Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Throwing My Own Birthday Party - Western Style

As a girl growing up, I never had my own birthday party.  It was always a family dinner with a 9x13 cake and ice cream on a paper plate...yeah, it slipped around like crazy and the ice cream always got my cake soggy! LOL!

As a child, I was always so envious of my friend who were having those magical McDonald's birthday parties.  You remember...every child would get a happy meal, a crown, there were balloons everywhere, and if you were lucky...Ronald McDonald showed up with a giant cake of his face on the front! OMG!  Those kids were so lucky and those parents were sooooo rich! :)

I don't know who this little girl it, but dang was she a lucky one!
When I turned 23 (before the age of digital cameras, hence no photo), my husband threw me a surprise birthday the local McDonald's play area!  He bought everyone a happy meal and even got a McDonald's cake!  It was the best birthday party I had ever had due to his extreme thoughtfulness! :)  It will always be the best birthday in my mind!

But now, 13 years and 4 children later, "ain't nobody got time for that"! :)  With everyone's busy lives and running after their kids, who has time to throw their adult friend a birthday party...and I wanted one, so what's a girl to do?  Well throw my own, dang it!

Then I remembered that one of my besties has her birthday just a few days after mine, so we decided to team up.  We threw ourselves a birthday party!

First of all we decided to do it at a restaurant with a fantastic outdoor patio.  We're not stupid...we didn't want to throw our own party and then have to clean up after it too! LOL!

Then we sent out the infamous Evite and asked everyone, "in lieu of presents", could they pay for their own meal, which ranged from $10-$30.  It would be very rude to invite everyone to your party, ask them to pay their way and then pick some place where it's going to cost them $100 to eat.  And according to most etiquette experts, it's not rude to ask them to pay for their own meal as long as you tell them beforehand so they can plan accordingly, as well as mention that they don't need to bring gifts.  I always like to say "it's your presence, not presents, that's required."

So despite having it at a restaurant, I couldn't resist the urge to decorate a little...and have a theme!  My girlfriend and I are both born and raised country girls so we decided to go with a little western theme.  Here's what I did.

I decorated each table with some burlap, a mini hay stack, mason jar of daisies, tin can with some "get to know you" questions and some trail mix.

I also decided to make our own cupcakes.  Smores it was!  
I got this amazing recipe from this blog: Smores Cupcake Recipe .  Ya'll, there were 'smack your mama' good!  OMG! 
Then I purchased the cupcake wrappers from Amazon here: Yellow Chevron Wrappers .  
I made the "Wanted" sign myself which makes me laugh every time I see it!

And of course we needed why not decorate with them?  I purchased all of them on ebay here: Yellow Bandanas . 

Me and Leslie, the birthday girls!
  First we forced our friends to come to our party...then we forced them to sing Happy Birthday to us.  What?  We know what we want! :)

Seriously though, we were surrounded by wonderful friends who support us daily.  We couldn't be happier and if it takes us throwing ourselves our own birthday party to get all these wonderful people together, then I have no shame in that!  Love them all!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

How we roll on the 4th!

 Tomorrow is 4th of July, our nation's Independence Day, and I thought I would share what our family has done over the years to celebrate America's Birthday!  This year she will be 237 years old!  Yeah, she deserves some fireworks! :)

If you are familiar with Pinterest, you know that there are a slew of red/white/blue foods to make on the 4th, and breakfast is no stranger to that.  All you need are some strawberries or raspberries, blueberries and yogurt or whipped cream and you can turn anything into a patriotic feast!
Blueberry Waffles
Blueberry, strawberry, yogurt and granola parfaits

Not only do I like coordinating my kids clothes on a daily basis, but holidays get special attention!  Currently it's pretty easy to find anything in red/white/blue in the stores.  My favorite places to shop on a budget are Children's Place & Old Navy (love their online selection), Kohls or even Walmart and Target have some cute things.  Most of the time I just wait until the 5th and buy them 75% off and save them for next year.

My absolute favorite holiday tradition is parades!  The energy that a huge crowd of excited people bring is overwhelming.  I always cry at a parades. I know that's weird, but seeing how much work the volunteers put into this, seeing the veterans, our fire fighters and the extraordinarily cute kids in the parades...well it's a smorgasbord of emotions that take over and I gladly let it.

My children's favorite part, of course, is the candy and toys they throw.  We have our "parade baskets" that we always bring and my kids will sit through a 2 hour parade as long as someone's throwing some junk their way!

One year for my birthday, which is in July, I asked my husband to gift me all these patriotic decorations.  The bunting is great b/c when it fades, you just flip it over and use the other side.  I bought the fabric from the same website and, wait for it, I actually sewed the curtains.  Unfortunately I don't remember where I bought them online. :(

Here's my mantle.  It's not exactly how I want it, but it's still patriotic enough.  I'm never truly done collecting for holidays! :)

I do love a party!  Here's one I did for our family a couple years ago.  The flag frames come in handy! I love using props for parties that come from another place in my home.  It just seems more substantial and it's certainly cost effective.  Just look around your home and grab everything that's red/white/blue and arrange it on your mantle or table and voila, it's patriotic!

It's our family tradition that I make these Jell-O parfaits every year.
We eat these cool treats while watching the fireworks!

Who doesn't love a mason jar?  I cooked these cupcakes in the jars and they came out so extremely moist!  Best cupcakes ever!

My philosophy about food and parties is this: "Give any food a creative or wacky name, and it automatically becomes fun for the kids."  So here's my 'Rocket Red Glad Punch' and 'Star Spangled Banner Blue Punch'.

The 3 layered colorful cupcakes are always a hit!

But this is our newest tradition!  We make Sparkler Birthday cupcakes and after lighting them we sing "I'm Proud to be an American".  The kids are a little scared and excited at the same time!
Don't judge my cupcakes...the heat that day melted all the icing.  Oh well, they still tasted good.

The details always make me giddy!  Every year we paint our nails red and blue.  It's so stinkin' cute and my girls love it (my boys are a little bit jealous).

One year we even did a bike parade down our street.  All I remember is this, "IT WAS FREAKIN' HOT"!!!!

By the evening we are pretty wiped out, but we hang in there to see the fireworks, which is way past my kids bedtime and leaves them overstimulated and wild children.  And glow sticks are a fun addition to this time of the keeps their hands busy for a while.

Jell-O time! :)

One year I bought these fireworks glasses which are supposed to make the fireworks look 3D.  Yeah, that was a waste of money! LOL!

And every year our days ends like this! :)  Four children fast asleep, covered in stickiness and sweat and cute as can be!

Happy Independence Day!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

4th of July Ideas and Checklist

4th of July is just a few days away and I was starting to get stressed!  So, when I feel stressed, I make lists! :)  So here is my 4th of July Checklist for our wonderful Independence Day.  Of course, this is specific to my family; however, I hope it helps guide you on preparing for your day as well.

To download this document, click here: 4th of July Ideas and Checklist