Saturday, June 20, 2009

Happy Father's Day!

I had a lot of fun putting these photo frames together for the Grandpas and Daddy Vee. With a quick trip to JoAnns for the letters, a little bit of patience trying to get the kids to cooperate with the camera, and a dash of Photoshop magic, it was a pretty easy project. My hope is to update the frames every Father's Day with new pictures... Yeah, we'll see...

What you need:
1) Craft Letters- I cheated and only bought one of each letter that I needed-- so one "A", one "P", etc. I used both sides of "D" to add a little more color variety.
2) Scrapbook Paper & scissors or craft knife- I just traced the letters & cut them out-- doesn't have to be "perfect".
3) Modge Podge or other thin craft glue
4) The patience to get some cute pictures
5) Photoshop if you want to play around with color and b/w
6) Horizontal frames - I found mine at Kohl's for 40% off (aren't they always on sale there?).

Photoshop How-to:
  1. Open the picture that you want to use.
  2. In the Top Menu: Layer > Duplicate layer
  3. In the Palette bin, select the Duplicate layer (should be the default)
  4. In the Top Menu: Enhance > Convert to B&W. Select the "portrait" option.
  5. Magnify the letter that you're working with.
  6. Using the Magnetic Lasso tool, outline the letter that you want left in color. I found that doing this in small portions was easiest.
  7. Once you have the area selected that you want left in color, press the DELETE button on the keyboard and the selected area should turn to color.
  8. When you are finished, select: Layer > Flatten image and SAVE your project.

linked to:

Friday, June 19, 2009

Cowboy Party - The Finale...Yee-Hah!

To give the party an Old West feel, I created signs using western-type font and printed them on aged-looking parchment paper. There are some great free font sites out there. I found some fun ones on this site.
I used twine to string the signs up around the party area. Welcome sign - Welcome to Lastname-ville, population: 3; the bridge - No Fishin'!; the food area - Chuck Wagon; restroom - Outhouse; drinks - Waterin' Hole. It was so easy to do and added a fun, Old West flair to the picnic area.

Games & Entertainment

The Band
Through a friend of a friend, we found a cute (and with 15 members, quite large) banjo band to play at our Cowboy Party. The band was made up of a bunch of music-loving retirees who love to perform. The music set a festive mood and was the perfect fit for our casual and laid back party. They played throughout lunch and thoroughly entertained the kids and adults alike. Who knew you could actually play a rubber chicken?

Lasso a Cactus
To make the lasso for the game, I wrapped a hula hoop with rope. It was a bit heavy, so definitely a game for the 4+ crowd. To make it look like a lasso, I left an extra few feet of rope so the kids could swing the hoop around. Each child tried to "lasso a cactus" by tossing the hoop over a large 6 foot inflatable cactus (Oriental Trading).

There's a Snake in My Boot!

Using an adult-sized cowboy boot (we used pink ones because they were on sale for $5 at Target) and vinyl somewhat realistic looking mini-snakes (Oriental Trading), the kids stood on a large rock and tried to drop the snakes into the boot one by one.

Pin the Badge on Sheriff "Smarty Pants"

I printed a poster-size picture of Smarty Pants in his Gymboree cowboy outfit and pasted it on a foam board. We covered the kids' eyes with a bandana, spun them around and they tried to stick a foam star badge in the correct place.

Wagon Rides

The little kids had a ball riding Smarty Pant's new Radioflyer wagon. It kept them busy and the older kids enjoyed pulling the little tikes around.

Photo Ops

As the guests arrived, they received a cowboy hat, bandana, moustaches, badges and other fun cowboy gear. For our backdrop, we rented 3 bales of straw from a local feed store. The park already had a rustic fence and tons of oak trees, so we didn't have to do much to make it look like the Old West.

Cowboy Trivia Game

To keep the adults busy, I created a cowboy trivia game. We live in an area where they filmed a lot of the old western movies and TV shows, so it was fun to pull together a "local" cowboy trivia game. The biggest winner & biggest loser won gift cards to the Claim Jumper restaurant.

Guess How Many Rattlesnake Eggs
This was an easy game to put together. I bought the ginormous container of jelly bellies from Costco and pasted a sign that read "Rattlesnake Eggs" over the manufacturer's label. Whomever guessed the correct amount of eggs won the entire container. By the way, we didn't actually open and count every jelly bean (wouldn't be too sanitary if we touched all of them!), but we guess-timated by calculating the serving size and number of servings in the container.

Favor Bags

I'm not a fan of throwaway favors-- seriously, why bother? I'd rather spend a little more money than know that cheap toys were thrown away after maybe 2 minutes of playtime, filling yet another landfill. We had a large age range so I tried to find favors that were age appropriate.

Babies - Wagon Wheels finger food snack, Cowprint Bib, melamine cup, plate & utensils.

Toddlers - Woody straw cup (Toy Story), Cow/Horse Baby Einstein puppet, Snack Trap, Earth's Best organic cookies.

Little Boys - Stuffed Woody (cowboy) from Toy Story, slingshots, m&m's (aka rattlesnake eggs)

Little Girls - Stuffed Bullseye (horse) or Jessie (cow girl) from Toy Story 2, a cowprint journal with flower pen, stickers, m&m's

Monday, June 8, 2009

Reminiscing - Cowboy Birthday Party - The Setting

I've started planning Happy Vee's 1st birthday party, so it's only fitting that I reminisce (just a little!) on the Cowboy Party that I threw for Smarty Pant's first birthday just two (short, short) years ago. Oh no! Here it comes-- I can't my little baby is almost one and my big baby is now a little boy! (sniff) As many seasoned parents can attest-- childhood really does run, skip & jump by quickly!

The Setting-- Isn't this park beautiful? Lots of beautiful old trees, a quaint bridge to walk over, and there's even a small stream... with ducks, of course!

Here's a picture of the picnic pavilion. Unfortunately I didn't get a closer shot of the tablescape. It's pretty simple actually-- red & white checkered tableclothes and the centerpieces were mini bales of hay with balloons tied around them. I also had small metal buckets filled with sunflowers on some of the tables.

Every Cowboy Party needs "MOST WANTED" posters. These were a hit with kids and parents alike! I gave each child an Outlaw name and a "crime" that fit their personality. I even looked up "cowboy jargon" online so I could make it as fun and authentic as possible. Since I didn't have a wall to hang the posters on, I borrowed this presentation board from Daddy Vee.

The Favors - Nana Tee sewed these favor bags for the party. We filled them with Almond Roca since they kinda, sorta resemble gold bars.

I'll be back later with more Cowboy Party pictures!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Is it Watermelon time already?

I love watermelon-- It's sweet, it's juicy, it means SUMMER is here! Strangely enough, it's overcast and drizzly right now (June gloom in So Cal speak), so looking at all these watermelon recipes reminds me that summer is just around the corner!

Here are some cute watermelon goodies for the kids:

Watermelon Pops - Recipe here

Wiggly Watermelon - Recipe here

Watermelon Cookie - Recipe here

Here's a recipe that is right up my alley... I love all of the ingredients, just never thought to put them all together! I'm going to try this out on a hot summer day.

Watermelon Salad with Feta - Recipe here


Can I say it's been a CRAZY couple of weeks? In the course of two weeks we've been on a Cruise, a trip to San Diego (went to the zoo and children's museum, of course), Disneyland...oh, and we bought a new house! The house part was a bit of a surprise since we put in an offer on a short sale back in April. The bank FINALLY got their act together and now we're closing escrow July 1st-- ACK! We're very happy, but ACK! So much to do... plus Happy Vee's birthday party is in July too! Double ACK!

Serenity now...

Ahhhhhhhhhhhh... I feel much better!