Saturday, April 30, 2011

The 2011 Egg Dyeing Adventure

I'm sort of working backwards to get caught up on the blog.  This is what happens when I take forever to download pictures from the camera and get some posts up.  I wish I was a more organized person/blogger to get these up in a timely manner.  Maybe in my next life...

So we dyed Easter eggs the Wednesday before Easter.  It was a super busy week with getting ready for Jack's party, getting ready for Easter, and attending Holy Week services - but we managed to get the activity in on Wednesday.

Note to self:  with three kids and two parents dyeing eggs - 12 was not enough.  Regardless of if I'll be able to stomach 14 egg salad sandwiches or 37 deviled eggs - we need to do more next year.

As you can see, Jack LOVED this activity.  We did have to closely monitor him though - as he thought it was particularly hysterical to drop/dunk his eggs in the dye for the full splash effect.

Anna patiently waited for her eggs to turn the proper color ... well, sort of patiently.

I don't know if I mentioned on the blog before now - but I'm taking a photography class taught by a local photographer.  It's great!  I'm finally using my camera beyond the 'auto' setting - albeit very slowly.  I'm still trying to figure out terms that up until now have been foreign to me like aperture, shutter speed, ISO, and focal length. 

Will I ever get a natural smile from this boy of mine again?

I'm still not brave enough to take my camera off 'auto' for the important shots - like Easter morning or birthday candles - but I'll get there.  Someday.  For now, I'm having fun playing with the settings and learning all about what this camera of mine can do - which is a LOT more than I've been letting it do for the last three years!

A Royal Wedding Celebration

In honor of William and Kate's wedding, my good friend Nici and I decided to throw a proper viewing party for our girls and some of their friends.  I'm not ashamed to admit that I've been t-total excited to watch this wedding.  How often do we get to see a real live fairy tale wedding happen - to a real live royal family - and not a Disney cartoon?

So it all started with a proper invitation (of course) which were hand delivered to each girl.   Can I just say that I Heart Photoshop?

To get in the true spirit of things, I made each girl a princess veil.  It's amazing what you can make with a cheap plastic tiara, some white sparkly tulle, and a glue gun.

And of course, every girl needs a proper diamond engagement ring.

And dinner at a beautiful royal table.  Our wedding feast consisted of ham biscuits, chips (not British fries - but 'crisps', fresh fruit, crudites, petit fours, and chocolate covered caramels, all served on the finest china and silver, and crystal.  Lemonade for the girls served in champagne flutes and blood orange mimosas for the mamas.

Her Highness Giovanna Hallman Long

Her Highness Addison McSwain Comer

Her Highness Madeleine Anne Martin

A Royal Toast
'ching ching'

And what proper party would be complete without a little cookie decorating?

Cookies in the shapes of crowns and wedding cakes, of course.

Royal cookie decorating is serious business.

The more sugar and glittery sprinkles the better.

It's hard work being a princess bride.  It's a good thing the lemonade was plentiful to refresh our little brides.

Lots of licks and tastes of the sweets - but as Madeline quickly discovered - icing straight out of the bottle is best.

Proper Princess Petit Fours

We completed our party by first looking through my wedding album.  It was fun to share the pictures of my wedding day with three little girls - Addie who kept wanting me to turn the pages quickly to get to the one where Deonne and I kiss.  (Sadly, that picture doesn't exist - that roll of film from our ceremony was lost.)  When I asked her why she was so intent on seeing pictures of kissing - she grinned and looked at me and said " 'cause I want to kiss my BOYfriend."  Watch out B and N - she's looking to share some smooches... HA!

We then changing into our princess bedroom attire (nightgowns) and accessorized with our veils and settling in to watch the wedding.  Lots of ooohs and aaahs from the princess brides as we saw Kate emerge from her Rolls Royce - and an enormous amount of giggles when we saw the royal couple's first kiss.  (Thank goodness for DVRs - we could fast forward through the lengthy ceremony and processionals to the palace to watch just the good parts.)

I'm so thankful we got to share this moment with friends.  I distinctly remember my mom waking me up at some ungodly hour on the west coast to watch Princess Di get married - and ooohing and aaahing over her dress and flowers as she emerged from her carriage.

I was just about Anna's age - and I remember that morning like it was yesterday.  I hope the fun we had last night created long lasting memories for her - that she'll one day share with her own children - when William and Kate's children get married someday ... but I'm getting ahead of myself now aren't I.

What a fun night.  What a glorious celebration!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Jack Turns Two

Our little Jacky-pooh turned two last Friday.  It still baffles my mind that my youngest, my baby, is two years old.  Sigh.  I'll save the sentimental post for later - right now I'll focus on the fun festivities of a two-year old party!
I went back and forth for a theme of his party - I wanted it to be something he'd enjoy at the age of two - not too complicated or advanced or scary (i.e. no clowns - they're creepy) - yet something all of the kids in attendance would enjoy.  Because his birthday fell two days before Easter - an egg hunt became the natural choice.  And, I figured it's the last year I can do something sweet and innocent - from here on out I'm sure we'll be celebrating his passing years with trucks and tractors, pirates and cowboys.

Once I settled on the theme - and the timing (brunch and egg hunt at 10:00 in the morning) I started googling and perusing through every party planning/mommy blog/crafty celebrity I could find to come up with fun crafts and decorations and goodies and menu options.

Of course, it was first and foremost and egg hunt - so the kids in attendance would need a basket or bag to gather their treats.  I shopped around for sweet looking baskets that were reasonably priced to no avail.  The ones in my price range ($1-2) were either those bright looking bamboo ones or plastic buckets.  Neither of which I liked.  So I turned to trusty Martha - and found directions for these 'basket' bags - and with Deonne's help to install the eyelet - was able to create individual bags for everyone who attended.

I found a lot of the decorations in my attic (like the egg wreath pictured above.)  I have this habit of purchasing holiday items when they go on clearance - stuffing them in bins in the attic - and forgetting about them until the next year.  What a happy surprise to find the above wreath to welcome guests to this festive occasion (I think it might have come from Target - but I'm not entirely sure.)

No party is complete without cake or cupcakes.  I've made the move recently towards cupcakes rather than large cakes that require cutting, plates, and forks.  These little sweeties turned out so cute - using that (what I call) hairy piping tip to make the grass.  I'm sure that's not the proper name for it - but I originally bought it to make Elmo hair on cupcakes - so it was forever more called the 'hairy tip.'  So there.  It made great Easter basket grass - topped with jelly bean 'eggs' and tiny royal icing carrots from Bake It Pretty.  

Favors for the kids came in the form of family Easter baskets - stuffed to the brim with assorted goodies from the Target Dollar Spot (sidewalk chalk, bubbles, flower seeds), a variety of age appropriate Easter themed childrens books, a 'carrot' filled with goldfish (Jack's favorite snack), and assorted typical Easter candies (think Cadbury Creme Eggs and foil wrapped chocolate eggs.) 

I had a lot of fun with the decorations - like these carrots (wrapped utensils) for the main food table.

What brunch is complete without Krispy Kreme donuts?  I think it might be a law somewhere that you must serve these delightful sweets at all brunch parties.  Also on the menu were platters of fresh fruit, strawberries from the local sustainable farm, a pile of tea biscuits surrounding an assortment of butters (blackberry, pecan honey, and lemon herb), sausage, egg, and cheese casseroles, spinach and Gruyere cheese stratas, phyllo, prosciutto, and Parmesan cheese wrapped asparagus, and orange-lemonade, blood orange mimosas, and fresh brewed coffee to drink. 

I turned to Martha once again for assistance with table decorations - making these lovely little candy daffodil cups filled with lemon jelly beans.

Family Fun came through with directions for making chocolate egg topiaries to decorate the kids' table - which was covered with white craft paper (along with a basket of crayons) to encourage a little crafting/drawing from our guests.

The printable decorations.  Oh.  My.  Goodness.  I happened upon Simply Creative Insanity via a party planning blog I frequently visit.  As soon as I saw her party featured on Kara's blog - I knew I had to contact her to see if she could help with the printables for this shin-dig.  And help she did - and then some.  She created a beautiful custom invitation, all of the printables you see in these photos and did so beautifully.  She was prompt and easy to work with - and I HIGHLY recommend her to everyone out there looking for custom designs!

Kind of hard to see in front of my horribly un-ironed tablecloth - the banner reads 'hippity hop.'  So SWEET!  And so perfect for the sweets table!

In lieu of the typical banner strung on ribbons that I make for all the kids' birthdays - I opted this time to glue the photos and name on dowels and plant them in the garden.  I had various bunnies and happy birthday signs stuck in planters all around the yard.

Sugar cookie cutouts are a staple 'round these parts for all holidays, birthdays, celebrations - these turned out pretty darn cute - even if I was up 'til just after midnight Friday night finishing the piping...

What party doesn't deserve marshmallow bunnies on a stick?  I was so happy to find them in blue - to match the color scheme of the party (lime green and turquoise blue.)

In addition to the baskets each family took home - each was also given a jar of 'bunny noses' to add to their growing collection of all things sugary.

These asparagus straws were so darn yummy - I'm wishing I had some more with me right now to nibble on!

Another view of the family baskets.

So now that we've set the scene - let's talk about the actual party - okay?  Okay.  We gathered the kids in our house until all families arrived - then set them loose across the backyard to hunt for their eggs.  Somehow I miscalculated how many eggs I purchased - I'd originally planned for 12 per child - but ended up with way way way more than that.  Yeah - counting has never been my strong suit.

In addition to the more than 200 colored eggs (stuffed with candy) were two silver eggs and one golden egg.  James was thrilled to find one of the coveted silver eggs.

Jack had a t-total ball.  His older cousin gently guided him around the yard - pointing out eggs and helping him fill his basket to the brim.

Of course it didn't take long for him to get the hang of things and he was soon off on his own - running about and collecting eggs.

Can I pause for a moment to point out his adorable outfit?  I found it from a wonderful seamstress on Etsy, Stella Kate Designs.  Not only did she create this ADORABLE outfit in record time (I somehow lost track of the date and ordered this the week before the party) but she made it well - as in it is excellent quality!  So super friendly shop, excellent quality, extremely kind in working with me to get the fabric/font/design/buttons right, very fast, and incredibly well priced ... you can't go wrong!  Call on Stella Kate Designs for your custom clothing needs - she rocks!

Checking his basket - presumably to see how many more he can stuff in there...

What a happy birthday boy!  I could eat him up with a spoon!

This precious girl, who I adore for her funny sense of humor and bouncy curls, discovered the Golden Egg!  She was thrilled!

My Anna had to pause now and then to check her loot - and snitch a few pieces of chocolate-y goodness.

Blowing out his birthday candles - making him officially two!

Jack's little birthday cake - even though he had cupcakes - he still needed a cake to blow candles out on - so I made this little guy just for Jack.

All in all it was a super fun party.  The weather cooperated (rain stopped) and the sun eventually came out.  The food was good, the drinks especially good, and the morning was filled with laughter from giggling children.

Most of all, Jack had a wonderful time.  He grinned and smiled and played and giggled and hugged his friends and hopped and jumped all at the same time.  He was truly the birthday boy - and loved every minute of it.

I have to say a big thank you to my dear friend Nici - who came over and helped calm my frazzled nerves when I was trying to get everything finished by 10:00 am (all the while thinking - what was I thinking planning a party to be ready in the morning with three kids age 6 and under running amok in excitement??) and hid the eggs for me.  And also to Ashley - a new but very special friend - who took time out of her day and her own three kids to come over and photograph the big day (all photos were taken by Ashley.)  Thanks you guys.  Seriously.  I couldn't have pulled this off without you - nor would I have any pictures of the fun.