Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Personalized Party Pumpkins

I love making party favors, and often try and personalize them.  For my daughter's first Halloween, I was expecting a group of babies, ranging from just a few weeks old to 2 years old.  I wanted to personalize each favor, and make sure that what was given to each child was age appropriate.

This time of year, plastic jack-o-lanterns with handles are available pretty much everywhere.  I purchased one for each of the kids, along with stuff to put in them that was appropriate for the current age of each child.

To write the names:   I have a font on my Mac that I always use for Halloween crafts.  I'm sure a lot of you will think it is familiar (Harry Potter fans), because the font is called "Hogwarts Wizard".  I typed each name in the font and the size I wanted them on the pumpkins.  They were printed out all on one page, and then cut into individual names.  Each name was taped on the inside of the pumpkins.  The plastic is thin enough that it is really easy to see through to trace the font perfectly.  I used a dark purple Sharpee marker - because I love combining purple and orange for Halloween stuff.

My daughter has used her pumpkin for three Halloweens so far, and it is currently sitting on her play kitchen set, waiting to be taken around the neighborhood again on October 31st!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Fun with Funkins

Several years ago, I discovered something surprising about myself.  Turns out, I am really quite good at carving pumpkins.

When I was a child, I would draw faces on my pumpkins with pen and my father would do most of the cutting.  I guess stifling my creativity was a price he was willing to pay so that he didn't have to deal with it if I cut off a finger. (Good call.)  Those faces were made up of nothing but geometric shapes, because for some reason, I thought all jack-o-lanterns needed to have triangle eyes.

The first year I was married, I picked up my "It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" DVD, and decided I wanted to carve Charlie Brown on a pumpkin.  It rocked, and he was the first in a long line of non-geometric shaped pumpkin faces.

My daughter's first Halloween was in 2007.  I don't know where the idea came from, but I wanted to carve her face on a pumpkin.  However, I knew it would be a lot of work, and the thought of it rotting in just a few days, or seeing her face being eaten off by a squirrel - just didn't sound worth it.  BUT - if I could do it so that it would LAST, then I was up to the challenge.

So, I went to the craft store and bought my first "FUNKIN".  (Yes, that's what they are really called.)  It's kind of a heavy duty styrofoam, that looks real enough to get away with it.

I started by choosing the photo I wanted to use...

In Photoshop, I messed with the "contrast" and "levels" until it was divided up enough to give me clear light (cut out), dark (leave pumpkin) and gray (shave half way), sections.

I cut around the face and taped it to the pumpkin.  Then I used a sharp tool to poke small holes around each section, so when the paper was removed, the template was clearly marked on the pumpkin.
For the sections that needed to be cut out, I used the small saws that come with any pumpkin carving kit.  For the shaved areas, I used a battery-operated drummel tool (left over from my acrylic nail days).  I used the medium sized heads for large areas, and the tiny drill heads for the tight spots.

When it was done, I also carved her name and the year.  At the time, I had a brilliant idea to make a new one each year.  That was until I realized how much space it takes up to STORE it - so, for now, this is the only one I've done.  (Although, I would probably be willing to break out my dremmel again if anyone ever wanted to PAY me to make one!)

To light it up - I have a hole cut out of the BOTTOM.  I use one of those battery operated pumpkin lights and it works great.

Today, when it came out of storage, Lauren's face lit up and she said, "MOMMY!  Is that ME?!"  She was so pleased when I told her it was!  I'm so glad I made it, and will definitely do it again.  Now it's time to start thinking about how to carve our REAL PUMPKINS this year!!!.... hmm... 

Thursday, September 30, 2010

I dare one of you to dress up as a Fried Egg.

I have always had a lot of fun on Halloween.  Maybe it's a mixture of the crisp, cool weather, the sugar high from all the candy, and the fun of coming up with a great costume.  (5th Grade - I dressed up as a FRIED EGG, and my best friend was a STRIP of BACON!  6th grade - we were a PHONE and PHONE BOOK.)

(Not sure if my mother was against purchasing costumes or not... When we were little, SHE made them for us, so I guess as I got older, I just assumed they were supposed to be hand made!  Either way, my egg ROCKED!)

My daughter's first Halloween was 2007.  That year, we invited several of our friends over who also had little ones.  We had so much fun taking pictures of them all in their FIRST costumes!  Since then, it's become a tradition to have a party at our house.  I would love to have a much bigger guest list than the size of our house allows.  So, we have to limit it to our gathering to just the "family" (which doesn't necessarily mean blood related).  The kids have an absolute blast and we always include the grandparents, because I think they enjoy it even more than the parents do!

How is it even possible that it is October already?  The summer goes by so quickly, but it seems like from here on out, the rest of the year moves in fast-forward!  I know I need to get invitations out right away, so this year, I put something together extremely quick and easy...

At Michaels, I purchased a "designer mat pad" with 18 pages of double-sided Halloween photo mounting paper.  The pages were 5 x 7, which is perfect for some A7 envelopes that I already had.

I typed up the invitation and added a color border and then printed it out, three on a page, on white card stock.  Then I trimmed it and attached each one to a sheet of the Halloween paper using four brads from a "Harvest" colored pack (also purchased at Michaels).

For the envelopes, I hand-wrote the addresses, but decorated them with stickers that match the Halloween paper.

Quick.  Easy.  Done.  Going in the mail tomorrow.   ...or maybe the next day...

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Boeuf Bourguignon Project

I've wanted to make this ever since I saw "Julie and Julia".  Since it's a make-ahead dish and since the family is coming over tomorrow for a birthday celebration for my father - this was the perfect opportunity.  I'm extremely pleased with the results.
 A photo journal with notes can be found in an album on my Facebook page.  Here's a link:  http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=253325&id=547246994&l=7ff47392e4

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Cheri's "grown up s'mores"

My friend posted these on her blog and the second I finished reading her entry, I ran to my kitchen to make these!  EASY, delicious, and PERFECT for this weekend!!!  She used semi-sweet chocolate chips, and I used chocolate melts from the candy making aisle from Michaels. (Left over from peanut butter balls I made for Christmas).

Here's the link... http://tinkerwiththis.blogspot.com/2010/06/grown-up-s.html

This would be really easy and fun to make with kids... however, since I found her post after my daughter was already in bed, she missed out on round 1.  I'll be making them again tomorrow to take to a BBQ at a friends house, so I'll let her help then.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

I can't believe Andy is old enough to be in college.

The first time you saw an ad for Toy Story 3, I'm guessing many of you said the same thing I did.  "Andy's old enough to go to college?!!!"  I did the math - he IS that old, and now a whole new generation of kids will fall in love with Buzz, Woody and gang - and the marketing that goes along with them.

On Saturday, my daughter is going to a birthday party for a boy who is turning 5.  This gave me an opportunity to do two things I really enjoy...  1. Coordinating a gift.  2. Shopping for a good deal.

I am ALL about making sure things coordinate well together, and paying attention to the small details.  Even if it's something as routine as putting a gift together for a child's birthday.  I do everything I can to make sure each piece goes together - gift, wrapping, bow and card.  I love doing that, with the child in mind, thinking about how much they will enjoy seeing their favorite character or theme selected just for them.

Here is what the birthday boy will be getting on Saturday.  I hope he will have a lot of fun with his Toy Story Alien Fishing Game, and Parachuting Army Men.  The wrapping paper matches perfectly and has the whole gang on it.  I did run into a bit of a situation with the card...  The store I was shopping in did not have a single Toy Story card!  I had the store manager looking for one, and when she said they didn't have one, I said, "That's OK, I'll just make one." (Which I would have - to avoid going to another store and to make sure the card matched.) However, the manager was able to find the Toy Story bow/gift tag, so I'm all set!

Here's where the good deal comes in...
My daughter is also a huge Toy Story fan, and Buzz and Woody sit, proudly, on her bedroom dresser.  Lately she has been talking a lot about Jessie, so I've been thinking about getting her a Jessie doll to add to her collection. (Woody will probably appreciate that too.)

The store I was in is having a promotion where if you buy a certain dollar amount in Toy Story merchandise, you get a free ticket to the new movie.  The Jessie doll was on sale and added to my gift purchase brought me to just one dollar over the amount I needed for the free ticket.

So - the NEXT thing to coordinate is a special "Toy Story Day" for my little princess.  A special day, with just me and her daddy.  I'll dress her up in a Jessie t-shirt and cowgirl hat (If anyone sees them on sale anywhere, let me know).  We'll take her out for pizza (I have to find somewhere in town I can convince her is "Pizza Planet"), give her the Jessie doll and then take her to see the new movie.  If anyone has any suggestions of other things to do with the theme - please tell me!

I really hope the time between now and when my daughter leaves for college goes a LOT slower than what it has for Andy!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Chocolate Anyone?

This week's project is planning for the Dove Chocolate Discoveries party that will be at my home on Friday evening. (Disclaimer - all photos in this post are not mine, I swiped them off the DCD website.)

 I don't host a lot of these types of in home sales parties, mostly because I am a Mary Kay Independent Beauty Consultant, so I really like to focus on only that.  However, with this one, I just couldn't resist!  A family friend is the Dove Chocolatier and when she told me about it, I jumped right on board!

My sister already had a party at her house.  It was there that I fell deeply in love with the DCD Chocolate Mousse.  I already have a good supply of it, and will be buying lots more!

When it comes to home parties, a lot of hostesses count on the person doing the party to do all the planning.  I'm positive that my friend will do a wonderful job, but I know that it is up to me to make sure that my guests have a great experience.  I feel that if my friends are willing to give up their Friday night to come to my house, then I need to do everything I can to make sure they leave feeling comfortable, pampered and well fed!

So - that's the plan.  Since chocolate is such an indulgence, my goal is to create an atmosphere that goes along with that.  However, I think I can accomplish the look I want with a small budget.
 For now, I'm going to leave the details as a surprise for another day, because I want the people who are coming to be the first to see everything.  I will give you a little taste of my grocery list though...  marshmallows, strawberries, graham crackers, vodka.... (Yes, there will be chocolate martinis.)

I'm really excited to see some of you on Friday at 7 p.m.!  Reminder, if you still have not RSVPd yet, please do so A.S.A.P.!

Hmm... a Friday evening with my friends and lots of chocolate... Doesn't get much better than that!!!