Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Maren's Donuts and Pajamas Birthday party

Maren's birthday party came right on the heels of the church party that I decorated for, making for one busy week! When we were talking about what kind of party Maren wanted to have, she came up with the idea of a candy party. I seriously love candy, but we couldn't come up with a way to translate that into party games or activities other than, you know, eating candy. I thought about it a little more and hit on the idea of a sprinkle-themed party, but again I couldn't figure out how to translate that to a whole party. Sprinkles led to the idea of donuts, and when I poked around Pinterest looking for inspiration I found an invitation for a 'donuts and pajamas' birthday party. Lucky for me, Maren loved the idea!

I purchased this custom invitation from Etsy (I can't post my own photo because I can't figure out how to blur out all of our personal info) and had the invitations printed at Costco. I didn't have any envelopes large enough and didn't want to go buy any, so we ended up packaging them in a clear cellophane bag with rainbow sprinkles dumped inside like confetti. I sealed the bags with brightly colored washi tape. Wish I could show you a photo because they looked so cute! Since the party guests were supposed to wear their pjs, we held the party from 9:00-11:00 on a Saturday morning.

Instead of a birthday cake, Maren chose to have a donut cake, specifically a glazed donut cake. I poured chocolate and white milk into my vintage glass milk bottles, a detail that was completely lost on a bunch of 9-year-old girls but made me happy. :)
I found fun, brightly colored paper plates on clearance at Target and pulled the pink and white stripey straws from my stash. The plastic 'milk' bottles were a purchase from Groopdealz a few years ago. 
Instead of a tablecloth, I purchased a huge sheet of donut wrapping paper from Paper Source. I am totally in love with the bright colors and illustrations of donuts that look good enough to eat!
Paper Source also had this cool donut garland kit. I had planned to make up my own paper donut garland but the kit was totally worth the money.
The kit came with pre-punched donut shapes and templates to make the icing swirls and fringe paper to cut the sprinkles. Making the garland was a fun activity that Maren and I did together. I love it so much that I confess it's still hanging up in my doorway, three weeks after the party. It's just so cute and happy!
When the guests arrived I had them each make a tag to hang on their goody bag using shipping tags and letter stickers and ribbon scraps. I ran out of time to make the tags myself and needed a little something else to fill some time, so this worked perfectly and I already had all of the materials.

The first big activity was decorating donuts. I purchased four dozen boxed plain cake donuts from my grocery store. They were larger than mini donuts but smaller than the kind they sell individually and very economical at around $2 per dozen. Each girl wrote their name on their paper plate and had four donuts to decorate.
I made up a few different bowls of brightly-colored glaze using powdered sugar and milk with a few drops of food coloring and one bowl of chocolate glaze (just add unsweetened cocoa powder). I set out bowls of pretty sprinkles from my collection and let the girls dip their donuts in glaze and then decorate them.
I anticipated this project being a mess but I was actually really surprised out how pretty the donuts turned out! The photo doesn't really do them justice. My favorites were the gold sanding sugar and the neon pink nonpareils with the aqua and pink glaze. After the girls were finished, we set aside their plates so that the glaze had a chance to set up.

The next activity was making donut charm bracelets. When I was planning the activity, I remembered that I had a bunch of teeny tiny glass bottles. I filled each one with rainbow sprinkles and added a tiny eye hook to the cork. I coated the corks with super glue before I stuck them in the bottles so I hope they hold! I ordered plain charm bracelets from Amazon and used jump rings to attach a sprinkle bottle to each one.

The girls got to make donut charms for their bracelets using Shrinky Dinks inkjet plastic. I designed 4 different cute donuts with faces like this one, then scanned them and printed them out on the white shrink plastic. The girls decorated them with colored Sharpie markers, cut them out and punched holes in the top and then we baked them.

I did run into some problems with this project when I was getting it ready. I've made Shrinky Dinks plenty of times before but I had a terrible problem with these curling up in the oven, then getting stuck together and refusing to flatten back out. I did some Googling and found that if I put a sheet of parchment paper over the plastic it was just enough weight to keep them from curling as they baked. I also found that I couldn't use my usual colored pencils to color the Shrinky Dinks because of the coating on the plastic that makes it possible to put it through the printer. That resulted in a run to JoAnn's to purchase a mega-pack of colored Sharpies. It wasn't ideal and was an added expense I hadn't anticipated, but it was really the only option. And now I have a whole bunch of colored Sharpie markers to use for another project, right?
The girls also got to choose a colored letter monogram charm for their bracelets (letter beads that I have literally had for 10+ years. Pack rat WIN). While we were baking the Shrinky Dinks and attaching them to the bracelets with jump rings, the girls played Just Dance Kids on the Wii. Thank goodness for Andrea and her jump ring skillz! We also took that time to package up the decorated donuts. I purchased small cardboard treat boxes from the Wilton aisle at JoAnn's and we put each girl's donuts inside with a bit of waxed paper to keep them separate, then wrote their names on the top with the Sharpies.
After that, it was time for 'cake' and milk in the cute little bottles...

...and then opening presents. By a stroke of luck I found donut jammies at Gymboree. It was fun to have that little matching detail. I even found a pair of donut jammies for her American Girl doll! And to take my devotion to a theme even further, I found these thank you cards at Paper Source. The description says they're supposed to be confetti, but I thought all of those little colored dots looked an awful lot like rainbow sprinkles!

It was such a fun party and it was nice to have it all over and cleaned up by noon! I hired one of my teenage babysitters to come and be my helper and she was fantastic, and this year again Andrea was a lifesaver (see last year's pinata-in-the-front-room debacle). And we had plenty of leftover donuts, which is never a problem! I loved putting it on for Maren but was awfully glad when it was over. Two parties in one week wore me out!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Church party decorations

The last time I posted, Baby Ben was one week old. Now he is 11 1/2 weeks old! Life has been busy and there have been a lot of things keeping me from posting, the biggest of which is that The Mister is gone and I am holding down the fort all by myself. Let's say he's on a very extended, overseas business trip. Some of you know his profession and can read between the lines and figure out what that means. He left when Ben was just shy of one month old and we hope he'll be home by Christmas. I'm not going to lie, it's been very hard and awfully lonely but we're hanging in there and trying to make the best of things on both ends.

With The Mister gone, I thought it would be a good idea to give myself some projects to keep me busy and keep my mind off his absence. I think I did too good of a job of that in March, as it was a crazy busy month and I was totally exhausted by the end of it! One of the projects I took on was helping with a dinner party for the women's organization in my church.
Photo source
This photo from Pinterest was my inspiration for the color scheme and centerpieces. I had originally wanted to do a color scheme of coral and mint but I couldn't find materials in those colors locally, so I went with a brighter pink and green with accents of metallic gold and a bit of yellow.

For centerpieces I really wanted to use fresh flowers. Trader Joe's just opened up in Denver and I love their inexpensive flowers! Fresh flowers seem like such an indulgence and I wanted the ladies coming to the party to feel like it was a special night that was worth their time.

For the flower vases I thought about doing a gold leafed treatment like the inspiration photo, but dismissed the idea because of the cost and effort that would require. Instead, I used this pin as my inspiration. I purchased plain glass cylindrical vases at the Dollar Store. I taped them off and sprayed the bottoms with gold paint. (sidenote: the spray paint was supposed to look like gold leaf but really didn't look a thing like it, in color or sheen. Disappointing but not a total disaster.) Once the paint was dry, I taped them off again and painted the bottom few inches of the vase with Mod Podge and covered the glue with sparkly gold glitter.

I purchased $35 worth of fresh flowers from Trader Joe's in shades of pink and yellow and used my feeble flower arranging skills to make six centerpieces for the tables. I think $35 worth of flowers + $6 worth of vases wasn't too bad at all for as pretty as they looked! They really brought a breath of Spring to the otherwise ugly church gym. The squares upon which the vases are sitting are two layered paper napkins from Target--one bright pink, one gold striped. I bought them (on super clearance!) for another decorating project that didn't work but this was a last-minute idea and I really like how it anchored the vases on the white tablecloths.

For the rest of the room my goal was to make the most impact for the least amount of money, since I spent so much on the flowers. I have long wanted to try making the tissue paper tassels I've seen frequently on Pinterest and this gave me a perfect opportunity. I used bright pink, green, metallic gold and green and gold tissue papers. The kelly green with shiny gold foil patterns was from the dollar store and I love how it looked with the other colors! I made four dozen tassels and strung them on jute twine. They hung on the sides of the buffet table.
I had plenty of tissue paper left over after the tassels so I made a whole bunch of tissue paper flower poofs in different sizes. To make them easy to pin to the wall, I only opened them to one side so the back was flat. We pinned them in clusters to the walls using pushpins. It's hard to tell the scale from this photo but the large pink flowers were about 16" across. I'm sorry that the color on these photos are so bad--the gym has terrible fluorescent lighting and I tried to color correct but they are still really off.
And one more fun and inexpensive decoration was these fringe garlands I made using dollar store plastic tablecloths. I was able to get 4 long garlands from 1 rectangular tablecloth and we simply swagged them on the walls and then added clusters of tissue flowers at the ends.

It's always a challenge to make our church gym look like it's not an ugly church gym and do it on a shoestring budget, at that. I am pleased with how the decorations turned out and made the event a little nicer and more special for the wonderful ladies in my church. I guess you could say that I enjoy the challenge of making a silk purse out of a sow's ear!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Because of Him--for Palm Sunday


Because of Him
We have second chances
              clean slates
              new beginnings
There is no such thing as the end
Because of Him


Friday, January 31, 2014

Baby Ben is one week old! Benjamin's birth story

Hello, friends! Thanks so much for all of your good wishes on his arrival. I want to write down his birth story for my own record more than anything, but if you want to follow along too that's fine by me. :)

Friday morning started out early--I had to get up at 5:30 am to call the hospital to make sure they still had a bed available for me. It was nearly midnight by the time I had gone to bed the night before and I had strange dreams all night long so that early wake-up was rough! We got ready and The Mister and I headed to the hospital, admittedly a little bit late. ;) We got there a bit before 7:00 am and got all checked in. Headed up to the OB floor and dressed in my gown and poked with an IV (my least favorite part of the whole experience is the stupid IV!)

My doctor came and broke my water around 8:00 am and I was started on pitocin right afterwards. They started out low with the pitocin because it took them ramping it up a few times before the contractions even started (I texted my mom at 9:39 saying I they were moving very slowly). Finally they got the right amount of pitocin and the contractions really started. I breathed through them for several hours and then finally the anesthesiologist came in around noon to give me my epidural. Phew! That was such a relief.

The nurse checked me and I texted my mom at 12:39 pm that I was dilated to a 7. The epidural was funny this time. It took more on the left side than the right, so while my left leg was pretty dead, I could still feel the contractions on my right side. They were minor, mostly just annoying. During the last two births I've been able to nap once I got the epi so I was really hoping for that extra rest after my scant sleep the night before! This time, the epi made me feel very relaxed and kind of fuzzy-headed so I wanted to nap, but every time I'd just about drop off to sleep either my blood pressure cuff would take a reading or I'd have a contraction (and feel it on the right side) or one of the machines would click and make a noise. Annoying!

Right around 1:00 pm, I started to notice that I could really feel the contractions on my right side and they were getting longer in duration and much stronger. Rather than just being an annoying feeling of pressure, they were now hurting. I tried hitting my button to up the amount of epidural and waited 15+ minutes to see if it would help, but it made no difference. I decided to call the nurse and ask if I could flip over sides to see if that would make a difference. While I was waiting for her to come in and help me, my mom left to go to the cafeteria to get lunch. The nurse came in and checked me again and said that the reason I was feeling pain was because I was dilated to a 10 and it was time to push! The Mister texted my mom at 1:30 to come right back. The nurse called my doctor and we waited for her to get to the hospital.

The doctor got to the hospital a bit after 2:00 pm. They got everything all ready to go and then I started to push just after 2:35 pm. Benjamin Donald was born at 2:51 pm after less than 15 minutes of pushing, which is definitely my best record so far! He was purple as a little beet for the first few minutes, then he pinked right up.

Benjamin weighed 8 lbs 0 oz and measured 21 inches long. He is my biggest baby and shocked us all with his weight, even the doctor! I had an ultrasound a few weeks ago and his size was estimated to be in the low 7 lb range, so he was much bigger than we expected.

Because of his quick trip into this world, he had a little bit of bruising around the top of his nose and forehead but at least his head wasn't as cone-shaped as usual since he didn't have to be squished for very long! He was born with long, ragged *sharp* fingernails and scratched up his pretty little face in no time flat.

Because of Ben's quick delivery, my recovery has been surprisingly easy, for which I am thankful! We stayed in the hospital until Sunday morning and then came home. I've felt really good and have been enjoying being able to bend over and reach my feet again. The things you take for granted, right?

The last few nights have had the usual newborn-sleeping speed bumps. I've gone between being desperate for sleep to having ridiculous insomnia. He sleeps and I can't. I sleep and he won't. I know we'll get things worked out eventually, and I'm so thankful that my mom is here to help as The Mister's work schedule has him out of town and unable to take any time off. I don't know what I'd have done this week without her!

 We're so happy that baby Ben is here!

Friday, January 24, 2014

It's Baby Day!

By the time you read this, I am most likely already at the hospital, getting ready to be induced! I have a 6:30 a.m. date with an IV full of pitocin. I'm more than ready to say GOODBYE to the heartburn, swollen ankles, snoring, indigestion, belching, and all of the myriad other rotten things I've been experiencing during this pregnancy. I'm more than ready to say HELLO to my sweet new baby boy and to start this new chapter of our lives. All day long yesterday all I could think was, "Starting tomorrow, everything changes." It truly does but I don't feel nervous at all--I know this is the right thing for us to be doing and I know this is the way it is supposed to be!

Ready to DO THIS! Wish me luck! :)

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Thrifting 1, Pottery Barn 0

I got the new Pottery Barn catalog the other day and was flipping through it when I stopped on this image:
That is their Colorful Cafe Glassware. A set of six of the aqua goblets sells for $57. It reminded me an awful lot of my recent thrift find:
Wouldn't you agree that the goblets second from the right are a darn good likeness of the PB version? And don't forget that I bought 30 pieces of my beautiful aqua colorful cafe glassware for only $15!

Thrift shopping for the WIN!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Goodbye and Good Riddance to you, 2013

One year ago we were staying with my folks in Utah. It was in the middle of a freakishly cold snap with temperatures in the teens (or below) and lots of snow on the ground. My dad and The Mister went out into the snowy backyard and lit off fireworks while the rest of us enjoyed the show from the cozy indoors. The fireworks were so beautiful reflected against the sparkly snow!

This year our plans are even more low-key. I spent the morning at the big antique mall checking out the sales. I bought a few treasures to keep, but the vast majority of what I purchased is meant to be repurposed and resold at next year's Christmas market. I did have fun wandering the aisles and looking in all the booths--the mall is in an old grocery store space so it is HUGE and I spend about 2.5 hours in there, poking around to my heart's content!

Tonight, I'll make dinner (nothing fancy) and I think we'll break out Maren's new copy of Just Dance 2014 Kids and then call it a night. Being 36 weeks pregnant does not exactly put me in the mood to stay up all night long partying.

As for 2013, I can't say I'm sorry to see it go. It has absolutely been our most difficult year so far. We've lost two good men unexpectedly (my grandpa and The Mister's father), said goodbye to our beloved Bronco doggie (also unexpectedly), spent extended periods of time apart as The Mister has been away for work, dealt with a hole in our basement floor for 10 months and the attendant frustrations and ridiculousness with that whole fiasco, and had our new house deal blow up in our faces less than a week before closing day. I have been sick and uncomfortable and cranky since the very beginning of this pregnancy and have pretty much hated every single second of being pregnant. There was plenty more bad or frustrating or annoying or expensive stuff that happened but these are the major things.
Sadly, I don't think 2014 is going to be better. At least I won't be pregnant anymore but I'll have a newborn and all of the difficulties that come with a new baby. I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I'm dreading going back to middle-of-the-night feedings and hauling around a heavy baby carrier and changing poopy diapers. We're still in limbo about the new house and have no idea when or what kind of resolution will come to that situation. There's other stuff hanging over our heads as well and it's very possible that a year from now, I'll be telling you that 2013 was a picnic compared to 2014. Wish I could be more optimistic (I'm normally a very positive person, I swear!) but I'm not facing the year to come with excitement about all of the possibilities the future holds--more with dread about the difficulties sure to come. Maybe time will prove me wrong. I sure hope so.

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