DIY Large Framed Chalkboard

I finally have a wedding post for you!  And it's a DIY post as well.  Yes!

I wanted to display our table arrangements on a large chalkboard, like the example shown below. 
As you may or may not know, large chalkboards that are framed are quite expensive.  So I figured I would just make one myself.  We bought an ugly mirror, and turned it into a goregous chalkboard with a white frame!

1 large mirror- we got ours at Marshall's for $20.  You could just find a cheap frame as well on Craigslist.  But mirrors are often times easier to find, and you can just go to your local discount home goods store and buy a cheap one.
Chalkboard spray paint- Found at Jo-Ann's. Only $5 if you use a coupon.
White spray paint- We got a matte white spray paint at Lowe's for about $6
Masking Tape
Garbage bags

Total Project Cost= $31 (but we've been using the chalkboard spray paint for other projects as well...more bang for your buck!)

1. We decided to spay the chalkboard area first.  Tear garbage bags at the seams to make them easier to work with.  Tape the garbage bags onto the frame.  Make sure you tape it right at the edge so you don't cover any of the mirror, but also so you don't get any chalkboard paint onto the frame.

2. Spray 2 coats of the chalkboard spray paint onto the mirror.  Letting it dry between coats.

3. Following the directions on the can, take chalk and rub it on it's side all over the chalkboard and then wipe it with a cloth to give it that chalkboard look.

4. Tape garbage bags onto the chalkboard section now, making sure to go right up the edge so that no white paint will get onto the chalkboard.

5. Spray paint the frame.  Because our frame was a bronze color, we had to do 4 coats to get it completely white.

And voila!  You now have a beautiful large chalkboard with a crisp white frame ready for table placements!

Cake Balls

It has been a while since I posted a recipe, so I figured I would post about a batch of cake balls I whipped up the other night. 

Ironically, these cake balls are made with cake mix and store bought frosting..even though in the Sluttier Brownies post I wrote that I try to never use mixes!  I figure it just makes it easier and no one can really tell since you mash the cake and the frosting together anyways.  Also, I used the Pillsbury sugar-free cake mix and frosting so my diabetic fiance can eat them.  Okay enough with the excuses...truth is these are just too simple and delicious.  You HAVE to make them!

1 box of cake mix of your choosing- I used Pillsbury sugar-free yellow cake mix
1 can of frosting of your choosing- I used Pillsbury sugar-free chocolate frosting
Chocolate melts- I used some brand I found at Target.

  1. Bake the cake mix according to the directions on the box in a 13x9 pan.
  2. Let cake cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack for another 15 minutes.  Don't let the cake cool completely.  It's important for it to still be warm because it softens the frosting making it easier to mix them together.
  3. Using a spatula, mash up the cake in a large bowl.
  4. Stir in frosting until well combined.
  5. Form into balls and place on a wax paper-lined cookie sheet. 
  6. Freeze balls for at least 30 minutes.  I even left some in the freezer over night, and they were fine.
  7. Melt the chocolate melts according to directions on package.
  8. Using a fork or tooth picks, dip the cake balls into the chocolate and put back on the wax paper.
  9. Let the chocolate harden and then enjoy!
For storage purposes, I just keep them in a ziplock bag in the fridge.  You can keep them at room temperature as well. 

I calculated out the sugar and the each ball has less than 1 gram of sugar! Not too shabby!

We used the leftover chocolate melts to make delicious chocolate covered strawberries!  Yum!

For another recipe with reduced sugar, see my Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles.

"The Shops" at Target Review

Okay, I'm just going to say it:  I was extremely disappointed in Target's "The Shops". 

I was so excited too.  As you all know, I adore Target.  I went to my local Target on Sunday to look over the new products.  I was expecting a cute, boutique-y display for each "shop".  Instead, the items were just displayed on end caps.  It sort of felt like a treasure hunt wandering around Target trying to find the different items, which isn't a good thing for when you want to see a new design line.  They definitely missed the mark on playing up that boutique vibe.

"The Webster"- Miami Clothing Boutique
I'm not that big into Miami clothing to begin with as I'm not really into beach style.  However I was still interested in seeing the clothes in person and if they could be incorporated into the wardrobe of the every day girl who shops at Target.  Alas, none of the items really spoke to me.  I did like this sweater though, but it fit a little funny.

The jewelry and accessories were very beachy as well and a little pricier than regular Target jewelry.  As my fiance said while looking at everything: "It seems like this is stuff J.Lo would wear."  Yup, pretty much.  So if that's your style, you'll love it!  But it is certainly not mine.  I was actually excited to see the shoes, but my Target didn't have any on display. 

The menswear was laughable.  Honestly, outside of Miami, what guy would wear palm tree shorts?    Or maybe it was just funny to me because I know that no guy who shops at my local Target would wear these shorts, or white pants, or a navy blue nautical style blazer. 

"Privet House"- Connecticut Home Boutique
The home items were cute.  I liked a few place mats and I liked the colors that were used.  But to be honest, it didn't really have that "wow" factor.  For example, the plastic outdoor tableware looked like something you would see at Target already. 

Also, these candles were extremely cheaply made.  It was just paper pasted around a candle!  I could do it myself for probably a dollar.  The quality of this entire line was sub par, and not worth the pricier Target "boutique" price tag.

Cos Bar- Aspen Beauty Boutique
Again, nothing to write home about.  I wasn't crazy about any of the items.  The nail polish colors reminded me of Halloween.  I understand these beauty items are supposed to be more "rock 'n' roll"...but the colors that were used are just seem so completely outdated compared to what's hot this season. 

Polka Dog Bakery- Boston Dog Boutique
I don't own a dog so I just sort of glanced at these items.  It seemed cute.  I actually didn't see any dog treats or food, but maybe that was just my Target?  It was a pretty small seletion, I even forgot to take a picture!

The Candy Store- San Francisco Candy Boutique
I was actually super excited to see creative candy in adorable packaging.  Instead I found cheap candy in plastic, underwhelming packaging.

The lollipops were really bright and colorful all displayed together, but I wouldn't buy one.

Maybe I should have been more prepared for "The Shops" by looking over the website more carefully.  But from the few minutes I did spend browsing the site, it made me really excited to go see it in person at Target.  It certainly was anticlimactic. 

Have you seen "The Shops" at Target yet?  I'm wondering if I'm not the only one who was dissapointed.  I would love to hear your thoughts!

Happy Friday!

(Cake from Icing on the Cake, picture source)
Does anyone have any exciting plans for this first weekend in May?  What about Cindo de Mayo?

If anyone is staying in this weekend, definitely whip up a batch of these Margarita Cupcakes.  They look quite delicious.

I am going up to San Jose for the day with my mom for a belated celebration of her birthday and my Masters degree.  We plan on doing lots of walking, lots of shopping, and lots of eating.  The image of the cake above is from the cutest, most delicious bakery in Los Gatos called "Icing on the Cake."  I'll do a more detailed post for the next travel Thursday on San Jose and Los Gatos because San Jose really does have a lot more to offer than simply being the heart of Silicon Valley!

Enjoy your weekend and lots of tasty margaritas!

Travel Thursday: Disneyland

As you all know I went to Disneyland last Friday with my fiancĂ© to celebrate my new job!  I know Disneyland like the back of my hand.  Actually, I don't know the back of my hand all that therefore I know Disneyland better than I know the back of my hand.  Disneyland is all about making memories, so I figured I would write a post about my tips and tricks to conquering Disneyland so you can make it as memorable as possible!

Where to Eat: Eating lunch at the Blue Bayou (the restaurant inside of Pirates of the Caribbean) is a MUST!  And when you go, you have to have the Monte Cristo sandwich.  It is to die for.  It is also the cheapest thing on their lunch menu.  Of course, eating at the Blue Bayou is a little bit of a splurge, but you can split meals for no extra charge making it comparable to other eateries in the park.   Making reservations is absolute key to eating here.  I made mine a few days before we went.  If it's during summer, I would make reservations as soon as you know the day you will be at the park.  Also, if you make reservations right when the restaurant opens at 11:30am, you're pretty much guaranteed a spot right by the water!

When to Go: The absolute BEST times to go are in the middle of the week right after labor day weekend and in the middle of January.  The reason to go after Labor Day is because that's when kids start school and generally it's not good to miss your first week of school.  Kids are also back in school in the middle of January and people generally are low on money right after Christmas.  Speaking of Christmas, the holidays are an absolutely magical time to go...just prepare for crowds.  If you can't go during the ideal slow times, any time during the week and not during the summer should be okay.  Even on the friday we went, it was pretty busy but we didn't wait longer than 30 minutes for any ride.

Rides: You have to use Fast Passes, especially if you go when it is busy.  The first thing I always do when I get into the park is go straight to Space Mountain to grab a Fast Pass.  Disneyland is actually not that big and it's pretty easy to walk from one end to the other (not including Toon Town...that place is way far away!).  So don't be afraid to wander around and ride other rides while you wait for the time allotted on your Fast Pass.  Also, make sure to grab another Fast Pass as soon as you're able to!

Photos:  All of the Disneyland Cast Members that stand around in different areas with fancy cameras are totally willing to take pictures of you with your own camera.  Don't be afraid to ask!  They even took a photo of us with my iPhone!  It's nice to have them do it rather than asking a stranger because you're pretty much guaranteed a great picture.

Snacks & Dessert:  I think it's important to always indulge in one Disneyland sweet or snack when you visit!  It's hard, but try to limit yourself to only one thing to keep your energy up for the day.  I love the churros and the ice cream on Main Street.  My fiance enjoyes the Mickey Mouse-shaped pretzels.  On particular hot days, frozen lemonade really hits the spot.  And I'm not talking about the Minute Maid frozen lemonade found in a cardboard container.  I mean the frozen lemonade fresh out of the slurpee-like machine.  You can find it between Matterhorn/Fantasy Land and It's a Small World.  This recent trip I tried a chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwich.  I literally died and went to heaven.  Highly recommend this treat as well!  Also, you can purchase margaritas in California Adventures!

These are just a few tips and tricks to get make your trip memorable.  I know I just scratched the surface of what Disneyland has to offer.  But these things are what I most love about Disneyland and what makes it most enjoyable for me.