This past Sunday was my church's annual Mother-Daughter Tea. It's always a fun afternoon of nibbles and catching up with people who no longer attend church there, but are still connected somehow through family and friends. When this started 9? 10? years ago, I think it was a potluck. Then someone got a hold of it and provided a menu. Then themes. And favors. And on and on it went. It ends up being a lot of work for the organizers, but really nice.

This year there was no theme, which created a problem for (one of) the speakers...ME! And so I ended up speaking on that...how difficult it is to navigate like if you have no theme. Beginning with the end in sight, I like to call it. Maybe I'll post my thoughts here sometime.

Another difference this time was that each table was responsible for their own centerpiece. The colors were robin's egg blue and yellow. A few tables included pictures of women in their family; one had grandma's old hats!

This was ours...

Isn't it cute?! It's a series of birds' nests on a cake pedestal surrounded my ffloral garland that I'm pretty sure my mom has been hanging onto for five years. Finally a use! Oh? You're curious about the eggs?? Check them out up close:

LOVE them! They're dyed with silk ties! I found the idea on Our Best Bites. They have a tutorial that explains the process really well. I provided the idea, Mom dyed the eggs (she got the ties at Goodwill for practically nothing), Aunt Connie made the little paper maiche flowers.
Who says dyeing eggs is only for Easter?


Featuring Me!

Imagine my suprise and delight when I updated my feeds this evening, clicked onto one of my new favorite blogs, and found that Avery's party was the featured post! Shannon features all kinds of fun parties and ideas. I think I found her the week after Ave's party, just in time to start planning for next year! And you MUST see the design of her blog. SO CUTE! She does that, too, if you're looking for a new blog design. Be sure to check out all the fun things going on over at Creative Parties and Showers!


30 Minutes and a Cricut

I love my Cricut. What? I've said that before? Well, it's true. I tend to collect craft supplies, but the Bug has seriously eliminated the need for most of them, as it does what the other things do plus some.

I finally got my craft room (okay, so it's a landing created from an old porch that was encloosed during an addition years ago, but you know...) in good shape during a day off in February. It's clean, organized, but lacking in decor. Not that there's much room for decor.

I still had some black vinyl left over from this project, and I thought I could put some to good use over the doorway leading to the kitchen.


Pay no attention to the random card table in the shot. You have to move my desk to open the closet in goes in, and I needed a husband for that, but was unwilling to wait on him before taking the picture!

I really should do a post about my kitchen someday. I love it. LOVE it. I drew a sketch of what I wanted it to look like based on Kyle's description of the space before I had ever been in our house. I still have that picture because the room matches my sketch EXACTLY.

But back to my vinyl...

I cut the "Create" out of George and the "dream" and "inspire" out of Stone Script. Provo Craft sells special tape for keeping everything in line, but I just find the center letter and work my way out. The vinyl is just peel and stick--but totally repositionable. I initially separated the words with asterisks, as I couldn't find anything better. But I got the Storybook cart for my birthday, and so replaced them with tiny chrysanthemums just yesterday. They are way cute!

Thirty minutes and my Cricut. And that was with Avery wanting to help. I love decor projects that can be done in no time for no money and with no skill!


Polka Dots Everywhere!

Warning: I had a reallly hard time narrowing down pictures for this post, so it will be slow to load, I'm sure. Please be patient!

Saturday was Avery's 3rd Birthday party. I love planning parties. Love it. But I don't have many occasions for it, so when I get the chance to plan one, I tend to go all out. I realize she likely won't remember them, and that she doesn't care about the details the way I do, but I enjoy it. And really, though there are lots of details, it's more of an investment in time than money. Nearly everything is papercrafted, and paper is cheap, especially when you shop sales, as I do.

Avery is very into pink, and decided back in June that she wanted pink polka dots and flowers for her party. Those two things didn't immediately make sense to me as a theme, so I figured out a cute name--polka dots and posies--and I was able to begin visualizing it. That name was nowhere in any party things; it was just for me.

I loved the way her outfit turned out. I made a pillowcase top out of a sheet that we had never used, because we don't have a bed that it fits. I was going to make the pants, too, but then I found these at Babies R Us for $3 and decided my time was worth more than that. Unfortunately I got the 18-24 month size, forgetting I was going to go back to 12-18 for Spring/Summer since length is not as important with capris. She was trying to keep them up all day.

I started with the invites. They were simply made in Word (I had photoshop issues...the text kept printing blurry) with layered paper flowers. I bought one jar of these flowers at Michael's and used them for everything. They went a really long way. I bought large sheets of textured paper and cut it to 8.5x11 so I could print it.
I always feel the need to start with a little poem. This year's was: "They grow so fast--can you believe? Avery Adkins is turning three!"

Oh, and I always put magnetic tape on the backs of the invites so they will stick right on the fridge. One $2.99 roll has lasted through three parties (I just put four little pieces in the corners.) I can never find a magnet when I need one, and this eliminates that.

The day was beautiful--sunny, clear blue skies, and about 75. It was windy though! I was running around during the first part of the party taping down tablecloths. We put up the tent that we use for the family reunion, which gave me a way to cover the food and decorate.

And here's a close up of those paper bag flowers I made..

And another showing some of the table set-up. The party was at 1pm, so we had picky food as opposed to a full lunch. There was chips and salsa (round tortilla chips, of course), a veggie tray with round Ritz crackers and cheese that I cut into circles with a small coookie cutter, those yummy Lofthouse cookies with mounds of pink icing, strawberries with chocolate and cream cheese dip, chicken nuggets for the kids, pink M&Ms, cake and ice cream. Oh, and chocoolate dipped strawberry marshmallows on lollipop sticks. Yummy!

Here's the M&Ms up close. Apparently no one realized they were for eating, because most of them are still sitting in that jar on my dining room table. Single color M&Ms can be pricy, especially if you have to order them. Because I plan ahead so far in advance I was able to stock up on the pink mix back in October during breat cancer awareness. I would find them on Kroger plus for 2 for $7, and then use a $1 off coupon. Two coupons, actually, because I was buying two.

What about the St. Pat's mix for a John Deere party? Pastel Easter mix for a cupcake party? There's a Spring mix out right now that I might need to stock up on for a shower I'm hosting this Summer. They'll keep forever if you leave them in the package.

I love that apothecary jar, by the way. I got it for Mother's Day two years ago, and it sits atop my china cabinet, holding red ornaments at Christmas, pears at other times, pinecones...all kinds of things.

And speaking of the M&Ms, I used them for the favors, as well. I searched everywhere for those clear pillow boxes. i really wanted the M&Ms to show through. They're the polka dots!
I made the tags with my Cricut, of course, and my new Mini Monogram cartridge. And there's more of those flowers!

The kids got goody bags made from Wilton popcorn boxes. Inside was a round lipgloss, a notepad, pink pencil, one of the M&M boxes and some flower tatoos. The boys got a light up toy, and boyish pencil and stickers.

I love the way these hats turned out! Avery's special one is in the front, the others had the single flower. I made 11-onch circles, cut them in half, and then rolled into a hat. I made the ribbon loops, taped them together, and taped them inside. You can't see it in the picture, but I placed a small brad in the hole where the elastic goes in. This helps keep the elastic from coming out or the knot from tearing through the hole.

Here they all are on the table.

Rather than buy fancy tableware, I bought clear cups and forks and dressed them up with paper. I think there's some formula you can use to make the angles work on the cup wrappers, but I just used a Starbucks cardboard thing as a pattern. And did you catch the picture of the napkins and the hats? Since when does my camera take such fabulous pictures?

I set up my nephew's little folding table and chairs (two sets pushed together) for the kiddie table. The centerpiece is made of tissue paper flowers and a giant pink lollipop from the Easter aisle at WalMart. $1!

Avery got this bouncy house for her 2nd birthday. We gt so much use out of it for things like this. It's instant entertainment for birthday parties, the reunion, whatever. The kids jumped on it nonstop...

...except when they were playing in the playhouse.
Which of course was decorated, too. (Hey, to get four shades of pink, I ended up with a ton of balloons. Might as well use them, right?)

Then we ate cake. The flowers are gumpaste, quilled ala Collette Peters. I should have let the buttercream set up a bit before placing the flowers, because they caused it to fall some.

While we were eating cake, Avery enjoyed opening her gifts with a little help from cousin Kaylee. Most of her gifts were wrapped in pink, and several of the guests wore pink, too!

Of her three parties, this one was the most difficult to conceptualize, but in the end, I think it came together the best. I found so much inspiration throughout Blog World--no real specifics, but lots of things that informed my planning. That's what I love about blogging: you get to virtually pick the brains of so many creative people.

I hope you had a wonderful birthday party, Munchkin. Thank you for letting me plan it for you!


What Have You Done?

I found this bloggy game on The Minimalist Mommy. You highlight/bold the items on the list you have done. This seemed apropos considering today is my 29th birthday (Happy Birthday to ME!). Last year at this time I was in a pretty deep funk: I was unable to drive because of having a grand mal seizure, was in constant fear of having another one (which I did, but the anti-epileptics seem to be working), and was completely stressed about my impending orals for my Master’s degree (which I passed with Distinction, thankyouverymuch). I wasn’t really thinking about goals and wish lists; I was simply stumbling through each day, counting down days until these obstacles would be over.

But that’s over. Though I have now been diagnosed with epilepsy, it’s been easily controlled with medication. My Master’s led to the opportunity to teach a college course through the local community college. I took on a leadership role with the Writing Project, and loving working on that side of education. We are getting really close financially to being able to build our dream home, something I thought was truly just a dream. And best of all, Kyle and I will soon celebrate anniversary number six. Life is good, and I’m looking forward to what 29 has to offer.

But back to the point of this post. Some of these things are completely random, and I’m not sure I even want to do them, but it’s still a neat exercise. So here’s what I’ve done:

1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars

3. Played in a band ….at school
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland /world
8. Climbed a mountain

9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo (second grade Country Music showcase…love those elementary units of study)
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea (during Hurricane Erin while on the Big Red Boat)
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning (Senior Prom…thanks Jimmy Kelly’s)
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty

18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill (in teaching we call them “mental health days”)
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice

28. Seen a total eclipse
29. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise (see #13)
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors (well, they were from England and I’ve been to England…)
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelos David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance (that 1st seizure brought all kinds of drama with it)
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling

52. Kissed in the rain (somewhere in our 11 years I’m sure we have)
53. Played in the mud (hello church camp shaving cream fights!)
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business (what was it called, Shyla, Shoezy Q or something?)
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen (our church does the Room in the Inn program)
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favourite childhood toy (Corduroy now belongs to Avery)
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London (sort of….we saw the change at the Tower of London, and the parade leading to the change at Buckingham, but couldn’t get close enough to see the actual changing there)
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book (does an article in a scholarly journal count?)
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car (I still love my Mustang, even if the car seat takes away a little from its coolness factor)
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper (schools in my area put EVERYTHING in the paper to get some good publicity)
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person (three times now, though I have never found it the least impressive. Sorry Davey Crockett)

96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Read an entire book in one day (I’m an English teacher, people. Of course I have!)

Wow—that’s more from the list than I expected. So what have you done? If you decide to play along leave me a comment so I can check out your list!



Saturday was 75 degrees and sunny. I actually ot a little sunburned during Avery's party. Sunday, more of the same. Today? 45--maybe--and rain mixed with tiny snow pellets that are supposed to turn into full on snow showers overnight. It's April, people, in the South. And did I mention that I'm on Spring Break this week? I finally get a week off, and this is the weather I get.

As if Spring was out to mock me, this is what I found in my flower bed this afternoon when I went to bring in some potted plants before the freeze comes:

My iris never bloom this early, and yet here they are, just in time to get killed off. And of course my lilac is starting to bloom. I braved wind and sleet and leaving Avery unattended with play-doh to cut a few blooms, since I know they won't make it. I L.O.V.E. the way my lilacs look with the dove gray wallls in the living room.

But rather than spend the whole day lamenting winter in April, I did a little planning for other areas that need landscaping. When Kyle's grandfather dug out the basement of our house, he just piled the dirt next to the house and built a retaining wall around it. He then added some steps going up to it; people often think it's a foundation to a house that once was. It's pretty neat, actually. So anyway, I have wanted to plant around this "foundation" ever since we bought the house almost six years ago. I've drawn up several plans for it, but never liked any of them enough to actually buy the plants and dig some holes. But I think this one might be it:

I found this planting plan at Better Homes & Gardens. I love the symmetry, the colors, and especially the peonies! They have lots, and all provide a list of plants as well as alternates. Check them out and send some more Spring this way, please! Maybe for my birthday on Wednesday?

edited 4/7/09: My iris survived the freezy rainy sleety stuff last night! Hopefully the lilac and hydrangea did, too. (Two years ago a late freeze caused my hydrangea to leaf out, but not bloom. That shrub is really important to me, so to go another year without its beautiful blue blooms would sadden me.)


Polka Dot Party #2

I tend to have a very clear vision of what I want, whether it be an outfit, a piece of art or simple party decor. I will sometimes come across cute things, but often it's not exactly what I had in mind. And I have this thing about settling for less than what I've envisioned. I can't do it.

So when shopping for Avery's party, I found this centerpiece set:

You've seen them before, I'm sure. For some reason, though, they are almost all for 1st birthdays. I knew I could easily alter the circle part to match the theme and my style, so what I was really buying it for was the tissue stand up part. That part I knew would be difficult to recreate.

A few cuts with my beloved Cricut, and voila...

Pretty cute, right? This project took all of 10 minutes. The point is to look at things not as what they are, but they might become. Often times it just takes a little bit altering to make an item not only perfect, but one of a kind, as well.


Happy Birthday Avery!

Avery Olivia -- April 1, 2006

Okay, it's official: as of yesterday morning at 10:08, Avery is no longer a baby. Not that she has EVER been a baby (she seriously could hold her head up by the time they brought her back to me from cleaning her up in the nursery. She was what--2 hours old? And that's her hospital picture--she was not quite 2 days old there.), but now she is three. Two is still babyish. Three is a little girl. Sigh. Sad as it makes me, it was so much fun to watch her really enjoy her birthday. She get's it.

She woke up to three balloons in her room. I got the idea for this tradition from Natalie. It was so simple, but really started her special day out right. She was literally jumping up and down shouting, "Today is my birthday! I'm three years old!" Too cute.

My friend Ann covered my last class so that I could make it to daycare for afternoon snack. Avery brought pink cookies to share. Of course they were pink! She got to don the huge latex gloves and pass them out all by herself. It was so cute to see her using such grown up manners with her friends: "Excuse me, Anderson, would you like a pink cookie for my birthday?"

After that celebration she received her big gift from us: a big girl bike. She was as excited as we hoped she would be, and is pretty good at riding it. We always struggle with toys like that, because she is so tiny. At only 27lbs, we never know if she will be able to reach pedals and whatnot. Yes, 27 lbs. She wears 18-24 month clothes. Unless length doesn't matter, and then it's 12-18. I have no idea where this kid came from.

Papa and Juju and Grandmommy and Pop Pop came over after dinner for cake and presents. She blew out all of the candles on the first try, and kept reaching her fork back into the cake for more. That's my girl. :) And we now are fully stocked on Tinkerbell gear. I can handle Tink so much better than the princesses, though we have our fair sahare of those, too. Oh, and her hat is just a little pink peak at what's to come Saturday. Stay tuned.

So now she's three going on thirty. They grow up so fast! Next up: the pink polka dot party on Saturday.

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