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Pumpkins One, Two, and Three (and Me)

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Entries in birthday (11)


Our little mover.

Many wise people have told me you can have it all.

Just not at the same time.

The past few months, my “all” has been wrapped around coaching Max on a school team, dipping my toe into more serious dyeing, dealing with sequestration woes for clients, juggling two competing schedules for basketball, swim, and lacrosse, serving on the board of our new elementary school’s PTO, and training for my fourth half marathon.  Occasionally, I cook and keep house.  And knit—not as much as I’d like to, but it is still a constant.  

We also decided to host Will’s fifth birthday at the house—Imagination Movers style, with family, friends, and his entire preK class.  Because you only turn five once.   

pg 1

pg 2

He had a ball.  Momma needs a nap.

San Will 



Birthday present stash idea.

In my world, having a birthday-gift closet is a blessed thing.  It's not that I don't try to tailor a gift choice to the recipient--I do indeed.  But my to-do list is much more manageable if I try to shop ahead for items that I believe will make nice gifts.  Then, all that is left is some personalizing. 

Case in point--I happened upon quite a confection of a tutu while in Costco the other week.  Yes, Costco.  I knew it was a perfect gift-closet choice because:  a) my boys wouldn't touch it; and b) I could add a few embellishments and accessories to make it a one-of-a-kind gift.

The skirt was really full, more like a petticoat than a tutu.  And as a crafter who has made her fair share of tutus for gifts, I was impressed.  To make it a little more special, I added a fabric rose and some streaming ribbons...

I also decided on a larger size because I knew I could manage a quick alteration--a hidden ribbon belt to make the skirt wearable for many years.

Next up was making a felt-topped wand to properly equip any princess, fairy, or other tutu-wearing magical creature...

I hear it was a hit. 

As an aside for any locals out there, the birthday girl's party was held at the Lorton Workhouse Arts Center.  It was our first visit and I thought it was really something.  The children thoroughly enjoyed themselves and are quite proud of their masterpieces--I recommend it, especially if you have an art lover.



Cake pops roar.

Have I ever mentioned how much Leo loves lions? Well, he does. I suppose if parents choose to name their child Leo, you’ve got to see it coming…  

And so I knew lion cake pops were in order for the birthday boy’s school party yesterday. They were very fun and easy to do. I dipped them in yellow candy coating (then tried to make them textured a bit to look like fur, which only sort of worked), used chocolate for the mane, cheerios for the ears, a red sprinkle for the mouth, and red jimmies for the nose (originally bought for the Rudolphs but they ended up being too small).  

It made Leo very happy.


More cake pop posts here and here.  And here--yes, I need an intervention.  Actually, I just found out that the grown up party we’re hosting in a few days may include some younger guests (babysitting woes, you know how it goes...), so more cake pops may be in my near future.  Everything is more fun when you stick it on a stick, don’t you think?







Birthdays 2010.

The boys' birthday party was yesterday and it was a lot of fun.  We've never before held it outside of the home--definitely a new experience.  It takes A LOT of planning to make sure you haul everything with you.  But the zero post-party clean up was awesome.  Really awesome, actually.  And so I'm on the fence as to what we'll do next year.  Luckily, the boys have a year to decide--a fact they are none too happy about ("a whole year momma?").

The mini-theme I alluded to was 'spring'.  Not much of a theme, I know.  But we are planting a garden this year (Charlie just finished the raised garden bed!  More on that later...) and the boys are pretty excited.  So I made dirt cupcakes with mini shovel toppers.  To make the shovels, I assembled two types of pretzel bits to fashion a handle and used a cinnamon toast cereal bit for the blade.  It sort of worked...

Many shovels broke en route to the party, grrr.  The dirt cupcakes also sported sprinkles for 'seeds' and lots of gummy worms...

And because I was not 100% sure that the cupcakes looked even remotely like what I was shooting for (little garden plots), I put out a sign to hopefully clue everyone in...


For the favors, the boys helped me put together planter buckets.  We found tins in the $1 section at Target and we punched drainage holes in the bottom.  We threw in some rocks, bags of potting soil, and rounds of seed blanket (a butterfly garden mix that we cut down to size.  Found it at Home Depot--really hope it works!).


To top off the instructions on how to plant the seed blanket, I put together a "photo strip" of the boys with a little message (idea from Young House Love).

Once everything was assembled, I realized that some kids might be let down that there was no candy.  Specifically, my kids.  So I caved and added some gummy worms.


At the party, which was held at The Little Gym, the boys enjoyed stretching their muscles and running around like crazy ("run inside, mommaReeeeallly?!").


I completely forgot to take pictures of the decorated party room, but the background in some of the shots reveals that  the bunting did indeed make it.  Bunting makes me happy. 

And every year, after the party, I am reminded of a certain quote.  Some of you quote wise, historic figures.  But my mind holds onto quotes like these:  from over a decade ago, when my law school roommate, Jenn, and I were watching a Letterman interview with Janeane Garofalo (remember her?).  And in discussing her recent and significant weight loss, Ms. Garofalo revealed that her weight was a constant battle because she often "disguises the sin of gluttony in the nobility of not being wasteful."  Amen, sister.  I have more than a dozen cupcakes left over from the party.  And being wasteful is a terrible thing...




p.s.  I'm linking up to DIY Day over at A Soft Place to Land


Reverse applique, birthday shirts.

I finished the boys' birthday shirts today.  I used some coordinating tees and went with reverse applique.  I've previously posted on how I sometimes use phonebook paper for more detailed appliques when I'm too lazy or rushed to cut out detailed shapes.  But with simple shapes and numbers, here's how I do it.

First, I head to my computer and use a word processing program to pick a font that has nice clean lines (so it won't be fussy to sew around).  I scale it to the size I want by playing with the font size and bold option.  I print it and cut out the number.

Next, I turn the t-shirt inside out and pin my contrast fabric to the area I plan to embellish.  I then just tape the number down to hold it in place.  

I sew a smidge outside the paper template...


...then trim and cut the t-shirt fabric away from the top to reveal the applique. 

I then repeat two more times because Charlie has not yet taken over dressing the boys to "man" things up a bit.  I think I have a few years before that happens.  Or roughly three more outfits where I use turqoise--whichever comes first. 

I think the boys will look nice in their special bday tees at their no-themed-party party*.  I'll try to get some action shots.  Because let's face it.  I do these primarily for the photo op.  Happy Friday!




*Incidentally, I just might be sneaking a wee bit of a theme into the no-themed-party party.  And I am well aware that this will shock exactly no one.   


Birthday planning.

We are doing something different this year for the boys' combined birthday party.  Usually, we invite friends from all circles to come over to the house to celebrate.  It's great fun seeing everyone and the boys really love it.  They usually invite friends from school, preschool, the neighborhood, our play groups, as well as friends from their former day's usually quite a group!  But this year, it's not really an option because our yard is a soggy marsh from all of the snow and recent rains.  And because we always rely on outdoor space for the kids to run around and play, we thought it best not to do it here in the spring.

Instead, the plan is to do a smaller party at a gym with each boy inviting a handful of classmates, along with other close family friends.  And we'll hold off throwing a big party until summer when our yard will hopefully dry out enough to set up some outdoor games.

So with that settled, I have discovered that I'm at a bit of a loss because there is very little to do in the way of planning for their party.  Usually we pick a theme and I go from there.  But since we're having it at a Little Gym location, the facility has their own format and timeline.  And there is a smallish room for food and cake after the gym play.  "Small" doesn't really work for the kind of food spread my family usually puts out at a party so I guess we'll go the pizza route?  But I'd still like to put out something for the grown ups to nibble on.  And I know I'll still do cake.  But can I fit in the dessert bar?  I think the boys might not know it's their birthday if there are no cut-out cookies.  And cake pops.  But we'd have to transport all of that, along with the kidlets.  Hmmmm.  Again, at a complete loss....

But I did send out the invitations.  I made three sets.  One for each of the older boys to give to their classmates and a combined one to give to family friends.  I was so excited when I saw this mini bunting card on How About Orange because I knew it would be perfect for my, er, I mean, the boys' non-themed-party party.  Because I'll tell you what.  Even if we're not doing any of the 5 (or 12) themes we started brainstorming about (think of how ahead we are for next year!), there will be bunting somewhere somehow in that little room.  My poor husband.

Happy Friday!


Breakfast of champions.

We headed to a fun birthday party last weekend and I offered to make cake pops.  It was a rock-n-roll theme and I had grand plans to figure out a way to make guitar shaped pops.  Unfortunately, some sniffles and other small ailments that go with the current territory put an end to such lofty ambitions.  So I defaulted to our tried and true design of sprinkles and the celebratory birthday number.

I am getting pretty good at these, so much so that it was no problem to put them together a few hours before heading out the door.  Actually, the real reason the process went so quickly is that my mother-in-law brought me a lil dipper 1.5 quart crockpot when she last visited.  It's awesome!  It keeps the dipping chocolate melted and at the perfect temperature.  This means no more running back and forth to the microwave to zap and coax the coating into something workable.

The mom of the birthday boy sent the leftover pops home with us--claiming her family's sugar quota for the week was the remaining half sheet of birthday cake.  I put up a show of resistance.  But really, who am I kidding?  The boys were thrilled, as was I.  Whenever there are cake pops in the house, I have one for breakfast with my coffee every morning* until they are gone.  And yes, I hide in the pantry to do it.  I have one left.  It's out of reach for the under-seven set, way in the back of the fridge, on the top shelf.  I must admit that I feel a little guilty and selfish about my strategic storage.  But it's nothing a cake pop won't fix.  I hope you have something sweet in store for you this weekend, too--Happy Friday!


*And in other news that may or may not be related to this (as well as a recent delivery of many, many boxes of Girl Scout cookies)--I finally started training for the Marine Corps Half marathon.


My birthday.

Today is my birthday.  I usually don't care to make a fuss about it but apparently others around me had different plans this year.  And though it feels odd, I am touched and grateful. 

My celebration actually started yesterday.  I teach a group fitness class every Saturday morning, and my class took me out for lunch after our workout.  I've taught that class for over 11 years so it's a pretty tight group.  And then my folks came over at night to babysit the boys so Charlie and I could go out for a grown-up dinner.  I resisted cutting up his food for him and tried not to talk exclusively about the children.

This morning, the boys kicked things off by waking me up with a treat.  That's our tradition here--birthday boys and girl (notice the singular) get woken with a cupcake (but I requested a whole-wheat chocolate chip muffin, because I'm healthy like that).  The first time we woke Max up with a cupcake, lit candle and all, I thought his little eyes were going to fall out of his head.  And then when we told him he could eat it right then and there in his bed, I'm pretty sure he gasped (we were breaking the "no food allowed in rooms EVER by proclamation of Mom" household rule).  I also opened a present that my very thoughtful mother-in-law sent me: 

I really lucked out in the mother-in-law department.  She's amazing.  When they visited a few weeks ago, I made a teacake using a recipe from this cookbook, which was reprinted in Gourmet magazine.  It was quite good and I mentioned how I'd love to get the cookbook, but that there is a moratorium on cookbook purchases right now.  So she bought it for me.  And everyone has left me in peace to read it this morning!  I read cookbooks like novels and this one is awesome.

Oh.  And look what else I got.  Specifically, look what I got for my birthday two years ago.  How sad is that???  Well, let me just say that it's plenty sad when you consider how long I researched which serger to buy.  And then, when I finally settled on the Viking Huskylock Husqvarna 936, how long I vexed over spending the money, but finally did it (insert memory of dual income here).  And yet there it has sat.  In its box.  I don't have the foggiest on how it works, but I am not, am not, am not, taking on another project until I take that puppy out, plug it in, and learn how to use it.  Sheesh.

So it's been a great birthday.  I'm still in jammies, drinking my second cup of coffee with a cookie, the boys are playing outside but occasionally pop in to shout "I love you mom, happy birthday" (I think Charlie is prompting them but I'll take it), I've got a new cookbook to read, and I am regifting a "new" serger I already gave myself.  I hope you have a wonderful day, too.


Party on.


In in her mini-feature today, Shannon (the mastermind behind the wonderful and completely addictive blog, Creative Parties & Showers) linked to my post on the boys' Master of Disguise birthday party!  Woo hoo.  It's really nice to be mentioned.  But as she features the most amazing parties on her site, to be honest, I sort of feel like I do when I go to a party and am completely under dressed.  You know how that is, right?  You go somewhere in jeans and a cute top but then feel like you stick out among all the gals in cute dresses.  Especially when you have a ton of cute dresses you could have worn?  See (as I said in the original post), that particular party was a bit of a bust for me, as far as party-throwing-according-to-my-plans goes.  And adaptability?  Not my strong suit.  Now, the boys had a great time...and I know that's all that matters in the end...but I'm still more than a little heartbroken that some details and planned activities never saw the light of day. 

But I'm over it.  Obviously. 

Moving on with plans for the their next one.  And for Halloween.  And for our gingerbread house decorating party.  If you love looking at all things party related too, be sure to check out Creative Parties & Showers.  But just make sure you have a big cup of tea or coffee and a couple of hours to enjoy that blogcandy!  


Pajama party.

Last month I posted the sugar cookie recipe that I always use.  And this weekend, I cajoled my friend into letting me make them as favors for her daughters' birthday party--see, I really, really like to make them and won't let anyone else do them (though this does not apply to you--you should indeed make them.  Unless you invite me to your party, in which case I will).  Her girls had a pajama party and it was really fun.  Look at these super cute invites (how-to here:  Parents Magazine).            


The guests were asked to show up in pjs and there was a craft where the kids decorated pillow cases to take home:                 

And just look at these cupcakes (yes, from that cupcake book again).  I have to make these soon.  I've seen a version with little teddy graham crackers tucked in as lovies--too cute, right?

I could not find a pajama cookie cutter anywhere.  But discovered that in a pinch, headless gingermen work just fine--oh, and for the nightgowns, I cut off the footsies and smooshed the legs together.  For the cookie recipe and a rather wordy explanation complicating my simple tip for decorating (dipping vice frosting the cookies), see this post

And if you are considering hosting a pajama birthday party, I need to add that the most genius part of it is you don't have to get dressed the day of the party--assuming you have cute enough pjs like my friend. This is huge for me as I never seem to leave enough time during pre-party preps to personally get ready. Sadly my guests will often find a nicely staged room but a hostess dressed in her crafting clothes (you save your college tees for painting/moving/gardening?  I save 'em for crafting).