4th of July Brownie Bites

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4th of July Brownies | shaneskillercupcakes.com

Tomorrow is the 4th of July, so I whipped up these easy brownies as a last minute treat for a BBQ I’m attending. I used a delicious brownie mix I only recently started using. Most brownie mixes that I’ve used taste like brownie mixes. They taste good but not quite as decadent as homemade brownies.

A few weeks ago I tried Trader Joe’s Brownie Truffle Baking Mix with Dutch Cocoa and Chocolate Chips for the first time and was impressed at how rich and delicious it was. It’s also nice that it already has chocolate chips included in it! To make these brownies you can use whatever mix or recipe you want, but I’d suggest trying the Trader Joe’s mix. It’s a good thing to have around when you need a dessert fast and don’t want to rummage through the kitchen collecting all the ingredients.


Make your brownies and let them cool completely. Cut them into small squares and drizzle melted frosting on the top. If you want them to be festive, sprinkle a few jimmies on each.

4th of July Brownies | shaneskillercupcakes.com

That’s it! They are easy to make and don’t require a lot of artistic skill, yet they look pretty and patriotic.

4th of July Brownies | shaneskillercupcakes.com

4th of July Brownie Bites

Yield: 36 bites

Serving Size: One brownie bite


  • A batch of brownies, cooled completely
  • 1/3 of a can of white frosting
  • Red, white and blue sprinkles
  • Optional:
  • Marshmallows
  • Chocolate chips
  • Nuts


  1. Make your brownies from a mix or recipe and let cool completely. Add extra items (nuts, chocolate chips, marshmallows, etc) to the brownies if you wish.
  2. Cut the brownies into one inch squares.
  3. Put a cooling rack on top of a wax paper-covered cookie pan and place the brownie bites onto the rack.
  4. Melt the frosting in a bowl for 10-30 seconds until the consistency is liquid but still thick.
  5. Drizzle the frosting in a zig zag pattern over each brownie bite.
  6. While the frosting is still wet, sprinkle with your red, white, and blue jimmies.
  7. Chill brownies in the fridge for about 10 minutes to set the frosting.
  8. Serve at room temperature.

I added marshmallows to my brownies, but they turned brownish yellow while baking and kind of messed up my red, white, and blue color scheme. They taste great though!

4th of July Brownies | shaneskillercupcakes.com

What are you doing for the 4th of July? Are you making anything special?


****I was not sponsored or paid by Trader Joe’s to recommend their product. I just really like it!****

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D.I.Y. Circus Marquee Sign {Tutorial}

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This past weekend I had a circus/carnival themed party at my house. When I first started planning the party, I knew I wasn’t going to have a lot of money to spend on decor, but I needed to have some big spectacular pieces if I wanted my house to look anything like a circus.

Luckily, a trip to the dollar store for some plastic tablecloths fixed my circus tent situation, but what is a circus without its sign?!


Marquee letters and signs can range anywhere from $30-$40 per letter and into the hundreds for whole signs! I don’t know about you, but I wasn’t going to spend that much on a decor item for some silly party I’m having for friends. It’s just not going to happen.

As I do with many things I can’t afford, I make them. While oftentimes making an item can end up costing more than the store bought item, in this case, it’s just the opposite!

Most of the items for this project can be found around the house or easily bought for little money.

Supply List

  • Poster board
  • Letter stencils
  • Foam core board
  • A string of LED lights (length depends on how many letters you make)
  • Ping pong balls
  • A drill with a bit
  • A box cutter/ X-acto knife
  • String
  • Pencil/pen
  • Glossy spray paint
  • Hot glue gun/ hot glue sticks
  • Masking tape
  • Ruler/yardstick

First you want to make the letter stencils. Find the right font for your sign and print the letters out at the correct size for tracing onto the foam core board. I used Freak Show font because it had fat wide letters that would be easy to fit the ping pong balls into and it looked like a circus font. Just remember, if you use a fancier font like I did, this project will take longer to edge with the poster board.

If you want your letters to be bigger than a sheet of 8.5″ x 11″ paper you can use blockposters.com to break your letter image onto other sheets of paper and then cut and tape them together.


Once you have your letter stencils cut out, trace them onto the foam core. Since my sign was relatively small, I only needed one sheet of foam core. Cut out the letters with a sharp X-Acto knife. A sharp craft knife is important because you won’t have to push down as hard and the edges will be smoother. Also make sure to put something under the foam core such as a self healing cutting mat or a piece of cardboard, so you don’t cut into something you care about.

At this time, use your drill to make 1/4″ holes in the foam core where you want the lights to push through. If you need larger holes, you can use a larger bit or stretch the holes by pushing a thick pen or marker through the hole. I had to use the pen trick, because I didn’t have any larger drill bits!


Next, cut 3″ strips of poster board. I just cut one long strip and then cut it down as I figured out the lengths I needed. I also drew myself a guide line about 1″ in on one side so that I knew where to glue the strip to the edge of the foam core.IMG_5457

To measure the lengths of poster board, take a piece of string and run it along one continuous side. Cut the string to the correct length and then measure the string for the length to cut the poster board to.

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Evil Witch Cupcakes

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Wicked witches are one of my favorite Halloween monsters. I love that they use potions and spells and cats (CATS! I love cats) to enact evil. I just can’t get enough of them.

There are many ways to make them into cupcakes, but after looking for ideas online for witch cupcakes, none of them quite looked like how I wanted my witches to look. Some were too cutesy, others hinted at witches but didn’t have faces, and so on. I knew I wanted my witches to have certain features: a mean or scary face, a hat, and a nice big hooked nose with warts.

These were the cupcakes I came up with! Of course, when coming up with something new, you learn a few things along the way, especially what not to do! I like how they turned out, but they did put up a little fight while I was building them.

My troubles started when I could no longer find chocolate sugar cones in the stores. I know they existed in the past, because I bought some once, but I guess they have since been discontinued, as every store I checked only had regular sugar cones. I acquiesced and got the regular ones, but the chocolate ones would have worked better. I’ll get to why a little later.


You’re going to want to collect quite a few things for this project. I’ll give you a list of all the items I used, but you’re in no way confined to it:

  • Sugar cones (preferably chocolate ones if you can find them)
  • Cupcakes of your choosing (I used Duncan Hines Devil’s Food)
  • Chocolate wafers (I used Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers)
  • Green chewy candy (Starbursts or Tootsie Rolls)
  • Decor gel in black and green
  • Green and yellow food coloring drops or gels
  • White frosting (I used this recipe from the Food Network)
  • Halloween candies and sprinkles (bugs, pumpkins, skulls and bones, colored sprinkles, etc.)
  • Candy eyeballs and/or M&Ms for eyes
  • Crispy chow mein noodles (I used these ones)
  • Candy melts in chocolate or black color

While you bake your cupcakes, you can get some of the decor items made. I made the witch hats first, because I knew they were going to take some construction time and need time to chill. If you can find chocolate sugar cones, this process will be much faster, as you won’t need to cover them in chocolate. Using chocolate cones is the preferred method, because the chocolate dipped hats were just a tad too heavy for my cupcakes and they toppled over! But if you can’t find the chocolate cones, here’s how to construct the hats.


Cut the cones down a bit with a small serrated knife to make them fit the chocolate wafer cookies better. To keep it from cracking apart, make small cuts all the way around and then gently break it off. If it’s jagged, use a small cheese grater or a Microplane zester to file the bottom smooth.


Next, melt your candy melts in a bowl and dip both the cookie wafers and the outside of the cones in it. While the chocolate is still wet, on a wax paper-lined cookie sheet, place the cone on top of the wafer to form a hat.


If you find the chocolate cones, all you need to do is dip the bottoms of the cones in the melted chocolate and place them on the wafer brims to glue them together. Since the cookie wafers and chocolate cones are relatively the same color brown/black, they don’t need to be dipped fully in chocolate. This also makes the hats lighter and less likely to tip your witches over.

Stick the freshly dipped hats in the fridge to harden.


The next things to work on are the noses. Warm the green chewy candies in the microwave for 10-15 seconds to make them pliable. I used green Tootsie Fruit Rolls for my noses. Each Tootsie Roll makes two noses. Shape the noses with your fingers until they look how you like. One thing I found out while making these is that the noses fell off the face easily, so to keep them on, cut a toothpick in two and stick it into the back of the nose.

Make your frosting, or use canned frosting, and color it the same green as the noses. You may need to use a little yellow coloring too.

For the witch hair, I used the crispy chow mein noodles dipped in chocolate. Chill these as well. You could use a number of things for the hair though. Another idea would be black licorice string.


Decorate the hats when they are chilled with candy sprinkles. I used some of the decorating gel to draw a band around the hats and then placed different candies and sprinkles on them.

Once the cupcakes are cooled, peel the wrappers off of the ones you plan to make into witches. For the faces, the cupcakes will be placed on their sides, so cut off part of a side of a cupcake to create a flat surface for the cupcake to sit on. Cut off the opposite side to make a flat surface for the hat too. Then frost the cupcakes with your green frosting.

Place the eyes, nose, and hair onto the cupcake. For a craggily-looking witch, add some warts. I used a brown round candy sprinkle for her face warts and the decorating gels for warts on the noses. Draw on a mouth and for angry eyebrows, use a single sprinkle each. Lastly, place the hats on the top. If the hats are too heavy, like mine were, prop the cupcake up in the back with something. I used the tops of the ice cream cones that I had cut off earlier.


Since the witches were difficult to put together, and kept threatening to fall apart, I only ended up making three and used the rest of my supplies to make other treats. The chocolate-dipped hats are pretty good treats on their own. Since I still had about 20 cupcakes left, I just frosted them normally, and decorated them with the Halloween sprinkles.


One thing I loved about these witches is that each witch ended up with a different facial expression and personality. One looked mean, another scared, and the other looked confused.

IMG_3210I hope you give these evil witch cupcakes a try this year even if they are a little difficult to construct. Since they are so customizable, they would be great for a decorating party.

Even my cat wanted to get in on the decorating!


Photo shoot crasher

Have a safe and happy Halloween, everyone!

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Shabby Chic Tea Party

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The tea party was a success! Putting on a party mostly by yourself is a tad daunting, but I’m really pleased with how everything turned out. Of course I was getting things ready all the way up to when people started to arrive, so I didn’t get all the photographs of the decor I wanted, but these pictures will give you an idea of what it looked like.

I made most of the decor myself. I explained how to make some of the decor here and here. For this lovely background, I found instructions at KoJo Designs for the paper flowers and at Shiny Happy Sprinkles for the paper fringed backdrop. It’s a really great idea for an inexpensive background that looks pretty and covers a good sized area. Something like this would be perfect for a photo booth background too!

I invited my guests with these home made tea invites. The invite is about the size of a business card and I attached it to a bag of tea.


I asked my friends to dress up in their nicest clothes, and while everyone did, I put an accessories table together just in case someone didn’t have any fancy jewelry or hats to wear.


There was one table that had all the tea supplies ready and I decorated the fireplace and mantel with flowers, candles, and the fabric swag and tea party banner that I showed you how to make last week. I had various glassware for my guests to drink iced teas from, but my favorites were these milk bottles I decorated with ribbon and paper flowers.


The food table had all sorts of treats that fluctuated throughout the day. I provided tea sandwiches, cookies, biscuits and jam, petits fours, popcorn, fruit salad and candy. There was a ton to eat!


These chocolate-dipped shortbread tea bag cookies were a hit! You can find the recipe for them here. The petits fours were also popular, especially the chocolate ones since they were devoured before I was able to get a closeup photo of them. If you’d like to make the petits fours click here for the recipe.

Thanks for joining me for my tea party!


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D.I.Y. Shabby Chic Party Decor {Part 2}

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In this second and final installment of my Shabby Chic Tea Party crafts series I’m going to go over a couple of easy tissue paper and painting crafts that will instantly add a lot of shabby chic charm to your decor.

Tissue Paper Flowers and Poms

Tissue Flowers and Poms are pretty simple to make. It’s a craft that I think they even teach in elementary school, that’s how easy this is. To make both, follow the instructions below:

tissuepom1. Select your tissue pieces. The length of a sheet of tissue paper is a good starting point and depending on how wide you want your pom, trim it down. I believe for the pink pom above I used 20 inch x 20 inch tissue paper and cut it in half giving me 20 inch x 10 inch sheets. Next, layer about 8-10 sheets on top of each other. For flower poms, you wont need as many sheets, maybe 4 or 5 at most.

2. Next, accordion fold your sheets. Make the folds about one inch in size.

3. Gather up your folds and twist some wire around the center. If you’re making a flower, chenille stems (pipe cleaners) are good for this, because they will hold the paper together and also act as a flower stem. For the poms, make a hook or loop from the other end of the wire for hanging purposes. On the top and bottom, cut a rounded or pointed tip. This will make it look more rounded or flower-like once you open the layers.

4. Fan out the paper and carefully pull the layers apart. Take it slow or you might end up tearing your petals.

Painted Decor

Painted Crate

To paint a crate to look shabby chic, you’re going to want to either start with some old wood or if you buy a new crate, like I did, layer some colors on top of each other. If you start with old, darkened wood, paint on top of it with a soft pastel or white and when it’s dry, sand some of the paint off so that it looks worn and old.

For a new crate, or other wooden object, paint it in a base coat of some brown.


When that layer is dry, paint it with your top color. I chose a pretty turquoise color. Don’t worry about full coverage here. If some of the brown shows through, that will add to the worn effect.


When I was done painting the turquoise, I felt like it was a little too bright so I softened it up with a paint mixture of the turquoise and white. I sort of dry brushed it on so that it wouldn’t cover up too much of the original turquoise. Dry brushing is done with a dry brush and just a little paint on the tip. It creates a streaking effect and looks good for this craft.


The light top coat also gave the paint a sun bleached look that was great. The final step is to sand the edges and across the sides a little so that the brown shows through. The more the paint looks worn and chipped, the better. I even took a knife to it to chip some of the paint off. Distressing is your friend here.

Other Painted Decor

I would highly suggest thrift shopping for shabby chic party decor. If you can find items that you like, even if they don’t quite look right, they can always be painted. I found a set of metal napkin holders that, once painted (and sanded) looked great.


When I found this candelabra at a local Goodwill it had been sloppily painted a gold color. I loved the plastic crystals hanging off of it, so I grabbed it. A couple of spray painted coats of white later, the gold was gone, and it fit in with my color scheme.


Another thing I found at thrift stores were mason jars. You can also get them new if  you can’t find them used. I did a quick coat of spray paint on these babies too and then, once again, lightly sanded some of it off to look worn. I’m using these for flower vases.


If you get imaginative, you can use pretty much anything, and with the right paint job, it’ll look great at your shabby chic party.

I hope these techniques are easy for you to follow. If you have any questions about any of the instructions leave a comment below.

Coming soon, I’ll document my shabby chic tea party (it’s this weekend!) and share with you how it turned out and all the yummy food I made.

If you missed Part 1 of my shabby chic party decor tutorial click here.

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D.I.Y. Shabby Chic Party Decor {Part 1}

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This month is my shabby chic themed tea party, and I have been handcrafting a number of my decor items to keep the cost down. The best things to keep in mind for the shabby chic look is that it should look worn but charming. Chipped paint, ratty, frayed edges, and pastel floral patterns are a good place to start. This installment will cover the different banners and garlands I’ve made for the party.

Fabric Strip Swag

This was fairly easy to make and quick too. I got some pretty floral cotton fabric prints and tore them into strips. I found some of the fabric at local thrift stores for cheap and then filled it out with 1/4 yard cuts of fabric from a fabric store. The great thing about cotton fabric is that if you cut a little snip in it, you can tear the rest, and it will tear straight. This is great for two reasons: it’s super easy and quick to get your strips, and it looks a little tattered and worn for the shabby chic look. These strips are about 2-3 inches wide and vary in lengths. I eyeballed everything so that it wouldn’t look too uniform. Tie or loop the strips to a piece of twine and you’re good to go! You can also add lace or burlap ribbon to it for a varied look.


Tea Party Banner

For this one, I used 4.5 inch x 6.5 inch sheets of burlap that I found in a pack at the local craft store. Any tight woven burlap will work for this, but these sheets were already the right size. You can cut them into any flag shape you want, I chose to cut them into swallowtail flag shapes.



For the lettering, you can do it several different ways. If you have a shape cutting machine you could make a stencil and paint it on, or free hand it, or use a light box with the lettering printed out on some paper. I chose the last option because it looked the most professional without costing me tons of money for expensive tools and it was easy. Not having a light box, I had to get creative. I used my glass serving tray and a flashlight underneath to trace the letters onto the burlap. Any piece of glass would work for this. You could even use a window and tape the printed letters to it. You just need some back lighting.

IMG_1714 IMG_5721

With a marker similar to the color you’re going to paint the letters, trace the outside of the letters. Next, fill in the letter with your paint.

IMG_5724Attach the flags to some twine by folding the top over the string and hot gluing it together. Since burlap is loosely woven, be careful when hot gluing. It could get on your hands easily and burn. You could also use fabric glue but you’ll need to clamp it together while it dries.

I chose to hang this banner in front of the fabric strip swag.

Pennant Flag Garland 


This one is also easy. First, get a paper stack of floral prints and other paper you like from the scrapbook section of your craft store. I got an 8.5 inch x 11 inch stack and was able to get 3 pennants from each sheet of paper. Measure to the center of one of the 11 inch sides (5.5 inches) and measure 2.75 inches on either side of the other 11 inch side of the paper. Then connect the measure marks like in the diagram below and cut out your pennant shapes.


With a hole punch, cut a hole in each corner of the top of the pennant and string some twine through for hanging.


Doily Garland


This garland is very pretty and takes minimal effort. All you need is a package of 8 inch paper doilies, some paper or fabric flowers, and a piece of ribbon.


Fold each doily in half, attach to a piece of ribbon and glue a flower to the center of each one. I found some paper flowers on Etsy for this garland.

I used clothespins to arrange the doilies on the ribbon and then one at a time took the pins off and hot glued the doilies down. After that, I glued the flowers down to the front. Easy peasy.


In Part 2 of D.I.Y Shabby Chic Decor, I’ll be showing you how to make some inexpensive but pretty decor from tissue paper and a few painting projects that add the finishing touches to a shabby chic party.


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