Monday, December 17, 2012

Winter ONE-derland birthday party

Whew! What a week. And, another one is just beginning. This one isn't giving me a break either!

I was planning on doing a whole bunch of posts showing off my creations and where I got my ideas and how I did things. Last week. But, unfortunately things never work out the way you plan. Especially when you plan them for 10 days before Christmas and you only have 7 days to go until party time. We found out the weekend before my son's first birthday that my husband's beloved grandmother passed away unexpectedly. So, on top of all of my shopping, buying, organizing and cross things off my many lists for the party I had to also get ready for the quickest trip to Wisconsin we would ever make to date. Plus, prepare all of us for it to be one of the toughest. But, we did it. We were in town less than 24 hours and thanks to God, my children were AMAZING in the car and all driving went smooth and quick :)

The party went off without a hitch about 36 hours after returning home and I only had to trim a few things off my "I want to do this" list for the party.

This was huge in my opinion since I have been planning this since before he was born. Seriously. I decided to do our 'Winter ONE-derland' theme while still pregnant and 10 days after he was born I went out the day after Christmas and bought most of my supplies when they were half-off or more. I love saving money. Then began my quest for inspiration and ideas for everything else-and had a list of things I wanted to do about a mile long. I was so pleased with the whole party and everyone loved it so that means it was a success.

I made most of the decorations myself. With minimal supplies bought at a really low price to be sure. While my basement was decorated for Christmas I wanted to be sure that the birthday party had plenty of snowmen and snowflakes.

I love these Snowman hats and I was happy to make them for the party because I could still use them as decor around my house for the holidays! They were the centerpieces on my two tables.
The first one is actually a papier mache hat I bought at Michaels and just dressed up to look like a snowman hat. The second one is more along the lines of what I found here-a coffee can and a piece of cardboard. I bought that Snow-tex stuff at Michael's as well with a coupon so it was cheaper. I had to really look for it but I found it near all the model making stuff.

I was going to just use the birthday banner I made years ago but decided to do something else. After finding this snowman paper plate banner and this snowflake banner, I decided to combine them. I looked all over for paper snowflakes but finally settled on foam ones. I did all the lettering myself too since I didn't feel like pulling out the Cricut and adding all those extra steps when I was on a time crunch. I used some twine to bring it all together-simple and finished!
Please forgive the piece of twine hanging out on the right there. My husband was helping me with picture taking and one of the snowmen fell off the wall and he simply put it back up without winding the twine back under it-don't worry, I fixed it ;)
I thought about making a buch of paper snowflakes too. You know, cutting them each out one by one. Like when I was in grade school. Yeah, didn't look forward to that. So, I was happy to find a tutorial and my snowflakes were BEAUTIFUL! My daughter actually asked if she could have one after the party :) I made one large one, one medium one and two small ones.
I had seen-and made-these snowflakes a few years ago. Before Pinterest even...they were one of my bookmarks before I had "Pinboards"!  They were just waitig for a coat of paint. This party got the fire under my butt and I finished them and they looked great hung over my food buffet and in front of my less than pretty blinds.

After the decor, the next important thing was my yummy treats and food. I found this cake idea over at Taste of Home. Since I don't like coconut and am also allergic to it I nixed that idea and left the icing plain. The "1" is the candle and the tree and the snowman are suckers I found at Dollar Tree. Six suckers for a dollar. And, I simply cut down the stick and it stayed upright and in place in my cake! I used a box cake mix too. Don't hate me :)
 The rest of the kiddies got to eat these snowman cupcakes. Chocolate chips and orange sprinkles for the faces and they were a HUGE hit!
 The biggest hit of the day though was the hot chocolate bar. Everyone loved it and I barely had any left at the end of the day. I used this recipe for crockpot hot chocolate and everyone said it was like drinking a candy bar. It was simply amazing! The recipe gives tips for thicker hot chocolate and I did mine that way....outstanding!
 My 'toppings' included: mini Jet-Puff marshmallows, red sugar crystals, green jimmies with snowflakes, white chocolate chips, mini milk chocolate chips, chocolate covered candy canes (I dipped them myself) and pirouline cookie stick. Oh, and Reddi-whip. Can't forget the whipped cream!
 In addition to the cupcakes we had other confections to enjoy after dinner. Like snoman cakes balls (mini chocolate chips and orange sprinkle things for the faces) and chocolate covered Oreos (with pearl bead sprinkles to look like snow).
 I also had these left over from the treat bags. Each bag had a plastic cup covered in snowflakes and inside was a snowman cake ball and one of these guys. I found the paper straws for $2.99 (144 count) at Meijer. I think they looked incredibly cute! I piped the snowflakes on with white chocolate and wish I had done all the cookies this way :)

I thought this guy looked pretty cute :) I found inspiration pictures all over pinterest but I made my own recipe up. I used 2 blocks of cream cheese and added minced garlic, a little garlic salt, some dill and parsley until it tasted right. I rolled it in mozzarella and added the peppercorns and carrot for the features. I mean, could he be any cuter??
 Finally, for the main course my husband and I did some brainstorming. We wanted to use our three crockpot system (best thing EVER!) and came up with a pasta bar. We had two kinds of pasta shapes (the shapes help hold the sauce and toppings better than a plain noodle), a red sauce, alfredo sauce and a cheese sauce. Again, don't be shocked but I used canned sauces. We offered mini meatballs, some grilled chicken chunks and pepperoni if you wanted to add some meat to your dish. Don't forget the shredded parmesan too! We ordered a anitpasto salad from a local pizza place and I made some garlic bread too for good measure!
Overall it was a great day! I can't believe how fast this first birthday came around but it was just as emotional as my daughters! And, of course with my party theme, I had to match my kids clothes to it too. I am just going to be one of 'those' moms. :)

Monday, December 3, 2012

Christmas wreath

This is another project that I *think* may have looked better in my head. I haven't quite decided yet.

I'm perplexed. I'm not really sure if this looks good enough to hang on my door. I don't know if it looks 'professional' enough. I don't want people to look at it and think: wow, she must have thrown this together fast. I have self-esteem issues when it comes to my crafts :/

Anyways, I knew I wanted to try a square wreath. I don't know what it is about them but I just like the look of them. I found lots of them on Pinterest and I loved the idea of a different shape for a wreath

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I already had an old frame so I was all set. I just had to let the rest come together in my head for awhile. When it finally did I was so excited to start. I actually got some of the ideas for it after I made my I spy ornaments . The only thing I had to go out and buy was the ornaments. Everything else was already in my possesion. Score at least one for me on this project!
I took an old frame that was already silver and wrapped it in some pine garland and then wrapped some Christmas ribbon around that. I googled the types of pictures I wanted for my center, punched them out using my 2" circle punch, carefully rolled them (very loose) then placed them in the ornament. I used 2 larger ornaments and one small one. Then I used a crochet hook to unfold them and get them where I wanted. If you want the picture to stay (mostly) in place, put some epsom salts in there. Stopped them from moving around a little bit! I tied my ornaments in the middle and added a wire hanger on the back and its on my door. I really do like it and am glad I was able to pull it off.

 I went through my stash of ornaments and found the gold stars I knew I had. They were part of my 'college student on a budget' Christmas decor that I had saved :)
My favorite part is that it showcases the real meaning and origin of Christmas, which I am trying so had to instill in my almost 3 year old as she loves all over Rudolph and Frosty and Santa. No fault in balancing things out a bit!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Snowman Invites

Last year my son was born 9 days before Christmas. I decided way back then that for his first birthday I would theme his party "Winter ONE-derland". Yes, not very original, I know. And, yes I have been planning it for the entire year. The best part about it is that I was able to buy snowman/snowflake items after Christmas for at least 50% off! I have my napkins, cups, treat bags, plates-most of the important players for a rockin' party. I just have a few decorations I plan to make and I will fill the rest in with color coordinated pieces and we are all set.

I always like to make my invitations. If not I at least like to design them and then upload them as a picture. I came up with this idea after much thoughtful consideration. That, and I had designed so many invites that just weren't what I had envisioned. It wasn't coming together. So, I decided to build my own snoman. Out of white cardstock. And connected with tiny pieces of ribbon. Then I drew the faces on myself. And, added a cute paper scarf for something extra :)
They fold up neat and cute to fit in the envelopes too!
I'd love for you to come back and see what other projects I have in the works for this big event! I wouldn't even mind if you started following me-just to make sure you don't miss anything :)

Monday, November 12, 2012

I spy Christmas ornaments

I may or may not have made these for all three of my little nieces and my children for Christmas this year. I'm also thinking about going out and getting more to make them for my older niece and nephew. :)

I started with large clear ornaments. Yes, they are plastic. When I showed my husband these after I was done the first thing he asked me was "those aren't glass are they?' Yes dear, I am planning on giving five children under the age of 6 a glass ball to play with. I'm that smart :)I found my ornaments at Michael's. Theirs are cheaper than Jo-ann's. The big ones I bought at Michaels are $1.99-a whole dollar cheaper than Jo-Ann's! And, if you use a coupon it's even cheaper!

Michaels is where I also bought all of the little trinkets to go inside of them. Some of my items are foam stickers (don't remove the backing), others are meant to go on tiny Christmas trees, some are charms I found near the christmas crafts and ribbon, the rest are actually buttons. Like sew on your shirt buttons! So incredibly cute! And, they all fit perfectly in the opening of the ornament. I  bought my epsom salts at the drug store. A hug milk carton of them on sale for $4. Anyone have any other recommendations for the rest of them??? I printed off a specific list of what to look for in each one and attached it like a gift tag. Add a pretty Christmas bow (not on my son's though!) and you have the cutest little gifts that are alos bunches of fun

I used my Cricut to add the names with cheap-o contact paper. I've never bought the real vinyl you're supposed to use for crafts. You know, the $9.99 stuff? I'd be afraid to make a mistake of it. I have 30 feet of contact paper in green and red for $2.99 each. Works for me! There's my free tip for the day :)

Well, I lied. I have some more free tips for this project:
Hot glue the tops onto the ornaments. They were kind of loose once I took them off and then put them back on. I didn't want to risk these spilling at someone else's house once I gifted them. Or spilling at my house knowing my children :)
Also, dab the tiniest bit of glue in the  holes in the top of the ornament topper. The holes where the hanger goes into the metal cap. Those two teeny, tiny holes CAN let some of the salts escape if shaken. I'm so glad I played with these for a while when I took my pictures!

What can you spy??
Now for your opinion: would you give these to a 13 year old and 10 year old? I have heard talk of how they used to love the "I spy" type books. Maybe? Maybe not?

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Good Wife

***Ok, that's it!!! Before I start the real content of this post I am asking for HELP! I consider myself a very basic blogger-if you hadn't noticed by my simple and boring blog setup :) But, I can't for the life of me figure this out. I want to reply to comments!!! How do I do this?? Anyone? I have tried figuring it out on my own and have done everything I've read online regarding this topic. Still, nothing works. What am I doing wrong? How can I fix this??? Leave me a comment and maybe I can get back to you :/ Thanks to anyone who can help!****

A few weeks ago my husband confessed he was tired of taking sandwiches all the time in his lunch everyday. I was frankly in the same type of mood. Sometimes we buy him some frozen meals he can microwave but we hadn't in forever. Other times he takes leftovers from dinner the night before but even that wasn't happening that often anymore-if someone wouldn't eat so much at dinner maybe we would have more leftovers!!! So, I did a bunch of research and found some ideas for 'muffin tin meals' (that's the search I used) over on the Pillsbury website. They used a can of their refrigerated biscuits and different fillings. I didn't care for their fillings either because I didn't have the right ingredients or I knew they weren't my husband's taste. So, I made my own using their biscuit idea. I had a bag of chicken tenderloin pieces defrosted that I hadn't used yet so I thought this was the perfect opportunity to try some ideas of my own out. I buy big pack of chicken and then divide it myself and freeze them in 8's. I only used 7 for these because I put one aside for my son's dinner :) If you do this, you may get more than the 15 I did if you use all 8.

I started with 2 cans of biscuits and I sprayed my muffin pan with a boat load of non-stick spray. I didn't want these beauties to stick after all the work I would be doing:
 I flattened each biscuit in my hand first. Then I simply pressed it in to the muffin tin like a bowl, just waiting for my delicious filling!
 I came up with three different varieties and collected the supplies I would need for each.

 I diced my chicken up and mixed it with my above ingredients. I used one of my normal kitchen spoons and dropped a spoonful into each biscuit cup.
 After topping them with a bunch of cheese they went into the oven for about 15 minutes.
 And, they came out perfect! And, they smelled amazing too!! They popped right out of the muffin tin with just a bit of help from a butter knife to lift  an edge for me to grab.
 After cooling on a wire rack I wrapped them each individually and labeled them. Now, my husband just has to open the freezer, pick his taste for the day and walk out the door for work. I can't wait to hear how he likes them.

 Do you have any other ideas for fillings?? We are trying to come up with some I could make with ground meat as well as more chicken ideas. What kind would you make?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Every pirate needs a parrot

I was so excited for Halloween this year. For my kids, of course. I began thinking of costume ideas last year-when I was still pregnant. I always thought it would be cute to do some type of 'group' costume with my kids. They are so going to appreciate it when they are teenagers and look back on these pictures! :)

But, I couldn't come up with an idea that seemed 'perfect'. Then I found a cute lion costume for my son at a mom2mom sale for $5. It is one of those full bodysuits with the hood/head. Very warm and cozy, so I bought it.

Then I found the absolute perfect costume for my daughter and she really wanted it. It was a boys costume but it was in great shape and was a high quality costume. For $5 (yet again) at a garage sale. I was content with the idea of them each being their own 'thing' when an idea hit me. And, I got to work.

I bought a red hoodie and some sweatpants at Wal-Mart for my son. Hoodie was $6 and pants were $3. I used a 20% off coupon for all of my felt at Jo-Ann's so that saved me some big money too. I went ahead and bought 1/2 yard of each color since I figured I would be able to use leftover anyways. I made sure to buy it when it was $1.99 a yard too!

I started doing this a different way but scrapped that once I tried to assemble it all. It would not work out so I won't even show you any of those pictures. I moved on to this idea after some tears and a lot of thinking....

I used a brown paper bag to make my pattern. I simply measured the sweatshirt from the top shoulder seam to the bottom of the sleeved-before the cuff. Mine was 11 inches and I made it 12 just in case. I drew a twelve inch triangle on the bag and then added my scalloped sections and figured out where each color would be:
 I then cut apart the whole pattern. First the whole triangle and then each section. I cut each colored piece out individually. After the green top piece I made sure to trim a little bit off of each side of the remaining ones to ensure it would fit in between the pieces above it. Starting with the green top I cut TWO pieces of each section except the bottom red one-I only needed one of those. Using my glue gun I glued the top of each piece together but left the bottoms separated for now...
 I then added the next section, sandwiching them between the one above it. I continued this method for all of the sections-gluing the last one red piece between the pieces before it.
 Once each wing was complete and dry I just glued them to the top shoulder seam about a 1/2 inch away from the hood seam. I also added a tiny bit of glue in the middle of the wing and then glued it down at the wrist really well.
 I cut a big oval out of white for the belly and cut it in half. I carefully glued it as close to the zipper as I could get so it still looked like one piece.
 I 'freehanded' the tail pieces. I cut three shapes out of red and then layered the other colors on top of them. I didn't do them uniform or from a pattern because I wanted a bit more of a feathered look. I glued them all together and then glued them to the bottom of the back of the hoodie.
 I wanted a really cool beak but by the time I got around to that part I was feeling tired and worn out so I went for simple.  A yellow triangle glued to the rim of the hood. Add some white and black circles to the hood for eyes and we were set.
Aren't they the cutest, I mean meanest looking pirate and her parrot?! :) I can't wait for Halloween!

I'm up for the challenge!