Thursday, June 28, 2012

Pirate Birthday Party

I feel like all we have been doing around here as of late is
 plan parties, shop for parties, prepare for parties, have parties, and clean up after parties. 
Then I started to think about it and that is because we have been. 
Well here we are again my baby turned 7 and he wanted a pirate party and it turned out super... can I say cute,  no probably not so I will say soooo piratey ARGH!!!

I took our old rectangle card table which has endured many of camping trip so many I think it is about to give up the ghost but I regress and covered it with pallet boards to look like planks and then served all the food off of that.

The one thing I am learning about throwing parties is do what you can do in the time allotted and get help everywhere else like our local grocery store did with these cupcakes.  I put the store bought cupcakes in the pirate cupcake liners and then plated them on a charger added to a cake stand. For the finishing touches I pirated them up with candles and pirate figurines.

A closer look at the food table.

It was so simple to make this pirate banner I bought 2 pattern and 1 solid pieces of fabric cut to 1/8 of a yard.  Then I laid them all out one on top of the other and cut them at random intervals.  I then cut  a piece of rope to the length I wanted and hot glued the edge of the fabric to the rope and there you have it a very easy banner for a party.

The table was a simple to do as well I chose the stripe fabric from the banner and had the fabric store cut me a piece of fabric 43 inches which make a perfect square.  Using the white table clothe from another party and then putting the stripped fabric over it on a angle started our pirate table.  I then added gold coins, compasses, and rolos scattered over the table and then set it with black square plates and red cups from the dollar store.

The food was the thing the kids could not quit talking about.  I made all the labels for the food using white printer paper, black card stock, red and white striped scrapbook paper and red and black team stickers.  This is a very simple thing that made a big impact.  To make the labels I spelled all the words using stickers on the white printer paper and then cut them out.  Using a glue stick I glued 3 of the words on the black and 3 on the striped paper and then cut them out leaving a 1/2 inch border around.  I took my newly matted signs and hot glued them to popsicle sticks.  Then I either taped them into or stuck them into the containers I found around the house.


To make buried treasure burgers you make your hamburger mix I add 1-2 eggs and 3 TBS of my onion soup mix.  I make huge meatballs and then put a hole in it to the center and add shredded sharp cheddar cheese(this is may families favorite but you can use any kind of cheese).  Close up the whole and make you patties as usual.  Grill until desired doneness.  Yummy!


A little tip for keeping watermelon upright like the ones pictured above.  Cut a straight line off the back of the rind and tada non tipping over watermelon slices.

Explanation of food....
Shark Fins - watermelon
Pirate Punch-bottles of hawaiian punch
Buried Treasure- burgers with cheese in the middle
Cannon Balls- cheese balls
Ahoy- chips ahoy cookies
Squids-  hot dogs (cut in half and then from the flat side you are going to make 4 slits about half way up the hot dog, making 8 "legs" then as you boil them the "legs" curl up).
You can see a small bucket that says carrot coins they are just whole carrots peeled and then cut into circles.

Minus the food and shopping for supplies I created all the decorations in under a hour.  Food was less than 45 minutes(with help).  I used a lot of what I had around the house and this party will certainly go into the memory banks of our children for years to come.  I wonder what kind of party I will be planning next month for our going to be 10 year old????

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Stop and Go

The one thing I LOVED and I mean LOVED about our old home was its size.  I am indeed grateful for our new home with the amount of storage and a layout that works for our family but the size has been something for me to get used to.  Before I knew where my children were at all times and now it is like hide and go seek sometimes.    Before due to space we were forced to spend time together as a family, I had worried when we moved here that was something we were going to lose but we didn't. 

 The one thing I had not anticipated was when we were in the middle of doing family cleaning when they thought they were done off they would go and the usual escape was the basement.  Now this needed to stop.  Everyone has things they need to do every morning and I would often be calling children back up over and over again and as you can imagine this became a source of great contention when one or two would stay to help and the others would slip away to play hopefully undetected by yours truly.  Contention in my home is the number one no no around here and so a solution was going to be found pronto and this is what I came up with and might I add it has worked out fabulously and it was so so simple:

I added a hook to our basement door and found 2 signs at our local school supply store(I am sure you can find these same type of signs online and print them off on card stock on your computer) .

GO = you can go downstairs


STOP = do not go downstairs


Mom and Dad are the only ones that can change the sign and if you are found breaking the sign rule you get a warning and the second time you do not receive your punch for the day(I will explain the punch system at a later day) but you can implement this with your family how it works for your family.

I will tell you we have had huge success with this.  No more contention, no more calling and calling again for children to come upstairs, and we are indeed spending more time as a family which is an added bonus!

Friday, June 22, 2012

They really CAN do it!!!

     I had a few posts entitled They CAN Do It  where I shared ideas of how to help your children be a little more independent.  I wanted to share an example of this independence around our house this morning.

    The conversation went like this:   My youngest who is 6 came into the living room and said quite proudly(a quick preface he is a talker),  
          "Mom I got the toaster out, made my toast, put peanut butter on it, put the toast on the plate, put the plate on the table, put the toaster away, put the peanut butter in the cupboard, and put the knife in the sink."  My reply to this was a huge smile and then I said,  "Yep your right that is exactly how you make yourself breakfast." 

     This summer so far I have made breakfast 1 time and that was for Fathers Day.  Our children have the capacity to learn and to take care of themselves they just need someone to show them the way.  I can't tell you how many times I showed him how to plug in the toaster, how to unplug the toaster, how to put it away safely, how to close the bread bag so it doesn't get ruined, how to put the lid on and off the peanut butter jar, what knife to use, where everything goes get the point there is a lot to learn when you are making yourself toast and cleaning up after but the time spent was sooooo worth it.  We  could say yeah he can make toast but those skills transfer, he can make himself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, pb&j rollit(in a tortilla), he can make toast while I am making eggs, but most importantly it is how he feels about himself.  He was proud of himself, he had self confidence in knowing he could do it and that feeling of I CAN DO IT transfers to other activities in his life.   Our children are our greatest gift and one of the greatest gifts we can give them is the confidence to DO.


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Graduation Open House

WE have a graduate and this is hard to believe and a few weeks ago we had his graduation open house.  It first started by me asking him if he wanted one and after a couple of weeks he decided yes he would.  Then it came time to decide what he wanted it to be a dinner, a dessert bar, swimming party, and the list goes on but he decided he wanted a bar b q so off I went in search of ideas.  I found a couple of great ideas and as party planning goes the ideas morph over time.  We were going to have hot dogs and sliders and then one day we had brats for dinner and so the request came for brats at is open house and so the make your own Gourmet Hot Dog/Brats took shape.  I like to keep things simple, easy to execute, and also keep the cost to a minimum.  I did this in all kinds of ways that I would like to share with you.


These are the tables and I will tell you the centerpieces were not the original plan they were supposed to be sticks with pictures tied to them with ribbon but a wrong measurement by yours truly scrapped that plan and so my friends(yes use your friends help, I honestly could not have done it without them) and I came up with these in pinch and I LOVE them and he was okay with the flowers(phew). 

To make the jar vases(which I had in my garage) we hot glued small cups into the bottom of the canning jars and filled the cups with water.  I then took horizontal pictures of him in his senior year and added them to the jars to hide the cups tied red gingham and yellow ribbon to the tops of the jars and added the daisies(which I had bought for myself that morning and so I glad I did because they worked in a pinch).  I found white table clothes on clearance and then bought about 7 yards of red gingham fabric an cut it every 44 inches to make the gingham squares in the center of the tables. 



I used things I had around the house to serve the food in.  You might recognize the buckets from my stairs for the kids clutter well we cleaned them out and served 4 different types of chips in them.  A large galvanized tub(used to fill with apples in the fall) filled with ice and red bowls(borrowed) full of watermelon did the trick.  The pickles and carrots were served in 2 of my glass jars, one of which typically stores my children's crayons and the other our vacation rocks.  I just dressed the jars up with chalkboard labels from the Martha Stewart line at Staples.  I quickly using word printed off a sign with the types of chips and the number of pail they were in and taped it to the wall.



To make things simple and so we didn't serve anything under cooked we boiled the hot dogs and brats first and then put them on the grill for the grill marks and they were fabulous and no burnt dogs or brats and into the roaster they went.  I found some great printables on line(who knows where now) for some gourmet hot dog recipes and I printed them off and framed them. I placed them in the front of all the different toppings for the dogs(there is a close up below).  Each topping had a label using a craft stick and a red white label again got to love the new line of Martha Stewart  labels and office supplies at Staples.  I glued the sticks to the back of the jars(I had six of the jars and went and bought 4 more at the Dollar Tree).  I used the same labels on ketchup and mustard bottles to dress them up a bit and placing the bottles in red metal trays filled with ice(again borrowed).  The silverware was placed in little metal buckets found at the one spot at Target.

Photo: Julia Kepler is so creative!!! These are from Christian's grad party!!! Love it!!!

For drinks we had metal drink stands filled with ice and water bottles near the tables and a cooler full of ice cream cups(sorry no pictures of these)  I did quickly whip up a sign using word and taped it to the cooler that said I Scream You Scream We All Scream for Ice Cream. 

I also set up a small area for young children.  They could blow bubbles, play in the sand table, or play with the animals in the water table.  On the other side of the yard we had games for older children to play. 

I need to take this opportunity to thank Julie, Denny, Melanie for all their help decorating, cleaning, refilling food items.  My mom for helping me chop and chop and chop.  Paul for ice and water filling.  The Newtons, Gilberts, and my Uncle for chair and table take down and loading them into the truck. Mom Kepler for ice cream pick up and a last minute run for large garbage bags and cheese.  And who can forget Tammy for all of our house tours(thank goodness I cleaned the inside of the house).

The Open House was fabulous and enjoyed by all. I wish I had taken more pictures of the event but I was busy visiting and hostessing and having a great time.


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Balloon Boppin' Fun

Life has been a tad crazy around here with  Graduation, State Track Meet, Graduation Open House, and College Orientation...not to mention the other 3 children's end of year parties and all the other graduates open houses to attend, we have been a busy little family. 

This summer I am going to try as I might to remember to take pictures and
share some of our summer fun.

Today we have had a lull in all the activity while waiting for our new carpet to arrive to be installed this afternoon(did I say a lull) so I took advantage and we did this fun activity with things we had lying around the house.....

We had these plates left over from Christmas and some paint sticks......


and taped the paint stick to the back of the plate with duct tape(I found duct tape holds up the best and really keeps the plate stuck) I also can imagine hot glue could work but I was letting the kids make these themselves.


We then blew up some balloons and headed outside to have some fun batting around their balloons.


They also ran  a little race where they tried to keep the balloons on top of the plate. 

This activity is so fun and simple.  We used what we had around the house and they used their imaginations to come up with new games using their paddles and balloons.


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

DIY Laundry Detergent

I am always in search of ways to save my family money but my time also has value so when I find something that saves money and doesn't take a lot of time and actually works I am thrilled and this is one such thing and after a month of using it I can tell you I LOVE IT and it works FABULOUSLY!!!  I have found our clothes are cleaner and my child with a mild case of eczema is almost eczema free.  To buy these items it was less than $10.00 so it was so worth the try and the results were MUAH!

Ingredients:  2 bars felsnaptha soap grated(it takes about 10 minutes to do), 4 Cups Borax, 4 Cups Baking Soda(it is in a box in the laundry detergent aisle)

Mix these 3 items together and you get:

and the cost was roughly $6.00

I have a high efficiency washer and it works wonderfully,  I use 1 to 2 Tablespoons of detergent depending on the load and as an added bonus no more dryer sheets.  Like I said it has been a month and with a family of 6 we went through roughly 2/3 in that time.