Fox Birthday

Keri is 8 years old!!  Early on, she told me she wanted a fox birthday.  Now, she will deny it to this day.. but, the theme came from the song “what does the fox say” – we loved that song!  She gets embarrassed easily by it now, but loves it when she listens to it by herself.. otherwise, she is quite adamant that she hates that song, ha!  We have had a lot of fun with that song though!!

Anyways, so I knew from about March that she wanted her 8th birthday to be a fox / nature type of birthday.  First thing I had to do was get her outfit made.  I contacted the seller that made her Christmas outfit and wanted to know if she could make the exact same outfit.. just with a fox.  She did, and it turned out to be so beautiful!  Look at how big my little girl is!

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I took the colors from the outfit and basically did her decorations and party around her outfit.  To start, lets look at the invitations!  I found these adorable cards at Michaels and knew I had to buy them and use them!  I also used my Create A Critter cartridge from my cricut to create the fox for the invitation, and this is what I came up with:

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I had a lot of really good feedback from the invitations – a lot said it was my cutest invitation yet!  I loved them, think they turned out to be so cute!

Next, I had to work on my ribbon balls – I know from experience how long these things take to make!!  I decided this year, I would have 2 big ribbon balls, and make 6 little ones for the entertainment center.  It took me about 20 minutes to make each small ribbon ball, and about 3 hours to make each big ball.  Dedicated.. but absolutely LOVE the end result!  Love my ribbon balls!

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For the entertainment center, I made 6 small ribbon balls.  Keri wanted to contribute too!  So, she drew 6 different foxes, and put them beside the ribbon ball.  Very cute!

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My banners – Of course I had to have my classic banners!  Again, using the colors from Keri’s outfit, I made the banners “fit”.  AND, I finally discovered how to stick the banners to the plastic table cloths!  Glue dots!  Why have I not used these before?!  I have tried hot glue, double sided tape, “permanent mounting squares” (they are NOT permanent and do not stick to plastic.. at all!!), regular tape, clear mounting squares, scrapbooking tape, and.. is that it?  Well, none of that works.  The banners always fall!  So this year I thought I’d try glue dots.  Man.. I was so surprised.. the banners all stuck to the table cloths.. and STAYED up!  How cool is that?!  Glue dots rock.  Just saying.

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Food – well of course I had to limit myself to the colors of my choice.. so this is always the hardest.  I needed food that Keri would eat, matched my color scheme, and half healthy.  So this is what I decided:  mini bananas, tangerines, black & green grapes, chocolate dipped marshmallows, apples with cream cheese fruit dip, chocolate graham crackers with brownie dip, oreo cookies with mint chocolate chip cookie dough dip, banana bread, apple squares, and homemade graham crackers.  For drinks, I had bottled water, orange juice, and homemade lemonade.  Nice!  Loved the display.. as always, check this out – turned out so beautiful!

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For that backdrop – I used a sheet from Big Lots – they have a lot of really cheap sheets.  Well, when I say cheap… oh yes, I mean cheap.  Cheap in price.. and quality.  Despite hanging the sheet, I could still see the mini blinds clearly in pictures I took!!  So, I had to hang up two sheets – a thick white sheet.. with the cheaply made gray sheet on top.  It did the job for the backdrop!

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Next, on to the cupcakes and cake!  Keri wanted a chocolate cake and vanilla cupcakes, so that is exactly what I did!  Both are eggless recipes so she can have them, and I think they turned out very cute!  I used the fox from the create a critter cartridge, and made “grass” for the cupcakes.  Simple, but pretty.  For the cake, I took the design of the fox on her outfit, and made that fox.  I asked Keri what color she wanted her cake to be – she said green.. I think it turned out beautiful!  It is covered with marshmallow fondant, green as she asked.  The little flowers – Keri helped me make these!!  We stayed up pretty late one night making these little flowers.  She played with fondant while I did the cutting (well, she actually did half of the flowers, I just rolled the fondant for her) – and she helped me “glue” all the centers onto the flowers – great teamwork – and they turned out so pretty!  The only thing I had to fix was the legs on the fox.  I made the mistake of not using pure gumpaste with the legs – I used a mixture of fondant and gumpaste, so as soon as I removed the paper towel from under the legs.. they broke, ACK!  I freaked out!!  So, I had to get out the gum paste again and make them again!  Here’s pictures of the fox, cake, and cupcakes:

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And here is the table and how I decorated it for the party:

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The mantel – I was decorating this while the house keepers were here.. and had issues with the flowers.  I wanted real flowers, but the real daisies I bought wouldnt fit in the long skinny vases!  So, we went to buy these flowers, and I think they looked really nice with Keri’s pictures there!  Loved how it turned out.

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Party favors!  Oh my… I went slightly overboard.  Okay, here was my honest, original plan.  Seriously.  I had no clue what to do for party favors.  A week before her party.. I still had nothing for her party favors!  Then I realized that Keri wanted a fox / nature party (duh), and what is more nature than bird seed feeders?!  I had all the ingredients, so one night, I made 20 bird seed feeders out of my leaf cookie cutter.  They turned out really cute!  (I know I have a picture.. somewhere.. but cant find it – if I do find it, I’ll update this post to show you what they look like!)

Next, I found these milk cartons at Michaels that I really, really, wanted to work with – Had to have them!  So, I bought them and all the little accessories (tag, twine), and went for it.  I wanted to fill these up with whoppers.  So, this was suppose to be it.. bird seed feeders, and a milk carton of whoppers.  How did that turn out?  Well… I went to Michaels (I go there a lot around her birthday!), and bought some burlap bags for the bird seed feeders.  I also searched everywhere (party city, target, costco) looking for a huge carton of whoppers.  No luck.. so, I bought a huge bag of M&Ms at Party City instead.  Got home with my burlap bags.. and guess what?  The bird seed feeders dont fit.  Nope.  And the M&M bag.. yeah.. it would have taken like 6 of those bags to fill up those milk cartons, and I thought that was way to expensive.. and a ridiculous amount of money.  So, instead of returning the small burlap bags and M&Ms.. I just decided to fill those up with the M&Ms!  It worked!  And, they look cute.

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I went to Michaels (again), and bought bigger burlap bags for the bird seed feeders.  They were a little too big.. but, that was all I could find!  Again, cute!

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Then, we went to HEB, and I saw boxes of whoppers that were buy 2, get one free.  We got six boxes (they are like movie size boxes – the big ones.. so, not cartons, but still a decent size).  I made six of them work.. and filled up 18 milk cartons about 3/4th full with whoppers.  Now, let me tell you something.. these milk cartons ended up being a pain in the royal behind!!!!  They are so incredibly cute, but are ridiculous to close.  The “sticky” tape on there.. does not hold, at all.  I “closed” all of them one night, and in the morning, all 18 of them were open again.  So.. I got out my hot glue gun, and closed them again.  Well, the hot glue gun stuck to the “sticky” side.. and peeled right off.. and didnt stick.. so an hour later.. all were open again.  Ugh.  I finally had to basically gorge the thing with hot glue to get them all to stay closed, was such a pain!!  But still.. cute.

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But wait.. what about the bird houses?  Impulse buy.  I went back to Michaels to buy the large burlap baggies.. and saw the bird houses there for $1 each.  I had bird seed feeders.. I needed bird houses!  Totally an impulse buy.. bought them, what was another $18?!

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Here is the final table.. incredibly cute!

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Next, the signs.  Of course I have to have signs.  I used my cricut and created the fox to make the signs.  The outdoor sign was my favorite though – turned out so pretty.  Just as I love glue dots, I also love spray glue!  Spray glue is how I glued the paper on the poster board.. and on the cardstock – it is easy to work with, and quick to apply.  It takes a while to dry, but I just let them dry overnight and they were done.

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The last picture I’ll leave you with is my beautiful little girl holding her cake in front of the dessert table – she was so pretty, and I love this picture!  Happy 8th Birthday Keri!!

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Fudge-Mania!

Mmmmm.. FUDGE!  I had a Christmas party for a few friends of mine with a special guest (SANTA!) coming, and I wanted to do something special for them.  Normally, cupcakes are my specialty, but I just wanted to do something different.  So, I made 12 different kinds of fudge.  Yep, you heard that right.. 12.  (12 days of Christmas.. 12 types of fudge.. get it?  No?  They were all delicious!)

1.  Chocolate Fudge – This is my fool proof chocolate fudge recipe that I use every single year from Eagle Brand.  It is the best chocolate fudge, hands down!  I make it with Hershey chocolate chips, and it is so delicious!

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2.  Cookie Dough Fudge – This recipe took me a while to find.  I wanted to find an eggless cookie dough fudge recipe that my daughter could have.  Was so happy to find this one!  It tasted like cookie dough too.  It was a little difficult to make, but Keri liked it!

fudge - cookie dough

3.  Peanut Butter Fudge – This fudge was my favorite out of all 12.. it was so delicious!!  Initially, I wanted to make White Chocolate Reeses Fudge, but I searched everywhere and couldnt find any white chocolate peanut butter cups!  So.. searched for a new recipe, found this one, and so glad I did.  Only change I made was using Reeses peanut butter instead of Jif.  This was seriously some of the best fudge I’ve ever had – Try this recipe!

fudge - peanut butter

4.  Strawberry Fudge – This is an extremely simply recipe!  It was good, but it was very frosting-y.  Yes, I know that strawberry frosting is the main ingredient in this fudge.. obviously.. but still, it was a little over the top to me – I still ate it, dont get me wrong, I love the taste of frosting, but it wasnt really fudge fudge.. it just tasted like hardened strawberry frosting!

fudge - strawberry

5.  Butterscotch Fudge – If you like butterscotch.. you will really like this fudge!  This fudge is rich – it has a very rich butterscotch flavor to it.  It was a little overpowering for me, but good nevertheless.

fudge - butterscotch

6.  Chocolate Mint Fudge – This fudge was a huge hit.  I changed it slightly.. didnt do 3 layers (b/c this fudge is a lot of work to actually make), only did two layers.  I did the bottom layer of chocolate, the top layer of mint.  It was very good!

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7.  Cookies And Cream Fudge – My daughter loved this fudge!  It was her favorite.  And, it really did taste like cookies and cream!

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8.  Egg Nog Fudge – We really like egg nog in this house!  Well, we dont drink it all the time, but on Christmas and special occasions.  Lets just say I really like egg nog on occasion – non-alcoholic though!  So, I really wanted to make egg nog fudge.  The recipe just intrigued me.  This fudge is rich.  You can definitely taste the egg nog in this fudge!  My husband, who is also an egg nog fan, didnt really care for this fudge – he said there was something “off” with it.  Yeah, I can see what he means.  You are use to drinking egg nog.. not eating it.  Still pretty good fudge though, if you like egg nog!

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9.  Vanilla Bean Fudge – This was another fudge that was good.. but just a little “off” tasting wise.  It wasnt that huge of a hit with my guests either – they all liked it.. but I think with the huge variety of fudge, it just wasnt one they were navigating towards!

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10.  Chocolate Salted Caramel Fudge – My husband really enjoyed this one.  Me?  I thought it was just okay.  It was very easy to make – one of the easiest out of the 12, but I think of caramel of having that gooey texture – this is fudge, obviously.  So, just didnt set well with me!

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11.  Buttercream Fudge – This fudge is delicious!  I have made it for a few years now, and love it.  It uses frosting as well, but it is very, very good!  The only thing I do differently is use vanilla instead of the butter extract.  Very good fudge!

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12.  Peppermint Fudge – Mmmm!  Peppermint!  Loved this fudge – it was very delicious!  Just note that this fudge will only keep for a day or so until the peppermints start to “melt”.  Very delicious fudge!!

fudge - peppermint

Now – I had 12 different kinds of fudge.  I had to organize them in some way!  But.. how?  Well, I tried very, very hard to have a variety of fudge that my daughter could sample.  There were only 3 out of the 12 that she could not have:  peanut butter, eggnog and vanilla bean.  So, I put all three of these on the same plate – also notice how the cards also have a little green brad instead of red.  Keri was told that these three she could not have – but the ones with the red brad, she could have.

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Spread 2 consists of peppermint, cookies and cream and salted caramel.  As mentioned, the cookies and cream fudge was a hit with the kids!

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Spread 3 was the basics – this was honestly my favorite fudge (in addition to the peanut butter!!).  Had to combine the best fudge all on one plate!!  Below is Chocolate, Strawberry and Buttercream fudge.

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Spread 4, the last spread consists of cookie dough, chocolate mint and butterscotch fudge.

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Notice the little cards that I made for each fudge?  Thought they were cute too 🙂  Love doing this sort of stuff!  You can compare all my pictures to the pictures of the actual recipes all in one spot on my Pinterest Board:  Fudge.  Probably wont make any fudge until next Christmas.. so, until then, enjoy all the delicious recipes wrapped up in one post!

Since this party was all about a Christmas Party.. and Santa.. I think it is appropriate to include a picture of my beautiful little girl with Santa himself!  And yeah.. she eventually came around after seeing all her friends and talked with Santa for a bit 🙂  Was able to get some amazing pictures of Keri and Santa together!

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Kitty Cat Birthday Party: Food Table

My pride and joy.. my little girl.. and the food 🙂  I LOVE baking!  I did a lot of baking for Keri’s birthday party.  In fact, I spent from 7:00am – 9:00pm on Saturday (day before her party) baking!  Loved every moment of it.  Here is a wide view of the food table.. then I’ll break down what exactly is on it! IMG_2326 Well, that shows everything but what is on the right of the table.. the most prized food items, in my opinion.  But, it does show the strawberries and fruit dip there.  This was something that was unexpected to make.  I did not, and was not, planning to make this or include it (it is RED!  Not pink / purple!  Yes, I’m that weird) – but my husband requested that fruit dip.  I am so glad that I made that fruit dip because it was the most complemented item on that table!  And, here is the recipe if you want it:  Cream Cheese Fruit Dip. The next complimented item was the homemade kitty marshmallows.  I used this recipe:  Homemade Marshmallows – and cut the marshmallows using a little kitty cat cookie cutter.  Everyone loved them! IMG_2318 Notice the little food cards?  They are so cute!!  Love those little cards.  Next, I made homemade cat graham crackers.  A lot of them.  They are delicious!  Recipe:  Graham Crackers. IMG_2319 To keep with the health items.. I made homemade chocolate chip & marshmallow granola bars.  I was so happy these were a huge hit!  Recipe:  Granola Bars (I used mini chocolate chips and those itty bitty marshmallows like you put in hot chocolate instead of raisins). IMG_2317 Next, candied popcorn!  This recipe I made just a couple hours before the party.  It was easy to make, and I thought it tasted good, but it wasn’t exactly a big hit at the party for some reason.  I’m not sure if this because it was sticky or chewy, or not sure.  But, still looked cute!  I got the little purple popcorn boxes from Oriental Trading.  Recipe: Candied Popcorn IMG_2323 More semi-healthy food.. that of course, match the color scheme, is yogurt covered pretzels.  These are available at a store right down the street from me, and the kids always seem to like these! IMG_2244 Next, chocolate kitties!  Well, not exactly chocolate, but they are the vanilla candy melts – I just bought pink and purple.. and a kitten mold, and made my own!  Of course the kids devoured these: IMG_2247 Lastly, fruit.  (Not exactly lastly, you can see all the cakes here:  Kitty Cat Birthday:  Cakes).  I had my step son and his girlfriend cut the watermelon into thin slices and with the kitty cat mini cookie cutter and a mini flower cookie cutter cut a bunch of shapes out.  So, we had strawberries, fruit dip, watermelon and grapes! IMG_2314 The food table was quite pretty – I really liked this one!  But now you have the drinks.  I did not make the labels on the bottled water – A seller from Etsy made them for me.  They were definitely complimented, and many thought that I made them myself since I made the zhu zhu ones last year!  But, I didnt have time to make it this year, so had to buy them.  Think they are cute! IMG_2325 Lastly.. kitty milk!!  Now, this picture doesnt show the milk in the bottles, but that is on purpose.  I did not fill the bottles up with milk until right before I gave the drinks to the kids.  But, Keri’s favorite drink is milk (by a landslide!) and kitties drink milk.. hence, milk instead of juice boxes!  I tied on a ribbon to the bottle and added those paper straws that you can buy from Etsy.  Very very cute set up – love it! IMG_2333 And just a silly picture of me and my birthday girl.. I was trying so hard to get a picture of me and her – and she was just soooo excited!  This picture is a cute one – and shows us in front of the food table!

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All that is to talk about now are the cakes!  Kitty Cat Birthday Party:  Cakes

Kitty Cat Birthday Party: Decorations

It’s a kitty cat birthday for my little 7 year old!  She requested a kitty cat themed party with the primary colors being pink and purple.  So, let’s start with the invitation (of course the personal information is blacked out, but adorable invitation!).  This invitation was not made by me, but from an Etsy seller Lollipop Prints.  It is adorable!

Kitty Birthday Keri

That part was easy.. but what about the decorations?   I had to use a lot of decorations from last year, but did make some pink / purple triangle banners as well as a happy birthday Keri banner.  This is the food table:

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More about what was on the dessert table in this post:  Kitty Cat Birthday Party:  Food Table.  But, here are some other views of the table – Love how pretty it is!!

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Note the backdrop?  A friend made that backdrop for a baby shower I had for a dear friend last year (the Owl Themed baby shower) – and I’m reusing it for Keri’s birthday party!  It is being held by a PVC pipe stand that my husband built for me.  It is amazing!  Love that backdrop and what my husband built to hold up my backdrops for my food / dessert tables!

And the island – it has to have decorations too!  Notice the ribbon balls??  Yep, they are from last year!  All I did (while at school in right before clinicals), was switch out the bright blue and bright orange ribbons to pink and purple… just to match the theme a little bit better!

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Now, what I did not take pictures of were the signs, but, you’ve seen those before.  They are the same signs I used last year except the zhu zhu is changed over to a kitty.  Nothing too exciting, so will spare you that.

But, lets get on to something more exciting, shall we?!  The food table!!

Kitty Cat Birthday Party:  Food Table

Valentine’s Day 2013

I’m behind!  The last post I posted was about the Elf On The Shelf.. and it isnt even complete.  Still working on that, promise.  Today’s post is playing catch up – celebrating Valentine’s Day!

Keri’s school doesnt celebrate Valentine’s Day – boo.  Still love the school 🙂  So, how does she get to enjoy the exchange of valentines?  This is something all children do!  Well, we do a little valentine’s day party through her playgroup – and she loves every bit of it.

I always do something special for the valentines.  The past 2 years, I have homemade valentines.  One year, I made chocolate hearts with a personalized valentine that had a picture of Keri and the friend the valentine was for.  Last year, I made valentines with little animals on it using my cricut.  This year.. I didnt have time.  I’m in nursing school!  But, there is a way to be cute.. just not homemade cute, but store cute.  Here is what I did.

In my craft box upstairs, I had these little hearts that I needed to use.  So, I took candy hearts and filled them up.  They looked a little like this:

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I put a bow on them.. and secured the candy in the heart with a little band on them:

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Next, I needed a little bag to put them in.  I found these adorable animal and heart bags at Target that was a perfect craft project for my daughter to assemble.  Here she is working on them.

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Next, she had to personalize them!  She wrote every name of her friends on the back.  She is getting good with her writing!

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Here is a picture of all the little animals together – sooo cute!

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Couldnt have asked for a more cuter little project for my 6.5 year old to do!  She loved assembling these and they were the perfect age appropriate valentine day project for her.  Her friends at he party loved getting them too!  She chose the fox for her own:

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But now we had to make a valentines day box to put all those valentines in!!  This is where a shoe box comes in.  Amazing how creative you can get with a shoe box!  I took a shoe box of Keri’s shoes and spray painted it pink (had to be pink, what other color?!). Next, I cute a rectangle in the lid and outlined the cute with ribbon (the cut wasnt straight, so the ribbon just hid the jagged edge of the cut).  I put jewels in each of the corners to conceal the edge of the ribbon.  I printed out her name with the cricut machine as well as a couple animals she wanted.  She wanted an orange kitty.  Why orange?  I have no clue.. had to be orange.  Okay then!  She also wanted two hearts on each side of the cat.  After all this.. it was now Keri’s turn to decorate it!

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Here is the finished box.. ready for the party!

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Party was a success!  Sort of.  Keri had soccer practice that afternoon, and I gave her the option of skipping out of soccer practice (where, I would actually come pick her up from school about 10 minutes early), and go directly to the party – she didnt want to!  She wanted to go to soccer!  I told her that we would be about 45 mins late to the party.. and her friends would only be sticking around for about another 45 mins – she was okay with that.. so, that is what we did.  The weather was brutal too!  It was soooo cold!!  It was an excellent turn out, and everyone stayed until we arrived to exchange the valentines, but they left shortly after.  It didnt bother Keri – she saw her best friend, Hailey, at the party and was thrilled to get her valentines!

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Lovely little soccer outfit, eh?  Very valentine like.. not.  Tis okay – shows her personality I think.. 🙂  Here she is surrounded by all her valentines:

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And.. when am I typing this up – May 4th, awesome.  Nursing school, BLAH – I need more time!!  Only reason why I am able to type this up now is because I have a week long break where I have the time to do so – thankfully!!  Trying to get all caught up.  Anyways, 3 months after the party, we still had valentines candy left over.  Pretty sure I just threw out that candy a couple days ago when I picked up my scrapbooking room too.

A couple days after the party.. it was valentines day!  Time for gifts!  I searched for the perfect valentines day gift to get Keri and came up with the following:  little pink elephant (which, Keri named “elfy”), owl craft, lots of stickers, chocolate covered oreo (which.. she didnt want / like, so I ended up eating it, ha!), chocolate from the chocolate factory and a cute puppy valentine necklace.  Here she is opening up the gifts:

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Pretty smile 🙂

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She was looking at the puppy on the bracelet here!

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And.. all her gifts.  Ohh, and fake hair strips – you can see those in the picture too.  She never wore them, but they were still cute, had to get them.  She will wear them, eventually – she always does!

Well – that was valentine’s day for 2013!  A lot of fun.. and so much chocolate!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas Books Advent Calendar – 2012

We have never really done Advent Calendars  the traditional way for Christmas.  I think the most traditional way to do it is to each day open up a little flap / box / etc. that contains a piece of chocolate or candy.  Well, I just didnt want my daughter to have a piece of chocolate / candy every single day for for the month of December!  So, it has been a challenge finding advent calendars that work.  In 2011, we did the Play Mobile advent calendar.  This year, I decided to do Christmas books.  It was an investment, that is for sure, but I think it was well worth it..  because now we have so many Christmas books to read year after year, and this is something that can be passed on to my grandchildren (a million years from now!)  –  I was very excited to do this.

So, what I did was take 24 books and wrapped them up in brown packaging paper.  I used Christmas ribbon to decorate the books and made handmade tags.  It took a lot of work, and something I am so proud of.  I took a picture of all the books – but it was hard to get them all in the picture.  So, what I decided to do was take a picture of Keri holding the book every single day – and there is the advent calendar 🙂

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What books did I choose?  Oh my, this was so hard!  There are hundreds of Christmas books out there, and to limit it to just 24 was so rough.  These were the books I chose (and why I chose them).  Also linked to Amazon so you can see the reviews (or buy them yourselves!).  I bought almost all of them off Amazon – just a few I had gotten elsewhere (eBay, book store, already had, etc.)

1.  The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree:  An Appalachian Story by Gloria Houston, Barbara Cooney – This story is about a family giving a Christmas tree to the townspeople.  Papa was sent away to war, and Mama and the daughter were worried he wouldnt be home in time for Christmas.  They decided to go get the Christmas tree and bring it to the townspeople themselves.  The daughter was dressed up as an angel (nice touch to the story – signifying the angel at the top of a tree) – and Papa shows up on Christmas back from the war.  It is a heartwarming story!

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2.  Santa’s Reindeer by Ron Green, et al – I loved this book because it goes page by page with every single one of Santa’s sleigh team.  It describes the history of each reindeer, why they are on the sleigh team, what their attributes are, and is an excellent book to get to know the reindeer.

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3.  The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson, Laura Cornell – This one is a classic, I had to have it in our collection, enough said!

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4.  The Spirit of Christmas by Nancy Tillman – I chose this book because it is a beautiful story about what Christmas is all about – the spirit of Christmas.  It is a story about what the Christmas season means and everything that comes along with the season.

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5.  Snowmen at Christmas by Caralyn Buehner, Mark Buehner – This is just a fun book about what snowmen do at Christmas time!  (I have a thing for snowmen, so had to have this book!)

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6.  Santa Claus – Rod Green, et al.  –  This book is written by the same author as Santa’s Reindeer and has the same concept – it is one of my favorite books!  It describes in length all about Santa Claus.  It gives his history, information about his workshop, how Christmas works, etc.  It is an awesome book that gives a biography version of Santa Claus!

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7.  Why Christmas Trees Aren’t Perfect by Richard Schneider – This one is such a great story about Christmas trees!  It is about a Christmas tree that is perfect in the Queen’s eyes because it is slumped over, branches are missing, the leaves are disheveled, etc. – all because the tree was providing food for a reindeer, shelter for a bunny, and a branch for a bird.  The Queen saw all of the Christmas tree’s imperfections and saw it wasnt imperfect at all.. but the little tree’s heart was indeed what made it the most perfect Christmas tree of all – very empowering story of what kindness will get you!

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8.  The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski, P.J. Lynch – I chose this book to go along with my daughter’s age level.  It is meant for lower elementary kids (reading wise) and I thought the story was a nice one – a boy who is being mentored by an angry wood carver to learn how to carve himself, and in the end, the angry wood carver really is a good and true person – awesome story.

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9.  The Gift of the Christmas Cookies by Dandi Daley Mackall – This is a heartfelt story about how a family baked some cookies for the church service.  There was one cookie left, but then a stranger appears at the door very hungry.  The boy gives the cookie to him, without having a cookie at all.

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10.  The Light of Christmas by Richard Paul Evans, Daniel Craig – This story is one that touched me – a little boy goes to the town for the lighting of the Christmas tree.  Once the gate is closed, no one can get in.  He goes to town and sees what appears to be a homeless man lying on the ground.  Everyone else walks past – the boy stops and helps out the man.  The story is one about hope, and the the lesson of helping out others – loved this story!

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11.  Santa’s Favorite Story:  Santa Tells the Story of his First Christmas by Hisako Aoki, Ivan Gantschev – Santa tells a bunch of animals about the very first Christmas – Christmas isnt just about gifts, it has a much deeper meaning.

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12.  The Twelve Days of Christmas by Laurel Long – Having this book was vital!  This book was given on December 12th, obviously.  I chose this version because I loved the illustrations.  They are so beautiful and really captured the twelve days of Christmas.

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13.  Merry Christmas Splat the Cat! by Rob Scotton – Keri loves Splatt the Cat books!  Had to get this one, plus, we always have a big discussion at the end of what exactly is in the big box.  What is in there??

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14.  God Gave us Christmas by Lisa T. Bergren, David Hohn – This is a story for young children, but the story is wonderful.  It is about God creating everything in the world and how we should be thankful for everything – Christmas is a time where we should be thanking God for everything he has done.

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15.  The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg – Keri has seen this movie before, and I loved the lesson behind it – believe.. just believe.  Had to get the book for her! 

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16.  A Bad Kitty Christmas by Nick Bruel – Keri loves cats!  More importantly.. Keri loves the Bad Kitty books, she thinks they are funny.  We had to add this one to the Christmas book collection – she loves the pictures, and the story!

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17.  A Wish to be a Christmas Tree by Colleen Monroe, Michael G. Monroe – This is a beautiful story about a pine tree in a forest that wishes to be a Christmas tree year after year, but the wish never comes true.  Soon, the tree grows too big and becomes very sad.  So, the forest turns the tree into the most magnificent Christmas Tree ever – a very nice story about how the animals of the forest come together to cheer up a friend.

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18.  Legend of the Christmas Stocking by Rick Osborne, et al – This is a story about how the Christmas stocking came about, which is why I bought it.  I wanted a story to show the history of the Christmas stocking since it is an important tradition in our family, and this was perfect!

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19.  Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree by Robert Barry – This is an awesome story about one Christmas tree becoming many Christmas trees for many different families – one of my favorite stories out of her collection.

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20.  Pete the Cat Saves Christmas by James Dean, Eric Litwin – Again, another cat Christmas book b/c my daughter loves cats!  She actually saw this at Barnes & Nobles, loved it, and so I knew I had to get it for her.

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21.  The Nutcracker by Susan Jeffers – Every year, I take my daughter to see the Nutracker at the theater (or, have been since she was old enough!) – so I had to have this story to read right before we went to go to the theater.  I chose this version because of the illustrations – they are really beautiful.

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22.  How Santa Got His Job by Stephen Krensky – This is a cute story about all the jobs Santa had before he became Santa.  Cute story!

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23.  How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss – We have a Christmas tradition that every year on Christmas Eve, we watch this cartoon on the TV.  It has been a long family tradition, and one I cherish!  So, I got this book for her so we could read it before we watched the show on Christmas Eve.

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24.  The Night Before Christmas by Clement E. Moore –  I had to have this story to read on Christmas Eve, it is my favorite story of all and one that all children should have.. point blank!  I chose this version because of the illustrations – they are so beautiful.

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And.. that is it!  It was a pretty awesome way to celebrate each day by opening up a new book and reading that book before bedtime.  A tradition that we started this year and will continue every year – I look forward to the day when Keri is reading me all these books when she is older!  

Becca’s Baby Shower

Baby Time!  A very good friend of mine is expecting her third child shortly.. and I had the wonderful honor of throwing her a baby shower 🙂  I must admit, it was a little difficult to pull this off while attending nursing school.. but I started early, had a wonderful co-host and my vision came through.. it turned out so beautiful!

Another few views of the dessert table.. which was the highlight of the event 🙂

 

 

Details!  Everything was in the details.. and I have a few people in particular to thank, so first.. my lovely co-host, Jeanette!  She was amazing during this baby shower!  I was (am) in Nursing School and only had a few days to do stuff on my own in between semesters, so I bombarded my friend with tons to do.. and she pulled it off 🙂  Thank You so much to an awesome friend for all her help in making this shower happen!

So, what all did we do?  LOTS!  We will start with the crafts!

Notice the backdrop?  I owe that to my awesome husband!  He built a backdrop based on this pin I found off Pinterest:  Building A Backdrop.  However, my husband decided to build it with PVC pipes rather than wood so it would be easily transportable to and from the baby shower (it was!) – we made it 6 feet tall and 8 feet wide.  He drilled a hole a few inches from the top, tied a rope from one end to another and that is how we secured the King Size sheet to the backdrop.  For the decorations, I cut out 4 inch circles from my Cricut (George & Basic Shapes cartridge), used the twine rope to hot glue them into a a banner type thing and secured it to the back where the sheet was held by alligator clips.  Beautiful backdrop!  Thank you hubby, love you!!

 

For the island – I wanted to decorate that a bit.. so, Jeanette had a couple cans that I decorated with scrapbook paper, tied some twine rope on it.. and instant hold for the silverware!  It is elegant, simple, and so beautiful.. took less than 5 minutes to make both of them – awesome!  And the background has the vases that I painted white.  I used acrylic paint – poured some inside, turned the vases upside down to let the paint drip out.. and beautiful effect!  Fake flowers in the vases from hobby lobby 🙂

 

Also on the island were the dessert boxes to go.  You didnt expect all 16 guests to eat everything on that dessert table.. did you?!? Of course not!  Dessert to go boxes 🙂  I bought these boxes a long time ago.. for my daughter’s 5th birthday (about 15 months ago).  I still had 18ish of them.  They would not disappear!  So.. lets make them disappear 🙂  I bought labels at Office Depot, used a foot stamp I bought from Hobby Lobby and decorated the boxes.  This is what I came up with:

For the dining room table, I didnt want a lot on there.  I wanted it to be simple:  simple blue table cloths, baby confetti, and in the center is a beautiful ribbon topiary!  I have made these before.. and love making them, but they are very time consuming!  So, Jeanette did the ribbon part of the ball!  For the bottom – it is simply a flower pot with scrapbooking paper cut and modge podged on.  I used moss for the inside.  Beautiful!

Lets talk about the presents!  In particular, the diaper carried cake.  I found this amazing You Tube Video giving step by step directions on how to make it, and knew I wanted to do it!  It was so easy and only took about 45 minutes to make – beautiful!  I just wanted to do something different.. b/c for Leia and Jeanette’s baby showers, I made diaper cakes – I wanted something new and different.. so hence this 🙂  Included in this diaper carriage cake is 82 size 1 diapers, baby washcloths, onesie, bib, puppy dog lovey, receiving blanket and a big fuzzy blanket.

Lets talk about the onesie bouquets!  My inspiration is this beautiful artist on Etsy – check out her store and what she sells:  Baby Blossom Co.  I did not order these that I made from her, but used her creations as my inspirations – so she deserves full credit her!  Mine were no where near the beauty and elegant (or sturdy!) as hers.. but I tried 🙂  Took forever too!  Huge thanks to Jeanette for helping out with the blankets and clothes used in this project and the diaper carriage cake!

 

Notice those cute little favor boxes there in the above picture?  Lets talk about those!  Those party favors.. oh my.  Will save you the long story, but they turned out beautiful!  And, btw, a few have asked where to get the burlap at, which is at Hobby Lobby.  It is in the fabric section, and expensive (use a coupon!) – but that is where I got it at.  I used my cricut to cut out the tags, stamps to stamp “Thank You” on one side and the date “09-01-12” on the other.  Hot glued everything together.. and beautiful!  Whats inside?  Onesie bird feeders 🙂  Soo cute!  Recipe for the onesie bird feeder is here:  Homemade Bird Feeders.

 

And.. just a shot of the table with the baby Trent banner!  (Note:  On the table to the right are wrapped gifts in brown paper – these are the “sibling” gifts.  Wont give any details about those gifts here, but will try to update that post giving credits soon.  The kids havent opened these gifts yet so do not want to give anything away!)

 

Lastly.. FOOD!  What was on the dessert table you asked?  Well.. okay.. guess I’ll reveal everything 🙂  I made homemade cards for all the items, which are adorable, and all the recipes were amazing too.  Will list the items along with the recipes and pictures (and necessary inspirations / credits) below!  First.. lets start with the cake!

This was a simple white cake with a strawberry cream cheese frosting (frosting recipe on here, cut down on powdered sugar and sub vanilla with strawberry extract) with homemade marshmallow fondant.  The inspiration came from this post:  Baby Shower Cake.  I havent worked with fondant in a while (6+ months), so had some difficulty with the fondant since I was rusty.. but turned out okay.. I guess.. 🙂

 

Cupcakes!  Becca’s favorite cupcakes are chocolate peanut butter 🙂  I found this recipe off Annie’s Eats for Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes, and have made this recipe several times.  The chocolate cake in this particular recipe is dry – I do not recommend it.  Made the recipe twice using that chocolate cake.. and both times it was just so dry.  So, I changed up the cake and used this recipe from Annie’s Eats:  Chocolate Cake.  It was delicious!  Inspiration for the toppers came from here:  Cupcake toppers.  I used fondant to make the flowers and blue colored chips and footprint molds to make the feet.  Cute!

btw – the cupcake wrappers were made using scrapbooking paper and the cupcake wrapper cartridge with my cricut!  Also used them for the fruit cups.  Speaking of which.. the fruit cups 🙂

 

Lets see.. chocolate lollipops!  Loved how this was displayed!  Got the inspiration of using the jelly beans from this post and knew I had to do it.  Found these yellow pails at Target’s dollar section, decorated them, and loved the result!  The chocolate lollipops are just used making the chocolate molds and footprint molds with regular chocolate.

 

Brownie Batter – mmmmm!  This was such a good recipe!  Found the recipe off Pinterest:  Brownie Batter, and knew I had to have it!  It was very good 🙂

 

The homemade onesie graham crackers were also a hit.  Always amazed how well these things are received!

 

Beside the graham crackers were yogurt covered pretzels.  Nope, I didnt make these.. not even going to try 😉  Bought these from Greenfields down the street!

 

Sugar cookies!  Ack!  These things were annoying!  I wanted to do homemade.  I didnt have time.  Jeanette tried them, made them, turned out beautiful, husband ate them all,  told me she didnt have time to make them for the shower, so.. what to do?  Lily’s cookies (who made the zhu zhu cookies for Keri’s birthday), were too expensive.  Just couldnt do it..  did not need 24 cookies!  (They have a minimum order for custom cookies).  So.. what to do.  Sugar cookie bars!  Found this recipe.. tried it.. meh, it was okay.  They were really dense in my opinion, but a few seemed to like them.. so be it 🙂  Not sure I’ll make these again though.. we’ll see!

 

Lets get to a couple things that Jeanette helped me out with, shall we?!  I didnt bake everything.. just not enough time!  So, Jeanette helped me out by baking these delicious lemon cookies.  They are always so yummy.. and so easy to make!!

 

And what is lemon cookies without lemonade?!  Have to have the homemade lemonade!  Jeanette made the lemonade from a true tried recipe – delicious stuff!  Now, this was my pride and joy.. the lemonade bottles!! (Bought Here).  HAD to have these!  I’ve always wanted these.. had to get them!  They are beautiful!!  And of course my inspiration for the lemonade bottles / tags is here – beautiful display!  The 10.5 inch straws were bought from the Esty Store:  Isakay Boutique.  I made the tags myself.  LOVE my lemonade bottles!!

 

Speaking of Etsy.. lets talk about the water bottles.  I did not have the time to make water bottle labels this time!  So.. Etsy to the rescue 🙂  I contacted Modern Beautiful off Esty and they made these water bottle labels for me.  Love them!!

Back to Jeanette!  And.. something healthy, I think.  Cucumber bites!  The colors matched what I needed.. and I needed something healthy to put on the table.  So, found this recipe and Jeanette made them for me!  Turned out so lovely!

 

Back to the sweets.  Last one.. Oreo Truffles.  Mmmmm!  These things are so addicting!

 

And.. thats the important stuff.. oh, one more thing.. the most important thing of all – the guest of honor 🙂  Becca and I at the shower.  It was such an awesome experience doing this for her, loved every moment of it and hoping everyone else loved it to!

 

 

 

Zhu Zhu Birthday: Party Favors

Every party needs party favors to the guests who comes to celebrate!  So, lets do a little math, shall we?  Don’t worry.. you’ll get it 🙂

Zhu Zhu + Party + Guests = ?

Any ideas?  Nothing?  No?  Yes?  Oh c’mon.. think simple.  What party favor goes with a a zhu zhu party..?  ZHU ZHUS!  Of course 🙂

I found these zhu zhus on eBay and Craigslist – all were “used” – but in awesome condition.  I got them for an excellent deal at about $1.50 per zhu zhu.. cant beat that!  In addition, the Craigslist lady also had bedding for the zhu zhus – so all of the zhu zhus had little beds, blankets or carriers as well.

But the zhu zhus needed something to sit in, right?  Of course they do.  I scored these awesome little containers at Target – 2 for $1.00.  They wereperfect!

And those cute little tags.. they turned out so well.  I did the image myself on photoshop.  Took me a long time to do this.. but they turned out adorable!

I wasnt happy with just zhu zhus for the party favors though.. wanted the kids to have something sweet.  Now, I knew I would be very short on time with starting school, so I decided to order cookies from Lily’s Cookies here in San Antonio.  The zhu zhu cookies turned out so pretty – LOVE them!

And here are the cookies displaced on the party favor table – I used a tin thing from Target’s dollar section and decorated it with zhu zhus.. and put all the cookies inside of it.  And of course that is lollipops next to the cookies!

And the final zhu zhu party favor table.. the kids loved this 🙂  I did too!  They turned out so good!!

The sign is a “Thank You” sign  – nice touch to the table 🙂

My beautiful girl with her party favor!  (And for her cookie – I baked an eggless sugar cookie at home, and had the bakery make an extra zhu zhu out of royal icing to decorate it with.  We took off the zhu zhu before she ate the cookie!)  She has wet hair b/c this was after the waterslide and everyone left!  (Hence why the playroom in the background is a mess too!)  My little zhu zhu girl 🙂

Links to more awesome zhu zhu party stuff:

Zhu Zhu Birthday Home

Zhu Zhu Party & Food Signs

Zhu Zhu Food Trays

Zhu Zhu Party Decor

Zhu Zhu Party Table

Zhu Zhu Birthday: Party Decor

Let’s talk about Zhu Zhu Party Decor, shall we?  Where on Earth do you get zhu zhu party decor?  Well.. you make it 🙂  Simple as that, of course!

Once again, TicTacTogs Graphic Designs had a beautiful set of zhu zhus that I bought to make the decor appeared here.  Check them out!!

Lets start with the banners.  The banners in the kitchen surrounding the table and island were little triangles cut with the cricut and I added a zhu zhu on a few to tie it in with the zhu zhu theme.  These took forever to make, but are one of my favorite things out of the entire party – LOVE my banners!!  (I’m a banner person, can you tell?!)

Next the banner for the fire place:

So pretty!  But, that is the just the beginning of the fire place.  Needed some decor to make this fire place looking decent.  But first.. what to do with that ugly center of the fireplace that we never use??  Seriously – we have lived here for 2 years, never used the fire place (why do we need to use it.. we live in South Texas!) – so the night before the party, my husband had a brilliant idea.. chalk board 🙂 My daughter helped decorate it for her party, and it is an awesome idea!

Now what to put on top of the fire place.. flowers and zhu zhus perhaps?  Yep.  Sounds good:

Closeup of vases with the zhu zhu tag (And yes, my beautiful daughter did all the flower arranging by herself!)

The top needed a banner too.. right?  I thought it did 🙂

And now the final view of the fire place – pretty!

We have this bar mantel thing that I needed to decorate, and so I took some baby jars that a friend gave me a couple years ago, modge podged some scrapbooking paper on it, and my daughter decorated them all with flowers.  There were 10 total, here is a closeup of it:

And the entertainment centers needed a little sprucing up!  So, put some zhu zhus in there.. and a couple little flower jars like up above, and tried to make them blend in with the zhu zhu theme:

Lastly.. one of my favorite and most talked about decorations.. the ribbon topiaries.  I made three of these total, and they will be beautifully displaced on my fireplace mantel – they took forever to make and are awesome!  You’ll see more in the other posts 🙂  The base is a flower pot.  I pained the rim a light pink and then used scrapbooking paper to decorate the rest using modge podge.  Love Love Love these!

Links to more awesome zhu zhu party stuff:

Zhu Zhu Birthday Home

Zhu Zhu Party & Food Signs

Zhu Zhu Food Trays

Zhu Zhu Party Favors

Zhu Zhu Party Table

Zhu-Zhu Birthday: Keri Is Six!

One year ago, Keri had a Littlest Pet Shop birthday.  She declared that for her sixth birthday, she wanted a zhu zhu birthday.  I thought she would forget all about it.. because lets face it, there are no zhu zhu party decorations out there.. at all!

It didnt happen.

By Feb / March, she was determined to have a zhu zhu birthday.. so, I decided to accept the challenge and give my little girl what she wanted.. a Zhu Zhu Birthday 🙂

I’ll break the various parts of the party into a few blog posts so it wont be a mile long.. and easier to find 🙂

Once I locked Keri down into a zhu zhu party.. I started to work.  I had so many things to get her.. and to make – all before my school started on May 9th!  Talk about a time crunch.. but I work well under pressure and did so many things for Keri’s party – and other than the cake (will explain later), I’m very happy about how things turned out 🙂

But first.. the basics:  The invitations!  To have a party, you have to have some cute invitations.  Zhu zhu stickers are very difficult and hard to find.  But, I found a graphic designer, Tic Tac Togs Graphic Design, and knew I had to have these little zhu zhus!  I emailed her and bought all the different little color zhu zhus she had.  Loved these little guys!  After I got these little zhu zhus, I went to work on the invitations.. and very pleased about how they turned out:

These invitations were sent out to both school and playgroup friends – one party this year 🙂

Next, I went to work on a Happy Birthday banner and a “Keri” banner.  Pictures are a little dark (sorry), but they turned out so cute and I’m very happy about the end result!

And yes, those are plastic table cloths acting as a back drop on the blinds – they worked beautifully!

You’ll see the other banners I made for the tables and fireplace in different posts – Loved the banners!!

Lastly, Keri needed an outfit!  Granted, I wanted to get PJs and an outfit, but didnt have time for the PJs.  So, just got an outfit.  I’ve ordered custom outfits from one designer, Mimi’s Girls in the past and loved her work.. so, I knew I could count on her to make a beautiful zhu zhu outfit for Keri!  Except this time, Keri wanted to pick all the colors – and she did.  She picked all the fabric and colors for her out.. and looks adorable:

Links to more awesome zhu zhu party stuff:

Zhu Zhu Party & Food Signs

Zhu Zhu Food Trays

Zhu Zhu Party Decor

Zhu Zhu Party Favors

Zhu Zhu Party Table

Preview in the form of a collage of what you can expect to see in the above links 🙂