung bistro lights and decorated the tables with teal-green ombre linens. I tied green-blue striped napkins with twine and paper hearts for the lime green cutlery. For the buffet, I potted succulents in bargain bin silver pails from Target and I wrote the names of the dishes on chalkboard garden markers with a wet erase chalk pen. Green paper lanterns covered some of the bistro light bulbs and a fringe garland hung above paper mache "CHEERS". I also set out a mini bucket of paper mustaches on straws -- for guests who wanted to have a little fun drinking their root beer.
Keep Calm & Eat Bacon Custom Stamp by Lush Prints - photo by Jill Kunishima (c) 2012

At the end of the night, my friends lit sparklers and dainty candles and brought my cute chevron cake out to me. One of my favorite photos of the night is of me blowing out the candles, hands clasped as I made a wish.
Make a wish! - photo by Alison Okabayashi (c) 2012

Being surrounded by my wonderful friends and eating and drinking a delicious spread was the best ever!

Mustache straws

Beer tasting!

Menu window

Solar lantern


Devil's foodcake twink with maple buttercream & candied bacon by Two for Two Cakes

Friday, April 6, 2012

Easy, DIY vertical succulent garden

Vertical succulent garden by Vera Devera (c) 2012

If you're planning a wedding with succulents, I'm sure you've seen lots of inspiration for vertical succulent gardens. I'm hosting my own birthday party in a couple of weeks and that has motivated me to get our backyard in shape.

First thing on my list: salvage a pallet and turn it into a kickass garden. And that's just what I did!

  • 1 salvaged pallet (i.e., rescue an abandoned pallet off the street, usually outside a warehouse or store)
  • Burlap
  • Upholstery staple gun
  • 3 cubic feet of soil
  • Compost
  • Lots of plants
You can follow the tutorial at Life on the Balcony, or you can do what works best for you. I basically stapled the burlap to the back (at least 100 staples) and around the sides and bottom of the pallet. Then with the pallet laying flat on the ground, I worked from the bottom up filling the pallet with soil-compost. The first row was comprised of sedum (best to buy a flat of ground cover sedum at Home Depot for $14), the next row was heirloom Bull's Blood beets with coleus and lamb's ear, followed by a row of petunias and more coleus and ecchevaria. I topped off the vertical garden with more beets, oregano, thyme and other varieties of petunias.

This is a great backdrop not only in your backyard, but I can see it used as an escort card display, especially for a garden wedding. The cards can be "sown" into the soil with wooden seedling markers Or it can be a cool architectural feature as part of the setting the scene for your succulent-themed wedding.
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