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Frozen Birthday Party Thank You Bags!

My kiddo turns 6 this week, and we have been steadily working on all things birthday (well at least I have) for a little while.  I’ve tried to schedule everything out over about a 2 week time frame so I don’t lose my mind.  Plus, it’s not like I don’t have other things to do than plan a kid’s birthday party.  This year, the theme is Frozen.  It’s the thing right now, and my daughter is obsessed!  So, we are having friends over for a Frozen themed birthday party.  My daughter is also obsessed with baking and cake decorating–so we are doing our own.  Homemade and decorated cupcakes will be made later this week–and I will probably share a post on those next weekend.

This weekend, we worked on Thank You bags for her friends who attend the party.  My daughter LOVES Elsa, one of the sisters from the movie (in case you don’t have kids and/or live under a rock).  I found a lovely picture on Pinterest about making bags that look like Elsa’s dress.  So, about a month ago we hit up the craft supply store when everything was on sale, and the supplies have been waiting for us to have time to get them made.  Here is a picture of our inspiration piece.  I apologize to the original poster–there was not a link back from Pinterest.  (If you happen to stumble upon this and you made these super cute bags, let me know, and I will provide a proper link).

 

dc3315814e50b15635bcf63a6d82f26d.jpg 1,200×1,600 pixels

We couldn’t find a package of just blue bags, but we did find some white ones and some great rolls of glittery blue stuff!  I grabbed my trusty glue gun (and had plenty of glue sticks on hand this time) and went to work.

 

These are the supplies we started out with.  Small canvas bags, spools of glittery blue, and felt snowflakes.

These are the supplies we started out with. Small canvas bags, spools of glittery blue, and felt snowflakes.

 

I went for a much simpler look than the inspiration photo.  I took two layers of the blue sparkly tulle and one strip of the blue sparkle ribbon and hot glued them to the tops of the bags.  I did not gather them or make pleats of any kind–mainly because I was going for what would be easiest.  I also decided to move the decoration to the tops of the bags, because I think the kids will be able to use them a little better without fear of tearing off the tulle.  To make them a little “cooler,” (see what I did there) I added the felt snowflakes as a detail near one of the straps on the front of the bag.  I also made a boy friendly version as we have a few gentlemen attending our party with just a large snowflake in the middle.  I am pretty pleased with how these turned out.  And, they only took about 1/2 an hour to make start to finish–including stuffing them with goodies.

The finished "Elsa" bag.  Simple, but fun.

The finished “Elsa” bag. Simple, but fun.

Kiddo stuffed the bags with a few goodies.  We put in small snack bags of snowman shaped marshmallows, a deck of cards (Go Fish, Crazy Eights, or OldMaid), and some cake shaped pull-apart erasers.  While I know some people think gift bags are a little overkill for kids parties, I like to think of them more as Thank You bags.  We will also be adding a little “thank you” message to each bag later in the week, which I will post here as soon as we have one done!

The finished bags and their goodies.

The finished bags and their goodies.

This was a fun project, and it really helps us look forward to the party next week!

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Pinterest Project–Egg Wreath!

I was looking all over the place for something fun to put on our bathroom door for Easter.  Our guest bathroom that my daughter and I use for everyday gets lots of attention at the holidays, because we see it quite a bit.  I realized for the Easter season, we didn’t really have a fun door hanger like we did for the other holidays.  I checked out my usual suspects, Hobby Lobby and Michaels and couldn’t find anything I wanted–and to be fair nothing was on sale yet so the cheap side of me said “no.”  Instead, I planned to use a sort of cute place mat until I found something I liked.  Seriously, I did.  It was held up by a ribbon safety pinned to the back and LOADS of green painter tape.

Not terribly, but not great either.

Not terrible, but not great either.

I was surfing Pinterest one night and ran across the idea of taking cheap plastic eggs and some plastic basket grass and turning it into something super cute. Of course I can’t find the original posting I saw and my pin didn’t save properly, but here are a few of the tutorials I used and their wreaths.

Wreath Example 1

Here are some of the ones I found...

Here are some of the ones I found…

I was grabbing some Kleenex to take to work from a local discount grocery store (allergy season, ugh!) and stumbled upon 18 ct plastic mini eggs for $1 and cute sparkly plastic bows, 2 for $1.  I grabbed 4 packages of eggs and blue bows and completely forgot Easter grass.  Instead, I bought some from Michaels at more than I should have spent–$1.50 per bag.  Kiddo thought it would be cool if the grass was more than one color, so we took pink, purple, and green and mixed them together.  The total amount I spent was $10.50 pre taxes.  You will also need quite a few glue sticks.  Mine were on hand (not figured into the cost), but I used every last one of the 10 or so mini sticks I had hanging around (more on that later).

I am going to warn anyone who wants to take on this project that it will take you longer than you anticipate (I figured 30 min tops).  It took a little more than an hour to make my two wreaths.

Step 1: (after buying supplies) Make a back for your wreath.  I read you needed a sturdy piece of cardboard to glue the eggs to, and luckily we still had this box hanging around from months ago in the garage waiting to be broken down for recycling.  It was so sturdy that it took quite a while for my super (Pampered Chef) kitchen scissors to cut through the cardboard (regular scissors would not have worked).  I recommend using an blade knife if you have one to save time.  With mini eggs, I knew my wreath needed to be small, which fit fine for the bathroom door.  As a template for my circles, I used a large dinner plate and a bowl.  This size turned out perfect.  I wish I would have measured more the inches around the circle.  One of mine turned out a little narrower at the top than the bottom, but once all the stuff got on it, you can’t even tell.

The box and my circle tools.

The box and my circle tools.

Step 2:  Glue on the eggs using hot glue.  You will need an inside and outside row of eggs for the base of the wreath.  Affix them so the wide ends touch.  I tried to line them up in pairs to begin with, and it just didn’t work.  I needed fewer eggs on the inside circle than on the outside, so I just did my outside circle first and my inside circle second.  I’ve seen where people do blocks of color together (all the pink eggs in a row next to all the yellow eggs in a row).  I wanted it to look more random, so I did a repeating pattern on the outside circle and for the inside just tried to make sure colors weren’t right opposite each other.  As far as how much glue, I put a small amount on the back of the egg and stuck it down.  If I had more glue sticks on hand, I would have gone heavier with the glue.  We’ll see how well everything holds over time.

Step 3:  Round 1 of Easter grass.  I took a hand full of each color grass and mixed them together on the floor (unless you feel like vacuuming when you are done, I recommend doing this on a table or a sweepable floor surface).  Then I took a little bit, rolled it into a ball in my hand, squired a little glue in between the “bums,” then shove in your Easter grass.  Some tutorials recommend using a pencil with unused eraser to do so–which will probably save your hands if you use the actual “HOT” glue.  I use the “cool” hot glue, but it still hurts like the dickens if you get it on your finger tips.  When the middles are done, do the same around the edges.  Then trim off any hairy bits you don’t like.  Some of the inspiration photos have much longer grass left on them than I do–pick what you think looks best.

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In progress pictures.  After Steps 1-3.

In progress pictures. After Steps 1-3.

Step 4:  Add the next layer of eggs.  Take single eggs and put them all cattywampus on the space in between the egg ends.  This gives a bit of depth to you wreath.  Add grass to any places that look like they have major gaps.  (The grass adding sections is what took the most time!).  Trim as needed.  Then, add your bow!  I am not a great bow maker, so I tend to find ones I like and buy them.  Luckily, they had these cute plastic bows on the cheap that worked perfectly!  Here is the final product!  You can also attach a hanger to the back if you need it.  My wreath just fit on the command hook that hangs out here for other seasonal decor.

All done!  Fits great on the bathroom door.

All done! Fits great on the bathroom door.

Wreath #2!  We’re not done yet!  It was my intention to make an exact copy of this wreath for my mom as a surprise, but, I needed way more eggs than I realized for the first one.  I had a hand full of mini eggs, tons of grass, an extra bow, a wreath cut out ready and waiting, and a limited glue supply.  Now what?  I took a bunch of the grass and started gluing it in great tufts to the cutout.  After filling in some blank spaces, I trimmed it down.  Then, I added the bow and 1 of each of the mini eggs around the form.  I think it turned out much better than I anticipated, and I hope my mom likes it!  If you end up with extra supplies at the end of your wreath making project–here’s a way to put them to good use.

Wreath #2!

Wreath #2!

Step # 5:  VACUUM!  Seriously consider doing this somewhere other than carpet.  The static electricity made grass stick to our clothes and hands, so even the big pieces were a pain to clean up.

I am so glad these turned out well!  I wouldn’t say I had “fun” making them, but it was a fun challenge to tackle with a great end result.

p.s.  Random tip.  If you are almost finished with a project (say with 3 mini eggs to glue to a wreath), and your last glue stick is so far in the machine that you need another to push it through, but you’re completely out…don’t freak.  Take a pencil and put it eraser end into the glue gun.  Use it to push the glue out.  But, be careful.  It heats up the eraser and metal doohicky that holds the eraser on and covers them in glue.  This is only in case of emergency.  🙂

Are there any cute DIY holiday projects you have tackled this year?  Any Pinterest wins to brag about?

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2014 Goals Update

Hello Everyone!

It is now March, and I thought it was high time I wrote about my progress on my 2014 goals.  One of the ways I hope to keep up on my goals this year is to do semi-frequent evaluations.  I had hoped to do this once a month, but I chose other fun stuff to blog about instead.  So, without further ado, here is how I am doing on my 2014 goals!  In case you missed the first post and are interested, you can read it here, or just look at my goals sheet below.

My 2014 Goals List!

My 2014 Goals List!

1)  Family–  Don’t plan or overschedule.  This is a tough one for me.  I looked at our March and April calendars, and every weekend, we have something going on both days.  To be fair, it is birthday season in my house (my mom’s, daughter’s, and my birthday all fall within about a week of each other) and we have tons of stuff planned.  And, there is Easter.  Plus, I have a few work commitments that cropped up and took a bit of my weekend time.  But, overall, the things we have planned fit in with our goals.  More family and friend time with focus on FUN!  Traditions–we are continuing our Friday night movie/pizza night.  We’ve even started sampling from the wide variety of pizza joints in our area which has been pretty fun.  And, I am definitely trying to be more present–which goes hand in hand with one of my personal goals of less technology.  But, it is difficult sometimes to not feel rushed and to not get frustrated when things don’t go the way I think they should–though I think I am improving a little.  Hopefully things will get calmer with time.

2)  Personal–  Just say “no” to technology.  You can read about my desire and plan to go “Hands Free”, but to give more of an update it is going ok.  There are times when I definitely need reminding to step away from the distractions, but there are also times when I forget to check in with the technology that seems to drive our lives these days.  I know I haven’t frantically looked for my phone multiple times a day like I used to, because it is no longer glued to my hand at all times–which I consider a win.  I have also realized that the more down time I have, the more I want to pick up the phone or sit in front of the computer just to see what’s happening.  So, I just need to do a better job of filling my time with meaningful pursuits.  And, I have continued reading for both work and for fun.  And, listening to audiobooks during my commute everyday has been a great way to get in extra reading that I may not have time for at night.  Sometimes I do have to remind myself that the books can be just as big of a distraction as the electronics–so everything in moderation.  I did also take another free online course–but I wasn’t as happy with it as the last one.  I just felt rushed through the whole thing and like it was more of a chore than a fun learning experience, so I think I’ll wait until summer to try my next one.  And, I am happy to say that I finally went to visit my friend who only lives a few hours away.  I told her one of my goals was to see her in person this year, and I did!  And, it was so amazing.  Our little girls had a good time together and it was wonderful to reconnect on a level you can only really do in person.  And, I have the next mommy date planned with my local gal pals for a jewelry making class.  Thank you to Groupon and Living Social for providing opportunities for us to do something fun on the cheap.

3)  Writing.  My writing goals have been a bit hit or miss.  My professional writing has been on hold as some other professional items have come into play and while I wait for some ideas to come to fruition before I can write about them.  I also wanted to have the novel I wrote for NaNoWriMo edited by April 1st.  I’m slowly getting there.  I have about 50 more pages to go on the first edit.  And, then I’ll need to do edit number 2.  We’ll see how far I get.  As for journaling, I have done a pretty good job with the journal I keep for my daughter, but I decided to drop the photo a day and one sentence journals.  It was just an added something I wasn’t really enjoying and felt more like work than play.  Maybe down the road I will try and pick it up again.  I think the photo a day thing this summer would actually be pretty fun.  Maybe kiddo and I can each take a photo a day of our summer vacation and compile an album at the end of the summer.  And, finally my blog!  I have posted faithfully every week (except for last week when I was on vacation visiting my pal) and plan to keep it up for as long as I have ideas.

4)  Organization–  I am going back and revisiting some past projects.  I’ve written about a few of those changes recently, and I plan to write about a few more as time goes by, because this organization thing is always a work in progress.  I am trying my best to maintain my organized areas and stick to our routines, and some days it is easier to do so than others.  Part of being “hands free” is to know when keeping things neat and organized needs to take a back seat to your family and friends–so there have been more times lately when the vacuuming doesn’t get done on schedule or the nightly pickup doesn’t happen for a few days.  So far no one has really noticed but me, and to be honest, it hasn’t bugged me as much as I thought it would.  My philosophy right now is that it will get done when it gets done.  Most of our main routines are still in place, and everything else can wait a day or two if needed.  I am still trying to tackle one larger project each month.  In January I tackled some unruly kitchen cabinets, in February we added some new storage to our living room, and I’ll hopefully have more news about March soon.

5)  Health–  This is my biggest problem area.  I have really struggled with this in the last few years.  I know what I need to do to be healthier, but my mind and body seem to rebel whenever I get the idea that changes need made.  Pretty much everything on my health list went out the window–either before or after I wrote my goals.  But, I am determined to be a healthier me.  I know this is important for my long term health and for my family.  I want to be the wife and mother my family deserves and needs–and that means taking the time to be healthier.  I hope to post some progress in this area soon!  I have a new way to track this goal and once I have had some time getting used to it, I’ll post an update.

6)  Professional–again not really interesting to anyone but me, but I am super excited about some changes and opportunities on the horizon.

And that’s about it.  I’m pretty much where I expected to be at this time of the year.  I knew there would be some goals I would be rocking and some that would have dropped off due to my over ambition–and some I really need to get after.  Hopefully when I post another update in a few months, I will have even more positive news on how I am doing with my goals and how they are influencing my life!

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Kiddo Storage for a Grown up Space

One of the things I write about frequently here , I think, is how our organization needs change over time and how that in turn changes the way we organize things in our home.  I would say the biggest area of change on a regular basis has to do with kiddo related items.  Sometimes the changes occur because she is growing up, and sometimes things happen because of changes we make in the house.  We actually made this switch a few weeks ago, but I am already completely in love with it.

One of the biggest changes occurred in our main living spaces.  We have a “living” room that you see as you enter through our front door and a “family” room a few steps down from there that is off of the entrance we use most–the garage.  Our house is not tiny, but it is also not spacious.  We do not have a playroom and not all of my daughter’s toys fit in her room–from a space stand point and a usage stand point as well.  Some toys are just used more often in our living spaces.  At one time, we had the items corralled in some slide out drawers, cubbies, and baskets that were semi hidden behind furniture in the living room.  This is what some of the storage looked like before…

Our kids game basket.  It's located in our living room sort of tucked away but still easy to access.

A basket of kids games–tucked to the far side of the couch.

Small drawer system for Lego pieces and a large bin to hold all of the vehicles and creations.  One black bin holds Lego instruction books and the other holds puzzles.  These are in our living room and easy to access during play time.

Above–these items were under a sofa table on the wall just near the front door.  The black boxes held Lego instruction books and puzzles.  The long box held already assembled Lego items and Below–the little drawers held Legos sorted by color/type.IMG_5289

Not too pretty, but not terrible.  Then, two things happened.  1)  We decided to retire the couch we’d had in two different apartments and that had lived in our family room.  We had restuffed it twice (yep you read that right) and it was on its lumpy last legs.  Plus, it didn’t really fit our family room space well (look for a post on our quick and easy family room turnaround soon).  The hubs suggested that a love seat would fit best in the space to go along with our recliner.  I said we should try the love seat from our living room set in the family room for a while just to see how we liked it (I’m a visual learner).  And, it has been there ever since.  The absence of the love seat in the living room gave us some more freedom with the arrangement of other furniture items in the living room.  I decided to move our sofa table to the wall where the love seat had been located because it looked a little bare and just rounded out the room nicely.  2)  The second thing that happened was Christmas–my daughter received some wonderful gifts that she wants to use quite a bit, but they added to the pile in the living room.

We were left with this…

This is what visitors to our house saw when they walked in the front door.  (the door is on a wall to the right of this one.)

This is what visitors to our house saw when they walked in the front door. (The door is on a wall to the right of this one.)

Not pretty at all.  Just a sad little pile on a very gray wall.  In my head I knew exactly what would be great in this space–a buffet, or credenza, or some sort of low storage option.  I wanted something that would hide the clutter, be easy for my daughter to access, and that didn’t break the bank.  I scoured a local furniture store’s website–but after an in person trip, I was disappointed.  Everything that might work had a $500+ price tag.  I contemplated using Craig’s list for the first time, and I missed out on 2 great pieces that had already been snatched up.  I looked online to see what else was out there that I could possibly ship or buy in some other retail store.  (And, sadly, we do not have an Ikea in driving distance!).  I was even willing to refinish a piece of furniture if need be, but I couldn’t find any viable options.  Finally, we made another trip to the furniture store to pick up some DVD storage items and look at desks…when we stumbled upon a piece that was pretty close to perfect.  It was even on sale.  It was  a little more than I wanted to spend, but not too much beyond my budget, so we snapped it up.  We had to assemble the thing, which helped with the cost.  It took me about 3 hours!, but I think it is well worth it.  Here is the after…

Voila!

Voila!

We rearranged some items on the wall to fit better with this piece, and my husband found the pretty metal leaf item on clearance at Target (it blends well with two other metal leaf wall item in this room).  This piece of furniture was pretty great, because it has both doors and drawers–and the panels in the doors can be changed out for glass sometime down the road if we’d like.  I went with the solid wood fronts, since the whole point was to hide the clutter.  Now all of my daughter’s things fit nicely in this one space and we no longer look like we’re having a yard sale in our living room.  Here’s a peek inside.

All our kiddo board games.

All our kiddo board games.

All the Lego instruction manuals and sorted bins fit in here.  The white bin is the hospital--for creations in need of repair.  And, creationary should not normally be stored on its side--everything falls out of the spaces, but a little press and seal cling wrap did the trick.

All the Lego instruction manuals and sorted bins fit in here. The white bin is the hospital–for creations in need of repair. And, creationary should not normally be stored on its side–everything falls out of the spaces, but a little press and seal cling wrap did the trick.

The two bottom drawers hold already built Legos and the top is home to puzzles, rainbow loom, lite brite, etc.

The two bottom drawers hold already built Legos and the top is home to puzzles, rainbow loom, lite brite, etc.

I LOVE this space now.  Our living room feels like a grown up space, but it is kid friendly as well. And, we know that this piece of furniture can transform into other things down the road as our needs change–a true sideboard, a tv stand, etc.  I am very, very happy when I walk in this room now.  Plus, we now have a little more surface space to spread out some of our decor items.  One concern my husband did have after we bought it is that the cabinet is more of a black wood color and the rest of our furniture is cherry.  But, we sort of have that same blending repeated throughout our house (family room, guest room/mom’s office, master bedroom), and I think since it is on a separate wall it works just fine.

Have you ever spent months searching for the right “something” for your home?  Where did you finally find it?

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