Mar 22

Paint Chip Setting
Karen over at Sew Many Ways has come up with nine great napkin and place setting ideas. My favorite is pictured above. The best part of that one? The supplies are free! And you can customize the colors to match your party theme! Check out her other napkin and place setting ideas, such as using an empty Capri Sun, a hose clamp or even an eyeglass case! [Tool Time Tuesday…Napkin and Place Setting Ideas]

Sep 2

diy indiana jones whip

My sons have been introduced to Indiana Jones via the Lego Indiana Jones games (they’re still too young for the movies), and they like to play Indiana Jones (when my 2 year-old was a bit younger, he would say “I’m Andy Dones!”). I made them each a special Indiana Jones cross-shoulder man bag (what would Indy call that? I don’t know), and I found a couple other cool Indiana Jones Crafts around the internet to share with you.

Whip: First up, the DIY Indiana Jones Bullwhip made out of duct tape, by Skip to My Lou. (See at the top of the post) This one is semi-serious (as in, it could hurt people if used improperly), so save it for the bigger boys. If you have little boys (or girls) who want a whip, try this one:

Play Whip: This whip by Pin and Paper is made of flannel fabric, and is softer and more appropriate for pre-schoolers! Instructions for play whip here, found via One Pretty Thing.

Satchel: Oh, satchel is a more manly name for it! I made this Indiana Jones satchel out of a panel of a leather skirt (thrifted). It came together in about 15 minutes. Instructions for how to make an Indiana Jones bag are at my other site, Dollar Store Crafts.

Hat: These felt hats are amazing! They were made by Anjanette at Roots and Wings Co. and she made up the pattern herself! I wish she would share the pattern! Go check out her amazing Lego Indiana Jones Party and comment to beg for instructions!
May 5

Apparently, Cinco de Mayo is barely acknowledged in Mexico (it’s more of a Mexican-American holiday, I guess), but I don’t mind using it as an excuse to have fun! I had plans to make some fun Cinco de Mayo-inspired crafts and maybe even set up a festive table for my little family in celebration of today, but all I managed to do was buy these goodies and take pictures of them!

In my world, it takes at least a week to come up with an idea, then another week to get the supplies, a third week to actually do the thing I had the idea for, and then in the fourth week, I’m able to take photos (and if I hustle, upload the photos to my computer, and maybe even find time to write a post about it.) When you tally all that up, it’s amazing that I ever get any original content posted to a blog!

As a parent, though, even less-than-perfect is a win, so just making juice cocktails for my sons (1/2 glass of juice topped off with some of that TopoChico mineral water), or slow-cooking carnitas in the crock pot is worth some points! Since everyone else on the internet is having a candy buffet for their parties, I thought I’d stage a preschool-sized candy buffet, so I picked up some fun Mexican candy like:

These de la Rosas are nostalgic for me – they were a must-buy candy when we went to Mexico! Yum, peanut butter marzipan goodness!

And, no stroll down Mexican candy memory lane would be complete without chiclets! My preschool sons are going to LOVE being introduced to these!

And here’s a new one: Pollo Asado suckers. I have no idea what they taste like but they’re shaped like little cooked chickens, which cracks me up.

Sangria soda is a must at any party.

What are you doing to celebrate Cinco de Mayo?

Aug 13

I rarely have parties, and when I do (usually just my kiddos’ birthdays), I like to do it up right. This year, I guess I was just pregnant and disorganized enough to not do too much. I did make a cake, though! My son and I spent a couple hours poring over Flickr photos of birthday cakes and tractors. I found a lot of cakes I liked, but a fairly simple design is what caught my son’s eye. His favorite elements: The giant 3 road, the actual toy tractors pouring “asphalt” on the road (he is an expert on all things construction, and even knows how a road is made), and the background color: green (“beause green’s my favorite!”)

My decorating isn’t professional-level or anything, but my son loved the cake, and everyone else at the party agreed that it looked good. It’s simple, but it still took me about two hours to decorate (including mixing up the buttercream frosting). I was pleased with the blackness of the frosting (I used black food coloring and cocoa powder to darken it) – when I first mixed it up, I didn’t think it would actually look black. It looked grey-brown. But, frosting darkens over a short period of time, so it settled into an acceptable level of blackness by party-time. The asphalt crumbles are ground Oreos (I used my coffee grinder to make them into crumbs), and I got the trucks specially for the cake (they came in a pack of 3, and I saved one for my younger son to “open” during the party so he would have a present as well).

I didn’t do any other decorating, but we had the party at a nearby Antique Tractor Museum (outdoor), and we picnicked among vintage tractor equipment, which was a huge hit with the under-3 set!

May 16

For my first son’s first birthday party (in 2007), I had a pirate-themed party. I asked all the guests to come dressed as a pirate. Here’s grandpa and the birthday pirate boy. I made the boy’s swabbie stocking cap out of a sleeve from a thrifted shirt. He wore a striped onesie he already had, and some pants with elasticized ankles that sort of look like short breeches or something. I put some of my own striped socks (pulled up tall) on him.

Pirate boy later got an eyepatch, a parrot finger puppet, and a plastic sword to round out his outfit.

Dressing up as a pirate was fun! One of the reasons I chose the theme (besides liking pirates a lot) is because everyone should be able to cobble together a piratey outfit from things they can find in their closets. For mine, I used a blue bandanna, a stripey shirt covered by an old work vest (turned inside out), rolled up pants, a chiffon tie around my waist, white knee socks and black buckled mary jane shoes. I also added a funky plasticky necklace because it had funny pirate charms on it.

Everyone interpreted the pirate look differently, which just added to the fun.

I used the back porch as our “ship” and made a sail out of two small wooden “boards” (but way smaller than boards) I got at Home Depot for less than a buck. I stapled a plastic tablecloth to the boards for a sail. I got the pirate flag garland, and some of the other piratey decorations at the dollar store. Also, I swear by using crepe paper and balloons to decorate for a party because they are easy and cheap, and make a huge impact for very little money.

I decorated the party table with “booty” displayed in decorative bowls and baskets we already had on hand. Some of the party booty: Gummy fish (bulk from Winco), gold coin chocolates, dollar store jeweled rings, dollar store eyepatches and spyglasses. I put tropical fruit from the grocery store in the basket to add to the atmosphere.

Pirate ship cake made out of cake (baked in a loaf pan) decorated with cookies and candy to make it look more piratey. I had long gold candles that I stuck out of the sides of the cake to look like cannons. Bamboo skewers were threaded through paper sails, and a paper cup became a crow’s nest. Plastic pirates from the party store manned the ship.

Since I love first birthday parties to have a special cake for the special guest, I made a small loaf cake and cut it open to make it look like a treasure chest with M&M treasure in it.

You gotta have that gratuitous first birthday cake shot!

I know my son won’t remember his first birthday, but I had a lot of fun planning it, and it was a great way to start out my birthday party giving traditions!

Jan 16

Inspired by a post at Fresh Picked Whimsy, my sister and I organized a “secret” activity for the family on Christmas Eve. We had some hardwood blocks for another project* that we prepared by painting a plain color with acrylic paint.

We then gathered acrylic paints, paint brushes, paper plates (to use as individual palettes), and set up tables to give each person in the family a workspace. We also had a couple of big mirrors for people to use for reference.

We let people choose their blocks one by one, then everyone got down to work. Some people used the computer to take a picture of themselves to refer to. Everyone was pretty into it as soon as they found out what we were doing. The guys ended up taking the longest on their portraits.

I love seeing how people interpret their own appearance – the features they choose to emphasize, the details they have to include to make an authentic portrait.

(2nd from the left): For me, I had to include my white eyebrows (how do you paint that?) and the multiple colors I used on my hair draw attention to it to symbolize the way I see my real hair – I love my hair color and I feel like it’s my signature feature. Of course, I didn’t think of that when I was painting it, but once it was painted, I realized why it came out that way!

It was a really fantastic family activity, and we all had a great time! I highly recommend it!

*encaustic wax painting

Jan 10

panda-bday

E’s first birthday party was fun! The theme was panda in honor of this stuffed panda E got for Christmas and instantly fell in love with. The dress code was black and white, and party goers received stripey black and white scarves and panda badges to wear.

vic-panda

I wanted to make most of the decorations and try to use what I had on hand, although there was a bit of dollar store component too (the stripey scarves were from the dollar store).

pandas

My sister and I made the panda badges out of felt. We hot glued the features on, and used fabric paint for the white panda eyes.

pandaflags2

I made some black and white birthday pennant-style flags to hang up as decorations. All the fabric for these was already on hand (the gingham was from a reycled shirt, the white fabric was from old curtains). I sewed the pennants onto a candy garland I crocheted for holiday decorations.

pandanose

Since my two boys were the only kids attending the party, we made a simple game appropriate for a 2-1/2 and 1 year old to play: Pin the nose on the panda. I used recycled diaper tabs on the back of the noses to make them stick to the felt. Both boys enjoyed the game, but E played it multiple times. We didn’t bother with blindfolds since the boys are so young!

panda-cakes

I made panda cupcakes (actually not cake – no bake Oreo dessert).

ecake4

And panda rice balls. We also made homemade panda-shaped pizza, but I didn’t get a photo of that.

panda-rice2

There are some more non-crafty photos in the gallery: