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Thanksgiving Turkey Cheese-ball and Texas Trash!

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Thanksgiving Turkey Cheese-ball and Texas Trash!

Gobble gobble!  That’s something you see written a lot at this time of year.  I would say “hear a lot this time of year” but honestly, it’s been years since I’ve heard a real turkey’s garbled yell.  Not something the next door neighbors keep in their yard.  Maybe your neighbors do…..?

I don’t love turkeys, but I do love cheese-balls!  And snacky foods.  And cheesy foods.  So I saw this baby on Pinterest and felt in my bones that I should copy it!  I followed the recipe from Homemade in the Heartland for this handsome gobbler, though I didn’t have all the decoration ingredients.  We ended up having a Thanksgiving snack table before the actual turkey dinner, and this gobbly guy fit right on it!Turkey cheeseball: Thanksgiving snack foods by dennasideas.comInstead of starting life out as an egg, he started out as this (cream cheesy, oniony, pinappley goodness):Thanksgiving snack foods by dennasideas.comAnd then rolled around in this (pecans):Thanksgiving snack foods by dennasideas.comI found that after sitting around a while, the pecans started to soften up (especially the next day).  I think I would try and roll him in pecans at the very last minute before the party!  I used white chocolate chips for his eyes, glued him together with black candy melts.  His neck is a pepperoni stick and candy corn for beak and feet!Turkey Cheeseball: Thanksgiving snack foods by dennasideas.comWith the extra red candy melt I made his “gobbler” and wrote….a little word….I was in a hurry, ok?!!  (and my brain has been turning to mush lately)Texas trash: Thanksgiving snack foods by dennasideas.comTo go along with Mr. Gooble, I was all excited to try this traditional Texas snack mix!  (Texans, tell me the truth in the comments below:)  A delicious recipe for Texas Trash!  I found it on Little Magnolia Kitchen and just changed her recipe a bit to fit with what I could easily find.  The only Chex cereal I could find was Honey Chex  (see photo above)!!  And the nacho flavored Bugles.  I made up half the recipe, and could barely squeeze it into my pan.  Little Magnolia’s recommendation to use a large aluminum foil roaster is a good one….next time!  I didn’t have steak spice, so just kinda made my own with what I had.  So things were kinda different, but kinda……AWESOME!Texas Trash: Thanksgiving snack foods by dennasideas.comIt turned out Y.U.M.M.Y!!  Definitely a hit!!!  I think it might go on our “traditional” list.  We thought of our Texan relatives while we ate it!! 😉  (Oops, should I have said that???)Thanksgiving snack foods by dennasideas.comThere were some other new recipes that I tried out this year…..let me get it together and I’ll do another post…..

“It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!” party

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“It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!” party

I love Snoopy and Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang!  I remember looking forward to watching their specials on TV when we were young.  (I also love pumpkins) so it was easy to come up with the perfect theme for a fall birthday party for my son.  I haven’t watched “It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown!” for years, but I remember how Linus made me laugh, trying to wait all night in a pumpkin patch.  So this party started with a little pumpkin patch.  I had made some fondant pumpkins for cupcake toppers, and so there  were still some just sitting around, waiting to form a pumpkin patch for Linus."It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown" party ideas by denna's ideas.  Fast and easy ideas for a fall birthday party.Add in a “great pumpkin” and some more chipboard Peanuts characters (from last year’s kids’ Thanksgiving table)….."It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown" party ideas by denna's ideas.  Fast and easy ideas for a fall birthday party."It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown" party ideas by denna's ideas.  Fast and easy ideas for a fall pumpkin birthday party.I had found some little packets of tissues with Snoopy on them, so they were a bit of a favor at each place…."It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown" party ideas by denna's ideas.  Fast and easy ideas for a fall birthday party.There were some other cute and fairly easy pumpkin ideas that were fast enough to put together for this party.  My sister told me about using mandarin oranges as little pumpkins…."It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown" party ideas by denna's ideas.  Fast and easy ideas for a fall pumpkin birthday party.Just peel them and add “stems” from celery, or in this case, stems from spinach leaves!  And a bit of cilantro for leaves around the pumpkins.  And then a jelly bean favor for each kid, this idea I found here on Parenting.com.  I happened to have some red tulle (no orange!), so wrapped the orange jelly beans in it, then added pipe cleaner for a stem (and to hold the bag together) and some green curled ribbon for the tendrils.  Didn’t take long to put together."It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown" party ideas by denna's ideas.  Fast and easy ideas for a fall birthday party.The orange tablecloth and birthday banner I had saved from last year’s Garfield party"It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown" party ideas by denna's ideas.  Fast and easy ideas for a fall birthday party.My preschool nephews were visiting, so I was trying to think of ideas that they could help out with for this party….baking!!  Let’s make some birthday brownies!! (from a box!!)"It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown!" party ideas by denna's ideas.  Fast and easy ideas for a fall pumpkin themed birthday party."It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown!" party ideas by denna's ideas.  Fast and easy ideas for a fall pumpkin themed birthday party.You could always add a pumpkin puree swirl into the chocolate brownies, that would be finger lickin’ good!  (or pumpkin and cream cheese!! ahhhh!)  Another idea that turned out great to do with the little kids was to make a birthday poster.  First I drew a picture of Snoopy with a Sharpee marker on posterboard, then covered it up with white paper and painter’s tape.  Then let the kids at it with paint daubers (bingo dabbers?)"It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown!" party ideas by denna's ideas.  Fast and easy ideas for a fall pumpkin themed birthday party."It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown!" party ideas by denna's ideas.  Fast and easy ideas for a fall pumpkin themed birthday party.A fun idea even the youngest can help with!"It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown!" party ideas by denna's ideas.  Fast and easy ideas for a fall pumpkin themed birthday party.After painting is dry, peel off the tape to reveal….Snoopy!"It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown!" party ideas by denna's ideas.  Fast and easy ideas for a fall pumpkin themed birthday party."It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown!" party ideas by denna's ideas.  Fast and easy ideas for a fall pumpkin themed birthday party.Then an older kid colored the words in with black marker so they’d stand out a bit.  Posters, bday banner, favors, centerpiece, check!!….bring on the food and the party!

A happy pumpkin with a jack-o-lantern face from Papa Murphy’s pizza…..it’s the season for those, and they were just right for our pumpkin theme.  We love Papa Murphy’s pick up and bake at home pizzas!"It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown!" party ideas by denna's ideas.  Fast and easy ideas for a fall pumpkin themed birthday party.Time for pizza!"It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown!" party ideas by denna's ideas.  Fast and easy ideas for a fall pumpkin themed birthday party."It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown!" party ideas by denna's ideas.  Fast and easy ideas for a fall pumpkin themed birthday party."It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown!" party ideas by denna's ideas.  Fast and easy ideas for a fall pumpkin themed birthday party.Pumpkins! (oops, that’s from something else!)"It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown!" party ideas by denna's ideas.  Fast and easy ideas for a fall pumpkin themed birthday party.Linus’s pumpkin patch moves over to the birthday brownies…."It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown!" party ideas by denna's ideas.  Fast and easy ideas for a fall pumpkin themed birthday party."It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown!" party ideas by denna's ideas.  Fast and easy ideas for a fall pumpkin themed birthday party.Make a wish…."It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown!" party ideas by denna's ideas.  Fast and easy ideas for a fall pumpkin themed birthday party."It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown!" party ideas by denna's ideas.  Fast and easy ideas for a fall pumpkin themed birthday party.Happy birthday!  Check out some more pumpkin ideas…"It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown!" party ideas by denna's ideas.  Fast and easy ideas for a fall pumpkin themed birthday party.Here are some more pumpkin food ideas that I’ve worked on in the last few days, and they’d be perfect for a  Charlie Brown pumpkin theme.  My mom told me about some cute pumpkin cheese-balls that she saw, so I tried them out….Pumpkin shaped cheese-ball appetizer "It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown!" party ideas by denna's ideas.  Fast and easy ideas for a fall pumpkin themed birthday party.How to: mix up softened cream cheese with spices (garlic, onion, paprika, pepper, season salt, or whatever you like) and some grated cheddar or mozzarella cheese.  I also added chopped sun dried tomatoes.  Let sit for a few moments in the refrigerator to harden a bit, then pull it out, divide into two chunks, cover with plastic wrap and shape into 2 balls.  On top of the plastic wrap, mark the lines on the pumpkin with a back of a knife.  Return to fridge.  Later, before serving, take off the plastic and roll the cheese-balls in crushed nacho cheese tortilla chips (Doritos!) and add the stems from some bell peppers.Pumpkin shaped cheese-ball appetizer "It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown!" party ideas by denna's ideas.  Fast and easy ideas for a fall pumpkin themed birthday party.The stems were easy to cut out….cut out from the pepper, along with the seeds, then cut right at the base of the stem, it kind of just popped off….Pumpkin shaped cheese-ball appetizer "It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown!" party ideas by denna's ideas.  Fast and easy ideas for a fall pumpkin themed birthday party.crushed Doritos…I added paprika, but don’t do that, it dulled the color….Pumpkin shaped cheese-ball appetizer "It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown!" party ideas by denna's ideas.  Fast and easy ideas for a fall pumpkin themed birthday party.When you press in the stem, it helps squash it into a pumpkin shape…Pumpkin shaped cheese-ball appetizer "It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown!" party ideas by denna's ideas.  Fast and easy ideas for a fall pumpkin themed birthday party.I took a knife and re-made some of the indentations on the sides….Pumpkin shaped cheese-ball appetizer "It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown!" party ideas by denna's ideas.  Fast and easy ideas for a fall pumpkin themed birthday party.Such cute, tasty little guys!Pumpkin shaped cheese-ball appetizer "It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown!" party ideas by denna's ideas.  Fast and easy ideas for a fall pumpkin themed birthday party.And one last pumpkin idea….we just loved this one!  I found a video on how to make these adorable pumpkin buns, by Hani, from Haniela’s.  She has all sorts of great how-to videos for lots of yummy eats!  She made these in just an hour.  My first time to try took close to an hour and a half, but the next time was faster….and really, 35 minutes of that time is letting the buns rise, so really they’re pretty quick to make!  And so adorably pumpkiny!!  (Click on the link above for her video and recipe! you can do it!)  You can make large ones for hamburger buns, how fun is that??Pumpkin shaped dinner buns for "It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown!" party ideas by denna's ideas.  Fast and easy ideas for a fall pumpkin themed birthday party.Make the dough and cut….Pumpkin shaped dinner buns for "It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown!" party ideas by denna's ideas.  Fast and easy ideas for a fall pumpkin themed birthday party.Let rise, add egg wash and sesame seeds, Pumpkin shaped dinner buns for "It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown!" party ideas by denna's ideas.  Fast and easy ideas for a fall pumpkin themed birthday party.Bake for about 12 minutes…Pumpkin shaped dinner buns for "It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown!" party ideas by denna's ideas.  Fast and easy ideas for a fall pumpkin themed birthday party.Add a stem and there you go!!  I didn’t have the big pretzel sticks, so used several small skinny ones.  I’ve also seen photos with pecans as stems!Pumpkin shaped dinner buns for "It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown!" party ideas by denna's ideas.  Fast and easy ideas for a fall pumpkin themed birthday party.I just love those pumpkins!!  All pumpkins, I guess.  We had a lovely day out at a pumpkin (and everything else) farm and I had such a great time!  Love photographing pumpkins!"It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown!" party ideas by denna's ideas.  Fast and easy ideas for a fall pumpkin themed birthday party.Hope you got some ideas for your next fall party…oh, I just saw that It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown is on TV tonight….pumpkin memories!! 😉

Lalaloopsy Party for a sweet little girl

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Lalaloopsy Party for a sweet little girl

The day of the party (post) is finally here!  After a lot of thought, and a bit of prep, the Lalaloopsy and Hello Kitty Cute-as-a-Button birthday party actually came together.  Here are some photos of some very budget-friendly DIY ideas for decorations, food and activities at a sweet little girl’s party.  It was supposed to be a sewing party, but no sewing was actually done by anyone!!  Buttons were the big inspiration for this party. Buttons and a crazy brightly-colored curly-haired doll….paper button decor at a Lalaloopsy party by dennasideas.com - Page 022A button paper punch from Martha Stewart supplied a whole bunch of cute buttons for party decor, as confetti scattered on the table, and as wall decorations and even ended up on the juice cups!   {The table runners (in turquoise and in yellow) were part of Ikea’s summer line.}  Here’s the Lalaloopsy doll that also inspired the party and the party color scheme.  Her name is Marina Anchors, with her little pet whale and dressed in a cute sailor suit.  I found a perfect turquoise metal bicycle for her.  Her friends Hello Kitty and Pink Sock monkey took a ride with her.

I did a photoshoot of Marina and her friends and made up a digital invitation.  If you would like a copy to use for your little girl’s party, just let me know!!  They can be emailed or printed out as 4×6 photos.  lalaloopsy party invite by dennasideas.com - Page 075

For place-mats at the table, I made up my own Lalaloopsy coloring page using some images I found online.  Did you notice that her eyes are black buttons?  And the sock monkey has button eyes, of course.  I know a lot of people think that the button eyes are a bit creepy, but they fit so nicely into the cute as a button party idea….
Lalaloopsy party by dennasideas.com - Page 024There are lots of sewing party and cute-as-a-button party ideas online (Pinterest) that I found.  You can look at my Lalaloopsy and Cute as a Button party idea board here.  I loved the idea of using embroidery hoops as wall decorations at the party.  I decided to use scrapbook paper and wrapping paper in the hoops.  It was a little tricky squeezing the paper in some of the hoops, but it did work out.  On one pink page, I printed out the title “Tasya is turning Sew Seven” (the Sew Seven title was an idea from the Sweet Designs blog, and a few other sewing party ideas).Lalaloopsy party by dennasideas.com l - Page 007
Here’s some wrapping paper with a doily….Lalaloopsy party by dennasideas.com - Page 026And a few paper buttons were added on some of the hoops and on the wall.  Hmmm, how to arrange these hoops on the wall….should I set them out on the table and arrange them….?  It was easier than that….
Lalaloopsy party by dennasideas.com - Page 025Using sticky tak, everything was strategically arranged on the wall to cover up every mark and ding possible!!  I just followed the places I wanted to hide…..right above my old sewing machine.  That’s why there are buttons scattered randomly around.  Pretty clever if you ask me…..that’s how I work, my motto long being Necessity is the Mother of Invention.Lalaloopsy party by dennasideas.com l - Page 005I pulled *all* my sewing stuff (a very small collection, as I am not a sower, but just terribly fascinated with it all).Lalaloopsy party by dennasideas.com l - Page 006Lalaloopsy party by dennasideas.com - Page 018Add a little baker’s twine to the machine!!  It’s in the party colors, too.  I had seen a lovely banner to make on the Raising Up Rubies blog, and I really really wanted to make one, but at the last minute (as with a lot of things) ran out of time, so my daughter made a few for a small scalloped edge below the sewing machine and it looked very cute.  Made from paper doilies and cupcake wrappers.  Click on the blog link for a tutorial!Lalaloopsy party by dennasideas.com - Page 023The morning of the party, I decided to do a little craft with the b-day girl’s photo…..on a canvas on an easel.  I was so pleased with the way it turned out!  It was super easy, too. I’ll try and get a post done of this little DIY craft…Lalaloopsy party by dennasideas.com - Page 014

There were a few other photos displayed….Lalaloopsy party by dennasideas.com - Page 020

Along with some vintage handkerchiefs that belonged to my grandmother.  They seemed to go with the sewing theme…Lalaloopsy party by dennasideas.com - Page 027

Another awesome decorating idea, which was super easy, super budget-friendly and super fast was this paper plate button banner.  My older daughter and her friend whipped it up for me very last minute (like, guests were already inside the house!!)  Paper plates + punched paper circles + glue stick + hole punch + ribbon= party banner!!!Lalaloopsy party by dennasideas.com - Page 019One of my favorite ideas was another last minute brain wave, when I brought down my vintage sewing basket and realized that the inside lining was perfect party yellow!!  I decided to line the top tray with yellow cardstock and set the mini cupcakes right into the sewing basket!sewing basket on dessert table at a Lalaloopsy party by dennasideas.com I have already posted about how to make button cookies here, and they made it to the party, too.  The day before the party, they were sent to my daughter’s class packaged in little bags that said “I’m Sew Blessed to have you as my friend!”  They make perfect party favors, too (but I didn’t actually get enough made for party favors…)button cookie favors for a Lalaloopsy party by dennasideas.com I put the buttons in a jar…for the sewing machine dessert table….they were my favorite dessert at the party!Lalaloopsy party by dennasideas.com - Page 011Then there was a cute sewing button cake.  Here’s a step by step how to for decorating the cake.  It was very quick and easy…even the little doily banner.  It seemed like a good idea at the time to use a cake mix…..bleh!denna's ideas: how to make a Lalaloopsy Sewing party cake with sprinklesSo here’s how the display turned out:Lalaloopsy party dessert table  by dennasideas.com Lalaloopsy party by dennasideas.com Lalaloopsy party table by dennasideas.com Lalaloopsy party by dennasideas.com

Mason jars with cupcake wrappers over the top and a blue paper button, for the very pink lemonade:mason jar drinks for kids at a Lalaloopsy or Sewing Party by denna's ideas.com

My Lalaloopsy girl was wearing a pink dress and eyelet pinafore that my mother sewed for me, oh, years ago!!  I used to wear it to school….without blue curly hair, though.Lalaloopsy party by dennasideas.com - Page 035

Here’s where Hello Kitty makes her appearance at this party!!  She didn’t want to be left out.  Super cute plates from Target…
Lalaloopsy party by dennasideas.com - Page 010Giant sized coloring pages, also from Target, were used to last-minutely add some wall decor…just right to cover up the annoying thermostat….Lalaloopsy party by dennasideas.com - Page 013And here is where my big splurge comes in….I’m usually pretty good about DIYing my party stuff from dollar store supplies, but I found THESE.  These pink sparkly purses with big bows.  There were 6 of them and they were on sale!!!  So I guiltily bought them and saved them for the party…for the party favor bags.  In the end there were going to be more guests, so I went back to Claire’s and found some more matching little backpacks and purses.  They were pink and purple plaid.  I had not wanted to invite Purple to this Pink and Red and Yellow and Turquoise party, but she ended up sneaking in anyways.  She would have looked cute in the button cookies…oh well.  So the purses were tied onto the backs of the chairs…party bag purses at a Lalaloopsy & Hello Kitty party by dennasideas.com l - Page 002Filled with a few treats and candies…not too many as the purse was the big favor!!  (the colors in my photos are so wonky!!)Lalaloopsy party by dennasideas.com - Page 016There were a few more last minute decorating ideas that actually happened…like this poster cloud that had to appear to hide a big decal on the wall….with pink sharpie stitches running around the edge and a doily and more paper buttons to disguise the nail sticking out….Lalaloopsy party by dennasideas.com - Page 017My sister had given me this adorable fabric for Christmas, with little paper dolls on it!!  So last minute it was taped to the lampshade and pinned onto a pillow….(with safety pins of course!!)Lalaloopsy party by dennasideas.com l - Page 003Hmmm, that other pillow….I guess I did actually sew it, about 10 years ago, with my Mom supervising me on her surger….!  I suppose I do occasionally sew things, with a lot of supervision, but in between projects, I actually forget how to sew.  And still can’t get my machine’s tension right!Lalaloopsy party by dennasideas.com - Page 028There was also this cute flower arrangement on the table….like a cherry sundae made of flowers!  There’s a how-to right here under budget-friendly flower arrangementdenna's ideas: how to make a budget friendly ice cream Sundae flower arrangementLalaloopsy party by dennasideas.com

Lalaloopsy party by dennasideas.com We had the table set with the coloring place-mats and crayons in mason jars so the girls could color right away as the first activity.crayons by dennasideas.com - Page 001 denna's ideas.com Lalaloopsy partyLalaloopsy party by dennasideas.com - Page 034

And then came lunch!!  The food was Lalaloopsy themed and you can see the recipes and how-tos here in my previous post.denna's ideas: pasta salad, party food for a Lalaloopsy party denna's ideas: pasta salad, party food for a Lalaloopsy or Hello Kitty  party denna's ideas: party sandwiches for a Hello kitty party or for a Lalaloopsy girly party

After lunch I wanted to play “Button, button who’s got the button?” but wasn’t sure exactly how it was played…so I invented my own version, with the girls hiding buttons in their fists, and the next one guessing and keeping the button if guessed right.  It worked!  Another game was the one where you get lengths of yarn, and must tell something about yourself while you are winding the yarn around your finger.  That worked to get the girls telling some things about themselves!  Oh yes, and a button craft!!  I had wanted to do a sewing craft, but it just didn’t work out.  So we made cards with a stamped mason jar and there were lots of buttons for the girls to choose from to fill their jar…lalaloopsy party by dennasideas.com - Page 006lalaloopsy party by dennasideas.com - Page 004lalaloopsy party by dennasideas.com - Page 003I had some stamps with phrases, so the girls could choose to add Thank you or Happy Birthday or Happy Holidays.  Most of them chose Thank you.  The girls were quite creative with their cards, and decorated the envelopes, too.  After the party was over, I found my daughter’s card…Lalaloopsy party by dennasideas.com - Page 012It says Thank You Mom for my Birthday, with adorable misspelling!!  How cute is that?  So wonderful to know that she was happy with her birthday party! 🙂Lalaloopsy party by dennasideas.com - Page 033The girls had a laugh making “lalaloopsy eyes” heh, heh!Lalaloopsy party by dennasideas.com - Page 032And trying on Hello Kitty glasses!!denna's ideas.com????? denna's ideas.com denna's ideas.comIt was a lot of fun!  Here are a few last ideas for a Lalaloopsy themed party.  One of the snacks could have been Froot Loops (loopsy, get it?)  I had found the perfect box. a Birthday Edition with hearts in with the loops….since that’s our birthday tradition, sugary cereal of their choice for the birthday child…Lalaloopsy party by dennasideas.com - Page 015Lalaloopsy party by dennasideas.com - Page 031And then there were some really cool spool of thread pops that I saw in several places on pinterest, made from marshmallows and fondant and candy melts, that I started working on…but I wasn’t pleased with them, the marshmallows were too weirdly-shaped for my liking, so I didn’t finish them….and we totally didn’t need any more sugar!!  (I never put the candy melt “thread” on the “spools”)lalaloopsy party by dennasideas.com - Page 002 lalaloopsy party by dennasideas.com - Page 001As you can probably tell, I do a lot of things last minute for my parties.  Not to mention that the whole house has to be tidied up before the party, too.  It all adds up to a lot of work!  I’m grateful for my family’s help!  My oldest daughter especially helped me get a lot of the last minute decorating done.  Seems like I don’t stop decorating ’till the 2nd or 3rd party guest arrives… Ah well, Lalaloopsy party has now come and gone, good thing I still have my little dolly around to brighten my days!
Lalaloopsy party by dennasideas.com - Page 030

Back to School party table with no dessert….

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Back to School party table with no dessert….

Calling all children back to school….oh wait, that’s mostly in North America, and I suppose that they are already all in school by this date.  In other countries kids are counting down the last few days till the end of school, lucky ducks!  It just seems to me like we’re still at that bright shiny newness of going back to school days.  Maybe that’s because I still have a big poster hanging in my living room and haven’t actually finished sending all the school supplies to school with my kids yet….

Oh well, I’m just living in/enjoying the moment I guess.  Sometimes it just takes me longer than it does others to transition into the next moment…. 🙂

I had been looking at photos of peoples’ back-to-school parties and wishing that I could make one, so I’ve been kinda planning it in my head….but we’ve been busy and out of town.  School supplies were bought before the day before the first day of school, really, they were.  But we were having our last trip of the summer, and we came home late, and I ran out of time.  But such is my obsessiveness that I just couldn’t let go of my party idea.

Even when one of my children said to me:  “Mom, we don’t need any more parties!!”  (Now how often do you hear a kid say that?  Must be only one of mine….)  But I wasn’t going to let that stop me.  On the first day of school, when most of them were out of the house, I started to rush about and throw things together.  I had purposely bought some very-on-sale school supplies earlier to use for this party table display.  Thinking ahead helps, so I can throw everything together last minute….that’s the way I work.

So I was finishing up the display, when I suddenly noticed, oh, there are no desserts on this table….dennas ideas_back to school party - Page 009I had a globe, books and even an old typewriter….dennas ideas_back to school party - Page 005 dennas ideas_back to school party - Page 006 dennas ideas_back to school party - Page 007dennas ideas_back to school party - Page 002Some fun erasers in a gumball machine (not edible)denna's ideas: back to school party: eraser gumball machine - Page 003

But no food.

I had run out of time to make these super-cute apple cookies that I had seen on the Living Locurto blog.  Or to dip oreos, or to bake a cake.  NOthing.

Oh well, I actually felt a little pleased.  My big beef with kids’ party tables is all the awful sugary things that kids are encouraged to eat.  (Though that doesn’t usually stop me from doing anything).  This table was decorated with school supplies, useful, shiny, new, needed, sugar-free, gluten-free school supplies.  I could feel good about that.  There was a “cake” of supplies….denna's ideas: back to school party ddenna's ideas: back to school party I had worked away at my decorating while my little buddy did some “painting homework” of his own,denna's ideas: back to school party and my other little friend looked on, denna's ideas: back to school party

But the kids were due home from school soon and I felt that they would appreciate some sort of a snack to take the edge off the day….so we went for easy snacks, with a twist…a twist of paper that is….denna's ideas: back to school party , popcorn conesdenna's ideas: back to school party , popcorn conesAnd there were some Oreo cookies in the pantry, but first I just had to try out something I’ve been thinking about for awhile…denna's ideas: back to school party , rainbow oreosRainbow oreos!!  I saw a photo of them on Pinterest, but was ticked off to see that the color was edited in.  So I figured I could just brush on some food coloring….it worked well enough.  Add some milk and chalkboards and wooden blocks:denna's ideas: back to school party cookies and milk denna's ideas: back to school party  cookies and milkPrint off a sign from Balancing Home, there are a lot of cool signs to choose from.
denna's ideas: back to school party signsOh, mustn’t forget the stash of Kex cookie biscuits from Ikea, they are always fun!!  At least, I always have fun spelling with them…..denna's ideas: back to school party cookie letters from IkeaJust stick that in there…..denna's ideas: back to school party snacksAnd finished, right before they all exploded through the door to fling their backpacks down!!denna's ideas: back to school party They were impressed with the oreos at least…..denna's ideas: back to school party snacksNot so super impressed with me when I continued the fun by giving them some questionnaires to fill out!!  I had printed out some really cute “how was your day” and “first day of school” questions and “how was your summer” type stuff.  You can find some here and here.  And maybe not so impressed when I told them the popcorn had no salt and butter (because that would ruin the photos with all the greasyness on the paper!)  So we didn’t acutally eat the popcorn, that was for photos.  But to make up for that, the next day I made it into popcorn marshmallow cake, for the second day of school treat!!  I sure enjoyed that snack, reminds me of Auntie Darla’s popcorn cake….

And lest you are too impressed with my party table, I must say that I was totally inspired by some awesome parties I found online (and “lifted” a few ideas).  Mostly by this Vintage Schoolhouse party by Kara’s Party Ideas.  If you would like to see my Pinterest inspiration board where I found a bunch of ideas, look here.  There are lots of fun printables and ideas, food, snacks, etc.  There is a gorgeous party on Catch My Party, here that I just loved!  So many ideas!  But I couldn’t squeeze them all in.  😦  Maybe next year.

(Hmmm, as a P.S. maybe I should mention that this is a budget-friendly “party”, just use the supplies that you already need to buy for your kids and add in a few extra pencils and crayons for crafting, like covering a tin can in new pencils and taping/rubber banding them on.  I already had chalkboards, and what I do a lot of the time is use black poster paper/board for chalkboards.  That’s what I did for the chalkboard in a frame: it’s a poster.  I don’t own chalkboard paint, but love the look!  I already had the black circle banner from another party, so just chalked ABCDs onto them.  The backdrop is an Ikea duvet cover that was on sale last year, yes I love those ABCs!  Most of the props were things I’ve had for years, like apple Christmas ornaments and white metal trees.  I just searched the house for fun things, like the Felix clock.  The little desk was my most exciting find of spring garage-sale-ing this year, oh yes, my only find, too!!  Anyways, I know I’m kind of a pack-rat and have lots of fun junk cluttering up my house, but really this is an improvised little party that you can make with chalk, paper, school supplies and some sweat and time!)

Oh, and by the way, a note about that “we don’t need any more parties”….  I had figured it came from someone wanting to go do other things instead of setting up a party, but apparently the reason was that I “get too tired and cranky” when I’m in party mode!!!!  How do you like that?  I told the truth:  “I’m going to be tired and cranky anyways, so you might as well enjoy getting some good snacks out of a party once in a while!!”  😉dennas ideas_back to school party - Page 001

DIY Recycled 10-minute Mini Piñata

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DIY Recycled 10-minute Mini Piñata

Flashes of genius happen at the strangest times.  Like when you are shredding documents.  And then emptying the shredder.  And you think, “this shredded paper is so cool, what could we make out of it??”  How about a Piñata?  A mini piñata that won’t take much time to make.  A recycled earth-friendly piñata.  Sounds good to me, I say to myself.

First of all, I collected all the kids’ field trip forms that are always sitting around cluttering up my counter….they are usually printed on brightly colored paper….perfect for a cinco de mayo type piñata.  I mentioned that I had already emptied the shredder, so then my daughter had a fun time feeding in all the colored paper that I had decided to recycle.  Now empty the shredder again…denna's ideas: how to make a recycled mini piñata

Lovely!!

I’d be happy to just have the shreds sitting around in a jar to decorate….not everyone’s idea of glamorous decor….denna's ideas: how to make a recycled mini piñataFind some little boxes to use, and some tape and something to hang the thing with…like string or ribbon…we found a box from icing colors, so even the box looked colorful….denna's ideas: how to make a recycled mini piñataNow would be a good time to fill the box with candy….if you want to!!  Then knot a length of string and secure it in the corner of the box, then fold the flaps down to hold the string in place and tape it all closed.  Can you see the loop of string coming out of the corner?denna's ideas: how to make a recycled mini piñataCover one side of the box with glue, plain old white school glue…denna's ideas: how to make a recycled mini piñata

Grab a small handful of the shredded paper and start sticking it on!  Don’t be a perfectionist!denna's ideas: how to make a recycled mini piñataGlue paper on another side,  doesn’t really matter what order you do the sides in!denna's ideas: how to make a recycled mini piñataMy 6 year old daughter and I each made one…denna's ideas: how to make a recycled mini piñatadenna's ideas: how to make a recycled mini piñataSeriously, it took about 10 minutes to make one of these little guys!denna's ideas: how to make a recycled mini piñata

Now hang it up!!  And add a little tissue paper tail….denna's ideas: how to make a recycled mini piñatadenna's ideas: how to make a recycled mini piñatadenna's ideas: how to make a recycled mini piñata(I “boosted” the color in these photos…I wish I had kitchen walls this lovely papaya shade of burning orange!)

The Hello Kitty Party!! or “La Fiesta de la Hello”!

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Yes, we have finally come to the Hello Kitty party itself! 🙂denna's ideas: Hello Kitty Party Ideas

I had been thinking for a long time that a Hello Kitty party would be fun, but here are the two things that made me feel really inspired to go ahead and go for it!!

denna's ideas: Hello Kitty Party Ideas, chocolate

this Hello Kitty chocolate “Easter egg”

denna's ideas: Hello Kitty Party Ideas, mug

and this Hello Kitty mug!

denna's ideas: Hello Kitty Party Ideas, HK mug

My photos of the mug didn’t turn out so great, but really the mugs were my inspiration for the party.  The girls have had them for years, and I am always seeing them!  The mugs have Hello Kitty with ice cream cones and candy, and they are done in these pastel colors.  So I decided that the colors for the party would be mint green, pastel pink and red, oh! and chocolate instead of black!  And that it would be a Hello Kitty Sweet Shoppe kind of theme!  Following are some easy how-tos for some of the Hello Kitty stuff we did for the party.  Links to sources and how-to posts are in red letters, so just click on them!

(An Aside:  my friend over at Paper Glitter did a Fab-U-Lous Hello Kitty Sweet Shoppe party for her daughter! It’s amazing!  I decided to go with my mug-inspired homemade party this time, though.  If my printer had been working, I would have printed some of Paper Glitters’ gorgeous Sweet Shoppe Party printouts and this sweeeeet stationary set!  Linnette makes the most adorable things for parties!  But my printer is on it’s last legs 😦  )

So mint and pink and red….and a little white cat!  A package of pastel card stock from the dollar store made a quick and easy backdrop.   Just tape the pages onto the wall with painter’s tape so they won’t stick forever! (We were able to print out one black and white kitty and my youngest colored it in.  We found it on this site of coloring pages).

The lighting in our house in the winter is just atrocious, and so all my photos look kinda strange…they look very brightly colored, but really are softer pastels, oh well, I guess you get the idea….denna's ideas: Hello Kitty Party Ideas, easy Hello Kitty party backdrop

The little Kitty banner was so fast and easy to make. denna's ideas: Fast and Easy Hello Kitty Party Banner how toCheck out the How-To here for a quick and easy Hello Kitty banner.
denna's ideas: Fast and Easy Hello Kitty Party Banner from playing cards

A trip to Party City for a few little party favors, and a trip to the T&T Asian supermarket for some fun Hello Kitty packs of gum and box of cookies!
denna's ideas: Hello Kitty Party Ideas, Hello Kitty party favors

At the dollar store, I found this cute little book of painting pages….(I must say the kids weren’t the only ones who had fun painting them!)
denna's ideas: Hello Kitty Party favorsdenna's ideas: Hello Kitty Party Ideas, HK party gum favors

We set out a few of our Hello Kitty memorabilia to decorate…enna's ideas: Hello Kitty Party ideas, HK memorabiliaand something new….denna's ideas: Hello Kitty Party Ideas, HK lunchbox

And now for the party table set up!denna's ideas: Hello Kitty Party Ideas, bubble teaWe found some bubble tea in just the right colors…they looked super, but just are not my personal cup of tea!  I made a plate of Hello Kitty crackers…um, those weren’t so fabulous, but might work out with a different recipe.denna's ideas: Hello Kitty crackersSome easy party balloons in the shape of ice cream cones for the party table.  Just add some “cherries” and sprinkles!  There’s a quick how-to at the end of this post heredenna's ideas: Hello Kitty Banner and party ice cream balloonsEverything was finally put together….with the Hello Kitty Cake, too!

denna's ideas: Hello Kitty Party IdeasI made a Pocky Cake and added Hello Kitty peeking over the top!  Her whiskers are made out of Pocky, too.  I posted about what a Pocky cake is the other day, what a quick way to decorate a cake!!denna's ideas: Hello Kitty Party Ideas, Hello kitty dessert tableThe salad bowl was really a flash of genius, if I do say so myself!!  So fun and tasty, but super easy to make, too!

denna's ideas: Hello Kitty Party IdeasHere’s the post about the Hello Kitty Fruit Salad Bowl containing my favoritist sweet salad ever!  (I know that’s not a word! but it’s yummy)enna's ideas: Hello Kitty Party ideas, my girl

My birthday girl!!!  No girl is ever too old for a Hello Kitty party!!denna's ideas: Hello Kitty Party ideas, my girldenna's ideas: Hello Kitty Party IdeasSAM_0879It was a whole lot of sugary pastel colored sweetness, with a few Japanese and Korean treats thrown in!  The only things missing were these Hello Kitty strawberry treats!!  They were easy to make, but just didn’t make it to this party, haha!  The link for the how-to is here.denna's ideas: Hello Kitty Strawberry snacks

Hello Kitty Fruit Salad Bowl

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You just can’t get enough of that cute Kitty, I know!  So I thought I’d post just one more party food idea for your next Hello Kitty party.  This one turned out great and is super yummy, I promise!

One of our favorite “salads” is more like a dessert, I’m afraid.  It’s a marshmallow-fruit-whipped cream salad of yumminess…ahhhh.  Very easy, and it adapted itself perfectly to this Hello Kitty idea.  This food project needs to be made a day before your party.

Start out with a clean fishbowl.  You could call it a salad bowl, but it’s really a fishbowl…but ours has never even seen a fin.  (I bought it at Michael’s arts and crafts store).  I used one package of mini marshmallows for this recipe.  It’s not really a recipe, just kind of a throwing-together of ingredients.  I don’t think there’s really anything that you could do to mess this one up!

First whip up some whipping cream…the real stuff!!  (with a bit of sugar and vanilla, nice and thickly whipped)  Like maybe about  two cups.  (Or more!)  In a very large separate bowl, mix about half a bag of mini marshmallows and about half of the whipped cream.  It should be a thick mixture, not runny at all.  Now with a big spoon, start spooning this into the fishbowl, and coating the sides of the bowl, like this…denna's ideas: how to make a Hello Kitty fruit salad bowlThis is so that Hello Kitty will have a nice smooth-looking face, instead of  grape “beauty marks or warts” on her face!  Coating the sides of the bowl with the marshmallow/whipped cream mixture is quite easy.  Try to make it as thin as possible, so you have some more mallow for the salad!

Now to finish the salad: mix up the rest of the marshmallows with the whipped cream.  There’s a healthy short cut you can do here.  I added in plain greek yoghurt and/or plain vanilla yogurt instead of some of the whipped cream.  It works great….really, I think this salad could be made with only yogurt and no cream and it would be just great!  But I don’t think cutting out the marshmallows is an option!

Now cut up and de-seed some grapes.  A big bunch of grapes.  We like using the red grapes.  Make sure each grape is cut at least in half!  Add these to the mix in the big bowl.  Add some mandarin orange segments (maybe a can-ful or two).  (I didn’t have any, but you can add a can of pineapple chunks, too).  You kind of add what you have on hand, fruit wise.  Now it’s a fruity marshmallowy salad.  To give it a nice nutty crunch, add some toasted almonds now (might be a good idea to have these toasted before you start making the salad).

Almonds:  to peel whole almonds, put them in a bowl and pour boiling water over them.  Let sit for a few minutes, then start popping the skins off them…that’s the fun part that kids usually like helping with!  After they are all peeled, toast them in an oven or in a skillet on top of the stove….just a warm toasty brown, don’t let them burn!!  When they are cool, add them to the salad.

That’s about it for the fruit salad!  Mix it all gently together and spoon it into the fishbowl.  It made just enough to almost fill it. denna's ideas: how to make a Hello Kitty fruit salad bowlNow cover and refrigerate it.  The next day, right before the party, you can add the face and bow.  The bow was made from a paper napkin/serviette.  Cut a strip off one side, gather the large rectangle up, then use the strip to fasten around the middle and tape together.  Use a small piece of tape to stick it to one side of the bowl.

For the face:  melt a couple of cocoa candy melts (I use Wilton’s), or a few spoonfuls of chocolate chips.  Put into a plastic baggie and snip a tiny piece of the corner off so you can pipe the chocolate out there.  The fruit bowl is nice and cold so the chocolate will set up quickly.  Pipe the whiskers on first, then the eyes and nose….denna's ideas: how to make a Hello Kitty fruit salad bowlI think the eyes should have been down a bit….oh well, it took just a minute to do right before the party started.  If you mess up, you can just scrape it off and start again.  I found that the chocolate stayed on perfectly for a long time….the only problem was that the kids wanted to pick it off and eat it!!

denna's ideas: how to make a Hello Kitty fruit salad bowlRight before eating time at the party, you can gently mix the salad up, or even just mix it up as you serve it…so that there is fruit throughout the whole salad.  Mmmm, love this salad!!  And the Kitty, too!  I was especially pleased that this was my very own little idea…I didn’t “find it on Pinterest” like most of my ideas, haha!!