Tag Archive | pinterest

Party in a box

When we started this semi-impulsive move I looked ahead and saw that there were absolutely 2 birthday’s that would be quite in the thick of things and decided I HAD to give myself a break from doing ‘too much’ for the birthdays.  However, Fiona and Zoe’s birthday shouldn’t really suffer too much from our move so I tried to find a compromise.  Here is what I did.

#1. Since their birthdays are just 2 weeks apart, we found a weekend (the only free weekend day) in between and put their party on ONE day.

#2. We decided to use our new YMCA as the venue since they offered decent party packages and did have our date available so in a nod to the two kids, we actually booked 2 parties

  • Zoe turning 7 had more options based on age so we booked her a 3 hour party that included 1h of swimming, 1h of the bounce house, and 1h in the party room.
  • Fiona turning 5 had fewer options and to stagger the starts we just booked her a 2 hour party with 1h in the bounce house and 1h in the party room.
  • The staggered start meant we could greet each party of kids independently and they moved together as a group and we finished all together in the party room for 2 cakes.

#3. I gave myself a ‘pass’ on making all my decorations and running around to 3 different stores went to Oriental Trading and just clicked around until I had a party in a box. *because of my ongoing relationship with them, Oriental Trading treated me to this build your own birthday party in a box and in return I’m telling you all about it!

I had to be a little creative in some ways and in others there was a super obvious and easy choice but here is the party fresh out of the shipping box (a box I have reused and packed a bunch of family pictures in);img_2867

The EASY part was treat bag!  First I saw the cellophane bags (bottom right) and then I found the face bag (top right) and I just got both.  I hedged my bets about size and quality and in the end I actually used both.  The face bags have a narrow top but are otherwise really cute and easy to fill.  I put Boom Chicka Pop, the most awesome popcorn, into the cellophane bags and that gave me some nice bulk.  The other goodie bag fillings were also pretty easy to hunt up – the emoji stickers, stampers, and pins were all on the theme and good value.

Second most easy were the craft.  There are emoji scratch off crafts front and center on the site.  They really don’t create anything grand but kids really love scratching off the black to make the design and each packet comes complete for the craft so it was just hand one per kid and let them do what they do.

The Harder part was table wear.  Napkins and cups, no problem.  No easy options for plates? I searched emoji and smile and nada in the plate family but then I saw these ninja plates and figured they would work just fine.  I ended up just using some leftover paper plates for the dinner plate so it was all fine and looked festive. **going back today for links I see they have a dinner plate now!  Must have been sold out, but no cake plate so my ninja pick is still a good tip if you are doing an emoji them birthday**

The Hardest part was decor.  I didn’t need balloons because filling a balloon you purchase elsewhere is nearly impossible so I just buy them here.  In the end, I got the plain yellow pennant banner and my sharpie and I decorated while we watched some TV the night before.  Let me tell you, a 200f banner is REALLY long.  It did make the room look emoji theme with only 1 decoration so that is a big impact.  I ended up cutting it so I had a big one on the wall and a small one to decorate the serving table.img_2888


Overall a party in a box + a venue I didn’t need to clean made it a very fun and pretty easy party.  There were questions of service and organization on the part of the Y, but, I’m working on that.  Let’s just say you can’t expect much from teen party assistants….

It is not a secret that Oriental Trading is an easy one stop party shop but now there is proof that in 20min of shopping and a few minutes of assembly you can have a nearly Pinterest worthy party with nearly no effort.

I’m not sure I’ll be stacking parties like this again, it was a whirlwind, but give the time we have it was the best we could do and everyone had a good time so that is what counts.


Don’t fall for Drugs


Last night after I finished up here I got a phone call telling me that Niamh won a competition in school for her grade.  It was for an anti-drug poster and I’m really glad she won, not just because winning is cool, but she has asked me at semi-regular intervals since LAST YEAR why she didn’t win last year and daily since she turned in her poster this year.  She did a good one but I’m torn because it was not exactly original because she got the idea from Pinterest.  On the other hand, I like the use of research tools, and, interpreting the picture on the screen into real life.  It was a real project, she got leaves from the yard as templates and then cut them out of construction paper. She wanted me to draw the tree and I did but I declined to help more.  It came out about how you would expect an artistic 3rd grade project to be.  Maybe now she will get a little more confidence in her art.

I am also glad she won because Zoe has been raking in the rewards from school this week.  My thought is that 1st grade just gives them out more than 3rd, and, Zoe may be an ‘example’ kid in her class.  (I think she saves her crazy for home) because she said she got one today for being the only kid doing what the teacher asked.  Honestly, I would like a little more of that good listening at home and a few less kudos from her teacher, but, she actually is good at just getting things done.  Regardless, Niamh was feeling left behind and not good enough but this came at just the right time.

It also happened that I was able to go to school to see her get the award.  I remind myself I choose to stay home so I could be there for my kids.  They don’t need a super clean kitchen, my contract work is flexible on timing, and if I can I should so I did!  She was double happy to see me AND I was able to get tons of good pictures of all the kids to post on the PTA facebook site.

Today I started the list of what to do before we leave.  I combined culling out the summer clothing, because winter is really here, with pre-packing for the trip and I’m done with 2:5.  If I keep this up I’ll be mostly packed over a week early, that is a new record for me.  There are also a few lingering things like bikes that need to be really put away but fall is seriously the best biking weather.  I think the list is do-able, just need to keep doing.


And with that, I’m off to do more.

Thanksgiving craft

Waaaay back when Pinterest was super new, this was one of the first things I pinned.


titled the craft patch but pin goes to this site; http://makelifedelicious.com/2011/11/waffle-sugar-cone-cornucopia/

Every year I got to thanksgiving and just never got around to doing it, or, decided we had enough dessert and I didn’t want a whole box of cones just to make a few.  This year we were looking for school snack ideas and Vola!  this finally came to the top of the pile.

Since it is for school, I’m not sending a cone of candy, so I decided to fill them with popcorn instead.

I went back to the original pin and read the post and there is a bunch of conflicting information on how to actually bend the cone.  I can’t say the other methods don’t work, but for us this DID work easily.

  1. soak the cone tip in water for 15 seconds
  2. put the cone into a glad ware container (microwaveable and sealable) and microwaved for 15 seconds
  3. Immediately on removing from the hot steamy box, bend the tip by hand slowly and then hold it for a few seconds.
  4. Let dry on the counter


Niamh was in charge of soaking, Zoe handled microwaving, and I did the bending since it was a little hot but not burning.  We did all 20 in under 10 minutes!


We found that the cone really does not hold much popcorn.  Oops!  so we just put a scoop of popcorn in a bag and nested the cornucopia onto it and taped the bag shut for easier opening on the other end.  I didn’t want them ripping the bag and spilling, or, getting frustrated with ribbon.  I happened to have some pumpkin candies  so we added that in too for color.


By all reports the kids liked the popcorn, didn’t actually eat the cone.  Oh well, it looked cool, and I think they were all happy to get something fun.

I’m pretty glad I finally tried this and it was actually really easy so I’m sure I will do it again.

class snack; monster cups


I’m back to having the teacher that does class snack.  Once a month each child brings the snack for the whole class and all the other days you don’t have to worry about snack.  It is something I looked forward to when Niamh was in her class.

The first month we kinda phoned it in, didn’t really have time for anything involved because it was the second day of school .  This month we had time and there is nothing more inspiring than Halloween on Pinterest.  I think the site was MADE for Halloween.  The only down side to Pinterest is that most of the time it is just an image and there are no instructions.  This particular snack really does not need many instructions but some clarification of what I used might be useful to you



Original pin, but, links to a lost page.  The home site is pretty cool though


Our class is 21 kids and we made 3 extra for the teachers.

We used 9oz cups in ‘crystal clear’ (picture is bigger)

To seal the top we used Press n Seal (picture has fitting lids, no idea where she got those!)

It took 8lb of grape to fill the 24 cups.  Seems excessive but, as you know, grapes bunches always have bad ones.  We picked, inspected, then washed

In many of the pictures it looks like they use two marshmallows, but, we used 1 per cup cut in half and instead of drawing on a pupil on the cup we added a raisin.  The cut marshmallow makes a very natural sticky side so sticking the raisin was easy, and, sticking it to the cup side was easy too.



#3 was fired due to inventory shrink….  otherwise an 8 and 6 year old did 90%


We made the cups by;

  1. putting a bottom layer of grapes in each
  2. adding ‘eyeballs’
  3. filling in the remaining space with grapes
  4. closing up with press-n-seal
  5. drawing on smiles with a sharpie

The other consideration to class snack is how easily the child can manage 20+ snacks to school.  Not that I love driving them daily, but, in cases like this the sky (or my weightlifting ability) is the limit because I don’t have to worry about the bus ride.  So, if you found this through pinterest please please consider transport when creating group snacks!  I used one of our many cardboard boxes because we have an addiction to amazon, and, to Blue Apron so we never without a transport box.


This project is super easy if you have the right things to hand.  My 8 year old did the cutting, 6 year old did the pick/sorting and washing (I supervised).  I cut the press n seal but Niamh sealed them all.  I ended up doing the faces because they had to go to jujitsu but maybe I stalled so I could have that fun for myself….

Puppy Party!

Puppy party is a really common theme according to Pinterest, so many ideas I only took a fraction.

According to my favorite developmental book series, this year’s birthday needs lots of quick activities and plenty of loot for the guests.  Apparently 6 is the most self-centered age after 2 (and before 12) and they are all concerned with fairness and/or getting the most.  I can see that with Zoe in some ways but get 10 6-year-olds together and it’s like getting smacked in the face with 3d models from the book.  The loot aspect (their word) was not hard, we already had planned activity 1-3 to include making/getting something that was theirs.  The ‘doggie bag’ at the end was pretty trivial really.


As kids arrive they recommend an independent style art project so as kids arrive they can just join in.

#1 – adopt a puppy – Oriental traders had the best deal so each pup was $1 IMG_8994

#2 – make a collar for the pup – we used pipe cleaners and letter beads.  This one ended up needing a bit of help since the holes were small and some kids are not confident spellers yet but they liked them.  About half the pups were named after the kids, they know how to spell that for sure.  I got WAAAAY too many beads (1pack of 250 and 1 500) but I didn’t want to run out and now I have extra for all my future letter bead needs


#3 – decorate a dog house – I pre set up these boxes and cut out a half circle so the dogs could peek out.  Some kids really used the markers and stickers, some didn’t, but it filled the time nicely as kids were arriving.


Niamh played party game director as they played ‘fetch’ where she threw balls and they ran around the yard.  They also played some version of tag…  They got semi-bored of the games in about 10 minutes and so we did the classic pin the tail on the dog


not that you should have any trouble with this game but things that made it easy for me were;

  • I used leftover double sided tape from another project and left the paper on the ‘outside’ sticky so they could peel away while waiting in line
  • I put the board on the kid easel that way it can be played anywhere, no wall needed


We all went in for a snack – I amended my earlier version by using peeps instead of cupcakes because the frosting made a mess last time and the peeps hold the candy in better.  Unsurprisingly a pretty glass full of candy was well received by the group.



added a gummy bear option for our dairy free friends – good trade because they don’t fall out as easily as hard candy!


While snack was consumed (and many m&ms spilled on the floor) we opened presents – dull to most involved so we kept it snappy and rolled into another little game “doggie doggie wheres your bone” that they played a round or 3 while I got the cake ready.

Top off the party with cake and pre scooped icecream (best party hack ever!  scoop into cupcake papers and keep in a cupcake tray in the freezer until serving) and fruit.



puppy cake – not pinworth but tasty


We had one other activity set up; a photobooth.  Sounds more complicated but it was a tablet on a tripod with a special tablet holder for hands-free use.  I set the tablet to stay on and I activated the voice activation so they could say “smile” and it would take a picture.  I had some props and a backdrop but they moved it a bit to suit themselves.  Given how tech savvy the kids are this was awesome activity.  They took 300 pictures, 8-10 are classically good, and there are a ton that are crazy fun over all for the set up it was a hit.


This took a whole hour and a half, they were not joking about them running through the activities.  However, our education system has conditioned them all to love “free choice” so I told them all that after one group picture they all had “free choice” and there were cheers.  Soon the squeals of glee threatened to take the house down and my friend and I churned out balloon animals and swords to the point where no kid left the party without a puppy a house a collar 2-3 balloon creations the official ‘doggie bag’ and some with a helium baloon (if they asked).  One of our favorite friends left with 50% less because she would forget her head if it were not attached and I found her sweater under a chair and her puppy in the yard etc.



boxes are ‘cupcake boxes’ from oriental trader 


Other than the whole lice thing it was a wonderful party on a great day with minimal fuss.  The only regret is that with this theme Zoe’s extreme desire for a real dog is now cranked up to 110.

Outdoor furniture and decorations (rant)

Ok – I live in Minnesota.  It snows about half the year.  So when it stops snowing/being arctic you have a limited time to get outside and enjoy the really fabulous weather.  It really is nice here in the summer and we have a giant deck, a medium deck, a patio AND a front porch.  The pinterest side of me wants all the really pretty vistas and seating arrangements and planters but the person who hates to spend a ton of money on non-value add things, not to mention a person who really does not have endless time, ends up with a frustrating situation or 10!


  1. Furniture – a whole set of furniture dedicated to outside use.  Things that need moving and cleaning a minimum of 2x a year.  If you are just starting up your collection I would advise you to steer clear of the seats with cushions.  No matter how nicely you treat them after 5 years they are trashed….  I just looked at replacement and the best I can find is $50 a piece.  Good thing I can sew but I would rather some solution that makes these chairs usable without giant bulky cushions to store.
  2. Planters – Winter I can stick some fake pine trees and make them look nice but summer I’m stuck spending a small fortune on flowers or having pretty planters full of dirt.  And there isn’t anything that can be done about spring!  Flowers would die with our temp swings in the spring but pine trees look pretty silly.  I need options for spring…  I’m also going with tomato’s and herbs rather than flowers for the value-add side of things so my guests will have to be ok with dirt for a bit until the plants look like something.
  3. Maintainance – 2 years ago we used deckover for our deck.  It was not inexpensive nor was the painter to powerwash and paint.  Guess what?  there are chips now… not super bad but I’m not pleased that I have to deal with this again.
  4. flower beds and garden – I know this is an entire hobby for some people… I wish those people were near me because I have no idea how to make my space work.  I’m happy for the few plants that come back year over year, I dislike weeding because I am never sure if I’m pulling a plant out so I have to watch it for a while to see what it turns into and that equals a shaggy looking garden.
  5. Oh, and I’m also supposed to have a fairy garden?  WTF Pinterest…  I see why some people hate that site.  Everything is just so pretty but so unattainable without a horticulture degree, a personal greenhouse, and a team for helpers (who help and don’t just dig holes and put sticks in them)

I like our outdoor spaces, I want them to be nice and I’ve been spending hours a day cleaning up winter dirt, dust, leaves, weeds, junk from last year etc and then I get to work on the inside messes too 🙂  I want some brainstorming;


  • maintenance free planter ideas for spring
  • comfortable inexpensive options for replacing cushions
  • plants that grow without fuss

ok go!


I do enjoy this though…

IMG_8692 IMG_8789 IMG_8700 IMG_8439 IMG_8765

Ps.  I just bought wood to make a ‘club house’ see, pinterest has infected my brain, I can’t stop….