Category Archives: entertaining

A little after-race party


My kids participated in a neighborhood fun run a couple weekends ago. My husband was a competitive runner in high school and college, whereas the only thing that could get me running (maybe) would be someone chasing me. I decided to show my support for my kids following in their father’s (swift) footsteps instead of mine by throwing a little after-race party. I made a paper mobile out of scrapbook paper and fishing wire with the name of the event to hang over our table.

Then I made cupcakes (gluten-free and delicious from this book, since Nana was coming) with little printed flags.

Like the way Dorothy’s cupcake is just a wee bit ahead? She’s so competitive…

I made use of our new chalkboard table by writing a message to my little runners.

Dorothy was pleased with her finish even though did not in fact “pull out ahead and beat them all” as she had intended. Her tank top was a work of her own, made with fabric paint and a freezer paper stencil. She made it especially to wear in the race. Unlike the running, she gets that from me. Compare her to her own self at the same race two years ago–when did she get so big?

Worth might have been the youngest participant in the road race, running a quarter mile in the “under five” category. He bolted in the wrong direction when they started the race with a loud noise, but his father convinced him to follow the herd and he ended up running on his chubby little baby legs the whole distance, never losing his grip on his father’s hand. He was very pleased with his finisher medal.


A cupcake birthday


My first baby turned six today! We’ve been celebrating for a week. We’d never before hosted a “friend” birthday party but we did this year. Such fun! I cut a cupcake shape from a cardboard box and Dorothy painted it. We staged this photo, then I used Photoshop to add words to the cupcake for her invitation. They looked sweet printed on metallic paper from Mpix and I made postcards from the same print with only the words “thank you” on the cupcake.

Dorothy chose a Michael Miller print with cupcakes for her birthday dress fabric and insisted that I use the same pattern (Simplicity 5704) I’d used for cousin Lila’s pony dress. I really was into the idea of making her birthday dress but I had computer problems two¬† weeks ago that prevented me from doing anything crafty since I basically spent all my free time for a week trying to buy a new hard drive, back up files, and act like I knew what I was doing. When the week of her birthday party arrived I hadn’t yet made her dress or the cupcake pajamas she also insisted she needed, given that the friend celebration was to occur in pajamas. I stayed up very late one night sewing the dress, was pleased with the result, then stayed up the next night making her pajamas based on a pair of pajama pants I took out of her drawer as I was tucking her in. The next morning she woke up and said, “oh mom, I forgot to tell you last night, but those pajama pants you took downstairs last night are way too big.” Oy. And the homemade pants were too, but I altered them a bit and they were still cute, if a bit bunchy.

The dress was darling on her but Dorothy may have been the most pleased with the new shoes her grandparents bought her. She fell in love with them on their birthday shopping trip and insisted that six was old enough to wear “high heels.” I’ll never tell her that I don’t really consider these girly little sandals to be high heels. She’s been clomping around the house in them like six-year-old royalty.

I purchased cupcake-themed goodies from Oriental Trading Company and the kids had a great time dividing the little rubber stamps, temporary tattoos and other cupcake ephemera into pink cellophane bags for the party. We invited nineteen children and all of them showed up. Dorothy declared herself a “party animal.” Indeed.

After surviving the adorable mob of small cupcake-eating girls in pastel pajamas on Friday night we hosted a more staid fete for our close family the next afternoon. Nana, at Dorothy’s request, made a sheet cake with a cupcake on it.

Many of our small party guests brought handmade cards. I hung some string on our mantel so we could display all her special birthday cards for a few days to fully appreciate them.

With all the parties over we’re getting back to our routine. Soon it will be time to make decisions about schooling for next year. Our homeschool routine is so cozy and laid back I think it might be hard to make a choice for “away” school (Dorothy’s term), no matter how fond we are of the options we’ve applied to. She’s begging to stay home, probably because she hates setting the alarm. (She gets that from me.) We’ll see. In the meantime my kindergartener is getting in plenty of relaxed time with our little cast of characters at home in the mornings and many great experiences in our afternoon activities out and about. She does Girl Scouts, soccer, gymnastics, Sunday School, ballet, and church choir. I always giggle a little inside when people express concern about homeschoolers getting enough socialization.

On a different subject, I made more new accent pillows for the sofa. I just can’t stop. I’m keeping all the old ones, of course, but changing them seasonally really seems to give great impact for little effort. This green and white Ikat print makes the whole room feel springy. Like cupcakes, you know, but without all that sugar.

Hazy but never lazy summer


Where does the time go? I’m offended that Target has back-to-school things out. In the meantime, we’re enjoying the heck out of our summer, in and out of the pool, playing with the dog, partying in the back yard, getting sunburned in spite of best intentions, still removing wallpaper occasionally but not doing too much crafting. There will be time for cozy indoor creativity later. Dorothy and I have been churning out cookie bouquets in the kitchen, however, since we all need to be in the air conditioning sometimes. I let her color on old CD adhesive labels, which we then stick to the plastic-wrapped cookies. That seems to be a good way to use those labels up as well as artfully decorate our goodies. Empty cans that used to house bottled coffee drinks make perfect small vases, and the link to cookie recipe we use is here. This bouquet went to a four-year-old friend with a birthday this week.

Vintage linens on the kid table, with flowers picked from the garden in a mason jar, all ready for a group of happy friends–does summer get any better than this?

And Miss Belle, who I think may actually have doubled her size since we adopted her, sporting her new Etsy collar with flower. She is growing strong on food from dishes sold by this store, and her sweet engraved tag came from here. These dog goodies were beyond my homemade ken, but I love being able to buy someone else’s creative works instead of the same old stuff from the big box stores.

I also have a happy update on my car woes. It seems that my car is fixable! I may only be in my ugly, gas-guzzling rental for one more week. I’m going to have to do something nice for my car when I get it back. Maybe a homemade trash can? Or new cover-up rugs for the floorboards? I’m so excited. There’s nothing to make you appreciate the status quo like having it temporarily compromised.

Party time


Every year since Dorothy has been a baby we’ve hosted a 4th of July-themed bash in our back yard for her small friends. We had the 2010 event a couple days ago, and it was a success. This year we featured do-it-youself face (turned into body) painting, the dress-up box (even more exciting outdooors in 100 degree heat!) and other yard games. I wanted to make some version of the locally-popular game cornhole (basically bean-bag toss) that would be easy for preschoolers, so I stitched up some homemade bean bags before the party.

I used a set of coasters as a template to cut 8 fabric squares (leftover scraps from the matching outfits of last week), stitched them right-sides together leaving a small opening on one side, turned them right-side out, filled them with dried beans from the pantry using a small flexible cutting board as a funnel (see top photo), then hand-stitched the openings closed. Then I spray-painted two lines in the grass about 10 feet apart and put the bean bags on one side and a laundry basket on the other. The kids didn’t actually end up playing with it much–the draw of the face-paint was too strong–but I kind of liked the idea and will probably use it again at smaller gatherings when there is less competition for attention. I think it would be a fun multi-generational game.

Here’s Dorothy with self-painted cheeks and arms. We like the crayon-style face paints because the kids can paint themselves easily and it washes off with no more than a baby wipe. By the end of the party, some kids were almost fully naked and had paint from one end to the other!
After the party we had to return to reality with a jolt–27 children and 21 adults left, then we had three hours to clean the house and evacuate for a real estate showing. Ugh. No feedback, so I assume that after all that effort the prospective buyers were not interested.

Yesterday was much calmer. The party over, Dorothy went off to spend the day with her newly-relocated grandparents. I took Worth to his 4-month checkup (75% percentile in height and weight!), then he slept undisturbed by sister all afternoon while I got caught up on various quiet tasks and made some invitations to his upcoming baptism and brunch. It’s certainly not necessary to send invitations to the small, close crowd of family and friends who will be included in this day, but doing so does seem to set apart this event as something extra-special. I printed a Filippo Lippi painting from the internet (for personal use) that I’d admired at the Uffizi in Florence before I was married and taped it to a little message I printed on cardstock.

A star-spangled birthday


Friday I made a fun excursion with my dad and the kids. We drove to a local lake with a beach, where some friends of mine have been going regularly. It was really fun, we’ll definitely do it again. We were almost surprised by how beachy and relaxing it was, even though the drive was so pleasantly short. It was weird to come home and shake off sand all over my own home, instead of a hotel room! I recently unearthed a little Playmate cooler of just the right picnic size in our garden shed–I think it must have been Rob’s before we married, and it just never found its way into a spot where I’d use it until now. But somehow it seems to have fueled a spate of picnicking for us lately. I keep three plastic water bottles in the freezer, then pop them in when we’re ready to go–no loose ice, no mess (and the bottles found a second useful life). And I have to confess…my favorite way to picnic lately has been to grab the cooler and the ice bottles, then stop on the way to our destination and fill the cooler with takeout! We’ll have to head to the beach with it again soon.

Today is my mother-in-law’s birthday, and since she and my father-in-law are now living close by we were able to celebrate with dinner at my house. It feels much more satisfying to be able to cook someone a birthday dinner than to make a phone call. I’m a bit embarrassed to say that I didn’t have to decide whether or not to use patriotic dishes on our dinner table for this 3rd of July meal, but rather which set of patriotic dishes I would pull out. Hey, some people like cars, some people like gadgets, I happen to like dishes. A lot. Anyway, I chose these fun tin plates, where each one is a bit different and reflects a different American pastime, and Dorothy decorated some place cards (folded index cards) and we set a cute little red, white and blue party table.