Very Merry Christmas

December is upon us and with that comes jolly tunes, twinkle lights, sugar cookies, presents, and CHRISTMAS CARDS! You have to admit, in a digital world receiving a holiday card via snail mail puts a smile on your face (unless you're the Grinch.) Here are some of our favorite and most popular holiday cards for 2012!

DIY Burlap Bunting Banner

Who doesn't love those adorable bunting banners you see used at weddings and parties? If you go on Etsy you can find HUNDREDS of adorable varieties of these babies. They can run you $15-$60 on average. If you're on a budget or more interested in DIY activities, these are very easy to do (and extremely budget friendly.) If you're a crafter you are going to have 90% of this on hand. You might have to run out and pick up a spool of jute twine, but that's only going to set you back $5-$6, or stencils (unless you're super confident in your painting skills and then you can just skip that all together.)

What You Need:
- Burlap (I'm using a burlap sack)
- Scissors
- Letter Stencils
- Acrylic Paint
- Sponge Brushes
- Jute Twine
- Liquid Stitch
- Sewing Machine

Before I started I quickly ironed out my burlap sack, not perfectly but just to remove some of the huge wrinkles, and then I cut out my four triangles. To get uniform triangles for the banner I created a template triangle out of cardboard. I went back over each triangle with the iron to make sure they were all nice and flat.

Be sure to lay something down under your burlap before you start stenciling (or you'll end up with paint on whatever surface you're working on.) Use your sponge to apply a thick layer of paint in each stencil.

After my paint dried I folded each top of my triangle and ran them through the sewing machine (before this, I actually put down a bit of liquid stitch just to give me a guide.) Once you're done sewing your triangles all you have left is to feed your twine through! Now you're done!

Wedding Inspiration | Burlap & Lace

I think burlap and lace are two of the most perfect elements to combine for a wedding. Burlap easily represents your casual and rugged groom, while lace represents your soft and elegant bride.

Both are a super popular item for weddings, which means both seem to increase in price at a rapid speed. Did you know that your local feed store will have burlap sacks you can purchase for a fraction of what you pay for a couple of yards of burlap at a craft store? You can cut them up and re-purpose them for your wedding. The same goes for lace. Purchasing lace at a fabric store is just crazy. Talk to your local seamstress or even look up scrap lace on Ebay. You'll be surprised at the price differences! If I could give just one piece of advice when you're planning and purchasing for your wedding, it would be: SHOP AROUND! If you found it for one price, chances are you're going to find it cheaper.

Here are some awesome ideas on how to incorporate burlap and lace into your wedding!

(Burlap & Lace Invitations | Burlap & Lace Table Runner)
(Burlap & Lace Bunting | Burlap & Lace Covered Bottles)
(Burlap & Lace Cake | Burlap & Lace Guestbook)
(Burlap & Lace Garter | Burlap & Lace Bouquet Wrap)

Big In Nashville: Celebrity Gifting Lounge

Earlier this year I had something amazing happen to me. I was asked to attend the 46th Annual Country Music Awards as a representative for The Artisan Group. I had months for this to sink in and yet it never seemed real, not even when I was boarding my plane (the first plane I’ve ever boarded in my life) headed towards Nashville, Tennessee. What an amazing opportunity for a small town, Louisiana, girl who grew up on Country Music. I've always thought of myself as a sort of authority on all things modern and classic country, and I would have never thought that would have paid off in any way.

Since that first day I knew, my excitement just continued to grow and grow (it's a miracle I didn't explode from excitement overdose!) I let that excitement take me over until one day, I realized that I would be talking on behalf of a group of super talented, and sometimes a little scary, artists (yes, as much as I love them all, some of them can get a little…testy.) That's big, that's intimidating (even more intimidating than looking into Blake Shelton's face!) Holding the fate of my business in the palm of my hands is one thing, being responsible for someone else's seemed like an entirely different league. I had to take a major breather and remind myself that it's been a long time passion of mine to promote products that I believe in, I could do this (and thankfully I could talk to a fence post about anything.) I also took major comfort in the fact that Valerie is a seasoned pro at these events and I would be under her tutelage!

Setting up for the lounge was stressful, which had nothing to do with nerves or jitters and more to do with what we were given. Thankfully I brought my fiancĂ© (mostly to give him a vacation while we worked) and he was our savior. There’s no way Val and myself could have gotten what we needed done, in the time frame, without him. Anyone else would have hindered us, but thankfully he’s who he is and can do the impossible in every situation you put him in (he would also come to our rescue for the IMPOSSIBLE break down time we were given.) Set-up day was good, once we got over the “how will we get this done” part. After we set up it gave us an opportunity to check out the other awesome vendors!

The first day of the lounge I was NERVOUS! It’s so official when you’re BACKSTAGE, walking by rooms labeled “dressing room” “press room” “talent room” and then walking past THE STAGE, the stage where the country music stars are going to sing, dance, present, and accept awards. That’s a little intimidating! We got in the room, got everything together, and we played the waiting game. I was so scared the butterflies in my stomach were going to take over and suffocate me! The first person I talked to, who wasn't press or an executive, was BRANTLEY GILBERT. When he walked in the door I saw him and I went…maybe a bit too loud, “HOLY SHIT, THAT’S BRANTLEY GILBERT!” None of the vendors knew who he was so I was giving the pocket edition biography on Brantley Gilbert. When he got to us, I just knew I had to be the one to do this. I knew him, I loved his music, I could do this. I got so lucky because he's the gentleman you expect him to be. I felt like I was talking to a friend I'd known my entire life. From there on out if just came natural. I knew what I had to do, I had come up with my elevator sales pitch for the group, and I didn't feel another ounce of jitters, not even when Blake Shelton came through (and let me just say, if you think he's good looking on tv, this man is way too handsome for his own good in real life. It's a wonder his gorgeous wife doesn't just lock him away!) It was an amazing experience to get the opportunity to promote products that are handmade by talented people to a group of some of the most talented country artists ever! I really hope they each appreciate those items as much as I do! It's hard to look in one of The Artisan Group's bags and not be blown away by the craftsmanship and time that goes into them. I really couldn't mess this up because the members gave me all the tools I needed to work with!

Some of my highlights were:
- Meeting Lisa Marie Presley! She's so petite, and absolutely beautiful. She really liked the Red Pop Daisy Wristlet MadiBella gifted at the event!
- Talking to Blake Shelton. I've been a huge fan of his since I was really young! I love seeing the success he has today. Blake actually took my Rustic Keep Calm Doodle Speaker home with him! I hope he gets a lot of enjoyment out of it!
- Seeing what fans of handmade products the members of Zac Brown Band are. You see them and you really hope they are as down to Earth as they come off as, and I really think they are! Daniel de los Reyes really loved a copper cuff by Willow Creek Jewelry!
- Kelly Clarkson was an amazing presence at the lounge! Her energy was infectious and I don't think there was one person present that didn't feel it! She really enjoyed a gorgeous watercolor painting by Jody Edwards!
You can check out more of my personal pictures from the event at my Instagram, as well as official event photographs on Facebook!

Mason Jar Wedding Invitations

If you're anything like me (and the Pinterest masses) you are all about the mason jars, and who can blame you? Functional, inexpensive, and they are timeless! No, seriously! They are! Just ask your grandma!

With so many ways to incorporate mason jars into your wedding, why not display them proudly on your wedding stationery?

Fancy Feature | pinkEpromise

I've been fortunate enough to work with my close friend Stephanie at Sprout Web Designs on a few really great projects. One of my favorites being the pinkEpromise website. What is pinkEpromise? It's a daily deals site, but not just your ordinary daily deals site. 5% of every sale goes to a breast cancer foundation! The foundation that pinkEpromise was built on is that they save YOU money and YOU help save breast cancer patients. pinkEpromise was developed as a way to raise awareness and money for a special breast cancer foundation that directly helps patient healing with spiritual, mental, physical and emotional guidance while they receive their medical care.

Be sure to sign up for the pinkEpromise daily deals newsletter! You can also find them on Facebook.

Small Business Talk | Lucky Charms

I recently saw someone make the remark that "small businesses just don't work and the ones that do just got LUCKY." Lucky? Luck? Granted I've only been a small business owner for 3 years at this point, but I don't remember being handed any lucky tokens or golden tickets. Willie must have forgotten about me that day. What I do remember about this entire process is a lot of work. I've seen plenty of people start businesses around the same time as I started Fancy Designs and I've seen a pattern. Lack of follow through. People expect to see immediate results and it just doesn't work like that. It's like when you're trying to lose those last 5 lbs. They don't just come off the day you decide to lose them. It takes a lot of work. A LOT OF WORK! If you start a business because you expect to see immediate results, you're living in a fantasy world. Sometimes that happens, but it's just not a realistic way to look at it. You can't expect to take shortcuts, you can't expect to have the same outcome someone else has had, you just have to do your own work, put in the time, and wait patiently.

I'm a contributor for IAWEO and one of the recent topics was "Why did you start your small business?" I started my business to bring a service to people that I didn't think they necessarily were receiving with varying budgets. Atleast that's what I like to tell myself. The day that I jumped head first into launching my business was when I realized that none of the people I expected to be supportive of my goal believed in me. I never once heard, "This is so exciting, I hope this goes well for you." I've learned over the years that if you want to see my full potential, all you have to do is not believe in me. I enjoy proving a nay sayer wrong but more than that, I enjoy proving to myself that I can do anything I set my mind to. I think that is the exact mind frame anyone considering going into business should have.

If you're willing to work hard, believe in yourself, and work EVEN HARDER, things can happen for you. Yes, that's going to mean looking in your bank account and asking yourself if you can survive off Ramen Noodles for the month. It's going to mean staying in to work late when your friends are out having a good time. There are countless sacrifices you are going to have to make, but if it's your true dream to own a business those sacrifices won't even be remembered 2 years down the road. All you'll see is what you've created for yourself.

It's All In The Display

I can't believe that October is almost here. That means Fall is close, but more importantly it means Fancy Designs will be backstage at the 64th Annual Country Music Awards. I can barely contain my excitement, especially after taking a peak at this years nominee list. Blake Shelton, Miranda Lambert, Luke Bryan, Eric Church, Lee Brice, Brantley Gilbert, Little Big Town, Zac Brown Band...OH MY! I thought long and hard about what would be the perfect item for me to display backstage and what better to display at a music awards event than a speaker? A custom speaker with distressed leather and parchment elements! What do you think?

Funny How a Melody Sounds Like a Memory

Nothing like a little Eric Church to get me into the mood for the 46th Annual Country Music Awards!

We'll have a fabulous country/western themed notecard set going into 85 celebrity swag bags as well as 35 swag bags that will be received by various members of the press. We'll also have something very special on display for celebrities to pose with (but that's for another day!) I'd like to introduce you all to the designs I've cooked up (and brought back) for this fantastic event.

Firstly, our Rustic Lace Notecards. These are very near and dear to my heart. They are modeled after the invitations I designed for our April 2013 wedding! Very light and elegant! Perfect for sending love notes to that special someone.

Our Divine Bovine collection is making a comeback for this event!

Another favorite of mine, our Rustic Parchment Notecards. I love the textures on it!

and lastly, our Western Skulls Notecards, that were inspired by my fiance, the bullrider.

46th Annual Country Music Awards

We are so excited to announce our participation in the 46th Annual Country Music Awards thanks to our association with The Artisan Group. If you've been following my blog, you may remember our participation in GBK's Emmy Awards Gift Lounge. It's a very exciting process and I cannot wait to share with you what we have in store for the country music icons backstage at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee!

I Didn't StUTTER

Shortly after getting the opportunity to gift one of my all-time favorites, an opportunity to gift Trista Sutter came up. Yes, Trista Sutter, from The Bachelorette (the gorgeous gal who snagged up her hunky fire fighter.)

I immediately started thinking romantic, elegant, and sweet for her design, and our Romantic Rose line was born! The design was printed on metallic champagne paper to give it an even classier quality.

This Is No sTori

It's been a while! I'm so happy to be settling back into my blog. A big thanks goes to Sprout Web Creations for helping me get it all up and running!

In the time we've been away we've had some pretty big changes, amazing opportunities, and great news come to Fancy Designs! (All in due time!) For starters The Artisan Group had an amazing opportunity to gift, non other than one of my all-time favorite people, Donna Martin Tori Spelling! The fashion & craft icon herself.

I decided to go with a sleek chevron pattern in a kelly green tone as the theme for Tori, adding a chandelier embellishment to her note card set. We also included a matching iPhone 4 case.

Be sure to check out our Tori Collection here.

How Pinteresting | Wedding Edition

Pinterest has to be the next best thing since Facebook and Twitter! Whether you're trying to organize your home, feed your picky children, planning a vacation, looking for a place to stash all the interesting things you find on the web, or just want to be inspired, Pinterest has something for you.

I'm newly engaged and we're in the beginning stages of planning our 2013 wedding and Pinterest has been an amazing tool for that. One place where I can put EVERYTHING together. Recently a friend suggested that I should chronicle our wedding planning, progress, and then our actual wedding through my blog, something I can look back on. At first I was a bit apprehensive because I have never found a good balance between personal and professional in my blogging world but I think it might be a good thing. My Happily Ever After board has become increasingly popular so that makes me think there have to be a lot of people out there with my taste. Why not offer tips, advice, and a little more inspiration?

We've decided to go with an outdoor/rustic/woodland theme for our wedding. Our colors are more of a neutral tone (champagne, tan, light brown) and we'll be pulling some color in with lavender and yellow craspedia. We've also decided against traditional flowers. We'll have a lot of unflower, flowers; moss, larkspur, babys breath, wheat, and cotton stalks.

(Rustic Bouquets | Bridal Buds)

(Babys Breath | Style Me Pretty)

(Craspedia | Style Me Pretty)

Peanut Butter Cookies

What You Need:
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup butter
- 1 cup peanut butter
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt

Cream together your butter, sugars, and peanut butter. Beat in eggs, one at a time. In a separate bowl mix together your dry ingredients. Stir your dry ingredients into your butter mixture.

Refrigerate your dough for atleast two hours.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Shape your dough into 1 inch balls. Flatten with a criss-cross pattern with the back of a fork and bake for 10 minutes (8 or 9 if your oven gets REALLY hot.)

Adventure In Candy Land

Today I'm going to teach you how to make a homemade lollipop. YEP, you heard me, lollipop! These are super fun and your family and friends are just going to love them. The beauty of it is, you can use as many shapes and sizes as you like.

What You Need:
- Candy Thermometer
- Parchment Paper
- Baking Sheet
- 1 1/2 Cups of Sugar
- 3/4 Cup of Water
- 2/3 Cup Light Corn Syrup
- 1/2 tsp. Cream of Tartar
- 1/2 tsp. Peppermint Oil
- Paste Food Coloring
- 10 Lollipop Sticks

Firstly you want to spray down your or butter your molds and/or cookie cutters. Remember how I said you can make as many shapes and sizes as you like? You'll be able to pour your sugar mixture right into the cookie cutters of your choice. Want to make some heart shaped lollipops for your sweetheart on Valentine's Day? Pull out your Valentine cookie cutters! Easter eggs? Gingerbread men? The possibilities are endless. Or you can just go for a good old circle! Circular cookie cutters/biscuit cutters make a perfect mold for your lollipops!

In your saucepan combine your sugar, water, corn syrup and cream of tartar over medium heat. Stir until all the sugar is dissolved. Bring your sugar mixture to a boil, without stirring. Remove from heat once your candy thermometer reachers 300 degrees F. (Be sure that your thermometer is clipped to your sauce pan and isn't touching the bottom of your pot.)
WARING! Be EXTREMELY careful. Sugar gets HOT and fast. You do not want to burn yourself. If you're a taste tester in your kitchen, do not be tempted to give this a little finger taste. You will burn the you-know-what out of yourself!

Stir in your oil (be careful because it's going to smell very strongly.) Poor your mixture into your prepared cutters and/or molds.
Optional: Drop in small amounts of food coloring and swirl.

Just before your candy sets, remove your molds, and insert your lollipop sticks.

Roasted Banana Ice Cream

I was all prepared to make some fantastic roasted banana cupcakes with peanut butter buttercream frosting when Will tells me that he'd like ice cream instead of cupcakes. I'd gotten my heart set on some yummy roasted banana so I decided to not be thwarted. I love the way my house smells when bananas are roasting away in the oven!

What You Need
- 3 ripe bananas
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1 tbsp. butter
- 1 cup butter milk (or whole milk)
- 1/2 cup whipping cream
- 2 tbsp. sugar
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp. salt

Start by preheating your oven to 400 degrees F. While your oven is preheating peal your bananas and cut them up. Toss them with the brown sugar and butter and pop them into the oven. Let them bake for about 15 minutes, give them a stir, and pop them back in for another 15 minutes. (Enjoy the amazing smell wafting around your kitchen as the bananas get all brown and coated in that delicious brown sugar syrup.)

Once your bananas are roasted scrape the bananas, as well as the syrup at the bottom of your baking dish, into a food processor. Add in your milk, whipping cream, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Puree until you have a nice, smooth mixture.

Refrigerate for about 4 hours and pop it into your ice cream maker. Now you patiently wait for this mixture to become a delicious batch of ice cream! Scoop your ice cream into a freeze safe container and then ENJOY!

Baked Chicken Tenders

What You Need:
For Tenders
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- panko bread crumbs (Emeril has some pretty awesome Panko)
- 1 cup milk
- 1 egg
- seasoning, we use Slap Ya Mama
For Sauce
- ketchup
- yellow mustard
- 1 tsp. brown sugar
- dash soy sauce

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and coat a baking sheet with cooking spray. Cut your breasts into strips. Whisk together your egg and milk and sprinkle in some seasoning. I let my strips sit in the egg wash for about 5 minutes. Remove your strips from the wash and dredge in your panko. I bake mine for about 15 minutes, flip them, and bake for another 15 minutes. Depending on the thickness of your strips, this time may vary. Just be sure to cook THROUGH!

If you're more of a ketchup dipper, go for it. This is one of my favorite little quick and easy sauces to make. Depending on how many people you plan to feed, you can put this together to suit your needs. Just remember 1 part mustard to 2 parts ketchup. For the two of us I usually do 4 tablespoons of ketchup, 2 tablespoons of mustard, 1 teaspoon of brown sugar, and then a dash of soy sauce. Whisk it together and enjoy! Of course you can adjust it to taste, if you like it a little more sour, add a bit more mustard. For a little spice, add in some Sriracha and it's GOLDEN!

Now you're ready to dip and dine!

Oven Fried Chimichangas

There are very few things that make me happier than a crispy, delicious chimichanga! The only bad thing about ordering one at a restaurant is that it's going to be DEEP FRIED. Of course, that's part of what makes it so delicious. Terrible, wonderful, DEEP FRIED! I discovered I could create a chimichanga just as tasty but WITHOUT the deep fried aspect! (Of course, I make up for the not deep fried by adding a terrific cheese sauce. What's a chimichanga without cheese sauce?)

What You Need
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (cooked)
- 1 cup of rice (cooked)
- 1 can drained black beans
- 1 tsp. cumin
- 2 tsp. oregano
- 1 cup salsa
- 2 chopped scallions
- 1 green pepper
- 1 onion (preferably sauteed)
- low fat sour cream
- 6 whole wheat flour tortillas (burrito size)
Cheese Sauce
- 1 tbsp. butter
- 3 tbsp. flour
- 1 cup of milk
- 1/3 cup shredded cheese

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F. Now you want to coat your sheet pan or casserole dish (whichever you choose to use) with some cooking spray. While the oven is preheating you can take the time to cook your chicken, rice, and to saute your onion. Shred your chicken up. Go ahead and combine your oregano and cumin into your salsa. Now that your chicken is all shredded, grab a bowl and toss all your ingredients in; the chicken, rice, drained black beans, your scallions, and your onion. (Depending on how you chop your pepper you can toss that in too or just lay them on top of this mixture.)

Now you can start arranging your chimichangas. I start with a dollop of sour cream right in the center of my tortilla, then a little shredded cheese, top that with my chicken mixture, roll, arrange, repeat. Once you've finished up, go ahead and pop those babies in the oven for about 20 minutes. When they come out you can enjoy them as is, add your favorite toppings (tomatoes, lettuce, sour cream, guacamole) or go ahead and add the cream sauce, which you can make while the chimichangas bake!

For the cheese sauce, you can either skip this step, take the easy way out and use some queso from the jar (or make your own queso) or go ahead and start melting your butter. Once your butter is melted you want to go ahead and whisk in your flour. Now you want to add in your milk. Once it's started to thicken and bubble, whisk in your melted cheese. Get that all melted and perfect. Remove from heat and set aside to let it thicken up a bit more. Top your chimichangas and ENJOY!

Shrimp & Mushroom Pasta

It sucks cooking in a household where you love mushrooms and fresh herbs and your boyfriend looks at them like they are poison you've snuck onto his plate. I have watched him spend 15 minutes picking out mushrooms, spinach and cheese from quesadillase, which left him with some dry tortilla and chicken. Needless to say, this dish was not a popular one in his eyes because it contained "grass" (what we normal people refer to as parsley) and the dreaded mushrooms! I'm the devious mastermind behind a plot to poison Will with fresh food.

What You Need:
- 8 oz. linguine
- 8 tbsp. butter
- 5 oz. mushrooms
- 2 tbsp. minced garlic
- 4 oz. cream cheese
- 1-2 tbsp. fresh parsley
- 1/2 cup water
- 1lb. shrimp
- salt, pepper, seasoning

Boil your noodles and while you're waiting you can go ahead and start cooking your shrimp. While my shrimp are cooking, I melt down about 2 tbsp. of butter and saute my mushrooms until they are soft and yummy.

Melt 4 tbsp. of butter and add in your cream cheese, parsley and garlic. Let your cream cheese mixture start to melt and then simmer for a few minutes. Add in your cup of water and stir your sauce. Toss in your mushrooms and your shrimp and bring the mixture to a boil.

Toss your noodles and your sauce together and enjoy!

Is there a certain food you love that your family just won't even give a chance? What's your favorite summer quickie meal?