Monday, October 27, 2008

Wedding Party

This weekend, I was honored to be asked by my good friend to take photos at her wedding. It was a quaint little gathering at a public park, with bubbly and cake afterward. This couple has been together for 17 years, and they have two children together... don't you think it's about time they were married?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

In Appreciation

Dropped the kids off at their respective schools this morning, and as I got back to my car to run the three thousand errands I had to do before pickup - surprise! The car would not start. By coincidence, my friend Julia was there with me and tried to jump start my dead battery, to no avail.

I waited for AAA during what was supposed to be errands number 1, 2, and 3. He did jump start the car but advised to not turn the engine off until I reached the auto mechanics shop where I should buy a new battery. I waited at the auto mechanics shop during the time allotted for errands 4, 5, 6 and 7. After paying for a new battery and service, I realized that I just spent the money earmarked for errands 8 and 9.

To make a long story slightly shorter, when I finally got back to my house (after skipping the rest of the errands) guess what was waiting on the porch for me?

3 spider web and 3 ghost cookies

A giant thank you to Laura of A Dozen Eggs for the scrumptious cookies she made and sent to me as the winner of her Halloween Super Spectacular Giveaway!

This is going to turn my day around, I just know it.


Those cookies were delish.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Surfer Girl Birthday Party

My daughter and I take so much pleasure in talking about and planning for her birthday party. For this “Surfer Girl” party, the theme was chosen more than one year in advance of the event itself. It’s not that we are obsessive compulsive when it comes to planning birthdays, it’s that we use these conversations to connect with each other and have some serious mommy-daughter bonding time.

So, back to this “Surfer Girl” party… It was pretty tough to find any store-bought kits, decorations or paper goods that fit this theme. I usually look around at least a little bit for inspiration and to see what other people have done in the way of a cake for every birthday I throw. I don’t know what would happen today if you were to google it, but a couple years back there was nothing, nada, zippo.


Taking inspiration from my husband’s surfboard collection, I came up with a surfboard shape for the invite (you can print your own blank). I also found a pink and orange hibiscus print scrapbooking paper to use as a backing paper for the surfboard. Writing some surf inspired lingo for the invite was pretty fun:

surf’s up! Autumn is turning 4
you are invited to catch a wave and hang ten with us

saturday, february 4 at 10:30am

wax up your surfboard and paddle on over to

1234 main street, regrets only 562-555.1212


One of the most versatile decorating items I have is the fish bowl style glass vase. It comes in handy for every party, I’m not kidding. I have 4 of them and you’ve probably seen them before at my parties filled with cars, but for this party they are filled with seashells. I purchased a bag of shells at my local party supply store to augment the meager group I already had at home.

I also used beach towels (that we already owned) instead of tablecloths, and cut giant surfboards out of colored butcher paper to a hang on the walls (you can see them here in the background).

TIP: if you want to hang decorations on the walls and from the ceiling, but don’t want to repair and repaint the drywall, try “Command Strips” from 3M. They come in a variety of styles to fit every need and I promise they come off without a scratch!


This party started at 10:30 in the morning, so I was able to have brunchy snacky items instead of a meal. I made pumpkin muffins and chocolate banana muffins and served them in conjunction with smoothies. Not just any smoothies, but, custom build-it-yourself smoothies. Here is how we set it up: I made a little banner matching the invitation graphics and hung it off the countertop where the blender was set up. Each child filled a red plastic cup with their choice of frozen fruits, to which we (okay, my husband) added orange juice and yogurt. We did purchase some sippy cups with straws from Oriental Trading Company to eliminate spillage, and VOILA! Breakfast!

Pumpkin Bread (this is a big batch - yeilds 3 loaves)
  • 3 c. sugar
  • 3 1/2 c. flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 4 lg. eggs
  • 1 c. vegetable oil
  • 2 c. canned pumpkin
  • 2/3 c. water
  • 1 1/2 c. chopped walnuts (opt.)
Preheat oven to 350˚F. Butter your containers well. Sift the dry ingredients together into a large bowl. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, and add the eggs, oil, pumpkin and water. Beat thoroughly with electric mixer. Stir in the walnuts. Pour the batter into the containers, filling each only half to two-thirds full. Bake for 60-90 minutes depending on the sizes of your containers. Cool in pan for 10 minutes then turn out on rack.


For this group of 4 year olds, we had a craft project and a non-competitive (although prize winning) game. The craft was putting together an aquarium themed picture frame that I purchased, once again, at Oriental Trading Company.

The game we planned was “Freeze Dance” with a bit of a non-competitive twist. The game is meant to be played like this: have a group of children dance while the music plays, and freeze when the music is stopped. If a child moves after the music stops, they are “out” and go sit down on the sidelines. The “winner” gets a prize. Now, because the kids playing this game are only 4 years old (or less) we wanted to be sure all the children felt included and that they didn’t need to compete with one another for a single prize. So, we gave each child a prize as they were called “out”, the child could decide if they wanted to go back in to dance or sit out, and the “winner” was not actually singled out as the big winner of the game but given a prize just as everyone else had gotten.


I loved making this cake! Let me start though, with the “cake topper”. After searching high and low for something, anything, that could sit atop the cake and match our surfer girl theme (girl being the operative word, as there were plenty of boy surfer cake toppers), I actually ended up sending away for an adorable salt and pepper set that matched our theme perfectly.

For the cake itself, I did vanilla cake with blue buttercream frosting. To give the effect of water I separated the frosting into 3 batches, tinting each a slightly darker shade of blue. After a thick coat of two shades of frosting on the sides, I pulled a cake decorating comb through it making little wave patterns. For the top of the cake, I kept the buttercream a touch on the thin side and pulled peaks up with a spatula. The board underneath the cake was also coated with a layer of the dark blue buttercream.

I cherished every moment planning this party with my daughter. It just goes to show you, your theme can be one of a kind or straight from the TV. Use some creative thinking to make it your own, spend as little as possible and make it look homemade - even if it isn't!

Friday, October 10, 2008

For the Love of Polka Dots

Sally, owner of Polka Dot Market and writer of the ever so cute Polka Dot Birthday blog, wrote the nicest post about Piece of Cake Parties! Thanks Sally.

Anyone who loves a Polka Dot will find everything they could ever dream of...

Polka Dot:
  • clothing, hats and shoes
  • party accessories
  • invitations
  • favors
  • crafts
  • games
  • you name it!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

So NOT a Party

Today, I cleaned the alley behind my daughter's school.

Let me back up.

My daughter goes to a GREAT charter school in an up and coming neighborhood - you know, one with a lot of potential? Anyway, it is in the alley behind the school that we conduct drop off and pick up of our little ones, and it is not pretty. Graffiti, trash, a couch, someone's old fence, a dresser, a few abandoned cars, well I think you get my drift. This is an alley that the children not only see everyday, but several of the families walk through it to get to the school.

Our high school kids helping out.

In addition, (and I almost wasn't going to bring this part up because I'm a little concerned about libel?) there is an auto/body shop, very close to the school, that could possibly be polluting the air with bondo dust and spray paint particulates. They also park the cars that they are working on and are about to work on in the alley and on the school property. It is extremely frustrating to see what is going on there and feel like there isn't anything permanent we can do about it.

Julia, wielding her tools.

Now, my good friend (and fellow parent of said school) Julia has spent the last year working as a committee of one cleaning the alley on a regular basis. This fall, when school started up again, it was as if she had never touched the place. She had worked so hard back there! So, I decided to take matters into my own hands - literally my own typing fingers. I emailed every city service I could think of, including several that had nothing to do with the problems. I even emailed our district's city councilwoman's office.

Lots of illegally dumped furniture.

Yay for our City! First off, there is a Neighborhood Clean-Up Assistance Program that gives you supplies - shovels, rakes, brooms to borrow, and trash bags, gloves and masks to use FREE OF CHARGE! Thank you to Jim!

Pressure washing does remove graffiti!

Second, our City sent out their wonderful Graffiti Prevention Services crew, and 4 trucks and painted the entire alley. I'm talking, a long "Y" shaped alley with every surface covered - they used blue, black, green, tan, pink, grey and white paint. Thank you to Javier!

A little bit of blue paint goes a long way.

Third, and YAY for our city councilwoman, a representative from her office came out in person to see all the problems in our alleyway. Since her visit, she has secured a meeting with some higher ups on the City's police department. Thank you to Claudia!

Claudia and I discussing alley plans for the future.

Julia working on covering the wall with vines.

And lastly, this would not have happened if not for the volunteers. Julia, Rick, Tami and about 20 others that flew past me at the speed of light with their sweeping, shoveling, planting and trash throwing. Thank you to everyone for giving their time and effort to cleaning up and taking back such a small little piece of the City.

The Kinder and 1st graders marching to maracas holding high their handmade banners and thank you cards.

Put it all together, and it spells "Gracias"

Monday, October 6, 2008

Me? A Contributor? Wow!

Yup, it's true, I have arrived.

My own post about a Scooby Doo Halloween party is now appearing on Little Shindigs (you have to see this!) There are just so many ideas swirling around in this vortex of a brain of mine that I now have to spread them around other people's blogs.

Can you tell I'm having so much fun with this?