parties

I love you day

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Our “I Love You” breakfast is one of my favorite family traditions. It’s something I remember and cherish from my childhood–one meal when we used my mom’s precious ruby red glassware that had been handed down from her mom (who also had inherited it somewhere along the way), ate strawberry waffles, received small tokens of love, and enjoyed family time. Sometimes our “I Love You” breakfast was for dinner, some years the special meal got pushed to a weekend close to Valentine’s Day, and once we even got to have our “I Love You” breakfast at my grandparents house.

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When I started this tradition for my own family, it was just me and my husband. But I was going to have strawberry waffles! (He doesn’t really like them.) I was going to decorate with red and pink! (Boys don’t really care.) We were going to eat off special dishes! (We didn’t have any.) So maybe my first few attempts at carrying this tradition forward were not unqualified successes, but I stuck with it.

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And now, here I am, the night before another Valentine’s Day, with my table all set with our “special” Valentine melamine plates that I got during an after-Valentine clearance sale at Target years ago. My centerpiece consists of the two items of Valentine decor that I own plopped in the middle of the table. I decorated with $4 worth of crepe paper streamers I ruffled with my sewing machine today and some half-price felt hearts from the Target dollar spot. Tomorrow morning I’ll make strawberry waffles (my husband and two of my three older girls will have maple syrup on theirs because they don’t even like strawberry waffles) and my girls will open their little presents.

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And they will know they are loved. I hear a lot about how this is a made-up holiday with no merit. I remember making jokes about “Singles Awareness Day” back in college and wanting to not want to have someone to share it with. And I do enjoy doing a little something special with my husband, if schedules and babysitters align. But really, I love to do something totally fun for my girls, with no pressure from anyone else to keep up with this or top that. This is just for us.

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So I’ve slowly built up my small Valentine stash over the years. We always use the same plates and the small pink and translucent hearts (in the small apothecary jar) in some way, and I add whatever I can find inexpensively each year–the His and Hers mugs are this year’s addition from World Market. One thing I’ve realized–you can never go wrong with festive red and white striped paper straws! One package works for Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and the 4th of July. I did suggest this year that we have a different special breakfast item that more family members would enjoy, but that was voted down by ALL.

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So this morning I’m getting up extra early to cook breakfast before my kids head off for school. And I can’t wait.

What are your Valentine traditions? Do you make your own cards? Decorate from top to bottom? Share!

someone turned eight last month

Goodness, I really can’t believe it’s already September. I guess that’s what a trip to the beach, two birthdays (hubby’s and our oldest’s), two first days of school (big kids and the Mace), an eighth birthday bash, a week of painting kitchen cabinets, and a visit from my parents and sisters will do to a month—August just flew right on by. I’ve got loads of things to share (photos of most of those items in the last sentence are sitting impatiently on my hard drive as I type), so I thought I’d start sort of chronologically and go from there. Makes sense, right? No? Too bad.

Anyway, Bailey turned eight! On August 13! We swap years of doing family birthdays and friend birthdays, and this is the friend year for both of my older girls. Natalie decided last minute to take a friend to Chuck E. Cheese (and meet up with eight cousins) instead of having a party at home, so all my plans for a backyard beach party went by the wayside, but Bailey was unwavering in her determination to have a friend party. We settled (after AGONIZING) on a rainbow/art theme and picked a date, only to realize that the Saturday before school started was when most of her school friends went on a last hurrah family outing. Thank goodness for local cousins and the few friends who could make it! Bailey had seen me browsing through another blogger’s post about her daughter’s art party and wanted to replicate it exactly. I don’t have many original ideas in this post, just lots of fun for us.

So, rainbows=super easy decorations, food, favors, and activities.

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Following Design Mom’s instructions, I made the rainbow balloon arch the evening before and enlisted my mother-in-law’s help to make the rainbow flowers. I had aprons for each girl to wear and take home (we were painting, after all!) and I embellished those with a rainbow I ironed on with fusible webbing then topstitched down.

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I also made a poster from eighteen25’s subway art birthday printable for the food table—rainbow colored food was so easy to prep ahead of time and just pour into my white serving dishes—watermelon, cheese cubes, bananas, cucumber, blueberries, and grapes. Piece of cake.

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The cake, on the other hand, was not quite as simple—six rainbow-colored layers stacked together with white frosting and Skittles embellishments. I followed Cassie of Hi Sugarplum!’s tip of freezing the layers before stacking, which made it a little more simple to get nice and straight. Then when I was frosting I did a thin crumb layer (lightly frost the whole cake and don’t worry about getting cake crumbs in the frosting) then chilled it overnight. The next morning I put on a thick coat of frosting over the top of the crumb layer and the exterior was nearly perfect. A rainbow of Skittles later and it was done! The candles I picked up at Target that had different colored flames were a big bonus, too.

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Of course, now I’m a bit ahead of myself. To welcome each girl, we set up a little rainbow makeover station on our entry desk. Rainbow decorations on their cheeks and a colorful hair accessory and the girls were all set. Bailey and Natalie were eagerly anticipating friends and cousins arrivals—aren’t my girls adorable?

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Next up was the “art” portion on the rainbow/art party—the guests donned their aprons and painted a ceramic treat figurine (purchased in sets of 6 at Hobby Lobby) and a canvas for their rooms.

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And here is a peek at the finished art—isn’t it lovely?

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(Clearly we held the party before I decided once and for all to paint my cabinets.)

I loved seeing the different ways each of the girls painted their projects. Naturally there was some, ahem, inspiration going on at the art tables, but I think they all turned out lovely. Later this week I’ll show you where we hung our party art.

To say thanks and goodbye, we had a little candy bar set up at the end of the party. I gathered assorted glass vessels I had on hand to keep it simple and helped the girls each fill a goody bag to take home.

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Mmmm, those orange slices are looking mighty tasty right about now.

What do you think? Does the birthday girl look happy?

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Another successful party down! Now I’m off-duty until Macie turns 4 next May and has her very first friend party. That gives me six good months to relax, right? Right?

2011 roundup, projects-style

If you’ve been reading this blog at least since October, you know that I’ve had quite a year. I definitely had some wonderful, amazing, joyful moments in my personal life, as well as the tragic and sorrowful. But in taking stock of this year, I’m pretty pleased with the projects I’ve gotten done.

Ten years ago when I got married, I was deep in my Trading Spaces obsession. I could not get enough of the show. I was fascinated, not so much with the idea of letting someone else take control of and decorate a room in my house, but more with the idea of decorating and furnishing a home. When I got married, my husband and I proceeded to move 9 times in 7 years to a succession of impersonal and increasingly plain rentals apartments and homes.

But here, in our first house, I could finally exercise that DIY portion of my brain that I *know* is 100% genetic. And this year, I’ve had a wonderful time documenting my DIY urges–thanks for reading along! I couldn’t resist recapping my projects here at the end of the year.

I started my project-itis of the summer with my Soda Crate Shelves.

I helped throw the ultimate 40th anniversary party

and moved on to my daughters’ rooms with my DIY headboard

and a super girly-girl dresser. (Thanks for all the Pinterest love.)

We had an awesome back-to-school dinner and fashion show to celebrate a new kindergartener and second grader.

I finished off the year with decorating for Christmas my way and refinishing an heirloom desk.

Next week I’ll have two new bedroom reveals–thanks to my parents and sisters, our girls finally have paint on their walls! Thanks for reading and sharing my sorrows and fun in 2011. Here’s to a better 2012.

the party vol. 2–the people

The huge 40th anniversary post from earlier this week is really not even half the story. Sure, the decor was super fun to put together and plan, but without this amazing family I joined via marriage, this party would have been nothing! So I have tons more to share.

Ryan’s parents, while they knew we were planning a dinner for the occasion, were kept very much in the dark during the whole planning process. When they arrived at their home at party time, they were greeted by all 24 of us wearing brown, orange, white, or yellow with our A&W nametags.

Here is Mom’s reaction to the sign on the front door.

(Hopefully I don’t get disowned for showing these photos!)

We all went straight through the house to check out the amazing 40 collage of photos.

And then we were all treated to my personal favorite moment of the party. As Mom and Dad were looking at the photos, they noticed one in particular (see Mom’s expression in that last shot) exchanged glances, said “Be right back!” and disappeared.

Perfect, right? They met while they were sophomores in high school–she was on the cheer squad and he was a Varsity letterman. Loved it.

Since we were doing the whole A&W theme, we wanted to custom make and wrap burgers and hot dogs for everyone. I printed up a simple little menu and we designated the oldest grandchild in each family as the waitresses. (Did you know that this family has 15 grandkids, 12 of which are girls?) Each waitress was in charge of taking and placing orders for her own family, so I made the menu pretty simple with circled options. Then the waitresses passed off the orders to the runner (the next oldest in each family, several of whom were very disappointed in not having a JOB until we made this one up) who cleared the orders through the family head (mommy) and took them to the chefs.

Aren’t these girlies cute? They took their task very seriously.

Let’s eat!

Don’t those toppings look YUM? I was too busy scarfing down my burger to get any shots of one completed and wrapped, just trust me when I say they were good. ;)

The kids dug in as well, with one minor exception . . .

That’s her plate at the end, apparently the Disneyland photo album was much more interesting. I think she was thrilled to be in a quiet room by herself!

Of course, I have to finish off this post with the whole reason for the party, again. Congrats again, Mom and Dad!

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