Monday, November 26, 2012

Let's Pretend - Merida!

My daughter, Fiona, is four.  Those of you who have or at least know four year old girls know where this post is going.  Few things are more appealing for this demographic than princesses - and if you can dress up as a princess, life is just about perfect.

Fiona has gone through many different 'favorites' when it comes to princesses.  To start, she was named for a princess - her brothers chose her name because they were in a Shrek phase.  First they suggested Donkey, then Puss, and even Gingy, but when they asked for Fiona, we said, "Okay!"  Her first real fascination with a princess was Snow White.  I threw her a lovely Snow White party for her third birthday, but soon her focus shifted to Belle.  Her first viewing of Tangled put an end to Belle's reign, however.  Rapunzel's rule in our house was a long one - and one I encouraged because I really love Tangled as well.  Which explains why I went totally overboard with her fourth birthday party.  At some point, though, she switched to Tiana.  She was thrilled to meet her when we were at Disney in September, though you wouldn't know it from the picture.

But now we're gearing up for a Merida phase.  I scored Brave (Three-Disc Collector's Edition: Blu-ray/DVD) as a Lightning Deal on Amazon today.  Fiona will get that for Christmas.  She's already got the Merida dress from Disney and the Merida Barbie doll as presents from her aunt on her last birthday.  So she really only needed a hair accessory to go along with all her Brave stuff (though my husband is lobbying for permission to make her a bow for Christmas).

I decided to go with something simple for Merida's hair, even though it is extraordinarily time consuming.  I picked up a skein of thick, curly reddish orange yarn from AC Moore.  Depending on what kind you get, you might be able to get two 'wigs' out of one skein.  I set myself up with a good TV show and set to work cutting the yarn into approximately 3 foot lengths (I just eyeballed about how long I wanted the hair to be, then doubled it).  Once everything was cut, I just tied each piece of yarn onto a headband - in the middle so each strand made two strands of hair.

You've really got to tie on a ton of yarn to get it bushy and thick enough, but eventually it will look like this:

And I have to say, Fiona looks great as Merida!  Isn't she adorable?  You could easily add a ribbon to the top if you want, or adjust the length of the hair to whatever works for you.  Or if you don't want to bother making one yourself, you could just buy one from my Etsy Shop!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Craft Fair Fun

I've been experimenting with selling items at some local craft fairs.  Last weekend, I set up shop at a homeschool craft fair in Concord.  That was a mix of good and bad.. it was great to socialize and they had some great entertainment, but it was much more of a 'get together with friends and hang out' craft fair than a 'bring in a big crowd and sell stuff' craft fair.  Today's was much busier and was put on by a church in Beverly (so a much, much shorter drive for me).  The only bad thing was that set up started at 7am.  That was painful.

Here's my set up:

As you can see, there are a few new items.  The Rapunzel braids and the Merida headband were huge hits. The Merida headbands as well as a few new hairbows will be up in my Etsy Store tonight or tomorrow.

And speaking of my Etsy Store, I'm running a sale until the end of the month - 25% off all premade items.  I didn't realize how much inventory I actually had, and I really need to clear it out!

Friday, September 28, 2012


I've done pretty well so far this week with eating healthfully.  All of my meals have been balanced and healthy.  During the day, I haven't snacked on anything other than fruit, hummus, and crackers.  The only problem is that with my throat being so sore, I have had some ice cream at night.  But even with that, my eating has been a lot better than my 'usual'.

I'm looking for new ideas for lunches, though.  Lunch is my hardest meal to plan and to stick to.  It's always rushed and I never want to spend a lot of time preparing my food.  This week I had Doug cook up some chicken for me and I topped salads with it, but I'm really not a salad girl.  I may have him grill some chicken this weekend and then roast some yellow squash, zucchini, and onions to eat next week.  But as delicious as that is, it'll get old after a week, too.  I did find two good recipes:  a buffalo chicken wrap and a southwestern cheese panini.  I'll probably need to do veggie prep all at once Sunday night, 'cause if I have to cut up veggies at noon time, I'll end up having something unhealthy instead.

Besides cutting out the ice cream, which will hopefully be as soon as my throat becomes tolerable, I also need to work on the exercise piece.  There's really no excuse for not taking some nice long walks around the block - unless miserable colds count (they do, right?).  It's cool out, the kids love riding their bikes and I have a stroller for the baby, so I just need to make it a part of our routine.  Doug and I would also like to do some strength training together in the evenings after the kids are in bed.  He had been swimming at night, but it's way too cold for that now.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Disney Night, Crafting, and Engineering

Are you ready for a picture-filled post?  I sure hope so.

Every Saturday, we do Disney Family Fun Night.  This is partly to prep for our big vacation in January.. making sure everyone has seen the movies that we'll see represented in the parks.  But it's also a way to deal with the interminable wait until January.  We've done several so far, but this past Saturday, I finally remembered to take pictures.  The theme was Pirates of the Caribbean.

We all dressed up, and even Mickey got in on the fun!  The kids pirate gear was from the dollar store, and we did a treasure hunt to find the goodies.

We decorated the table with some mardi gras beads and a skull from the dollar store, and some chocolate coins.  The kids also had a few pirate toys we set out.  For dinner, we had chicken wings, chicken nuggets, carrots/celery, and fruit 'swords'. 

Dessert was 'Black Pearl' cookies - sugar cookies with a Whopper and some chocolate frosting to hold it together.

In other news, we've started a new class with our homeschool group called Road Trip USA.  Basically, it's learning a little geography and history about the US.  This week we did Connecticut and Delware, and the kids built a suspension bridge to model the Delaware Memorial Bridge.  Lots of fun!

Oh!  One more thing.  I have a new design available in my Etsy Store.  How do you like it?  I've got to get started on some Christmas designs soon..

Saturday, September 22, 2012

After A Long Break...

So much for that!  Life just loves to laugh at my plans, I guess.  We've been out of town for the past couple weeks because of a death in the family, which obviously made it hard to work on the Beck Diet Solution, or any real self-help stuff, or blog, or craft, or do anything 'normal' really.  Thankfully we're back home now and trying to get back into our routine - though we're all suffering from colds at the moment.

The trip went well overall, despite the difficult parts.  I was amazed that our kids did so well in the car - driving from Boston to Fort Myers was really intimidating, but they were awesome!

We stopped every two or three hours at rest areas or welcome centers to let the kids run around and use the bathroom.  The harness I made for Niall came in really handy.

In Ft Myers, we spent a considerable amount of time attending to family matters.  Doug's grandmother, who passed, wasn't like the hoarders that you see on TV, but close.  Her house looked neat and tidy on the surface, but every possible drawer, closet, nook, and cranny was filled with the oddest assortment of things.  To make matters worse, none of it was organized, so you couldn't just take what appeared to be a pile of coupons from 1992 and throw them out, because mixed in would be old family pictures, sentimental correspondence, or financial documents.

On the upside, it was wonderful to get to see family we almost never have a chance to visit with.  We hadn't seen Doug's sister since our wedding, so it was great to catch up.  Her children are older than ours, but absolutely fantastic and happily played with our kids.

After wrapping up a lot of business in Ft Myers, we headed over to West Palm Beach to visit with my side of the family - again, people we really don't get to see that often.  My cousins were adorable, and I got to spend some quality time with my grandmother.

To cap the trip, we surprised the children with a very short trip to Disney to attend Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party.  We didn't really need to go as we're planning a much longer trip to Disney in January, but it felt wrong to pass within an hour's distance and not stop.  We all had a fabulous time and took advantage of all the extra special events at the party.

We also got a lot of compliments on our Mickey tie-dye shirts, which always makes me feel great.  But the really interesting thing is that our quick jaunt to Disney has really given me a kick in the pants as far as getting into shape is concerned.  I was able to do all the walking I needed to, but boy, was I sore the next day (and the day after!).  There's no way I can handle two weeks of Disney in the shape I'm in now.  I'd remembered how much walking there was from when we went in 2011, but time had sort of dulled the pain, I guess.  It's very fresh in my mind now, though!

So, all in all.. it's been a crazy couple of weeks, but I'm so glad to be back home and back into my routine.  I'm redoubling my efforts on both my health and my Etsy store, so look out for lots of fun posts!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Beck Diet Solution: Day Six

Today I talked with my diet coach.  Normally, I'd try to find someone other than my husband to be my coach, but I think this will be a good exercise for us.  We've had some marital issues and as we work to rebuild our intimacy, this will be another way to stay connected and interested in each other's lives.  We've planned to do a weekly check-in every Saturday, so I can hear what he's been working on, and he can hear what I've been working on.

I also think that having a 'live-in' diet coach will help me stay on track more with the actual diet part (which I'm excited to start in a week!) and he'll be able to help me prepare healthy foods that actually taste good.  I pretty much suck at cooking, so I can use all the help I can get. 

Today I ate breakfast and dinner mindfully at the table.

I read my Advantages List and I listened to my guided meditation.

I gave myself credit for all of the above!

Evolution of a Parent

It's funny how we change so much when we raise kids, isn't it?

For instance, before I had children, I totally looked down on people who used toddler leashes.  I thought it was cruel and demeaning to the kids, and wondered why they wouldn't find a better solution.  I'm pretty sure I thought at one point that maybe they just shouldn't go out at all.

Then I had kids, and I realized that those people weren't bad at all.  It's not cruel or demeaning to keep your child safe, it's your job.  If you need to use a toddler leash to prevent your kid from bolting, then do it!

But, I also kind of thought.. well, maybe that's alright for them, but I've taught my children to stay by myself.  I'd never need one of those, because I know the trick to getting kids to behave.

Then my fourth child came along and turned everything on its head, including my thoughts on todder leashes.  Despite all my best efforts to teach him, he is a total runner.  Normally it's not a big deal because I watch him like a hawk, but when we go to places like, say, the New England Aquarium.. well.  I've never actually lost him, but places like that are stressful.

We have two trips to Disney coming up, as well as a season of Aquarium trips and other fun things like that.  I know they sell those stuffed animal harnesses, but they look way too hot for September in Orlando.

So I made him one.

It took forever because I didn't have a pattern and just winged it.  As I usually do.  But it came out really nice, and the chest piece (bodice?  smock?  what would you call that?) can be interchangeable - in other words, I don't always have to use a Mickey one, and in fact, I got some great airplane fabric so I can make another.

As a side note, it's totally adjustable - Niall's wearing it on the smallest setting, and when I put it on Fiona (she asked, I swear), I didn't have to adjust it at all.  She weighs the same as Niall but is about 4-6 inches taller.

My bigger kids wanted to get in on the fun, too.  I did have to adjust it for Lachlann (who's 7), but only the shoulder straps - it still fit him fine around the waist - though I could have added several inches to those straps if I'd needed to.

My husband thinks I should sell them on Etsy, and I'm toying with the thought.  We'll see if I get any feedback about them.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Beck Diet Solution: Day Five

I really did not want to do the task for Day Five.  My task was to sit alone at my dining room table, with no distractions, and eat both breakfast and lunch this way.  I was supposed to take small bites and chew slowly, swallow each bite before putting more food on my fork, put down my utensils frequently, and take a sip of water every minute or two.

For one, it's almost impossible to eat a meal without distractions because I have four little kids running around.  Plus, that just sounds so boring, doesn't it?

Well, I did it anyway, and you know what I found?  It was really boring.  Like.. mind-numbingly boring.  But I noticed that I was full way sooner than I would have otherwise and ate less (while still a healthy amount).  And because I was bored and eager to leave the table, I didn't eat just to eat.

Dinner obviously had more distractions as I was actively talking with my family, rather than trying to ignore them, but once again, I made sure to really take my time, put my fork down after every other bite, and drink lots of water.

I still don't really want to have to eat this way, as it is pretty boring, but clearly it's a good way to prevent me from eating mindlessly.  So I'll keep it up!

I read my Advantages List twice today, and listened to my guided meditation.

I didn't eat everything sitting down, but I did eat each meal at the table.

I gave myself credit for all the good decisions I made.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Beck Diet Solution: Day Four

Day Four is about building your confidence by learning to give yourself credit every time you make a good choice.  Seems easy enough.

I tore out the 'Give Myself Credit' response card and put it on my computer monitor.  I'll read it the most this way, vs. carrying it around in my purse.

If I eat something I shouldn't, instead of beating myself up about it, I plan to say, "Oh well, that was a bad choice.  I'll get back on track right now and do better next time."

When I was at the store today, I congratulated myself for not buying an ice cream.  I gave myself credit for not eating as much at breakfast as I would have normally - stopping when I was full vs. eating the full serving.  I also congratulated myself for doing all of my steps on Day Four.

I'm not having any sabotaging thoughts about this day's work.

I read my Advantages List twice today.

While I planned to eat all of my meals at the table today, I actually didn't eat anything at the table.  I need to work harder on this tomorrow.

I listened to my guided meditation today.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Beck Diet Solution: Day Three

Day Three talks about how you must sit down, at a table, and avoid doing anything other than eating when you're supposed to be eating.  This is a very difficult thing for me to do.  I know a lot of women eat while standing up (while they're cooking, or rushing to get other things done), or eat food off their family's plates while they're cleaning up.. and that's not me.  When I eat something, I relax.  However.. I don't sit at the table, and it's only at dinnertime that I don't do something else at the same time.

For me, it's because mealtimes are a break.  I discovered long ago that my children eat better if I'm not sitting there nagging them.  So for breakfast and lunch, I'm usually around but not sitting with them while they eat.  At breakfast, I'm often doing things in the kitchen, but for lunch, I'll take my food and sit at my desk in my bedroom and check email while they watch a TV show while they eat (terrible habit to promote, I know).  Or I'll sit next to them but read a book.  And when I snack, I'm usually either watching TV or reading.  I figure - if I'm going to take a break to eat a snack, I'm going to include TV, reading, or the Internet to make it a really good break rather than just a chance to eat food.

So I know I'm going to have a difficult time with this.  It will not be easy to sit at my dining room table and only eat.  I know I'll feel deprived, and I won't want to bother with it, but I need to try to do it consistently, because what I've done in the past obviously doesn't work.

My sabotaging thoughts will probably be:

1.  "I could be doing X right now while I'm eating, it's a waste of time to 'only' eat."

2.  "This is so boring!  I don't have anything to do."

3.  "I deserve to be able to enjoy myself while I eat."

My responses should be:

1.  "I'm not 'only' eating - I'm focusing on how the food tastes, and I'm paying attention to how full I'm feeling.  I can watch TV later, but I can only do those things now, while I'm eating."

2.  "There's plenty to do - notice how each bite tastes, make sure I take my time chewing, and monitor my hunger/fullness."

3.  "Eating is not supposed to be soothing.  If I need to soothe myself somehow, I should focus on healthy coping behaviors, and not incorporate food into that.  Food is meant for nourishing my body, not my emotional state."

I read my Advantages List twice today, and I also listened to my guided meditation.  I commited to eating while sitting down every single time.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Beck Diet Solution: Day Two

Day Two involves committing to a diet plan.  Two, in fact.  The idea is that if your primary diet plan isn't working for you, having already selected a back-up plan prevents any time lost when switching to a new plan.  Seems like a smart and easy idea.

My primary diet plan will be the Spark People website.  It's free, easy, and I'm already familiar with it.  It's basically just calorie/nutrient tracking.  Because there's no real eating plan besides staying within calories, I don't plan on modifying it at all.

My back-up diet plan is Weight Watchers.  I'd rather not have to rely on WW, but I do know it works and I'm comfortable with it, so I think it's a good choice.  At this point, I don't plan on making any modifications to the WW plan.  However, I'm not sure if I'd switch to the old 123Success plan, or whatever new plan WW has.

I'm not experiencing any sabotaging thoughts about picking a reasonable, healthy, responsible diet plan.

I did read my Advantages list three times today.

I also listened to a guided meditation that I got from my therapist's office.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Beck Diet Solution: Day One

I feel like I'm being a bit redundant here, but once again, I'm going to start working on the Beck Diet Solution as a way to improve my chances at losing weight and keeping it off.  The book I'm using is this:  Beck Diet Solution, by Judith S. Beck.  I also have the Beck Diet Solution Workbook, which is useful and has some information and exercises that aren't in the regular book.

As I work through the plan, I'll post my responses to exercises and my journaling here.  So here goes:

Day One

Chapter Three:

Important points from the questionnaire:  My motivation to lose weight is low-to-moderate.  I'm anxious about this.  I have a lot of good reasons to lose weight, and I really want them.. but I feel like I don't really have the desire to make the changes I need to make.  Also - I'm an emotional eater (duh).  I often eat to comfort myself.  I have a lot of resentment about having to deny myself foods that I want.  I also have a very hard time tolerating hunger and cravings.

Chapter Four:  How to Motivate Myself  - or -  Reasons I Want to Lose Weight

  • I'll look better and more attractive
  • I'll have more confidence
  • I'll be able to wear a smaller size.
  • I'll fit into more fashionable clothing.
  • I'll feel happier when I look in the mirror.
  • I'll feel better in a bathing suit.
  • I won't feel so self-conscious.
  • I'll feel better physically.
  • I'll have more stamina.
  • I'll have more energy.
  • I'll be able to keep up with my kids.
  • I'll be less inhibited about my body.
  • I'll enjoy physical intimacy more.
  • I'll like myself better.
  • I'll feel as if I've accomplished something important.
  • I'll do more things in public, such as dancing or swimming.
  • I'll be more comfortable eating in front of others.
  • I'll feel in control.
Relevant Response Card from Chapter Four:

I don't want to feel deprived, BUT I can modify my plan in advance to include my favorite foods.  Besides, I'm either going to deprive myself of some foods, or deprive myself of being thinner.  Either way, I experience deprivation.

Completed Tasks for Day One:

Made several copies of my Advantages List.  One for my purse, one for the fridge, and one for the computer monitor.

Decided to read my Advantages List first thing in the morning, and right before going to bed.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Framed Family Tree

Some people are so hard to shop for.  My mom is one of these people.  This year, for her birthday, she asked for two Barbie outfits and a new Lego set so she could play with my kids.  Well, that's great, Mom, but I'd like to give you something.

After some thought, I decided to give her a family tree of some sort.  I really want to do a tree with both branches and roots, so I could show her parents and grandparents as well as her children and grandchildren, but I couldn't come up with a design I really liked.

So instead, I came up with my own version of this amazing, hand cut family tree that I saw on Etsy.  I do not hand cut things, so I spent about two hours coming up with an image in Silhouette Studio.  It was a bit of a pain to cut - my blade is a little dull so I used a brand new mat to improve the chances of it cutting well, but then it was really hard to pull off the mat in one piece.

But I think it turned out really well, don't you?



Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Rice Krispie Peanut Butter Treats

After Fiona's party, my husband and I were talking about how surprisingly good the 'Rapunzel Paintbrushes' were - just Rice Krispie treats dipped in candy melts.  He commented that a really great thing would be somehow combining Rice Krispie treats, peanut butter, and actual chocolate.

Now.. it's not often that my husband comes anywhere close to requesting something from me, so I jumped on the opportunity.  I thought through a few variations, then decided on the deliciousness that follows.

You'll need:

Rice Krispie Treats (pre-made or make them from scratch)
Chocolate chips, milk or dark
1 c. peanut butter
1 c. butter, softened
4 c. powdered sugar
3 tbs. milk

I'm sure you could make Rice Krispie treats from scratch, but if you're like me (read: lazy), a much better option is to get the pre-packaged ones from the cookie aisle.  Cover a pan with tin foil and lay out your Rice Krispie Treats.  Then mold them so there's a hollow in the middle.

Then mix the peanut butter and butter until well blended.  Slowly add the powdered sugar, adding in a tablespoon of milk as needed.  This peanut butter frosting is seriously the best frosting ever.  My grandmother used to make it all the time, and it reminds me of her very much.  Sometimes I add a little bit of vanilla, especially if it looks dry.  I'm sure you could use cream instead of milk, if you wanted.. I usually use whatever I have the most of (we buy whole for the kids and skim for us).

Once the frosting is made, fill the hollows of the Rice Krispie Treats.  I don't have a picture of this, sorry.  I used about two tablespoons of frosting per treat.  When that's done, melt your chocolate.  I prefer to use a double boiler if I have the time, but microwaving the chocolate in 30 second intervals works just fine, too.

Grab your tray of PB frosting filled Rice Krispie Treats and start dipping.  It gets a little messy, and they certainly don't have to look perfect.  If you want, you could probably put popsicle sticks in them to make it cleaner (and easier to eat, too).  If you do that, I'd put the sticks in, then let the Rice Krispie Treats and frosting set in the fridge for a while before dipping in chocolate.

Stick the tray in the fridge and wait for the chocolate to set.  Then enjoy!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Tangled Birthday Party: Aftermath

With all the time, energy, and money (well, most of it was done cheaply) I put into Fiona's Tangled birthday party, I wasn't about to just trash everything I had created.  Fiona and Niall share the smallest bedroom in our house, a room that we decorated in a knight and fairy princess theme.  It only made sense to incorporate the party decorations into their bedroom.

I put the more delicate decorations up on a high shelf that had previously contained some very dusty piggy banks and an old broken toy truck.

On the walls I hung some of the kingdom banners and Flynn Rider wanted posters.

I also strung up some of the dollar store paper lanterns from the ceiling.

The only thing that really took effort was reusing the yarn lanterns.  I strung them and a few of the paper lanterns on three lengths of fishing line, then hung them from the ceiling above Fiona's bed.

One of Fiona's gifts was something that my sister and I worked on together.  I'd seen something like this on Etsy but didn't want to pay for it, especially since I knew we could do it ourselves.  My sister painted the face, and I did the hair.  Now all of her clips, headbands, and elastics are neatly organized.

And last but not least:  the braids.  I just strung these along the windows in her room.  It's a pain getting a picture because of the exposure, but you get the idea.

Now every day is a Tangled birthday party in Fiona's room!

**A lot of the items I've mentioned can be purchased through my Etsy store.  If there's anything you'd like but don't see, convo me!**

Tangled Birthday Party: Games

Well, I've talked enough about the prep - let's talk about the actual party!

We had several games and activities ready.  The idea was to start off reading a Tangled book that we have because I knew several of the party guests weren't familiar with the movie.  I didn't want them confused about the other activities (which would seem pretty bizarre if you don't know the significance of frying pans or chameleons).  All the kids enjoyed the book, to be honest, and I'm glad I did it.  I'd worried it would be something to just rush through, but it was a sweet way to start the party.

After that, we made Pascal Party Blowers, which I found on several sites, but seems to have originated on the Disney Family site.  I modified a few things, though.  All the foam pieces were cut out ahead of time.  Then, following a suggestion I saw on another blog, we used googly eyes instead of foam eyes.  We used Glue Dots to stick them on, and also to stick the foam heads together around the party blowers once the kids drew the mouths and eyebrows on.  I thought this would be a throwaway activity, but the kids loved it.

We left the table after that so the kids could get up and move around.  Our next activity was Pin the Frying Pan on Flynn Rider.  This was a lot of fun.  I drew a giant Wanted poster and cut out a ton of cardstock frying pans (thank you Silhouette!).  We used the ever-helpful Glue Dots to stick them on to the poster.

Once Flynn had been roundly beaten (each kid went at least twice), we went back to the table for another craft activity.  This time it was bottle cap necklaces of the kind you find everywhere on Etsy.  The kids thought this was a lot of fun, even the boys - I made sure to include a lot of funny images of Flynn, Pascal, Maximus, and the pub thugs.  Those necklaces got us some of the cutest pictures from the party:  Fiona and some of her friends checking out each other's necklaces.

While some of the kids were taking their time making their necklaces, we entertained the other kids by getting them to do funny poses with the Flynn Rider posters and the pinata.  We have some very silly kids around here.  But before we knew it, it was getting late and we had to hurry things along.  We skipped two of the games - a frying pan relay race with Pascal (and friends), and hide and seek with Pascal.  So we smashed open the pinata, which is always a good time.  Instead of filling it with a bunch of candy, I filled it with mostly toys - little plastic lizards and horses, Disney Princess rings, princess rubber ducks and pirate rubber ducks, and then a few Blow Pops and Starburst.

Cake and ice cream went by fast as always, and then it was time to pass out the goodies!  I'll admit to kind of out-doing myself here.  I made Rapunzel braids for all the girls, and felt satchels for the boys.  Imagine my dismay when all the girls declared they wanted satchels!  I promised them all that I would make them satchels as well, since I overbought felt anyway.  They did like the braids, though, really.  Everyone also got a set of Rapunzel watercolors.

Everyone seemed to have a great time, and I was so pleased to be able to give my princess the 'perfect' party!  The only problem now is.. where to turn my crafting energy?!  ;)

**A lot of the items I've mentioned can be purchased through my Etsy store.  If there's anything you'd like but don't see, convo me!**

Tangled Birthday Party: Food

Normally, party fare is pretty simple for us.  Pizza, fruit, cheese and crackers, veggies, etc.  For whatever reason (ahem), we went a little crazy this time.  This is where the internet was both a blessing and a curse.  It seems that every Tangled party must feature Jello boats, which originated (as far as I can tell) from Paging Supermom!  And rightly so, as they're super cute!  Here are ours.

Those little sails were a pain to make, but again, my Silhouette came in super handy.  The kids really loved the Jello boats, though a word of warning:  Jello liquifies in the heat.  Keep them cool!

Another cool idea I found (on Pinterest this time) were Rice Krispie treat paintbrushes.  The idea is, again, pretty simple:  cut Rice Krispie treats into squares.  Stick a popsicle stick into them.  Dip in different colored candy melts.  Ta-da!  And if you're especially lazy (like me), you'll get the pre-packaged Rice Krispie treats so you don't have to make them yourself.  Again, they were a huge hit!

Of course we needed a cute display, too.  Originally I was intending to use this tower for the cupcakes, but 1) I made way too many cupcakes, and 2) the candy melts melted (duh) and I didn't want to clean it up in the middle of the party.  The tower is made of three Wilton cake plates, two Pringles cans covered in decorative paper, a wooden birdhouse I painted to look like Rapunzel's tower, a bunch of silk flowers that you can't really see in the picture (they're around the base of each level), and prodigious amounts of hot glue.  Oh, and the obligatory braid.

For non-Rapunzel themed food, we served cold cheese tortellini pasta (again, really simple - cheese tortellini, cheese cubes, cherry tomatoes, green onions, and a bottle of Newman's Italian dressing) and cold sesame ginger pasta salad (going with the 'simple' theme - chicken marinated in sesame ginger dressing, bowtie pasta, shredded carrots, green onions, cilantro, and another bottle of sesame ginger dress).

We also served a delicious parmesan artichoke spread that my husband discovered - pretty much equal parts mayo, canned artichokes, and parmesan cheese, blended in a food processor and then baked until hot and melty.  We served sliced French and Italian bread to go with it.  There was also the customary fruit salad and cheese and crackers, which also had Kingdom Flag toothpicks similar to the Jello Boat sails - unfortunately, I don't think anyone got a picture of those.  Most dishes were served in frying pans, of course.

For dessert, we had cupcakes for the kids and a cake for the adults.  I thought the cupcakes turned out really well, but I was less than thrilled with the cake.  Part of the problem was that I forgot to 'steam' the cake to make the fondant all shiny - it still had powered sugar all over it.  However, discussing my mistake with friends did provide me with a few alternate methods of steaming.. previously, I would turn the shower on super hot, open the curtain a crack, and hold the cake as close to the steam as I dared, rotating it as necessary, and hoping and praying it didn't dissolve or I didn't drop it.  But like I said, the cupcakes turned out much better.  Here's one sitting on top of the fondant sun that topped the cake.

These were a real pain at first.  I used the tiniest tip to do the green icing, but it kept clogging.  After I while, I realized I had used a different kind of salt than usual and decided that was what was jamming the hole.  So I dumped the entire double batch of frosting down the sink and made more - and then it went much more smoothly.  I thought that ice cream cone cupcakes would be kind of gross, but I actually thought they were pretty tasty.

**A lot of the items I've mentioned can be purchased through my Etsy store.  If there's anything you'd like but don't see, convo me!**

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Tangled Birthday Party: Decorations

Fiona turned four last week.  A girly-girl to the core, she loves the movie Tangled - her choice for the theme of her birthday.  Those of you know me know that I tend to go overboard with parties, and this was no exception (how far overboard I go is in direct correlation with how much I like the theme.. and I love Tangled).

I started over a month ago, working on decorations and creating party favors.  A few things were musts:  the purple banners in the village scene, a special Happy Birthday banner, and the Flynn Rider wanted posters.

The banners were pretty easy.  I have a Silhouette craft cutter, so I put that to work cutting out golden suns, while I used my regular paper cutter to make the pennants.  Make two slits in each pennant, thread some yarn or ribbon through, and it's done!  Of course, doing 50+ pennants does take a while..

The birthday banner was a bit harder.  I used the Blessed Day font for the letters with bright pink cardstock, and offset the letters in black.  Then I found some 3-D flowers in the Silhouette store and added those to each pennant.  Once all the pennants were done, I strung them up and tied some leftover tulle from Fiona's dress in between each one.

The Flynn Rider signs were fairly easy.  In the movie, they all feature different, funny noses, but I thought I'd give poor Flynn a break.

I'll admit to using one I printed out to trace my own (I would have just used the printed ones, but my printer is crappy).  I did draw the big one freehand, though, which I thought was pretty impressive.  The big Flynn Rider wanted sign was for a game, Pin the Frying Pan on Flynn Rider.  I created a frying pan design on the Silhouette and cut them out for game pieces.

Something that I decided to do relatively last minute was the yarn lanterns that you can find tutorials for all over the internet.  Here's the one I used.  My husband and I spent two hours one night doing these, and I can tell you, they're a huge pain in the butt.  The glue mixture got everywhere and was next to impossible to get off our skin.  Then the lanterns had to stay strung up in our kitchen for a full 24 hours, which made preparing meals very difficult.  But they turned out well.

Another pretty simple decoration (albeit geeky on my part) was the magical golden flower that starts the story:

I got a bunch of similarly shaped yellow flowers and some glitter from AC Moore.  I also needed a little vase or bottle, and some decorative stones to complete the look.  It took me a few tries to get it right, but here's how my magical golden flower came out:

Other fun decorations to make (can you hear the sarcasm?) were the braids.  I wanted them long - at least 15 feet.  So I had to unwind skeins of yarn (several 1-pounders per braid) throughout my house.. then separate them into three sections and braid them.. all the while keeping the yarn untangled.

I swear, if I ever complain about brushing Fiona's hair, I need to remember how difficult it was to make good looking yarn braids.  They did turn out pretty well, though.

To continue with the hair theme, I strung a section of yarn from the deck, but I left this unbraided.. partly out of laziness, but also because in the movie, her hair is unbraided for most of the time.  Using so many braids kind of felt like cheating.

I also used some cheap decorations from Target's dollar spot and from the seasonal section.  The little tea lights above were great for holding gerber daisies, and the lanterns I hung from the canopy created a nice effect.  And for only a dollar each!

I wanted something to go on the front of the house, too, but there was no way I was making that long of a braid.  Online, I read the idea to use a roll of plastic tablecloth and thought that was a great idea.  I also copied another idea I saw online - a chalkboard reading, "Private Party," with a Snuggly Duckling sign attached.  I didn't want to buy a brand new chalkboard (they're expensive!), so my husband gallantly offered to make one.  He really impressed me this time.. in a day and a half, with no plans and only a picture taken off the internet, he created a large and incredibly sturdy chalkboard.  I did the Snuggly Duckling sign and we just taped it on, so we could have a regular chalkboard to use later.

I'm so lucky to have such a wonderful family.  My husband helped me with a lot of the crafting (besides the chalkboard) - which is just amazing because he's not crafty at all.  My parents and my sister helped me and my husband with the set-up, as well.  I never could have pulled off this party if it weren't for them.  In fact, I was certain that we wouldn't get the yarn lanterns strung up over the table in time, which was so disappointing because I had this great image in my head of how it would look.  Well, with 20 minutes to spare, my dad and my husband got them all strung up perfectly.  It looked just the way I wanted, I actually got really emotional and cried.  I was just so happy to be able (with the help of my family) to create such a beautiful party for my amazing daughter.

Well, this has turned into an incredibly long and picture-intensive post.. I'll do another one to cover the games, food, and party itself!

**A lot of the items I've mentioned can be purchased through my Etsy store.  If there's anything you'd like but don't see, convo me!**