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Find Your Tribe

As I sit here refining my goals for 2017 I can’t help but look back over last year. 2016 was a big year for me, not only in business, but even more so personally. It was a year of change. As some of you may know, I struggled with postpartum depression and anxiety after having Miss Scarlett in 2014. The first year was unbelievably rough and I knew I had to make some changes.

One of those changes was to remove myself from people and situations that brought negativity into my life. In this day and age it isn’t so easy. I had enough negativity swirling around in my head, that I didn’t need anyone adding more mental weight to drag me down. Some of this purging was as easy as hitting “unfriend” or “unfollow” on Facebook. It was amazing how much better I felt by cutting out the social media drama. I also stopped watching the news. Have you ever noticed that there are very few positive stories? The media feeds off drama and this momma was so over it. This also meant distancing myself from certain people, some that were close to me. We all know who these people are in our life. They are the ones that leave you feeling drained or negative yourself. They siphon from your cup rather than fill it.

With the external weight lifted I found a renewed sense of motivation. As the saying goes, “As one door closes another opens”.  And boy did it ever! Early spring I decided to focus my energy into seeing what I could do with this little cookie thing. As things started picking up I quickly realized I needed some guidence and joined an online business coaching group ran by Jennifer Allwood, who just so happens to be a Kansas City girl too. It was like someone just put the paddles on me and shocked me back to life. I was instantly surrounded with 100+ creative women business owners. Women who think the same way as I do, who are trying to juggle the business and family balance just like me, that even though their businesses are thriving, have the same insecurities as I do! The best thing, they are so welcoming. It doesn’t matter if you are starting from square one in business or you’ve had a brick and mortar for 15 years. Everyone helps each other. Everyone WANTS to see the other succeed! There is no drama, no sabotage, no mean girls, and no negativity, just women helping other women along the path to success. The ladies in this group are AMAZING! Jennifer is AMAZING! I have learned SO much in such a small amount in time. The Inner Circle group is seriously the best investment I have made in my business.

Last week was the icing on the cake, or should I say sprinkle on the cookie? Jennifer asked me to make cookies for her and The Chic Site by Rachel Hollis’ Meet Up and Book Signing. My reaction, uh heck YES! (Followed by a few air punches and the worst Carlton you have ever seen.) If that wasn’t awesome enough, I also got to meet Jennifer, Rachel, my Kansas City (and one Illinois) Inner Circle friends face to face for the first time. It was such an amazing feeling to walk into a room of 70 women, many who have never met before, and feel like you are amongst lifelong best friends. When I walked out those doors to head home that night my Tribe was extended even further, my heart fuller, and my dreams bigger!

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Inner Circle Ladies: Niki McDowell , Melissa Rieke, Jennifer Allowed, Nicole Moore, Angie BauerAnna Bannister

 

Moral of my story, choose your Tribe wisely and love them beyond measure. Happiness is contagious! Surround yourself with uplifting and encouraging people. Don’t have a Tribe? You do now! Welcome to my Sweet Squad, friend! If you need a little encouragement don’t hesitate to shoot me a message.

*Interested in joining the Inner Circle Group you can find it here. Tell Jen I sent you.

Photo credit: Melissa Rieke Photography

 

 

 

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Fight off Fear by saying “YES!”

Have you ever had an idea and then immediately thought, “Oh, I can’t do that” or “Maybe someday when…(followed by any number of excuses)?  You know the big ones; I don’t have time, I’m busy with the kids, I don’t have the money. Yeah, me too. I’m pretty sure I’ve used every excuse in the book at one time or another. But let’s be honest with each other here, we can do that, right? We’re all friends here afterall and friends tell each other the truth, even when it’s hard.

Here’s the truth. All of those excuses are just a cover for FEAR.

Yep, that big 4 letter “F” word. FEAR.

Fear of failure, Fear of not being good enough, Fear of putting yourself out there, Fear of being judged, Fear of “what if”. Let me just tell you right now. If you tried, you did NOT fail! I don’t care who you are – YOU ARE good enough! By putting yourself out there you have already succeed because you have made the first step to grow! If you are being judged just remember, the only reason people talk behind your back is because you’re already ahead of them. Break through that FEAR and just act.

I know what you’re thinking, yeah, yeah, easier said than done. Well, let me tell you, you’re right. It can be hard, but like anything else you have to start somewhere and as you work at it, it will get easier. Just try this and see what happens. Take on a life of YES! Commit yourself to saying YES to healthy opportunities that come your way. A funny thing happens when we just say YES instead of overthinking. Instead of giving fear time to creep in your mind shifts into “get it done “mode.

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I committed to this mindset earlier this year and I have gone onto do things I never thought I would. One being writing my first ebook, The Not So Basic Sugar Cookie. My excuses were: I’m not a writer. I don’t know how to make a professional looking ebook. I’m not the best cookier. What if I go through all of the work and no one buys it? As I began feeling the doubt creep in you know what I did? I made the commitment by telling someone. Actually, I knew I needed a bigger accountability group so I, gulp, announced it on my Facebook page to solidify my commitment. I knew that by putting it out there my followers would hold me accountable. And they did! Funny thing happened. Just as the doubt and procrastination would creep back in someone would ask me when the ebook would be done. It was just the kick in the butt I needed. THANK YOU!

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I also had to change my mindset. You know what? Maybe I’m not the best writer, but at least I tried and that’s more than most. Maybe my ebook isn’t Martha Stewart caliber, but I am proud of how it turned out. Honestly, it exceeded my expectations! Am I the best cookier? No, and I’m ok with that. We all have to start somewhere. And that last, scary FEAR? What if no one buys it? Well, they have! I may not have made a ton of money on it yet, but it holds so much value to me. It’s value is in the reminder that I broke through the Fear and and self doubt. It’s a reminder that I can accomplish more than even I can imagine and so can you! Keep breaking through the fear and the best is yet to come!

If you are interested in purchasing my ebook you can find it here. Thank you for your support in helping me fight through my own fears.

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5 Must Have Items To UP Your Cookie Game

I’m constantly looking for easier and more efficient ways to make my sugar cookies. When I find something that works I want to shout it from the rooftops! So here goes nothin’.

Visual learner? To see the video version of this blog post click https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fsweetnsaucyevents%2Fvideos%2Fvb.155097461222039%2F1068716116526831%2F%3Ftype%3D3&show_text=0&width=560” target=”_blank”>here.

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1. Good quality parchment paper

Not the thin junk. Good thick parchment paper. Trust me on this one! I tried buying a pre-cut variety off of Amazon and was very disappointed. I will keep trying to find an alternate, but for now I’m sticking with my tried and true Reynolds Parchment Paper.

I sandwich my dough between two layers of parchment when rolling out my dough. This helps with keeping your rolling pin clean, your dough from sticking, and prevents the need for using more flour and drying out your dough. Once you have your dough rolled out slide your “sandwhich” onto a cookie sheet. Layer your “sandwiches” and chill in the fridge. Once your dough is chilled peel off the top layer and use it to line a cookie sheet for your cut cookies. You can use the same sheets of parchment to bake the cookies. I even use them underneath my baked and cooled cookies when decorating.

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2. Dowel Rods

Yep, you heard me right. Regular ole dowel rods. You know, the ones from the wood craft aisle of your favorite craft supply store, ahem Hobby Lobby. I personally prefer the 3/8″ thick dowel rods because I like a slightly thicker sugar cookie. How in the heck do I use dowel rods when making sugar cookies? Well my friends, brace yourself. I’m about to solve the age old problem of cookies with irregular thicknesses.

Simply lay out a piece of parchment cut to fit inside you cookie sheet. Then place your ball of dough roughly in the middle and form it into a log shape. Place a dowel wrapped in Glad Press’n Seal wrap (see #3 for further explanation) on each side of the “log” of dough. Create your “sandwich” by covering with another cut to size piece of parchment and roll out the dough using the dowel rods as a guide. See photo below. When you use the dowels the thickness will stay the thickness of the dowels. Genius right?!

3. Glad Press’n Seal

Please tell me you already have this miracle in your kitchen! If you don’t, you are seriously missing out. I love this stuff!!! It is great in cookie and royal icing making.

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As mentioned above, I wrap my dowel rods with Press’n Seal because the dowel rods that I buy are just craft dowels are not made specifically for food use. To keep the dough from touching the dowels I wrap them! What makes this even better is I can use the same dowels over and over because they don’t get dirty. Just unwrap, toss the Press’n Seal, and re-wrap when you need them again. WINNING!

I also use the Press’n Seal on the bowls I use to mix up my royal icing. I lightly press the wrap onto the surface of the icing to prevent a crust from forming and then seal it around the lip of the bowl. I prefer to use plastic bowls to mix in and normal plastic wrap doesn’t stick. The Press’n Seal works like a charm. (No, this isn’t sponsored, even though it sounds like it. I just LOVE this stuff!)

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4. Food writers or food coloring markers

These markers are great! They come in an assortment of colors and tips. I recommend starting out with a yellow and a black marker to start. The yellow is great for sketching your design straight onto your bare baked cookie. When writing on an iced cookie be sure your icing is completely dry otherwise you may break through your icing crust coat. The black is great for writing on your iced cookie especially when using dark colored icing as a background. The writers dry quickly and do not bleed into your icing.

5. Toothpicks, Doll needle, or Scriber Needle Tool

I started off using toothpicks so don’t think you need to run out and get anything else. With that said, when using either a doll needle (found at any fabric or craft store) or a scriber needle tool you can easily wipe the tip clean and wash after each use. I also use them to unclog my icing tips should they dry up.

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PROS and CONS:

Toothpicks: Pro: inexpensive, disposable, and you probably already have them at home. Cons: Do not wipe completely clean,  the more colors you use the more toothpicks you will use, can sometimes be a little hard to see when working on intricate designs.

Doll Needle: Pros: Wipes clean, can wash and reuse, sharp tip allows for intricate design work, long needle provides better cookie visibility. Cons: Hard to hold for long periods of time.

Scriber Tool: Pros: Same as the doll needle as it wipes clean, can wash and reuse, very sharp tip allows for intricate design work, long handle and needle provides the best cookie visibility, stronger needle tip than the doll tool, the handle makes it easier to hold with less hand fatigue. Cons: I haven’t found them at any of my local stores. I bought mine from Amazon.

I hope you found this post helpful. I’m always on the search for new tips and tricks and will post them here as I find them so be sure to subscribe. If you like live videos follow me on Facebook here. If you know of any great tips please share them in the comments below.

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Cutie Marks

Did you know that those cute little marks on the pony’s bums are called Cutie Marks? Yeah, me neither. As a child of the 80’s I’m a little disappointed that I didn’t know this vital information.  Rest assured, my knowledge in the My Little Pony department has grown leaps and bounds due to this party. My sweet little niece Avery was quite the teacher.

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I am a huge advocate to letting the kids have a say in their party. Bring them to the consultation. It is all about them, right? Kids know what they want! And they aren’t afraid to tell you if they don’t like your ideas, Avery included. Avery wanted her three favorite ponies in the party (Fluttershy, Twilight Sparkle, and Pinkie Pie) and absolutely, without a doubt, did NOT want Rainbow Dash anywhere. I don’t know what Rainbow Dash did to get on Avery’s bad side, but let’s just say the disdain for that little rainbow pony is intense. LOL

For the tablescape Avery’s mom bought a large poster of Fluttershy. You can find the exact poster here. There are other cute options here if you want to incorporate all of the ponies. The honeycomb balls and tissue fans were all part of a party set from Party City. To add a little color to the tabletop we took this happy birthday banner and cut it apart.

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We incorporated the three favorites into the centerpieces. The centerpieces were super easy to make.  All you need is some clip art, bamboo skewers, craft or floral foam, tissue paper, adhesive (we used spray adhesive), and a small bucket to put it all in. I used clipart of both the pony and it’s cutie mark and duplicated each image. I then reversed one of each of the pony images in Photoshop so that when we glued them together the images would line up. Next just spray the adhesive on the backs of each image and sandwich the skewer in the middle. Stick the skewer in the craft foam, wrap with tissue and you’re done! Avery’s mom, Tiffany, bought the cute glitter #4’s at Hobby Lobby. You can find them in the cake supply section.

Avery wanted a photo area so we found this one here at Party City. As you can see, they had a lot of fun with the masks we found here at Walmart.

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They all had fun with the pony themed activities. They bobbed for Apple Jack’s apples, decorated Fluttershy’s butterflies and played horseshoes, or cow shoes as Avery was calling them. We have no idea where that came from.

After the fun and games came the treats! Of course we had a CrazyCakesKC Fluttershy cake! It was as delicious as it was pretty.

The favors included buckets filled with stickers, coloring pages, and rings. To top it all off we attached a little hair clip to each bucket. You can find them herehere, and here. The little guests also got to take home a My Little Pony cookie. Of course I had to make them resemble Avery’s favorite three ponies.

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It was a great party and all of the littles had a blast!  Happy 4th Birthday sweet Avery! I hope all of your wishes come true! Auntie A loves you!

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Want more party ideas? Be sure to subscribe above. You can also see sneak peeks of events on Facebook and Instagram. Follow me on Pinterest for inspiration for your next event.

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Baby It’s Cold Outside Baby Shower – Part 3

We made it to party day!! I’m excited to share all the details of the party!

We had a casual social opening to the baby shower where as the guests entered they signed the guest book and made a sweet little headband for Lil Bear.

Guests wrote little messages to Lesley and Lil Bear on the tags then tied them off and hung them on our little clothes line by glittered clothes pins. Lesley loved the idea so much she plans to hang it in the nursery. How sweet is that?!

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Guests were treated with a gorgeous spread of treats. We tried to incorporate all of Lesley’s favorite treats. My favorite part was the nod to Lil Bear with the teddy grahams for the Hot Chocolate Dip!

You can’t have a winter themed shower with out a hot chocolate & coffee bar, am I right?

Our sister Kerry came up with the BEST games! So great that I was too involved in them to take photos! 🙁 Boo on me but I’d rather miss photos then miss out on these special moments with family and friends. Don’t forget to be a PART of your party! These are special moments be present! Here are the cute gifts given to the winners of the games.

 

Guests were able to take home their own Lil Bears.

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I’ll leave you with more photos! I hope you enjoyed this blog series and maybe even learned something along the way.

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If you missed Part 1 you can find it here.

If you missed Part 2 you can find it here.

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Baby It’s Cold Outside Baby Shower – Part 2

You’re inspired, have a vision and a plan. Now what? This is when I like to break, break, break, break, break it down. (You know you sang that in your head. No? Just me? Huh.) Nothing fancy here but I find it essential. Grab your trusty spiral notebook and list everything and I mean EVERYTHING! Take the time now while you’re focused rather than trying to remember the day of the party. Believe me, it will save you multiple trips to the party supply and grocery store, not to mention save you a one way ticket on the crazy train!

Everyone is different but I’ll tell you the right way to do it, I mean, the way that works best for me. 🙂 I “walk” through the party start to finish and make categories then list what I will need from decor to food. Here is what I had noted for the Food/dessert table pictured above.

Decor: Food/dessert table: table, white linens, lace overlay, white lights, deco mesh runner, white cording, command hooks, fishing line, snowflakes, glitter icicles, pink and white tulle, antique and crystal cake stands, glass canister, crystal bowl, tasting spoons, food tent cards, glitter place card holders, plates, napkins, silverware, serving spoons, food (see menu)

I know this seems a little much but, it makes for a great list on part day. Believe me, you WILL forget to buy command strips and fishing line because lets face it, they are not the stars here.

Want to take it one step further? Go big or go home right? You can NEVER be too prepared! I like to mock up my tables and decor. (I usually sketch them out first too, but not everyone is OCD like me.) This helps me get a better idea if my vision is going to work out or if I need to tweak it a bit. Once I get it right I snap a picture of it with my phone. This is helpful if you have someone who is assisting with set up. Just hand them the list we talked about before, the picture of the set up, and box everything on the list together. This saves major time the day of your party! Here’s my mock up:

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The last tip I can give you is to plan out your prep work. Unless you want to pull a few all nighters the week of the party, space all of that work out! As I’m making my list I mark the items that I can do ahead of time. For this party those things were, making the printables and signs, making the glitter clothes pins, dressing up the tags for the headband station, setting up the back drop to the food/desert table, making the meringues, and making the white chocolate snowflake cupcake toppers.

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Now that all of your party prep work is done check out Part 3 to see it all come together!

Baby It’s Cold Outside Baby Shower – Part 1

One of my favorite moments is when the party is over. Stay with me here! I absolutely LOVE the planning, the styling, and the party itself, but I also love when the hustle and bustle of it all subsides. When the guests have all left, everything is cleaned up and the dust has settled. This is when I take a few minutes to just sit and think about how it all came together. To look through the photos and think back about the process. How the celebration evolved from a few sketches in a spiral notebook, inspiration from Pinterest, and a vision. This shower was no exception.

So this got me thinking. Why not take you along with me? I’ve broken the process down into 3 parts. Part 1 is Inspiration!

Like any event, I consult with the client. Since a group of us were throwing this shower for my sister, Lesley, I asked her what type of theme she had wanted. She chose a winter/snowflake theme. We decided to use the same color scheme of light pink, mint green and gold accents for the shower that she is using for the nursery. The final detail was including little hints of bears in the shower since Lesley calls her baby Lil Bear.

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I always start with the invitation. An invitation sets the scene for your event. It not only provides your guests with the party information, but it also sets the mood. It says this celebration is going to be special and you don’t want to miss it. Love the invite? You can purchase it here.

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I also create an inspiration board on Pinterest. During this brainstorming session I pin anything from food, decor, games, you name it! More is definitely better at this stage! I generally do go back and edit down my board only keeping the ideas that I am going to use. I like to keep my boards secret until after the event. I mean who doesn’t like a surprise? You can find my edited inspiration board here.

I also gather inspiration while shopping. Yep, I’m that lady who is snapping photos in Hobby Lobby! Everyone does that right? You never know where you will find inspiration so use that camera on your phone, you know you have it readily available. Shopping online and see something? “Pin” that sucker to your board! You will be glad you did!

Another great resource? Instagram! I have so many screen grabs on my phone it’s not even funny! If you feel overwhelmed just remember, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel when planning or styling an event. See a photo of something amazing? Go for it! There is a reason that person posted “that” photo! I promise you a lot of time and thought went into it. What does that mean for you? They figured out what works. You know the saying, “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it”. Or put your own spin on it, that’s what being creative is all about. Make your mark!

Be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss Part 2!

 

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90th Birthday Party – Styling

We all have one day that is our own to be celebrated. Another year lived. Another year spent with the ones we love. Another year of triumphs and tribulations. Another year of memories gathered. The GIFT of another year! Life is such a precious thing.

I’m a firm believer that birthday’s should be celebrated. Whether it be an intimate dinner with family or an over the top celebration, celebrate! Soak in the love from your family and friends. Enjoy these moments as they are precious and can be so fleeting.  We truly do not know what the next day holds so rejoice in the gift of life and celebrate!

So celebrate they did! I had the honor of styling a birthday party for a sweet Lois’s 90th Birthday. That’s right, 90th! Can you imagine the stories she can tell? What a blessing to live such a full life. After the guests had cleared and the party was being cleaned up, I had the privilege of talking with her for a few moments. She was visibly filled with joy and was smiling from ear to ear. I asked her if she ever thought that she would be celebrating such a milestone. She beamed with pride and said, “Oh I BELIEVE it! I’m just wondering what they (her children) are going to do for me tomorrow since tomorrow is my actual birthday”. How funny is that?! These are the moments that I love what I do!

Happy Official 90th Birthday Lois! I hope the memory of your celebration lasts as long as the love of those who surrounded you at your party!

Please enjoy a few photos of the party styling and custom sugar cookies from Lois’s celebration:

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Did you know that I offer custom banners?20160123_143113[1]

Custom Sugar Cookies also by Sweet n Saucy EventsIMG_1610[1]

Custom Red Velvet Cake Pops by Crazy Cakes KCIMG_1604[1]

These may be my favorite custom lace cookies.

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