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. 🙂

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

Something Sweet – Chocolate Frosted Cupcake in Watercolor

Chocolate Frosted Cupcake in Watercolor

This week I spent some time painting sweet things. Chocolate, to be specific. And all for my mom’s birthday.

Sometimes birthday presents don’t need to be wrapped. Don’t get me wrong, there should be some presents to unwrap! But they don’t ALL have to be, do they?

Chocolate Frosted Cupcake in Watercolor

I painted this one for my mom’s birthday this past weekend. Her bathroom is decorated in chocolate. That’s right. Chocolate. No, it’s not dirty fingerprints from over indulgent children. It’s been done on purpose. From a poster on the wall about it’s history, to candles shaped like truffles, and everything in between… chocolate!

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Chocolate Frosted Cupcake in Watercolor

I thought a chocolate frosted cupcake with a pink liner would match her bathroom perfectly! But it also matched her birthday theme… so instead of wrapping it, I set it out to decorate! 🙂 Double duty!

Gathering here.

Recommended Reading:

Cupcakes – Watercolor Illustration
Let’s Meet Over Coffee – God
Ice Cream Parlor Birthday with Artwork to Match

Tweet Hearts | Art Journal Prompts from February

Tweet Hearts | Art Journal Prompts from February

I never did finish my February Art Journal Prompts from February. I joined in with Awesome Alice during the month and had a lot of fun. But, as is the case most years, things get busy around here from the last week of February through the third week of March with several family birthdays. I decided to finish them up though, so here they are .

I have to admit, they aren’t my favorite work. A couple are cute, but I think my first few weeks turned out better. Still, I’m not here to make myself look like a great artist, but to share what I do as I grow. 🙂 I hope you will give it a try knowing perfection is not the goal.

Tweet Hearts | Art Journal Prompts from February

The Tweet Hearts (promot: “sweet hearts”) were my favorite this time around.

Tweet Hearts | Art Journal Prompts from February

Followed by the “XOXO” prompt…

Tweet Hearts | Art Journal Prompts from February

And then the “chocolate” prompt”.

I think I’ll do another month sometime. For April, if I have time, I think I’ll just pick a few of my favorite ideas to do. Thanks Awesome Alice for making those lists!

Gathering here.

Birch Log Pretzels – Cozy Mountain Lodge Women’s Retreat

Birch Log Pretzels - Cozy Mountain Lodge Women's Retreat

While I’ll admit that the spiritual side of retreat is the most important, when I signed on for last year’s (and again for this year’s) women’s retreat planning committee, it was with the desire to pamper, spoil and bless the women from my church. I wanted to help us transition from a “conference” atmosphere to one of restful, retreat. I don’t know about you, but for me, that means food. And at least some of it should be chocolate.

Birch Log Pretzels - Cozy Mountain Lodge Women's Retreat

Yesterday, my 6 year old and I made these Birch Log Pretzels. We melted the white candy melts according to package directions. She stirred and stirred while I got the pretzels open and pulled out the unbroken ones. She also stirred for me between pretzel “dips”. Instead of dipping, though, since I was using a shallow container, I spooned the melted candy over the part of the pretzel I wanted covered.

Birch Log Pretzels - Cozy Mountain Lodge Women's Retreat

Here they are to set. I left them for an hour or so, mostly because I have six kids and my attention was needed elsewhere, but also because I wanted them good and set before adding the chocolate.

Birch Log Pretzels - Cozy Mountain Lodge Women's Retreat

Then I drizzled melted milk chocolate chips over them to get the “birch” look. It was pretty simple. That took a little while to set because our house was comforably warm. But don’t refrigerate them because sometimes that changes the color of the chocolate. Your choice though… experiment. 🙂

I made enough extras for the kids to each try one (mom’s should just do that!) and they were well received! 🙂

Find more posts about this retreat here!

Gathering here.

Custom Chocolate Wrappers – Cozy Mountain Lodge Woman’s Retreat

When I invited myself onto the committee for last year’s women’s retreat, I really wanted chocolates on everyone’s pillow. Alas, we were in a hotel and, though there was plenty of chocolate at the Hershey Lodge and even in the rooms, I didn’t get to be a part of it. This year will be different!

DIY Chocolate Wrappers - Cozy Mountain Lodge Woman's Retreat

For this year’s retreat, we are at a retreat center in the mountains and I’m so excited. The space is homier and easier to decorate than a hotel conference room, we can bring our own food in, and I have access to all those lovely pillows before the ladies arrive! I’m so excited!

DIY Chocolate Wrappers - Cozy Mountain Lodge Woman's Retreat

So earlier this week I made up these cute custom chocolate wrappers for the Hershey’s Minitures I bought. The wrappers are approximately 1.25 inches x 3 inches and I used tape to attach them. I used scrapbook paper, but anything would work.

Then I cut out a whole bunch of little papers and hand drew the labels. Yes, there was probably an easier way, but with my husband using the computer and my time constraints, it was actually faster to hand draw them. But I actually love the hand drawn look!! I used a glue stick to attach them to each chocolate after the candies had been wrapped with scrapbook paper.

DIY Chocolate Wrappers - Cozy Mountain Lodge Woman's Retreat

I’ll be sneaking into all the rooms during set up to place these on each lady’s pillow and saying a prayer for each one’s weekend.

So, now I have a question for you. The illustrations were super simple to do and many of you can probably figure out how I did them just by looking, but I’m curious… would anyone be interested in a video tutorial on how to do the simple illustrations I included on these labels? If there is enough interest, I will try to make time for it in the coming weeks.

Gathering here.

Sweet Life Cafe Women’s Retreat Unveiling

Women's Retreat Table Decor

Our church’s women’s retreat has come and gone and it was a great time of womanly fellowship and encouragement.  As I’ve mentioned (here and here), I invited myself onto the committee as their decorator and, thankfully, they were thrilled.  I love to add the details to things and that’s just what I did.  It was me, our three pastor’s wives, and the church administrative assistant.  Each lady was so well suited in a different area and it worked out perfectly.  (Isn’t that just how God’s family works out?)

Unfortunately, I didn’t actually get a picture of the overall room, but that’s okay, because we couldn’t do much on a grand scale.  We focused on the table center pieces primarily.  Here are some of them:

Do you see that pedestal candy dish?  I made that using this tutorial I found on Pinterest!  I loved these glasses though (also from the dollar store).  So fun, easier to get your hand into, and a place for the jute to be tied on.

The coffee beans in the jar with the tea light (at the top of the post) were super fun and easy too.  I worried they would smell too strongly with 11 of them around the room, but it was only subtle.  I didn’t even notice, which is good because I don’t like the smell of coffee. 🙂  They were a Pinterest find too.

I also made these little cuties.  A pendant necklace was gifted to each of the ladies during one of the sessions, but I couldn’t let them just be tossed out on the table.  I wanted to wrap them up cute, but I didn’t want to spend a lot of time or money on it.  So I just cut strips out to the right width from 8 inch scrapbook paper.  I folded them around the necklace card and tied strings from burlap (it’s nice and skinny) around them to hold them shut.  Then I made these fun stickers.  I hand wrote each of them on labels my mom found at the dollar store forever ago and colored in the coffee beans with brown Crayola marker.  I came up with 6 different “bean” phrases for them:

Just “bean” with Jesus
God has “bean” good
He’s “bean” good to me
I have “bean” redeemed

Sorry, I don’t remember the 6th one. 🙁


My last “little” touch is actually the biggest one. 🙂  I asked my husband to make me a chalkboard sign based on this inspiration pic on Pinterest.  You can’t see it great in this picture, but it turned out wonderfully and I created my first chalk sign on a large scale.  I’ll be using this more often and hopefully will get better at it with practice. ;)You can find the rest of my retreat ideas, the ones I used and the ones I didn’t, over on my Women’s Retreat Pinterest Board

I was a bit discouraged last week that I didn’t get to a lot of my ideas, but then I remembered that, this way, I can use them at future retreats and events and they will still be new.

Gathering here.

An Attempt at Chalkboards

This weekend is the long awaited and prepared for Women’s Retreat for my church.  All my coffee themed work to date was created for this retreat, as were a number of other things.  Among them are these chalkboards.

This my first attempt at lettering and doodling on a chalkboard and I got plenty of practice on them.  I wouldn’t call any of them perfect, but since they are just for the weekend, I’m not too worried about it.  They are cute just the same.

As I said, this was my first real experience with chalkboard art.  As such, I made a few rookie mistakes.  The biggest was to use chalk markers on chalkboard paint without sealing them first.  Yep, I’m pretty sure the first 5 I did are permanent.  I’ll either sand and repaint after the retreat is over or find something to do with them.  If people think they are any good, maybe they could make their way into my up and coming Etsy shop or a first ever giveaway here at my little space.

This weekend, though, these little guys will be part of the centerpieces.  I have a few others that weren’t done yet when I took these picture that will be around the room.  I’ll try to get some picture during set up tonight, but the light won’t be as nice at the hotel.

So many things left to do and we’re leaving in less than 2 hours.  Since the little ones won’t nap unless I sit with them for a bit, though, I thought I’d post these for you to wet your appetite for the rest.

Gathering here.

Sweet Life Cafe Women’s Retreat Save the Date Card


I invited myself onto the women’s retreat committee this year and I’ve been having so much fun already!  I’m sure I’ll have more to show in the next couple months as it approaches, but this is a prototype I made up in the fall.  The tag is something I designed and hand lettered myself.  It says: something sweet is brewing.  Unfortunately when the scan was printed out, the printer had a streak.  Since it was the prototype, I left it in.  I couldn’t find a picture of the final project… if I do I’ll add it in later.

We made up about 100 of these in the end.  It was a little crazy, but they were so fun!  I just couldn’t help myself! 🙂

Updated 2/2019
I’m adding the templates for you, so that you can make your own without having to figure everything out for yourself. Click on the links below and either download (for the pdf) or “save as” for the jpg images.

Jpg of the Cup Template: click here and “save as” the image.
Jpg of the Sleeve Template: click here and “save as” the image.
Jpg of the Something is Brewing Artwork: click here and “save as” the image. (This one isn’t a whole sheet for you to print, but you could make your own.

Insert the Cup Template into your word processing software and move it to the back. Then insert a text box over one of them and fill it with your text. Copy and paste to the others, or repeat the steps over the other cups.

Trace or print the Sleeve Template on the back of colored card stock or scrapbook paper and cut them out. Fold them around the cups after they are cut out and glue, tape or use a sticker to hold them shut.

Mount the “Something is Brewing” Artwork onto paper or card stock and mount it on colored or decorative paper. Punch a hole in one corner and tie it around the sleeve with your ribbon, raffia, or twine of choice.

Using double sided tape, insert a piece of chocolate or other candy under the ribbon.

I hope you enjoy this project! It would be great for save the date or invitations! You could even use them as thank you notes or even just a note of encouragement with a different tag.

The copywork information is only on the pdf versions of the downloads, but please honor it on all of them.

***Official legal stuff: Copyright remains my own. Please only use them personally or in your classroom or church. Print them and give them as gifts. But please don’t distribute them online or claim them as your own. If you want to share them on your own blog, please be sure to give me credit and include a link back here. Thanks! They are my original work and I’d like to be able to continue sharing what I create with you all.

Gathering here.

A Narnia Birthday and Hand Lettered Quotes

These are something a little more recent.  I already mentioned that I do something special for each of my kids’ birthdays.  Last year my oldest son’s theme was birds, but this year I went with a bookish theme and picked Narnia.  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.  These are my takes on them:


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:


And a “Tumnus Tea” for breakfast:


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


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


Then there was the cake.

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

Shared on Inspire Me Mondays.

Inspire Me Monday at Create With Joy