Ideas + Inspiration | Cactus Cooler Party

This past weekend, we threw a cactus-taco-tequila-themed party as one last hurrah before Baby M arrives. As requested, I'm posting some of the decorative details to provide inspiration for your next fiesta! 


Don't get too excited...I did not hand watercolor each of them. I was lazy and used Paperless Post. :) I did draw a can of Cactus Cooler and customize a blank template with the graphic, though! (If you don't have a way to draw digitally, you could draw something similar and take a photo of it. Paperless Post has a lot of photo-ready templates you can use.)

Since I already had a Cactus Cooler vector handy, I made a clear stamp out of it to use throughout the party. Below, you can see a gold-embossed stamped image filled in with watercolor. Pretty coooool, eh?


Full disclosure :: this was not my idea. I found it on Pinterest via Design Improvised.

Supplies Needed:

DIY Cactus Balloon Supplies | Pretty Peas Paperie

How to Make a Cactus Balloon:

  1. Fill your balloons with helium. You'll need 3-4 balloons per cactus. (I used 12" balloons and filled them with varying amounts of helium to get different sizes. If you want them to float with tassels, you'll need to use a giant "main" balloon. I ended up removing the tassels for the party so our balloons would stay afloat.)
  2. With a Sharpie, draw points (aka, upward-facing arrows) all over the balloons to make your cactus look prickly. (Be careful about smudging...even though it's a Sharpie, the ink needs time to dry.)
  3. Put a dab of glue on a pink pom-pom and stick it to the top of each balloon. (Luckily, these are easy to place because there's a dark spot marking the top.)
  4. Use a strip of double-stick tape to attach the smaller balloons to your main balloon that has a string. That's it!

What I love about these balloons is that you don't have to fill them with helium. You could simply blow them up and stick 'em in a pot and they'd be just as cute. I realized this the morning after the party.


Since it was rainy on Saturday, I made a sign for the front door so people would leave their shoes on the mat. I bought 10 of these die-cut lace paper scrapbook sheets and used them for party signage throughout the house. For our "Please take off your shoes" sign, I cut out a smaller sheet of chalkboard paper and taped it to the die-cut sheet. It worked perfectly because I messed up a few times; using chalk pen saved me at least $4.00 in wasted paper!

Entry Sign (for leaving shoes at the door) | Pretty Peas Paperie

Cactus Cooler Bar | Pretty Peas Paperie


Every shindig needs a signature drink, so we chose the "Cactus Cooler Tequila Cocktail" by Sugar and Soul.

What we did differently:

We substituted the tangerine and lime juices with fresh cut limes and strawberries. Since kids were at the party (and I can't drink booze), we kept the alcohol separate so everyone could enjoy the juice and soda mixture from the dispenser.

How to Make a Cheap Styrofoam Cooler Even Cooler:

Stamp it with mini cacti using a Colorbox pigment ink stamp pad!

Original Recipe via Sugar and Soul:

  • 1 part tequila
  • 1/2 oz. triple sec
  • 1 part orange juice
  • 1 1/2 parts cranberry juice
  • 4 parts lemon-lime soda
  • 1/2 part tangerine juice
  • 1/2 part lime juice
  • Fresh mint garnish
Cactus Cooler Tequila Cocktail | Soul and Sugar
Stamped Styrofoam Cooler | Pretty Peas Paperie


Here's another fab idea I found on Pinterest via Alana Jones-Mann :: a cookie taco bar! Bend sugar cookies into "tortillas," then fill them with brownie ("beef"), coconut ("lettuce" and "cheese"), and red M&Ms ("tomatoes"). My sample cookie didn't turn out quite as cute as Alana's, but guests had fun making them and they were really yummy.

A few things I learned:

  1. Bending the sugar cookies was harder than I thought it'd be. I baked them at 350º for 9 minutes and they were barely cooked I put them in for another minute. I think the sweet spot is somewhere in between because they were soft, but the edges had begun to crisp. I recommend only baking 1-2 cookies to start to get your baking time and temperature right.
  2. The recipe calls for laying the cookies over a rolling pin to bend them. I found our rolling pins to be slightly too big, so if you have something cylindrical that's a bit smaller, that would be better. Also, with 3 rolling pins I was only able to bend a dozen cookies at once. Instead of waiting for everything to cool, I made the rest of the cookies flat and called them "tostadas." :)
  3. To keep your cookies from sticking to the rolling pin, you're supposed to use wax paper. We didn't have that on hand so I used foil - still worked!
  4. I accidentally bought unsweetened coconut for the lettuce and cheese. The food coloring didn't spread as evenly, but we ended up liking that there wasn't quite as much sugar added to the taco as a whole. The cookie, brownie, and frosting were sweet enough!
  5. I found the red M&Ms at Party City
"Taco Time" Chalkboard Sign | Pretty Peas Paperie


With two taco bars and a tequila bar, we needed one more...a succulent bar! We have a plentiful supply of succulents, thanks to some super healthy specimens from our wedding. (Our wedding, by the way, was almost 6 years ago, and we have 4-5 overflowing pots of succulents that have descended from the cuttings of my bouquet...isn't that crazy?!)

Here's what I laid out:

  1. Mini terra cotta pots (which were surprisingly cheap)
  2. Acrylic paint, water cups, paintbrushes, paper towels, and small paper plates (to be used as palettes)
  3. Small rocks (for the base of the pot - helps with overwatering)
  4. Soil for drought-tolerant plants
  5. Succulent clippings (pre-rinsed, cut, and trimmed)
  6. Crushed glass (found in the decorative plant section at Ikea)
  7. Take-home bags

To protect our table, I covered it with kraft butcher paper and wrote instructions on it in chalk pen. (To my surprise, people actually read everything very carefully.) If I had more time, I would have printed out small cards with plant care instructions, but ohhh well. It was so fun seeing what everyone guest left Andrew and I a pair of pots with our portraits on them. :)

Succulent Bar | Pretty Peas Paperie
How to Set Up a Succulent Bar | Pretty Peas Paperie


I saved the best for last! After seeing this pin, I decided that succulent cupcakes were a must. Good thing I know a talented baker by the name of Jenna (owner of Sinfully Sweet Cake Design) who could make my piña colada and buttercream dreams come true! She did such a wonderful job and I highly recommend her to anyone in the Houston area looking for custom cakes, cupcakes, or cookies.

Succulent Cupcakes by Sinfully Sweet Cake Design | Pretty Peas Paperie

Hopefully you can use some of these ideas for your next party! If you want even more, check out my "Tacos + Tequila" board HERE

This is where your money will go!

The Big & Little Animal Rescue Ranch | Website Preview In case you didn't know, I have a very specific goal in life :: to build a small ranch for animal rescues. The plan (as of now) is to provide a HAPPY, temporary shelter for dogs in need of homes. Of course, we'll have some full-time residents, too—hopefully to include a few goats, a couple donkeys, and maybe a pig.

How am I going to make this happen? Well, I'm not sure yet. But I AM saving for it. Every penny that isn't spent on the operating expenses of Akula Kreative and Pretty Peas Paperie will go into the Ranch Fund. I also have an awesome family that's on board with this idea and can't wait to have a family ranch. (The bulk of the Ranch Fund will most likely come from their combined business successes, but I HOPE to be able to offer up a meaningful sum.) Regardless, I'll be in charge of the branding.

What's my point? I'm telling you that you can feel GOOD when you support my biz. :) If you follow me long enough, you can expect an invitation to the opening. For now, you can visit our temporary landing page at!

Custom Lego Portraits

Custom Lego Portraits by Akula Kreative (Nikki Mihalik) Just sharing something fun...

Christmas of 2014 was all about LEGOS. For our Lego-fanatic friends (and family members), I designed custom portraits specific to their hair styles, hobbies, and wardrobes. Our Christmas postcard is below:

Custom Lego Christmas Card by Akula Kreative

Custom Lego Christmas Card by Akula Kreative

The portraits took quite a while to customize, but they were well worth it! On Christmas Eve, I heard my little cousin (a toddler) yell "LEGOOO MOVIE!!!" as he pointed to our card hanging on my aunt's wall. :)

Day-of Paper for a "Fearfully and Wonderfully Made" Baby Shower

I'm so excited to share the paper (and chalk) details of Megan's baby shower for her little lady-to-be, Emma. It's not often that professional photos are taken at smaller parties, so these beautiful images by Amy Gray Photography are such a treat! Hand-drawn Chalkboard Sign




During the invitation consult, we went to work trying to pin down a theme that could be coupled with soft pinks, creams, and sparkle. I was determined to find a way to incorporate Megan's love for cooking, but I knew that "bun in the oven" or "she's about to pop" could only go so far. The next morning, Megan came up with something brilliant: the passage from Psalm 139: "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made." It was genius! The perfect blend of faith, food, and the miracle of life.

Custom Chalkboard Baby Shower Invitation by Akula Kreative / Pretty Peas Paperie


*Contact info has been changed to protect the client's privacy*

For the square invitation, we created a chalkboard-inspired look filled to the brim with detail. From herbs and utensils to rattles and diaper pins, the tiny graphics fit together to tell the unique story of these special parents-to-be.


From seeing the photos you may wonder if an event planner was involved, but this was all put together by a dedicated family and a few close friends. In the weeks leading up to the shower, the group was hard at work making fabric banners, tulle table skirts, tissue pom-poms, and even baby clothes!

Soft Pink Details | "Fearfully and Wonderfully Made [from scratch]" Baby Shower

Meanwhile, I was working on the day-of stationery and signage: food labels, drink flags, scroll flags, banners, and chalkboards. One of my favorite "party prepping activities" is coming up with food puns; they're a great way to remind guests of the theme and add a little humor to the event.

Mini Donuts and Milk | "Fearfully and Wonderfully Made [from scratch]" Baby Shower

Custom Food and Drink Labels "Fearfully and Wonderfully Made [from scratch]" Baby Shower

How gorgeous is the cake?! This baby shower really could have been an intimate wedding...

Cake "Fearfully and Wonderfully Made [from scratch]" Baby Shower

And then there are the pretty favors: burlap bags adorned with silk ribbon and sparkly letters...

Burlap Bags with Glitter Letter "Fearfully and Wonderfully Made [from scratch]" Baby Shower chocolate-dipped pretzels tied with pink and gold tinsel!

Pretzel Favors "Fearfully and Wonderfully Made [from scratch]" Baby Shower

The signature drink was, of course, pink lemonade.

Beverage Table "Fearfully and Wonderfully Made [from scratch]" Baby Shower

Little Lady Lemonade, to be exact.

Martini Glass Drink Flags "Fearfully and Wonderfully Made [from scratch]" Baby Shower

I had so much fun drawing this banner on chalkboard wrapping paper. What a great idea to use it as a photo backdrop!

Hand Drawn Chalkboard Banner "Fearfully and Wonderfully Made [from scratch]" Baby Shower

And, last but not least, here is a detail of one of the scroll flags, each of which featured a unique pattern. At first glance you might assume they are flowers, but they are actually sprinkle donuts. :)

Custom Printed Party Flags "Fearfully and Wonderfully Made [from scratch]" Baby Shower

Paper details and day-of stationery present the perfect opportunity to add personality to parties, big AND small. For additional photos, please check out Amy Gray's website at

Congratulations to Megan, the picture-perfect mom-to-be! And THANK YOU to my wonderful clients for letting me be a part of your celebration!