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How I plan a birthday party

5 Nov

I love love love planning my son’s birthday parties. And it takes me a while to do… and sometimes (always) ends up being a lot of work… but oh so worth it! So, I just wanted to share with you a few things about how I plan a birthday party and what I did for my son’s 3rd birthday. We went with Where the Wild Things Are theme and it was great!

1. Theme – First things first… thinking about the theme. I usually have a few possible themes at a time. I make a choice when we’re about 2-3 months away from the actual birthday dependent on my son’s interest at the time (and now he has an opinion as well 😉 ). I make a Pinterest board (will talk about that next) for every theme. That way, when is time to choose a theme, I have all the ideas I like in one place and don’t have to do as much research/planning.

Example of my Pinterest boards for birthdays

Example of my Pinterest boards for birthdays (Sesame Street, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Where the Wilds Things Are) *Click to see the boards on Pinterest

2. Pinterest board – I pin and pin and pin… every little idea that comes my way.

  • cake – I make my son’s birthday cakes. I’m not a trained cake decorator but can totally put together a cake. Sometimes very kind people will share their creations and even do a step-by-step tutorial. Just search! I followed this tutorial.
  • invitations – I love mailing invitations. I love seeing what others do and use it as inspiration to make my own. I usually also have a Facebook event going (it is a great reminder).
  • food – Sometimes I make the food, sometimes I order out. This year we had pizza and wings from Great Northern Pizza Kitchen. It was great. Specially since the birthday party was around lunchtime.
  • decorations – You can find pretty much an idea for most things that come to mind on Pinterest. Finding ideas for parties is just great… from simple to all out… from DIY to you-can-buy-this-here. You’ll find something for your taste and budget.
  • other – I add activities, favors, costume, etc.

Obviously, not everything that gets pinned, gets done for the birthday… although I wish I could! 😉

3. Make/send invitations – I make and mail the invitations a month-ish before the birthday party.

Inspired by a few invitations I found online.

Inspired by a few invitations I found online.

4. Make cake TIP: Make sure that you allow enough time to finish your cake! This is the most stressful part of the whole birthday party planning. It is hard to predict what’s going to happen. This last cake took me a good 3 days to complete… but a month after the party, I still have people talking about it. Not too bad! 😉

Cake

Love this cake!

5. Birthday Party Day – We are fortunate to have an entertaining room in the apartment complex that we can use for this kind of activity. It is a big room with tables/chairs already set up. There’s also a kitchen. I love it! Minimal setup… we just have to clean at the end. I’ve had birthday celebrations at home before and I feel that there’s much more to do/clean before and after the party. See if you can find a room like that for your next party!

We were able to bring a ball pit, tunnels, and a huge inflatable bowling set. They were all a huge hit with the toddler crowd. My husband did story time and read a couple books including Where the Wild Things Are.

Story time!!!

Yes, he was wearing his Max suit!

Yes, he was wearing his Max suit!

6. Thank You cards – I believe in sending Thank You cards. People take time of their day to come celebrate with us and I think it is a very nice thing to do. I love receiving thank you cards (any kind of cards/letters), so I love sending them too. It is also a great learning experience. Talk to the little one while you write them and explain why you’re mailing cards.

Hope this post helps you a bit on your future birthday planning! 🙂

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Learning to decorate cakes (with Wilton)

28 Oct

Just last night, I finished the Wilton Course 1 – Building Buttercream Skills. I took my classes at Michael’s because they had a special offer when I signed up. Here are some pictures of my projects!

Class 1 Sample

Class 1 Sample

Class 2 Sample

Class 2 Sample – Yellow cake with apricot filling

Class 3 Sample

Class 3 Sample

Class 4 Sample

Class 4 Sample – Chocolate cake with raspberry filling

What I liked:

  • Even though I’ve decorated cakes, cupcakes and cookies before, I liked that there was plenty for me to learn. I’m self-taught, so it is always good to have a veteran decorator give you pointers. The instructor was very patient and gracious.
  • I only paid $10 for the class (plus course materials)! I think it is a great price especially if you just want to give it a try!
  • I love the manual. I think it is very well written and will be great to refresh my memory on some of the techniques. (I wish it included links to videos that showed somebody going through the techniques… just a thought!)
  • I love the course kit. They really provide you with quality materials. It contains all the tools you need. (Although, I ended up buying a cake leveler and a turn table (which I love and think are a must have!).) And I know that I won’t have to buy any of those things again (or at least on a very long time!).
  • I really feel like I can produced a decent buttercream cake! I learned to properly layer and fill a cake. I’m no expert, but I know that lots of practice will help.

What I didn’t like:

  • My classmates were never prepared. This made the instructor have to deviate from the course schedule to accommodate for them. Somewhat annoying.
  • We had schedule issues, so we ended up having 4 classes in 2 weeks. I know this course is offered in 2 classes sometimes. But it felt too back to back for me. Like I didn’t have time to let anything sink in or practice on my own. We had to bake and prepare icing for every class and that takes time as well.

So… I really enjoyed the whole process (don’t let my dislikes discourage you from trying a Wilton class… after all, that was just my experience). Getting ready for class was a bit stressful at times but it got me out of the house and gave me time to learn more about something I’ve always enjoyed. I’ll definitely take the other courses… I’m particularly interested on trying fondant and making gumpaste flowers. If you give it a try, let me know what you think! 🙂

For the love of Pinterest!

23 Oct

I pin, therefore I make!

~Eliany

Homemade Laundry Detergent & the First Load of Laundry

23 Oct

Just a few days ago I made my own laundry detergent (as seen on Crystal & Co.)! It took us (the hubster helped with the mixing) less than 5 minutes to combine all the ingredients. I used the following recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1 (55 oz) box of Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda
  • 1 (4 lb) box of Arm and Hammer Baking Soda
  • 1 (76 oz) box of Borax
  • 3 bars of Fels Naptha Soap
  • 1 (3 lb) container of OxiClean (I used the unscented one)
  • 1 (13 oz) container of Downy Unstopables (I used Fresh) scent (optional)

This is what my laundry detergent looks like! Love it!

Crystal & Co. claims this recipe makes 271 loads of laundry. I’ll try to keep tract of how many loads of laundry I get out of this batch. The ingredients costed $26.67 which makes it a little less than $0.10 per load (can’t beat that!). I love that it makes a decent quantity of detergent, it’s inexpensive, and it smells great! [The first time I made laundry detergent, it was quite a small batch and felt more like an inconvenience.]

Just now, I moved the first load of laundry (washed using this detergent) to the dryer. It came out smelling fresh and clean from the washer. Way better than commercial laundry detergent which has left my freshly-laundered clothes smelling a little funky lately and in need of a re-wash. I’ll keep you posted about all the laundry happenings around here! 🙂

So super easy Fro-Yo!

18 Oct

On one of our recent trips, we ended up on an airport with a Pinkberry! Yum! I love me some Pinkberry frozen yogurt… the plain original kind. We don’t have a Pinkberry where we live, so I indulged. It was great! But, I had “the” thought… “You know what!? I can make this at home! And cheaper!”

So, I looked online for a base recipe. There’s a bunch of frozen yogurt recipes but I found one that is a Pinkberry copycat recipe. I’ve made it twice since then. It is a delicious treat and so super easy to make. I really don’t know how the price compares (gotta look into it), but I know for sure that mine is cheaper. 😀

This is what frozen yogurt looks like when you first put it in the ice cream machine. I have a Cuisinart ice cream machine. It takes my machine approximately 25 minutes to bring the yogurt mixture to soft-serve ready-to-eat consistency. Note: If you put it in the freezer overnight, the frozen yogurt will get hard as a rock and pretty impossible to scoop. You’ll have to let it sit on the counter for a while. Ask me how I know!

20131018-085812.jpgI like mine with fresh strawberries and chocolate chips. The possibilities are infinite when you think about toppings. Go crazy!

20131018-085827.jpg

Note: The first time I made the recipe, I used FAGE greek yogurt and it turned out delicious. Perfectly tart and tangy! The second time I made it, I used store-brand greek yogurt… it was good but not as flavorful as the first time around. So, I guess buying the really good greek yogurt pays off if you really want to taste the greek yogurt on your frozen yogurt treat!

Hope you go ahead and try making something new! If you have kids, this would be a great food/cooking activity to do together. Not a whole lot of involved steps… just some measuring (can you say math!?), mixing and pouring!

Which reminds me! If you want to try more cooking with your children, check out Kids’ Kitchen – 40 Fun and Healthy Recipes to Make and Share*Click on the link or image below so you can see some of the cards included. They are a great size (box: 8.5″x6.5″x2″), perfect for children to manipulate, read and follow.*

Kids' Kitchen

Step into the kitchen for some child-friendly fun with food. The forty recipes in this colorful deck are based around the five main food groups, and offer a healthy and exciting way to learn about cooking.

How about, before getting to the cooking part, you and your kids make chef hats! This is the kind of activity that will become a fond childhood memory. Kids’ Kitchen includes a recipe for vanilla ice cream… can’t wait to try it out with my son while wearing our own chef hats!!! 😀

Lifetime Learner

28 Sep

I sometimes wonder what makes a person be so sure of what they want to do professionally. I don’t have that gene/inspiration/focus or whatever that special thing is. I’m more of I-want-to-experience-it-all kind of person. Growing up I was always into reading (all sorts of books and magazines), math and science. I went to schools “specialized” in Math and Science. I went to college and studied Chemistry as an undergrad. Then moved on to grad school and chose Biochemistry. I was never totally sure of what I wanted to “be”. I still don’t know what career I would like to pursue. But, I still love learning about science. Then, I decided I wanted to do something a bit different… and, I went into school counseling. I worked as a counselor for a few years. I liked learning about people and how different and similar we all are at the same time.

After all this schooling, I learned this about myself. I am a pretty good student and can be successful in school… but the bottom line is that I just love learning new things. I’ve taught myself to knit, crochet, quilt, spin yarn, cross-stitch, and soap-making (love the chemistry that goes into it). I love the variety. I love working on different projects. But, I’m still trying to figure out how to harness that love of learning and turn it into the ultimate most perfect career for myself. For now, my focus is being a stay-at-home-mom… the one career that doesn’t include formal schooling but is mostly learn-as-you-go… and I love it.


I also chose Barefoot Books! I recently received my Starter Kit and I’ve been reading through all the books. You might think that they’re just children’s books and there isn’t a lot to them. Oh, well, let me tell you! I’ve been learning so much… from other cultures and traditions to vocabulary and other languages! Right now (until September 30th, 2013… hey, that’s my birthday… can you say birthday gift!) you can get 20% off sitewide by using the code AUTUMN! Don’t miss out. Click on the picture above, explore my online marketplace, and place your order! Don’t forget the code!!! Just to get you started… the Bear books are a big favorite around here. Go check them out. =D

Project Life – Week 4

31 Jan

I might be a bit (or a whole lot) obsessed with Project Life. Absolutely love the process and the results!!! Here’s the spread for week 4.PL Week 4

Something I adore about Project Life is that it has pushed me to pay attention to my family life in a different way. I’m journaling our family. I’m taking more pictures. I’m documenting it all! I really didn’t think we did enough “cool” things during any given week to fill out the weekly spreads… but I was wrong! I’m taking notes of things that are important and special to us. I’m just enjoying this completely.

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