Jack’s Birthday

Jack’s Party: Food, Treats & a Wrap Up

Posted by on Mar 30, 2012 | 1 comment

For our final installment of Jack’s party, we’ll talk food, treats and I’ll give my thoughts on throwing a “real” party. :)

So let’s start by saying that I am not a party-food creator.  I have serious personal issues making a bunch of pretty food that is only going to be chewed up and digested.  Yes, it must taste good, but that’s sort of where my sense of obligation ends.  Presentation of food is not my strong suit.

Given the number of people we had attending, we ordred giant pizzas.  That was our “main course.”  They came shortly after the scavenger hunt ended.  We also had some snack packs of goldfish crackers and snack mix available for empty tummies.

I also made fruit kabobs.  I went to Costco, bought a bunch of fruit, and skewered it up the day before.  One tray was all the same, with a little bit of everything.   When I got tired of making those I made another tray that had a bit more variety so people could pick and choose.  What I love about these is that you don’t need utensils. I’m all about the finger food.   Also, Costco had 12-packs of old-school soda- I couldn’t resist.  Everyone seemed to like them, too!  The kids had juice boxes, and we also had water available, and some Izze drinks, too- love those.

 For cake, Jack was sooo easy.  I didn’t really give him a choice on the cake vs. cupcake front.  We were having cupcakes.  But when I asked him what kind of cake, he said (in his adorably funny voice), “Ummmm, I fink… I waaaaant.. chalk-a-LOT!”  Done.  “What kind of frosting?”  “Ummm, I fink…..  white.” Done and done.

 I followed most of what I described in my mini-cupcake post.  This time I tried Trader Joe’s cake mix and I have to say I will not be using it again.  They didn’t taste bad… they just didn’t taste that great. I saw lots of cupcakes with the frosting licked off and just a bite or two of cake.  Bummer.  Back to Duncan Hines I go!

 I made candy-pops just because.  Yup.  Just because.  They were SO. EASY. TO. MAKE.  For reals.  Check it out:

  • Buy a mold (or two to make it faster), candy melts, and sticks (mine were 6″).  Sprinkles worked very well for these, too.  I got it all at Michael’s.
  • Melt candy melts and put in a pastry bag or a ziploc bag will do just fine- cut off the tip.  You may need to let it cool a bit as (duh) you did just melt it over the stove.
  • While it cools, put sprinkles in the bottom of each mold.  Make sure the bottom is covered well- not too much, not too little.
  • Fill the molds with the melted candy, smooth them over with the back of a spoon.  Doesn’t have to be perfectly smooth.
  • Place the sticks and put them in the fridge or freezer until solid.
  • *Important:  check the sticks a few minutes after you put them in the fridge or freezer- sometimes they come up a bit, and once the candy starts to solidify (ooo- I just said solidify) you can push them back in and they’ll stick better.
  • Pop them out and store.  Put on a cute tray to serve, or wrap them up in little bags for take-home treats.


Lastly, each kid got to take a little treat bag of M&M’s home.  I got the ribbon at Dollar Tree, and the bags are from Shop Sweet Lulu.  I LOVE these little bags.  They are so stinkin’ happy.  :)

 I got all of my trays at WalMart for ONE DOLLAR EACH.  Go now!  They are cheap but they are colorful and perfect for whatever.  And I don’t care about what happens to them because they were only…. a DOLLAR.

And now… the wrap up. Will I do this again?  Maybe.  I think if I do another party like this it will be next year for a different child, that way everyone gets a super-special party once every three years or so.  March is a huge birthday month for us- 10 people in my family/extended family have birthdays, so we have a lot going on.  But it was so fun to have happy, cheery decor and everyone seemed to like it a lot.

I have the utmost respect for anyone who can do this for every child’s birthday, especially if they have more than one child.  I’m also thankful that Anna doesn’t seem to expect the exact same party for her birthday, and we will keep it much more simple (I hope).

I will be back later today to create a “Jack’s Party” page and get everything properly linked up so you can go between posts easily.  Thanks for reading!

Here’s one last shot of the birthday boy…

And again, many thanks to Tonya for sending me so many photos, including this one of my  husband and my daughter, Em.   These posts would not have been the same without her photos.  You’re wonderful, Tonya!

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Jack’s Party: Scavenger Hunt!

Posted by on Mar 29, 2012 | 5 comments

I wanted something easy for the kids to do during the party, and since I was hopeful that it wouldn’t rain and we have a pretty big yard, I wanted to keep them outside for at least part of the time.  I started by searching on Pinterest for “boy parties” and such, and happened across a scavenger hunt.  The only problem was that it wasn’t suited for our environment- I think it was a beach hunt.  After a bit more searching I realized I just needed to spend some time in Photoshop.  It really didn’t take long to make.

Each bag had a little magnifying glass tied to the handle (purchased from Oriental Trading), and I also stuck a pencil in each bag.  Then they could use their pencil to mark things off (or their parent could), they could collect a lemon from our lemon tree, and whatever else they wanted to keep.  Recognize the wagon? :)

When they were done, I let them choose between one of these or these as a prize.  I didn’t “enforce” too much- but lots of them were so proud of finding everything on the page.  It was super cute!

Some tips if you decide to do a scavenger hunt:

  • Don’t get too specific if your crowd is younger- keep it simple.
  • Don’t hand out the bags until AFTER you give directions- otherwise they will likely just take the bags and run off without really knowing what to do.
  • Expect it to take just about 20 minutes or so, maybe a bit longer.
  • Advise guests to wear appropriate footwear- we put it on the back of our invitation.  Our yard is not one for flip flops at this time of year.


Here’s my birthday boy and his daddy during the hunt.  My two men. (Note the gopher holes in the foreground.)

As an aside, the other thing we had that ended up not working as well was the Giga Ball.  (It cost way less wherever I got it, but can’t remember where.)  I love this thing!  It’s the best money I’ve spent for parties and gatherings/play dates.  We intended for everyone to do it as they arrived (before food consumption).  Unfortunately on this day it was so damp outside that everyone (including my husband) started getting too wet and muddy, so we had to put it aside.  Later it came out again after the sun burned off some moisture.  Some kids like being rolled down the hill.  Others…not so much.  Either way- it sure is a fun thing to have around!

Below is the hunt.    The tree with the question mark is for “Which tree is the tallest?”.  The “???” is for if they find something that’s not on the page. “Take one of each” is for our citrus trees- we have three (lemon, orange, and grapefruit) but we ended up only having them pick lemons because the other two have lots of bees right now.  The grasshopper was just an example of a bug.  You’re welcome to download it. I’d appreciate some pins or comments if you download it.  Thanks!

Up tomorrow:  Food and Wrap-Up!


Also a big thanks to my friend, Tonya, again for her lovely photos that add so much to these posts!

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Jack’s Party: Decorations

Posted by on Mar 28, 2012 | 10 comments

Jack doesn’t really like any one particular character enough for me to be able to say, “Oh, we’ll have a _______ party.”  He is just now getting into Toy Story, he loves helicopters and motorcycles, but he’s not totally obsessed with any one thing just yet.  Well, except one thing. Balloons.

About six months ago Jack got a balloon.  We went to the dentist.  He screamed the whole time because of a chipped tooth trauma from a while back.  He hates the dentist.  But when he got that balloon his whole demeanor changed.  And when we got home, all he wanted to do was play. with. his. balloooooon.  And so, the love affair began.

The balloon obsession, combined with the fact that about 90% of the time Jack is one happy boy, I decided to just throw a party with some fun balloon decorations and keep it happy.  That is, after all, my theme this year.

Just a reminder that I’m saying thank you to my friend, Tonya, for all of the pictures she took.  You’ll be able to pick her work out because I thank her in all of the pictures that she took. :)

First, I made this balloon wreath.  If you search “balloon wreath” on Pinterest you will see lots of examples, but I was particularly drawn to this one at Landee See, Landee Do (say that three times fast).  I decided that I want this wreath to be a family tradition.  We are going to hang it on our door for each child’s birthday, and I’ll make a new center circle for it for each child on each birthday.  Now that the main work of making it is over, I think it will be easy to keep up with.

I didn’t use ribbons the way Landee did and like the simplicity of it.  I may go back and throw in more purple- we’ll see. I ended up with very few purple in my bags for some reason.  I bought the balloons for this wreath at Dollar Tree; I think I bought 8 bags but only used about 7.  These balloons are cheap for a reason- if you blow them up they are super tiny.  Doesn’t matter for the wreath, though. :)

In her post Landee says her thumb was sore for days- I must have tough thumbs.  However, I did make this over a few nights, not all at once.

For the center circle I just made a graphic in Photoshop Elements and cut it out with a circle cutter.  The font, if you’re interested (I love it) is Ribbon from Lost Type.  I used the coordinating ribbon and attached it with more floral pins to the top.  I also hung the wreath with wire and covered it up with ribbon- it is rather heavy and I wasn’t sure if the ribbon could hold it alone.  Just looking at this wreath makes me smile, and Jack loved it.

The other decor that I just loved were the balloons themselves.  I’ve seen these big balloons so many places and just loved how different they looked.  They are HUGE.  I got them at Shop Sweet Lulu.  They ship very quickly- both orders I placed for this party were shipped the same day I ordered them, and each order came with a piece of taffy.  Yum!  I’m sold.

One thing I will say: these balloons took all the helium I had.  How much did I have?  I had two Balloon Time tanks*; one was used from a previous party and one was brand new.  By the time I filled up all three of these balloons, the helium was g-o-n-e GONE.  I think next time I will call Party City and see how much they’d charge to fill them up.

The balloon banner was made the night before and slept in our playroom.  I woke up before the kids and hung it outside on our newly-paved patio (my husband is awesome) and was elated with how bright and cheery it was.  I was inspired by Design Mom, and you can find her tutorial here.

While I didn’t get a raw thumb from the balloon wreath, I did get raw fingers from tying off all of these balloons!!!  My husband would have helped but he came home with back spasms the night before Jack’s party so I let him rest so he could be my work mule the day of the party.   It was really easy to make.

In Design Mom’s post she uses an upholstery needle.  My moment of desperation was laying out all of my balloons, getting my string (she used waxed twine but my plain ol’ string worked great, too), and realizing I wasn’t sure I had a needle that would work.  Then I went through my knitting supplies and found my plastic yarn needle and it worked perfectly.  What’s even better- I didn’t have to worry about popping the balloons because there was no sharp metal tip to wield.  Hooray!  Time-wise, start to finish, I think this took me about an hour and a half to make.   Totally worth it- when Jack saw it he said, “Mommy, my balloons! My balloons!”  He loved it.

Lastly, I made these streamers:

I saw these on Made, and Dana’s tutorial was great.  I could spend hours on her tutorials alone.  I wasn’t even planning on making them and then when I was at Walmart getting a few things I saw them and thought, “Oh, what the hey, I’ll give it a try.”  It was a bit cumbersome at first and then I found my magic tool:  a wooden spoon.  Dana had a dowel, I think, in her tutorial, and she used it to keep her streamers from getting tangled up.  I didn’t have a dowel, so I went with my longest wooden spoon and it was perfect.  You hit a rhythm after a while, and then just as you think, “Hey!  I’ve got a rhythm going here…. ”  …your bobbin runs out of thread.  I rolled these up and will use them for other parties.  They are so cheery and fun!

 In case you’re wondering how long the big balloons lasted in terms of float-i-ness…  the green one popped in the wind the next day, but orange and red lasted from Saturday to Monday night.  We brought them inside and the kids were in heaven playing with them.  This is them on my birthday on Sunday:

Up tomorrow: the scavenger hunt!

*I did NOT pay the price you see in that link to Walmart for my tank. If you get them in-store they are much cheaper!



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A Birthday Party for My Sweet Boy

Posted by on Mar 27, 2012 | 7 comments

My son, Jack, is 3.

Pardon me while I pause and soak that in…

What is it about 3?  I was just saying to my mom that it seems like 3 is a big birthday.  With both my oldest, and now Jack, they seem to flip a switch and all of a sudden they are their own person with their own quirks.  Jack is blooming into his own little self, and it’s fascinating to watch.  He is a super sweet little boy, and is also becoming more OF a boy each day.

So let me start this series by just saying (and perhaps emphasizing) this:

I am usually not a party person.

When I say that, I mean that I do not usually get into the perfection aspect of parties that you can easily get swept into.  I think it’s totally fine for people to throw a Pinterest-worthy party, as evidenced by the fact that this one *might* (or might not) qualify as semi-Pinterest worthy.  Up until now, though, I never thought I’d even want to venture forth and try one.  Now that I am not getting paid to do the work I love (being home with my kids), I thought it would be fun to put some effort into a party and see if it feels “worth it” in the end.  Today I’m just going to give you some highlights, and then in upcoming posts I’m going to give you all the deets on where I got my ideas (hellllo- Pinterest {okay maybe some were just my own}), what I liked/didn’t like in the end, etc.

I need to send a big thank you to my friend and fellow blogger, Tonya of Create-Celebrate-Explore.   Tonya is an amazing woman, and she takes amazing pictures.  She so nicely sent me many of the photos she took at the party.  If you see a picture that says, “Thank you, Tonya” on it, she took it and I cannot take credit.  I did just get a new camera, but at this party I had not received it yet, so PicMonkey (something I also found through Tonya) is helping me out, too.

Onto the photos.  These are just highlights- more to come!

Invitations were from Shutterfly.

Birthday Balloon Wreath

(this will be a family tradition for us now)

Streamers- these were really fun to make!  More on them soon…

We had a Scavenger Hunt for the kids- it was super cute.

Cupcakes are always easiest, and…

Candy pops, to boot!

Lastly, balloons.  Ah, how my little boy loves balloons!

See you tomorrow when I’ll start spilling sources, how-tos, and more!


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