Let's Party

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Backyard Camping Party

 I love me some pinspiration. Although, I have found myself to be- how shall I put this?- very flexible in the way I follow the directions on the things I pin.  It seems the trend is that I take a look at the image and decide how I think it was made, the decide how I think I could make it using or re-purposing materials that I already have.

These tents, for example, that we made for our backyard camping party were inspired by a pin on Pinterest, but we used some scrap wood trim that our neighbor had put out on the curb "free to good home", and some of my stash hoard of vintage sheets.  We were inspired by this tutorial- though we never really read the directions...

The details:
It should come as no surprise that most of the rest of the party was put together with many items that we already had with some $1 store binoculars and thrift store woodsy art.  We also threw in some FREE found items- pine cones, branches, twigs and logs.

The food:
We had originally planned to roast s'mores over a campfire in our fire pit, but most of the state of Colorado was battling wildfires at the time, so we settled for some s'more substitutes.  I made a S'mores Mix using graham cracker cereal, tiny marshmallows and chocolate chips, and also S'mores Pops by putting a jumbo marshmallow in a stick, dipping in melted chocolate ans rolling in graham cracker crumbs.

We also served a couple of foil-wrapped favorite campfire cooking recipes made on the grill, like these meatloaf onion bombs and baked apples.  I made a pot of my favorite vegetarian chili , a pine cone cheese ball and some homemade rosemary lemonade.

Sweet Minnie Mouse
Eleanor's 2nd Birthday Party

Pink, red, polka-dots and doilies!
This post is also a bit of a throw back, but way too good to miss!

I made the cupcakes and frosting at home and ordered the Minnie Mouse fondant toppers from a shop on Etsy.  I also made a special cake just for Ellie using 2 6" spring form pans.


Okay, I'll admit it.  My favorite guilty pleasure dessert is Rice Crispy Treats.  I made them as anyone normally would and used a Mickey Mouse cookie cutter directly in the pan.  Then I inserted a polka dot paper straw, slipped it in a cellophane bag and tied it with a pretty ribbon.

In keeping with the theme and wanting to add some healthy snacks to the mix I made some fruit and cheese skewers and watermelon hearts.  The watermelon was as simple as slicing the melon and using a heart shaped cookie cutter.  Then I used the "scraps" of the watermelon and some mild Jack cheese, and strawberries alternated on a bamboo skewer.  I also served a big bowl of "bow-tie" pasta mac-n-cheese style.  Gotta add some more bow action in keeping with the theme, right?

A kid friendly drink station was made from a large red bucket bought from the bargain section at Target and filled with organic milk boxes in strawberry, white and chocolate milk; along with pitchers of lemonade and iced tea.  Paper cups in pink and white with paper polka dot straws in pink/white/red finish off the look perfectly.  The paper straws were ordered from an Etsy store- there are many options out there, and inexpensive too!

Other decorations were also simple and very inexpensive! Pink paper lanterns were bought for around $1 each in the bargain section at Target, again.  Red pom-pom yarn was bought on clearance at Michael's craft store for $2. Pink plastic tablecloths and doilies finished the tables. We picked up a few balloons from the party store and splurged around $8 for the big Minnie Mouse face balloon.  Also from the party store we bought a few favors- Minnie ears and party blowers.  My favorite decoration addition was recycled from a previous party we had thrown see the Ladybug Party here!
Little red buckets ($1 bin at Target again- gotta love it!), filled with sugar (for weight), with pink polka dot pinwheels, pink and white lolipops and a paper Minnie Mouse cut out.

All in all the party was a smashing success!  
I hope some of my ideas have inspired you.

Ladybug Birthday Party

Last summer, a friend of mine was kind enough to gracefully allow me to all but commandeer her daughter's third birthday party.  The birthday girl has requested a theme of "ladybugs & flowers & PINK".  Here's what I came up with:

The Invitations:
Homemade with a couple sheets of craft paper.  You can embellish with "googley eyes" or sequins too.

The Cupcakes:
White cake with honeydew green tea frosting (made with powdered sugar, a simple honeydew mellon puree reduction and Matcha green tea powder).  The sugar ladybugs were ordered from The Bakers Confections Etsy shop (24 ladybugs for $7).

The Cake: 
This small cake is just for the birthday girl, for her to blow her candles out. One small round cake pan and a cupcake on its side shape the body, and pipe cleaners for antennae. The cake is the same white cake as the cupcakes and I used a reduction from a strawberry and beet puree to make the red color frosting, but alas I had to use store bought black.
The Cake Pops: 
A simple mason jar and a scrap piece of hot pink tulle makes quite the impact.  The pink striped straws were purchased at a craft store, but can be found much less expensive in several Etsy stores.

Other Decorations: 
Pinwheels, metal buckets, and ladybug sun-catchers were all found in the $1 section at a big box store; and lollipops tied with red & white polka dot ribbon.  At the last minute, I found that I needed a creative (and very inexpensive) way to weight the buckets.  Solution: I used plain old white sugar.  Hey, it works in a pinch!

Host a Seed Starting Party

Hosting a party for starting seeds is not only a fun get-together for those who love gardening, 
but also for those who just love to play in the dirt!  
Kids and adults alike!

Alright, I can admit, I just love  any excuse to have a party!  
Truthfully, I just love to play as much as the kids, and make 
things pretty, so if we can get a few families together 
and enjoy each others' company then I am all for it.

On the menu:  Keep it light and fresh- I tried to incorporate veggies to inspire the kids.  We want them to know that food comes from the ground (not the grocery store) and that they can grow what they eat.  

Cucumber, Cream Cheese & Sprout Sandwich Recipe: Spread one slice of bread with cream cheese, top with peeled cucumber slices and sprouts (I used radish sprouts)


Avocado-Green Pea & Radish Sandwich Recipe: Mash 2 avocados with about 1 cup thawed frozen peas.  Spread on bread and top with radish slices.  (This recipe is from the April 2012 issue of Better Homes and Gardens- they also suggest trying it as a dip!)

Sunflower-butter & Jelly Sandwich Recipe: A spin on the classic PB&J.  Sunflower-butter is just like peanut-butter, but it is made from sunflower seeds.  (I found ours in the 'Organic Condiments' section at my grocery store, and I imagine most health food stores would carry it too)

Fun Sunflower instructions: Cut sliced cheese in half diagonally, layer in a spiral pattern around a plate or platter and fill the center with berries.  I used blackberries, but blueberries would be great too!
Dessert was the biggest hit!  Ladybug Pops!  
(Get the super-easy recipe by clicking here.)

It's time to get our seeds started indoors so they'll have plenty of time to establish before we transplant them outdoor, which is usually around Mother's Day where we live.  Our family, as well as most of our friends, enjoys experimenting and adventuring in creating gardens and growing our own food. 

We made our own seed pots out of recycled newspaper (get similar instructions by clicking here), and we also used plastic and paper drinking cups with drainage holes poked in the bottom.

Making an event out of the annual seed starting helps prevent the seemingly inevitable procrastination- you know how the 'chores' that we enjoy the most some how get pushed to the bottom of the list and life get too busy, and before you know it, it's too late in the season to start seeds?  Somehow it's easier to work an afternoon with friends into the schedule...

Host a Swap Party

Last spring my sister and I hosted a clothing Swap Party for some of our girlfriends. What fun!  
Who doesn't love free, new-to-you clothes? 

Why a Swap Party is awesome:
  • It's green!-
    •  Financially and environmentally responsible, the free part saves your pocketbook some green, and the swap part is green in that it is kind to the planet's resources.
  • It's fun!-
    • Spend an afternoon with your friends, and make some new friends. The key to a successful Swap Party is in the numbers, so encourage the friends you invite to extend the invitation to more girlfriends.  We are all different shapes and sizes, so it stands to reason that the more gal pals that participate, the more likely everyone is to walk away with some great pieces.
  • It encourages good organization & frees up space-
    • Doesn't it feel great to purge?  Free your closet from the things you haven't worn in a year.  Bonus- the new pieces you acquire will likely add new life to some older pieces you have, and give you new ideas for cute outfits!
  • Did I mention it's free stuff?

Imagine the possibilities...
  •  Include shoes, handbags, accessories and jewelry in your clothing Swap Party!
  • KIDS!!  You know how fast they grow!  Gather your Mommy friends and all of their kids' outgrown clothes and trade.  Again, the number of guests is key- if enough people participate every kid of every age/size is bound to get some new stuff.  Bonus- the kids can all get together for a play-date!
  • TOYS!! Instead of spending $$ on new toys for the kids, swap with friends.
  • BOOKS!! Mine is a family of bookworms, we devour books.  Swap all kinds of books- magazines and kids books too!
  • RECIPES & FOOD!!  Have guests bring a meal that can be frozen and maybe a small sample of their favorite recipes to trade.  This can be done with foods you have canned- a canning swap.

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