Sunday, April 25, 2010

Seashells by the Seashore Party

I feel like birthdays are a perfect time for showing my kids how much their presence in my life means to me. Because they bring me so much joy and happiness, I try to do this for them not just on their birthdays, but especially on their birthdays! My 10 year old is in love with anything and everything concerning rocks, seashells and things of the natural world. My first thought was, "Oo, I might get off cheap if I went with a rocks theme!" However, I wasn't coming up with any ideas, creatively-speaking, with the rocks bit so I turned my attention to seashells. The ideas started flowing and once I started digging around my house, I had more props and things to use than I had initially thought. So, not only did I come out on top with the creative-side (I think), but I didn't sink my budget either!

She handed out these invites to the girls at school. So easy to make and very inexpensive. Cellophane bag filled with sand (clearance item at Target...$4 for a huge tub of it. I used it throughout the whole party for different things and still have 90% of it left). I printed the invites on shimmery cream-colored cardstock which said "Abby is having a Day on the Beach birthday party at her house. 'Shell' be so happy to 'sea' you!" Then, I included the date and an RSVP number, but no address. This ensured the parents had to call me to get directions and this allowed me to get the name of the girls who were attending so I could put their monogram on their favor boxes (shown at the end of this post). I hot glued the paper to the shell base (it was the same length as the bottom of the shell so it fit perfectly). The large seashells I got at Hobby Lobby for $.50 each. I tied the bag closed with coral-colored ribbon and a silver fish charm ($.25 each). The whole invite cost me about $1. I had moms calling me just to tell me how cute the invite was even though their daughter wouldn't be able to attend the party. lol!

I decorated the dining room, which has always been the room that gets decorated for birthday parties. Old habits die hard, I guess. I hung seafoam green sheer ribbon and cream-colored pearl strands (both half off at Hobby Lobby) from the chandelier. The table was covered in a cream plastic tablecloth and ran an irridescent wrapping paper runner along the lenth of it. I then laid blue pearl strands along the length of the table as well. I had some glass candle holders that were beachy-looking that I added to the tablescape.

Each place setting had a large clear dinner plate and a smaller dessert plate. I set out silver buckets with sand in the bottom and placed their plastic stemwear inside along with cocktail party sticks I made using small wooden skewers (which ended up being like a $.01 each!) with a seashell or starfish I hotglued to the top. The silver plasticwear was wrapped in a cream-colored napkin and tied with the same seafoam green ribbon which I then glued a small starfish to. So simple and so effective for the overall look of the party!

Closer look at the place setting. I love how the irridescent paper just sparkled all day!

The cake!! Ok, so I'm no master cake maker and it's a good thing I didn't decide that was a love of mine that I wanted to pursue because I would've failed miserably at it!
This was supposed to be a 3-layer cake but for some odd reason, despite no difference in the way I cooked the individual layers, the middle medium-sized layer crumbled all to pieces when I popped it out of the pan. *frowning* However, the 2 layers still ended up being plenty for the girls. I made seashells from molds of white and peanut butter melting chocolate. I made coral from leftover white chocolate by piping it onto parchment paper and letting it harden in the fridge then popping it off and keeping it in an airtight container in the fridge. I sprinkled the entire cake, all the seashells and coral with edible pearl dust to add a measure of sparkle to the cake. It turned out beautiful, I think! I set it on top of a silver cake stand (which was really a silver drum-shaped potpourri holder from my Christmas stuff that I cleaned out and turned upside-down because I couldn't find my real wedding cake stand. lol!).

The luscious food buffet. I do LOVE a food buffet!

We had goldfish, swedish fish, keylime cookies and more chocolate seashells...

...there was blue Hawaiian Punch set on top of a cake stand filled with seashells and sand...

...and the shrimp cocktail was a hit! Glad I bought plenty. (This was the most expensive thing about the party. But well worth it since not a morsel was left.) I also served saltwater taffy and seasalt caramels.

Here we have shell pasta stuffed with tuna salad and I drizzled an alfredo sauce over it. I'll admit, the girls were not as excited about eating it as I had hoped they would be. But once one girl tried it and commented on how good they were, they all ate it up. *Whew!*

This was an idea I found online (don't remember where, sorry!). I put blue jello in a clear mini trifle cup and added a little swedish fish, let it set up in the fridge then, just before serving I added crushed graham crackers for the seashore sand and whipped cream for the ocean waves. So easy and so fun to look at!

From left to right: Molly, Julia, Riley, Haley, Abby (the birthday girl), Maddie and Daphne.

The birthday cake all lit up and ready for wishing!

For the activity, I gave each of the girls a paper mache frame (again, half off at Hobby Lobby) and a mini bottle of Elmer's glue ($1.27 ea), printed off some colorful ocean clipart and set out 2 packages of Pixie Sticks ($1 each and we only used one package). They traced the images in the glue and poured the pixie stick powder over it to make sand art to frame. I have never seen a quieter bunch of girls in my life! For 30 minutes, these girls did nothing but paint and glue and sprinkle hardly saying anything other than, "Please pass the purple paint." They loved it!

Painting their frames.

Time to open presents!!
One of the gifts her friends gave her. She was dared to wear it to school.
Mom, said no. lol!
These little favor boxes (by Martha Stewart) were a steal! I got them half off at TJ Max and the silver letters were an even greater deal, also on clearance. I filled them with bubbles and swedish fish. They were also allowed to take their cocktail picks and napkin rings which fit perfectly inside these. All in all these cost me about $2 each.

A look at the favor box opened. There's a perfect spot to write Thank You on the flap, but I had already found little cream-colored cards with scalloped edges that I decorated with sea-themed stickers. (Those cost about $1 each).

I hope you enjoyed this party (through pictures) as much as I enjoyed preparing it for my daughter and her friends and sharing it with you all!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

It was a "Those Days" kind of morning...

Ok, so I had another one of "those days" yesterday. It seems like I have these days a bit more frequently than most people. I try to be positive and shove the little rain cloud in another direction.
That lasts about an hour.

I was doing some simple take-my-time grocery shopping, like I always do on Mondays, and picked up a package of shortbread cookies to look at the nutritional info on the back. I was holding the package securely (or so I led myself foolishly to believe) and would you believe those cookies did a somersault out of my hand?!
Of course you wouldn't.
You weren't there to see it.
But I'm not lying; the thing leapt from my hand and I must have looked like a complete nincompoop reaching and grabbing, fumbling over my own fingers (which had obviously morphed into a form of butter) for these cookies which were trying to spontaneously sprout wings and escape.
And it seemed like 10 minutes of the eternal hourglass slipped away as people passed gawking and giggling.
You could've charge admission to stand there and watch me perform my magical little juggling routine.
I can hear them comment now between gasping oos and awes:
"How does she do that?"
"She makes it look so easy!"
"I'm so glad we came today or we would have missed this!"
But alas, gravity stole the show and down tumbled the shortbread cookies onto the floor.
The crowd disappated in a nonclimactic shuffle of feet.
I picked up the package of cookies, which now sounded an awful lot like my crushed ego and placed them neatly back on the shelf.
(Of course I did!...I wasn't ever going to buy them. I was just curious about the nutritional info. Don't judge me, you've done the same thing.)

Moving on with my shopping, it seemed every corner I rounded there was an old lady or little kid just standing there. And after apologizing profusely for nearly mowing them down, I get stared at.
No, "It's ok, sweety."
No, "These aisles are so crowded anyway. Don't worry about it."
It's like they saw straight through me and knew I had no right being out in public today. I was a safety hazard to society.
So, upon arrival home (and not quite safe yet as I still have to make it in the house and put all my groceries away), I must have startled my greyhound because she knocked over the candle I had left burning spraying hot wax over a 3 foot diamter span of my hardwood floors. I watched helplessly as the pink wax began to harden. Piper looked sheepishly towards the backdoor for her escape into the refugee camp. I sighed and told her that I was the bad girl today for leaving the candle burning unattended.
Making my final trek back inside with apples and milk and carefully/prayerfully stepping over the wax swamp that was now my foyer, I began putting away all I had bought.
Gallon of milk...check!
Bread...not smashed!
Thing were looking up. So, I guess that's where I let my guard down.
Opening the bag of apples and tipping them into a large white bowl on my kitchen table should be fairly simple.
You'd think I'd get at least half in, right? Ah, but you have forgotten what day it is!
It is one of THOSE days and getting half the bag in is not allowed.
Apples bounced from table to chair to floor and all it seemed my brain knew how to do was reach and grab at apples randomly as they bounced back up to grabbing height. It was as if I had switched into Cartoon Network mode saying in a deep ditzy tone of voice, "Which way did he go, George? Which way did he go?", looking from one apple to the next.
I finally gave up and just closed my eyes until I no longer heard thumping or rolling noises, then surveyed the damage. 5 apples down: 2 seriously wounded, 2 in critical condition and 1 fatality.
The fatality was dissected then, donated for hunger research.

I wanted to go to bed. I wanted to just wrap myself in a little cocoon and hibernate till I emerged a more useful human being for the day. But no, I still had one more thing to do.
Mission: DINNER FOR 8.
This is pretty nonclamactic as the only upheaval was that I dropped pineapple slices on the floor; not once, not twice, not even 3 times, but 5 - FIVE! - times on the floor.
No, I did not feed those to my guests. Those were victims of 4-legged scavengers hoping and praying for some morsel to be sacrificed on their behalf.
But still, I was cooking with a little invisible force field around me motioning to kids to leave the room slowly. It took me an extra hour to cook because I took the glass measuring cups from the cupboards extra cautiously. I sliced the meat as precisely as possible. I warmed and cooked things in the microwave, but then stood back from it just in case the rumors I used to hear about microwaves giving you brain cancer was true, even just for today. I talked myself out of taking random cold showers because I was afraid of spontaneously combusting.
I survived.
And it is a new day...and it has been much better.
(Upon the ending of this post as I proofread it to Mr. Simpleton, he reminded me -through stifled laughter- that I also burnt the rolls for yesterday's dinner. And now you know why I call him Mr. Simpleton.)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Conference Overload: 2010

Once again, we ventured to Utah for our bi-annual conference. This time we took with us 7 amazing young men and had some even more amazing experiences which I'd like to share with you now.

This blizzard hit on the outskirts of the Utah border and stalled the already very long 25 hour drive to our destination. You could barely see the hand in front of you for a while. So, needless to say traffic was at a standstill.
Welcome to Utah!

Mike actually took his shirt off and "swam" in it. lol!

Nothing to knee deep in about 15 minutes.

The angel Moroni. He stands atop all of our temples and almost always faces east.

Outside the temple doors in a little nook.

This temple is so beautiful to me. It looks like a castle.

The gang.

At the top of the Joseph Smith Memorial building. Too bad the picture is too bright to see the temple in the background.

The First Vision

After watching the Joseph Smith movie. I think I only saw about half of it considering my eyes were so watered up I couldn't see anything.

In an effort to eat a quick lunch before the Saturday afternoon session of Conference we stopped by Wendy's. Ironically, some of Cache's old buddies from California just happened to also be there. What are the odds of that?!

Rushing to conference but not before one more photo op with the temple.

Ok, maybe just one more.

For some, seeing conference in person is a once in a lifetime, if not never in a lifetime, experience. I think we all agree that this was amazing!

Anxiously awaiting the prophet to come in and speak to us.

Mr. Simpleton and I have been truly blessed to go to conference twice now. I hope I never forget the testimony of the Spirit bearing witness to me that Thomas S. Monson truly is a prophet of God.

I just can't help but take pictures of this magnificent place.

After conference. It was over all too soon.

I love how Moroni seems to glow in this shot thanks to the light from the setting sun.

LOOK!!! It's one of my favorite artists, Liz Lemon Swindel live and in person in the Deseret Bookstore!

Her work is so amazing and so life-like. We have several of her pieces.

I took this shot and the next from the Roof restaurant where I ate dinner waiting on the boys to get out of the priesthood session.

The hustle and bustle after the conclusion of the priesthood session Saturday night.

Meet Matt. He's the coolest guy ever. His wife, Jenny, is the coolest gal ever! They opened up their beautiful home to 7 teenage boys and 2 extra adults so we could come see conference without any added expense of a hotel room. They even fed us breakfast (pancakes for 8 men? We might as well be speaking in multiples of 100 here, folks!) And a BIG shout out to Alex and Isaac for giving up their comfortable beds and sharing a room together. You guys rock!

Mr. Simpleton and Chris Williams, who just happened to be there as well. We also ran into the Newsome family that used to live in Durant. We saw Brother and Sister Newsome, Sami, Emi and her husband, Garrett or Ford (or both, I can't remember, it was so crazy). We also ran into the Hiatt family from the Sherman ward there. Cache ran into his friends from Cali. It's amazing how many people make the journey to see such a special event which only comes every 6 months. So cool.

The whole gang from Durant just before the departure for their 25 hour trek home: (from left to right) Caulder, Sean, Brady, Mike (in the back), Junior, Cache, McKean, Jonathan, Marshall, Bishop and Mark.

Little Boy Blue's Midnight Stroll

A few nights ago while I was in bed reading, my son came walking down the hall towards me. His bedroom door leads out and straight down the hall to my bedroom door. It was nearly midnight and I thought his train departed for Dreamland hours ago. So, I was surprised to see him up. Thinking he must have either had a bad dream or felt the urge to visit the bathroom, I asked him what was wrong.
He shoved his hands clumsily into his pockets and shook his head. He does this when he doesn't want to talk about whatever is bothering him.
"Is everything ok, buddy?" I asked.
Again, I got the same jerky shake of the head and shrug of the shoulders. His face was pinkish on one side and there were the distinct lines of a pillow playdate on his face. His hair was stuck up on the right side and slightly wet from the warm perspiration of a deep comfortable sleep with too many blankets.
He stood there staring at the floor and I wasn't sure if he was truly awake or not.
"Do you need to go to the restroom?" I asked. No reply. Just staring. He tried to scratch his nose with his shoulder.
I concluded he was asleep.
"Hey buddy, I think you're sleepwalking. Let's go back to bed, ok", and I began to get up to help him with the treacherous journey by foot back to Dreamland. With hands still shoved deep into the abyss of his pockets he zig-zaggedly walks towards me. I sit back down not sure what to expect as he climbs on the bed collapsing on my belly and lays his head on my chest. Almost instantly he is snoring.
I giggled under my breath while I stroked his hair back into place and wondered why they ever have to grow up at all.

Monday, April 5, 2010

"Le Pastiche"

In french, Le Pastiche means "a collection of artwork". I've had this vision of owning my own little store that houses all of my creative endeavors and just recently took the first few steps up the Hill of Trial and Error to see how it works out. I rented a mini booth in a little catch-all store downtown called Bremar's. I was given a couple shelves and told to decorate how I wanted.

What you see below is a glimpse into my vision.

Below are some glittery houses I made to look like the cool vintage ones you see for a fortune online. Also pictured is a Pail of Posies with the words "wish", "dream" and "love" planted inside.

Here we have some handmade gift tags and mixed media art.

The blue thing in the background with yellow tabs sticking out is an original Paper Bag Album. It's a scrapbook made from brown paper bags and stuffed full of tags and nooks and crannies, pockets and pullout pages for all of your precious memories to be stored. I do take custom orders, so if you would like one in a particular theme just let me know. The one pictured here is Beach-themed.

Here is a shot of some of the Easter goodies I have mixed in with a few other fun things. A "Bunny Baker" trinket keepsake box, a green glittered egg on a bed of vintage velvet leaves, and "Peeping Chicks" spring egg. The bottle in the back is full of Journal Inspirations - tiny popscicle sticks with some vintage, some modern charms dangling from the end. This could also be used as an excellent ice-breaker game. And last but not least, the pink and silver glittery box up front is a mini jewelry box with a necklace inside. Too cute to describe in words, so go buy and check it out.
Pictured here is a Fairy Dress Mannequin made with pink glitter ribbon, vintage gold wing findings, and vintage velvet leaves from an old millnery. And another pretty keepsake box.

Handmade pomander balls. I can make these in custom colors for your party or wedding. Just give me a week's notice as they do take a while to make.
Another angle of my little space.

This is some of what's left of my unique jewelry line. I'm in the process of making more goodies for you!

And what occasion would be complete without a handmade greeting? Be it Christmas, a birthday or anniversary, Thank You, Get Well or Just Because, I have a card for everyone on your list. Again, don't see a card to fit your fancy, let me know and I'll make one specifically for your taste.

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