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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Spring Decor: Take Three

I think I'm finally done decorating for Spring!  Yay!  I love all the vibrant colors this time of year, and I find it especially easy to decorate for because a lot of your inspiration and actual elements can come from the great outdoors.  That's right, just trim & clip and bring it inside!

So this is my third {and probably last} post regarding Spring decor.  {In case you're wondering, I have decided to decorate more for Spring {versus Easter} because it's more versatile and can stay up longer.  That being said, I do have some Eastery things, of course, but it's mostly just Spring-themed}.  In case you missed the last two, you can check this one out for a nice Do-It-Yourself Spring Flower Wreath, or click here to check out our DIY cupcake liner wreath, garland and trees!

So the last bits of my Spring decor include a branch centerpiece with some owl and egg images hung from it, my pink tree branch with paper butterflies {left over from our sweetie's first birthday celebration this past weekend!}, and some eggs nestled in moss.

For the Owl branches...just trim branches off your trees, and strip off most of their leaves.  You can leave more or less, but I wanted mine to have just a few, to make it seem Spring-like with just a few leaves budding on it.  I purchased the .pdf file from Land of Enchantment {on Etsy, but of course!}, then printed, cut, hole-punched their tops, and hung them from the branches with a thin twine. I added some moss to the bottom of the glass hurricane, as well. It's a very vibrant-colored green moss, which I LOVE ~ very Spring-like!

Here is the Butterfly Tree branch. For this one, I clipped a LARGE branch {versus a few small ones for the smaller owl tree display}.  Then I spray-painted it pink.  Next I found a butterfly silhouette clip art from the web, printed it out, cut it out, and then traced it onto scrapbook papers.  I mod-podges two pieces of paper together to make them two-sided.  While wet from the mod-podge, I also bent some of them so that they'd dry more realistically, that is, more 3-dimensional {instead of just flat}.  After that, I just hot-glued them all over the branch, and then stuck the whole thing in a large glass hurricane.  She's sitting in our entry-way now, but will take up permanent residence in our daughter's bird and flower-themed room after Spring.

Lastly, I got some gorgeous little eggs and set them in a basket filled with moss, and a glass flower bloom {from Michael's} on a large candlestick holder that I had purchased years ago and repainted ivory recently.  {I couldn't believe how well these 2 decorative pieces fit together!} I clipped off a few of our pink twigs from our large pink butterfly tree to make it more nest-like {I think it's always a good idea to have pairings of the same elements around, but utilized differently, if you can.  Makes it all more cohesive but not too matchy-matchy, if you will}.

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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Organize Your Grocery Shopping

So I used to purchase those long, narrow notepads to use as a shopping list.  I would always end up writing in my own categories all over it so that I could better streamline my actual shopping at the store.  But sometimes I wouldn't leave enough space on my sheet for a certain category, or the categories ended up being out of order with the grocery lanes, and it took too much time for this busy mama to write everything down.  Then it dawned on me...there must be a better way to do this!

So as I often do when looking for a great answer to my problem, I turned to Etsy.  {If you STILL haven't checked this site out, you MUST!!  Seriously, whenever I "google" something, it ends up eating up too much time, and directing me to the wrong place.  So, more often than not, I go straight to Etsy to do a search, and there I find what I'm looking for quickly and accurately}.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Kids' Birthday Parties : Celebrating 1 and 4

I'm not quite sure how I'm going to be able to handle two kids' birthday parties every March.  I just did my first set of them this year, as our little guy turned 4, and our sweet girl, 1!!   And, WHEW! what a crazy whirlwind of a couple weeks!  I've heard from numerous moms now, who have up to 3 kids (or more!) with birthdays just weeks, or even days, apart!  HOW do they do it?  I'm now understanding why some kids have joint birthday parties....and it's definitely a possibility for next year. Ha!  {I think the guest list likes it, too, as it's just one party to hit, instead of two in a row...at least for now, while the kids are young enough that the parents must come to the party, too.  Which begs the question, when do kids go to parties by themselves, sans Mom and Dad?}.  Anyway.  Our birthday parties are over! Makes me relieved...but, boy, were they fun!  So fun, in fact, that I already have an idea for next year!  {You'll just have to wait to hear more details on that ~ PLENTY of time!}

So this year we had a Curious George and a butterfly-garden party as our themes. Lots of details went into my planning...although, I hate to admit, all were certainly not successfully executed.  Now, in my defense, some of it was due to uncooperative weather {i.e., too much wind and heat}, but for the most part, I liked how they turned out.  The final consensus {when comparing the two we just had} is that home parties are the way to go if you're going to have lots of decorative details.  It's just too hard to transport and set it all up elsewhere.  Just hope your home {or yard, as in our case} is big enough to host all the attendees!

So our first party was our Curious George party. We had it at a local Train Park, per my son's request. {Curious George and trains don't really have anything to do with each other, but these are the things he wanted, so that's what Mommy did!}.  The wind was making our balloons go crazy and bump into our food, so much so that you couldn't even see the food, so I couldn't set up the table as I would have liked.  Additionally, we had to place heavy items on the napkins, as they kept blowing away.  Also, I couldn't put out some items, due to the heat that day {it was about 87 degrees}, which would have made them melt.  But, that's okay.  I'm sure I was the only one who this all mattered to, ha!

Curious George Birthday Party
*Primary colors with a twist: red, yellow, turquoise and brown

*Banana Split Bar {instead of cake and ice cream} ~ afterall, what monkey doesn't love bananas?!
*Banana Split Cupcakes.  I know I said we wouldn't have cake.  But my friend just opened her own cake/cupcake business {Little Sister Cupcakes}, and so she brought these!  Too cute!
*Fresh-squeezed lemonade.  Always refreshing...and better than processed sugars and chemicals in soda.  Oh, and it's yellow...gotta match the drinks, too!
*Juicy Juice boxes.  I prefer cute cups to match, but with a "destination party," if you will, sometimes, you just take the easy way out and simplify.
*Home-made Banana Bread
*Chocolate-Pops shaped like "Curious George"
*Tropical Monkey Trail mix {dried fruits, M&Ms, pretzels}

Our fresh-squeezed lemonade dispenser {from Home Goods - LOVE that store!}
Banana Split Bar

Banana Split Cupcakes
Banana Bread & Tropical Trail Mix
*Balloons.  Always a fave for kiddos, and a key element in the Curious George movie! {If you haven't seen it yet, go rent it!  George goes for a crazy balloon ride with Ted {a.k.a., the Man in the Yellow Hat}}!
*Banana bunches to hold down the balloons...and later be used in our banana splits {love it when decor can double up to be fully functional, as well!}
*Party printables, to include food labels, "thank yous" and a hangable banner

*Favor bags: red bags tied shut with a "thank you for coming!" scalloped circle. inside were crayons {from Gourmet Play}, a hand-made Curious George coloring book {blank pages}, Curious George stickers and some monkey gummy fruit chews.
party favors
Among the many lessons learned through this one, be sure to add lots of HEIGHT to your table!  It just looks so much better.  Meaning, go to a local home store, and stock up on neutral-toned {ideally white or cream} cake plates, platters and serving dishes, etcetera..especially TALL ones! {Will do better next year!}

Next up was our 1-year olds Butterfly-Garden Party.  We had a bit cooler weather, but still wind {and who says we never have wind in Arizona?!!}.  Aside from the wind, though, this party was easier.  Mainly because it was at home, so I could get everything ready in my own time.  But also, since our backyard is contained and much smaller than a train park, you could give the kids a bit more freedom and not have to watch them like a hawk!

Butterfly-Garden Party
*Red, pinks {light and hot}, orange, yellow and keylime green with just a hint of black

*Cupcakes: Chocolate and Strawberry Shortcake
*Fresh fruit salad
*Rock candy {nicknamed "Sweet Sugar Sticks" for our party!}
*Butter-fly sugar cookie "snackers" {bite-size}
*White-chocolate-covered Spring Oreo cookies
*Fresh-squeezed strawberry lemonade
*Strawberry milk for the kiddos {in Starbucks bottles with striped paper straws ~ so cute!}
bite-size butterfly sugar cookies
white chocolate-covered & drizzled Spring Oreo cookies
Rock Candy

Strawberry Milk

*Bloom wooden double-bowl for cookie display
*Seed bomb bags {from Anthropologie} for table decor
*Felt butterfly stickers strewn on tops of tables
*Large Tree Branch with paper butterflies attached
*Hanging Butterflies & Paper Bloom Balls {pattern available at adams blankie}
*Butterflies on Sticks {in ground by backyard gate}
*Anthropologie-inspired fabric "tulip" flowers {in ground by backyard gate}
*Cupcake liner white wreath (on backyard gate} with "Welcome!" sign
*Party Printables, including food labels, "thank you" tags, banner and cupcake toppers
*A "Wish Bowl" Time Capsule with guest-written sentiments for our sweet girl to open/read on her 18th Birthday!
*One HUGE hand-made tutu by Mama...she's gonna LAUGH at these pictures when she's older! :)

painted tree branch with paper butterflies {and you can see one of the hanging paper blooms}
Cupcake Liner Wreath
Fabric "Tulips" {with burlap butterflies} - Anthropologie-inspired

"Wish Bowl" for time capsule guests' sentiments {to open at 18th birthday!}
birthday banner...the wind blew all the letters together :(
*Large butterfly sugar cookies in cellophane bags with "thank you for coming!" scalloped circle tags.  These were basically my first sugar cookie experiment {I had done a practice set about a month ago}.  You can definitely tell they weren't professionally done, but they weren't bad for my first go.  And they saved me about $50  or so from ordering elsewhere!

Party Favor Butterfly Sugar Cookies

I hope you enjoyed the pictures and ideas from our parties this year.  Please feel free to share your party theme ideas - would love to hear them, as I'm sure all we party-planning parents would!

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Friday, March 25, 2011

{Happy} Spring Wreath

Just wanted to say "Happy Spring!" to you all...even if I'm just a few days shy of welcoming it in!  For most of you, this is a happy welcome...and for those of you like me, living in the desert, this begins a sorry farewell to our nice, cool winter weather.  But I'm enjoying these last couple weeks of gorgeous weather here...hoping it can hang on through April!

So to celebrate, I made this happy, bright wreath using fabric scraps and many different methods for making fabric flowers.  I used just a simple wooden picture frame I found at the thrift store for $1.50 as my form {much cheaper than buying actual wreath forms at craft stores, by the way!}.  Then I made tons of different types of flowers and hot glued them on. 

Happy thoughts come to me each time I pass it by in our home.  {love}.  So what about you? Do you decorate your home for Spring?  What do you decorate with?  Anything crafty?  Or do you purchase it all?  Would love to hear {and see!} your ideas!

Happy Spring, everyone!

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Monday, March 21, 2011

Decorating with Cupcake Liners

I have a new obsession.  It's decorating with paper.  Not scrapbooking paper.  But party papers.  As in, cupcake liners and crepe papers.  LOVE!

So the past couple weeks, I decided to do some trees, a wreath and a garland.  I went with all white liners for the trees and wreath.  Why?  Ultimate versatility.  These will be able to be used for just about any occasion!  From a baby or wedding shower to Easter and Christmas, I think they'll be making frequent guest appearances in our house!

"Luck O' The IRISH" block letters are from Sassy Talk!

So the two trees above are made from two different sized styrofoam tree forms with hot-glued mini white cupcake liners all over. The glass jar on the left has some moss and one of my rosette-covered balls inside. {If you missed the post on these, the tutorial to make these are available in our shop!}.  The garland is made from all kinds of cupcake liners {both regular and mini-sized} along with some wire-edge satin polka-dotted ribbon throughout.  I just used a needle and thread for the garland. I turned the liners all different ways, including folding them into halves and fourths before threading through.  There's no way to mess these up ~ just sew through any way you like, and the results are guaranteed to please!

{SIDE NOTE: I don't usually mix my seasonal decor, but I just decided to leave my Irish blocks in the picture for some color.  I'm working with Dawn from Sassy Talk on getting a couple super cute Spring & Easter pieces of art...will show those once I get them designed and over to my house!}

And below is the wreath, which is made from the regular-sized white cupcake liners.

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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Paper Easter Egg Tutorial

I posted this last year around Easter time, and thought I'd repost in case you missed it.  These Paper Eggs make for adorable Easter decor, and are a great crafting experience for the kids, too!  Click here to get the free tutorial.  Enjoy!

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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Good First Books for Baby

With so many books out there, it's hard to know which ones to buy.  Of course, you can always just check out whatever you want at your local library, but there are some classics {and just plain old good ones not yet rendered "classics" in my humble opinion!} that you always want to have for keeps...sitting on your child's bookshelf at home, ready to read time and time again.

So I have just a few listed below that I think are fabulous for first books...a couple have a Spring theme, too, so they'd make a great addition to your kiddo's Easter basket this year, not to mention great baby shower gifts, too.

In no particular order, I would recommend "Barnyard Dance," "In My Tree," "What Makes a Rainbow?" and "Haiku Baby."

Barnyard Dance is made to read as more of a rhythmic song....it will keep you bopping and has rhyming, too.  Great for learning about animals and the sounds they make, as well.

In My Tree is a finger puppet book.  It's short and sweet, and baby LOVES watching the owl {that is, your finger!} move.  This is probably Baby K's favorite book at our house {she's 11 months old currently}.

Haiku Baby is a beautiful book that takes a bird through the seasons.  It's actually poetry, though you'd never really know it...and neither would baby.  Love this peaceful, calming book.

What Makes A Rainbow? is such a great find for learning colors.  It was definitely one of my son's favorites when he was about 1 to 2 years old.  It has actual ribbons that show up on each page, along with a pop-up rainbow and sun at the end.  Really love this one.

So, do you have a favorite baby book?  Please let us know!  I always love to find a fabulous baby book to pair with some of my bibs and burp cloths as a baby gift.

Happy Reading, and Happy Spring!

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Sunday, March 13, 2011

How to Make a Ruffle {Paper Ribbon and Flower}

I have never been a big fan of that plasticky thin type of "birthday party ribbon."  You know the kind.  The kind that goes on packages and is all "frizzed up" on top.  It's the same kind tied to every balloon, as well.  Anyway.  Not a huge fan of it.  But I DO love me a pretty package.  Now, you could always buy pretty ribbon to atop a gift.  But at about $3 or more for less than 10 feet usually, this can get spendy.  Afterall, you don't want to be spending another $5 just for the gift topper, ya know?

So I came up with doing a ruffled crepe paper ribbon and flower to top your gift instead.  It's super cost-effective {you can get a whole roll for just 99 cents, which would last you through OODLES of presents!} and looks just plain pretty.  I'm a fan.  Heck, I'm a fan of anything ruffled!!  

I'm going to take you through how to make these yourself!  Keep in mind, you can use these same steps to ruffle anything!  From fabric and paper to ribbon and more!  So here's how you do it:

Take your crepe paper and wrap it around the gift two times.  Cut your paper there.

Now you're going to set your sewing machine to the loosest setting and the longest stitch {these numbers area  "0" and "5" respectively, on my machine} to make our basting stitch.   Be sure to leave "tails" for you to pull when you sew this, and do NOT do a backstitch ~ we do NOT want the basting stitch secured!  Just sew right on down the middle of your crepe paper.

Once you've sewn all the way down the middle {length-wise, of course}, you're going to form your ruffle.  Do this by using one hand to hold just one tail on one end.  And use your other hand to gently {especially since we're working with crepe paper!} start pulling the crepe paper over the thread, forming a ruffle.  Keep doing this until you have ruffled your entire paper length.  At this point, you'll want to wrap the paper around your package to see if you need to make your paper more ruffly {meaning, keep ruffling as you were} or less ruffly {meaning, pull some of the ruffles off} to fit the package right.

 Once you have it fitting around your package properly, you're going to set your sewing machine back to its "normal" sewing tension and stitch length.  Sew right back over your ruffle down the middle; this time DO your backstitch when you both start and stop to secure your seams.

Once you've secured your ruffle, go ahead and trim off all the loose threads on the end.  Normally, we'd remove our basting stitch {more for when working with ruffles on permanent items {i.e., curtains, clothing, etc.}, but since this is just going to be thrown away, don't even both with that extra step.

Wrap it around your package and secure with clear tape on the bottom of your gift.  You could also make another ruffled ribbon to go around the other length of your gift.  I just chose not to here, as these are just for my daughter's first birthday, and the less "ribbon" for her to get off, the better!

For the flower on top, you're going to do the same steps above.  I cut about 30 inches for my crepe paper length for the flower.  Feel free to use your judgment here, though.  The longer your crepe paper, the bigger the flower will be, of course!

After you've ruffled and secured your ruffle for the flower, simply take one end and fold it 180 degrees, back onto the rest of the ruffled paper ribbon.  Hold it in place there with one thumb.

Using your other hand, begin turning the paper around the center "bud" you formed with your thumb.  If you're right-handed like I am, you will be holding the "bud" with your right thumb, and using your left hand to form the outer petals of your flower.  Do this by just turning the remainder of the paper around and under your bud.  Be sure that each layer of flowers keeps going farther away from your bud, so that you can see all the layers.  Once the way you want it, head on back to your sewing machine and just tack it down {stitch in place} in a few areas to secure your flower.  Then just trim off all the threads {be sure NOT to cut your paper!}, and fluff up a little.

That's it!  Just put a little double-stick tape on the bottom of your flower and secure to your ruffled ribbon on your package already!

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