Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Around Our House: Bea's 3rd Birthday

Cutting the cake. Note the reuse of our old sea themed shower curtain as a table runner.

Well I am a little late with this post, but for those of you gearing up for your own birthday parties, here's our version of a fun fish party. The girls and I had a great time planning together and working on the decorations and goodie bags. This party was at least four afternoons of crafts and activities.

We started out by making our goodie bags. I found some fun fish stickers, made little packs of gummie worms and swedish fish, and purchased beach balls for all of the kids. We always buy plain paper bags in different colors and have the kids draw on them. It is hard to find printed birthday materials that aren't covered in Disney characters. For the candies, we found clear plastic treat bags and bought bulk packages and divided them up to save some money. I bought the beach balls from Oriental Trading (not a big fan of cheap throw away toys, but the beach balls SHOULD last all summer).

We also bought cheap plain paper plates in fun aquatic colors and had the girls either draw on them or if you kids are too young, have them stick a few theme related stickers on them. We also purchased three rolls of streamers and a package of balloons. I had an old sea themed shower curtain that I cut into table runners and a cover for our fireplace screen. I had also scored a few seaweed like decorations from a garage sale (by the way always look for decorations at thrift stores or garage sales and conversely anything you do not use or can be used again, be sure to try selling at your garage sale or donate to a thrift store).

I like to have a craft for all of the kids to do, so for this party, we made fishing games. Ahead of time, I made the fishing poles. I purchased short (about 12") dowels, twine, and magnets. If you can find magnets with holes, get hose, otherwise the regular ceramic discs are fine.

Do it Yourself Fishing Game:

Craft foam cut into fish shapes with paper clip hooks. Allow the kids to decorate their own with markers and crayons.

Finishing up the poles with hot glue.

12" long dowels about the thickness of a pencil (or wooden chopsticks)
ceramic magnets (with a hole if available)
assorted colors of craft foam
paper clips
hot glue gun and sticks

Cut your twine into 12" long pieces. Tie to one end of the pole and seal it with a small dab of hot glue. If you have magnets with holes, tie them to the other end of the twine. If not, apply a dab of glue to one side of the magnet and stick the twine to the glue allowing yourself enough room to tie the twine around the magnet.

Cut the craft foam into fish shapes including eels, octopuses, starfish, or any other sea creature you can think up. Allow the children to decorate their own fish using markers and stick on shapes. Slip a paperclip over the end of the fish mouth to act as a hook.

This game is fum for all ages, but you should use caution with magnets around small children who might choke on or swallow the magnets (they can come loose from the twine and pose a serious health risk for young children if swallowed).

Day Before the Party

The girls decorated the starfish with sprinkles and I edged them with frosting.

The day before, we baked and decorated our starfish and fish shaped sugar cookies. We also made our gummie worm and peep sushi. If you have ever made real sushi, these are very similar.
Use a rolled out fruit roll-up in place of the seaweed, rice crispie treats as the rice mixture, and gummie worms and peeps for the "meat". Form the sushi rolls while the rice crispie treats are still warm and flexible and thoroughly butter or grease your hands while working.

The candy sushi was a BIG hit. I wish I could claim credit for this one because they are FABULOUS!

Day of the Party

I woke up early and decorated the cake that I had baked the night before. I was going for an aquarium cake. Check with your local library, many have cake pans to loan.

My kids are always grouchy on party day. I can't figure it out.

After squaring away the food, I decorated the house with three rolls of streamers. I made sure to use them all and the effect was really fun.

The food table with streamer skirt.

I put streamers everywhere.

Grandma Louise keeping my very pregnant cousin company. The green seaweed spirals were a garage sale find.

The party was really fun and the girls and I are already planning for the next one...

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Recipes: Super Duper Easy Fruit Juice Slushie

Beatrice enjoying her Apple Raspberry Slushie

Nothing is more refreshing in the heat of summer than an icy cold slushie. My problem is that I can't bring myself to give my kids the nasty sugar packed toxic blue slushies they want from the ice cream shop, so we make ours at home. All you need is a decent blender, frozen juice concentrate, water, and ice cubes.

1 can frozen juice concentrate
16-18 regular sized ice cubes
1 1/2 c cold water

Add all ingredients to the blender and blend on high until smooth. If the slushie is too thick, add a little more water. Serves 4-6.

Note: we often cut this recipe in half (i've got two small kids) and reserve the remainder of the juice concentrate in the freezer for next time.