Saturday, October 27, 2012

Halloween Pasts

I'm still in the throes of costume making - at least as of writing this post.  Hopefully I'll be done once this is published or my kids will be wearing sheets to the church Halloween party...

Here's a sneak peek of this year's costumes, thanks to instagram:

Any guesses?  I'll reveal them later on.

For now, I thought I'd share some costume ideas we've done in the past.  I'm all about a family themed costume event, and I definitely drag mr into my antics.

Check out our Batman themed costumes from two years ago:

You can find tutorials for all of them.  
Penguin (little girl style)

Last year, we did a Mario theme.  Mr was Luigi, bug was Mario, mini was Princess Peach and I was Princess Daisy.

You can find a few of my other ideas in this post, including a witch and her black cat, a tiny giraffe and two safari guides, a very pregnant Ursula the Sea Witch, "each other", Siamese twins, and Albert Einstein to name just a few.  There aren't tutorials for those, but at least there's some inspiration!

Are your costumes finished, or do you wait until the last minute, too??

*Be sure to check the right sidebar for all the fun parties I link to!

Friday, October 26, 2012

For the faint of heart.

Ok, ok.  If the dismembered, glowing eyeballs were a little too much for you and your tiny tot, I've got a fun kid's craft for you!  Totally last minute, yet again, and you can use stuff you already have.  Seriously, you don't need anything special at all.

Unless you are like us and rarely have essential items like napkins, tissues and toilet paper.  Who does the shopping around here, anyway??

Again, there's no real science here.  It's mostly just whatever you feel like.
You'll need:
Black card stock or construction paper
white paper napkins
black buttons
white glue
1.  Lay out your napkin so the middle point is in the upper left corner,
2.  and the lower right corner is all four layers.
3.  Use your scissors and cut a wavy line across the bottom right corner.
4.  Open up your napkin.
5.  Grab it in the center.
6.  Bunch it up and twist it a little bit.  That's the ghosts head.
7.  Put some white glue on the back of the head and glue it down on the paper.  You can fluff it out if you want to.
8.  Use white glue to add button eyes,
9.  And a button mouth.

That's it!  That's all!  So simple!  And the kids loved doing it themselves.  They needed next to NO help at all to do this last year.

One of the best parts was watching them pick out their favorite buttons.

And the truly best BEST part was seeing all the Picasso-type faces the ghosts ended up with!

You can glue as many or as few ghosts to the paper as you want to!  My son went a little crazy...

I displayed it on my piano with some fun houndstooth paper behind it.  

I love little projects for little hands that take very little planning and almost no prep at all.  Considering the length of their attention spans, this seems only fair.

*Be sure to check the right sidebar for all the fun parties I link to!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Dismembered eyeballs aren't really HORRIFYING...

Remember yesterday when I said I didn't really like terrifying decorations and would rather keep things just slightly creepy?  Well, these eyeballs are kind of borderline, I suppose, but in my opinion still fall into the "not as bad as Freddy Krueger" category.

You'll need:
ping pong balls (from the dollar store)
a screwdriver
flameless tealight candles
round sponge brush
red colored pencil
fine tip black sharpie
Craft paint: red, purple, green, blue, brown, black, white
hairdryer, if you have one handy

1.  Start by poking a hole in your ping pong balls with the screwdriver.  They may crack a little, and that's ok.  I poked my hole over the black writing.
2.  Slide the ping pong ball down over the "flame" of the flameless candle.
3.  Push it all the way down, securely.
4.  Now it will stand on its own!  (as well as light up...)
5.  Take a small round sponge brush and dip it in the color you'd like your iris.  
6.  We did red, purple, green, blue and brown.
7.  Take the other side of the brush - the handle part, and dip it in black for the pupil.
8.  Wait until the irises are dry and then put the pupil right in the middle.
9.  Use the red colored pencil to draw veins around the iris, 
10.  and to the back of the eyeball.
11.  Use the black fine tip sharpie to draw little lines around the iris for detail.
12.  It will look like this.
13.  Use the toothpick to dab a bit of white paint on the pupil for highlight.  
14.  This makes the eyeballs look more "realistic" (as realistic as ping pong balls can look...)
15.  If you want, you can add a bit of red paint splotched here and there for blood spots.  Gross.

And you're done!

Just turn the lights on on the bottom of them and plant them around your yard.  We put ours in our front flower bed to welcome the trick-or-treaters.  These are fun, because in the day time, you can see the details, and at dusk you can see the eyeball part but also see them glowing and at night, they just look like creepy glowing eyes watching you...

Please excuse the quality of these photos.  This was last year, after all.

Of course, this year when I went to the dollar store to see what they had for Halloween, I saw ping pong balls with eyes.  Yep.  Already done for you.  So maybe this tutorial is totally moot.  Although, they didn't light up on their own, so you'd still have to push them onto the tealights...

I love it when the dollar store steals my ideas.

*Be sure to check the right sidebar for all the fun parties I link to!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

An itsy, bitsy spider... wreath

This is not the first spider wreath I've made.  Last year, I knew I wanted to simplify my spider wreath, and came up with this design.

It's insanely easy to make, and unfortunately has no real instructions, because there isn't much you can do wrong.  But I'll give a tutorial my best shot.

1.  Start with a stick type wreath.  I don't know what these are called.  They aren't foam and they aren't straw.  So, get one of those, ok?
2.  Using normal latex paint and a foam brush, start painting it a grayish black.
3.  After about 12 hours and countless swear words while you smoosh that brush into the crevices as far as it will go, realize you'll have to break down and buy some spray paint.  Then realize, with a palm smack, that you've had black spray paint all along - though it IS glossy finish.  Go for it.  Spray front and back.
4.  After it dries completely (and I mean COMPLETELY, or you'll have black stripes on your pants... not that that happened or anything) You will take silver embroidery floss and begin attaching cut pieces from one side of the wreath...
5.  To the other.  Just tie them in double knots on the BACK of the wreath.
6.  Cut more pieces of floss and tie them to the bottom of the wreath, then wrap them around the pieces already there and pull tightly to make the pieces stretch and contort, so they are no longer straight across.  
7.  Do this up to the very top piece that's tied across, then wrap it around the top piece and slide over a bit.  Make your way back down again and tie it off at the bottom.
8.  Repeat this process until you have half of your wreath covered in an embroidery floss web.  Use hot glue to attach a plastic spider.
9.  Use ribbon and hot glue to make a loop on the back of the wreath to hang the wreath from.

That's it!  Aside from the painting trial and error, it really didn't take long and it was very easy to create.

I love the simplicity of it.  When it comes to Halloween decorations I'm really torn.  I don't really want to overcutesify things.  But I don't want to be terrifying either - especially with a 4 yr old who is hypersensitive and has nearly nightly nightmares.

I felt like this wreath was the perfect amount of creepy without being horrifying.

A last minute wreath you can whip up in no time!

*Be sure to check the right sidebar for all the fun parties I link to!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

I've gone completely batty.

You know how I procrastinate, right?  So there's (unfortunately) no way I get all my decorating and costumes done, photographed and blogged before the holiday is over.  I try.  I really do.  It just doesn't happen.

The good news is that due to procrastination from LAST year, I have several little Halloween projects to show you THIS year.  Sure the kids are bigger, the photos aren't as good, and ideas may be slightly dated, but, doggone it, I'm posting holiday items in a timely fashion this year!

This week I'm going to show you four simple, last minute Halloween crafts that you can easily get done before the holiday is upon us!

Today, I present the:

Stolen from this post on Delilah Creates.  Hers are cute.  Mine are spooky.  See, I'm still original.  ...

The how to?  

Print a template from online.  (just google "bat shape")
Trace around it on the back of black patterned scrapbook paper (mine was card stock weight)
Cut them out.

Use tape to adhere them to your window.  My windows have screens on the side portions inside, so I had to tape my bats up OUTSIDE.  I was worried about them staying put in the harsh winds this time of year, so I used packing tape.

Place one bat in each pane.

And you're done!  I love that it looks a little like specimen art.  (Which was totally trendy last year, and not so much now.  Huh.)

By day, you can see different "species" (classified by scrapbook paper pattern) and by night...

Spooky silhouettes!

If you had a silhouette, this would be even easier.  (I mean, I ASSUME it would...)

Of note, I bent the bats wings up a little at different angles and amounts for variety.  The packing tape did its job very well and we didn't lose a single bat - even though there were many days when I almost blew away myself.  Actually, on those days it was kind of fun to watch the bats since they looked like they were flapping against our window...
And they came off the window smoothly - no packing tape residue.  Phew!

I had extra, so I decorated inside our front door too.

I imagined the window was the moon and the bats were circling...

Easy?  Why yes!  Yes it is!  Aren't those the best holiday crafts?

*Be sure to check the right sidebar for all the fun parties I link to!

Monday, October 22, 2012

In case you want to pretend you live on the west coast...

I have a west coast recipe for you.  Ok, really, I don't know if this is something they'd actually eat in California, but it seems to jive with the "California" themed items on restaurant menus... the "California burgers" and the "California Clubs" and the "California Chicken Wraps" and such.  So I guess I'm sold.

Have I mentioned I've spent almost my entire life completely landlocked?  I'm a midwest girl, through and through.  We like to pretend we have a connection with the sea - you know, that giant lake right next door and all - but really, we're about as landlubber as you can get.  I've never even visited California...

When it gets really cold, I like to imagine palm trees and sand... it's a mental picture I assume looks exactly like San Diego, but what would I know?  I've never been there...

Anyway, if you want to imagine you're there as well, here's a meal idea for you!

It really is as delicious as it looks.  And probably the easiest chicken you will ever make.  I mean ever.  Do you deal in absolutes?  Because I do.  Yummiest.  Easiest.  (ok, maybe not yummiEST, but right up there, I swear.)

What I like most about this meal (aside from the fact that it combines like four of my favorite foods - and there are only four main ingredients) is that it's pretty light.  You don't really need to serve it with anything - though if you popped it on a whole wheat kaiser roll or bun it would make a delicious little sandwich.  It's browned and then baked, so it's healthy. And it's STILL tasty.  There's no heavy sauce, so it doesn't weigh you down.  And it's STILL tasty!  There's cheese, sure, but it's not CHEDDAR or something equally fatty.  And it's STILL TASTY!  Are picking up what I'm putting down here?

Want to see how easy it is?  You're going to love this, I swear.

Really, honestly, that's all there is to it.  I pinned this a long time ago, and the original is here.  I added some things and did it slightly differently, but it amounts to pretty much the same thing.

If you can find tomatoes and avocados right now that are actually ripe (unlike here) I highly recommend this.  Then you can kick back and imagine the sand in your toes.

You might want to pair it with this.  You're welcome.

*Be sure to check the right sidebar for all the fun parties I link to!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The big 3-0

Here it is!  The big reveal!  I should perhaps mention that this party was (mostly) a surprise, so all of the projects and decor, etc, had to be done under cloak of darkness.  mr knew something was happening, and figured I'd have some family over.  And he was right...

The theme:
I already talked about the theme here.  Mainly, I went with a green and GOLD theme - he liked football, we live in Wisconsin, it's Packer's season, it's his golden birthday... you get it.  I was happy that mr got the relevance right away.  (not that he's not bright, I was just glad that the connections were OBVIOUS.)

The invitations:
I made the invitations in Pages on my mac.  I looked up some GB Packer tickets online and used a few for inspiration.  I was really proud of the way they came together - it took a long time and many, many layers of shapes, text, photos, etc.  It was worth it, though.  This picture is extra large so you can read everything easily, but I printed them out at normal ticket size.

This is me, feeling completely overwhelmed with a hod podge of crap all over my counters (and all over the rest of the house) at about 10:00 the morning of the party.

We were supposed to have the party in our backyard so we could play football and have all the commotion outside - less clean up, less people crammed into my small main floor, less people seeing my messy house.  But, as is normal for Wisco falls, the weather did NOT cooperate and it was incredibly windy - a very chilly wind.  Not brisk and refreshing.  So I had to move things inside or risk no one coming at all.  That would be awkward: "Surprise, honey!  I threw you this party with no guests!"  
So I had to make due.  Which meant I had to clean like a madwoman on top of decorating, getting some food ready, and setting it all up.  Thank goodness mr surprised ME by coming home early and helped clean a little downstairs!  (now THAT'S a good sport... cleaning for his own party...)

The Decorations: And this is me starting to set up decorations:  

You can get details about the Cheesehead Pennant Banner here.  I hung them everywhere that seemed appropriate, since I had literally like 300 feet.  There were many many feet that did not get hung.  You can see the tutorial for the $4 large framed chalkboard here.  Seriously, smartest piece of decor I've ever made.
I made the striped "tablecloth" out of dollar store plastic table covers.  I spread the yellow one out (it's folded in half) then cut the green one in pieces and folded them and laid them over the top.  I did this for the other food table too.  Speaking of food...

The food:
It was a tailgating party, so I really wanted to keep the food within that theme.  I went with hot dogs and fixin's, popcorn, individual chip bags, homemade salsa and my brother's awesome, homemade Packer Dip (which he makes for game day viewing on his big screen) veggies and dip and caramel apple bites (which everyone thought was really fun...)  I had to be creative with table placement since we were stuck inside, and though I am NOT suggesting that I wish less people had come (hello, it's a party!) I DO wish I'd had a better spot for everything!

I was planning on having my brother in law grill the hot dogs, but alas, windy, yucky weather prevented it.  So my mom threw the hot dogs in her huge crock pot.  The condiments and fixings were on a lazy susan (which I repainted just for the party).  I used my milk jug carrier for mason jars filled with straws, spoons, forks and knives.  We had ketchup, mustard and mayo, obviously, and then some of mr's favorites: jalapenos, raw onions, jalapeno mustard and kraut.
I didn't use paper plates, instead I placed those paper "boats" or food trays around the counter so they could use them for whatever food they wanted.  It seemed more tailgate-y than plates and held the salsa and dip better.
The counter had a pennant banner made entirely of "cheese triangles."

I put the popcorn (which my mom brought over) in small white bags from the Target dollar section and lined them up on the counter.  I out the tortilla chips in a big basket which I lined with a golden yellow fabric - of note: people said I went overboard on the amount of chips, ha!  When the party was over we had half of a large ziploc bag left.  So there!
The Packer Dip went in the empty spot next to the chips in a large crockpot.
The other food table was set up in the kitchen against the cupboards (making it nearly impossible to open the fridge if needed) but it at least left enough room to grab your food and cleared the dining nook for the photobooth. 

For my caramel apple bites I made apple skewers.  I got a selection of apples: for the tart apple lover, I got granny smith and macintosh.  For the sweet apple lover I got braeburn, and honeycrisp, and for the lover of classics I got red and golden delicious.  Each mason jar in the front has only one kind of apple on the skewers inside.  The mason jars in the back are skewers of mixed apples.  That way, people could take what they preferred.  I put caramel apple dip in small ketchup cups in front of the apples.  It worked out really well and there were quite a few pluses to doing it this way:
1. They were soooo much easier to eat.  Especially for the kids.
2. I didn't have to buy one apple per person to make sure everyone got some.  In fact, I only bought one of each apple (ok, two macintosh, since they are so good) and that was enough for the entire party of people!  SOOOO much cheaper!
3. Better portions.  With all the other food, who could polish off an entire caramel apple?  This prevented waste!
I also made individual veggie platters.  I got the small paper cups at our local grocer - in the deli department they sell soup by the cup and I bought them for around 40 cents a cup.  A tiny bit pricey, but I didn't need a ton.  I only spent about $2.00.  I had the hardest time finding those paper ice cream cups around here, so that was my solution.  The dip went in little ketchup cups and I put them inside the larger cup with the veggies around it.  I got compliments!

The sweets:
To hold the sweets, I brought in my Rescued Cabinet that I had spray painted forever ago.  It will likely eventually go down in the craft dungeon, but it was perfect for holding the desserts!  I put a white plastic table cloth from the dollar store down.  I pulled out the drawer half way and draped another golden yellow fabric over the top and down over the drawer.  (I might have a lot of golden yellow fabric in my stash... hmmm...)  I put part of the pennant bunting on the front.
Inside the drawer I placed: a stack of small paper plates for the cake, a jar of plastic forks, two candy jars with lids that I got at Walmart (I couldn't find cute little metal scoops, only ugly plastic ones, so I bought two tiny coffee scoops instead.  They hung off of the lid nicely).  One jar had lemon drops and the other had green mint m&m's.  I had a bowl of mini reese's peanut butter cups next to them.
On top of the cabinet was the cake (more on that later) and the football cookies my mom made.  I saw these on pinterest, and the original idea is from Kitchen Fun with My 3 Sons.  They're just Little Debbie Oatmeal Cream Pies cut into football shapes and then iced to look like footballs!
The level above this held a gold platter of football shaped oreos and mint cream oreos.  The golden platters were $1 chargers from Hobby Lobby.  Next to the Oreos were the awesome cupcakes my sister made:

Aren't they adorable??  The cupcake toppers are lemon starbursts cut into triangles and stamped with circle impressions to make them look like cheese!  Isn't she clever??  I made the little cupcake flags with toothpicks and more washi tape.

The Cake:
I did not make this cake.  Just like I did not make this cake.  Or this cake.  Do you know why I did not make any of these cakes?  Because I made this cake.  And then I decided I would never do that again.  So I enlisted the help of my sister in law, who made El's cake as well.
Isn't it fun??  The bottom is chocolate with chocolate frosting - mr's favorite.  The top is also chocolate and covered with a golden hued fondant.  She cut a wedge out to make it look like a cheese wheel!  I love it!  In the top, there's a little label that says "Wisconsin Cheese."  The only thing I had to do with this cake was buying the sparkler candles - a 3 and a star shape for the 0 (they don't make 0's.  Did you know that?)  Oh, and lighting them.

The Favors:
I had grand ideas for the favors.  Both of which fell through - one because of time management problems and one because they were ridiculously expensive.  So, I went with this.
The set up was our piano bench placed strategically by the front closet right next to our front door.  I had that round box in my stash - I'd gotten it at the thrift store years ago and never used it.  I propped the chalkboard up and tossed in some clear bags with the following:
for the kids - some bags had small, handmade beaded bracelets.  There was also a wooden bowel in the box that had bouncy balls in it for the kids.
for everyone else - the treat bags (which I got at walmart for cheap) had green and yellow candy - andes mints, green tootsie rolls, lemon drops.  I put all the candy in the bags, folded the tops down, folded my homemade tags over it and stapled them on.
I made the tags in Pages on my mac (yet again...)  You just cut out the front and back together and fold it over the top of any bag and staple it on.  Easy.  If there are any Packer fans out there who are throwing football parties, you can have my printable!
I left room next to the favors for people to place gifts if they'd brought them (of course, my huge body bag was on the ground, not on the bench) and the chalkboard hung just above, so it was a cute area.

The Photobooth:
I really wanted a photobooth, to incorporate all the photos we got from mr's out of town family and friends... so I set one up in our dining area, off to the side of the kitchen. 

 I removed the table so it was a perfectly empty area.  I took down the curtains that normally hang (remember when I made those DIY grommet curtains?) and used these old clips I had in my stash to hand three white plastic tablecloths from the dollar store across the door.  It pooled on the ground (which was fine by me) and then I put up a banner in front.
Easy, instant photo booth.

The Photo Props:
You can't have a photo booth without props.  As I was making the fan packets, I realized it would be hilarious to have an "Aaron Rodgers look-alike contest for the photo booth.  mr could be the judge after everyone had had a chance to dress up and snap pictures and the winner would be awarded their very own "Lombardi Trophy" - made by me, of course.
Off to the side of the photo booth, I placed the props.  I made the mustaches and helmet the same way you see here.  I stuck them in brown beans (that are kind of football shaped, right?) in a yellow can.  Then I had another round box from the thrift store and I put in a bunch of mardi gras beads, some pipe cleaner glasses I made, a pom pom, a wig, a megaphone and a small chalkboard with chalk in case they wanted to write messages.  The chalkboard announcing the point of the photos was in front of the stool.  Around the photo booth I had pictures of Aaron Rodgers on sticks in small jars of beans for inspiration photos, and to the side I taped up the photos we got from Justin's family and friends out west.

And did we have fun?

I believe we did, yes.  See that Lombardi Trophy?  Looks just like the real deal, doesn't it?

I made it out of a plastic football that had candy in it (at one point) and the bottom is a hand soap bottle.  A little super glue and silver spray paint and bam.

Coincidentally, the guy who won the trophy is named Aaron too.  Hmmmmm...

I had a lot of help with the party - my brother made the Packer Dip, my sister in law made the cheese cake (not to be confused with cheesecake, which is entirely different), my sister made the cupcakes, my mom made the football cookies, brought the popcorn, cooked my hot dogs and even helped me clean.

In short, I couldn't have done this alone.  Partly because I am a bad party planner.  But also because... um... I am a bad party planner.  Oh, and I have kids running all over the place.

Yea for family and friends helping, coming, staying and playing!  

When mr walked in early and I was mostly done setting up he stopped, looked around and said, "I suppose I shouldn't be surprised because you always go to this much trouble, but this is pretty crazy."

(Trust me, it's a huge compliment.  He was telling me he could tell how hard I worked.  Aren't you glad I can understand Justinese now?  It only took about 5 years to learn.) 

And now, to plan mini's.  In between Halloween costumes, Halloween parties and treats, Thanksgiving (which is at my house AGAIN), Christmas gifts, and Christmas goodies.  It's gonna get crazy up in here.

*Be sure to check the right sidebar for all the fun parties I link to!
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