DIY Cupcake Toppers for Labor Day Weekend

DIY Cupcake Toppers for Labor Day Weekend

I’m sure you’ve already been invited to several parties for Labor Day Weekend, the last hurrah of Summer. So here’s the deal…I don’t cook for parties because I take it personal if no one eats my food. (I know, I’m sensitive.) I usually bring chips and dip and add it to the table with all the other people that forgot to bring something and rushed to the store last minute. These cupcake toppers bring that “barbecue vibe” without the actual barbecue. And hello! Store bought cupcakes work great, no baking required! :)

DIY Cupcake Toppers for Labor Day Weekend

What you’ll need –

Fondant tools, but using your hands is totally cool.
Fondant roller
Gel Food Coloring (red, yellow, green, beige, brown, and you can mix to make the right color)

Tips: When coloring the fondant, you can wear gloves so the dye doesn’t get all over your hands.  Knead it over and over until the color is no longer marble-y. Nothing has to be perfect, so I totally make the pieces by hand, even with all the tools next to me. Also, keep the fondant wrapped in saran wrap until you are ready to use, otherwise it will dry out.

DIY Cupcake Toppers for Labor Day Weekend

DIY Cupcake Toppers for Labor Day Weekend

DIY Cupcake Toppers for Labor Day Weekend

DIY Cupcake Toppers for Labor Day Weekend

These were super fun to make and not as messy as you’d think! I would have to say these 4 foods are perfect staples for your barbecue and I’m sure your friends would appreciate them, even if you skipped on bringing the potato salad.

DIY Cupcake Toppers for Labor Day Weekend

Also, can I take a minute to rave about these cupcakes I bought?! They were from Haggen and made by Kimberly’s Bakeshoppe. I’m not even kidding about how good these were. They’re Vanilla Bean, but also had a vanilla cream center. droooool.

DIY Cupcake Toppers for Labor Day Weekend

I hope everyone has a wonderful 3 day weekend and a great Labor Day!

xo Alyson

A Picnic With Creatives in NYC

Creative NYC Details

Anytime I encounter a setting with oversized balloons, tassel garlands, and copious amounts of amazing food, I pretty much assume I’m in the right place. Such was the case last summer when I attended Creative NYC, a meetup/picnic in Riverside Park hosted by none other than Gilit Cooper. You know Gilit, right? Of course you do. She’s the whimsy-loving woman behind The Bannerie and this very blog, Shoes Off Please. And as I’m sure you can imagine, girl can throw a party.

Creative NYC Food

Creative NYC Details

Creative NYC Food

I had met Gilit back at Alt Summit about a month before, and when I heard that she was putting together this event for creatives in New York City, I jumped at the chance. Leapt, actually. After spending a week at Alt, one of the premiere blogging conferences in the country, I was itching for more interaction with some rad entrepreneurial-type women in my city.

Creative NYC Details

And that’s exactly what I got. Looking around there was no mistaking that this was an event for bloggers and creatives. I mean, the signs were everywhere. Phenomenal décor: check. Impossibly good food: check. The goodiest of goody bags: check. A heapin’ helpin’ of inspiring boss ladies: check check check check CHECK.

Creative NYC

Creative NYC Food

Gathering with the women at Creative NYC was like taking a breath of fresh air. As we sampled lime sugar cookies, wore flower crowns, and gushed over our personalized glitter banners, there was just an immediate sense of connection between all of us. And it wasn’t just that we looked amazing in our flower crowns (but by the way, we super did). Instead, we were unified by traits far more profound: our love of creating and our desire for growth.

Creative NYC Guests

Creative NYC Guests

The more I do this whole blogging/writing/pursuing my dreams thing, the more I realize how important gatherings like these are. There’s just something so impactful about meeting with other creatives – in. real. life. Not just in Twitter chats or in comments sections, but face-to-face, eyeballs-to-eyeballs – actual human connection.

Because here’s the thing we so often forget about creative careers: sometimes it can get kind of lonely. I mean, don’t get me wrong: it can also be incredibly rewarding. Whether you do it full-time, part-time, or during your lunch break – any level of investment you can make into something you truly care about is totally worth it. But despite its perks, there is often an inherent isolation to the creative process. If you run a business from home, you likely know what it’s like to spend a good portion of your day alone. Or even if you don’t work remotely, perhaps you’ve had those confusing conversations with friends and family members who don’t exactly get what it is that you “do” (You blog? For a living? Whattttttt?)

Creative NYC Denise Photographs

And that’s why it’s pretty thrilling when a bunch of likeminded creative-type folks are able to gather in one place. It’s a reminder that we are not alone in this effort to make beautiful things. We aren’t crazy for doing the things we love. There are others like us who are making their way, building their own businesses, blogging, photographing, writing, designing, etc.IMG_0026

Creative NYC Details

Not only do meetups and creative gatherings provide a sense of community and understanding, but they also are a hotbed for inspiration. After spending time with the legit women at Creative NYC — which included such gems as Cyndie Spiegel from The Collective {Of Us}, Denise Ginley from Little Market Kitchen, Bethany Everett from Twenty Something Plus, and Jessica Bishop from The Budget Savvy Bride, to name a few – I left with roughly a gagillion new ideas for how to grow my blog. That kind of motivation is just inevitable when creative people get in the same place.

Creative NYC

All of that being said, if you’re thinking of organizing a meetup or an event for your local creative community, go ahead and get after it! It’s honestly one of the most worthwhile ways you could spend your time. And while you’re at it, wear flower crowns because, let’s be honest, they are festive and everyone looks amazing in them.

How do you connect with your local creative community? I can’t wait to hear all about it!

Much love,


Food: Denise Ginley | Photography: Denise Ginley and Gilit Cooper | Styling: Alicia Brandon and Gilit Cooper | Flower crowns: A Golden Garden

Tootsie Roll Pretzels

Pretzels are having their MOMENT! And I for one am not mad about it.Cutest Tootsie Roll Pretzel tutorial - click here for the instructions!I always pack a bag of Rold Gold Twists anytime the word picnic is mentioned and I am definitely a fan of the soft pretzel. For my soft pretzels, just a sprinkling of salt and I am happy! So today I did a twist (get it!) on a traditional pretzel and candy-fied it. Instead of dough and salt, I used Tootsie Rolls and SPRINKLES to create large candy pretzels, which would be perfect to hand out as favors or on a dessert table at a baseball themed birthday party or end-of-summer BBQ.150 SUPPLY LISTTootsie Rolls
White Sprinkles

Cutest Tootsie Roll Pretzel tutorial - click here for the instructions!


  1. Cut each Tootsie Roll in half using a knife.
  2. Heat one of the Tootsie Roll pieces for 3-5 seconds in the microwave, until just pliable.
  3. Roll the Tootsie Roll into a long rope, approximately 8-10 inches long.
  4. Bring the two ends of the rope together and twist twice, then bring the twisted piece down and gently push the candy pieces together to form a pretzel shape.
  5. Add sprinkles to the top of the Tootsie Roll Pretzel by gently pushing them into the Tootsie Roll.

Cutest Tootsie Roll Pretzel tutorial - click here for the instructions!

Cutest Tootsie Roll Pretzel tutorial - click here for the instructions! Cutest Tootsie Roll Pretzel tutorial - click here for the instructions!

I recommend letting these sit out for a few days on waxed paper to harden a bit so that they are not super sticky, this way they will be easier to handle and package.

Cutest Tootsie Roll Pretzel tutorial - click here for the instructions!

I want to know, what is your favorite type of pretzel?
Make these and you’ll probably have a new favorite!


*See more of Sarah’s glitter and talent on her blog Weekend Pursuits and Instagram @sadiutori

Cutest Tootsie Roll Pretzel tutorial - click here for the instructions! *bottom graphic by Gilit Cooper

Styling Your Interior for Instagram

If you don’t know Sam Ushiro of Aww, Sam yet well then first of all, you are so so very welcome for the intro of awesome into your life and second, let me just prepare you for the insane bouts of jealousy you’ll probably experience when you look at her photos. Grab a donut, curl up into your favorite cozy blanket, and pay attention because if you have ever had to take photos of your interior for Instagram then you know that a whole new set of rules apply. And here they are:
AwwSam apartment “Having recently moved into a larger studio space, I’ve had to figure out some techniques to photographing and styling on a larger scale. I used to live in the tiniest New York apartment, so I was very restricted to certain photo crops, and I never got the chance to photograph my interior space. When it finally came time to start photographing my interior space, I faced problems that I hadn’t dealt with before. Here are a few tips to decorating your space, how to get rid of those pesky shadows, and how to take the best Instagram photos of your space!

1. Utilize your space by using multiple planes within the photo. Everyone loves photos where the foreground is in focus and the background has a soft blur. Choose objects to put in different planes of your photo and set your focal point on an object in the foreground to achieve this look. It also makes for a more interesting photo when everything is not always in a straight line!

2. I’m a huge fan of natural light! Observe when your space gets the best natural light (this is different for everyone depending on which direction the windows in your apartment face). I turn off all other lights in my apartment, so shadows don’t come from above, and I always avoid times of the day when the light is shining directly into my apartment. Really bright natural light will cause photos to be blown out and will give harsher shadows.


3. Choose a color palette that works for you and your space. I’m constantly re-arranging pillows or moving around decorations to change what colors appear in my photos. And just to mix it up a bit for my followers! Choose props that best fit the colors of the area you’re photographing, you can always move the props again so don’t get stuck on one arrangement. It’s your space, so you can go crazy moving furniture around without judgement!

4. Know your space. If you have a smaller space, you may find yourself standing on top of kitchen counters or shooting through a door frame or hallway. (Don’t worry, we’ve all done it, and nobody will know what lengths you went to to get a great photo!) :) If there’s a hallway you can head down or a doorway you can shoot through to get a better view of your living room, go for it!

AwwSam Studio

5. Move objects slightly away from the wall. This prevents shadows on the wall behind your furniture and will allow viewers to focus more on the space. If you are still getting shadows, set up a large, white poster board facing the window or a piece of cardboard wrapped in tin foil to reflect the light and soften the photo.”

For more gorgeousness and examples of why you should be listening to Sam, check out her insta @aww.sam and her new blog filled with things like pink ombre cake shots and DIY taco purses. I’m not even kidding a little bit.

Mini Flamingo Donuts

flamingo donut

You guys love flamingos, right?! Because I totally do, so it’s okay if you do too, I won’t judge! With that said, I will find any excuse to turn something into a flamingo and donuts are no exception. With a little fondant and a little patience, these mini donuts will be a hit at your next party!

What You’ll Need –

For the Pink Glaze (covers about 20 donuts) –


01. Take a hunk of white fondant and flatten it out like you would before cutting cookie dough. (Set aside a little bit for the white beaks.) With a toothpick, spread the tiniest amount of pink gel coloring in the center. I wanted pale pink flamingos and just a drop goes a long way.
02. Start kneading the fondant, folding it over and over…and over. It will look like a marble-y mess, but it will eventually even the color out and you’ll have pink! I also sprinkled some confectioner’s sugar on it to keep from sticking everywhere.

directions 2

03. Once you have the fondant finished and ready to use, start by rolling little pieces for the bird’s head. Take a knife to cut off the ends off to ensure they’re flat, then shape the necks. Do the same for the beaks, but just cut off one side with a knife and keep the other end round.
04. The fondant should be slightly sticky, so just attach the beak and sculpt as desired. Stick a toothpick in the bottom of the neck so it can attach to the donut. Once dry, color the tip of the beak black and add a little eye!
05. For the tail, take a little fondant and pinch it together. For the wings, make a teardrop and shape accordingly. (This is why I love fondant! It’s so easy to sculpt and if you mess up you can change it!)
06. Cut several toothpicks, about a 1/2 inch long, and attach to the backside of the wings. This will make sure the they stay in place!

donut glaz3

07. The glaze is real easy! First combine the milk and vanilla in a saucepan and heat on low until warm.
08. Slowly whisk in the confectioner’s sugar.
09. Once combined, add a small amount of pink food coloring. You want it to be close to the flamingo color, so start with a tiny amount again. Add sprinkles for a pop of color! They are donuts after all and no donut goes without sprinkles!

donut glaze 4

10. Add the tail pieces before the glaze hardens and they will hold perfectly!
11. Attach the head and wings to the donut once they are dry and you are good to go!

flamingos again 2

flaninogs 2

Not every flamingo has to look like the other one, and they don’t have to be perfect by any means. They are better that way! These would be so fun for a kid’s party and they can even make their own! Hope you make these guys for your next flamingo themed party!


For more sweet creations, head on over to my blog and check out my instagram!


5 Steps to Make a Fabulous Fruity Flamingo Party

5 steps to throw your own fruity flamingo partyHello everyone, my name is Dawn from Not Just A Mommy and I’m thrilled to be here, sharing my Fruity Flamingo party table. My philosophy is every event is a celebration and you don’t have to break the bank to do it!

1. To set the scene, I love using wrapping paper as a table cover: it comes in a limitless array of colors and patterns, it’s inexpensive and it makes clean up a breeze. And when I can’t find exactly what I want,  I create my own by stamping butcher paper. Usually, I use a store bought stamp but this time I used a lemon. Head over to my blog and check out the how-to.


2- Reusable partyware is an important part of every hostess’s party arsenal: tissue decorations, cloth napkins, cake stands and platters are good investments and are ready at a party moment’s notice.


3- The secret to fabulous decorating is in the details. Place cards are one of my favorite touches on any table, all you need is a little piece of paper and your best handwriting. I cut a 4″ circle out of cardstock, folded it in half and wrote in guest names. You can also use them as food cards.


4- Paper straws make any drink festive, I never tire of them! I found fun pineapple and flamingo straws at Dollar Tree and swapped out their plastic straws for my paper ones.


5- Another party trick I love to use is wrapping drink bottles in coordinating paper. I’ve used all types of paper from cardstock and scrapbook paper to wrapping paper.


And since I love freebies, the fruity paper download I created and used on the drink bottles, I’m sharing for free! I designed it so you could trim it down and get 3 3 ½” x 7 ½” soda labels per sheet. It’s also versatile enough to be used to turn into napkin rings, fun tags and labels, whatever you want!

FREE FRUITY PAPER PRINTABLE – (click here to download)

I hope you have been inspired to have some fruity fun this summer! If you are looking for more colorful, summer party ideas, check out my Flamingo + Pineapple party!


Guest Editor for Brickyard Buffalo!

Sometimes I stop and realize that I’m doing things that a few months ago I would not have thought I would ever have the opportunity to do because they’re so freakin’ cool to me.

This is one of those things. I am CRAZY excited to be the guest editor for Brickyard Buffalo this week! It has been such a good experience, so so extremely fun to curate things that I know my audience would love, the BB team is a dream to work with and I love supporting makers that I know to be awesome.

Here are my faves:


Thimblepress push pop confetti and pineapple print

I use the confetti all the time for styling photos (plus ones I keep in case of spontaneous celebration). I had the pink pineapple print up in my favorite corner of my office, but now that we moved I can’t decide whether I want to keep it in the office or elsewhere in the house. I just want it everywhere, is the truth.

Aww.Sam pineapple pin

I love this flair so much! I wore it at Alt Summit and got so many “ooh! Where did you get that?”s. (P.S. Sam is a master stylist who will be sharing some tips on the blog next week!)

Coco and Ollie flamingo print

So so beautiful and you should see what else Coco Tafoya has in her shop and what she offers at Deluxe Modern. She’s amazing. And so is her hair.

The Roc Shop tropical stir sticks

Nicole is such a rocker and all around fabulous designer at Nic Roc Designs, she’s cheeky, irreverent, and sophisticated and if I were redoing my wedding, she would be designing the invitation suite. Maybe I should get married again…remind me to ask my husband to re-propose (I make him do this on the regular so he’ll take it in stride) kitty tumbler and florabunda notebook

@circusofcakes image of kitty tumbler

10431872_1113602935320577_704094464_n is always a yes for me and I have such a soft spot for these two items because every morning in the summer I have my iced coffee and no joke having it in my pretty kitty tumbler is just the nicest way to start my day. I’m also a huge believer in notebooks and putting a pen to paper. Having a gorgeous notebook helps make sure that happens.

Britt Castellano sprinkles pillow and cactus print

bitt castellano cactus print

SPRINKLES pillow! Its a pillow… with sprinkles. SPRINKLES!

Hello Tosha lettered prints

Oh this babe! She’s so crazy talented and her specific style of hand lettering is my fave hands down. She’s also funny smart and thoughtful and it shows in her gorgeous work. ALSO she lettered the “you got this” and “treat yo self” tattoos!!!!

The Prop Shop flamingo prop set


So you know how every party is better with a photo booth and every photo booth is better with props? Here is a ready to go sparkly fabulous flamingo set. which is the best kind.

& Apparel sparkle enthusiast tee and pineapple belts (from the Bannerie collection!)


I wear this tee like every day for obvious reasons. And the belt, oh the belt. Bright stretchy fabric and gold pineapple clasp. It just makes everything better.

Little Arrow Shop FRI-YAY print

Omg I love this shop! I think its particularly important to celebrate the first day of the weekend because living your life celebrating all the things makes for a celebration-filled life. An obvious statement, but think about it…

Violet Tinder Studios watercolor fruit prints

Violet makes everything so FUN! I mentioned on Instagram but I’ll repeat it here, her feed is the color scheme of my soul.

Ayden’s Rose boho pomp pom hoops


A contributor to this blog, Emily started this shop not too long ago and look at this gorgeousness! Its a unicorn!

Chankklas women and children’s sandals

Am I using the word “gorgeous” too much? Its because all these things are and deserve that description! These are exquisite and for a very limited time they’re on sale along with the rest of these goodies so dont walk, dont run, HUSTLE YOUR TUCHUS on over to Brickyard Buffalo for these deals now!


So…what’re you gonna get?

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