Saturday, September 10, 2011

Tempe's Mermaid Nature Party

My sweet oldest daughter turned 5 today!

To celebrate, we invited 7 of her friends (and her best friend and sister, Helena, of course!) to a Mermaid Nature party.

The birthday girl in mid-blow!

For the cake, I just made a white two layer cake with swirly white frosting and sprinkled the top liberally with edible golden glitter. Don't you love those tall curvy candles??

Gorgeous "treasure" box is from D.I.

I made mermaid dolls for all the little girls to take home--my wonderful mother-in-law embroidered the faces for me. They weren't the most fun thing I've ever made, but they turned out cute, and they were a hit when I handed them out!

I know treat tables are soooo cute and trendy, but as a mother, I just can't bring myself to serve a whole array of treats at a party. So instead we had lunch:

Sandy shells and pearls: seashell pasta with peas and toasted breadcrumbs

Mermaid fruit kabobs

Blue Jell-O with Swedish Fish

Crescent rolls (Tempe';s favorite food in the whole world)

Mermaid juice (Strawberry Kiwi)

My sisters-in-law Katelyn and Corinne came over to help with the activities. Katelyn was on Mermaid Manicure duty, complete with shimmery lotion and "Mermaid Mist" (scented glitter spray).

Corinne helped out at the ocean sensory bin, which was the nature component of the party. I filled a large, shallow plastic bin with water, blue glitter, seashells, driftwood, and pearls. I also provided a table with a conch shell, magnifying glasses, tongs, and a brush to dust off the glitter. The girls examined the seashells and then picked pearls out of the "ocean" to make their own mermaid bracelets. It was a hit! The table was always crowded with little girls looking at shells through magnifying glasses or feeling around in the glittery water for pearls.

I also had a small bubble machine that I got at Wal-Mart for $6 going while the girls ate lunch. It sprays out hundreds of bubbles every minute, so it was like being surrounded by bubbles in the ocean. The girls loved playing in the bubbles!

As always, I tried to get the maximum amount of cuteness for the minimum amount of money when I was planning this party. I estimate that I spent $35-$40 on this party, a big chunk of that going towards the dolls. Luckily, I already had a lot of the decorative items and I was able to find some more at D.I. Things like the bubble machine and nail polish will be used many, many more times at our house, so I don't count them in my party budget.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

It's a grand old flag...

{happy 4th of July!}

Our family normally goes to Idaho to celebrate Independence Day with extended family, but this year we are headed up for a wedding a week later. We didn't want to make two trips, so we decided to stay home for the 4th. It was strange celebrating here! I invited my husband's two brothers and their families over for dinner and sparklers. I really, really tried to limit myself to just making dinner, but you know I can't pass up a chance to have a party!

For dinner, I made Carolina pulled pork sandwiches, Memphis-style coleslaw, Boston baked beans, Nebraska corn on the cob, New York cheesecake, fruit kabobs, and cherry pie. Our party theme was supposed to be "A Tour of the States" or something like that. I also printed off an unlabeled map of the United States and the adults had to fill them in. It took me three tries to find Michigan... I was also going to have a matching game with fun/interesting facts about each state and make really cute invitations using an outline of the country, but like I said, I was trying to limit myself!

This table was a perfect example of how easy it is to find serving pieces and decorations at a thrift store. Everything on this table (except the red and blue bowls with the coleslaw and baked beans) are from my local thrift store. The sandwiches (already assembled) are in a big blue roasting pan (which I can reuse, score!)
This ugly little house display shelf is currently my proudest D.I. find! It was perfect as a mini cheesecake display for our "homespun" 4th of July table.

I took a red berry wreath that I got at D.I. a year or two ago and put it around the cherry pie dish. Super easy way to dress up any pie! Can I say how much I love how it looks? Wreaths are so easy to find at thrift stores (at least in Utah) or to make for any occasion. I also got that cute little red dish at D.I. Oh, how I wish there had been more of them!

Uncle Sean lighting super sparklers from his fairly recent wedding for cousins Maddy and Libby and Helena and Tempe.

Helena was so scared of the very loud illegal firework that Sean shot off. She insisted on sitting behind Dad and covering her ears before he lit the second one--then she was sad that there weren't any more!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Sidewalk chalk festival

Hi! If you are visiting from Tip Junkie, welcome! What an honor to find my sidewalk chalk party posted there. You might notice that this blog has been inactive for quite a while. I decided to post my parties on my other blog, my kids eat off the floor, instead. I'd love to have some visitors over there!
Today we kicked off the summer with a fun party for the neighborhood kids.
It was actually 4 1/2 year old Tempe's idea. We went to a local chalk festival a few weeks ago and she has been asking me when we can have one of our own ever since. I thought the first week of summer vacation was the perfect occasion!
I kept it simple with store-bought popsicles (Scribblers--they are shaped like sidewalk chalk!), lemonade, and baskets of sidewalk chalk scattered around the driveway. The moms sat in the shade and chatted while the kids went crazy with the sidewalk chalk--and I was amazed by their creativity!
I made the invitation on Picnik and printed it on cardstock. I loooooove how it turned out!

We invited about 25 kids, ranging in age from 18 months to 11 years. This is the perfect party for a big range of ages. Toddlers to tweens love sidewalk chalk--actually, some of the moms were getting into it, too! We had a great time and I think it might become an annual tradition :)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

{S'more Goodbye Party}

A good friend and her family are moving to Ohio in a few weeks, so a few friends and I planned a surprise goodbye party. The plan was to have a table set up outside with all the fixings, paper lanterns strung in the trees, and a few firepits going so everyone could mingle and make s'mores at their leisure.

Unfortunately, it was pouring rain and only about 50 degrees on party day, so we had to move everything inside. We yelled "Surprise!" when the family of honor came in, made s'mores in the oven, and enjoyed a fun evening reminiscing over the last two years.

I think this is the cutest invitation I have ever made. My witty husband came up with the s'mores saying--isn't he funny?

Our last-minute indoor s'mores setup.
We had regular, strawberry, and toasted coconut marsmallows. Our toppings were regular, dark, and caramel filled chocolate bars, peanut butter, strawberry slices, and banana slices. We also had ice cream and indoor s'mores cookies: Golden Grahams marshmallow-chocolate squares.

The top frame says "There is no distance too far between friends; for friendship gives wings to the heart." I gave it to my friend for a souvenier of the party. I was going to print out our neighborhood map and have everyone sign next to their house as a souvenier, but I just didn't get a chance to print it. Now I wish I had found time because I think it would have been a great gift for them!

The bottom frame says "Go ahead--have S'more!" and has a long list of different flavor combinations to try. My personal favorite was the Elvis: a regular marshmallow with dark chocolate, peanut butter, and banana slices. Yum!

Don't all those marshmallows just make you smile?

This was such a fun, easy party to throw. Besides opening packages, there is absolutely no preparation involved in making s'mores and it's even easier to do in the oven than it is over a fire! We pre-heated the oven to 350, filled a cookie sheet with s'mores, and baked them for about 5 minutes.

We'll miss the Zimmermans, but we are excited for them to move on to new things!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

{paper flower topiary tutorial}

One of the decorations I made for Brooke's bridal shower was a paper flower topiary. I saw one on display at Robert's and bought all the supplies on a whim, thinking it would be a good craft to make while watching "Modern Family".

Well, I did make it while watching "Modern Family". And "Law and Order". And the entire Thursday night comedy block on NBC. It was much more time-consuming than I thought it would be, but simple to make!

To make your own, you will need a styrofoam ball, a glue gun with a million gluesticks, about 8 pieces of patterned cardstock (or solid, if you prefer), a dowel, a pot, and floral foam to put in the pot.

Each flower is made out of a circle cut into a spiral. I cut my 12 x 12 paper into 4 long strips and then cut each strip into 4 squares--so they were roughly 3 x3 squares. You don't have to be exact. Then I cut each square into a circle and the circle into a spiral, like this:

Starting from the outside, roll the spiral up as tight as you can, keeping the inside edge even. When you get to the middle, give the flower a little squeeze and then let go. It pops open into a perfect little rosette. I didn't use any kind of pattern or plan when I started gluing--I just went for it. As you fill up the ball, you'll need some smaller flowers to fill in gaps. Just roll them tighter and don't release them before you glue them down. Your fingers will feel like all of the skin has been rubbed off, but keep going, because you're almost done! Covering the ball took me a long time. Don't forget to leave a small open area for your dowel! When your ball is covered, insert the dowel into the opening on the bottom of the ball, then insert the other end into your floral-foam-filled pot. Now that it's finally finished, sit back and admire it. Then make your husband clean up all the tiny scraps of cardstock and strings of hot glue.

april showers bring may flowers

Today my sisters-in-law and I threw a bridal shower for the newest member of our family--my brother-in-law's fiance, Brooke! They are getting married in May, and since it has been raining here all spring, we thought an {April Showers Bring May Flowers} theme was perfect!

For favors, I gave out packs of flower seeds with handmade hair ties. I originally made the hair ties as napkin rings, but we ended up serving all finger foods, so I just put them on the seed packets. I was able to find seeds 4 for $1 at the Dollar Tree. The chalkboard and wooden box (which says "Fleurs" on it, if you can't see) are both decorations from Juno's bedroom. Please excuse this horrible picture--I took a picture the night before and meant to get a better one in the morning, but I forgot. I got everything on this table from DI (except the scrapbook paper). I asked all the guests to write their best advice for Sean and Brooke on scrapbook paper squares and then at the end of the shower I put them all in a 4x6 photo album for Brooke to keep, along with a copy of the invitation and a few of their engagement pictures that I had on display.
The sign says "Words of advice for the love birds". Don't you love love love that frame?? I found a set of 3 at DI!!

I can't claim credit for this absolutely adorable idea (I saw it on U-Create Parties) but I was so happy with how it turned out!!! I popped out of bed at 8 am this morning to do it. The lanterns are from Tempe and Helena's room and then I cut the "raindrops" out of cardstock and used fishing line to hang them.
The rainclouds are hanging over my kitchen island, where we put all of the food. I didn't get a picture of everything all set up, and I've been kicking myself about it all day!

I did the decorations, games, and invitations, and my mother-in-law and sisters-in-law did all the food. We had chicken salad sandwiches on yummy croissants, a vegetable and fruit tray, delicious cake mix cookies with pink frosting, mini red velvet cupcakes, oreo truffles, lemon water, and strawberry punch with frozen mixed berries. It was so good!

For our game, I had Brooke answer questions that Sean had answered for me beforehand, to see how well they know each other. She did pretty well!

We had such a fun time celebrating and welcoming Brooke to the family!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Helena's Wizard of Oz party

We celebrated my middle daughter Helena's birthday with a Wizard of Oz themed party. It was her first friend party and she had a blast (and I had a blast planning it!)

I created these invitations on our computer, then printed them out on normal paper and traced illustrations from a vintage copy of The Wizard of Oz (the book). Then I made copies on scrapbook paper and added sparkly red paint on Dorothy's shoes.

Here's our food table. almost all of the decorations are from DI, our local thrift store--the little red chair, the vintage book, the basket and Toto, the red box that the "Toto in a Blankets" are in. I made the cake stand out of a plate from Pier One and a pillar candle holder from Target.
The blue gingham cupcake wrappers are from Michael's. I made the cupcake toppers.
The birthday girl's cupcake needed a sparkly blue "3" candle, of course! I wanted to set it apart from the other cupcakes, but didn't have a cupcake stand, so I flipped this square glass vase over and set it on top, then added a blue gingham bow.
My mother-in-law let me borrow a Munchkin barbie. He was perfect to hold the "Over the Rainbow Fruit Salad" sign. The fruit salad was strawberries, oranges, bananas, kiwis, and blueberries layered in clear plastic cups to look like a rainbow.
Here is the book that inspired the party!
Helena was excited to dress up as Dorothy. The dress was a hand-me-down from a neighbor--it's Tommy Hilfiger. The shoes are from Wal-Mart.
One of our games was Pin the heart on the Tin Man. Simple, easy, and classic children's birthday party! We also played Wizard of Oz Says and did all Oz-themed things ("Click your heels together like Dorothy", "Melt like the Wicked Witch", "Spin like the twister", etc). Our arrival activity was painting little wooden house cutouts (from the unfinished wood section at Robert's) with sparkly red paint.
I was excited to find mini baskets at Michael's!
Inside the goody baskets were Glinda the Good Witch bubbles (inspired by the bubble that she came out of in Munchkinland), a handmade gingham hairbow, a strip of rainbow star stickers, and a few "bricks" from the Yellow Brick Road (yellow Starbursts).

This party was featured at U-Create Parties.