Monday, November 23, 2015

Brown Bear Brown Bear Birthday

Our daughter just LOVES the Brown Bear Brown Bear book.  She recites it all the time as she sees birds in the sky or ducks at the park.  I thought it would make a perfect theme for her 2nd birthday.

Invite: I found the image background online and added the text to it.  The fonts I used were "Return to Sender" for the colorful shaded words and Comic Sans for the white text.  I printed these and then added bright colored card stock behind them before sending them out to guests.

I always like my kiddos to dress in theme if possible.  For this party, I found some Brown Bear Brown Bear fabric on Etsy and purchased one yard.  I bought the coordinating fabric, ribbon, and buttons at Joann's.  My amazing mother sewed this beautiful dress.  She is so amazing, she even did it without a pattern!  Thanks Mom!! Oh...and isn't my daughter just the cutest in it! Just loved it.

Entry Decor:  I made this entry sign with a little help from my 4 and 6 year old.  I basically cut up a white poster board into 5 pieces and gave the kids paint.  They each got 3 shades of their color.  Then they painted randomly all over the piece of poster board.  Once it was dry, I made patterns of the animals from images found online and cut them out.  I glued them together and put them on the sign, but this method gave the animals the same look as the ones in Eric Carle's book.  The letters I cut from my Cricut.

I made these centerpieces for each of the tables.  I made the wraps on the vases using Photoshop and
printed them on card stock.  I filled the vases half full with gumballs to add color.  The animals I ordered off of Amazon.  They were part of our birthday gift to Jenna. I made simple tissue paper flowers for the top.  It was a windy day, so I did have to tape the flowers down.

I made a Brown Bear Brown Bear birthday banner. I couldn't find the brown bear paper, so I used an image I found online and used Photoshop to make it a wallpaper.  I then printed it on card stock to use as the background.  The letters were cut with my Cricut.

I already had various colorful napkins from past parties, so I decided to incorporate all the colors into Jenna's birthday.  I designed the napkin rings on Photoshop.

Party Activity: Besides a jumper outside, the only activity I had was for the kids to create their own Brown Bear, Brown Bear book. The kids really enjoyed creating their books.

I had the necessary animals, googly eyes, yarn, etc. packaged in individual Zip-lock baggies.  This way those kids that didn't want to make their book at the party could just take the baggie and paper home.  I also had a box of the "common" materials in the center of the table.

Here is my daughter's finished book before we put it all together.

These are the directions I placed inside each Zip-lock baggie.

Menu: I served Hot Dogs with all the fixings - chili, cheese, onions, jalapenos, avocado, pickles -- whatever the guest's wanted to add.

I also made bear shaped peanut butter and jelly with a bear cookie cutter I found on Amazon.

 For sides, I served various fruits to match the colors of the book.

I couldn't forget Goldfish crackers alongside other chips.

I saw this fun cake online and just had to try it.  It was actually very easy. I adapted the recipe I found online a bit.  I made three 9 inch round cakes.  I used two for the head and the other for the ears.  The nose is an upside down cupcake.  The eyebrows are a mini chocolate donut cut in half lengthwise and then covered in the frosting. The eyes are Wilton's chocolate melts warmed a bit in my hand.

I also made cupcakes.  I used Photoshop and my Cricut to create the cupcake toppers.

Favor:  Aside from the Brown Bear book craft that the kids got to take home, I also made small bags with Chocolate Teddy Grahams inside.  The tag I modeled after my invitation and created on Photoshop.

I found a chocolate lollipop mold of a brown grizzly bear at Calico Cake Shop in Buena Park, so I couldn't resist make chocolate bear lollipops for the kids as well.

It was a super fun birthday party for our little girl.  She had a blast.  After the event it was:

Mommy, Mommy...what do you see?  Sleep, Sleep..calling to me!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Dia de los Muertos Party

With our monthly dinner falling on the Day of the Dead holiday, I chose Dia de los Muertos as my November theme. I love this holiday because of the bright colors, the focus on culture and tradition, and the idea of honoring the spirits of the dead. Oh...and I love Mexican food.

Invite: I designed the invite around an image I found online.  Since most of my guests were coming straight from work, I didn't mention dressing up or wearing makeup.  I did pull in the traditional aspect a bit asking guests to bring a photo or decoration in memory of a lost loved one to place on the alter.

Entry Decor:  I made this sign for my entryway.  I drew the skull (with a little help from my overhead projector) and colored it in with marker.  I made the tissue paper flowers and cut the lettering on my Cricut.  The font is Matador, and it can be downloaded for free online.

For the "alter, " I borrowed skulls, candles, and some of the other items from friends of mine.  These items really added to the cultural aspect of the party and saved me money in attempting to purchase decorations.  I also made candle favors for each guest which I placed on the "alter."

Table Decor:  I set my table with a black tablecloth and placed colorful serapes to add a festive flare.  The amazing centerpiece of the skeleton with a top hat I borrowed from a friend.  It was perfect!  The brightly colored candles were also borrowed. I bought colorful vases from the dollar store and made tissue paper flowers to add to the table.

In front of the flowers, I painted sugar skulls.  I found these orange Halloween skulls at Michaels at 75% off and just painted them to look like sugar skulls.

For a place card, I bought mini blue and green margarita glasses from Party City and mini bottles of tequila from BevMo.  I carved the guest's initial out of a lime, cut the slice out, and placed it on the rim of the glass.   Carving was a bit difficult in that I couldn't find a good tool to help me do it. I ended up using a small flat-head screwdriver, so they didn't come out as perfectly as I'd hoped, but they were still cute.  I also did these last minute to avoid the limes drying out.

I bought these napkins at Target and then made the skull rings around them.  The pink and blue skulls I found at Michaels in the bead section.  The skulls were expensive, but luckily they were on sale and I had a coupon.

I made labels for my wines that went with the theme. They were made from images I found online and just created a label around them.

For wine charms, I used these colorful mini rubber skeletons I found at Target.  There were 8 in a package for only $1!!  I picked them up originally not sure what I would use them for, but decided they were perfect for wine charms.

Behind the table, I added a collage of tissue paper flowers.

Menu: We started off with chips, salsa, and guacamole as an appetizer.  For the main meal, I created a Taco Bar.

I made this banner with scrapbook paper and real tacos.  Don't you just love it?

I decorated the Taco Bar with candles and more of the items I had borrowed from my friend. I just love how these additions bring out the festive nature of this party.

For the Taco Bar, I had both hard and soft shell tacos as well as mini tortilla bowls I made.  For the meat, I made shredded chicken in the crock pot and cooked carne asada on the grill.  The chicken is only 3 ingredients - one jar of salsa, one packet of taco seasoning, and your chicken.  Cook it on low for 6-8 hours and enjoy!  All the fixings made for a super yummy meal.

We also had Mexican corn, rice, and beans.

For dessert, we had "fried" ice cream and churros.  The churros I bought already made from Costco on my way home for work.  I warmed them in the oven and cut them in half.  The "fried" ice cream is not really fried at all, but was very tasty.  I started by making round balls of vanilla ice cream.  While these were hardening, I made the mix.  It is just corn flakes, butter, cinnamon, and sugar.  I baked it for a bit in the oven.  An hour before the party, I rolled the ice cream balls in the mixture and placed them back in the freezer until serving time.  I chose to garnish them with a dollop and whip cream and a cherry.

Favor:  I made these super easy candles for my favor.  I bought the candles at the dollar store.  The sugar skulls I cut out of my Cricut and then used Mod Podge to adhere them to the glass.  I used leftover beads from my napkin rings to string on the end of ribbon and tied this around the top. Cheap and easy!

We had so much fun at our Dia de los Muertos dinner.  Thank you ladies for coming!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Black Cat, Nine Lives

October was the month I started having monthly dinners for my group of friends, so each year I try to come up with a theme that represents the anniversary year.  This October marks 9 years I've been hosting monthly dinners for these amazing ladies.  That's 108 dinner themes over the years!  For this year, I decided on Black Cat, Nine Lives for my theme.  I thought it was appropriate with Halloween coming soon as well.  One funny note is that I absolutely HATE cats, and I am allergic to them! They did make for a fun theme though.

Invite: I found this background image online and just added text using Photoshop.  I liked the image because the cat was prominent, but it also had the Halloween look and party colors I decided to go with.

Entry Decor:  As a high school teacher, I have access to an overhead projector, so I projected cat images up on my walls to trace on black card stock and use for my entry.  I put two cat silhouettes in my windows and one on my door poster.  Love the MD (Monthly Dinner) collar I added at the last minute.

Inside Decor: I used a black tablecloth and placed 12x12 orange scrapbook paper down the center for a table runner.  My centerpiece was small pumpkins I made to look like cats placed inside a larger pumpkin.  I saw this idea on Pinterest, and decided to try it out.  Here's a larger photo...

To make this fun centerpiece:
  1. Cut the top off an artificial large pumpkin. (You can use a real pumpkin if you want, but I really wanted mine to serve as a decoration for the entire month.)  Fill the large pumpkin with enough newspaper and tissue paper to hold your small pumpkins.
  2. Glue ribbon along the rib parts of the pumpkin.  I used craft glue and then a thumb tack on the inside at the top to secure it.
  3. For the pumpkin cats, I used real pumpkins because I couldn't find fake ones easily.  I cut cardstock to make ears, whiskers, and a nose. I adhered them to the pumpkin with hot glue.  I used black scrapbook brads I found at Michaels for the eyes and just stuck them in the pumpkin.
  4. I then used a thin Sharpie to make the mouth.

I also made black cats out of cardstock to add to the table decor.

I had an extra mini pumpkin, so I used it as a separate side decoration adding large yarn balls for added fun.

For place cards, I made cats out of toilet paper rolls, cut a slit in the top, and inserted a place card.  These were actually very easy to make.
  1. Cut a toilet paper roll the height that you want your cat.  I cut my about 1 1/2 inches.  Then paint it the color you want your cat.
  2.  Once dry, paint the stripes on the side with a thin brush.  Lighten your body color a little with white paint and paint on the cheeks. Use the end of your paintbrush for a pink nose.
  3. Cut a thin section of the remaining toilet paper roll for the tail.  Paint it your body color and then add stripes.  Make sure you paint both sides as they both will show.
  4. For the ears, cut a chenille stem 4".  Then cut it in half again.  Fold those two halves into a point and glue them to the inside as the ears.
  5. Cut the remaining chenille stem in half.  Wrap each piece around your paintbrush (or a pencil) to coil it.  Then attach each to the underside of the toilet roll body for the feet.
  6. Glue the tail to the back and use a sharpie to add whiskers, eyes, and eyebrows to the face.

For the napkin rings, I made small yarn balls using remnants of yarn I already had.  Super easy and cute.

I made wine charms to look like cat collars.  I bought large metal brads from Michaels and wrote popular cat names on the front in Sharpie.  I used black card stock to cover the back and to add a slight border.  I folded half of the brad in half on the back to secure the ribbon like a hoop before tying them onto the wine glasses.

The wine labels I designed were simple. I just found images on Google that I liked and designed the labels with them.

Oh...and don't forget the silly sign on the bathroom door!

Menu:  I bought cat bowls from the dollar store to fill with small appetizers before the party.  In one, I put goldfish, and the other I cut cubes of cheese.

For the side salad, I made a simple green salad, but instead of regular croutons, I bought Parmesan cheese fish crackers.  (These are super yummy by the way!).  On the salad, I put tomatoes, shredded cheese, and corn.

For the main dish, I served Blackened Catfish which was amazing! I followed this recipe found on Never Enough Thyme. One of my guests doesn't like fish, but I used the same rub as the catfish recipe and put it on a chicken breast for her.  Still delicious.  Along with the catfish, I made mashed potatoes and called them PURR-fect Potatoes and a medley of mixed veggies I called Veggie Meow Mix.

For dessert, I made a black cat cake.  I used a boxed cake mix (Devil's food cake) to make two 9" cakes.  One was the body, and the other I cut to make the head, tail, and ears.  For the sake of time, I used pre-made frosting which is not as amazing as my mom's recipe, but still good.  The eyes I made with red lifesavers and yellow skittles.  The nose is a pink Starburst cut into a triangle.  The whiskers are chocolate licorice that I sliced smaller.

Favor:  The first idea I had for this party theme was to incorporate Kit Kat bars into my favor.  Wasn't sure how I was going to do it, but after making the centerpiece pumpkins, I decided they were so cute, I wanted to incorporate them into my favor.  I made the pumpkins the same way I made the centerpiece, but spray painted them black so that they were a little different. I bought green googly eyes from Michaels and the whiskers were white cardstock.  I hot glued them to the top of mason jars filled with mini Kit Kats.

Can't believe it has been 9 years of hosting these monthly dinners, but I am so grateful to have such amazing women in my life.  Can't wait for another PURR-fect year!