Sunday, November 17, 2013

Inspiration Board - Art Birthday Party for Gabby

Hello Friends!

Sorry I've been missing in action lately.  I've practically abandoned the blog, but not because I wanted to.  Life happens and two kids later, next thing you know, your blog has been neglected!

Anyway, I'm back for a brief visit.  I'm hoping that 2014 will allow me to spend a little more time blogging.

This is actually dedicated to a close friend, Clari and her daughter, Gabby.

Gabby is having a birthday in January and Clari asked me to help her organize an Art Birthday Party to celebrate!  January is a hard time to host birthdays, especially since you do not have the convenience of having an outdoor party.  So you are limited to an indoor party.  The secret to having an indoor party is to make sure you have enough activities to keep the kids busy.  I think an Art Party does the job well!

So Clari, here's what I came up for our birthday girl!  I hope you like it!

Theme:  Arts & Crafts Birthday Party
Colors:  Rainbow colors!
Attendance:  Children 6 years & under and their parents

#5 - Guests will be greeted at the front door with this fabulous DIY crayon wreath.  The chalkboard in the middle will have "Happy Birthday Gabby!" or "Welcome to Gabby's Art Birthday Party"!

#7 - A big canvas will be used as the Guest Book.  Guests will "sign" the guest book with a painted hand print!  Afterwards, the birthday girl can hang this up in her room and remember the fun she had with her friends!

#12 - Paint samples from Home Depot or Lowes will be used to create colorful buntings.  We can stencil letters or use cutouts to spell out "Happy Birthday".

#4 - I love the idea of decorating with paint cans.  Plastic table cloths can be used to look like paint pouring out of the cans.  We'll hang these at each of the "art stations" or they can be used in the entrance of the house to create a "grand entrance".

#13 - The colorful chain links can be used as the backdrop to our artistic dessert/goodie bag table.

#10 - Sew paint samples together to create a utensil holder.  These are perfect for ease of moving thru the food line.

There will be 3 art stations.  Since there will be a range of ages, I wanted to make sure that we had options for both the younger kids (age 1-4) and the older ones (5 and over).

#1 - Bead making station.  The younger kids will make necklaces or bracelets out of Fruit Loops.  They're still developing their fine motor skills and this activity is safe for their little fingers.  Plus, they can snack as they craft on the yummy colorful cereal.

#11 - The older kids will make necklaces or bracelets using plastic beads.  You can even buy ones with letters so the kids can personalize with their names.

#3 - Initial Canvas Art - You can buy 8x10 canvas in bulk at the craft store.  We'll use painter's tape to create the initial of the child's first name.  The kids can paint over the tape on the canvas to create their masterpiece.  When it dries, peel of the tape and they have a personalized piece of art.  This is an easy activity for all age groups.

*Not picture - The last station will be a cupcake decorating.  We'll use these plastic art palettes to hold the sprinkles and other candy options to decorate the cupcakes with!

It wouldn't be a party without a dessert table!  The focus here will be color, color, color!

#8 - We'll use these clear plastic containers (that look like paint buckets) and fill them with different color goodies and candy.

#6 - There are so many great goodies in this picture.  Rice Krispy treats dipped in colored chocolate to look like paint brushes.  Cookies that look like art palettes, push pops filled with cake and frosting (or different colored M&Ms).

#2 - The birthday cake will be layered with all the colors of the rainbow!

There is so many more food ideas, I might have to create a separate board just for the food!

Goodie Bags
The dessert table will have candy bags to be stuffed and taken home with all the sugary goodness!

#9 - Canvas Aprons - Canvas Aprons to be used at each station and can be taken home as favor.  They can be personalized with the child's name or initial (if you don't have enough to do)!

Cupcakes can be taken home as a favor in these adorable DIY cupcake boxes!  If you're not up to making your own, you can buy the plastic option!

The links to the items on the inspiration board can be found on my Pinterest Board here.

Monday, April 16, 2012

How I Party!

Even as a little girl, I loved planning parties.  My parents didn't do anything extravagant to celebrate our birthdays; it usually consisted of fried chicken, pizza and a birthday cake.  My sister and I tried to make it special with homemade decorations, games and goodie bags.  After Little Muon was born, I couldn't wait to start planning birthday parties again!

Part of the reason I started this blog was to share some of my party planning adventures.   I love coming up with fun and unique party ideas and am always looking for a way to add that special "touch" to each of my parties.  It's an creative outlet for me and I truly enjoy the process, so I thought I'd share with you some of my inspirations and how I come up with my party ideas!

Color, Color Everywhere

When I first start planning a party, I don't always start with a theme.  Usually, COLOR is what inspires me most!  Then the theme comes out naturally.  For example, for my friend Yung's Owl Baby Shower, my sister and I didn't have a theme at all.  We knew that since the shower was in February, there would be plenty of red and pink available for Valentine's Day.  I always joke with Yung that her hubby is a "tree hugger", so to put a cute baby twist on that, we thought owls would be a perfect theme!  I think both mom and dad appreciated the sentiment and in the end, loved the Owl theme!

Color inspired me at Yung's bridal shower and Taylor's 3rd birthday as well!

Green & Blue:

Red & Blue:

Even when I do have a theme, color is always an integral part of my design.  Orange and blue was my color combination for Taylor's Finding Nemo birthday.  hmmm.... what is it with me and blue?

Put It on Repeat

When I've come up with a theme, I try to carry the theme and color through out the party, from decorations...

to goodie bags...

to the food!

Print It

I have a secret.  I'm really lucky.  I have a graphic designer for a sister.  I tell her my vision and she comes up with the design and always BLOWS me away!

Trang came up with a movable barn invitation for Taylor's 1st Birthday!

How cute are these cupcake toppers and food tents!

If I didn't have the sister hookup, would be my next option.  There are a ton of great custom birthday printables available here!

That Special Touch

One thing you'll notice about my parties is that I try to limit the commercialized party out of a box products.  A lot of my decorations and food are homemade.  I think it gives that special touch to the parties.

Like this bowling pin favor with candy inside.

And cupcake tower and barn cake.

There you have it; this is how I party!  I hope you found some inspirational ideas.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Easter: Peeps Rice Krispies Treats

My friend Tara and I had our first child around the same time (a month apart to be exact).  I'm so grateful that Little Muon and Little Man C are the best of friends.  When the kids were one year old, Tara and I thought it would be fun to host an Easter Egg Hunt for the kids and their friends.

This year will be hosting our 3rd Annual Egg Hunt!  Since Easter will quickly be upon us soon, I wanted to share some treats I made for last year's egg hunt  For our first treat, we made Peeps Rice Krispies Treats.  I found the idea from Christi at Love From the Oven.

This was such a fun and easy treat to make.  Here's what you'll need:
Rice Krispies Treats (pre-made or homemade)
White Melting Chocolate
Popsicle Sticks

I cheated and used the pre-made Rice Krispies Treats.  It was late and we wanted to keep this quick and simple.  We started by melting the chocolate.  You could use a double boiler, but I love using my small crockpot that I bought for projects like these.  There's no chance of water getting mixed with the chocolate (which will cause your chocolate to seize up and become hard) and it melts the chocolate into a nice and smooth consistency.

Next, we followed Christi's advice and cut the peeps in half.  They'll get a little smooshed, but let them sit for a bit and they'll spring right back into shape.

We inserted the stick into the Rice Krispie Treat and spooned a coating of chocolate on top.

Next apply the peep and add sprinkles.

We wrapped them in cellophane and tied a ribbon and added a little "Happy Easter" tag.

I thought they turned out adorable!  They were so much fun to make and made for an easy treat for the kids to take home with them!

All the kids had such a fun day especially Little Muon!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Organizing Ideas: Scarves

I love a good organizing challenge, so when my friend, Mel, sent me this email today, I was pumped!

Hey chick!!
I need some of your awesome advice!  I have a TON of scarves and I don't know how to organize or store them in our apartment.  Any ideas??

Here are a few options I found for her:

I actually use a hanging tie rack to hang my scarves.  My husband had room on his tie rack, so I claimed a few slots.  Here's an exmaple of a hanging tie rack.

Ikea has a simlar product:

But if I had enough walll space, I'd go for a wall of scarves!  This one utilizes tension rods.  The best part?  Everything is hidden behind the door if you want to hide it.  If not, it still makes for a colorful looking wall!

Towel rods and toilet paper rods would also be a great solution. 

The top one looks like it's a toilet paper rod like this:

You could also do a towel ring like this:

Mel and I both liked the tension rod idea because it's so PRETTY!  And you know how much I like pretty!  So, how do you organize your scarves?  Got an organizing challenge for me?  Send it my way and I'll come up with ideas for you too!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Dirty Little Secret....

I've been on a mission... to clean out the clutter.  That's my New Year's resolution for 2012 and I've been hard at work.  So far, I've made two big trips to Goodwill and even had a donation truck come pick up at the house!  I'm slowly making the rounds, room by room.

We have a dirty little secret at my house... my husband is a borderline hoarder!  Lucky for him, I'm a little OCD and NEED to organize.  Otherwise, I think our house would be filled to the brim with STUFF!

My husband likes to collect:  computer parts, comic books, action hero toys, DVD movies, even 7-11 Slurpie cups!  See the problem?  See why I call it "our dirty little secret"?  Luckily, he is okay with the guidelines that I've set around said "collectibles" (for the most part anyway).  For example, his DVD collection is limited to ONE bookshelf in the basement.

The kid's category of our movie collection has grown since Little Muon was born.  And I found that her movies were slowly creeping out of the bookshelf and into my family room upstairs.  Soon enough, I had a basket filled with kids movies!

The basket was fine, but it was running out of space.  Plus, I knew I could do better; something that could hold MORE movies, but in a smaller container.  More storage in half the space?  Impossible you say?  Well, I thought the same until I found these.  Yup, movie sleeves!

36 sleeves holding 72 DVDS in a tiny little bin!  I was sold!

Each insert holds 2 DVDs and slides easily into a sleeve.  You can also slide the DVD cover art into the sleeve as well.  I couldn't wait to get started!

Here's the side by side comparison:

Wow!  That's more then half the space!  By the time I was done, I had several sleeves left, so we have room to grow!  The best part?  The new movie bin takes up A-LOT less space then the basket.

I wanted MORE storage for HALF the space and I think I got it!  So what dirty little hoarding secret do you have?

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

How I Organize Tax Time

I've been meaning to post details of my Owl Baby Shower, but seems like there is always something going on in the Little Muon household.  I am recouping from a small bout of the stomach bug and just learned that I have a severe Vitamin D deficiency.  The doctor wrote a script for me, so hopefully, the extreme fatigue I've been feeling lately will get better soon!

Since it's tax time, I thought it would be a great opportunity to talk about how I organize for this dreaded time of year, so the shower details will wait so that I can bring you some tax time organizing tips.  I'm not sure why I dread tax time so much, probably the anticipation of how much I'm going to owe or get back.  Luckily, I stay pretty organize with my paperwork, so all I have to do is force myself to sit down and actually do it.

Back in March 2011, I followed along with Jen at IHeartOrganizing to build a Household Binder.  Organizing with binders wasn't new for me.  I already had a binder system in place for my bills and taxes.  Here's my current binder system:

The unnamed one is for Little Man.  I just haven't had a chance to print out the label yet.  Are you wondering where my Household Binder is?  Well, it's in my kitchen for fast and easy accessibility.  These particular binders (shown above) are located in my office in the basement.

Before going to the binder system for my taxes, I used to keep a large envelope tacked to my corkboard and shoved any related tax documents in there.  Then after my taxes were done for that year, I'd file them away in a hanging folder in my filing cabinet.  This worked out fine, but when I read this post from Jill at Controlling My Chaos, the binder system was born.  The only difference between mine and Jill's system is that she uses a binder for each tax year; whereas I use only one consolidated binder for all my tax documents.

For the cover, I just used scrapbook paper and stickers.  Nothing fancy.  I'm sure I could make it fancier, but I didn't want to spend too much time on it.  It's taxes after all!  *Sorry for the bad picture.  There are no windows in my basement office and the glare from the binder gave me a hard time.*

I used 7 pocket folders to hold tax returns and documentation for the past 7 years (the IRS recommends to keep 7 years worth).  The 8th folder is for the current year's accumulation of docs.

My folders didn't have tabs, but I found these pocket dividers with tabs which would be great to mark each year.  Within each year, the documents are separated and categorized by "Income" or "Deductions".

I created these in a Word document and printed them out; one set for each year.  I then staple the pile together.  Here's the break down:

Pay Stubs

Schedule A - Itemized Deductions
Mortgage Interest
Property Taxes
Auto Registration
Interests from School Loans
HSA Account

Auto Registration
Charitable Contributions
Job Expenses
Out of Pocket Medical Expenses
Misc. Deductions

I don't have business expenses that relate to running a business, but if you do, you could create an additional page for Schedule C since these are reported on a separate form.  

My favorite tax software is Turbo Tax.  You can do it all online and it walks you step by step thru the process.  It even does an audit check at the end and scores your risk of being audited by the IRS.  

Because I have this binder, I can find and reference the required documents easily and quickly.  I love that!  When it's time to do taxes, I pull my tax binder out, put some tunes on from I Heart Radio, and enjoy a cup of joe from Dunkin Donuts.  

Music and caffeine are not required, they just make the process of doing taxes more enjoyable.

So, are you ready for tax time?

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Look What I Found!

Sometimes I feel like I'm writing this blog, but no one's reading it.  At times, it's disheartening when you check your comment section and the only ones that are commenting are your family members.  LOL!  I try not to let it get me down and remind myself that I created and write this blog for my own personal enjoyment.  And if just one person out there in web-land finds inspiration in my posts, then that's the icing on the cake for me.

I was reviewing my stats (did you know you could do that) and noticed a traffic source that I didn't recognize (usually it comes from Google searches).  When I clicked on it, guess what I found?  Me!

Did you see me?  I'm #4!  Bellenza, an inspirational wedding site, has an article called "How to Make a Nautical Themed Wedding Truly Magical".  The chocolate sea shells from my beach themed bridal shower had a shout out in the article!  Am I a total dork for being excited about this?  SOMEONE (other then my sister) is reading my blog!  Whoo-hooo!
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