Made It Monday: Party Garland

Welcome to #MadeItMonday, where I post something I’ve made in the previous week, and where you can join in and post something you made too! The rules are easy: post a pic somewhere of something you’ve made in the last week (ish; let’s say in the last month as the hard-and-fast) and tag it. Sit back and enjoy scrolling through all the beautiful things we’ve collectively created, and celebrate the fact that humans can be awesome! 🙂

Shockingly enough, the only thing I’ve made recently is – yep, you guessed it – more cake. Unfortunately, I finished it late at night and forgot to take a photo of it before leaving for work the next morning, and Husband didn’t know I wanted a pic so didn’t take one before he and his workmates devoured it.

I hear it was tasty.

Anyway.

So instead of cake (again), you get a party garland that, yes, technically I made several weeks ago, but NEVER MIND 😛 😀 This party banner was great – so easy to make. I bought 40cm each of green and pink broadcloth (or whatever was the cheapest fabric – it cost me about $5 total for the fabric, maybe less) and a roll of cotton rope from the hardware store (about $5 again, but I only used a third of it). I tore the coloured fabric into strips about an inch wide (yes, tore, not cut, this is all about efficiencies) and then, starting from the middle of the cord, did a simple loop/hitch knot thing to tie the strips on*, alternating colours. I’d been planning to put some cow print fabric in there too, but I couldn’t find any for less than $15/metre, and I wasn’t willing to pay that for a cheap party decoration.

* Fold the strip in half, lay it over the cord, loop the two loose ends under the cord and up through the folded bit of the strip itself, and pull tight.

It took about half an hour from start to finish, and the kids think it’s pretty cool because it also doubles as a wrap-around tie-up grass-style skirt for dress-ups 😀

Green and pink party banner

But since we pretty much never close that small window above the dining table, they can’t use it for dress-ups at the moment, because it’s still up 😉 😀

What have you made this week? (It doesn’t have to be fancy!!) Don’t forget to tag your contribution, or even better, leave a link in the comments!! I love seeing what inspiring things other people have made 🙂 🙂 🙂

How To Have A Pinterest-Worthy Party WITHOUT Going Insane (Part 1)

Another three-part series because this is something that’s on my mind right now 😉

It can feel like there’s a lot of pressure sometimes to host ‘perfect’ events, what with the advent of Pinterest and Instagram and the like. My family is Big on Events, and we can Pinterest party like it’s… uh, 2017. I’ve been involved in plenty of events-coordination that took weeks and even months of planning, and my sisters, mother and I have collaborative Pinterest boards spawning out our ears.

But let’s face it: My life is packed. I don’t have TIME to hold Pinterest events. And honestly? I tried one for my birthday a while ago when I turned 30 and… eh. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it was amazing. It’s just that the sheer amount of work coordinating on the day meant I was pretty stuffed by the time the party actually *started*.

Also, many of the “events” I’m doing these days are for kids, and you know what? A three-year-old doesn’t care if you spent six hours on their party or one or twelve. They just love that it’s a party.

But! It is entirely possible to get a party worthy of Pinterest and Instagram WITHOUT going insane, losing your mind, and making you want to stab your eyeballs out by the time the party arrives. All it takes is a little bit of planning…

1: FOCUS

The first really important step is to figure out which bit of partying you actually enjoy. My middle sister loves decorating. My mum loves cooking. Me? I love the cake. (Okay shush, I can hear your shock and surprise from here :P) So for me, that’s my deal-breaker: everything else I can hack, but the cake needs to be top-notch.

Figure out that one thing that is make-or-break for you as far as an awesome, wow-factor party is concerned. It is having the entire room full of themed decorations? It is an incredible, awe-inspiring cake? It is having every item of food totally in theme? Or is it something else entirely?

2: IDEA KERNEL

Okay, now that you know what’s important to you focus-wise, it’s time to brainstorm some ideas. Chances are you or the person you’re planning for has this bit covered for you: my son requested a Toy Story party for his birthday this year. (Incidentally, “Toy Story” is too big a kernel for a keeping-yourself-sane party, so we narrowed it down further: Buzz was his favourite character, so we’d be having a Buzz focus.)

Last year it was Frozen (which I chose, but he was OBSESSED with it at the time, so he was pretty stoked), and when he turned three I initiated him into our time-honoured family tradition of sitting down with the Australian Women’s Weekly Children’s Cakes cookbook and letting him pick a cake (no shocks to anyone, he chose the race-car :)).

Recently, I’ve been planning for the baby’s party. Figuring this year was the last year I’d really get to steer the party-theme ship, I decided to do narwhals, because NARWHALS, Y’ALL. However, when we recently discovered that she is totally obsessed with cows, I flipped and now we’re running with cows.

Narwhal cake.

It’s important that you hone in on that one specific thing is that you’re interested in, because it helps when it’s time to…

3A: PLAN (BRAINSTORMING)

While you can totally do this months ahead (and I do because I like to get things sorted during school holidays so term time is less insane), you do run the risk of having to flip if the person’s interest changes (especially with kids). Of course, you can always say, “Tough luck!” Your call 🙂

What you DON’T want to be doing, though, is planning the night before. Har. But with that said, if you use this system you could easily pull off a low-stress, Pinterest-worthy party with only a few hours of planning a week or so ahead, if you can either do everything yourself or have people you can outsource to.

So what exactly do you plan? EVERYTHING, but usually in a specific order.

First of all, hold onto your idea kernel. It’s going to be your guiding light when you come across ideas that are shiny but ultimately distracting.

Narwhal cake. <– Idea Kernel for the narwhal party

Secondly, brainstorm. I do this on Pinterest because it’s a great way to generate a lot of ideas fast, and you don’t have to do the thinking because you can pretty much be guaranteed that someone out there has already done it for you. Alternatively, you could do image searches on Google; you’ll still get some good results, it’s just more of a pain to try to save them and they might not be as strictly relevant.

So what am I searching for? Anything around my idea kernel. For the Toy Story party I searched ‘Toy Story cakes’, ‘Buzz Lightyear cakes’, ‘Toy Story party’, ‘Toy Story food’, etc. Often on Pinterest you can luck out and find that someone’s helpfully put together some composite images that show the food, the decorations, and the cake all in one; these can be a great place to look for ideas, especially for food.

For the baby’s party, you can see the original Pinterest board here. If you note that the first pins are at the bottom and most recent are at the top, you’ll see the gradual drift in ideas: my idea kernel was narwhals with mermaids in a teal-and-purple colour scheme, so down the bottom of the board are a lot of mermaidy pins with purple and teal colour-schemes. However, as I went along you’ll see that the pins drift towards silver + blue + Arctic. I had this thought that since it was a winter party and narwhals are Arctic I could incorporate that… but because I had my idea kernel, I realised I was drifting away from what I really wanted, and knew it was time to stop brainstorming.

Ideas as I started to drift
Initial ideas

When I was re-brainstorming for the cow party, I knew I’d be looking at a lot of farm party things – but because I knew I wanted to focus specifically on *cows*, I could avoid getting distracted by all the cute general-farm-themed stuff out there, and it literally took 15 minutes to put together a plenty-big-enough board.

How big is ‘plenty big enough’? You know it’s time to stop brainstorming either when you find yourself repeating a lot of ideas, or when you start to drift away from your kernel. You can get a perfectly decent brainstorm done in 10-15 minutes.

 

So now you’re finished the brainstorming phase of your planning. Tune in next week for the nitty gritty of what you actually need to plan to keep yourself sane 😉 <3

Made It Monday: Party Decorations!

Welcome to #MadeItMonday, where I post something I’ve made in the previous week, and where you can join in and post something you made too! The rules are easy: post a pic somewhere of something you’ve made in the last week (ish; let’s say in the last month as the hard-and-fast) and tag it. Sit back and enjoy scrolling through all the beautiful things we’ve collectively created, and celebrate the fact that humans can be awesome! 🙂

Well, I was planning to show you jellyfish today, but since I switched party themes 😛 you get a cow garland instead. This is literally a third of the decorations for the party DONE, and the party isn’t for a few months. The aim is to have it all pre-made and ready to go so the actual party is as little work as possible – more on that on Wednesday 🙂

For this garland, all I did was find an image on the interwebs that was licensed for reuse, figured they’d look cute at about four to a landscape-oriented A4 page, figured out I’d need about 18ish to go the length of the table, plus a couple so it can drape nicely makes 20, printed 5 pages of 4 cows, cut them out while watching TV, and then just ran them all through the sewing machine to string them together.* All up, it took about half an hour while zoning out and watching the aforementioned TV. Not too shabby.

* If you’re going to sew paper on a regular basis, use a separate needle for it. Paper blunts blades faster than fabric, which is wh you also don’t use your good sewing shears to cut these cuties out 😉

Garland of cute cartoony black-and-white cows strung together.

Close-up of one cute cartoony cow from the garland

What have you made this week? (It doesn’t have to be fancy!!) Don’t forget to tag your contribution, or even better, leave a link in the comments!! I love seeing what inspiring things other people have made 🙂 🙂 🙂

Made It Monday: Sort of?

So, I literally haven’t made anything in the last week, which is sad. This is mostly because my health is not great right now, and three hours of uprightness is enough that I need to go lie down for an hour, which is SUPER FUN and REALLY HELPFUL for my to-do list. Much tears and sadness.

But anyway, you know all that cake and party stuff I’ve shared the last couple of weeks? Yeah. I have the baby’s party ALL PLANNED OUT, with menu and shopping lists and everything.

Yesterday, we went to the Sydney Easter Show. Turns out the kid is OBSESSED with cows. Who knew? And when I mean obsessed, I really actually mean it. The cow pavilion was like her own private Heaven. So much cute 🙂

But what this means is that now I’m faced with a decision: run with the party that’s already planned, or switch and incorporate cows somehow? Because it’s not *actually* my party, and because she likely won’t be this obsessed with cows at any point in her life again, I’ll probably switch – BUT NARWHALS, Y’ALL. **NARWHALS**!!!!!!! *sniffles*.

…I guess it’s back to the drawing board. This is what I get for trying to be organised this year 😛 😀

#MadeItMonday: Party Table Sketch

Welcome to #MadeItMonday, where I post something I’ve made in the previous week, and where you can join in and post something you made too! The rules are easy: post a pic somewhere of something you’ve made in the last week (ish; let’s say in the last month as the hard-and-fast) and tag it. Sit back and enjoy scrolling through all the beautiful things we’ve collectively created, and celebrate the fact that humans can be awesome! 🙂

I have been seriously pressed for time this week (March and mid-May to mid-June are the worst two month-long periods in the first semester calendar) so pretty much the only non-school, non-writing thing I’ve created was this:

A quick pen sketch on lined paper of a table decorated for a party.

It’s a quick sketch in preparation for the baby’s birthday party (which doesn’t happen for several months yet, but hey). I’m doing an arctic mermaids theme, because I wanted narwhals and it’s a winterish party anyway, so I might as well roll with it O:) The spots hanging behind the table are going to be cotton balls on thread for snow, the jar to the right will hold branches sprayed silver with snowflakes in them (considering using sea stars as the snow flakes if I get time to decorate them?), and I’ll make up three fabric jellyfish with ribbony tentacles to hang in front of the table and to the left. The cake, as you can hopefully see from the picture, is a narwhal :3 (So ridiculously pleased by the prospect of a narwhal cake :D)

What have you made this week? (It doesn’t have to be fancy!!) Don’t forget to tag your contribution, or even better, leave a link in the comments!! I love seeing what inspiring things other people have made 🙂 🙂 🙂

Save

This Is How We Party…

Family friend’s 18th party on Sunday, and it was the family team at work in all our usual roles: Mum on food, Jess on decorations, me on cake, and Em on stand-by/gofer/jack-of-all. Friend wanted a picnic in the park–less clean up, good choice!–and the weather held out, which is not usual for this time of year in Canberra–it’s usually teeth-blisteringly freezing by now.

Picnic in the park; pretty simple, right? Ha. This is how we party.

 

936251_10151471082756989_1642940104_n
(There were originally a whole bunch of paper lanterns hanging across the top of the shelter, and a big pink parasol hanging at the back. Alack, the wind…)

575734_10151471080786989_345118260_n 579286_10151471080356989_706007962_n 579519_10151471080416989_936340663_n 601031_10151471082031989_1921351027_n 944161_10151471083346989_1916237237_n 947043_10151471080251989_1763754477_n

And the cake, a milk-choc mud cake with orange marmalade filling (since friend wanted jaffa), with cinnamon and cloves in the cake (to blend better with the orange). The filling, meh. I’d do it differently next time. The cake–well. Husband dislikes cake. He usually declines, or if pressed for politeness, will have the tiniest of nibbles. He devoured an entire bowlful of trimmings and lamented the subsequent empty bowl. I call that a win.

971359_10151471080551989_565521609_n
No candles – we used sparklers instead 🙂 Four down each side to make eight, then one in the middle to make “eighteen” 😀