A Mermaid Party

How is it April already? I guess this means I should post pictures of Lydia’s 4th birthday party before it’s completely too late. After all, as she informed me firmly the other day when I told her she wasn’t old enough to do something, “But Mommy, I’m ALMOST FIVE!”

Not sure if 4.25 is almost 5, but that’s a discussion for another day, so instead I give you the invitation for Lydia’s fourth birthday party…

Mermaid Party Birthday InvitationI am proud to say that I purchased some mermaid clip art and then Photoshopped my own invites instead of hiring out this time. I can’t say that it was quick or easy, but I am happy with how they turned out. Lydia was okay with them too, although she didn’t hesitate to point out that the mermaid isn’t a “real Ariel”. Can’t win ’em all I guess…

She was delighted with her party outfit though. I found her dress online at JCPenney (my go-to source for little girls’ special occasion dresses).


And when I say she was ‘delighted’, I mean her exact words were, “I love my new dress! It’s pretty, it has a flower… And it covers my underwear!” Truly, could anyone ask for more?

Besides a fancy outfit, there were also balloons, which Caleb carefully inspected for leaks…

mermaid party balloonDSC_0633

And I decorated the mantel and memory table with pictures of the birthday girl and other mermaid inspired things (bonus points to the first person to find and correctly name Ariel’s two treasures from the movie)…Mermaid party mantel decorations

DSC_0674The dessert table included cake, cupcakes, chocolate covered strawberries, white Sixlet “pearls” and coconut delights (homemade Almond Joys). It was quite a spread!

Mermaid party cake tablewhite sixlet pearls for a mermaid birthday partyLittle Mermaid birthday party cake ombreThe candy seashells on top of the cupcakes, the favor bags, and of course, Ariel walking on the sandy beach next to the cake were all quite thrilling for our birthday girl. She could hardly wait until it was time to slice the cake so she could steal Ariel off the cake stand.

mermaid birthday party seashell cupcakes Ariel on a Little Mermaid Birthday Cake

Little Mermaid party favor treat bagsI wish I had gotten more pictures of the actual party for you. Suffice it to say that I was a bit busy in the thick of it, but it seemed like all the guests had a good time and enjoyed the seafood appetizer spread. Lydia herself was more interested in the presents and blowing out the birthday candles, but who can blame her?

DSC_0889DSC_1042Life sure is grand under the sea…


Happy birthday to my four (I mean, almost five) year old girl!

PS. If one BobbleHeadBaby celebration isn’t enough for you, visit my Parties Page to view them all!

A Clifford the Big Red Dog Party

This is a little later than I had intended, but I must share the details from Alethea’s 5th birthday party. As requested by the birthday girl, we went with a Clifford the Big Red Dog theme. Some people who heard about the theme choice expressed surprise that Alethea was still interested in Clifford. While it’s true that all things Frozen have recently become her obsession, Alethea still has a soft spot for Clifford in her heart.

Using my selected color scheme of red, yellow, blue, and white, I practiced my Photoshop skills and was pleased with how her invitations turned out.Clifford Party Invitation copy 2

The cake table was covered with deliciousness including chocolate and lemon cupcakes, dipped pretzels, little cups of puppy chow, and the birthday girl’s request… a giant bone shaped cake.Clifford the Big Red Dog Birthday Party Cake TableClifford the Big Red Dog Party Dessert Table Puppy Chow for a Clifford the Big Red Dog Party

My friend Jen made the bone cake and another friend, Erica, made the cupcakes. Pure homemade scrupmtiousness all the way around. And did you see that I snagged a red “5” candle at Party City? I couldn’t believe my good luck that the number I needed was in the perfect color! Clifford dog bone birthday cake
Clifford the Big Red Dog Party Cupcakes

Clifford and his stuffed friends all attended the party. The paper hats were another Alethea request. A little tricky to get them to stay on, but don’t they look festive?A Clifford the Big Red Dog Birthday Party

Alethea joined her pals up on the mantel for a quick photo op just as the party was starting. (I found out that it’s hard to locate a red dress for a little girl in the spring, but was fortunate to track down Alethea’s party outfit on eBay a few weeks before the big event.) If you look closely at the pictures, you will notice that Alethea’s memory table this year featured photos from each of her past birthdays. Also, if you’ve got an eye for such things, you may notice one of the home improvement projects that has been keeping me busy this spring. I’ll give you a hint, it rhymes with shmantel.DSC_9589Clifford the Big Red Dog Birthday Decorations   DSC_9579

The party menu consisted of, what else, hot dogs, with plenty of toppings and sides. I did silverware wraps to make it easy to create a custom hot dog and carry utensils at the same time. The favor bags contained a variety of Clifford items (stickers, pencil and party blower) as well as generic items that fit the color scheme (bubble tube and candy).Hot Dog Bar for a Clifford Party Clifford the Big Red Dog Wrapped Utensils  Clifford the Big Red Dog Party Favor Bags

After everyone had full tummies, we moved on to opening presents. Alethea seemed to enjoy all her gifts, but Aunt Leah scored major points by giving her the light up LED unicorn Pillow Pet that she’s been asking for since December. I think she’s a rather homely unicorn myself, but Alethea is over the moon about her, and has lovingly dubbed her “Glowy”.DSC_9622  DSC_9649

Once all the presents were opened, it was time for the cake. Alethea blew out all the candles and then decided that she wanted part of the paw print for her slice, which she ate along with a pretzel, some ice cream, and a cup of puppy chow. Sugar rush!DSC_9660  DSC_9664DSC_9693

And that’s how we celebrated Alethea’s Big Red 5th Birthday. It sure was a good one, although I can hardly believe I’m the mother of an almost kindergartener. Where does the time go?!?!

PS. To view more BobbleHeadBaby celebrations, visit my Parties Page!

A Princess Party!

Our little Lydia just turned three years old and, as requested by the birthday girl, we had a princess party to celebrate! As I’ve mentioned before, we haven’t necessarily encouraged the love of princesses at our house, so I kind of surprised myself in how much I enjoyed preparing for this party.

Hear ye, hear ye, this was the invitation (which is displaying really washed out for some reason, grrrr):
Lydia's Princess Party blurred

The cake table was my favorite part, with dipped pretzels, cake batter flavored easy gourmet popcorn and gorgeous cupcakes made by my friend Erica. I recycled the pink fringed streamers from Alethea’s Frances the Badger party and added some smaller silver streamers for a contrasting backdrop.Princess Party Cake Table with CupcakesPrincess Birthday Party Cupcakes with Tiaras Pink Princess Party Pretzel Treats

What do you get when you combine repainted autumn pumpkins with a glass slipper and snowy trees? I’d like to think I achieved a Cinderella-meets-Enchanted-Forest theme, but maybe it just looks like I’m too lazy to take down all of my Christmas decorations. Either way, this is how the mantel ended up looking:  princess party mantelhappy birthday chalkboard cinderella party decorationsCinderella pumpkin

As noted by the party guests, the pumpkin coach could have been improved if it had four wheels instead of only two and if I’d actually carved out the door and windows instead of drawing them with a Sharpie, but I was trying for fast decor on a “use what you’ve got” budget, and as a bonus, the girls got to participate by each painting a “wheel” silver and were they ever thrilled to get in on the decorating.

There were a few other details like the chalkboard in the dining room, the birthday girl photo display on the console table, and of course something fabulous for the guest of honor to wear.
princess party chalkboard photo displaypink princess dress

When it was time for the party to begin, Lydia accessorized the dress with her frog slippers to everyone’s amusement. Speaking of amusement, Lydia thought it was so funny that her cousins gave her 18 big packages of fruit snacks, which she unpacked from the gift bag and carefully placed in a pile…. one…. by…. one…. DSC_7545  DSC_7551

Other gifts included a bunch of great clothes, some cute accessories including a new crown, craft supplies, a couple books, a vet bag with a puppy that makes various doggy sounds (Lydia was in LOVE), a hula-hoop that makes for great twirling and a blue rubber bouncy horse named Rody (because every princess needs a equine companion).DSC_7578  DSC_7590

After presents, it was time for cake. Lydia picked one with a crown, a chocolate one naturally, because she is her mother’s daughter, and then proceeded to blow out the candles all by herself.
princess birthday cupcake  DSC_7603

Then there was nothing left to do, but eat the cupcake and try on the mini tiara… while still wearing a crown. Too much bling, some might say, but really, is there such a thing?
DSC_7618  DSC_7632

So there you go, Lydia’s Princess Party for her third birthday, which means I am now officially the mother of two preschoolers! Yikes!

To view more BobbleHeadBaby celebrations, visit my Parties Page!

A Frances the Badger Birthday Party

So sorry to suddenly drop off the face of the blog planet.  The weather has FINALLY turned here in Minnesota and the girls and I have been spending every free minute outdoors.  That added to Peter’s birthday, Mother’s Day and the fact that our fence is being installed (yes, we are actually getting the long awaited fence) has added up to not much time for blogging.

But I’m back this evening, blogging from my front porch.  The birds are singing and the bugs haven’t started biting yet.  Oh how I adore spring!  Baby animals chattering, flowers and plants poking out, I’m in love with all the world.  Except for the rabbit that ate four years worth of growth off my Trillium.  That bunny can die a long, slow, painful death from all of the Lily of the Valley that he also greedily devoured.  But other than him, yes, I’m in love with all the world.

Anyhow, enough about the weather.  Back at the end of April, we had Alethea’s birthday party.  Lately she has been enjoying the Frances books by Russell Hoban, particularly A Birthday for Frances.  Thus her request for a “Frances party”.

For those of you who don’t know, Frances is a badger and the books were written in the 1960s and 70s, so not the sort of theme where you can just run into Party City and pick up a bunch of theme appropriate paper goods.  Instead, I used the color scheme from the book’s cover (pink and green), and taking as many cues from the book as possible, here’s what I came up with for invitations, decor and favors:

After last year’s bumblebee extravaganza, which was super fun, but also a bit crazy, I decided to go for a much smaller, mostly family guest list and I e-mailed out the invites instead of getting them printed up.

Peter gave me Photoshop Elements for Christmas two years ago and I think I’m just finally getting the hang of it.  I have to admit that I was almost giddy with pride when I managed to change the name on the cake from “Gloria” to “Alethea”.  Photoshop rookie for the win!

With the guests invited, I moved on to the decor.  I knew I wanted something special on the mantle, but didn’t want to totally revamp my spring decor, so I changed out my Easter chalkboard for a birthday themed one…

Also on the mantle was a balloon bouquet.  Alethea specifically requested a “Frances balloon” and I know she was thinking of a mylar balloon with a Frances badger on it, but since the only badger balloons I could find featured the slightly scary Wisconsin badger, I decided to go with the next closest thing, which was a plush badger holding balloons…

Alethea was very excited that Frances actually came to her party and was even wearing a custom made party dress thanks to Gramma Denny.  Frances appeared the morning of the party, but I told Alethea she had to leave Frances up on the mantle until she opened her presents.  So instead of playing with Frances, she stood looking up at her and said things like, “I’m so glad you’re here, Frances.  You have balloons!  Two green and one pink!  We have more balloons over here, but these are MY balloons.  Those three are yours.”  I always have to laugh when I listen in on Alethea’s conversations with her stuffed friends.  Those plush animals are so very real to her right now.

This year’s memory table (aka the console table behind the couch) held the usual assortment of pictures from the previous year, as well as another chalkboard and two Frances book covers that I printed out for the occasion.

The food and beverage stations featured more Frances book covers.  The menu for the evening was spaghetti and meatballs and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  If that menu sounds a bit odd, it might be because you’ve never read Bread and Jam for Frances, in which case, let me recommend that you do so, because it is one of the best children’s books of all time.

I took the favor ideas straight out of the book, which were party poppers and little baskets of gumdrops and chocolate covered raisins.  (Actually in the book they are chocolate covered peanuts, but choking hazards and kids birthdays aren’t a great mix.)  I DIYed the baskets using these instructions.  And my neighbor and I put together the party poppers with these supplies…

I found a place online to buy the cracker strips.  They weren’t as loud as I thought they’d be, more of a ‘pop’ than a ‘bang’, but maybe that was a good thing.  In the end I think we used too much tape to hold everything together, so they were a little hard to pull apart.  The kids didn’t seem to care though, they were mostly interested in the goodies inside.

Another of Alethea’s requests was a cake “just like the one in the book”.  I knew I’d never survive all that piping, so I had my friend make the cake and she did an absolutely amazing job.  It was beautiful and also gynormous since she used two 12 inch rounds!

Alethea was quite pleased with the end result!

And here is what the cake table looked like once I got everything put together.  (Plates and napkins from Target, doilies and oversized pink candles from Party City, big fringe streamers DIYed using instructions here.)

Whew!  There you go, my best attempt at a Frances the Badger birthday theme.  And now, since this post is already way too long and it’s getting late, I’ll have to get the actual party pics up later, but never fear, they are coming.

Thanks for stopping by to share in the fun!

To view more BobbleHeadBaby celebrations, visit my Parties Page!

TATT: Party Decor Tricks

Two weeks ago I hosted my first (and maybe only) ever direct marketing party.  I’m not generally a huge fan of this sort of gathering, but I do love my Norwex cleaning products, so when a good friend decided to become a consultant, I thought, “Hey, why not?” and hosted her first party.  And what do you know, it actually was a lot of fun!

Anyway, since my house was still decorated for Valentine’s Day, I decided to stick with that theme for the food table and here are a couple quick and easy tricks I used to achieve my V-day themed display.

Trick #1 – Scrapbook Paper Table Runner
This is a trick that I’ve been using at every party I’ve thrown for a while now.  I take three sheets of scrapbook paper that tie in with the theme/colors of the party, lay them down on a diagonal across my kitchen island and secure them with a few tiny bits of double-stick tape.

Voila!  Instant party themed table runner for under $1!

Trick #2 – DIY Tiered Cupcake Display
It seems that you can hardly turn on the TV or log onto Pinterest these days without seeing a gorgeous display of cupcakes in some form or another.  After all, cupcakes are the new black.  I naturally find myself drawn to white ceramic stands (preferably with scalloped edges) in graduated sizes that can be stacked to create a tiered display.  So lovely.  But since I bake so rarely, it seems a waste of cupboard space to invest in a set.  Especially when I know about trick #2.

One cake stand, plus a small plate, plus a ramekin turned upside down and voila again!  Instant tiered cupcake stand for FREE!

So there you go, a couple of tips for your next event.  How about you?  What are your go-to tricks for easy party decor?

A Monkey Birthday Party

Last Saturday was Lydia’s second birthday and we celebrated in style with a monkey themed bash.  The guest of honor was upstairs taking a nap while her Grandma Debbie and I were decorating her monkey cake before the party, so she was happily surprised when she woke up and saw it on the dining room table.

Thank goodness for Grandma Debbie (a.k.a. my mom).  I ended up going with Alethea to the ER for several hours the night before the party (she was prescribed an antibiotic, but it wasn’t anything too serious), and was behind schedule on my preparations.  The afternoon of the party my mom and I spent several hours perfecting the cake, and it turned out even cuter than I had planned.  Thanks, Mom!

Lydia thought the cake was really cool.  She was also interested in the candy coated pretzel rods.  These were such a hit at Alethea’s last party, I decided to do them again, but this time in pink.

There were balloons, naturally…

Lydia went with Peter to pick up the balloons from the store and the girl behind the counter asked Lydia if the balloons were for her.  “For my monkey party!” Lydia proudly announced.

I’ll admit that I was tempted to go all monkey-tastic with the food, but since serving an entirely banana based menu didn’t sound all that appealing, we kept it simple with pizzas and a salad, and I contented myself with a palm tree fruit plate as a nod to the theme.

Lydia had fun opening all of her presents.  She really liked the shopping cart full of food from Mommy and Daddy and amused all her guests by carefully unpacking all the eggs, crushing the egg carton and running it over to the recycle bin just like Mommy does.  Monkey see, monkey do…

After presents came the cake and she blew out both candles all by herself!

As requested, she got one of the monkey’s ears, and she thoroughly enjoyed it…

So all in all, it was a fun party and I think the birthday girl had a blast.  I mean, a monkey head cake and a bunch of balloons, what more could a girl ask for?

To view more BobbleHeadBaby celebrations, visit my Parties Page!

Running a Marathon

Our weekend was sort of insane, but so much fun.  I feel a bit like I’ve just completed a marathon.  I mean, not that I’ve ever come close to running that far.  I know, I know, my runner’s physique had you all fooled, but I really am tired.  In the 48 hours between Friday and Sunday evening we squeezed in: a bonfire 30th birthday party for Peter, my piano studio student recital, shopping for Mother’s Day gifts, a little work on our front porch sprucing up project, a second bonfire (this time with some neighbors), a Sunday morning church service, hosting Mother’s Day brunch/Peter’s family birthday party, some much needed Sunday afternoon naps and finally, a trip to the playground with the girls.

Since I was busy running around like a chicken with her head cut off, I didn’t get too many pictures from the weekend, but here are the best of the few that I did take:

They are building a new house just a few lots down from ours.  Lots of dust around here lately, so Saturday afternoon I moved the porch furniture to the front lawn to spray it with the hose and give it a good wipe down.  It looked so inviting sitting there in front of The Bean that I just had to take a picture.  I’d like to tell you that I then proceeded to grab a glass of lemonade and a good book and sit for a nice long while, but alas, that did not happen.  Instead, my photo shoot was pleasantly interrupted by this little lady who wanted some attention…

I just love taking pictures of my girls.  Can you believe Lydia climbed up into the chair all by herself?  She totally surprised me with that one.  I know it’s such a cliche thing to say, but they really do grow up too fast.

Friday afternoon I was contemplating the best way to serve s’mores at Peter’s party, when the most brilliant plan occurred to me.  (Okay, so it’s not like I managed to invade Troy in a large wooden horse, but I think this idea is a pretty good one too.)  I’ve had this old 7up bottle crate from my grandmother’s basement sitting in my garage for a while now and it turns out it makes the perfect s’more tray.  Toss the marshmallows into clear cups, cut the top couple inches off the plastic graham cracker sleeve, throw them each into a square along with assorted chocolate bars and you’ve got yourself a cute, organized and easy to carry to the fire s’more buffet!

And last but certainly not least, I had to share this picture of Alethea helping Peter blow out his birthday candles.  It just melts my heart!

Happy belated Mother’s Day to all you moms out there!  Hope your day was great!

A Bumble Bee Birthday Party

Last Saturday was Alethea’s long awaited third birthday party.  As requested by the birthday girl, I decorated with a bumble bee theme.

Here’s how the cake table turned out:

A friend of mine made these beautiful cupcakes for the party.  They were amazingly delicious and made for a cute display on the tiered tray I borrowed from her, wrapped with ribbons and topped with a bee I cut out of one of the dessert plates.

Alethea made the coated pretzels herself using some pretzel rods dipped into yellow dyed almond bark.  She did such a good job that every last one of them was gone by the end of the party.

I put together a photo display on the console table behind the couch in the living room highlighting a few of my favorite Alethea moments from this past year.

Peter rolled his eyes when he saw me wrapping the silverware.  A little over the top?  Maybe, but I’m justifying it by imagining that it made it just a tad easier for everyone filling their plates.

I couldn’t resist getting Alethea this bumblebee pillowcase dress I found on Etsy.  It made me a little nervous when Alethea repeated declined any interest in wearing it prior to the party, but when the day arrived she willingly donned her dress.  Buzzzz!

The first order of party business was to eat lunch.  We kept it simple with hot dogs and brats on the grill with easy sides like chips and fruit.  The kids thought it was perfect party cuisine.

Alethea had a lot of fun opening presents.  She got some great clothes, lots of outdoor toys like chalk and bubbles, some stuff for playing dress up, a cute wooden microwave, as well as more clothes and a swing for her baby doll.

Her favorite present though was the trike from Mommy and Daddy.  After stuffing Lullaby and Dee into the basket, she promptly climbed aboard to pedal her way around the kitchen and down the hall.

Alethea probably would have been happy to spend the rest of the party on her trike, but she did get off long enough to blow out her birthday candles…

… and to devour her cupcake.

Alethea wasn’t the only one who liked the cupcakes; Lydia enjoyed hers as well.

At the end of the party, each child went home with a little goody bag filled with bee themed delights – stickers, bubbles, a party blower and a big yellow sucker (Alethea’s requirement).

All in all, I’d say it was a perfect 3rd Bee-day celebration.

Thanks for buzzing over!

To view more BobbleHeadBaby celebrations, visit my Parties Page!

Lydia’s Flower Birthday Party

This year was my first attempt at transitioning from Christmas mode right into Lydia’s birthday party planning.  I think I did reasonably well, although it involved a marathon of cleaning and packing up of Christmas decor.  Much of Friday and Saturday were spent taking down ornaments, hauling out the tree, vacuuming up mounds of pine needles, putting decorations in tubs, vacuuming up more pine needles, putting up birthday decor and of course, vacuuming again, because those pine needles are like cockroaches (only they don’t move and smell better, but still, they are hiding everywhere!)

I decided, with Peter’s complete approval, to go a little simple and just invite family, order take n’ bake pizzas for the food and not organize any games/favors/activities, because let’s face it, Lydia’s too young to enjoy them anyway.  I did let Alethea pick a theme though.  She decided on “flowers” and says she wants her next party to be a bumblebee one, which I believe stems from the girls’ Halloween costumes.  Makes me glad I didn’t dress them in anything too weird for trick or treat!

So here’s what I did for Lydia’s 1st birthday flower themed bash:

The cake was a cupcake creation!  It turned out really cute and I had fun practicing with my rarely used piping tools.

I thoroughly enjoyed my Christmas mantle, but I also have to admit that it feels good to go back to something simpler and less cluttered, and bonus, it left lots of room to put all the presents up there too!

Back in September, I used photos of myself growing up as decor for my 30th birthday party.  Then it occurred to me that it might be a fun family tradition to make a special photo display of the birthday girl/boy of the month whenever there is a birthday.  Will it be a tradition that sticks?  I’m not sure, but two in a row is a good start.  And an enthusiastic response from Alethea makes me feel like it’s a tradition that the girls would appreciate.

She had fun explaining to me in detail what the occasion of each picture was and even got down on the floor to demonstrate after she pointed to the one on the left and said, “This one is Lydia crawling.”

But enough about the decor, I’m sure you are all dying to know what the guest of honor wore.

We kept it comfy and washable with a flower embellished sweatshirt and a pink flower headband.  Lydia wasn’t entirely certain she liked having something on her head, but she did mostly leave the headband alone.

If only the headband had been equally as cooperative.

Despite an unruly hair accessory, Lydia managed to enjoy opening presents and even climbed into the bag of oversized cardboard blocks from Mommy and Daddy.

After everyone sang ‘Happy Birthday’, Daddy helped Lydia blow out her candle.

Then we let her have her cake, and even eat it too!

Had to get a picture of the aftermath, because in the war of Lydia v. Cupcake, there was carnage to behold.  (This shot fails to capture the crumbs smeared on the wall.  Vertical surfaces were not exempt from the massacre.)

So that was how we celebrated Lydia’s first birthday.  It was a memorable event and we appreciated all our family taking the time to celebrate with us.  (And a special shout out to the grandmothers who helped clean up the birthday girl and her high chair!  You’re the best!)

To view more BobbleHeadBaby celebrations, visit my Parties Page!