Tuesday, March 31, 2015

What's pink, polka dotted, striped and sweet all over?

This post is timely because it involves a lot discounted after Easter Candy.

As I continue my journey through our family's digital photos, I am looking back at my big girl's 5th birthday party. If you recall, my girls both had some pretty crazy parties in the past, and I wanted to do something old-fashioned and sweet for N's fifth. I invited guests for an afternoon of sweets and sweat (okay, the sweat was unintentional--but it was really hot). Because it was meant to be old-timey, I used classic stripes, dots, damask, and bracket lables.

I lined our walkway with custom-large lollipops tied with bows in her signature patterns (made from paper plates, tissue, cellophane and dowels). This lead to the welcome drink table (I made the drink umbrellas with papers in her patterns, of course):

From there, kids were free to explore the craft tent:

We made paper pinwheels and decorated take-out boxes that would be used for favors later on. We also had classic party games including a bean-bag toss and musical chairs:

A fair amount of kids just ran around and played while Mr. 31-derful manned the cotton-candy station:

Anyone was welcome to play inside too or cool down with a slice of watermelon:

Soon it was time for cake and the kids were ushered into our dinning room, where we served cupcakes, awarded prizes for the games, and the kids "shopped" for sweets:

The trick was that I bought everything right after Easter when it was carried in pastel colors and when it was on super, duper sale! I had a new silhouette machine (oddly, I just upgraded it this week) and I was so excited to cut everything!

It was so sweet and so fun!

No Minimalist Here

Monday, March 30, 2015

Under the Sea for Birthday 3!

Before my "baby" turns 8 this summer, I am trying to go back and organize our family photos. This oldie but goody was her third birthday party in July of 2010. During my little ladies' pre-school years, we were obsessed with a small local swim school that was in a warehouse in an industrial center. What it lacked on the outside, it made up for with oodles of charm and happy memories on the inside. I knew we would have to hold a party there. The invites were a preppy coral image in shades of blue with a custom wave envelope cut on my (then) brand-new silhouette!

The only drawback was that the saltwater training pool only held about 10 kids at a time (and this was back when I invited siblings too, so I always had about 30 kids). Upon arrival I divided the little fishes into "schools" for their swim lessons

While the littles waited for their turn at the pool, we played "go fish":

and made fish fans:

Or you could grab some fish food (Sweedish Fish, goldfish, pretzel fish, etc):

Then it was time to dive in for a lesson:

We served a nautical themed dinner:

And noshed on the cutest cake:

Here is my friend B pretending to eat it. She has since passed and I love this goofy picture of her way back before she was sick:

At this time there had been a major oil spill in the Gulf and we donated money to the relief effort in honor of our guests, but we gave everyone a pack of go fish cards just for fun:

Then we "swam" home and started prep for her big sis' sweet 5th birthday which was just two weeks later. I will be back with that tomorrow!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Presto Change-o

When Mr. 31-derful and I were a young couple we loved Trading Spaces. Oh, what Vern and Laurie could do with $1,000 and 48 hours!! We dreamed of being on the show (or having a luxurious 1,000 dollars to devote to a room for that matter). Fast forward 15 years and three houses later and I can't even count the reasons why I would not want a Trading Spaces style make-over. The one thing that I would like to do is blink my eyes and have a space magically transformed in minutes. That almost happened for me this week (this crazy week when I am co-chairing teacher appreciation conference meals, this week when the baby was in the ER with strep, this week when we are packing for Spring Break, this week when I am helping design a bat mitzvah).

Two weeks ago my husband mentioned that he wanted our room re-done. To be honest, I thought it was pretty great before. Coming from our house of many colors, I made this house very neutral when we arrived. The bedroom was calm and serene. I wish I had good pictures of it before. I don't because impossibly somehow within a few days of my husbands' suggestion, I had selected wallpaper and called a painter. He as able to color-match the paper sample and start right away. Literally right away, so this is what I got with my phone moments before he arrived:

Even more miraculously, the new Thibaut paper came in really, really fast and the hanger was available due to another job's long awaited paper not arriving. So presto-change-o here is my room in Spring's new "it" color of indigo:-

It happened so quickly it is almost like a surprise to me (albeit a good one). I still have to accessorize (and let my eyes adjust to the print), but I think I love it! I will take better pictures when all the accessories are in and the minis are back in school!

No Minimalist Here

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Quick tip: ring cleaning

This is the craziest week! I just wanted to share this quick tip if you didn't know it (as I didn't for many years). Mr. Clean is a great way to remove dirt, oil, lotion, and dead skin (ewe) from your rings and earrings. It is particularly effective on earring backs. Simply fill a small bowl with Mr. Clean and drop your items in. Watch disgusting stuff float to the top of your bowl. Clean with a brush and rinse thoroughly!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Throwback: 2009 Pinkalicious Party

Bookcover Image from Amazon

As a part of organizing my family photos, I am throwing it back to 2009 to chronicle N's Pinkalicious 4th birthday. You may recall that the previous year she had a Fancy Nancy Soiree and that her sister had just had an Eric Carle fest. I guess we were feeling literary those years! Here she is decked out for the party in Pinkalicious PJ's. At the time they were so big they'd never fit, but they were eventually worn by both girls and have long since been retired.

The then-four-year-old had several requests. First she wanted a small party and requested that the there be only 10 kids. In the preschool days we still asked the whole class and all my friends' kids. It was tough, but we cut the numbers by throwing our first girls only affair. She also wanted a pajama party. In a traditional sense, that was not going to happen because the girls were just too young. We settled on a sleep-under (you do everything you would at a sleep-over but you are home for bedtime). Of course, she wanted the Pinkalicious theme and her final request was that there be a popcorn bar. Our family's favorite treat for a few years was an over-priced popcorn store where you mix in your favorite toppings (like Cold Stone but for popcorn). We called the small party for pizza, popcorn, pajamas and Pinkalicious (we were literary and alliterative)!

As I mention in my 2009 Fancy Nancy Throwback, I used a "formula" for my kids parties for many years. If you went to my kids' parties, you could always expect a craft as guests gathered, an activity to bring the group together, and a game to keep the momentum up after the meal. It was always matching the theme of the party and always with cute signage, needless to say! Here the guests were greeted by a sign, presented with a pink lay, and helped themselves to the popcorn bar (not pictured :(). They also had Pinkalicious coloring pages to keep them engaged while other guests arrived.

When all the friends arrived, we proceeded to the dining room for dinner. Each girl found a personalized pink goody bag that doubled as her place-card. I loved these little sucker topiaries and made them again several times over the years. In addition to pizza, we offered pink lemonade and water and some fruits and veggies.

After dinner we went up to the landing, where Granddaddy read the first Pinkalicious book and our trusty babysitter Susie led the girls in a fun sing-along game. Each girl pulled a song title out of an envelope and was responsible for singing--so simple but they loved it! The last song was Happy Birthday and we headed back down for cupcakes. If you are not familiar with the books, these cupcakes were made to replicate the cupcakes which are a pivotal part of the plot. The baker hit them out of the park!

It was such a sweet and simple soiree!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Dollar store baskets that look like a million bucks: Part 3

I am finally back with my own Purim Baskets! Purim is a FUN holiday (not only does giving of baskets to loved-ones, masquerading and revelry are big parts of the day). I knew I wanted to do something fun and to incorporate masks. I went with "S'mores Purim Fun!" It checks the box for the tradition of giving at least two types of food and what could be more fun than a basket of s'mores fixings?!

Sometimes the items I find at the dollar store guide the theme like with the baseball baskets in part one of this series. Since I already had a theme, however, I just needed a plain-jane basket to hold it. I thought it would be fun to let you in on some of my tricks to styling a perfect basket.

Step One: Find an appropriate sized basket for your items. If your vessel is too big, your items will appear too austere; you want to give the appearance of being plentiful. I got these cute little baskets in a 2 pack. Don't forget to buy filler. You will need tissue paper, crinkle paper, or even crushed newspaper to bolster your basket items. Here, I went with a multi-colored crinkle to add visual interest.

Step Two: Label your items. Of course my recipients know the parts of S'mores, but I made printed quick shipping labels with "s'more chocolate," "s'more graham crackers," and "s'more marshmallows" along with masks. I just think it completes the look. Begin placing your sturdiest items in the basket pointing in opposite directions. It balances the basket and shows off your cute labels.

Step Three: Add a cute sign that ties it all together. My big girl and I had a blast customizing masks for our signs with our saying "S'more Purim Fun." We made them on the Silhouette using the print and cut feature and then went to town with feather, glue, and gems. Each mask is a little work of art from our home. After they were finished, we affixed them to paper straws to mimic the stick on a real mask and help it stick in the basket.

Step Four: In-fill the basket with your squishy-est item (in this case the marshmallows), which will help hold it all in place. Add a cute gift tag if it wasn't already on your sign. I am a "more is more" kind of person, so I did both!

Step Five: Know your Audience! While I made sweet little family-sized baskets for some friends, I wanted to deliver baskets to the staff of some Jewish Philanthropic Organizations near to our hearts. Not only was it a must that the baskets be larger to feed the group, I needed these recipients to know that the items were kosher. I left their marshmallows in the packaging so they could see they were of the vegan, kosher variety. In addition to ensuring the kashrut, I knew I must also ensure that the chocolate in these baskets was organic and fair-traded due to the ethics of the group. Rather than leaving a sour taste in my friend's mouth, I wanted to make sure they got a sweet treat. Same goes for any preference of the recipient--make sure you think of what they would like!

In addition to the office staffs, we always pick just a few friends to give baskets. If gave to everyone we wanted, I would easily be delivering 60 baskets. Since no one has time for that madness, we limited ourselves to 8 one year. That was like a magic number and we have always stuck with it--rotating who gets them any given year. I ran out to deliver a few this morning to the offices, but I am going to let the kids of giving to their friends this afternoon!