Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Week... err weeks... in Bentos

I've been slackin' on the bento posts... so here you go, a few weeks worth all at once:
The first time foods in this stack of pics are extra firm tofu cubes coated in graham cracker crumbs (Elle wasn't a big fan, but Liv LOVES them!  They're perfect for baby snacks!), some goldfish crackers left over from her pool party, apple chips, kiwi, and celery sticks with peanut butter to dip in.
You won't want to miss tomorrow's Halloween party post!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Homemade Snow Cone Syrups

Did you see the snow cone pool party I planned for my Elle's 5th birthday?  The snow cone station was the highlight of the party but the only snow cone syrup the rental company had to sell me was in industrial sized ugly white jugs and cost entirely too much for just one flavor... I definitely had to tackle this project myself!  I started with some neat bottles I picked up at Marshalls.  In their first life, they were expensive bottled water glass bottles.  Next I found pour spouts at the liquor store and had to clip the rubber stopper just a bit so they would fit in the neck of the bottles.  Now for the syrups! 
2 cups white sugar
1 cup water
1 envelope Kool Aid
In a saucepan, stir together the sugar and water. Bring to a boil, and boil for about 1 minute. Remove from heat, and stir in the drink mix. Allow to cool, and store in a container for pouring.
To finish them up I printed and stuck little round labels with the flavor names on the bottles with double sided tape.  These snow cone syrups were so easy to make and looked so pretty I just kept trying out new flavors until we had an entire rainbow!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Pool Party

Yes, I know the rest of the country has moved on to cool weather celebrations... hay rides, bobbing for apples, and pumpkin pickin' are on my mind too.  But, here in sunny Florida, early October is the time of year we finally, ever so cautiously, emerge from our air conditioned abodes.  The 80+ degree weather makes  it the perfect  time for a pool party!
I kicked Elle's 5th birthday off with beach ball invitations from Oriental Trading Co.  Party details are written on the ball itself, the deflated beach ball goes in a water proof canister, labeled, and mailed.
The guests were greated by a row of custom flip flop party favors (no more guessing allowed for the covered button giveaway).  I'll tell you how to make these easy and inexpensive favors in a coming post.
The highlight of the party was the snow cone machine!  I rented the machine from a local party rental shop

I made the syrups (more on that to come), and picked up the cones, straws with scoops on the end, snow cone stands, and straw dispenser on Amazon.
My Doug made this awesome snow cone sign by cutting a large piece of foam core (available in the framing department at Michael's) into the shape of a snow cone and spraying it with chalkboard spray paint.  The chalk markers make it even more fun!
The round cupcake picks, syrup labels, banner, "lanterns", & craft instructions are all goodies printed from the poolside collection by Paper and Cake All those fun details really pulled it all together!
I just can't get enough of the custom photo cupcake picks! I made a cute set of my Elle holding her breath while wearing her swimming goggles.
In addition to snow cones, pizza, and swimming, the kiddos entertained themselves with playing in the splash pool (I was surprised at how much fun even the kids who could swim in the big pool had just splashing around), diving and sliding on an inflatable slide I got from CSN Stores (review coming in a future post), and making a water yo-yo craft.

Okay, so if you don't live in a climate that is finally just now allowing you to brave the outdoors, you can consider this pool party your last hurrah before we dive into the Fall celebrations (pun intended)!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Custom Party Hat Cupcake Picks

I <3 Etsy shoppers; they're so creative! A couple weeks ago I got an order for a set of the custom party hat cupcake picks I sell in my shop now & convo'd the buyer to ask for the picture of her little birthday cutie.  She sent me a 40 year old picture of her husband & made these awesome cupcakes for his 40th birthday celebration:

Check out these other fun details she put together for his party:

He's a lucky birthday boy to have a wife who would embarrass do something so special for him!

Monday, October 11, 2010

DIY Leaf & Flower Press

A couple years ago I posted about how I "grew up crafty" and the roll my parents played in nurturing my creativity.  I've also posted about a haunted doll house my parents made and the puppet theatre my Dad whipped up for Elle a while back.  I've always appreciated how creative my parents are and it's fun to see my girls sharing in that with them now too....  the gift my Dad made for Elle for her 5th birthday is a great example!  

Elle picks up leaves and flowers all the time... I'm constantly finding leaves in the washing machine and dead flowers in the cup holders of the car.  A flower/leaf press was a perfect gift for her, and my Dad was just the person to make it.  If you want to give it a try, it's pretty easy to do with just a few tools.

Here's what you'll need:
2 pieces of 5/8 inch plywood + a scrap piece
4 3/8 inch carriage bolts
4 large washers
4 smaller washers
4 wing nuts
1/2 inch brad point wood drill bit
sand paper
spray polyurethane
decorative sticker (optional)
wax paper

Cut two pieces of plywood as large as you'd like your press to be, Elle's is 10x10 (you could even ask someone at the hardware store to do this for you).  Place one board on top of the other and drill a hole through both boards, in each corner, about an inch in from the corner (The brad point wood drill bit will help you get your holes straight and lined up.  Putting a scrap piece of board under the two pieces of the press and drill through the press boards and into the scrap piece will keep your boards from splintering).  Next, sand all the edges of your boards, then spray polyurethane all sides of both boards (add your sticker if you want to before you spray the final coat of polyurethane on).   Cut several pieces of cardboard the same size as your boards, then clip off the corners so they can sit inside the press but the holes are left unobstructed.  Now you're ready to put the press together!

Start with the 4 carriage bolts with a large washer on each.  Insert them up through the holes in the bottom board of the press.  Next, layer in the following order until you've put all your leaves and flowers in - cardboard, wax paper, leaves & flowers laid flat and not touching each other (Here's a link to more info on the specifics of how to use a flower press), wax paper, cardboard. After your last piece of cardboard, put the second board through the carriage bolts.  To make your press... well press... put the smaller washers on the bolts, press down on the center of the top board and tighten the wing nuts down.  

(this is the top of the press with it all tightened down)           (this is the under side of the press)

PhotobucketThen you wait...

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Week in Bentos

Last week... {sigh} last week.  Do you ever have those weeks when you're just amazed that you're keeping it all together?  I do.  Last week was on of them.  My "real job" is sucking every bit of everything out of me!  It's just entirely too much... too much!  In addition to everything that's going on there, my dear, sweet, most wonderful child ever, Elle, celebrated her 5th birthday and I was working to finish everything for her party.  I'm really excited about showing off the pics from her party (even though I had to take them myself with my point-n-shoot between kids tugging on my skirt asking for more sugar... NEVER AGAIN!   Seriously, if you're going to make a party special, the investment of a professional photographer is absolutely 100% worth every penny!) but I was revising a power point presentation for the training I'm doing this week for 300+ people instead of editing the party photos, so they'll have to wait for another day.  

I do have bento pics for you today though.  Here we go with last week's bentos.  I've got 4 for you, even though there were actually 5 (I worked the 2 days in the office that I'm usually at home, but I had something on the lens of my camera on Monday... probably baby slobber... but didn't realize it until Tuesday, so Monday's bento was unpostable). 

Tuesday Elle had a Ritz 4 cheese sandwich cracker, a couple grape tomatoes, a prune, 2 skewers of pepperonis, chocolate roasted almonds (not to be confused with chocolate candy coated almonds!), a babybell cheese, and some grapes.
Next day was a pear, grape tomatoes with ranch dressing (in the red container), chocolate roasted almonds, a prune, fruit leather ribbons on picks, and a babybell cheese.
Look familiar?  Apparently a pear takes nearly an entire lunch break to eat :)  So the next day Elle took almost the exact same lunch.  Tomatoes with ranch dressing, chocolate roasted almonds, babybell cheese, a prunee, caramel mini rice cakes, and pepperonis.

Friday was my Elle's 5th birthday... I at least had time to make her a little fruit leather number 5 before I rushed off to work.  She also had some grapes, chocolate almonds, rotisserie chicken and dried cranberries, and caramel rice cakes in the Moja Creations snack-a-long bag. And Daddy wrote the cutest note ever which he included in her lunch box... I don't have it in front of me but something to the effect of "We love being your Mommy and Daddy.  You make us so proud!  Have the best 5th birthday ever big girl!" she read it to her teacher and friends during after school care.  I'm so not looking forward to the day when she says she'd rather us NOT leave little love notes for her!

Bentos done, let's move past last week.  This week is sure to be better right?!


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