Saturday, May 31, 2014

I'm a one man band on the wagon.

I know you've seen all those jar herb gardens floating around pinterest - don't pretend like you haven't.  They're everywhere!  And if you know me, you know I'm likely to jump on a bandwagon like a trumpet blowing, drum stomping, cymbal crashing one man band!

Just kidding.

Kind of.

Here's the first one I saw and immediately wanted to copy: (but I don't know where it came from)
And here's one from Not Just A Housewife that's actually houseplants, but you could easily do herbs.

I've been wanting an herb garden like crazy.  Herbs are kind of pricey at the grocery store when you're buying them ALL THE TIME.  And then half of them go bad because you only use a tablespoon or two in each recipe.  Arg!  Anyway, I decided to do an indoor herb garden, hoping that 1) if it was inside I'd see it all the time and therefore be less likely to ignore and then ultimately kill it and also 2) space saving, you know.  

I made mine a little different because I wanted to use things I had on hand.

So, here's my version!

Mason jars.  I used two pint sized jars and 4 half-pint jars.  It's completely up to you what size and how many.  You need one jar for each herb plant.
Chain.  I just bought a pack of (smallish gauge) long silver chain at the hardware store.
Screw in hooks.  Self explanatory.  You need one for each jar.
Pliers.  Also self explanatory. 
Chalkboard stickers.  I used oval ones.  I got them at Hobby Lobby in the scrapbook/sticker section.
Chalk Pen.  Got it at Michaels when I made the huge map/cork board gallery wall.
Ruler.  Average, wooden variety.  But you can use any ruler.  Obviously.
Spray paint.  I used Valspar in turquoise and white.  You can do whatever you want.
Wood board.  Mine was about 27 inches by almost 12 inches.  The size doesn't matter a ton, just so it's big enough to fit as many jars as you'd like.
Painter's tape is optional.  You can use it to tape off your board before painting.  I used the chevron frog tape which I got at Lowe's.
Also, not pictured, a drill.  You know what that is, so it's ok I forgot it in the picture, right?

Start with your jars:
1. Write your labels - one per jar - with your chalk pen.  I made two jars for cilantro since that's the herb we use the most.
2. Place your labels on the jars.
3. Wrap the end of the chain around the jar under the lip to measure how much you need per jar.
4. Use the pliers to lift the link after up.
5. Remove the measured out length of chain from the rest at the broken link.
6. Use this chain to measure out the rest of the chain lengths and break a link to separate them.  
You need one chain per jar.

Prepare your board:
1. Tape off your board (if you want.)
2. Spray it with your spray paint.  I sprayed turquoise from the top down and white from the bottom up to create an ombre effect.
3. Use your ruler and one jar measure the spacing between jars.  
4. Make a mark using the pointy end of a hook where you want each jar to go.
5. Once your board is all marked,
6. Screw in your hooks.

Let's make it hang:
1. Using a drill bit that is big enough for your chain to fit through, drill two holes making sure they are even and centered.
2. Pull the rest of your chain through the holes, putting one end through each hole so you can see the chain on the front of the board.
3. Use your pliers to open a link.
4. Place the opened link through the other end of chain.
5. Close it up with your pliers.
6. And you've got a chain to hang it from!

And... plants!
 2. To prepare your jars, you'll need to put a layer or two of small to mediumish stones in the bottom (don't forget these, they're needed for drainage).  Then put some potting soil in.
3. Plant your herbs!  
4. Wrap a chain around a jar under the lip.
5. Place the ends together and slide the end links over the hook to hang.
6. Do this with each jar.
7. And never mind my wilty cilantro.

 I tried it with the jars straight up and down and with them at an angle.  I think I like it at an angle best.

 Now.  I just have to do my best not to kill them all.  Which, for me, will be quite the feat.

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

Thursday, May 29, 2014

WZWW #4 - Color POP

Ok, ok.  I know it's not Wednesday.  BUT, remember how I said the holiday threw me all out of whack?  I mean, we did Yummy Monday on Wednesday, so we can do What Zoe Wore Wednesday on a Thursday, right?  

There's no rules!!  (there's one rule!)  -- name that commercial.  Am I the only one who quotes commercials?  This is one of my number one quotes...

So.  Can you believe we are still occasionally dressing like this??  It's ridiculous.  On Monday it was like 80.  80.  In Spring.  In WISCONSIN.  Now it's like 55.

Anyway, these pics aren't super recent, but they are from this year - around February actually.  
The catalyst for choosing this outfit?  I told her she had to wear a sweater.  She wasn't pleased at first, but finally went with this fun geometric print.  

 I was surprised she didn't pull out something crazy and purple plaid to wear under it, but she told me the outfit "needed more color" - I kid you not, she said that.  Thus the turquoise top.  I tucked the pants into the boots myself because they were a teensy bit long and I didn't want them to get wet in the snow.

Geometric Sweater: Carters - hand me down
Turquoise top: Walmart, Granimals Brand - $3.00 (on clearance, 2012)
Orangey Red Cords: Carters - hand me down
Gray Sparkly Boots: The Children's Place OUTLET - $19.00 (day after Thanksgiving super sale, 2013) These were a SPLURGE.  I never spend that much on shoes for the kids, because they blink and grow out of them.

The moral of today's outfit?  Even a 4 year old knows you need a pop of color.

Do you know what my favorite thing about this girl is?  The way she always, ALWAYS crinkles her nose when she really smiles.  Gosh I hope that doesn't go away.
Or maybe it's the adorable freckle on her chin, which she is very proud of.  I hope that never goes away too (the being proud of it part.  I think the freckle itself is permanent.)
Or maybe it's the way she rolls her eyes at me when I tell her I need to take her picture AGAIN.  And then tells me, "Just ONE.  ONE picture.  Right, mommy?" While wiggling her index finger at me.  I hope that photo compliance doesn't go away either.
Or maybe it's just everything.

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

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Insects of the Sea...

yummy monday title button photo c41588db-8f15-4de5-90e0-d0ada37b9cd6_zpsf029cce8.jpg

That whole holiday on Monday totally threw me off... I'm all mixed up on my days.  And although I intended to have my usual weekend blog break, I didn't mean for it to go on and on like that.  
So, to all veterans and those currently serving for our country: Thank you.  It doesn't suffice, but it's a start.  And to everyone: Happy belated Memorial Day.

Because I'm all topsy turvy, it only makes sense to do Yummy Monday on Wednesday, am I right?  So that's what we're going to do!  

Long ago, I shared a version of this (so if you've been around a while, you may have seen this on the blog already) but I've adapted it a touch and increased the serving size to accommodate a whole herd of folks, since I usually make this when I have company.  Why?  It's easy, but it seems all fancy AND it tastes amazing.  PLUS, it's low carb and totally healthy, which - let's face it - can't be said of most of my food.

I'm bringing it back because 1. I'm super embarrassed of all photos before like a year ago on this blog. 2. It's altered a touch. and 3. It's delicious and you don't want to miss it.  Just take my word for it.  I mean, I don't even like shrimp.
 photo recipecard_zps72c5248a.jpg
(print out the recipe card!  It's made as a 3x5.  Just right click and download.)

I'm serious.  They're like, the insects of the sea.  And who wants to eat insects?  But for some reason, I still really like this recipe - shrimp and all.

So that's saying something.  The only other time I've enjoyed shrimp is when I had it fresh off the boat on my honeymoon in Mexico.  Which was probably the best part of that honeymoon, just saying.  

It's the perfect time of year for it too, it's light and summery!  If you don't want enough to feed a small army, just half the recipe above.  Happy eating!

The original is from George Stella and you can find it here. 

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

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The whole enchilada. And burrito. And taco. Nachos, too.

So, here's where we pull it all together!  It's an a-DORA-ble Party!  This could also be called "party on a budget" since I'm pretty sure I spent like $50 bucks on the whole thing - decor, food, gifts, favors, etc.

Here's the invitation I made on picmonkey:
For the green bush I used one of the fancy pants flourishes and modified it.  Ignore the black lines, obviously.

The decorations were fairly simple:

On the "treat table" I placed our piano bench in front and covered both with a white vinyl tablecloth.  Then I covered that with purple and white striped fabric and put some purple and white tulle all around the very top of the table.  I bought some super bright, happy flowers and put them in matching vases on the sides.  I borrowed the ferris wheel cupcake holder from my sister and made a "cake stand" from a glass jar and a plate.  I put out Zoe's hand me down plastic backpack backpack as well.  Then I used the cute, colorful alphabet rocks the kids and I made a long time ago and just placed them around in groups.  

There was a jar of them on the food counter, and I spelled out Zoe's name in a cheese dome.  Here's a tutorial for the alphabet rocks.  The food counter also had a "striped" tablecloth which I made by layering vinyl tablecloths that I got at the dollar store.

I also reused the pom pom garlands that I originally made for El's golden birthday.

I decided not to make any of the treats/food.  I didn't need the stress:
I bought two small cakes and put one on top of the other to make a small tiered cake (white and chocolate so everyone would be happy).  I topped it with a candelabra birthday candle holder that I got at Walmart.  It looks a little ghetto, but it worked well!
I bought cupcake as well.  They didn't have Dora cupcakes, but I wanted to make colorful toothpick flags anyway, so I bought My Little Pony cupcakes (since they were purple) and took the ring toppers off.  I made the toothpick flags with my every growing collection of washi tape.  On the food counter, there were glass vases: one with grape jelly flavored licorice (weird, huh?), one with gold Reeses Peanut Butter Cups, and one with Dora fruit snacks. 
I also filled a large jar with animal crackers (she helps animals right?) and one with oranges because the counter needed a little color.  Zoe and I made our own rock candy in varying shades of purple.  (You can see my other rock candy creation here and get the recipe.)
On those gold platters we put tacos and burritos (both from Taco Bell - told you I didn't want to make anything...) We also set out tortilla chips, salsa and guacamole.  

After everyone ate, we opened presents:
Then we played games and pulled the pinatas.  
And then we ate cake!

Zoe was thrilled with the whole thing, the kids had fun, mr saved dough, and, well, I chocked the whole thing up to a win!

You can see the presents I made Zoe here - Backpack Backpack, and Map!
Check out the Party Favor Cinch Bags (Dora Style) here!
And get Dora Party activity ideas here, including a Dora style Treasure Hunt and Pull-String, Paper Lantern Pinatas!

And that's how you do Dora on the cheap and easy!

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

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

It's just not a party without a piñata.

Today I thought I'd show you the Dora party activities we did!  There were only two: a treasure hunt and some Pull-pinatas.  I set up the treasure hunt like a Dora adventure!  

Here's how we did it!  Before all the kids got here, I set up the three stations (Babbling Brook, Singing Gate and Treasure Island).  I taped up little instruction cards at each station so the kids could read them and know what to do in order to move on.
Once the kids arrived, they each got their favor cinch backpack and looked inside to find their own personal map (I made them on the computer with clipart and printed them on normal paper).
The first stop was babbling brook.  I laid down blue fabric on the floor for the brook.  I used red, white and yellow construction paper for "stepping stones."  The kids had to use the stepping stones to cross the brook, but they were all messed up, so first they had to complete the color patter by laying the paper stepping stones in the right spots.
It was pretty fun seeing them hop on from "stone" to "stone"!

Next stop was singing gate (which was the baby gate we had for when the kids were tiny).  There was a piece of card stock taped up with a bunch of tiny clip art pieces all mixed up on it.  The kids had to help singing gate sing the right words to his song by putting the pictures in the right order and then all singing together.  
Too cute!

Finally, the gate opened so they could go down the stairs to treasure island.  I put our ottoman in the middle of the room and put a chair on top of it, then covered it with a sand-colored blanket.  I attached different sand-colored shapes all around the ottoman by taping them to the blanket.  The shapes were "keyholes".  The kids had to look through their backpacks and find the correct item to help them "open" the locks.  In each backpack, there was a different white shape - a key.  The kids matched their shapes to the keyholes and taped their keys up.  Then I lifted the blanket off to reveal...

A treasure box!  Inside were awesome gold and silver chocolate coins!  (I found them for cheap at Aldi)

Once the kids had divided up the treasure into their backpacks, my hubby jumped through the door and pretended to be Swiper!  The kids all joined in keeping him away, which was adorable.  Don't tell mr I used this photo, he'd be all embarrassed.

After the treasure hunt was over, we did the pinatas!  I bought a 3-pack of paper lanterns in the party section at Target.  They were bright Dora-esque colors.
Then I cut out three pieces of card stock to fit inside the lanterns in the bottom.  I punched a tiny hole in the middle each piece of card stock, put a piece of cotton twine through, knotted it and taped it, letting it dangle down through the small hole.  Then I placed it in the bottom of the lanterns and put some small candy and trinkets in each one.  I had the kids work together to pull the three strings at the same time and as they pulled the card stock popped out and all the goodies fell!  It was pretty much the only way we could have a piñata in our small house!  You can see a full tutorial on how to make a pull piñata like this here.

The kids really seemed to love the activities and have a blast!  I had fun watching them!

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

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Grab your backpacks! Let's go!

Today I have a real tutorial for you!  Since we only had cousins and one friend come for Zoe's party, I decided to make them each favor bags.  These are super easy to whip up, though, so you could definitely make more in very little time.    

Here are the Dora-Inspired Cinch Bags!

Ready to make some?

And there you have it!  Easy!

It was adorable seeing the kiddos walking around at the party with these guys on their backs.  I made two for the boys:

And three for the girls:

Depending on the size you need for your favors, you don't need much fabric.  You can use up your scraps!

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

Monday, May 19, 2014

Long ago, in a home far, far away...

Or, you know, not so far depending on how close you are to Wisconsin...
But the long ago part is right no matter how you look at it.

Basically, I'm horrible at sharing the parties I throw my kids.  I think it's because by the time I make the gifts, make the decor, make the food, make the games, make and make and make and make and set up and set up and set up and set up and then CLEAN CLEAN CLEAN... well, I'm done.  Plus, my oldest two have birthdays in December.  Which means that all parties take place indoors.  And it's dark at like 3.  Do you know how hard it is to take decent photos indoors when it's dark?  It's impossible.  So then I end up with mediocre pictures of something I worked really hard on and all I have to show for any of it is a destroyed house.

I mean, that's how the PPD feels (Post Party Depression.  Remember?  I have that.)

But, I loved planning this party for mini and she was so very thrilled with the whole thing that I feel I have to share it, crummy photos and all.  
So even though this was when my now 4 year old turned 3 I'm going to share it!  This week, you'll get a small taste of what it's like to be the mother of a little girl passionate about Dora the Explorer.

First up, I'm sharing two gifts I made for Zoe.

Let's start with a little Backpack, Backpack!  I may remember, I made this easy version of Backpack out of fleece and sans zipper.  It was pretty cool.  We still have it.  But I felt like I could do better.  

So for this real guy, I used lilac cotton and a fun purple floral cotton for the lining.  I also actually totally sewed a zipper (I know!) and made some pockets and used real life strap type material (like you'd use for a belt).  Unfortunately, as I was making this kind of last minute (of course) I don't have a tutorial.  But I can give you a basic rundown.  

The backpack consists of 5 basic pieces.  Since I'm not an expert at lining anything, I first cut out these pieces in the purple, then in the floral and sewed the corresponding pieces together inside out, left a little opening, turned them right side out through the opening, and top stitched around the whole piece making sure to sew up the opening.  The five pieces are the front and back, The bottom (which curves up to make the sides as well, the top, and the flap.  I sewed the zipper to the top piece right away, before sewing anything together.  I used this basic method (but just folded my one piece of fabric in half and sewed instead of using two pieces.)  I made some cute pockets out of the floral material - one is a star shape and the other a simple curved bottom with a straight top gathered with elastic.  I sewed them to the bottom/sides piece.  Then I tucked in the bottom of the straps and I sewed the back piece to the bottom/sides and the front piece to the bottom/sides (right sides together).  I tucked the top flap and the top of the straps inside - sandwiched with the top piece, and sewed the top piece to everything (right sides together).  Flip it all right side out and done!  I hand sewed the mouth and eyebrows and glued on the giant goggly eyes.

After it was all together, I cut the straps so there was more on the top than bottom.  I used two buckles with teeth so the straps would stay put.  I slipped the bottom piece of straps around the middle of the buckle and sewed it, then folded the ends of the top pieces of straps over twice and sewed that down to finish the end.

Then I made map!  
I printed out a bunch of little places you might find in a Dora episode (a lake, mountains, a beach, a field, a city, the moon, a case, a tower, a gate, you get the idea) on iron-on transfer material, then ironed it all to a piece of white felt.  I cut them out.  Then I cute two rectangles of white felt the same size.  On one, I top sewed two curvy pieces of tan felt with a space in between right in the middle.  This is the path.  In the corners of the white felt, at the ends of the path and in the middle between the two path pieces I sewed small pieces of velcro.  On the other piece of white felt, I sewed a red felt mouth and glued on some goggly eyes.  Then I sewed the two pieces of white felt together.  I used two pieces because I wanted it to be sturdy and didn't want it to stretch out of shape with all the pulling on the velcro.  
Zoe can make her own adventures by putting the little felt pieces on the velcro and following the path!

Roll up Map and stick him in his pocket!  I also put some glow in the dark stars in the star pocket.  

You can't tell in any of these photos really, but I also made her a Dora outfit.  She already had a short sleeved pink top.  I made her an orange skirt out of a turtleneck sweater by using the neck for a waistband.  I know Dora wears orange shorts, but if you know Zoe, you know she'd rather wear a skirt.  Then I dyed yellow ruffle socks bright yellow because I couldn't find yellow socks anywhere.  I got little white canvas tennies at Walmart on clearance.  Done!  (She DID have to wear white tights too, since it was winter and cold.  But, you know, close enough.)

And though this was two birthdays ago, she still plays with her backpack and map!

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