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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The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook: Just in Time for the Finale! #review #giveaway

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I don’t know about you, but I’ve been a Mad Men fan for years. As difficult of a time as the 1960s (and now ’70s) were, Mad Men has always made this decade seem so sexy and cool. I’ve had a long time love affair with mid-century decor and watching Mad Men is like TV porn for me.  The costumes are so specific and structured, the sets are so stylistic and unique, and although the food of the ’60s isn’t featured on the show as much (outside of alcohol, so, so much alcohol), the food of the ’60s was also very interesting.

When I find a cookbook from this era, I get really excited. The colorful, yet desaturated photography of the time made the food look almost plastic, and in some cases unappetizing, but I still feel a sort of whimsy when I see the recipes from so long ago.

One book that captures both the recipes of the time and the show Mad Men is The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook: Inside the Kitchens, Bars, and Restaurants of Mad Men by Judy Gelman and Peter Zheutlin. This book delves into the food and drink that appears on the show. Featuring recipes from some of the restaurants and bars mentioned on Mad Men, and cookbooks of the time, The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook gives us a nice sample of of the cocktails, entrees, and desserts of the ’60s. Many of the recipes are paired with a show reference, history of the dish, or a suggestion for a character from the show. This is a cookbook that informs you of the past while teaching you the recipes. I love that!


While there is a lovely section of full-color pictures from some select recipes, this cookbook is more focused on print information than photographs of the final products. What that means is the book is packed with more than 70 recipes that represent mid-century eating and drinking and the stories that go with them. Speaking of drinking, over 25 of those recipes are cocktails alone, which isn’t a surprise when you consider alcohol is one of the most consistently prevalent things on Mad Men.

One of the recipes I tried from the cookbook was the Manhattan. I love Old Fashioned cocktails, just as Don Draper does, but since I’ve had those before, I decided to try the Manhattan. It’s a similar cocktail, using whiskey and bitters, but with less ingredients and not nearly as sweet.



  • 2 ounces rye whiskey
  • 1/2 ounce sweet vermouth
  • 2-3 dashes of Angostura bitters
  • Maraschino cherry, for garnish

Pour whiskey, vermouth, and bitters into a mixing glass with ice cubes. Stir well.
Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with the cherry.

**recipe reprinted with permission

This version of the cocktail is from the Oak Bar on Central Park South in New York where Don and Roger Sterling stop for an after-work drink in season 1 episode 7.  One thing that makes this cookbook unique, especially for a Mad Men fan, is that it points you to the episode that the drink or dish appeared, or could have appeared, in the show.

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Cherry Amaretto Cordial Cake Hearts

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Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and one thing that goes well with romantic holidays is chocolate and alcohol. These take a day or two to prep for, so if you want to make them for Valentine’s Day this year, better get to it (okay, okay, it’s my fault I didn’t get these posted sooner)! You can make them for any time of the year though so don’t fret if you don’t have time to do them this week.


There are a few things you’ll need to make these. You’ll need a silicone mold of some kind that has slightly deep wells (I used a heart treat mold), some melting chocolates in your favorite colors or flavors, chocolate cake mix, canned frosting, maraschino cherries, cherry topping, pie filling or cherry jelly, and some amaretto.


The amaretto doesn’t have to be the expensive kind. I got the cheaper stuff and it worked well for this recipe. For the cherries I chose maraschino cherries because they are bright and sweet. Fresh cherries could work too, but would change the flavor a bit. The cherry topping I found actually tasted more like fresh cherries and was dark in color but it went great with all of the other ingredients.

The first thing you want to do, is pull the maraschino cherries out of their syrup, drain, and dry them a bit. I just rolled them around in a couple paper towels. Pop them into an empty jar and pour the amaretto over them. Let them soak for 24-48 hours.

On the day you make the treats, bake the chocolate cake first and let it cool. While it cools, make your cherry sauce by adding 1/4 cup of cherry topping (strained of fruit pieces) with 1/4 cup of amaretto, set aside. If you’d like to omit the alcohol, don’t soak the cherries in it and only use the cherry topping for the sauce. If you’re using cherry jelly and need to thin it a bit, mix a little cherry syrup into it instead of amaretto.

Prepare your silicone mold by melting the chocolate/candy melts and coating just the bottom and sides of each heart well. The back of a spoon and a pastry brush helped me get it covered. Make sure there are no holes! Freeze the mold for 5 minutes. I suggest placing the mold on a baking sheet to keep it from bending.


Once the cake is cool, crumble it up in a bowl and mix in 1/2 cup of frosting until it is completely combined. It should have a consistency of clay. It’s a messy job, but I like to mix it with my hands, I find it easier to combine this way.

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Product Spotlight: Tiny Hands Jewelry

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Lately I’ve been posting a lot about Tiny Hands Jewelry on my Facebook page and you may be wondering why I’ve been obsessed with it so much recently.  I got the opportunity to become a Tiny Hands Ambassador this past month and I couldn’t be happier. What this means is that I can bring you Tiny Hands jewelry at a discounted rate, and in return I’ll get a small commission from each sale made through my Shane’s Killer Cupcakes Facebook page. Keep an eye out for future sales! All the money I make from this adventure will be funneled back into the blog, and I’ll be able to offer more giveaways in the future, so it’s a win-win for all of us!

I came across Tiny Hands jewelry a couple of years ago and fell in love with it immediately. All of the adorable artistry is thanks to Mei Pak, the founder of Tiny Hands, and her assistants. You may have seen her work before and not even realized it. She’s had her jewelry featured in many lifestyle magazines such as Every Day with Rachael Ray and InTouch Magazine, and even Amy Poehler’s character Leslie Knope wears her maple scented waffle necklace on NBC’s Parks and Recreation.


I also own the maple scented waffle necklace and it smells and looks as good as you can imagine. I’m a huge fan of Parks and Recreation, so I just had to have the same necklace that Leslie has (I’m also about as crazy for breakfast as she is too).

tinyhands-owner-mei-lowresBack in 2006, Mei set out to create a product that combined quality with sweet, feminine charm. What she’s ended up with is a lovely collection of delectable scented food jewelry that comes in necklaces, rings, earrings, bracelets and even customized pieces. All of her polymer clay pieces are created in the USA at her Minnesota studio. Do you like desserts and comfort food? If you do, then Mei will have just the piece for you! Currently she offers miniature versions of your favorite foods (cupcakes, ice cream, bonbons, donuts, popcorn, corn dogs, bacon, etc) which can be worn daily or even saved for a special occasion. The quality and expertise imbued into each piece is remarkable.

As you know, I LOVE sweets, but one thing that always keeps me from enjoying them is those darn calories! With Tiny Hands deliciously scented jewelry, now you can have your sweets without all those pesky calories. Sure, you can’t eat them (I wouldn’t recommend it) but when you’re craving a dessert maybe just looking and sniffing some of Tiny Hands jewelry will suffice! And it’s zero calories! Whoo!


Tiny Hands jewelry is perfect for gift giving. Each piece is packaged in a lovely gift box. When I bought my piece last year, I was surprised how pretty the packaging was. It was like a surprise gift I received in the mail even though I was expecting it to arrive!

Take a look at her full collection. It just makes me hungry looking at it! For just a sample of her beautiful jewelry take a look below:

In the coming weeks/months, I’ll be running flash sales featuring pieces of Tiny Hands jewelry marked down 10%-15%. I want to offer you discounts on the pieces you want to buy, so let me know which pieces you love in the comments and maybe you’ll find them on sale soon!

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Mini Birthday in a Box

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Birthdays can feel a little stale as we get older. I know I don’t look forward to my birthday with the same excitement and wonder I had when I was a child. And birthdays are even less exciting when you don’t have the ones you love with you to celebrate them. That’s why I put together this mini birthday in a box for my boyfriend when his birthday rolled around earlier this month and I couldn’t join him for it.


The BF had to relocate for work about 1250 miles from where I live and seeing him has gotten a little difficult. It didn’t help that his move also had to happen right before the holidays and we were apart for about 3 holidays and his birthday in the past 2 months. But to make him feel as much like he is at home (and to keep my mind off the fact that he’s MOVED 1250 MILES AWAY!), I’ve been sending him little care packages whenever I could. One of them was this mini party in a box for his birthday.


The small 5in x 5in x 5in box includes:

  • Mini birthday banner
  • Birthday pirate badge
  • Tiny party hat
  • Balloon
  • Jar of candy
  • Confetti with instructions on how to distribute it
  • Candles (including ones that remind him of his “old age”)
  • Polymer clay cake and an itty bitty pastry box
  • Small wrapped birthday present
  • An “It’s Your Birthday!” sign that I repurposed from a bookmark


The clay cake was a new area for me. I make real cakes all the time but making a miniature cake from clay was a totally different experience. I watched a few tutorials to get the hang of working with polymer clay for tiny food, but it was still much harder than I expected! I have new respect for the adorable clay food jewelry I see on Etsy and Tiny Hands Food Jewelry. The pastry box was much easier. I just found a cake box template online and then downsized it and cut it out of pink card stock. Even the glue marks that were left on the paper looked like authentic grease spots!


For the mini party hat, I made a circle by tracing a bowl onto the patterned paper I wanted to use. I cut it out and then cut it in half. Next I wrapped the half circle into a cone and glued it together. When the glue was dry, I hot glued a sparkly pom onto the top. I attached the strings to the sides by tying them to small holes I punched on either side of the hat.


Luckily, my boyfriend puts up with all my crafty projects and may even enjoy them.


Do you do anything special for holidays or birthdays for friends and family who live far away? I’d love to hear some of your ideas for care packages!

****Disclosure: I am a Tiny Hands Ambassador.  I make a small commission from Tiny Hands sales made from my Facebook page.**** 
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