Simple (and cheap) Chocolate Theme Birthday Party

It’s a chocolate themed birthday party! Super inexpensive, simple and fun. The kids loved it and so did my mom (the birthday girl).

Mole Chicken - Chocolate Theme Birthday Party

So, a couple weeks ago we celebrated my mom’s birthday with a chocolate theme. We often go out for dinner on her birthday, but there is chocolate in Mole sauce and she LOVES her Mole. No question… I would be cooking. (We got our all-you-can-eat sushi a few days later!)

I kept the decorations pretty simple. I spent August trying to recover and catch up from the unexpected 10 days we spent in the hospital with my daughter in July. Only now am I starting to feel we’re back to normal.

Mole Chicken - Chocolate Theme Birthday Party

I made the Hershey Kisses by wrapping foil over upside down bowls of various sizes. The paper is just printer paper I cut into strips and put messages on. Are they perfect? No. But they were well received and did their job. The little ones in the next picture (on my shelves) can also use the top of a water bottle instead of a little bowl, but I forgot to keep the ones we had. If you do that, you can fill them with candy and give them as party favors too. Since it’s always just us at these parties, we didn’t need the candy or the favors. ๐Ÿ™‚

Chocolate Theme Birthday Party

The Chocolate Tuffles and Cupcake cards could have been framed, but I didn’t get to the store for the frames, so they were cute on their own. My mom has since framed them and hung them in her chocolate themed bathroom. They doubled as gifts.

The chalkboard frame is just a cheap white frame (my go to frame for all my artwork because of it’s simplicity) from Walmart with a black sheet of paper in it. I used a white water based paint pen to do the illustration of a mug and hand lettered “just add chocolate and cream please” on the side. I love that frame! Silly that it took me so long to pull it together!

Chalkboard - Chocolate Theme Birthday Party

As you know if you’ve been around for a while, I decorate my large (husband made) chalkboard for birthdays and events too. Everyone has come to look forward to it and uses it to help determine the theme for the day when I keep it a secret. This one says “birthday wishes and chocolate kisses.”

Brownie Cake - Chocolate Theme Birthday Party

This brownie cake on the back of a Ghirardelli Brownie box mix was the inspiration for the theme. This past spring, my mom saw the picture of that Ombre Brownie Cake on the box and declared that she wanted to try that. I decided that day that we would do it for her birthday.

I’ve never made ganache before and as you can see, my cake doesn’t look exactly like the picture. It was a good first run though, and I hope to do it again because it was yummy!

Note: Not all (or any) of your plans have to work out just right. The person or people you are celebrating will still feel loved that you tried to make their day a big deal! Don’t let fear of failure (or failure itself in my case so often) keep you from going all out!

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Cheap and Easy Chocolate Birthday Party

Gathering here.

Recommended Reading:

Ladybug Birthday Party
A Jolly Holiday – A Mary Poppins Birthday
Ice Cream Parlor Birthday Party

Easy Chocolate Truffle Artwork – You can do this!

Easy Chocolate Truffle Artwork - You can do this!

Remember that chocolate themed birthday party I threw for my mom? The one I painted the Chocolate Frosted Cupcake for? Yes, the one I haven’t shown you yet. That’s the one! Good memory!

Well, I painted these cute little truffles for that party too. (Pinspiration here.) Again, part gift-part decoration! She actually hung them up already on the wall in her bathroom in little white frames! Yes… it’s adorable!

Easy Chocolate Truffle Artwork - You can do this!

I painted them with watercolor and added the white with Sharpie Paint Pens. Then I added a touch of black with my Faber Castel thin pen to add shadow and make the white pop. It really helped! Super easy!

You could do this with markers too! Just color in the chocolate with brown marker and then use the white paint pen (a couple coats would help!) and add the black lines at the end. (Keep the black on the same side of the white on all the lines so it has a realistic “shadow” look.) I think they would make adorable greeting cards! Let me know if you try!

Easy Chocolate Truffle Artwork - You can do this!

Looking at them now (I always notice details like this when I look at the picture of whatever I painted, not before) I think I would put the swirl one in the middle to make it seem more balanced, but that’s because I have issues with symmetry. What do you think? Would you switch them out to put the swirl in the middle? Or do you like them as is? Let me know in the comments!

Gathering here.

Recommended Reading:

Custom Chocolate Wrappers
Some February Painting
Custom Conversation Hearts

Take a Hike – How I Made a Sloped Birthday Cake

Turns out I had to come up with my own plan for this hiking theme cake. I searched and searched for ideas. I have some on my Hiking Party Board, but nothing was going to work with the time available and I didn’t need 30 people worth of cake. In addition to that, I made a camping theme cake several years ago for the same kid, so I wanted it to be different. (aka no tents)

Hiking Trail Cake -- Easy Hiking Theme Birthday on a Budget

As I mentioned earlier this week, the end of July we spent with our oldest daughter in the hospital, leaving very little time for preparing for this birthday. I made the cake (from a box mix) the night before, but I set the temperature wrong and it turned out dry. This set me behind. Usually I freeze the cakes before assembling and frosting them, but after our birthday breakfast we made a new cake (thankfully we had a back up box of cake mix!) and set it to cool on the counter.

First of all, I baked the cake with these even-bake strips from Wilton. They help the cake to rise more evenly. After lunch I was ready to begin frosting the cake. I leveled my cake layers like this (a great video about leveling and frosting cake layers.) I set the tops off to the side to be used later (I had to guard them well as there were several children floating around looking for scraps. )

Frosting the layers was little trickier since they weren’t frozen, but it worked. I did something different for me this time and used a piping bag to pipe the frosting between the layers. (Here is another great video about frosting cakes.) Piping it on helped greatly since the cake wasn’t frozen and was apt to fall apart as I spread. I’m still not great at all the techniques of cake decorating, but I’m having fun learning with each new birthday. ๐Ÿ™‚

The Layers

[Ack! There are no pictures of the process. Time was short and I was working as fast as I could to get done in time for an early dinner and celebration. But I’ve drawn pictures for you… I hope they help!]

One of the cakes was falling apart on one side (whether this happened coming out of the pan or with the help of one of my smaller children is undecided). It worked out though, because I used that spot, after the second layer was on, to cut and shape a slope out of that layer down to toward the first layer(see diagram… these are not to scale!!).

Then I frosted only part of the top in a semi-circular way. Then I placed one of the cake tops (saved from before) on top of the frosting and trimmed away the cake that went over the side.

I then added frosting to that layer and repeated with the second cake top saved from before, but I offset it even further (see diagram… still not to scale!!). Then I trimmed away the rest of the cake top and handed out scraps to the hovering children.

This is what it looked like from the side when all the layers were ready.

I then applied the crumb coat and stuck it in the freezer for 20-30 minutes to harden so that I could finish the decorations (and make more frosting.)

Hiking Trail Cake -- Easy Hiking Theme Birthday on a Budget

I frosted the whole thing with a light green buttercream frosting I made from scratch.

the Creek

On top of that I used blue cookie frosting we already had on hand. I don’t recommend this particular icing, though, because it took a long time to set and ended up sagging down the slope after the pictures were taken. I can already tell in this photo that it had begun. I picked a random place on the cake for the creek and worked a line across the cake and down to the cake plate. Then I just did that several more times to make it thicker . The lines of it melded together nicely.

Hiking Trail Cake -- Easy Hiking Theme Birthday on a Budget

The Path

I mixed in some white buttercream with chocolate frosting I had in the freezer, left over from another birthday, and it made for a nice “path” color. I piped that onto the cake, making sure to cross the creek, and ended it in a larger area at the top. The kids decided that the picnic tables would go there (the imaginary ones). ๐Ÿ™‚ My oldest son figured out how to cut a pretzel so that we could use it for the bridge. Good luck with that, mine kept breaking! ๐Ÿ™‚

How I made a Sloped Cake for a Hiking Themed Birthday

The trees

For the trees on the cake I used left over Cupcake Icing we had from another birthday and used the star tip that came with it. I don’t know what color it was because I used the last of it and threw it away, but it was super handy for a quick decorating job. You could do the same thing, though, by making your own frosting and using a star tip. It worked a lot like “spray cheese.” I made both the trees on top of the cake and the ones on the tall side of the cake. Then I put “bushes” around the cake on both sides of the creek until I ran out. The trunks on the back trees are the chocolate frosting I had kept back before adding the buttercream to make the lighter brown for the path.

How I made a Sloped Cake for a Hiking Themed Birthday

A few hints on tree placement:

1. I put several “trees/bushes” close together at the start of the creek to give the illusion that it started there in a hidden spring under the trees.
2. I put a tree in the crook of the path to give a reason for the sharp bend in the path.
3. I put several trees at the top around the “eating area” of “path” frosting to mimic a shady picnic area.

Do you have an event coming up that could use a sloped mountain or hiking cake?? Pin it for later. ๐Ÿ™‚

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How I made a Sloped Cake for a Hiking Themed Birthday

Gathering here.

Recommended Reading:

Easy Hiking Birthday Theme on a Budget
Mountain Rice Krispies Treats
Birch Log Pretzels
Get Away to the Mountains Simple Watercolor Painting

Easy Hiking Theme Birthday on a Budget

I wasn’t sure how I was going to make this “Hiking” themed birthday different from the “Camping” theme we did a few years ago, and let me tell you, inspiration was not coming. I had only general ideas going into the evening before the big day, but hopefully that is just proof of how easy and budget friendly this whole theme was.

Birthdays are a big deal around here, and if you’ve been around a while, then you know that there is always a theme. I was really struggling with what the theme would be this time around since the interests of my now nine year old haven’t changed much over the last few years. I’ve done all the themes already. What he really wanted was a hiking theme, but I kept fighting against it since we just did a camping theme a few years ago.

Added into all that, my husband and I spent 10 days during July in the hospital with our oldest daughter and, while she is in full health now, the week we got home was full of recovery and catching up from being away from home and the rest of the kids for so long. That left only a few days to figure out what I was going to do for this birthday.

Finally I gave in. Hiking theme it was… but I had no idea what I would do. Pinterest is always a huge help, but most of the “hiking” searches brought up tons of great “camping” themed party ideas. Or “national park” themes. Still not exactly what I was looking for. (See my Pinterest board for more ideas!)

One thing I did find was cute hiking signs I could print… but my printer wasn’t working at the last minute, so we didn’t have those.

So what’s a girl to do with no balloons, no streamers, and no idea what to start with? I headed upstairs to to the attic for the Christmas/winter decorations. Yes I did! You may recognize some of these from the Cozy Mountain Lodge Women’s Retreat I decorated for earlier this year too.

I put some of these decorations on my much loved shelves.

Adventure Awaits Hand Painted Card -- Easy Hiking Theme Birthday on a Budget

And I try to paint/illustrate a little card for each of the kids on their birthday. It’s become something that is really special to them. This time I thought it fit nicely in the decoration. You could totally do this painting. I painted the green part of the tree loosely, leaving gaps here and there in a light green. After that dried, I did it again with the same paint, but not going all the way to the edges. Then a third time after it dried again. Once it was all dry the fourth time, I added the brown trunk. Sometimes I simply use a tall triangle for a pine tree. It works great!

The mountains I put on a pedestal in the middle of the breakfast table. (Excuse the wrinkled tablecloth… the epitome of last minute.)

Birthday breakfast was cinnamon roll mountains. Super easy! Two cans of cinnamon rolls from the refrigerated section of the grocery store (though you can make your own if you have the time and inclination). I just unrolled each one and re-rolled it in the slightest cone shape. A little tip: don’t go too high with your cone or it will topple over… but I just made that one mine. ๐Ÿ™‚ No big deal.

I made little flags out of scrapbook paper and glued “take a hike” circles on to them. The stick is a skewer I cut into three parts. I hand wrote the “take a hike” but you could use something printed off the computer or even stickers if you can find something you like.

Life's An Adventure... Go Hiking! Chalkboard -- Easy Hiking Theme Birthday on a Budget

The chalkboard was really easy to do. Honestly, the hardest part was the lettering. Again, you could even use a simple tall triangle for the tree if the scribbled lines are too much. I found that the orange chalk gave enough of a brown feel over the black of the chalkboard that it worked perfectly.

Hiking Trail Cake -- Easy Hiking Theme Birthday on a Budget

The cake was the most last minute of all. I baked the cake the night before… but I used too high of a temperature and it was dry. So my daughter and I remade it that morning. That afternoon I was assembling my cake unfrozen (freezing them first makes it super easy to assemble and frost!!) and with no real idea of what I wanted to do. None of the 2-3 pins I found were what I wanted/had time for, so I was on my own. The cake has it’s own post! Click over to find out how I made it! ๐Ÿ™‚

And that’s how we did our easy hiking theme birthday on a budget! To top it off, we recommended some hiking themed birthday presents to family who were looking for ideas, so the back pack, nature journal and compass really added to the excitement! ๐Ÿ™‚

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Easy Hiking Theme Birthday on a Budget

Gathering here.

Recommended reading:

Take a Hike: How I made a Sloped Birthday Cake
Ladybug Birthday Party Theme
Every “BUG”ys Welcome Adoption Party
Mary Poppins Birthday Party Theme

Cozy Mountain Lodge Women’s Retreat Wrap Up

Cozy Mountain Lodge Women's Retreat Wrap Up

This past weekend was our church’s Cozy Mountain Lodge Women’s Retreat. We were at a new venue, which turned out just right. It was in the mountains, we were in a lodge of sorts, and once we were done with set up, it was decidedly cozy!

Decorating - Cozy Mountain Lodge Women's Retreat Wrap Up
Pre-cut fabric squares strung up with mini clothes pins were a cute and colorful addition to our mantle. The fabric was an adorable cabin in the mountains theme. Sorry, I don’t remember what it was called.

Unfortunately, though I promised myself I wouldn’t let this happen, I got so busy that I forgot to stop and take pictures of everything. These are the few there are. ๐Ÿ™‚

Lit Tree and Snow Blocks on the Piano - Cozy Mountain Lodge Women's Retreat Wrap Up
White lights added a whimsical touch. Since we used the lights and trees the church already had, it was also a huge budget helper!

When I put away my winter decor at the end of January, I put a number of pieces into our retreat box. The snow blocks, wooden trees and the jar of “snowballs” were some of the ones from my kitchen. And since the mountainside out our windows were covered with snow, it was perfect!

Centerpieces - Cozy Mountain Lodge Women's Retreat Wrap Up

The centerpieces were simple. One of the families in our church had a baby shower this past fall with a woodland animals theme. I was able to use the same tree trunk slabs they had made for that (another budget saver!) Baby’s Breath flowers in Ball jars with rocks were inexpensive and gave a lot of bang for their buck. The little birds in nests were in our decor closet at church as well. That was an exciting find. And for the tables, we used Kraft paper. Simple, less expensive than cloth, and more durable than plastic. Plus it had that rustic quality I was looking for.

Centerpiece - Cozy Mountain Lodge Women's Retreat Wrap Up

The framed cabin print was one of the ones I painted. All 7 of the tables had one and they were given as prizes as part of the “door prize drawing”. Each person got something. When it came to these prints, they were allowed to choose between one of those or one of the remaining prizes that I hadn’t painted myself. That way ladies who wouldn’t have a use for the artwork, had a choice to opt out. ๐Ÿ™‚ I was super excited to see most of them taken.

The food table we set out in the evenings was more elaborate than these pics let on, yet still simple. Not only had I brought the Birch Tree Pretzels and Mountain Rice Krispies Treats, but also some veggies and dip, chips, pretzels and popcorn. And other ladies brought things to share also. No one ever had cause to be hungry! ๐Ÿ™‚ And my kids were thrilled with some left overs!

DIY Chocolate Wrappers - Cozy Mountain Lodge Woman's Retreat

The custom chocolates I left on everyone’s pillows (read that post here) were a big hit too. And even though I had a ton to do, I disappeared to put them out myself. I’m so glad I did! I didn’t want anyone to know they were coming (even the other helpers) and I wanted a chance to pray a few words for each of the ladies who came.

The remaining artwork I created for the retreat was framed and left around the room in cozy places where the ladies sat to visit, read their Bibles, or crochet. Sorry there aren’t any pics of that. Each one has it’s own post: Get Away, Get Going, Get Cozy, and {God’s Got this} Let the Adventure Begin.

God's Got This - Hand Lettered Artwork - Joshua 1:9

I am hoping to have printable copies of all my artwork available sometime this month (Lord willing). Sign up in the side bar to follow by email so you won’t miss it! You can use them at your own Cozy Mountain Lodge retreat, in your own home, or even as cards to encourage someone you know! Stay tuned! ๐Ÿ™‚

Gathering here.

A Hand lettered Verse for Fall — Proverbs 25:11

I like to decorate my house for fall, but often times, I’m itching to decorate before it’s really fall-ish around here.  (This year especially, it was still hot until the end of September last week.)

So what’s a girl to do?  I use that in-between time for apples.  They don’t really match the pumpkins and leaves anyway.  And I’m all about matching.

"A Word Fitly Spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver." - Proverbs 25:11 Hand lettered

So… when it came to finding something “apple-ish” to put in my little clipboard frame, I just had to make something new.

Proverbs 25:11 is what I came up with.

These are a couple other little decorated spaces. My 10 year old brought me some of the flowers she grew this year.  They match too.

And I painted the fresh baked pie right onto wood in watercolor.  (You just have to treat it first if you want to try it yourself.)

Gathering here.

A Narnia Birthday and Hand Lettered Quotes

These are something a little more recent. ย I already mentioned that I do something special for each of my kids’ birthdays. ย Last year my oldest son’s theme was birds, but this year I went with a bookish theme and picked Narnia. ย He loves to read, and LOVES The Chronicles of Narnia!

Among the decorations, were a couple framed hand lettered pieces I found inspiration for on Pinterest. ย These are my takes on them:

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Then there was the wardrobe doors I hung between our mud room and kitchen where the birthday boy and his dad would enter after a day at the office:

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And a “Tumnus Tea” for breakfast:

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We had “brown eggs lightly boiled”, “sugar topped cake”,

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and “sardines on toast”. ย And of course our napkins were folded like Narnian ships.

 

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Then there was the cake.

img_2608img_2607… with a Narnian wood. ย It even had a lamppost!

 

Shared on Inspire Me Mondays.

Inspire Me Monday at Create With Joy