10.30.2014

DIY: Halloween Fun

Getting ready for Halloween? Some good Trick-or-Treat fun? My kids cannot wait this year. The little man just keeps talking about his "pumpkin bucket" and getting candy from our neighbors. I'll post about our little pirate and pink cat (her idea) next week. 

Today I'm serving up some Halloween DIY projects.

Who doesn't have one of these clear glass pumpkins? My grandmother gave me this one years ago. And I found this Looking Glass paint from Krylon on clearance at Meijer a few weeks ago. 

Following the directions on the can, I sprayed the inside of the pumpkin. It won't be safe for treats anymore, but that's okay. 

Before: 


And after:


I'm not in love. Actually, I don't like it at all. It looks as I thought it would and I'm just not thrilled with it. DIY FAIL. I think I'll try painting the outside white or cream, to make it look like a ceramic pumpkin. 

And here are our simple treats for school. I found these Annie's Bunny Grahams at Kroger the other day and snagged them as a non-candy option. I found the tape at Target and used my tag punch and baker's twine to make the tags (like I did for the favors at the Finding Nemo party). My daughter decided to decorate each one with spiders or pumpkins or ghosts. She loves to draw! Why make it complicated? 


Happy Halloween!

10.28.2014

Finding Nemo Birthday Party - Details

Here are the details on my little man's 3rd birthday party. If you recall from the teaser post, we were all Nemo (or "Mee-mo" as he calls him). 


Unfortunately, we were so busy having fun with friends and family that we failed to take a lot of pictures. I guess that's the best indication of a successful party. 

Favors: 
I used the clearance stickers, some blue and white bakers twine, and tags made from orange paper with my tag punch to make cute "Thanks for swimming by!". Cute and simple favors. And who doesn't need more stickers? 

Setup: 
Our house is not terribly large and doesn't have an open floor plan-- yay mid 80s construction. The layout is basically a circle around the stairs-- living room, kitchen, dining room. So we really push the limits of our house with our party guests. And I can't help but think of this Irish toast. 


Check. 

Living room: 
So we rearranged furniture in the living room, pushing the chairs closer to the couch, setting up a few folding chairs, and putting together two kids' tables from IKEA so all of the kids could sit together and eat. I covered both tables with an orange plastic table cloth and taped the edges to the legs and underside of the tables with blue painters tape. What tape did show went with the theme and was easy to remove after the party. I had a few of the mylar Nemo balloons we had purchased from Amazon around the living room, and we had a slideshow going on the TV of pictures of our little guy from birth to three. We strung dark blue and light blue balloons across the windows to add a festive touch. 

Dining room: 
We set up a long folding table in our dining room and a card table. I used a blue green table cloth that I had for the long table, and my little lady painted a piece of kraft paper for the card table, with blues and greens and white to look like the ocean. I added in clusters of black, orange, and clear balloons around the room. Like clownfish swimming about. 

Over the large entry into the dining room, I hung a banner spelling our little man's first name made from the ocean paper I bought at Michaels. I used this tutorial. I alternated ocean and navy circles since the paper was reversible, and I used white printer paper for the letters. The font I used was Gill Sans Ultra Bold. It looked like the letters used for the Finding Nemo title. So easy and cute. I'm saving it to hang above his bed. 

Kitchen: 
I used our dining table, with the sides folded down, in front of our pantry door as the drink table (below). I used a dark blue tablecloth that I had and a white metal drink bucket that I got from Target several years ago. Great purchase. The drink tub was filled with sodas for the grownups and juice boxes for the kids, and we also set out a pitcher of water with the cups photographed below (left over from our daughter's Little Mermaid party a few years ago). We placed the cake on it for a few pictures and then moved it to safety on the counter. What kid could be able to resist touching that beautiful cake? 


Our kitchen has a large peninsula that we use every year to set up the food. We serve dinner at our parties since our families travel from out of town. This year we had Turkey Chili and Tortilla Soup. (Double batch of each recipe to feed around 20, had some leftovers. For the tortilla soup, I add in a can of white beans-- 1/2 pureed and 1/2 whole-- to the crockpot after it has cooked to thicken up the soup. If you want to stretch your leftovers, serve it over brown rice.) Make the soups a day before and start heating them in the crockpot about 2-3 hours before you want to serve them. It took a long time to warm them from refrigerated temp. I borrowed two giant, matching crockpots from my mom for the party. 

DELICIOUS! We also got a deli tray from Costco and some of their french rolls for sandwiches. I couldn't find the Chinet bowls I like to use with soups at parties, so we just used my Fiesta collection of bowls and soup mugs. Worked great! I had some clear spoons and orange forks for the cake. We used white napkins for dinner and the Finding Nemo beverage napkins for the cake. 


(We need to paint our cabinets. And get a new floor. In due time...)

It is almost impossible to find Nemo party supplies in stores now. I guess it's just not as popular as the other Disney themes. Here is a list of the Finding Nemo items we used with sources when possible:

Finding Nemo balloon bouquet (we had them filled at Liquor Barn the morning of the party and they're still up 10 days later)
Finding Nemo napkins (I bought them when our local party store was closing and having massive sales last year. I think I paid $0.50.) 
Finding Nemo invitations (Again, I got these on clearance when the party store closed-- $0.50 or maybe even $0.25 per pack.) 
Finding Nemo thank you notes (Clearance again. $0.50 or $0.25 per pack.) 
Finding Nemo fruit snacks - Meijer 
Wilton tropical fish cake pan - My husband makes the cakes and he was able to find this one on eBay for $25. No way was he going to pay $25 so he offered $12.50 and the seller accepted. It had never been used and still had the original label attached. He decided to use different coloring than the Wilton colors and it turned out great and tasty. He said that these were much easier to work with as far as mixing the colors. 


Our little man had an awesome party and got way too many presents. I love parties and having friends and family in our home, as crowded as it seems at times. And as long as it takes to clean up. I left the orange, black, and clear balloons in the dining room-- Halloween colors! I can't wait until the next party. My little lady will be 6 (how is that even possible?!?) in the summer. I wonder what crazy theme she'll decide. 

Did I leave out any details? Probably. Comment with a question and I'll respond. I love parties! 

(*This post contains affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.) 

10.21.2014

What's in a Name?

[I will post about the birthday party-- a great success-- later this week. Apparently it was so much fun that we forgot to take many pictures so I'll need to get some pictures from my father-in-law.]

Google "Amal Clooney" and you'll get a long list of search results, many of those are about her name change. I saw a linked story on my Facebook feed this morning and started thinking about her name change, feminism, my name change, the grocery list... You know, random shower thoughts. The flow of thoughts that seemingly pour out through your scalp while you're blowdrying your hair. 

I changed my name, without hesitation, when the Mr. and I got married nearly 9 years ago. I had no connection to my maiden name, the name from my father, as he has been almost completely absent from my life. So in my mind I was changing my last name from a name that didn't mean much, given to me by a man who was essentially a ghost, to a name that I had some part in choosing since I was choosing to be with my husband, to follow him where he goes, until the end. We're together, we're a team. Where you go, I will go, and where you stay, I will stay. Your people will be my people...  

Just because I changed my name when I got married doesn't mean I think that women who don't change their names are any less married, any less committed. It also doesn't make me any less of a feminist. Even though I stay at home with the kids, our roles feel quite equal. He's the one who makes the kids' birthday cakes! And I handle the money and take out most of the trash. How less gender-typical can we get? 

Had I been attached to my maiden name (what an odd, somewhat antiquated term anyway), I could have kept it as my middle name, or suggested hyphenation. But that's a lot of letters to write and I didn't want that for myself or my (at the time) future children. I gladly accepted his name without thinking that I was losing any of my identity. But I cannot stand for someone to address mail to Mrs. Husband's Name. The name change was frankly the last thing on my mind when we decided to get married. I was thinking of how to handle holidays and how we'd handle shared finances and how to be a wife. 

And now that we have kids who are going to school, I'm Little Lady's Mom or Sweet Boy's Mom. I'd wager that most of the time the kids' teachers couldn't think of my name. How many times have you sat with the same moms at dance class or music class, talked about everything under the sun for weeks on end, and never even know their names, just their kids' names? Talk about losing your identity. Are feminists worried about unknowingly surrendering their identities to their children? 

Changing your name does not transform your identity at the time of your marriage. You find your new self in learning to be a true partner to someone.  

10.16.2014

DIY: Big Sister Bag

Our niece is becoming a big sister around Thanksgiving. While my kids were visiting with grandparents over fall break, I had time to sit at my desk with my craft supplies and get lost. It was amazing. I decided to make something that would use up some of my supplies and be a useful gift for our niece. A bag to take to the hospital to visit her new little brother, for her activities and snacks.


I used a bag that I had in my craft stash and made a freezer paper stencil of "Big Sister". I love freezer paper stencils. The font is Century Gothic in 220 size. Simple but still cute. The flowers are the same clip art I used for my little lady's mended pants (some sized smaller) and backed with fusible interfacing to make appliqué so much easier.


After tracing the "Big Sister" letters onto freezer paper, I slowly cut out the letters while listening to a podcast, saving the insides of the B and G. I accidentally cut the inside of the E in "sister" so I free-handed it with my Pilot FriXion pen. Love those things! 

After I traced and cut out the freezer paper stencil, I carefully ironed it onto the bag, making sure the letters were firmly adhered for painting. I ironed on the flowers at the same time. 


I used some Tulip Soft Fabric Paint- Pearl that I had on hand, in Scarlet, to paint the letters. I peeled the stencil away almost immediately because I wanted to see how it looked. Squee! It looked so cute.

I actually followed the directions on the back of the paint bottle and let it dry for four hours before handling it. I did a backstitch around each flower and attached a button to the center of each one with embroidery floss.


I hope our niece loves her bag, and I can't wait to love on her little brother later this fall. 

(*This post contains affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.)