Friday, November 16, 2012

My Little Pony Friendship is Magic Party

Have you seen the new My Little Pony cartoons?  They're so much less annoying than the 80's version!  My girls have recently gotten into My Little Pony Friendship is Magic.  They found videos online and now we have a couple of DVDs as well.   My youngest daughter chose My Little Pony as the theme for her fifth birthday party.  The neat thing about the new version is that it is an entertaining show for girls and boys.  I wasn't sure if everyone would be familiar with the show, but most of the kids were.

Every party starts with some research- I talked with my resident experts about the new MLP.  Who are the ponies?  What are their personalities and what they do?  I watched some MLPFIM with the girls.  I tried looking up ideas on the internet but there is not too much is out there yet.

Party Food- I decided to serve lunch.  We had a tray with apple slices and carrot sticks (because ponies like carrots and apples!)  I did make your own mini pizzas, not really pony related, but fun nonetheless.  I decided to roll out pizza dough, cut it into circles with a biscuit cutter, and partially bake them in advance.  They got pretty puffy so we ended up slicing them in half. I let the kids add whatever toppings and then we baked them until the cheese was all melted.  They turned out so good!  I will definitely do pizzas like this again in the future.  I set up a topping bar on our kitchen island.  I covered the island with brown paper (we got a huge roll of it from Home Depot, great for making birthday banners and other fun).
Only photo we got of the pizza
topping bar, me getting out
bacon to chop up

I wrote on the paper what all the toppings were (thanks Better Homes and Gardens).  We had cheese, mini pepperoni, mushrooms, bacon, and green peppers.  I used parchment paper over the pans so we could write names next to the pizzas to keep track of whose they were.

Instead of birthday cake we had "Pinky Pies"  mini pies made with vanilla pudding dyed pink.  I used store bought mini graham cracker crusts.  After pizza time we recovered the island with new paper for the dessert toppings.  I let the kids top their pies with their choice of mini m&ms, mini chocolate chips, crushed oreos, sprinkles, and mini marshmallows.  The top choice by far seemed to be "all of the above."  I also had a can of whipped cream and a jar of cherries which I forgot to put out.  I don't think the kids missed out.

Decorations- I printed out color pictures of the ponies and their dragon friend Spike.  I found a free MLP font online, it's called "equestria."  I used that to make a happy birthday banner and to make signs for some of the different activities.  I also printed out some MLP coloring pages and had the girls color them.  Having your birthday 8 days after halloween makes it handy to buy cheap leftover halloween stuff to use for your party.  I bought two discounted bales of hay from the craft store to use for decoration.  One sat on the table under the apple and carrot tray.  The other served as a step ladder for "apple picking."  More on that in a bit.

The birthday girl got a pink apron,
everybody else got white or cream
Activities- I wanted to do something with cutie marks.  I had considered making t-shirts, but after deciding to do make your own pizza lunch, I thought decorating little aprons would be fun.  The kids started out by designing their own cutie mark on a child size apron.  I bought these at Michael's with a coupon.  Michael's was the only place I could find multi-packs of child sized aprons.  These were a little nicer than I was looking for, but I couldn't any cheaper ones in the time I had.  The kids used fabric markers I already had.  After the kids decorated their aprons, they could go make their pizza.

I can't believe this is the only picture we got of this!
You can see our wonky door next to sliding door combo.
The other activity that took most of my thought and budget was Spike's buried treasure.  I filled up a little kiddie pool with play sand (just happened to have some in the garage we've never done anything with) and then had the girls bury the "treasures" I picked up in the dollar section of the craft store.  This was a huge hit!  We had lots of plastic bracelets (including some very discounted glow in the dark bracelets from halloween), gold and silver bead necklaces, and plastic gems.  The other activities we did were Rainbow Dash's Rainbow Dash, Pin the tail on the Pony, and Earth Pony/Pegasus/Unicorn.  Rainbow Dash's Rainbow Dash was basically a relay race that I didn't fully think through.  I put some masking tape lines on the floor in the basement and let the kids race around.  They liked running around even despite the lack of clear goals in the game.  Pin the tail on the Pony is pretty self explanatory.  I found a picture of a Pinky Pie pin the tail on the pony board online and just printed it out over four sheets of paper.  I had the girls make tails out of construction paper.  Delegation!  Earth Pony/Pegasus/Unicorn was a game based on a game called fruit salad.  It was a little beyond some of the kids in our group.  The kids sat in a circle.  Each kid is assigned to be either an earth pony, a pegasus, or unicorn.  The person in the middle calls out one of those groups, two of those groups, or calls out "all the ponies" and the kids who've been called have to get up and find a new seat.  The person in the middle tries to take a seat and whoever is left without a seat is the new person in the middle.  This game has no real winner, but the 8-11 year old girls I work with at church really enjoy playing the game it's based off of.  We didn't end up playing for too long since some of the kids were having a hard time with it.  We also watched an episode of the show while waiting for the pizzas to be done.

An apple tree with multiple colored apples as
opposed to the "rainbow apple trees"
Take Home- In addition to the aprons, everyone got to take home a goody bag.  Right before everyone went home we had each kid "pick an apple" from Apple Jack's apple orchard.  I painted two trees on some of that brown paper roll and hung it up near the front door.    We put a little leftover halloween candy (a ring pop and some tootsie rolls) in a sandwich bag and then wrapped half a sheet of tissue paper around it, making it look like an apple.  I tied the tissue paper with a bit of green yarn.  I wasn't sure how we'd attach the apples to the tree, but my husband came up with the clever solution.  He stuck them up with pushpins.  I didn't mind putting 20 little holes in the wall.  You can't even see them unless you look hard, and I could fill them up (possibly just with paint) if I really wanted to.  Of course we had to help the kids take the apples down and make sure to collect all the push pins, but they each got to stand on the hay bale and choose their apple.

I think it turned out pretty well.  We had a pretty big group and I have to thank my husband for all he did, our baby for napping during the party :D and the parents who stayed and helped out with some of the activities.  We had a very happy birthday girl!

Monday, October 15, 2012

A Day at Hogwarts Birthday Party Activities

I was really excited to plan Hogwarts class activities.  I did a lot of searching online and saw a lot of cute ideas.  I took some inspiration from some of those ideas and did some tweaking.  Some of the ideas I came up with on my own as I thought about the age group we'd have at the party and after consulting with my daughter (she was my Harry Potter expert for books 1-5 anyway).  It was fun to brainstorm ideas for different classes.

Our class schedule:
Divination (for the 2nd years ie the kids able to read) / Pin the Sock on Dobby (for the 1st years)
Defense Against the Dark Arts
and after the feast we had a movie (Harry Potter 1) presented by the History of Magic department


For Transfiguration we gave all of the kids a lump of model magic clay to transfigure into an animal or other item of their choice.

 Potions class was held in the Dungeon (the basement).  Our potions master, my husband, demonstrated some "potions magic" with a wizard science kit from the craft store.

the Divination Tower
For Divination, I prepared a madlib fortune activity.  We even held that class up in the "tower" (the landing at the top of the stairs).   The kids ended up needing a lot of help with this activity.  It would have been fun to read all of the fortunes to everyone, but we ran out of time.
This activity took a lot longer than the activity for the younger kids, unfortunately.

For the younger kids that I didn't think would be able to do the madlib activity, I printed out a large picture of Dobby the house elf for a pin the sock on Dobby game.  The baby socks were cute and I didn't have to make them!

My original plan for Defense against the Dark Arts class was to have a pinata.  I tried to make one, but ran out of time for it to dry, so I improvised.  We practiced "defensive spells" instead.  The kids loved practicing "expelliarmus" and disarming me.  I had them line up and take turns, and when they said, "expelliarmus!" I'd make my wand go flying out of my hand.

A few of the kids were interested in watching the movie at the end of the party.  The rest preferred to play with toys.  We obviously didn't get through the whole movie.

Other class ideas I thought could have been fun included:
Care of Magical creatures- either finding dragon eggs, or trying to "hatch" dragon eggs- ice in the shape of an egg with a small toy dragon frozen inside.  Kind of like the baby shower game where the first plastic baby to be "born" (out of melted ice) wins.
Herbology- planting a seed to take home
Quiddich practice- trying to throw balls through hula hoops while "flying" brooms, and/or find the hidden snitch
Muggle studies- trying to come up with funny ideas of uses for mundane "muggle" items

party prep
foods post

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Magical Foods

You can't have a Harry Potter themed party without Harry Potter themed foods!  The internet is full of ideas inspired by the foods mentioned in the books.

What I did
This was our menu for snacks at the party, our "feast" in the "Great Hall"
huffle puffs aka purchased cream puffs
pretzel wands aka pretzel rods
dragoned eggs aka deviled eggs
herbology tray aka veggie tray
pumpkin pasties
cauldron cakes

We did some research several weeks earlier, testing out different butterbeer recipes.  One recipe we made had sweetened condensed milk in it.  It was very tasty, but it got gross after sitting out a few minutes.  We wanted something that would hold up and this recipe was it.

2 liters cream soda
add butterscotch sauce (icecream topping) to taste
ice (optional)

My dear mother in law made the pumpkin pasties.  She made pie crusts and made mini semi circle pies with pumpkin pie filling.

The cauldron cakes were our birthday cake.  I made mini cupcakes and stuck them inside the plastic cauldrons.  Two mini cupcakes fill them well.  I made some vanilla buttercream frosting and used a pampered chef frosting tool to put a little frosting between the cupcakes and on the top.

No Harry Potter party would be complete without the snack trolley and it's magical sweets!  I bought small white paper bags to use as goody bags and created a Honeydukes label for them.  I found this font online, googling for "retro fonts."

Our snack trolley had
Bertie Botts every flavor beans aka Jelly bellies
licorice wands aka twizzlers
exploding candies aka Pop Rocks
jellied bugs aka gummy bugs
chocolate frogs

My mother in law and sister in law made the chocolate frogs the night before the party.  They decided to give them a marshmallow fluff  (dyed green) filling and they were delicious!

What I'd do differently
I would probably buy some frosting to save time.  The homemade frosting got a bit hard as well.  I really wanted to have the snack trolley set up all cute like, but it was a little too tempting for some of the kids who got into the treats we wanted them to take home.  I did end up packing the goody bags instead of letting the kids do it themselves.  I'd also get a different flavor of twizzlers, most kids don't like the black licorice.

plastic cauldrons, pop rocks, gummy bugs- Oriental Trading Company
frog mold- Amazon
chocolate melts- Michael's

party prep
Hogwarts activities post

Harry Potter Party PreparationsI

My oldest loves Harry Potter and she was so excited to have a day at Hogwarts themed birthday party.  I did a lot of looking online for ideas. An entire blog could be devoted to just Harry Potter party ideas.  I found a lot of cute ideas for invitations, activities, and food.  I'll share what we did  for food and activities in separate posts.

Planning the party~
Invites: With some input from my daughter, I decided to buy some cute Harry Potter clipart on etsy to use to make invitations.  Buying just the clipart and designing my own invitations was less expensive than buying a set of invites/decorations.  I liked having more control over it as well.   It took a little bit of time, but I think it came out pretty well.  Buying the clipart also gave me the freedom to use the images for other things like the food tags and goody bag logos.  The back side of the invites said "Come spend a day at Hogwarts to celebrate Jaide's 8th birthday (date, time, address)  After classes, we will celebrate with a feast of treats in the great hall.  We await your owl by no later than July 14th or RSVP by muggle phone or email (our phone number and email)"

Wands: A long time ago, I read online the idea of making wands filled with glitter.  I bought some cute paper straws in a few of the Hogwarts' house colors.  It would have been cooler if I could have found red and gold striped straws, but these ones worked just fine.  I had some special helpers, three of my sister in laws, to assemble the wands the night before the party.  The method we came up with for making the wands was to wad up a small piece of tissue paper, dip it in mod podge and stuff it in one end of the straw.  Once that dried, we used a piece of paper rolled up like a funnel to fill them up with glitter.  When the kids chose their wands, they gave it a shake and out came the glitter!  We had some fun testing it out the night before.

Decorations: I bought sheets of felt in the house colors (red and gold, blue and silver, gold and black, and green and silver).  I planned to make some kind of decoration out of the felt, but ran out of time.  My dear mother in law stepped in and made some adorable bunting.  She measured out triangles on the felt, cut them out and then sewed them on to some string alternating colors, making one bunting for each house.  She used a zig zag stitch.  The bunting looked so good, I still have it up. Eventually it will go up in Jaide's room. I made several class schedules to hang in the various rooms we'd be using and I made signs so people knew what rooms they were (the Great Hall, the Dungeon, and the Divination Tower for example).

What I'd do differently
I should have done more in advance (we were a bit busy with the family reunion right before).  Most of the preparations got left until the night before or morning before.  I was very lucky to have family here to help.  If I'd had a little more time, I might have made a few more decorations.

striped paper straws-
clip art- etsy
free harry potter fonts

food post
Hogwarts activities

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Adventures in Vegetables

This year we joined a CSA, so for the past three weeks we've been getting some veggies I'd never tried before.  Hooray for the internet for showing me what to do with these new to me foods (and the large quantities of others not new).

Beets- I read online how to roast them.  It turned out alright.  I probably should have added more butter, salt, and pepper after removing the skins.  My husband had previous experience with the canned kind I believe, and didn't like them, but he didn't mind them prepared this way.  The big hit though was what I made with the leftovers.  I pureed it and made it into the chocolate cake recipe from the Deceptively Delicious cookbook.  My girls knew it had beets in it and didn't care.  My oldest told me she wanted beet cake for her birthday!  I ended up making it twice, once as a cake, once as cupcakes.  Even without frosting the girls loved it.  This fudge frosting recipe was pretty darn delicious on it though.  I tweaked the cake recipe a bit.  Here's what I did.
Chocolate Beet Cake
1C brown sugar (first time we ran out, so I used white and brown)
1/4C oil or melted butter
2 large eggs
1/3C chocolate chips melted
1/2C milk
1tsp vanilla
2C flour
1tsp baking soda
1tsp salt
cocoa powder (maybe 1/3C?  I just added it in until the batter looked dark brown instead of reddish)
mix sugar and butter or oil,  beat in eggs, then melted chocolate chips, beet puree, milk, and vanilla.  Next add the remaining ingredients.  Bake at 350 for 35 to 40 minutes.

This week we got another three beets and the girls asked if we could make cake :)

Kale- My only previous experiences with kale were finding it on the list of foods high in vitamin K and wrapped around the base material in an edible arrangement.  We ate some of it in this garlicky mushrooms and kale recipe.  It was pretty good despite the fact that I burned the garlic (oops).  The kids wouldn't touch it.  The rest I made into kale chips.  They were delicious!  The kids didn't like they way they looked, and I didn't care because more for me!  I tried making spinach chips with the last of the spinach we had, it wasn't the same, the spinach just kind of fell apart.

Kohlrabi with leaves removed, picture from wikipedia
Kohlrabi- I didn't even know what this was, thanks wikipedia page about vegetables for helping me figure it out.  I decided to try this kohlrabi and apple salad recipe.  I cut up the kohlrabi earlier in the day when baby gave me a few minutes and it didn't turn brown or anything.  I put lemon juice on the apple to keep it from turning brown.

Patty Pan Squash-  This picture is from, she's got a stuffed recipe too 
Pattypan Squash- I like squash, but I'd never had this kind before.  I decided to try a stuffed recipe because of the fun shape.  Lucky me, this recipe also called for spinach which we had in abundance.  I used parmesian cheese instead of the cheese it called for.  We got more of it this week, and this time I think I'm going to cut it up and grill it.

Spinach- I've used spinach before, but never had so much at once.  I like to use it in lasagna, we tried some chopped up and cooked with scrambled eggs (green eggs, but no ham!).  We got a bunch more this week and I'm looking forward to trying this hot spinach dip recipe from Martha Stewart.  Her site has a bunch of seasonal veggie recipes.

Green Beans- I've cooked with canned and frozen green beans, but this is the first time I've used fresh ones. We had them cooked in the microwave the other night with some butter, salt, and pepper.  Tonight I made green bean fries using this recipe baked at 375 instead of fried.  I didn't make the sauce though.  My husband and I ate them all up, the girls refused to even try them, they are nuts!

Swiss Chard- We got some swiss chard once before and made a tasty recipe that called for orange juice in it.  Of course I couldn't find it when I looked recently.  We made this very tasty Swiss Chard recipe which calls for chickpeas and tomatoes.  We just used a sweet onion instead of the shallot and green onion it called for.

We'll keep trying to get the kids to eat more of these veggies.  Hopefully our eating them every day is at least setting a good example for them.  And now through November our mission will be to eat them all up before the next Tuesday!

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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Teacher Gifts

I've been a bit busy lately.   Little babies are demanding.  I saw this on pinterest while I was pregnant and it made me smile.
I'm not sure what my slogan could be now.  I'm such a DIYer I make milk?  Well moo, that is a lot of my day and night.
I do have some things I'm hoping to post soon, like the stuff I got done before the baby was born but was too tired to blog about.  I'm also currently working on a new cushion cover for a thrifted rocking chair in roughly 2 minute increments per day.  And next month we're hosting a family reunion and a very important birthday.  So there is lots to do.
One project I managed to get finished in a timely manner was making teacher gifts for my girls' teachers.  It helps a lot when you find a good idea online and can just copy it.  She even had the flags downloadable.  Thanks Lisa Storms!
Here's how mine turned out.

These were for my preschooler.  We still haven't put the oldest's together yet.  Last day for her is Friday.  I swear we are always the last ones to get out of school, despite starting in August and not having any snow days this year!  I tried to buy cups from and have them shipped to the store weeks ago.  Who knows if they'll ever arrive.  I ended up buying these at Joanns with a coupon, which made them come out to a better deal that the walmart ones.  Inside the cups are lemonade packets, the tag that was around the cup and a note from my daughter.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Baby 2012 giftbags

Before the party, I made all the moms goody bags.  My original plan was to crochet everyone a baby hat.  I got a little burned out on making hats for all my nieces and nephews for Christmas.  I felt like making blankets instead which was easier in that it required less looking at patterns, but not as far as how long it took.  To make it easier on myself, I only used three patterns and just did some variations (to keep it interesting for me and to make everyone's blanket unique).  The hard part was coming up with ideas for gender neutral blankets.

Here are examples of the three kinds of blankets I made (and they're all my attempts at gender neutral).  The first is just rows of double crochet.  Those ones usually ended up being the biggest blankets because I always start with too big of a chain.
The second one is a big granny square.  One of the granny square blankets I made had nine little squares I'd made previously crocheted together.  I made a shades of blue granny square, that patriotic one, and the sock monkey inspired one below.
The third pattern is one I found online called the brain dead pattern.  Once you get the hang of it, it's just as mindless as the other patterns I used.  The example in the picture is made with a variegated baby yarn.  I also made one with girly colored stripes.

The other item I made for each mom was a clip on strap to turn any blanket into a nursing cover.  I suppose you could use it to turn a cloth napkin into a bib as well.  I got the pattern from this site.
I used some pink and blue flannel I got from the remnant bin at Joann's, some neutral colored ribbon, and drapery clips from Ikea.  Ikea seemed to have the best prices I could find for clips.

My pregnant self making nursing cover straps
The last item I put into each bag was a small bundle of newborn diapers tied up with a ribbon.  That's a fun way to give diapers because then everyone can oooh and ahh at how small newborn diapers are.  You forget so quickly!

For the gift bags, I used plain white gift bags and made mini posters to decorate the front sides of the bags.  Here's the file for my bag fronts.  I printed them out two to a page.

Baby 2012 Congratulations

linking to

Monday, April 2, 2012

BABY 2012 Party

I know a lot of women having babies this year, maybe you do too? For some reason 2012 is a very popular year to be having a baby. Most of my pregnant friends are having second, third, fourth, or even fifth! babies and most have both genders already so they probably won't be having showers. I wanted to have a girls night to celebrate all the new babies coming this year. This being an election year, I thought it would be fun to have a pink, white, and blue campaign theme. This would work well for a regular baby shower too.

For invitations, I used a patriotic themed evite. For decorations, I started out with some pink, white, and blue paint chips. Using a 1" circle punch, I punched out many paint chip circles.

I sewed them into garlands, alternating pink white and blue and hung them from the ceiling with regular old scotch tape. I used a few of the three colored chips and cut them into flags. They probably would have looked nicer if I had made all the edges straight or cut them with a shaped pair of scissors. This garland ended up a bit heavier than the little circle ones and I had to knot the ends of the string so they wouldn't slip out of the tape holding them up. I had a few pieces of pink and blue paint chip flags left over and I used them for food label cards.

I made three posters for the mantel.

I've included them as pdf files below (vote pink, vote blue, and undecided). I also printed the same design out 6 to a page and used my 3" circle punch to make buttons out of them. I taped on a safety pin to the back of each. For the finishing touch, I bought pink, white, and blue balloons and filled them up with helium.

Baby 2012 Vote Pink

Baby 2012 Vote Blue

Baby 2012 Undecided

For food I tried to have pink, white, and blue items.

My girls helped me make candy coated pretzels with patriotic sprinkles. I got some pink wrapped candy and some pink and white m&ms after Valentine's day. I bought some regular m&ms and sorted out the blue ones. I also bought some cookies and cream hershey kisses which are wrapped in blue foil.

I made pink lemonade, had water with lemon slices in a large white pitcher, and I made a foamy blue punch. My family didn't care too much for the blue punch.

I had found a recipe online that looked good but couldn't find it again when I went to make the punch. Perhaps winging it wasn't the best idea. The food table was filled out with other appetizers, mostly stuff from the frozen food section at the store, and other items a few people volunteered to bring. One of my friends made that gorgeous cake with pink and blue fondant dots and a green fondant bow.

I figured we would mostly just eat and chat, but I did plan one little activity.

I set up a ballot box on a table near the door and asked people to write on strips of paper either funny/weird advice they had been given about pregnancy/babies, or funny things kids had told them about the same. We read them during the party.

At the end, I sent all the moms to be (and two who had already had their babies) home with a little gift bag.

I made each one a crocheted blanket and a nursing cover clip. I also included a little bundle of diapers tied up with ribbon.  You can read more about the gift bags here.

It was a very fun evening!

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TDC Before and After