Friday, January 18, 2013

Kids Bowling Birthday Party

My daughter celebrated her 7th birthday with a bowling party!  
Here are a few pictures of what we did to make the day special.

Bowling ball and pin sugar cookies -
packaged to stay fresh and go home with the guests.

Bowling pin cups (purchased through a party supply store).
They were personalized with paint pens and I added ribbon
to help give a little celebration look.
Many of the bowlers at the party site asked me about these!!

I ordered a fun shirt for her to wear.

The cake!  All frosting decoration with sugar cookies on top.

The cake with candles.

The cake with candles.

Lots of goodies for the guests!

Bowling frame craft (to go with the picture they would get with their thank-you card.

A special keepsake.

Don't forget a group picture!

Bowling trophy (from party supply store).
I added personalization with printed labels.

Take a picture of each gift with the giver.
It makes thank-you's so much easier later!

Themed thank-you cards.  They were sent with a picture of the group
along with a a picture of the gift giver with the birthday girl.
Those two pictures were options to put in the bowling frame they made at the party.

I did a bowling themed invite with a picture of the birthday girl.  I found a cool version on Etsy.  
I did not add that to this site due to the personal information that was on it.

Ask the parents to get shoes for the bowlers before they leave.  Otherwise you will be running around trying to help everyone get bowling shoes and put them on.  
This, of course, depends on the age of the bowlers and their shoe tying abilities.

The cookies were super cute but a lot of kids ended up eating them at the party (instead of taking them home).  That was fine but the black bowling ball cookies made for some interesting purple/black smiles the remainder of the night.

Gift giving:
Take control!!!  At this age the kiddos wanted to swarm around the birthday girl - fighting over who's gift she would open next.  Sit the kids down and have an adult decide which order the gifts would be opened.  You can have the gift giver stand next to the birthday child while their gift is opened.

Bulletin Board Makeover

My son needed a pin/cork board for his pirate themed room.  Of course, I couldn't find the perfect one to buy.  Plus, I'm sure that if I did find one it wouldn't have cost more than I would be willing to spend.

I came across this ugly thing on clearance and an idea was born!

I have seen many craft ideas with Duck Tape so I started looking for a design that would fit with a pirate theme.  How lucky I was to find this!

I carefully separated the material covered cork from the plastic frame.  Then, I covered the frame with Duck Tape.  

Looking at it after I was done, I should have arranged the tape so the skulls all faced
a better direction to match how I was hanging it
(so the skulls on the sides were all facing upward).

Then I applied some fabric glue to the fabric cork board (in this case, pulling the old fabric off would have destroyed the soft cork under it).  Next, I covered it with black fabric.  I could have picked a themed fabric but I didn't want it to be too busy looking.  

I put the frame back on and it was ready to hang!  My son loves it and it's already covered with all his favorite things!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Sea Shell Memories: Orange Beach, Alabama

During a recent trip to the Gulf of Mexico we were exposed to the most beautiful white sand beaches and an abundance of sea shells!  There was no way my kiddos were not coming home with tons of memories from the beach!

We turned this vacation into a long road trip.  The ultimate goal was to visit a family member that stays her winters on the beach in Orange Beach, Alabama.

How exciting!!!  This was at the visitors center
(border of Kentucky & Tennessee).
It really is all about the beach!!!  Look at how clean everything is!  It was like no other beach that I have been to!

So many shells!!!  Each day there was a fresh supply to dig through!

My kiddos got perfect presents from their grandma :-)

Lots of exploring and exposure to things my kids have never seen in person!

My son - the crab ;-)

Great day to fly a kite!

We even found a few jelly fish!

So much space to get creative!!
Gotta love my kiddos!

Okay, it wasn't great swimming weather (visited over New Years) but I had to let them get wet ;-)

We had to stop at this tourist shop!

I'm not sure why this is hidden but there is a
cool pirate ship in the back parking lot of the shark store....
You can't get on it or in it but it was still cool to check out.
And now for the shells.  First, you must clean these things so they don't stink like salt water and seaweed!  Just put them in a bucket with equal parts of water and bleach (enough to cover the shells).  I let mine soak overnight.  

I swear the sea was teasing me with all the large sand dollar chunks!!!
I didn't find a complete sand dollar but they are common there.
We were only at the beach for two days and never first thing in the morning
(before everything was picked over by others).

Some of our favorites.

Natural holes!!!
So many shells had these so we are going to make some jewelry!
I brought some sand home so I could make these:

The rest went into this:

I will add some pictures of the jewelry once we have had time to work on it.

Friday, January 11, 2013

My Favorite Pasta Salad

My mother spent some time in a the hospital a while back.  I was there often to visit and found myself eating at the hospital cafeteria almost every day.  A couple of times a week they offered a pasta salad that I fell in love with!  Of course, I was on a mission to duplicate the recipe!

Picture of the hospitals salad.


1 package (16 ounces) of pasta - feel free to get creative on the shape
4 cups diced vegetables (uncooked - zucchini, broccoli, red onion, tomato, celery)
1 cup feta cheese (more if you would like)
1 cup Italian dressing


Cook pasta according to package directions.  Rinse with cold water until pasta has is chilled.

In a large bowl, toss pasta with remaining ingredients.  Cover and refrigerate over night.  Add additional dressing if needed and toss before serving.

Picture of my salad. It turned out GREAT!
I found this Christmas pasta and decided it would be super cute for a dish to pass over the holidays.

Update:  the Christmas version was good but I really only needed one package for the time of the year. I can't wait until summer parties!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Tips I Have Learned: Wax Paper Lined Pan

While watching an episode of Martha Stewart one day, I noticed something that seemed very appealing to me.  They were making flour-less brownies (which I ended up making and loved).  I noticed that the guest chef lined his pan with parchment paper before adding the brownie mix.  After it was baked, he simply pulled the sheet out of the pan and and was able to cut the brownies in a much "cleaner" way than I can ever do while they are in the pan.  This idea seemed perfect to me!!

I shared this recipe in the past:  White Star Candy.  It's a much requested treat that I have always struggled with a way to cut so it didn't break into crumbles.  So, I lined my pan with wax paper (not parchment since I wasn't baking it and I really needed the candy to release from the paper) and tested it out.

So far it's working!

The candy very easily separated from the wax paper!

The cutter in this picture is a miracle worker for me!!!
Soooo much less mess than usual!!!

So next I tried it with fudge and loved the results!!!

Travel Collections

I think it is obvious that we love to travel!!  I actually have a ton of travel blog posts from recent vacations that I need to get caught up on.  Ah - seems like I remember starting out last year with a plan to get caught up on my vacation posts ;-)  Well, I did get caught up for a few months.

It's important to me that we have some "documented" memories from each vacation.  Especially since my kids are still at an age where they will have limited memories of our trips.  I know that pictures and such have helped me remember some of my childhood.  

Besides the millions of pictures that I take (which are turned into photo books) we also started a couple of other collections.  

We love Hard Rock Cafe - my son wants to be a rock star when he grows up ;-)  When I have the opportunity I like to get a picture of the kids in front of the location sign (like the picture below).  Just about all Hard Rock Cafes have them but they are usually on a stage.  Every now and then we don't have access to the stage....

We love that Hard Rock Cafe sells pins specific to each location.  They are also ever changing so you can buy different ones for each visit.  They have  a trading appeal but we are just focused on buying one from every Hard Rock Cafe we visit.  We just started this about a year ago.  There are so many that we need to revisit to add to our pin collection!

We looked into a variety of ways to save our pins.  I wanted them on display to see versus stored away in some book.  Hard Rock Cafe offers some fun options to do this but they are a little more pricey than I feel comfortable with right now.  So, I simply took a blank canvas and stapled some black cloth over it.  

We have so many more than this already!

Another collection we have started is from the crushed penny machines.  We have found them in most tourist areas and my kids are always excited when they find a machine.  Of course they fight over who gets to turn the crank but it's still fun in the end!

After we started collecting a few of the pennies we found a need to purchase a collectors book.

My son LOVES to show visitors the penny book and tell them all about our travels!

Tip on pennies:  New pennies are best!  Some of the "dirty" pennies turn out so dark that it is hard to see the stamping.  Most of the machines cost fifty-one cents (we did come across one that was $1.01).  The penny you add to the machine is the one you get back.  Anytime we are packing for a trip I make sure I have plenty of quarters and shiny pennies on hand.  

I am curious - what "collections" do you have to remember a vacation?