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Monday, December 1, 2014

Advent Calendar

The Holiday Season is here and I finished our Advent Activity Calendar just in the nick of time (three minutes before midnight on the last day of November).

I procrastinated terribly this year. Partly because I'm a procrastinator and partly because it took me a long time to decide just how to display our calendar this year.  We're in a small house so I really wanted a way to have just one display for all three of my kids.

I finally found my inspiration in Pinterest. Maybe it was more of a "Pinspiration." It was very similar to mine but done with clothes pins instead of hooks.  So with my pinspiration, I set out to my dad-in-law's burn pile and found this board.

  I loved that it was weathered and rustic.  I even love the rusty old hinges so all I did was sweep it off with a hand broom.

I know clothes pins would have been easier and cheaper but I didn't want to try and match the wood of a new clothes pins with my old board so we went with hooks.  Then I quickly spray primed my letters, then a light sweep of red spray paint went on that, lastly I painted a layer of acrylic paint because it's easier to distress. A little duct tape "waxing," scratching, and sanding and the style of our letters went with our board:

  We  do an "Activity" Advent because in our small house the last thing my kids need is more "stuff," it costs less, and it's a great way to hold yourself accountable to doing all those things you wish you could with your family.

My goal this Holiday Season is to make lots and lots of great memories and teach my kids the Joy of giving.  So we have several RACKs (Random Acts of Christmas Kindness) in there too.

I made mini envelopes with my Cricut and put our activity for the day in each.  Some are super easy (Pick a Christmas movie to watch), some are spread out over several days (Gingerbread dough, bake gingerbread, assemble gingerbread houses), some are things we would be doing anyway (Make Christmas cookies).  The idea is to involve my kids in all these great traditions and make good memories.  I don't want to make memories of an overworked, stressed out mom. For this reason I also have my own master calendar so I can plan ahead with supplies and ingredients. But if I do get overwhelmed I have a backup plan to hang little boxes with treats like Lindt truffles.   

There are a lot of wonderful Christmas activity lists out there. Most of mine are borrowed from these lists so I'm not including one here.  My two pieces of advice: 1) Do what works for you and your family!  2) Check your city's calendar or Chamber of Commerce.  I'm so pleased that there are a few  things our city puts on that are low-cost and appropriate for littles.

Bonus: As our hooks empty we will fill them with any cards we receive and a few photos of all our fun!
Our board will stay festive and joyful all month long.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Happy Fall!
Candy Corn Party

Love it or hate it, Candy Corn screams fall and is so cute.  So even though not everyone in my house is a fan, with took the colors and pattern and ran with it.

Of course there was candy corn but we added some other creative sweets as well. Candy corn m&m's and simple dipped pretzel rods in the three colors (fun and easy for the kids to help with).

A little more healthy were simple cups of pineapple, mandarin oranges, and a dollop of whip cream on top.

Healthier yet - we included some vegetables in the appropriate colors.
I was so thrilled to find these perfect plates at Joann's!

My kids loved kettle corn and it's so easy so we made a big batch in orange, yellow, and white. Their friends must love it too because there was none leftover!  Such a simple treat that you can color to tie in with any theme.

We played a simple game of donuts on a string. 
(If you want to keep your floors clean do this outside.)

Friday, July 11, 2014

My baby girl just turned 9!
I'm not sure how that is possible but she assures me it is true.

My girls loved the movie "Frozen" - I think one reason is that my oldest is a blonde and my little is a red head.  I loved the movie because it was a beautifully drawn, beautifully sung, and was a beautiful story.
I love that Disney has come out with a few princess movies now that aren't all about romantic love - not that I disapprove of romance and don't wish this for my girls in their future but I just really want them to know that it's alright for them to strive for other things in life as well.
So both with our own reasons, my little red head and I had so much fun planning this party. Of course we had to re-watch the movie several times for research purposes.


We strung simple blue and white crepe paper stringers then added strips of blue tulle with paper snowflakes hanging from them.

A simple photo backdrop was done with plastic tablecloths and Christmas lights behind.

One of my favorite quotes from the movie!

If you have a frozen party after Christmas decorating will be a snap. You'll get almost everything you need at half off during the post Christmas sales.  I was disappointed that I wasn't able to do this, but then ended up thankful because after going through my basement and a few trips to second-hand stores I realized that I really didn't need anything else.  

Here's one of my second-hand finds that we redid to make it "Frozen." 

Party Favors

Super cheap to make and such a fun project to do with your little helpers!

This is Big Train's "20 Below Frozen Hot Chocolate." It's the perfect favor for a summer "Frozen" party.  We put a single portion into favor bags and added these cute labels with instructions on the back.  If you've never had a frozen hot chocolate, go find one! Olaf was exactly right: "The hot and the cold are both so intense, put 'em together it just makes sense!"

So thankful for my friend who used her Cameo Silhouette to make these gorgeous snowflake crowns. Each girl felt like a queen with one of these on.

And because my son was very upset by how "girly" the crowns were, we made Sven antlers for the boys.

A bit messy but so much fun! Just a couple cans of shaving foam squirted out then add a box or two of cornstarch. 

Of course, my favorite was the craft!
I found these incredible bulbs at
I was hoping to find a snow globe craft that wouldn't need water and wouldn't easily break.
When this website showed these being gently bounced on the table, I was convinced and found their prices to be fair too!

Arendelle in Deep, Deep, Deep, Deep Snow

Snow Globe Fillers: Fake snow, iridescent beads, ice beads, mini snowflake embellishments, glitter, and a castle.

These castles were from a used Princess Monopoly game we had and never played with. We painted and glittered the castles to make them "Frozen."  I also considered printing "Frozen" characters onto transparencies to go in the globes - this would be a great alternative if you can't find mini castles.

The only thing missing was some actual snow, but since none of us were born with Elsa's powers, we will just wait until winter and until then enjoy our "Big Summer Blowout."

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Frozen Castles

An easy affordable way to get adorable ice castles

I found these castles at second-hand stores for super-cheap.  The big one is "broken." Meaning there is a hinge on the back that nothing attaches to and a button inside that does nothing but for $4 to make a big party decoration these imperfections didn't bother me.

The one on the left was a bit more - $7 but came with adorable furniture and I loved the semi-translucent tower peaks.

Step one (not pictured) involved lots of time soaking in the tub and "Goo Gone" to remove a lot of stickers. This took quite a bit of time but was worth it to me in the end.

After all the stickers were removed and the castles were thoroughly dry I taped off the one area I didn't want covered in snow and ice and then primed them with Kilz spray paint primer. Then just a simple layer of white spray paint was applied.  When the white was dry I did light, sweeping sprays with a light blue. Lastly, I let my little lady go nuts with glitter spray paint - she was so delighted to help plan and decorate her party this year!

Here's our big ice and snow covered Arendelle. 

And the smaller castle with tape removed and the tower peaks snapped back into place. Even I was surprised with how beautiful this smaller one turned out.  All the little details seem to pop under its new color.

We pained the insides too (you'll want to because it gets in the windows) and it looks fabulous with its furniture in place - a palace fit for a queen!

Here's what you'll need for this castle makeover. 
(Not pictured are "Goo gone" and dish soap.)

I've only found Kilz spray paint primer at Home Depot. It's a bit spendy but so worth it. It gives a smooth, lasting surface to spray paint. The glitter spray paint was also purchased there and wouldn't be necessary but my birthday girl loved this extra touch.
Krylon is my most favoritest spray paint ever and is a tad more affordable at Walmart.

If you have to go out and buy all the spray paint this project could add up really fast (I always have spray paint on hand) but I think it would still be cheaper than the castles sold in stores.