Monday, August 29, 2011

Party Part Two: The Favors and Some Thank Yous

I don't know what possesed me...something over at Pinterest I think, but I decided to do not one, not two, but THREE handmade sewn party favors (well, two and a reversible cloth drawstring bag to put them in) along with a table full of handmade goodies at Sarge's for our party go-ers to take home with them.

I'm not sure I'll do it again, but I am sure that if I do the favors will have to be done and sitting in a box AT LEAST a month before the party happens...I just can't be finishing sewing at 03:00 on party morning ever again...

So here is what I made:

Crayon Rolls (I got the pattern from this blog here):

I changed her pattern just a smidge.  I found after I did the first few that I needed another .25" on my fabric, so I cut everything 16.75" long instead of 16.5".  I also did away with the button she applied in her final step and just used the elastic to wrap around the crayons.  Honestly, I didn't have time for buttons, but I also felt like it was just one more thing for the parents of our youngest party go-ers to worry about them detaching and eating.

I also made these:

My mother and I had seen these (well, something like this) a couple of years ago and I bought the stuff to make them and then never really did.  I decided now was the time.  I took the pattern my mom and I had used (we did make a couple but never used all the supplies or made them for what we intended them for), this pattern from the same blog I got the cupcake recipe from, and some ideas I had rolling around in my head and mixed them all together to come up with this idea.  The dimensions on my finished bag are 5"x7" the window is about 2.5" x 4.5".

They are traditionally called "I Spy Bags", but in going along with my theme, I made them "Mater's Fishin' Bags".  I even added a Lightning McQueen to the list of things to find (as Mater is always fishing Lightning McQueen out of the brush), for my Lightning, I just printed a bunch of Lightnings out on photo paper, cut them out, laminated them and cut them out again.  They aren't two sided though and I think if I do something like this in the future they will be.

If you are looking very closely at this list you will see it says "Golf Leaf"
what is actually in the bag is a GOLD leaf, but I didn't notice the typo
until all the bags were made, so they went out like that, and I'm okay with that.
 Because I did have quite a few young guests (Punk is only 3 you know) and I knew i would have non-readers (like my own kids), I decided to add a picture of the things inside the bag.  I just took a picture of all of the stuff in one of the bags and printed it out, I laminated it to the printed list of things to find so that the list is two sided, one side for readers and one side for non-readers.  (The picture is not completely accurate for every bag as the colors of some of the items varies and the style of the army man varies, but I decided that was just okay).
There were a few other things in the drawstring favor bags as well.  I picked up Cars pencils and erasers in a clearance section of Walmart and Cars notebooks in the $1 section at Joanns, I also picked up some super cute Cars stickers at Oriental Trading Company.

This is a picture of the bags (they were reversible so there is one showing each side) and what was in them:
I made the bags is the link to the tutorial online.
After I handed out the bags the children were encouraged to take their parents over to visit "Sarge's Surplus of Sweets":
There were Dum-Dum suckers, individually wrapped Twizzlers, Fruit Gems and an array of things I made for the table.
Dipsticks: (Pringles makes honey butter flavored cracker sticks, I dipped them in chocolate and packaged them three to a package in cellophane pretzel bags).
Hubcaps: (round pretzels (mine are Rold Gold Butter Flavored Pretzel Checkers) with Hershey's kisses centered on them, then placed in a 275 degree oven for 3 minutes, when they come out immediately press an M&M into the center of them), I found the idea on Pinterest, but it links back to foodgawker and I couldn't find the original blog they came from so if anyone finds it let me know and I'll link it here).
Traffic Lights:  Scotcheroos (with peanut butter chips substituted for the butterscotch chips, personal preference) with red, yellow and green M&M's pressed into the chocolate and cut into long rectangles.
Tires:  Chocolate glazed mini donuts (I didn't make them, Hostess did), I melted the chocolate on the donuts a little by just touching them to a warmed saute pan to make them stick together.  I didn't get a good picture of them, but there are four of them, three tires laying on top of each other and one standing on the stack of three, just like you see at Casa Della Tires in Radiator Springs.
Rocky Road Pops: I got the idea from this blog here, but I used two marshmallows and a combination of semi-sweet and milk chocolate to dip them in.

So, when all was said and done the guests left with a little bit of fun (the cars they "painted" at Ramone's), some of my handiwork (the Fishin' Bags, Crayon Rolls and Drawstring Bags), something useful and fun from the piñata, and a whole bunch of sugar (although there was a lot left at Sarge's when we were done and I sent it all to work with Bobby this morning).

I have to thank Bobby for being so patient with me through the planning and execution of this thing, my mom and April for sending crafty stuff from Phoenix so I didn't have to purchase it again, Pinterest (and my friends there) for so many awesome ideas, Casie who helped in the week before the party and was my kitchen helper at the party, Kristin who did an AWESOME job putting together the posters and banners I printed out but would never have gotten together otherwise, and Eric and Kristi for helping set up and clean up this mess.  I also want to thank everyone who brought their kids and had a good time.  That's really what it's about and I hope your kids remember us and the fun we've all had together for a long time to come.

The Party is OVER!!!

And I couldn't be happier about that fact!

I had a blast planning and getting ready for the party, but by the end I was just kind of stressed out.  I didn't get to do everything I thought I wanted and I didn't take the best pictures ever (in fact they are kind of awful).  I'll tell you what I learned.

First off.  If I am going to go all out on a party for my kids, I need to give myself a few months to get it together instead of a few weeks.  Second, I need to take help when it is offered.  If I would have taken a little sewing help on the favors I would have had them done a week before the party (instead of mere hours before) and I could have focused a little more on some of the other stuff.  Third, I need to make a list of everything I want to get pictures of prior to the party, then I need to use that list.  I only got about 5 pictures of Punk and none of Bug (going along with this, I need to have the party set up and ready to go at least an hour before so I can take before pictures of the party, then I need to take a minute or two to take after pics before clean up starts).

There were really four basic parts of this party: decorations, activities, food, and favors.  I am going to post decorations, activities, and food in this blog and give favors it's very own post (although, I may get that post up tonight as well, since both my kids are in bed already).

Decorations, Food and Activities:

When you arrived you saw this:

You got your food from "Flo's V8 Cafe":
The food was fun (and I didn't get any great pictures of it).  It consisted of "Wheelie PB&J" (PB&J cut and pressed with a Pampered Chef Cut N Seal), Chicken "Dipsticks" chicken sticks served in a cup so that BBQ sauce could just be added to the cup for easy carrying/dipping/eating, Veggie "Dipsticks" also served in a cup so that Ranch dipping sauce could be added the same way, "Rims and Cheese" wagon wheel shaped macaroni with Velveeta cheese sauce again, served in cups for easy portioning and eating and these:
I don't know if you can see them, but they are apple slices with grapes held in by toothpicks as wheels, I thought they were so stinkin' cute!  I also had green chili burros for the adults, no cutesy anything to call them, just food for the grown ups to enjoy.  I served the green chili with tortillas, chips, salsa, cheese and sour cream (nothing fancy, I didn't even make my own salsa).

You went over to this drink table to pick your drink:
You could pick from "Fillmore's Organic Fuel"
The favorite "Fillmore's Organic Coolant" (in your choice of Cherry or Tropical Punch flavor):
Or an array of other products all of them sponsors of Piston Cup Drivers.  Here are the two favorites Dinoco Dr. Pepper and Rusteze Pepsi:

We also had Vitoline (Root Beer) and N2OCola (Sierra Mist, it reminded of "no 2 cola").

We had an early party (we stared at 10:30), but everyone seemed to be ready to eat, so we started with the food.  When everyone was done eating we had a couple of activities for the kids.

They could head on over to Tractor Tipping:
Where they were encouraged to set up dominoes with tractor stickers on them and knock them down.  The kids were slow to try this but really had a lot of fun with it once they got into it.

Or they could head on over to "Ramone's House of Art":
Where they could use the provided crayons to color their choice of Cars themed coloring pages (found online here) or where they could use markers to color their very own wooden cars (I had small ones purchased from Oriental Trading Company here and larger ones that I just lucked into at our local Goodwill for a steal).  Even the grown ups really got into coloring and creating designs on their wooden cars (and I didn't get any pictures of the fun at mother-in-law thinks she has a few and I'll share them when I get a hold of her camera).

We were going to break that piñata that I made a month or two back and I filled it full of these goodies:
Goldfish, Cars fruit snacks, and
YES that is Kleenex, who doesn't need Kleenex?
And we hung it up:
But when we went to move it so the kids could take a whack at broke all on it's own.  The kids still had fun picking the stuff out of it and they liked my sort of strange choices for piñata fillings.

Then we sang Happy Birthday and we ate cupcakes:
I used the cupcake and frosting recipe found here.  They were fabulous, but I did have a hard time piping the frosting.  Apparently my white chocolate did not melt all the way and I had very small chunks of white chocolate running through the frosting, not a problem for taste at all, but it made piping VERY frustrating.  When I make these cupcakes next time (and I will they are fabulous) I will make some changes to the frosting recipe.  I will melt the white chocolate over a double boiler then I will add the cream cheese and melt them together.  I will then add the warmed cream and proceed from that point.  I think this will keep any chunks of white chocolate or cream cheese from getting in the way of piping.

I actually took two not so great pics of the cupcakes so here they are again:
I made the cupcake toppers myself too.  I just printed out pictures of a bunch of the Cars characters and punched them out with a 1.5" circle punch.  Then I punched red and black 2" circles with another punch and glued the characters to a circle, I then attached the circle to a toothpick with double sided tape and added a second blank 2" circle to the other side (to hide the toothpick) they turned out really cute.  I had some help putting them together and they aren't perfect, but we were slapping them together right before the party started (next time cupcake toppers is something I will have done WEEKS if not months in advance).

After we had cupcakes (and ice cream that I also served in those same clear cups we talked about earlier) then Punk opened his gifts.  I do actually have a few (really bad) shots of him opening his presents, I am only showing you them in hopes that you can see the super cute shirt I bought him.  It is navy blue and has a "3" appliqued onto it in Cars fabric, I picked it up from this Etsy shop here.

Then I passed out favor bags and the kids all went to visit Sarge's Surplus of Sweets....but that's another post.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Women - Tougher Than Ever

A friend of mine on Facebook posted the following article today...and it made me think and it made me ANGRY.

Tough Gals Do They Still Exist?

Are women more "girly" than they have been in the last 30 years?  Maybe.  There does seem to be a resurgence of femininity in a lot of circles lately.  Women who are proud to cook, bake, craft, sew, knit, be good homemakers, mothers, and/or wives.  Women who wear makeup, pearls, high heels, and gasp PINK.

Another supermom I know, links to her blog.
My question is this: does being feminine or taking pride in doing typically "domestic" things make us less tough?  Um, hell no.

I would submit to you that it is even harder today in the face of "feminists", who want all things feminine eradicated from our world, to be strong, feminine and even domestic.

I carried two children inside my body.  Almost ten months of my body not being my own with each one, followed by c-sections, the first after 18.5 hours of labor (including 7+ hours of a pitocin drip).  Twenty-five hours after I had my second child (also via c-section) I was showered and dressed in my own clothes sitting cross legged on my hospital bed nursing my baby.  The nurse who came in to check on me that morning said she didn't know how I did it, there were women all around me who were to be discharged in just a few hours who she couldn't even get out of bed to shower (I had very forcefully requested that my night nurse come in and take out my catheter the moment it had been in 24 hours so I could move around and shower on my own, my request was granted, because I didn't give them "no" as an option).  I was home 56 hours after that second c-section taking care of my newborn and my not quite two year old (although I had help the first week).  In five days I was at church (in nylons and a dress) with both kids and the next day I was taking care of the house and kids on my own.  And my story is NOTHING.  I have friends who have given birth without their husbands (who were deployed when the babies came) some of them after months of bed rest and complicated pregnancies while they took care of their toddlers and homes on their own.  Not to mention friends of mine who have been unable to bear children and the heartache they have endured and come through to be wonderful mothers to children they did not give birth to but love no different than if they had.

I am not the world's best fact, I have never been a great fan of cleaning, but I'm getting better.  I can get an amazing amount done in just a few short stolen minutes while my kids are napping or distracted by a game or movie.  I can get just about any stain out of just about any fabric.  I can unload and load a whole dishwasher in 10 minutes flat (including hand-washing anything too big or delicate to go into said dishwasher).

I can make dinner out of pantry staples in less than 30 minutes, or I can put together a totally elaborate spread for 15 when necessary.  I can throw an amazing party for a three year old or for a military commissioning ceremony.

I can diagnose and fix simple computer issues.  I can check my own oil and water in my car.  I can recharge my ac, tighten an ac belt, diagnose simple car problems and I can change a tire (I don't always do those things, but I am perfectly capable of them all).  I can take apart a vacuum cleaner and put it back together (and it will still work).  I take out my own garbage (and since we live in the sticks and it's required right now I can and do my own burning).  I can mow my own lawn.  I can iron a dress, a child's shirt, a man's shirt, my shirt, slacks, or a military uniform to perfection.  I can balance a budget.  I can change two diapers in two minutes on a changing table in a dirty public bathroom without ever letting a child's bum touch the changer.  I can change a diaper on my lap in a car or on a park bench.  I can nurse in public without you or anyone else in the room even noticing.  I can fix boo-boos with a kiss.

I craft and I sew and I'm even pretty good at some of it.  I enjoy making things and I enjoy the joy those things can bring to others.  It's FUN to make other people happy with something I have put time and effort into, and it makes people feel special to know that someone would put more effort than running to the store into a gift.

I keep a marriage alive and growing.  My husband is away a lot, it's not always easy, but we do it together.  We communicate via email about things most couples get to have face to face and heartfelt discussions about (like having a first baby, a second baby or how to know if your family is complete).  I manage to make my husband feel as loved and appreciated as he is, even when I can't throw my arms around him every day to show him.  I work hard to make sure that both my children know their daddy loves them and is thinking of them when he is gone often (not an easy task with toddlers).  I teach them that their daddy's job is important, that he helps us and all of their friends be free and safe.  And when my husband is home, I do all I can to show him just exactly how much he was missed and is loved everyday.

I teach my children to count, to color, to recognize shapes, letters, numbers and colors.  As they grow I will teach them to read, to use a computer, to use a phone and to take care of themselves.  I read to them, I play with them, I make sure they know they are loved, I discipline them.  I teach them where they came from, why they are here and where they are going.  I teach them to pray, I pray with them.  I get them ready for church every Sunday and even when they are monsters at church they know that is where we belong and I will have it no other way.

I don't want to burn my bra (I need it, have you seen my boobs? we need all the help fighting gravity we can get), no corporate job could ever be as challenging or as rewarding for me as my 24/7/365 job as a wife, mother, and homemaker, I am a supermom and I am lucky to know a lot of other supermoms, I want exactly what I have...and I make a mean cupcake.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Punk Says

So, the other day Punk was asking to go see his "Nana" (my Grandma Bessie).  I was explaining the next year's moves to him, "We can't go see Nana right now, she lives far away in Phoenix.  Right now we live close to Gramma Di and that is our grandma we see.  In a few months we will move to Nana and Grandma Deb and we will live close to them, but we won't have Daddy, he'll be at "long work".  Then in a few months we will move again and we will be with Daddy but you won't have any Grandmas or Nanas close."  Punk considered this for a few moments and said to me, "No grannas or nanas or patas?" (pata is papa, or grandpa), I said "No, they won't be close by, but they will come visit and you can call them on the phone and they always love you"  Punk thought another couple of seconds and said "AND no Bugs!" (after I stopped laughing) I said, "No, we will be taking Bug with us, we will always take Bug with us".

Fast forward to today...

Bug is napping (has been for about an hour), I am straightening my hair when I see Punk go past me towards his bedroom.
Me: "Punk, come here."
He sulks into the bathroom
Me: "Don't go in your room, Bug is napping in there"
Punk: "I need to wake him up"
Punk: "I NEED him"
Me: "I'll get him out when he wakes up"
Punk: "Mom, I need you to get him NOW, I need brother to PLAY!"

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Green Smoothies

Spinach in your morning smoothie?  Yuck, right?  I have always thought so.

Since my "after I put the kids to bed congratulatory (everyone lived through the day) snack" has been just about daily since Bobby is gone, I've been on a quest for easy snacks.  Easy I found, this Nutella Mug Cake (that is enough for two-four people and I actually made in a bowl) is SCARY easy and delicious (and I make it with half the sugar it asks for), but seriously, if I eat that cake every night I'm gonna be 400lbs next month and I'm trying to drop a few not pack on a few.

Since I have a new addiction, Pinterest (you should have this addiction too, if you need an invite, let me know), I have seen a lot of pretty (read: gross) green smoothies popping up and today I thought...well, whatever, I'll give it a whirl.  Besides, I own a Blendtec blender, and while it is one of my favorite things in my kitchen, it is woefully under utilized.

So I threw in:

1 Frozen Banana (my kid only eats half per day, I throw the other half in the freezer, I have two bags full of frozen half bananas)
1/3 cup of Sunday's fruit salad (kiwi, pineapple, plums, nectarines, and cherries-it's gonna go bad like tomorrow if I don't use it)
Water to the 2 cup line on my blender

BLEND away.

It made about 3 cups of smoothie, I was sad I didn't have a straw because I was afraid to touch it with my lips.  It was a PRETTY green, but it was still SPINACH in my drink.  I took a deep breath and a big swig.
Note: Picture used is not my smoothie, just one I found
online that looks very similar to what I ended up with.
DELICIOUS...wait, delicious?  Yep, delicious!

I am still a little bit in shock about it.  The banana did what banana's do and took over a lot of the flavor.  Bananas are also awesomely creamy when blended from frozen so it had an almost milkshake like consistency.  The fruit I used was all just enough to add an awesome sweet/tart to the smoothie. AND, I'm not blowing smoke up your bum, I could not taste the spinach at all.

I will be making more green smoothies (in fact, I'll be using the end of my frozen spinach in the morning and getting more tomorrow).  People brag on how good they can make you look (skin glow) and feel (energy), and there are lots of people who swear by them for weight loss.  I'm not telling you that I believe they are the miracle cure that they are touted as being on some websites, but I am telling you that I'll be making more and I'll let you know if I see any changes (positive or negative) from this new staple in my diet.

Not a Good Blogger

That's me, not a good blogger.  Truth is that my life is pretty uninteresting and I don't really have that much to say, however, I'm working on it.  I think I'm going to start trying to blog more recipes (even if they aren't that interesting or new to me), and I've decided I'm going to start reviewing things I use or try and places we go/things we do or see.  No one cares, probably, but it is, at the very least, a way for me to write more and, even if no one is reading, it is good practice...I feel a little bit like I'm getting older and dumber everyday and I need to practice some skill that doesn't involve cleaning solutions or balancing children (although, I think I'll write more about those things too).  Might take me a few weeks to get into it, but it's a goal, and I'm going to work towards it can't hurt.