Monday, September 23, 2013

DIY Planted Teacup Favors and Seed Packets

One of the major headaches that weddings can cause is the question of favors. They can also be an afterthought if you aren’t careful about planning. What should we get in bulk to give to our guests to take home? What favors won’t cost a big load of money? What will they actually use and like?
Pinterest has definitely tackled that dilemma that will take brides beyond the standard candle or potted plant. These revolutionary ideas include everything from candy stations (which I have actually seen in person) to every small knick-knack that has ever come in bulk. But really how many pairs of cheap sunglasses do you need?

To go with our English theme I played around with the idea of using vintage tea cups collected from various thrift stores for my bridal shower. The ideas went from filled with homemade wrapped caramels, to briefly candles, and finally to potted plants. Despite the cliché, I liked the idea of individual plants in different teacups.
We even played around with attaching teabags to the teacups, directly plagiarizing from my bridal shower (I’m a hopeless bride.) Luckily, our wedding coordinators suggested seed packets instead.

Whether or not my guests will actually use the seed packets and potted teacups is still unknown. But then again, they were pretty.
The Breakdown:

You of course want a beautiful favor your guests will remember. But unlike the SNL skit, that doesn’t mean two tickets to Italy and $40,000. Hopefully these budget friendly favors will go over better than cheez-its and a mini bottle of water.

The teacups cost about $1 per cup at thrift stores, but if you have a bigger wedding than 50, I recommend finding bigger quantities for less.
We got the potted pansies $4 for 6, costing roughly about $1.50 per plant.

The cost of actual seeds which you can get in bulk from ended up costing roughly 70 cents a packet (versus $2.00 a packet at retailers.)  They had quantities starting at ¼ lb. to multiple pounds so you can get different types of seeds like we did.
Including the printer paper, glue, etc. each favor cost about $3.30 said and done to make.

$1.00 Teacup and Saucer
$1.50 Plant
.70 Seeds
       +   .10 Paper/Glue
Total: = $3.30 each
Why DIY?
When doing extensive research about our particular favors, I found that traditional seed packets (that aren’t even that pretty,) you see at the garden store go for $1.50-$2.00 each and those aren’t even personalized! There are companies that will customize wedding seed packets with your names and image, but after the initial “personalization cost” of $85-$115 for your own “message,” in addition to .35 per packet for 50-100, we would have nearly reached our total budget just for the packets. Not to mention they only offered three types of wildflowers for the seeds. (If you don't want a DIY seed packet, that site isn't bad and they will send you a packet sample.)

After shopping around, I found seeds in bulk for much cheaper with a heck ton more variety. Armed with vintage seed packet clip art from Jodie Lee Designs and the Microsoft Office template, we could make our own packets that were really personal.

Not to mention the teacups looked awesome.

The Knot and wedding wisdom say budget 1-2% of your budget for favors, so we were “right on the money” so to speak. Either the teacup portion of the favor or the seed packet would make nice favors for your wedding or even a bridal shower.
The completed seed packets would also work as a part of another favor such as a small garden shovel, pale, wine glass etc. With a little bit of tweaking the template, these would also be great as combined place cards/favors for seating with the guest’s name printed on the seed packet.

If you have a smaller wedding like us and have the time to DIY, this was a very personal gift that a lot of the guests loved (and pocketed two or more.) If you have a more standard 100+ wedding, I recommend either the teacups or the seed packets. But hey, I heard you can get sunglasses in bulk!
How to do it yourself:

Planted teacup favors
with attached customized seed packets

Planted Teacups

You will need:
1 teacup and saucer
1 small plant, we used pansies in different colors (I recommend getting plants that are individually packaged in six-packs)
Extra soil if small plants
Small shovel
Optional: Dot adhesives to attach saucers



·         First check each teacup for leftover sticky adhesives or grim before planting.

·         You will want to buy the pansies and transfer into the teacups around the week before the wedding so flowers stay nice and don’t wilt. Keep in cool area, especially if it’s for a summer wedding.

·         If possible bring to space the night before so you don’t have to worry about these favors on the day of. Understandably, most coordinators won’t want to deal with watering the plants days before the wedding.

 Working with individual plants, carefully take plant out of plant container. Make sure each plant is a little wet. If not, water in container before transferring.
Depending on the size of the plant, you may have to take off some of the bottom root system. Do this carefully as you don’t want to hurt the plant.

Using the small shovel and your hands, mold the bottom of the plant to fit into the narrow teacup. Place the plant in the teacup and press down on the soil so plant is securely in the cup.
Once each plant is in the teacups, gently water if needed. Be sure to wipe off the teacups for any residual soil.

Optional: use dot adhesives to attach corresponding saucer to its teacup so they stay as one unit.
How to make customized seed packets:

You will need:
Desired seeds such as wildflowers, basil, or other plant (enough for 1 tbsp. per packet)
Printer paper
Quality color printer
Glue stick
Raffia or other string to tie seed packets to teacups
One Hole-punch
Desired clip art for seed packets (Check out Jodie Lee Designs for the ones I used)
Microsoft Word Template

Download Microsoft Word Template and customize by adding desired clip art and text.
This can include a message from you as well as directions for the included seeds and vintage seed packet cover, photo, or other clip art.

Once you have customized and tweaked your template, print a tester on your color printer to test color. Once you like the proof, print desire amount of templates and carefully cut around black edges.
Once the printed seed packets are cut, carefully fold along the lines:

·         first sandwich each side of the packet together, making sure it lines up perfectly

·         Fold side flap first over; lining up with gray line. Repeat step with bottom and top flaps.

Using glue stick, glue side flap first, then bottom flap over top, careful not to get glue outside flap-lines. DO NOT glue top flap yet. Allow sides to dry.
Once dry, carefully open up packet and fill each one with 1 tbsp. of seeds. Shake seeds to the bottom.

·          Lastly, glue top flap, while leaving one edge of flap slightly loose so packets can be reopened once gifted.

·         Using hole punch, punch one hole into the glued top corner of seed packet. (Leaving the loose side for opening.)

·         Thread raffia through the hole and use to attach to handle of the teacup.
If this long break down hasn’t scared you away, I hope you consider this DIY favor for your special day!

What is the best wedding favor you’ve ever seen? What is your “dream” favor, if that’s even a thing?

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Red Lentils Lunch

For someone who just spent the last day and a half reading the new Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook from America’s Test Kitchen, I haven’t done too much inspired cooking.
Despite this I’ve become the main cook in our temporary house of four. With mother handling the sales and remodel of three respective houses, I’ve been doing a lot of the dinners. These have included tried and true classics such as homemade pesto, low-country boil, and super awesome turkey meatballs I probably can’t repeat anytime soon.

But one of the meals I’ve actually made myself was the end of a bag of red lentils that turned into something yummy.  The addition of sautéed onions, garlic, even frozen peas, etc. would be great in this for a protein packed lunch for one or two people. This recipe would also be excellent in tacos with lime and cilantro.
For this particular recipe, red or yellow split lentils work best because they turn to mush unlike green lentils which keep their shape.

Red Lentils Power Lunch
(serves 1-2)

1 cup red split lentils
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
¼ cup white wine
1 large carrot, grated
¼-1/2 shredded purple cabbage
2-3 chopped green onions or scallions
1 tbsp. olive oil
Black pepper
Garlic powder to taste


Rinse lentils gently and transfer to a medium-small saucepan with olive oil after medium-low heat. Begin to sauté gently in olive oil for a minute or two until slightly browned.

Carefully add chicken broth and wine and bring mixture to a boil. Once boiling, cover and turn to low. Cook for 12 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed and lentils are soft.

Once cooked, season with desired pepper, salt if needed, and garlic powder. Top with carrots, cabbage, and green onions on plates. Serve immediately while hot.


The Cuisiner