Celebrating a very special lady

Recently, my mom celebrated a milestone birthday (and she taught me enough manners to not quantify said milestone). Before any of us realized that she was about to turn a ‘milestone birthday,’ we were planning a simple party at my house, with lasagna and salad. When someone finally did the math and realized that the last number of the age she was turning was a ‘0,’ we knew lasagna wasn’t going to cut it!!

A real celebration was in order! I wanted this party to be elegant, beautiful and luxurious. I’ve been loving the combination of Gold and Blush. I took to Pinterest for inspiration and was overwhelmed by all the great ideas! With a few homemade items and some beautiful touches, it was a smashing success!

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Beautiful flowers are always a must for any party for my mom. She is such a gifted floral designer, I knew they needed to be on point! Above are the arrangements that we did for the dinner table. The photo below is the gigantic arrangement that my mom and Izzy created. Just look at the hydrangea blooms in comparison to the ice bucket!!! They were phenomenal.

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Here’s a peek at the table setting. We lined a long banquet table with satin pink tablecloths and used pink linen napkins. Serendipitously, I found these perfect gold chargers at Williams Sonoma, on major clearance – the wonderful folks at the King of Prussia Williams Sonoma called all around to get me enough chargers. I knew if I could find enough of these beauties, it was the universe telling me to go with the Gold and Blush theme. Thank you, Universe and Chuck Williams!!

The place card holders are little toy birds that I turned into elegant show pieces, really simple project! See that beautiful calligraphy on the blush place cards from Paper Source? I hired a local calligrapher, Manayunk Calligraphy to write the place cards in gold pen. Also, notice the gilded votives and the sparkly menu cards? A little glitter and gold pen go a long way…

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Even the kids got in on the action – Izzy and her cousin Brooke created these fun candy arrangements.

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Dinner was delicious – my friends at House in Media, hosted us with a fully customized menu and took all the worry out of the event. Though I love to cook, it was fun to get to focus on just the decor. Everyone loved their meal.

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The cake, from Whipped Bakeshop in Philadelphia, was a beautiful finish to a wonderful party – the swirls are blush, with gold pearls daintily arranged.

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I think she liked it!!

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Happy Birthday to the woman who taught me everything I know about entertaining and creating a beautiful space (and lots of other stuff, too)! You have been an inspiration to me and I loved getting the chance to celebrate you for everything that you are and everything that you do!! XOXOXO

 

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Gilded place card holders

For my mother’s big birthday party, I wanted to create a super lush, luxurious environment with tons of flowers, sparkle and bling. When it came to the place card holders, I was looking for something elegant, with a touch of whimsy. I took to Pinterest (where else would one go??) and got inspired by these fun golden zoo animal place card holders. I knew I needed a different animal for this event, so I headed out to Michaels and found these charming bird figures:

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I used the following materials:

  • 12 gauge gold flower wire
  • Gold spray paint
  • Wire cutters
  • Drill

8SC_7544To start, I made the card holders (the wire coming out of the bird’s back). Using a marker, I wrapped the wire around, making a double-loop:

8SC_7545Next, I cut the length short, using wire cutters:

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Here’s what the wire looks like all done:

8SC_7526Next, we drilled holes into the backs of the birds. Don’t worry, they didn’t feel a thing. It’s important to use the right bit. Nothing bigger than your wire gauge, because you want it to fit in nice and snug. I used pliers to push the holders into the holes – when I tried by hand, the loops bent and lost their tight shape. Once they are assembled, it’s time to spray paint. 

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8SC_7542A couple of notes on the spray painting. Make sure to apply in a well ventilated area. It’s winter here and it was snowing that night, so I had to make due in my kitchen. Not the best idea. Also, I held the birds by the wire while spraying them. That way, I was able to turn them around and get full coverage as well as not cover the wire in paint (since I still needed to put the cards in between the double-loop). Wear gloves!!! I looked like Goldfinger!

These birds were just what we were looking for – they were the perfect little holder for these stunning place cards, beautifully penned by Manayunk Calligraphy:

8SC_7575Of course, they were also the perfect complement to the lovely place setting – blush and gold – luxurious and spectacular.

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More on that soon… 

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Cookbook Junkie

I am a cookbook junkie. I love to flip through the pages, look at the pictures and be inspired by the creations. I read them like novels, illustrated, fabulous novels. This Christmas, I got three cookbooks that I have been coveting for a while: Inside the Test Kitchen, by Tyler Florence, Make it Ahead, by Ina Garten and The Frog Commissary Cookbook, by Steve Poses, Anne Clark, and illustrated by Becky Roller.

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Now that Christmas has passed and the frenzy has died down a little, I can really start to dig into them. 

First up, the delicious Tyler Florence. I have been following his test kitchen series on Instagram for a while. He’s been taking tried-and-true recipes and techniques and re-imagining them, using new ingredients, modern techniques and testing them, over and over. It has been so exciting having a birds-eye view as he (and his team) develop these recipes – every few days, there’d be a new ‘test’. What this man did to french toast – amazing (check it out on instagram – here’s one sneak peek)… 

He spent time testing the stretchiest cheese:

8SC_7509He made a hamburger bun with batter, cream whipper and a ring mold. Who ever would have thought to do that???

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These examples are just the tip of the iceberg. This book is a treasure trove of information and inspiration.

Here’s the thing. I’m not sure if I’ll make much of what is in this cookbook and that’s just fine with me. I have such respect for true chefs. This book is like a window into Tyler’s brain. I love the way chefs think and innovate. It is so inspiring. Watching him play with food and take chances is very liberating and exciting to watch. I will love reading this!!

If you’ve followed me at all, you already know that I am a HUGE Ina Garten fan. Her recipes are always spot-on. Anything I have ever made from her has been met with rave reviews. Therefore, it should be no surprise that Santa brought me her latest book, Make it Ahead.

8SC_7510Here’s what I love about Ina: she understands that people want to spend time with their guests and not be stuck in the kitchen all night, preparing complicated food. I love that she has developed this make-ahead cookbook, because it allows us all to prepare delicious food and still have fun with our friends. To quote Ina, “How great is that?”

I recently posted a recipe that she features in this cookbook, but with a different sauce. Slow roasted filet is completely amazing. Tender, juicy, flavorful. Make it – you’ll thank me (and Ina).

8SC_7511I will definitely be making lots of recipes from this book. Her books are always a go-to for me. I always trust her recipes and have never been disappointed.

Finally, I got my own copy of The Frog Commissary Cookbook. If you lived in Philadelphia anytime in the ’70’s and ’80’s, chances are, either you or your mother had this cookbook.

8SC_7513Back in the day, The Frog Commissary started as a little storefront called Frog, it soon gained steam and grew to another restaurant called The Commissary and a catering business. This is one of the books that I credit for my love of cookbooks and for cooking. As a young child, I remember reading through the book, looking at the illustrations and being captivated by the recipes. Some of my first cooking experiences were from this cookbook. I remember making Chicken Breasts with Apples and Cider Cream Sauce for my friends and I before the Homecoming dance.

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I also remember fantasizing about making the 16th Street Deep Dish Pizza. I don’t think I ever did, though… I just remember loving the illustrations on this page particularly. 

8SC_7517My mom still has her dog-eared, food-stained copy. I’m looking forward to doing the same to mine.

So, if you’re in the market for some new cookbooks, give one of these a shot. Inspiring, delicious, and a little nostalgic. That pretty much sums up cooking for me!

 

 

 

 

 

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Radiant Orchid Summer – Fun with Design + Life + Kids

Sometimes, as a blogger, I get to do really fun stuff. A couple of weekends ago, I was invited to attend a crafting event hosted by a fellow blogger, Kim Wardell, who writes Design + Life + Kids, an awesome blog that’s all about modern design combined with loving family. This event focused around Pantone’s color of the year; Radiant Orchid.

It was a lovely summer afternoon and Kim gathered a group of fellow bloggers and interested crafters to enjoy some delicious cocktails, wonderful snacks and fabulous cookies. Oh, and there was a craft too! I put my new-found dyeing skills to good use as we dip-dyed picnic blankets.

The cocktails – a Watermelon Lemonade cocktail with vodka, was presented two ways – over ice, or made into slushies:

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Aren’t those spheres awesome? I love how Kim added slices of lime and strawberry for decoration. These were made using Zoku Ice Ball Molds. I was lucky enough to get a set in my swag ‘bucket’ – can’t wait to try them out. Also, I want to point out the orchids in the background – they were furnished by The Bouqs, another one of the many great sponsors of the event. They are an online flower delivery service, unlike any other out there. Definitely check them out next time you want to send flowers to someone special. I’m looking forward to using the coupon they left in our swag bucket…

The second presentation used the Zoku Slush & Shake Maker (in purple, of course):

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And, not to brag, but I got one of these in my swag bucket too…

For folks who didn’t want a cocktail, the Brandywine Valley Brewing Collective brewed a special beer just for the event – Radiant Orchid Blueberry Wheat. 

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These stunning cookies were provided by the fabulous Whipped Bakeshop – one of Philadelphia’s premier bakeries. Their artistry is unmatched:

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Leave it to me to lead with the food and drink – this was a crafting party, right? The featured craft of the day was sponsored by Rit Dye. We all dip dyed flat sheets, using their liquid dye.

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Once we finished, we hung them on clothes lines to dry – don’t they look awesome? I’m hoping to convince Izzie that this will be a good birthday party idea some year…

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Mine’s the one in front that has a yellow hue to it. I’m still on the fence with how I feel about it. I learned a valuable lesson about dyeing – less chatting, more dyeing… Oh, also – buy the liquid dye. Just do it. It’s a little more money, but it’s so much easier!!!

In addition to the food, drink and crafting, we were treated to other drawings and giveaways from other wonderful sponsors – Minted gave away three prints, La Siesta gave away a super cool hammock chair to one lucky guest. Each of us walked away with a big swag bucket filled with lots of goodies – two bottles of dye from Rit Dye, fun books from Quirk Books, a lovely pearl necklace given by Panache BoxDreamfarm, a fun home accessories maker gave us a jot and a tapi, Bing gave us a calligraphy print and Bing Ads + Bing Rewards coupon codes, and the swag bucket was given by Casabella Clean.

Speaking of Minted, guess who forgot to bring her beautiful new business cards from Minted to the event? Yup, this girl. They are so pretty – I was so looking forward to showing them off, er, giving them out! Guess I’ll just have to show them off here:

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I had so much fun at this event. I met some really creative women, enjoyed great conversations, and laughed a lot. Many thanks to Kim, her team, and to the many sponsors! It was a huge success.

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Cocktails and Crafting with Sweet Paul

On a lovely spring Sunday afternoon, my friend and I joined Sweet Paul for an event called “Cocktails and Crafting with Sweet Paul.” The event was held at one of the most beautiful and inspiring spaces in our area, Terrain. If I ever have unlimited funds, I may just move in. 

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Sweet Paul, also known as Paul Lowe, is a lovely, kind, incredibly talented man who started a blog not long ago which quickly turned into an online magazine, then into a printed magazine and now he has his first cookbook out – called “Eat & Make.”  This book is beautifully crafted. It features recipes, crafts, along with a number of stories and quotes from Paul making it a truly personal piece of work. 

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So, when I saw on his Facebook page that he would be coming to Terrain, I jumped right on board. (BTW, you should totally be following him on Facebook! – go ahead, click on the link. Just come back when you’re done!!) He chose a craft and a variation of a cocktail from his new book – Felted Vases (p. 99) and Roasted Apricot Bellinis (p. 160, Roasted Plum Bellinis).

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Before we got down to crafting, Paul made us our cocktails…

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I am in love with his shorts. Now for crafting… After a demonstration, we picked our vases and some wool and got to it.

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Here’s what mine looked like, after I finished layering on the wool, in differing directions (and a little color):

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For the next few steps of this project, we went outside – things were about to get a little messy… Unfortunately, I couldn’t get many pictures of that process, because I was covered in dish soap and water. For the sake of my fancy camera and book sales, I chose to stay on task. Basically, we sprinkled some dish soap all around the wool, and doused it with hot water and patted the wool until the wool was saturated and starting to take shape. Then we doused it in cold water and repeated the patting. The idea was to shock the wool into shrinking around the bottle. We alternated hot and cold water for a few rounds, then switched to rubbing the wool. This further fixed the wool in place. Once the fibers found their way tightly around the bottle, we gave them a good rinse and set them out to dry. With peonies and lilacs, of course.

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Mine’s the one all the way to the right, with the blue stripes. I was pretty pleased with how it came out!! If you want to try this project out yourself, please turn to his book – there are much better instructions there. Plus, it’s just lovely. All in all, it was a wonderful afternoon. If you ever have the chance to meet Sweet Paul in person, definitely do. Tell him I said ‘hi!’ In the meantime, go get his book, Eat & Make you will just love getting lost and inspired. Enjoy!

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A fun afternoon

A few weekends ago, I took Izzie and my niece, Brooke, into Philadelphia to help paint a mural that will be going up along the Schuylkill River. Many of you probably already know that Philadelphia is widely recognized as an epicenter for mural arts, mainly because of the efforts of the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program. Anywhere you go in the city, you can find one of these fantastic installations. They tell a history of Philadelphia that is not represented in  museums or monuments. They highlight important figures, struggles, triumphs, while encouraging expression through art and community. The mural that we worked on is called the Philly Rowing Mural and it tells the story of rowing in Philadelphia. There will be two murals, one on each side of the river, under the Girard Bridge.

When we arrived, we saw different sections of the mural on a thick canvas, laid out on tables. Each section had a pencil sketch of the scene, with numbers in the different areas (Paint by numbers! I can do this!).

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Once we knew where we were going to paint, we headed over to the paint station where we picked up little cups of paint with the corresponding numbers and our brushes.

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Then we went to work.

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While we were painting, we tried to figure out what part of the mural we were working on. We were all sure it was the water. We were wrong – we actually were working on mostly the boat, the rower, and just some of the water:

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See the second panel from the bottom (with all the white patches)? That’s what we worked on (with a group of other people)…

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The girls were so excited to be a part of this. Especially because Brooke’s sister, my niece, Julia, rows crew for her high school and will pass by these murals every time she rows. I was thrilled that Philly Mural Arts made this opportunity available to the community. I love that we had a little part in this.

Don’t they look excited?

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If you are ever looking for something to do in Philly, the Mural Arts Program offers all sorts of tours of the murals, including walking, trolley, bus, and self-guided. They also offer numerous other community activities. And if you find yourself along the Schuylkill River, look for our mural and think of us. I think we did an awesome job. I may have to quit being a blogger to become a full-time artist.

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The Madhatter’s Ball

For the past few months, I have been completely immersed in the planning for a big fundraiser for my children’s school. This year’s theme was Alice in Wonderland. As the Party Chair, I was responsible for making this theme come to life. Which, I was more than happy to do…I take my party planning responsibilities very seriously.

I gathered a crack team of volunteers as my committee and we got to work. We wanted guests to feel transported to Wonderland, through sound, sight and taste. We wanted them to feel like Alice, a little off-center. I think we did a pretty bang up job.

The party was held at The Old Mill in Rose Valley. This historic building was the perfect setting for our plans. As guests arrived, they entered through a ‘card vortex.’ Hundreds of playing cards, in varying sizes were affixed to a bracing structure to create the sense of chaos. Kristin, our resident problem-solver / engineer (not to mention, very creative and talented woman), devised and built the structure.

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Once guests entered the building, they were greeted with an ‘Eat me, Drink me’ table, where we had little vials of potion, Cosmopolitans and Sazaracs, and miniature cupcakes. We worked tirelessly to craft the perfect cocktail, it was really hard work. Kiersten, an integral member of the committee, without whom much of this vision would not be possible, made both the cocktails and the cupcakes. 

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Here’s a close-up of the cupcakes:

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And the bottles of ‘potion’:

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I got these fabulous 2-ounce bottles from ebottles.com – they had a nice selection, if you want to buy a lot.

To enter the ballroom, guests had to peel back the velvet curtain to reveal Wonderland! Once inside, they immediately felt “10 feet tall” as they walked through the giant flower garden:

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One of my uber-creative committee members, Sue, did the lion’s share of constructing 39 of these giant flowers!! The impact was incredible.

Folks were also greeted by this guy:

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To honor the many generous sponsors, who made the event possible, we created this art installation, which we called, “Through the Looking Glass”:

frames

You’ll see in some of the frames we featured photos of students, past and present. We gathered old frames from Goodwill, auctions and donations from families, spray-painted everything gold and created this collage of frames. Tara, another one of our incredibly talented committee members, her husband and our beloved woodshop teacher did an outstanding job constructing this beautiful piece.

We also scoured auctions and thrift shops to curate a vast collection of tea pots, tea cups, old books and other accessories to use as our tablescapes:

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This was my favorite – do you see something out-of-place in the flowers?:

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Every table was unique, and wonderful!

Above the central table, we created a suspended base, from which teapots and teacups toppled from:

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This was quite an engineering feat – constructed and executed by Kristin. Super kudos to her.

Up on stage, Tara created our ‘Hookah Lounge.’ She constructed a giant mushroom which was surrounded by moss-covered sections of tree trunks. Seating was provided by pallets, layered with textiles and pillows:

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What you can’t see in the picture above is how she even created the ‘gills’ underneath the mushroom’s cap. The detail on this piece was amazing.

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No detail was overlooked – she even made tiny mushrooms, nestled into the moss growing on the tree.

Here’s what it looked like, with the cool mood-lighting – can you see how the mushroom is lit from underneath the cap???!!!:

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Oh, and do you see that crazy cool chair to the right of the mushroom? One of the parents heard about the theme and let us borrow her two chairs – they were a perfect addition to the space.

Everyone was encouraged to wear their finest hats – and our Head of School was no exception! Tara and I created this beautiful Madhatter’s Hat for him:

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Complete with a hand-lettered, tea-stained, burnt-edge price tag – just like in the original illustrations by John Tenniel (with a little artistic interpretation, of course!).

I can honestly say that I had so much fun working on this project. I am so lucky to have had an amazing group of women to work with. Not only were they incredibly talented, inspiring and hard-working, but the were so much fun!

P.S. I now find myself with a giant collection of china and old books, which I have no use for. Stay tuned for an eBay auction!

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Welcoming New Neighbors (a little late…)

I live in a great neighborhood. It’s set back and quiet, we have block parties, the kids know each other and we hang out with and like our neighbors. So, when a new family joins us, I like to welcome them with a little something. Usually, that something can be measured by how long it takes me to get it together to walk down the street and deliver said something.

Well, let’s just say that this last gift took a LONG time. So long that two new families arrived. So, I decided to step up my game a little:

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Here’s the second one:

basket 1

Oh, and I made one more to give as a birthday present to my sister-in-law’s mom:

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So, at the end of the day, this didn’t take a lot of money, or effort. A little bit of running around, just because there were specific items I wanted to include, but you could easily accomplish this with one or two stops.

I wanted to incorporate some homemade elements with a few complementary purchased items. I have my homemade strawberry jam on hand, which lent itself to a tea theme. I made some Brown Sugar Oatmeal Cookies from The Pioneer Woman and stacked them in cellophane bags that I had on hand. 

For the store-bought items, I started out at Homegoods, where I found the baskets, dish towels, cocktail napkins, the cute mugs and scone mix (in the birthday basket). Next stop, Home Depot, where I bought the small pots, the plants and the chalkboard paint. Final stop, Target, where I bought the tea and hand soap. I realize the soap is a little stretch from the tea theme, but it smelled good and it was pretty.

To put the baskets together, I painted the small pots in chalkboard paint and wrote little notes on them:

plant

I then filled the baskets, starting with a layer of packing/craft paper in the bottom, so the elements didn’t get lost in the basket. On top of that, I put some crinkle cut paper, from Nashville Wraps, that I had left over from my son’s birthday party goodie ‘bags.’

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 Then, I arranged the elements in each basket, using the dishtowels as buffers and as a way to prop up the more important items. I’m pretty psyched with how they turned out. I’m hoping my tardiness was forgiven…

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Reptile Goodie ‘Bags’

I’m not a huge fan of goodie bags at birthday parties. They are usually filled with cheap, crappy stuff, that just gets lost in the most unfortunate places. However, I recognize that my kids and their friends freaking love a goodie bag. So, who am I to deprive them of that? When it came to my son’s recent reptile-themed party, I wanted to come up with something that the kids could use, but something that wasn’t super expensive.

Granted, it’s possible I may have spent more than most people do on goodie bags, but, sometimes I get carried away. I get so focused on the theme that I lose site of the bottom line. I’m working on this.

Ok, now that we’ve gotten past that, I was inspired by the jars I’ve been seeing on Pinterest with the animals adhered to the top, painted all one color. I thought it might be fun to find a jar, that could double as a ‘terrarium’ of sorts. In the end, I was able to transform this simple glass jar from the Dollar Tree:

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Into these totally adorable goodie ‘bags.’

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All in all, they weren’t terribly difficult nor were they terribly time consuming. Ok, they were more time consuming than your average goodie bag, I’ll admit that. But, they were fun, and I like to do stuff like this.

To dress up the outside I printed out the labels and hang tags from my printables package from AR Party Printables. For the labels, I used Avery self-adhesive paper (full-sheet) and cut them into squares. The hang tags were printed on heavier paper and I trimmed them to size, using a straight edge to guide my knife on a self-healing cutting mat. You could use scissors, but I don’t have a steady enough hand and the edges always look uneven when I do it that way. Then, I bought two cans of spray paint, formulated for use on plastic, one in brown and one in moss green. I spray painted the plastic lids and the plastic frogs that I found at the Dollar Tree.

lids and frogs

Hello, little froggies:

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A note about spray paint. Follow the directions on the can. I bought paint from two different manufacturers and the directions were different. The green paint instructed me not to do extra coats after the paint had completely dried. Well, they were right about that… I decided to ‘touch-up’ a couple areas after the fact and the existing paint started to crackle (if you look closely at the picture of the final jars above, you’ll see the crackling).

Once they were completely dry, I used a hot glue gun to adhere the frogs to the tops of the lids. I mixed and matched, instead of keeping the color uniform.

Inside the ‘terrariums’ I made a bed of ‘crinkle cut’ basket filler that I bought from Nashville Wraps. This site is an awesome resource for gift giving. If you are into packaging and wrapping, give yourself an hour or so and pour through this site.

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By the way, there is NO way I needed this much basket filler. I may have used a total of one bag – and that’s pushing it.

Now for the contents. The shining star of these terrariums were the reptile shaped recycled crayons that I found on Etsy. Not only because they are awesome and totally relevant to the theme, but because the vendor, MadeByMaxx, is actually a young kid in Oklahoma who has a shop on Etsy. He makes them himself and his mom helps with the transactions and shipping. This is what arrived with my shipment:

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I mean seriously, how could you buy your molded, recycled crayons from anyone else??

The other focal point in this terrarium was a sheet of stickers. This was a bit challenging, because I need to find something that would fit into the jar. Here’s what I found:

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I stuck those in the back (half of one sheet), as a ‘backdrop’ of sorts, then filled the rest with the crayons and plastic reptiles from Dollar Tree.

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They turned out great and I’m hopeful that the kids are using their little jars for something fun at their homes!

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An epic reptile party

My darling son turned five recently. Like many five year-old boys, he loves reptiles, bugs, dirt, puddles, etc. When it came time to plan his birthday party, I knew I needed to incorporate one of his loves. Enter the ‘Reptile’ theme… The highlight of this event was the live reptile show, given by Snakes-n-Scales, – in my living room. I’m still trying to forget the fact that a boa constrictor was IN. MY. LIVING ROOM. (Please forgive the lack of focus in this photo – I must have been shaking. Or rocking back and forth.)

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Regardless of the live animals, we had a theme – and once I have a theme, there’s no stopping me.

First stop, Etsy. Hours and hours on Etsy. Because, that’s what I do. I have to look at and analyze every single reptile related item available on Etsy. Seriously. Anyway, I found an adorable printable package that had the invitation, and a series of printables from AR Party Printables. We worked together to customize the invite and other items. I was able to carry this theme through every element of the party.

Drink Tags (blog post coming soon!):

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Grown-up Drinks – Blueberry Mojitos:

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This is super simple – I used a 2 inch circle punch to make the tags and took a little piece of adhesive putty and stuck it to the side of the mason jar. Clean-up is simple, because the putty just comes right off and you are ready to use your mason jars for another purpose!

Goodie ‘Bags’ (click for more detail):

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 Kid’s Drinks – Green Punch:

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Aren’t these adorable? I used half pint mason jars. I found these little lizards at the Dollar Tree and adhered them to the rings with a hot glue gun.  The ‘lid’ is just a cute cupcake liner that I found at Michael’s. Punched a hole in the middle of the liner for the straw and voila!

Flower Arrangements/terrariums:

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I already had these cool hurricanes. I filled the bottom with rocks I got from the Dollar Tree and added some plants from my water features(however, you could do this with plastic ferns or other artificial plants). Then we added in some of the plastic reptiles that we also sourced from the Dollar Tree, put water in the bottom and that was our centerpiece.

The turtle-shaped pizza:

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I used a turtle shaped cookie cutter, rolled out Trader Joe’s pizza dough, put on a little pizza sauce and cheese. To save time, we pre-cut the shapes and par-cooked them before the party. All we had to do at party time was add the sauce and cheese and bake.

The alligator-shaped cupcake display:

cake

I found this idea in “Hello, Cupcake”, a book by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson. It has lots of great ideas – if you love baking and cake decorating, this is a fun book. Theirs looks a little more professional, but it was about 200 degrees that day and the icing was so soft. Oh, and we don’t pipe icing on a regular basis, so, here you go. I still think it looked awesome – many thanks to my mom’s patient hands and piping skills.

In addition to these menu items, I served fruit salad, soft pretzel sticks and assorted sandwiches. Everyone had a blast. The other kids who love reptiles got to see and touch many of these reptiles, which was a huge thrill. Even the kids who were a little hesitant around reptiles seemed to have fun.  It was a huge success, despite the excessive heat. Parents and kids felt free to linger – which to me is always a sign of a good party.

Many thanks to Snakes-n-Scales, the folks who gave the presentation. All jokes aside, they did an awesome job. Nate was thrilled and they made sure all the reptiles stayed far, far away from me, which was much appreciated. They also ensured that all of said reptiles returned to their respective tubs and left my house. If you live in Pennsylvania, New Jersey or parts of New York (check out their website for specific coverage), I would highly recommend them. They are also a reptile rescue center, so the money you pay for the party goes towards helping animals.

BTW, did I mention there was a boa constrictor IN. MY. LIVING ROOM.???!!!! Not to mention, an alligator, python, lizards, giant turtles, I could go on…

 

 

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