Thursday, November 29, 2012

November 29: Advent activities

The Christmas season is one of my favorite times of the year.  If the weather were a little warmer, it would probably be my most favorite time of the year.  (However, temps here are going to be in the 60s for the next few days, which is very exciting!).  I love all the festivities that go along with the season, both religious and secular.

One of the traditions we have in our family is to read The Advent Book together.  Beginning December 1, we add a new page each night until we are reading the whole Christmas story.  It's a great book, and we highly recommend it.

We also do an advent countdown.  Right now, we use some boxes that I bought from Stampin Up a few years ago.  In each box is four pieces of candy (one for each of us) along with a Christmas activity to complete that day.  Here is our plan of activities for this year:

1:  Go to the Christmas parade downtown (with temps in the 60s, it should be a perfect parade day!)
2:  Wrap presents
3:  Write a letter to Santa
4:  Have a picnic dinner by the Christmas tree
5:  Buy a gift for the Angel Tree at school
6:  Make a Christmas craft
7:  Eat a candy cane
8:  Visit Santa at Scheels
9:  Decorate icing Christmas trees
10:  Ride the train at the mall
11:  Put money in a Salvation Army kettle
12:  Journey to Bethlehem field trip at school
13:  Drink hot chocolate
14:  Snowflake Day!  (snowflake crafts, snacks, etc.)
15:  Make Christmas cookies and deliver to friends
16:  Christmas Pageant at church
17:  Drive around and look at Christmas lights
18:  Audrey's Preschool Christmas program AND Christmas concert with my piano students
19:  Make ornaments to give to grandparents
20:  PJ and popcorn movie night
21:  Go to Mimi and Papaw's house
22:  Eat a reindeer food snack
23:  Open presents with Mimi and Papaw and family
24:  Open presents with Aunt Nancy and go to Nana's house
25:  Open presents with Nana and Poppa and family

Last year, we did a fairly good job of sticking with our schedule.  The good thing is that the girls can't read yet.  So if we want to change our plans at the last minute, it is easy to change to a different activity when we open the box.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

November 28: Monogram Wreath

This was my Pinterest project for the Christmas season.  (I can't direct you to the original link for this idea though, because the link I pinned in Pinterest did not work).

I think it's kind of fun.  It was super easy to make, and the total cost was about $15.

I got a big wooden letter at Hobby Lobby, then I wrapped greenery around it, and finished it off with a store bought bow!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

November 25: Oh Christmas Tree

As a child, we always got a real Christmas tree each year.  I have fond memories of going to the Christmas tree farm and searching for the biggest and best tree we could find.  So I am determined that our family will continue this tradition.

The first year we lived in Springfield, I made Daniel go with me to a Christmas tree farm and I made him cut down our tree.  He grew up with artificial trees, and I thought he needed the experience of a cutting down a real tree.  I know Daniel would probably prefer to skip the hassle and expense of a real tree, but he is always a good sport and goes along with my crazy ways!  (This is Daniel cutting down our tree in 2005).
 Since then, we have usually bought our real tree from a local market down the street.  But this year, I thought the girls were old enough to enjoy a real Christmas tree farm.  We found a tree farm called Bomke's Patch and decided to check it out this year.

It was such a fun place!  First we picked out our tree on the farm.  It was a warmer day than the past few days, but it was still chilly.  I am known to be a little picky when it comes to finding the perfect Christmas tree.  Audrey thought it was great fun at first, stopping to point at all the trees and ask if this would be a good tree.  (I did not have my camera with me, so we are stuck with phone pictures).

But after experiencing my Christmas tree indecisiveness in the cold weather, Audrey eventually decided that she was done searching for the perfect tree.  So, we found one that looked pretty good and got it.  Daniel had a saw and was ready to cut it down, but one of the tree farm workers found us and offered to cut it down with his chainsaw instead.  Daniel was terribly disappointed.  =(

After finding the tree, we went back into the main barn to warm up. 
They gave us free hot chocolate, coffee and popcorn.  They had coloring pages for the kids and little tractors that they could ride on.  They also had a fireplace with rocking chairs.  It was so cute and cozy!!

Then they offered a free family picture...and of course, I wasn't going to turn that down!
Finally, we had to pick up our tree and pay for it.  The paying for it part was a little on the pricey side.  We are used to paying for real Christmas trees, and we know they are not cheap.  And this one was even less cheap than the pre-cut trees we typically buy.  I guess you pay for the whole tree farm experience.  And it was a good experience!  I would definitely go back there again next year.

We got the tree home, set up, lit and decorated all today.  I'm kind of impressed with myself, because I normally drag that process out over several days.  It looks good and smells good, and it is making us all very excited about Christmas!!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

We are back home from our trip to Indiana.  It was a great trip.  Our girls were happy and cooperative, and we enjoyed relaxing and eating and spending time with friends and family.  It was a much needed break from everyday life!

The weather was great on Wednesday and Thursday, and the kids loved being able to play outside.  Audrey and Papaw had a great time playing with each other outside.

We had a little scare right before we sat down to eat Thanksgiving dinner.  Audrey started choking on a lifesaver.  She was hysterical, and it was hard to tell what was wrong with her or what we should do to help her.  Daniel's mom called 911.  Audrey ended up choking and gagging up part of the lifesaver before the ambulance arrived.  So when the EMTs came up to the house, she was fine, though still a bit on the hysterical side.  After some water and a glass of lemonade and a little Tinker Bell, Audrey was as good as new and ready to eat Thanksgiving dinner!

After the table was cleared, the kids found all the play train sets in the house and set them all up...three in all!  They all had a lot of fun playing. 
It was fun to watch all the kids interact with each other.   Our girls are the youngest in the family but they are starting to interact more with their older cousins.  At one point all six of them were playing hide and seek together, and it was so cute!

On Friday afternoon, Daniel and I dropped the girls off at Daniel's brother's house.  Then we went to the theater to see Lincoln, which was a good movie.  Then we picked the girls up again and met our friends BJ and Kellie and their kids at Chick-fil-a.

After Chick-fil-a, we went over to Barnes and Noble.  Kellie and I had fun browsing all the books while BJ and Daniel chatted and the kids ran all around the children's department.  We tried to get a picture of all the kids together, but that never works out very well!

 Truett loved giving kisses to Isla!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

November 20

We are packing up and getting ready to head to Indiana for Thanksgiving.  I am really looking forward to a change of scene...spending some time with family and friends, going to a movie, getting a peppermint chocolate chip shake from Chick-fil-a and much more, I'm sure! 

Audrey is even more excited. I can't even count how many times today she has said, "I am so excited to go to Mimi and Papaw's house tomorrow.  I just can't wait!"

Saturday, November 17, 2012

November 17: Christmas Card Pictures

 It's that time of year again.  Time to get the family dressed up and looking happy in the attempt of getting just one picture of our family smiling together that we can put on our Christmas cards.  This year, my friend Amy and I swapped favors.  She took some pictures of our family, and I took some pictures of hers. 

As always, it was a little stressful getting out the door, but once we got there, the girls were pretty cooperative and getting a decent picture wasn't too hard!  It was also nice of the weather to warm up for our little photo shoot today.

One last check to make sure everyone is looking good...
 Now Say Cheese!!  (or "Pineapple Undies" which is Audrey's silly word of choice lately)

 After Amy finished our family shots, I took a couple pictures of the girls in case we want to use any more pictures in our Christmas card.  They were looking oh so cute!
I am LOVING this picture of Isla.  Maybe my favorite picture of Isla yet?  She is not in the mood to sit still for pictures anymore, so to get a picture of her looking at the camera AND smiling is no easy feat!
It's hard to get a good natural smile from Audrey in pictures these days, so I'm pretty happy with this one too!!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Tangled Party...the budget

I posted my budget for this party a while back.  I know you probably don't care about how much money I spent on this party.  I posted it in order to help keep myself accountable to sticking with it.  And it worked!  There were so many times when I wanted to splurge and buy something extra, but then I remembered that I had to report back here on how much I spent.  So, that motivated me to be good and stick with the budget!  Here is how it all panned out.

Invitations:  $25
Mpix printing and envelopes:  $21
Embroidery thread for braids:  $3
Mailing:  $4.50
TOTAL SPENT:  $28.50

Decorations:  $75
Curtains:  $10 (Ikea)
Frying Pans:  $12 (Ikea)
Napkins:  $3 (Ikea)
100 ft yellow tablecloth roll:  $12 (Party City)
Plates, cups and silverware:  $12 (Party City)
Rapunzel Doll for cake:  $10 (Disney store)
Glitter tulle:  $6 (Hobby Lobby)
Purple tablecloths:  $3
Total spent:  $68

Audrey's Costume (which also served as her Halloween costume):  $25
 Rapunzel Dress:  $14 (Party City)
Yarn (for hair):  $4 (Hobby Lobby)
Flowers (for hair):  $3 (Hobby Lobby)
Total Spent:  $21
Favors (for 17 kids!):  $40
Treat bags and tissue paper for girls:  $3.50 (Michaels)
Treat bags for boys:free (used lunchbags and paper I had on hand)
Little toys for treat bags and babies:  $17 (Party City)
Tangled Figurines:  $20 (Disney store)
Total Spent:   $40.50

Food:  $100
Cake, cupcake and Icing ingredients/supplies:  $32
Donut tower supplies:  $12
Tower Kabobs:  $17
Breadstick dough:  $4
 Drinks:  $9
Potato Soup Ingredients and toppings:  $10
Hazelnut Soup Ingredients and toppings:  $10
Crackers:  $2
Total Spent:   $96

Games and Activities:  $25
A dozen light up balloons:  $20 (Party City)
Flynn Rider Poster and other printed signs:  $5
3M strips to hang signs:  $4
Apples for Maximus game: $3
Total Spent:  $32

That is $4.00 less than my budget!  Impressive!  There is a good chance that I forgot to write something down on this list, but I tried carefully to keep track of what I was spending as I spent it.  So I think this is a fairly accurate representation of what I spent. 

I tried really hard to look for deals and buy things on sale.  Back in September, I was able to take advantage of a 30% off everything sale at Party City.  I bought as much as I could, like plates and silverware, Audrey's costume and the yellow tablecloth roll that we hung out the window.  I also made a lot of trips to Hobby Lobby with 40% off coupons to get many of the cake decorating supplies and other decorations!

 I also just realized that I never posted a picture of the invitation.  I  designed it, then had it printed by Mpix when they were having a sale.  I braided and attached an embroidery thread braid for the local invitations that we hand-delivered.  I was too cheap to pay the extra postage to send the braids with the out of town invites, so they all just got a plain invitation.

And here are a few final pictures of the birthday girl at her party!

That is the end of the Tangled Party posts.  I have now shared every single detail of this party, probably much more than you ever wanted to know.  But if anyone out there is planning a Tangled party of their own, then I hope I have given you some helpful tips and ideas in your party planning adventure!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Tangled and favors

 For the kiddos who came to the party, we had a few activities and games for them to play.

One was Pin the Frying Pan on Flynn Rider.  This idea came from Paging Supermom, and I used the frying pan printable that she provided.
 Outside, we had Maximus' Apple Toss.  (Maximus is the horse in the movie, who really likes to eat apples).  The lattice in our backyard worked perfectly for this game.  Again, the dark was a bit of a problem though.  Our back light was enough for the kids to see the hole, but then the apples were lost in the black darkness of our backyard.  So I just gave them a flashlight and sent them off to find the apples, which became a whole new game in itself.  Eventually, all the boys (there were a lot of them!) started chasing each other around the yard...a great way for them to burn off energy without driving everyone inside the house crazy!
 The grand finale was a glowing balloon launch to represent the lantern launch in the movie.  I got balloons with an LED light inside them.  It was impossible to get a picture of the glowing balloons because it was so dark.  And because the glow in the balloons was very, very lame.  I was extremely disappointed with them; they barely gave off any light at all.  Launching them into the sky was cool for some of the kids, but some of the younger kids did not understand the idea of purposely letting go of a balloon.  A few tears were shed as they watched their balloon float away forever.  In the end, the balloon launch sounded like a fun idea, but it really was not worth it.

For the favors, we just found a few little trinkets to put in a bag for each kid.  The main highlight of the favor was a Tangled figurine.  The Disney store had figurine sets on sale for $10 with free shipping.  So I ordered two sets and gave one figurine to each kid.  Both of my girls LOVE little figurines, and I think they were a hit with the other kids as well.  Besides the figurine, we also included a Rapunzel pen, a plastic flute, Rapunzel tattoos, and a candy necklace.

Audrey and I found these sparkly purple bags on clearance at Michaels, and we really liked them.  We used them for all the girls' favors.
For the boys, I wanted to make satchel bags like Flynn Rider's satchel in the movie.  I saw some really cool felt and leather satchels that others had made as party favors.  But again, time and money were not on my side...and I don't really know how to sew.  Instead, I decided to try to transform plain brown paper lunchbags into satchels.  I attached some brown cardstock, rounded the corners, and used a white gel pen to create faux stitching around the edges.  I thought they looked pretty good, and if you knew they were satchels, then they kind of looked like satchels...right??

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Tangled Party...the decorations!

We had the party at our house.  I have mixed feelings about having birthday parties at our house.  On the one hand, it's easier because you don't have to transfer all your stuff to another place.  On the other hand, you have to get everything ready and keep the house clean and find room for all the party attenders in your house!

To make room for everyone, we had to use a lot of spaces in our house:  the living room, the dining room, the kitchen, the backyard and the whole basement.  I was tempted to decorate all those spaces, but I did restrain myself.  I made the dining room our main decorated space, with a few things outside and in the basement.

In the dining room, I pretty much emptied the room of all our usual stuff, which wasn't that much stuff, and I took down the curtains.  We used the dining room table to serve the food and a card table for drinks.  Otherwise, the room was empty.  With so many people in the house, it was nice to have some open space where everyone could mingle and walk through fairly easily.

I took advantage of this free sun banner printable from Paging Supermom, designed to imitate the kingdom banners in the movie.  I used the purple Ikea curtains I bought a long time ago to hang in our other windows and to serve as a backdrop for the food and drink tables. 

In the movie, Flynn and Rapunzel go to a tavern called the Snuggly Duckling, so I made a sign and used them as our "caterer" for the night.

I used our window seat to display the desserts, and swirled some tulle ribbon around the curtain rod.  The tulle is not looking so great in this picture, but I think it looked better in real life.

I love these white Ikea frames.  At only 99 cents a piece, they are a bargain.  Their simple, white design works well with almost any party, and I use them all the time.  Next time I am at Ikea I need to stock up on some more!

 Outside, I really wanted to use our gable window to represent Rapunzel's tower.  So we threw a roll of yellow plastic tablecover out the window and draped it around the front of the house.  I loved this look!
 Except when planning this idea, I forgot that our party was at 6:00 at night when it would be getting dark.  And then we rescheduled the party for after Daylight Savings Time, which meant it was going to be pitch black at 6:00.  Solution?  Borrow a spotlight from church to shine on the hair coming out of the window.  It was hard to get a picture, but it made the "hair" look even more dramatic!
 I also found some cheap LED lights at the dollar store.  I put them in some salt inside some white paper lunchbags with sunbursts glued on them.  I set these around outside to represent the lanterns in the movie.  I really wanted to do more decorating with lanterns, but I ran out of time and money!

 In the basement, I put a couple more luminaries on the tables along with some quotes from the movie.  I hung up a few more sun banners, threw on some purple tablecloths and yellow glitter tulle ribbon, and that was about it for our decorations!