March 18, 2015

Little Mermaid - Under the Sea Birthday Party

When my little sweetie turned 6, she asked if she could have a Little Mermaid birthday party with a few of her friends at our house.  I have had a great time planning parties for my daughters.  
We've had a Rapunzel party, a Winter themed party, an Art Party and a Pirate party which have all been really fun!
I'm all about doing parties at home, making decorations, and finding simple and inexpensive crafts and activities.  I've never had to spend a lot of money to fill a couple of hours with plenty of fun things.  So - here you can see some of the ways we made our back yard an Under the Sea wonderland!

I love taking pictures of the partygoers, so as with many of the other parties I've thrown I try to make some sort of background.  First, I cut a blue plastic tablecloth into scalloped strips and taped those onto a lighter blue plastic tablecloth.  (The dollar store was pretty much the only place I had to shop for this party!).  The bubbles are white card stock circles sewn together, and the green seaweed is twisted crepe paper.
My favorite are all the fish, starfish and seahorses.  The girls made pretty watercolor patterns on cardstock - covered the whole page in pretty designs, and when they were dry I cut out all sorts of fish shapes from those pages.  It was great to have the girls involved in making decorations!

Another decoration they helped with were these cute jellyfish.  We glued colorful circles onto paper bowls, and then hung streamers, ribbon and curling ribbon from the inside.

Some white balloons on twine were another twist on bubbles, and added a fun birthday feel.

The invitations were similar to the fish decorations.
I had the girls paint half sheets of cardstock in pretty watercolors

I went over the watercolors with sparkle ModPodge, and cut out an oyster shape that I could fold in half to form a card...

Then, I printed the party information onto pretty paper and pasted it on the inside.  A few oceany stickers on the outside, and these pretty invitations were ready to send!

We started off the party with some arts and crafts (of course).  I like doing this, because it gives friends a chance to be working on something while everyone is filtering in.
I got little treasure chest boxes from the craft store, and had watercolors and stickers out for decorating.  The watercolors worked great on the wood, and afterward we spread some sparkle modpodge over the top to seal in the colors and add some sparkle!

It was really fun to see their creativity!  Then, while they were waiting for things to dry, or waiting for other friends to finish painting, we painted their fingernails with "mermaid colors" - pink and teal.

After crafting, we played a few fun games.  One was blowing bubble snakes with these homemade bubble blowers.  A water bottle, an old sock and some duck tape are all you need to provide endless bubble entertainment!  A little dish soap water made these super sudsy, and easy for even my 2 year old to use.  I found the tutorial here at Housing a Forest blog.  

We also did the limbo - my daughter's request - with little seaweed streamers hanging from the pole and some Little Mermaid music.  Pretty cute.
Another request is always "pin the something" game.  We did pin the starfish on the mermaid - which my girls helped me paint onto a poster board.  

One of my favorite games was a treasure hunt, complete with treasure map!

I thought it would be fun for the kids to treasure hunt for their party favors.  We got buckets and a couple of goodies for each person from the dollar store.  I stuck on a tag that said "Next time you go to the sea, take this bucket and think of me! Thanks for coming!"

Then, I hid the treasure under a towel with an X marks the spot.

I made a treasure map (which took quite a bit of time actually... but it was fun).  The map had the first clue, and everyone got their own copy.

The first clue directed them to the hose, where they found the second clue.  Each person got a copy of each clue to tape onto their map.  We had to make the girls promise they would wait for everyone :)  That was a little lesson in patience, but it worked just fine.
I taped the clues onto wax paper so the tape would come off easily and be ready to put on their map.

On and on they went, finding clues, and taping them to their maps, until they finally found their treasure!  It was great also to have them take turns sounding out the words of the clues (their little Kindergarten brains were working pretty hard for this treasure!) ;)

They searched in trees, in bushes, under chairs, in pots - thank heaven we could have this party outside, it worked so well!
And here are the cuties with their treasures!

And then of course there was cake and snacks!  There are sooo many great ideas for a sea party - but here are the few I went with. 

I used those colored chocolate melty candies to pipe a mermaid tail shape onto wax paper.  A few hours in the freezer and they were hard and perfect for diving into the cupcakes.

Add a little blue frosting, and these mermaid tail cupcakes turned out adorable.

Some blue Jellyfish Jello with a swedish fish inside...

Pretzel Driftwood...
I added some old wood and twine to the table to add to the beach look.  The little lifesavers tied to the twine looked like little shells, and my daughter loved them.

Seawater punch was made with: 
equal parts blue Hawaiian punch and sprite 
plus frozen pineapple juice concentrate (to taste)
and I added a few scoops of vanilla ice cream to the top for sea foam.  
It was yummy!

Goldfish crackers are kindof a must at a sea party.

A simple setup - perfect for Kindergarteners to enjoy!

The party was a ton of fun, and this was just the right amount planned for the two hours all the friends were here.  We even had a tub of play sand and sand toys ready if we had extra time, but we never even got to those.  

During the party, I made sure to take pictures of the birthday girl with her friends.
First I had them wrap her up in seaweed.  They LOVE doing this -each taking turns to wrap a couple of times - and it makes such a cute picture!

And of course they all wanted to be wrapped up after that.

I also took individual pictures of the seaweed wrapped birthday girl with each friend.  Then, I printed a group picture and the individual picture for each friend, to send along with their thank you note. 
I printed a little phrase onto half a page of cardstock that I folded in half to form a card.  Then my daughter draw a mermaid on the front cover, above the words - "It was good to sea you.  We had a splash!"  Didn't they turn out cute!?

I helped her figure out what to say on the inside, and she wrote out each and every card.  I love having my kids write their own thank you notes.  Not only is it great handwriting practice, but it really helps them learn to show gratitude for gifts and friends.  

Happy birthday to my sweet daughter - and good luck next time you throw your own birthday party! 
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January 13, 2015

I just can't get enough -- TSHIRT QUILTS!

I am really loving these t-shirt quilts!  I've now made three using the same method, and each one is better and better.
I made one for a relative for Christmas, and another for my husband, and here are a few pictures I took...

For the original post, and complete tutorial, click here.  

Above is a picture of all the pieces sewn together, before it was quilted.  I've found that around 50 t-shirts makes a nice size quilt.  

Below are some of the funky quilting designs I used.  I quilted this on a long arm quilting machine, which really helps because of the bulk!

I describe extensively how I put these quilts together in my original post, but here is another picture of my list...
A description of the shirt, the shirt color, the size I end up deciding on based on my pattern (below) and the size I need to cut the shirts, with seam allowance.

I've improved my process for making patterns.  I still zoom out as far as possible in powerpoint, create squares in real size, and make them the same color as the t-shirt they represent.  I also like to add the dimensions in parenthesis, so I don't have to click on each individual square and look in the formatting tab for the size every time.  Pretty cool, if I do say so myself ;)

If you compare the above picture with the one below, you'll see how they coincide.  There were quite a few more oddly intersecting pieces in this quilt than in my original, but if I sewed with 1/2" seam allowance, and stopped 1/2" from the end when sewing those odd sections, eventually everything matched up ;)  It's not for the faint of heart - but it is doable!

Below is a picture of the second quilt I made this holiday season - all quilted and ready to be trimmed and bound.  I always like the simple, swirly quilting design.  As you can see, I used much larger pieces in this quilt - and had a lot more white space.  I had fewer t-shirts to work with, but still wanted a good size quilt.  I prefer when things are cropped tighter, but if you don't have the 50 or so t-shirts needed to make a large quilt, you can always do as I did and leave a lot of blank space around the logos.

On all three I've used soft, neutral colored flannel for the backing, and warm and natural cotton batting.

These create such a wonderful, useful and unique keepsake!  I definitely see more in my future ;)  My girls have already started setting aside their sports t-shirts at the end of each season for some day when I'll make one for them!  

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December 27, 2014

Wood-burned clock from Reclaimed Wood

A few months ago I was riding bikes with my girls, and saw a neighbor down the street taking out a huge fence in order to replace it with a new one.  After riding back and forth a few times I got up the courage to talk to the neighbor, and found out that he was taking down a fence made of cedar, and was willing to give me several pieces of fence board!
I was thrilled.  This wood has never been treated, and the colors and grooves and nail holes are all so pretty!  I ended up taking enough to use at a craft night with friends, where we made nativity scenes on some pieces of board.  A few pieces I saved to use for other projects, like this clock.

I started by cutting a piece of wood down so that side by side the boards formed a square.  I put a bit of wood glue between the boards to help hold them together, and on the back nailed some stir sticks over the seam to keep it together while I did the wood burning.  I also found the middle of the clock and drilled a hole where the clock mechanism would go.  The size of the hole depends on the clock workings you have.  

I really enjoy wood burning.  I did these wooden spoons recently, and have done many projects using an inexpensive wood burning tool from the craft store.
Wood burning really went well with the rustic look of the wood to make this clock.

On the computer, I made a circle shape the size that I wanted it.  Then, I evenly spaced lines to help me place the numbers in the correct positions for the clock face.  Then, I printed it out in order to trace it onto the wood.  
To line the paper up on the wood, I used a pencil to poke through the middle of the paper, through the hole I had drilled in the middle of the wood.  Then, I lined up the 12 and 6 lines with the seam in the wood.
A trick I use often for tracing: I rubbed pencil on the back of the paper where the numbers were, before placing the paper on the wood.  Then, when I traced over the numbers, it left a pencil mark indentation on the wood as a guide.  The lines are faint, but enough to see while wood burning. 

Once the wood burning was done, I cut thin pieces of cedar I had found at the salvage shop in order to make a border.  A miter box or miter saw really helps with this!

I used wood glue, and then nailed through the back of the clock to hold the border pieces in place.

Finally, I added the clock mechanism, and a saw tooth hanger, and the clock was finished!

I gave this as a gift for a family member to hang in their cabin.  I really love how it turned out!  This would be a great clock for a rustic or outdoor space, and you could easily make one!

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