NOTICE!

Hey Folks! I started this blog before pinterest came along, or before I found it, at least. A lot of the posts here are merely links to things I wanted to remember. I need space on my account, so if you find something you like, open the link and then pin it quick, as I will be deleting the posts that are not my original ideas.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

We've Been Booed Printable

This is a fun neighborhood tradition. We were "Boo"ed tonight. The hard part is finding a copy of the poem/ghost that you like. So here is another one I made up.

Click to enlarge and print. There are two Jpeg files, so take care to preview before printing to make sure they are the size you want.  I just insert my boo gram into a Word Document to make sure it fits one whole page. 

Click Here for Version 1

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Budget Party Planning

Tonight I presented budget party planning tips to the women's group at church.  I ended up setting up displays for 4 different types of parties.  I borrowed lots of party supplies from my family- thanks for sharing, it made my job so much easier!  Here are the photos followed by the info I shared.




video

Party Planning on a Budget
 
The basics
The basics to keeping a party simple and saving money include:
·       Having the party at home
·       Baking & decorating your own cake
·       Creating your own décor rather than buying store made décor
·       Using solid colored tableware versus licensed tableware.  You can have a themed birthday party without a characters face on every paper plate, cup, and napkin.  Maybe just one of these mixed with the more affordable plain colored tableware.
·       Use the internet to search for ideas and save time.

Step 1- Plan Ahead
We all know when our kids birthdays are - so it is helpful to plan ahead for their party to make your dollars stretch.  When planning ahead you can shop sales and clearance racks.  It also gives you time to come up with some out of the box ideas that will make the party a lot more fun. 
Step 2- Set a Budget
This is a very important step. Come up with a budget because every decision you make after this will be influenced by how much you have to spend. This will also help you keep it simple. I love to make things serve more than one purpose- for example using party activities as part of the décor, or using something fun in the décor that can be taken home as a party favor.
Step 3- Outline the Party
·       How many people will be invited?
·       Do you plan to serve a meal?
·       What space will accommodate the people and activities?
·       What time of day will your party take place? If you are not serving a meal, hold it between mealtimes


Step 4- Pick a theme
This isn’t as intimidating as it may sound.  It can be as simple as selecting colors to focus your party décor around.  Having a color scheme makes selecting paper goods, party decorations, and invitations easier.  Plus the whole party will look well put together.  You can also pick a style of décor. Some fun ideas for style would be rustic, vintage, graphic art, glitter, or a fun pattern like polka dots or argyle.  These are a fun way to give the party a particular feel without having to buy items with logos or licensed characters.

Choosing a theme will also direct the rest of your party planning.  It will help you choose food, activities, time of day, etc.   You can choose themes surrounding a favorite television show, movie, storybook, toy, a favorite activity, something a child loves to pretend, or even around a favorite food. 

Step 5- Plan your details

Menu
By knowing ahead of time what you would like to serve allows you time to watch food sales and keep your eye out for deals.   You can also save a lot of money by making the cake yourself.  Cupcakes are a fun and easy way to do affordable and adorable portions. 

Activities & Games
This is a fun place to get creative.  I prefer activities over games. They are more forgiving for different skill levels; take less explaining than games; keep guests busy while waiting for everyone to arrive and still allow late guests a chance to participate; you can have your party
guests create their own party favors, part of their meal, or part of the décor. 

Party Favors
It can get expensive to fill a traditional goody bag for kids parties. I like to use something in the party décor or from one of the party activities as a take home party favor.  We have used beach balls, mylar balloons, dress up jewels, boas, aprons and paper chef hats.  They seem big and substantial but usually come from the dollar store, costing just $1 per guest.

Decorations
::::Desktop:md106559_0111_balloon_092_xl.jpgThis is an easy place to save big and really set the ambiance at the same time. Choose an area to focus your décor.  If you are having a food table or other type of display, focus the décor around it.  Popular and simple to make decorations include
·       Tissue paper pom poms
·       Paper banners or fabric buntings
·       Photo displays
·       Balloons arranged in the shape of a number or letter
·       Making colorful cake stands to display cakes and other refreshments

Invitations-
Invitations can be made in lots of clever ways- check the links below for great ideas!
Invitations should include the obvious time, place, and date, but don’t forget the extras that will help your guests know what to plan on.  If you are serving a meal, say so! If you are just serving treats, say this too.  Do you want guests to dress up for your princess party?  Or bring jackets for an outdoor activity?  If you are hosting a baby shower- kindly include the gender of the baby if you can, even if you think everyone already knows.  

Places to look for great party ideas:

Sites with ideas about simplifying parties
http://simplemom.net/how-to-have-a-simple-inexpensive-and-meaningful-birthday-party-for-your-child/    

Friday, January 6, 2012

35 Years of Adventure Party

This year my hubby turned 35.  We keep his parties pretty low key, at his request.  He is certainly the adventuresome type, though having a young family and a busy job have really limited his adventures lately.  He is also an avid fan of National Geographic.  I put these all together to make the theme for his birthday celebration. 

Here is the invite I sent out to let everyone know when to stop by.  I used my photoshop skills on this one, but there are websites out there where you can add your own photo to a magazine cover if you want to make your own. 
We kept the food simple- a doughnut tower for a "cake" and hot chocolate & wassail for drinks. 
I used neutrals with Nat. Geo Yellow to accent.  Thank heavens for scrapbook paper!  On the wood wall I hung paper with sticky tack, and the little banner across the table front is jute, clothespins, and squares of paper.  

The party was held in a partially finished basement, which gave quite a blank slate for a backdrop.  The rest of the decor also doubled as the party activity.  I found pictures of his adventures from when he was a little guy up to now.  I hadn't planned on how heavy 100+ pictures and clothespins could be.  I had to tack in little finishing nails to hold the jute I clipped them to.
 When our guests arrived they enjoyed their food while browsing the photos and keeping the Birthday Boy busy answering questions and telling stories about the pictures that caught their interest.  It was really fun!

I didn't want all the memories to leave him longing for the adventures of the past, so for his gift I made him up a set of adventure passes.  He can redeem these throughout the year for fun activities he wants to enjoy.


Monday, October 24, 2011

Nesting Jute Candycorn Topiaries

Here is the tutorial I promised you on making Jute Candycorn.   I looked around the craft store, the dollar store, and the internet for ideas on making the forms.  I was not about to pay for foam forms, they were too pricey for me.  I have seen people making cone topiaries with rolled paper cones as the form, but that was too fragile for us.  My girls love to handle and rearrange all the fun holiday decor.  That is when I came across my stash of plastic grid in the garage.  This stuff is cheap, flexible, and sturdy.  It was perfect.
I grabbed a sheet and rolled it to the basic width I had in mind.  I threaded a pipe cleaner though the overlapping pieces and twisted it tight to hold the shape while I glued and trimmed.  I trimmed the top and bottom so whey would sit flat.  I sealed the edge using hot glue. Be careful on this part, glue oozes through the squares of the grid.  Next I cut a circle out to fit flat on top, and glued it in place as well.  Repeat for each cone, making them gradually smaller.  Now you have cone forms that are sturdy and flexible, and will nest for storage! A definite bonus.
 
Keep that hot glue gun on, it is time to wrap the jute.  This will take a little while, but doing it while watching a show or something proved too distracting to me, and I have the hot glue burns to prove it.
Begin by gluing the end of your Jute to the top of the cone. Lay it right across the circle and glue it in the middle.  Then twist the jute around the center glue to form a tight loop.  From here, continue looping and gluing
Keep wrapping and gluing all the way down. I glued every 3 or 4 rows with a dab of glue.
 Once the jute is glued on, debate as to whether or not you should even paint them, because they look so cute plain, too! Or just make another set. :)

Then I got out sponge brushes and craft paint.  I put very little paint on my brush, then dabbed it onto the jute to avoid a caked on appearance.  Here are the brands and colors I used. I got all these paints from Hobby Lobby. Click the image to enlarge.



Monday, October 3, 2011

Halloween Decor 2011

It turns out my 4 year old loves Halloween.  We have been crafting and decorating for a couple of weeks.  I am excited about how the decor turned out this year.  Last year's Halloween tree got thrown out, much to the pleasure of my husband (who was always bumping into it while it was out and having to shuffle it around the shed in the off season. )  This year's replacement is so much better!
 I got some curly willow from someones spring pruning, thank you online classifieds. I put them in an urn, filled the base with gravel, and topped with stringy moss.  Add three dollar store ravens and the tree is done. 

My aunt posted her halloween decor pictures and at first glance I thought her giant candycorn looked to be made out of jute.  I was excited, I am loving natural textures these days.  It turns out her's were not, but once the idea was in my mind, I couldn't get it out. Here are the ones I made, and they have a space saving secret!  I'll post a tutorial soon.

This spooky bug display is just a re-purposed frame, burlap background, hot glue, and dollar store bugs.  I did have to buy 2 bags to get enough black bugs.  
 

The spooky eye artwork was one of our favorites!  I found out about the graphics fairy and downloaded a bunch of pictures.  Then did a few google searches for antique portraits for the rest.  I had them printed, bought some googly eyes, and got out my scrapbooking sticky dots.  They were so easy, my 6 year old made some of them.   We added them to frames from around the house and they were ready to go.
What decor have you made this year?

Monday, September 5, 2011

Birthday Bash Beach Party

Wow! I really got carried away from blogging this summer, but we have been having lots of fun.  Today I am sharing some pictures and details from the Beach Bash Birthday party we hosted last month.  I love seeing all the party ideas out there and finding inspiration for planning my own.

The Decor
The dessert table had the bulk of the decor.  I hung paper lanterns from the patio umbrella and trees, and made a backdrop out of ruffled plastic tablecloths.
The table was laid with a caramel colored tablecloth,  Squares of burlap layered as a runner,  and dollar store seashells arranged by my 4 year old. :)

The Activities
These are also part of the decor, I can't resist getting the biggest bang for my buck and most things at this party served a dual purpose.  We put our sand table behind the treat table with pails and shovels. You can't have a beach bash without sand!  This allowed the ruffle streamers to backdrop the sand play and the colors helped set the ambiance.
 
We had almost one dozen beach balls to add to the color and the fun.   We sent them home as party favors.


The Food

Of course, the food served as decor too.  I used the Nordicware Castle Pan to make a sandcastle cake.  I mixed a vanilla cake mix and a spice cake.  Next time I will just stick with the vanilla.  It got a bit darker than I'd anticipated in the bundt pan.  It was perfect inside, however. 
 I invested in a starfish shaped chocolate mold to decorate the sandcastle cake and some of the cupcakes.  I used peanut butter chips to fill the molds.    I frosted all the cupcakes with a basic vanilla icing and then rolled them in crushed graham crackers.  I tried to leave the very top of the starfish cupcakes free of crumbs to help the starfish stick.  If you are going to transport them consider mounting them to toothpicks to help them stay in place.   We did use 1/2 toothpicks on the other cupcakes to keep the gumballs in place.  My kids had a lot of fun helping decorate these.  I love that they are foolproof enough that the kids can help and I am still happy with the end result. 


 If you do a party using any of these ideas, I would love to see it! 

Monday, August 22, 2011

Fun Lunch Ideas- All About Bento

I did a little display of fun lunch ideas for the ladies in my church group at our back to school night activity.  I wanted to post the handout I made to show you how the basics can be done quite easily and quickly. 

The term bento as I understand it is a Japanese lunch form, where foods are packed snugly and tidily into lunch containers.  Containers often have compartments or use dividers to keep foods separate.  The bonus of the bento idea is that foods are made too look like shapes, characters, etc, to enhance their appeal.  If that doesn't help brown bag lunches to have more success, I don't know what will!

First, check out this video of some of the fun bento style lunches we have made this summer.
video

Now, check out the info I handed out to explain it all and give ideas.


fun   lunch   tips
Lunch Trick #1         Make it Neat and Tidy
Stack crackers and cheese. Alternate foods in a pattern. Use lunch containers with compartments or make your own compartments with empty baby food cups or silicon cupcake cups. 

Lunch Trick #2         Cut Shapes
Use cookie cutters to shape cheese, sandwiches, breads, baked treats, veggies, and fruit slices. You can even to cut the core out of apple slices with small cutters. Use a melon baller for any soft produce like melon, cucumbers, bananas, or kiwi.
 
Lunch Trick #3         Roll ups & Kabobs
                                       Use toothpicks, cupcake picks, and party picks to create mini kabobs out of lunch elements such as fruit, cheese, meats, cubed anything! One of the most popular at our house is leftover pizza cut into squares and stacked with olives and pineapple.  Picks can also serve as a small utensil in place of plastic forks.
Roll up layers of deli meat and cheese, either in flattened bread, tortillas, or without. Add flavored cream cheese for some zip. with  Try flattened bread spread with pb&j, nutella, pb& honey, or any of your favorite spreads.
Lunch Trick #4         Mix it up
                                       Try swapping out favorite sandwich breads for something new like one slice white and one slice wheat, bagels, flatbread, biscuits, tortillas, etc. Find other ways to introduce small portions of new foods. Remember to serve foods from all food groups for balanced nutrition.

fun   lunch   resources
http://www.easylunchboxes.com/neat_ideas/index.htm    click on “Yummy lunch gallery”

Any internet search for “bento” or  “Muffin Tin Meal” 

menu  ideas
Main Dish Ideas
Sides
Treats
Tortilla roll ups
Cheesy tortilla shapes & salsa
Bagel sandwiches
Flatbread sandwiches
Pita sandwiches
Pita & Veggies with Hummus
Sandwich on a stick
Yogurt w/ sides of fruit and granola
Pizza
Pizza rolls
Two toned sandwiches
Pasta  salad
Boiled egg
Meat, cheese, crackers
Grilled chicken
Quiche
Quesadillas
Hawaiian kebab: ham, cheddar, pineapple
Brunch scones
Croissant sandwiches
Meat & Cheese cubes
PB Rollups
Carrot sticks & dip
Celery sticks & dip
Baby carrots & dip
Cucumber ribbons
Broccoli florets & dip
Grapes
Berries
Craisins
Apple wedges
Orange sections
Mandarin oranges
Melon chunks
Kiwi slices
Canned fruit
Goldfish crackers
Club crackers
Wheat crackers
Mini muffins
Almonds
Applesauce
Breadsticks
Pretzels
Babybel cheese
String cheese
Honey straw
Cookie
Brownie
Marshmallow skewer
Holiday candy
Mints
Mini candy bar
Trail mix
Pudding
Jello cup
Fruit snacks