Monday, June 25, 2012

Monster Truck 5th Birthday Party

My son LOVES monster trucks!!!  So his 5th birthday party had to be a Grave Digger theme!!

Front of his invitation.

While doing research to figure out what fun things could be done with this theme, I found that there aren't many ideas online.  So I am sharing what I pulled together for this party.

Since he has a June birthday, we always host the party outside so we can make use of the pool and other outdoor "toys" we have available.  But I like to focus a lot on the theme so that his birthday isn't always a repeat of the year before.  

I found the "Keep on Crushin" idea online and LOVED it since it relates to monster trucks and my son loves Crush pop.  

I decided on this cake idea.  I love that it incorporates "Crushin" a bus (just like at Monster Jam) and that I was able to get a monster truck to fly in the air.  I will have a future blog on how I did that!

The beverages on the table were for looks - we had cold ones to drink.

I made my own water bottle labels by using
checkered scrapbook paper and monster truck stickers.

I found these cups at

 The party guests (kids under 12) were each given a tire sipper cup and one of these gift bags.  The bags included:  pop rocks, monster truck tattoo, monster truck eraser, monster truck tin with candy, monster truck bubbles, and a monster truck bounce ball.

Of course, I had to make monster truck cookies!!  :-)

Food Table:  wrap sandwiches, hot dogs, chips, fruit salad, veggie tray.
A variety of my sons favorites!
I like to keep the food and beverages inside.  I have found over the years that it is a lot less work on me and it keeps the food fresh longer!

Sign used where they could find the beverages.

Games and other activities: 

One of the first things I had each kid do was paint a picture frame.  That way they would have time to dry prior to them leaving.  Later, with the thank you cards, I mailed the kids pictures from the party so they could pick one to put in the frame they decorated.

At the painting table I provided examples (my kiddo's frames),
paint (with paint dishes and brushes), water to wash brushes,
aprons, water bucket and paper towel to clean up.

I pre-painted the frames in Grave Digger colors (since that was the party colors)
so it was easy for little ones that aren't really into painting.

Not pictured:  I put the pegs and backing to each frame in sandwich bags
and gave them with the frames.

Pin the License Plate on the Monster Truck!  I saw this idea online and loved it!!!  However, I could not find a good truck poster to buy that focused on the front side of the truck.  The one I saw online was drawn up by an artist in the family.  I do not have the good fortune to know anyone like that.  So, my 6 year old daughter volunteered to take on the challenge.  I thought it turned out pretty good!

The idea of the game is as you would think.  You blindfold each kid, spin them around, and then have them try stick their plate onto the front of the monster truck.

Next we played two relay games.  The first, I used inflatable "tires" that I found online.  I separated the kids into 2 teams and used flags to create two tracks.  The first kid in each line stepped into two tires.  They then had to hold the tires up while they ran to the end of the track and back.  Once they arrived back in line they passed the tires to the next team member.  We had a lot of laughs watching the little ones try to get in and out of the tires!

The second relay game:  I gave each kid a spoon and a monster truck (I found some cute cheap ones at Walmart that I let them keep).  They stayed in their teams and used the same track.  The first kid in each line would put the monster truck on the spoon and balance to the end and back.  Again, we had a lot of laughs watching their different personalities come out as they handled the challenge!

I took many pictures but I had two priorities for each child guest.  One was a group picture of all the kids together and the second was a monster truck stand-in that I purchased at  Both of these pictures were printed for each guest and included in their thank you cards for their frames.

Now onto planning the next party!  My daughter turns 7 in October and she wants a bowling party!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Home Depot Kids Craft

I was excited to find out that Home Depot offers free kids crafts workshops on the first Saturday of each month from 9:00 am - 12:00 pm!  And they some times add additional workshops for holidays.  Of course, this is for the Home Depot of Michigan.  Until recently I never noticed that the signage at my local store included the state.  I'm not sure what that means for the company structure and event offerings from one state to another.  So you will want to check with your local Home Depot to see what they offer.  It's a very organized event so I would think it's offered throughout the country. 

One event that I went to (wasn't located at a store) offered the workshop for kids ages 5-12.  I have never seen an age listed for the workshops in the stores and I have seen kids of all ages participate.  

The process:  Sign in at the designated workshop location.  Home Depot offers kids size aprons for first time participants so make sure you ask for one if it's not offered.  

Next, participants are given a package that includes the materials and instructions needed to create that months project.  

Then you head to a table to put it together.  There you should find things like hammers, glue, sand paper, ...

Every time we have participated in a workshop there has been a decorating area.  These usually include things like foam stickers or paint to decorate the finished item.

Little planters for Mother's Day

Tool Box - picture taken before they were painted

Window Bird Feeders
After completing the project you are given a certificate that includes a pin.

The pin is specific to each project and are collectors items for the kids that regularly attend.  My kids add the pins to their aprons and they proudly wear the apron to every workshop :-)

Cake Decorating Tip: Picture Transfer

During my very first day of my very first cake decorating class I learned more than I had ever hoped to learn during the entire beginners class.  What I am sharing in this blog post is the best lesson I took away from it.   In the class, we were shown how to take a picture of a snowman standing near a tree (it was January) and easily transfer that outline onto a frosted cake.  I used this idea recently when I was asked to make a Detroit Red Wings cake.  

Look at this thing!  I am not an artist so free handing all this detail on to a cake is an impossible task for me.  Luckily, I had a plan.

First, I found the above picture of the logo online so I printed a copy.  Of course, my paper was much smaller than the cake I needed to make.  So I took it to Kinkos to have it enlarged to a size that would work.  

The picture needed for the transfer must be the reverse of what you would like it to be on the cake (unless it really doesn't matter to you but in this case it was important).  I probably could have asked Kinkos to do this for me but I forgot.  Plus, it's nice to know another way since most printers do not print a reflective image without working with a photo editing program.  

So, I taped my picture to a glass window with the image facing out.  this allowed me to see the image through the paper and trace it.  

Next, cover the outline with parchment paper.

In class I was taught to use some lightly tinted edible gel (found in cake decorating supplies) but I found this that was perfect for me.  

Then I used the "gel" to duplicate/outline my image onto the parchment paper.

After competing the outline, simply flip the paper over and gently press it onto the frosted cake.  I have had better success with this when the cake has been in the freezer for a few minute - long enough to lightly freeze the frosting.  This allows the gel to stick to the cake instead of the frosting sticking to the paper.

After carefully removing the parchment paper I was left with this.  Not beautiful but much better than me trying to free hand it.

To finish the cake I simply frosted the detail over the outline.  I had very limited time to do this cake but here's the end result.  Everyone LOVED it and it only took me one hour to decorate!

A little sloppy due to lack of time but it still turned out pretty good!

Southwestern Chicken Wraps

I recently made these wraps for a birthday party and they were a huge hit!!  So now I am sharing the recipe, along with a few tips about wrap sandwiches.


16 ounces sour cream (I used fat-free)
1 pack taco seasoning mix
8 (9-inch or larger) tortilla shells
3 cups fresh baby spinach
3 cups shredded cooked chicken breast (I grilled mine and made sure not to use any crispy pieces)
1 can (15 ounces) black beans, drained and rinsed
1 large tomato, seeded and diced*
1 small red onion, chopped
8 ounces shredded cheddar or colby cheese

Wax Paper
Toothpicks or tape


Lay out 8 pieces of wax paper (large enough for the tortilla shell to fit on it).  Lay one tortilla shell on each piece of wax paper.  This helps prevent over filling the wrap by allowing you to evenly spread the amounts of each filling on the 8 tortillas.  

Tip:  Tortilla shells are much easier to work with if you warm them up a little first.  If using an entire package of tortilla shells, I open the bag and warm it in the microwave for 20 seconds.  If I am only using a couple of shells (any situation where you wouldn't be using the packaging) you can lay the shells between two lightly damp pieces of paper towel and microwave for 20 seconds.  

Combine sour cream and taco seasoning.  Mix well.  Spread tortillas with sour cream mixture, leaving a 2-inch border.

In the center of wraps, layer equal amounts of baby spinach, chicken, black beans, tomato, onion, and shredded cheese.  

For each wrap, fold two sides of wrap over filling, then roll tightly, ending seam side down.  Then wrap the sandwich with wax paper to keep it firm and moist (avoid tortilla drying on sandwich).  Either use a small piece of tape or a toothpick to hold the wax paper in place.  

Refrigerate over night for best results!

Before serving, cut each wrap in half on an angle for a great presentation.

*Tip about tomatoes:  removing the seeds will help prevent your sandwich from getting soggy!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Getting Personal: Part 7

This website is not to the surgeon I used.

Part 6:

It's been a while since I have posted on this so feel free to refresh your memory by reading my previous posts.

My procedure was done the end of December 2011 and I can finally say, without a doubt, that it was a success for me!  Why did it take so long for me to feel this way?  My own fear that maybe it didn't work.  I kept looking at that trampoline, knowing that I needed to test it out, but fearing that I had gone through all of this and the result wouldn't give me what I hoped for.  Finally, I jumped!  And there was no leaking!!!  I have been sneezing, coughing, laughing and jumping for months now with no problems!

I have to admit that I wasn't 100% better right after my recovery.  I saw improvement all the time but some things did take a little longer.  I had a lot of fear as I started hearing more about potential problems with the sling that is used.  I have not personally experienced any of that but I made sure I followed my doctors orders!

Cost:  I have the final numbers!  Keep in mind that everyone's needs are different and insurance coverage is different.  My total bill was $20,000 (for the two procedures I had done).  I paid $2,000 out of pocket.  If I would have planned further ahead I could have picked an insurance option that would have saved me some out of pocket money but I am satisfied with the end result.  I am VERY happy that my insurance did cover some of the costs.  If you remember from my first blog post on this - I had no idea what the cost would be but planned to pay out of pocket.  Well, I was not prepared for the total cost to get this high!  My out of pocket payment in the end was much more in line with what I was planning on.