Monday, March 31, 2014

Charlotte's Candyland Birthday Bash

I have a habit of going overboard on parties - which means I'm running around crazy at the end. I can't help myself really; I love parties with themes and food that goes along with it all (case in point - strawberry shortcake party). For Charlotte's 5th birthday party, I decided to *try* and do less.

I decided to host the birthday party at 1:30pm, well after "lunchtime" and mentioned that we would be serving appetizers, snacks, and of course, cake.

To make things easier for myself, I did 3 crockpot dips. Set it and forget it - my kind of party prep:

  • Queso Dip with Chips - plus some sliced and quartered summer sausage on the side
  • Chili Grape Meatballs - for substance. Come to think of it, I always serve these because they are SO easy, and people like them to munch on
  • Franks Buffalo Chicken Dip (crockpot version) - VERY popular

well... the crockpots are in the background

However, my mother-in-law's biggest fear is running out of food. No joke. I think that is literally her biggest fear. SO.... she brought over some fruit salad and chicken salad with hawaiian rolls and commandeered the oven for pretzel dogs, corn dogs, and various other baked appetizers.

Phew. Clearly, we had more than enough food!

Oh and like EVERY party, I made knox blocks (ie firmer jello jigglers) and they were on the cake table along with some leftover candy and pretzels and munchies.

Life size Candy land game in play room - I spend a night prior to the party going through a package of construction paper and setting aside the purple, yellow, blue, orange, green, red pages.... in that order.  Then the morning of the party I laid out the "game spaces". I put the actual game cards from my game in a bucket for each player to select one. We didn't really think the actual game playing through - the kids never went in their original order. I just started with the person furthest along in the game and made my way backwards until all the kids selected their card and moved. Then I started that process over again until they reached the end of the board and they got to jump into the ball pit (birthday girls idea!)

The kids really got into it! One boy told his mom that night, "Mom, I can't BELIEVE we were ACTUALLY in Candyland today!!!".

Make your own snack necklace
Make your own snack necklace station
I saw this on Pinterest as a way to make snacks for a playdate; but I thought it was fitting for our party.
I used: fruit loops, apple jacks, these shortbread like flower looking cookies with a hole in the middle, pretzels, and gummy life savers.

I'm not dummy, I know that if a kid sees gummy life savers as an option for his "snack necklace", he's only going to use gummy life savers. And as the most expensive part of this activity, I decided to do a little prep work.

For the necklace itself, I used ribbon - present wrapping ribbon - pre cut to an appropriate length AND already started with a pretzel tied on at one end. I could just picture kids starting their necklaces and then picking one end up and everything falling off the bottom.  To save us from tears (and my floors from a HUGE mess) I tied a pretzel to one end of each ribbon.

I then set out as many plastic cups as kids we had and placed their "Starter necklace" in each cup. Also, in their cup, I divided out about 9 gummy life savers.  The rest of the snacks were in the center of the table in large bowls. That way, they knew they only have 9 gummies for their necklace, but as many of everything else that they wanted.

It worked well.

Candy Dot Punch Game
Ok, the kids really enjoyed this. I saw this idea (with instructions) online and knew I had to do it. Upon my mothers suggestion, I used foam board, so it would be sturdier than poster board .... holy cow that was a work out to cut it out. I don't have the handy circle cutter tool that she did in the instructions. I had LOTS of kids coming, so I used 2 foam boards and I taped them together in the middle (actually, I ended up making a 3rd that wasn't attached... but that's another story). Then I ran to lowes and got a piece of 1x2in board and taped that on either end so it was really sturdy.

Looking back I could have used the poster board with the wood... but oh well. It's done. Kids absolutely LOVED this.

Backyard Fun
To keep the kids entertained we set them loose in our backyard with the small trampoline, swing set, and several bouncy balls, soccer balls, and hoola hoops.

You know that night I spent selecting the purple, yellow, blue, orange, green, and red construction paper? Well, I used some extra to decorate the walls. I put them up with ticky tacky.

Construction paper game spaces
Also, I got some clear cellophane plastic wrap and wrapped some of the colored paper plates (which I was already using for the party) to look like pieces of candy. I stuck those on the walls too.
Cellophane candy on walls

I got 3 each of red, yellow, green, and blue balloons and set them by the front door (in and out) and the cake table. Oh yeah, I like using our easel and making a birthday welcome sign.
Balloons and easel

The thing that I just started doing (and LOVING) is using those rolls of crepe paper/streamers and tieing them to my horizontal blinds to make a back drop. I did it for Lizzie's 1st birthday party in all yellow and thought it looked super cute. So I got red, green, yellow, and blue and alternated them on the blinds in the kitchen and by the snack necklace station.  It took some time, but I started 4 days early and was really casual about it so it didn't stress me out.
streamers in blinds

Throw in a few dollar store plastic table cloths and I was done.

I love making my girls birthday cakes; It brings me joy. But for the past 2 years, I have cheated and gotten a publix bakery sheet cake to start with. My excuse last year was we had just moved into our house, like a week prior and i could not find my cake decorating stuff. This year... I did NOT want to make and ice a cake THAT BIG!

There's not much to say about the cake, the picture does a pretty good job describing it, although I will say you don't need as many starbursts as you think you do. I peeled WAY too many! If you have any questions about what we used, don't hesitate to ask me.

Favor Bag
I got my handy handy white lunch sacks, played around and made a "Thank you for coming" tag in photoshop, and glued it on.  The bags were filled with parents worst nightmares.... CANDY! I ordered the old school candy dots (you know the ones on paper), and then some pixie sticks, bubbles, gummies, suckers, a bouncy ball... etc. I figured it was only fitting for a CANDY land party, right?

Well, there you have it. Charlotte's 5th Candyland birthday party. The weather held off and everyone had a blast.  Contact me if you have any questions!

On a side note, I learned that I can manage about 80 people in my house for a party. Yikes!

Linking up: Keeping it SimpleCreating my way to SuccessOur Delightful Home , Marvelously Messy , CRAFT , Chef in Training , Blackberry Vine , Bowl Full of Lemons , Homework , Not just a Housewife , Romance on a Dime , Elizabeth and Co , Not Just a Housewife , Crafty Blog Stalker , DIY by Design , Marvelous Mommy , My Girlish Whims , Accidentally Wonderful , Sew Much Ado , Just a Little Creativity , Handyman Crafty Woman , Pieces by Polly  , Vintage GwenFive Little Chefs , Charm of Home , Bacontime , Sun Scholars , Peek a Boo Pattern ,

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Weekly Meal Plan

Breakfast for dinner; my favorite!

Tuna Noodle Casserole with Zucchini pizza bites

TUESDAY (ballet)
Beer Crockpot Chicken

WEDNESDAY (ballet)
Creamy Crockpot Chicken and Tomato Soup

THURSDAY (soccer starts!)
Avocado Chicken Parm

Out for a friends birthday dinner

Family homemade pizza night

 Boursin Bundles
 Marinated Pork Tenderloin
 Taco Night
Steak, Sweet potato, and corn


Sunday, March 23, 2014

Weekly Meal Plan

SUNDAY was...
Grilled Steak,  Sweet Potato, and Corn


TUESDAY (ballet)
Crockpot Beef Chili

WEDNESDAY (ballet)
Crockpot White Bean Chicken Chili

THURSDAY (no more T-ball!)
Going out for Trivia Night


 Crockpot Pesto Ranch Chicken
Sausage Lentil Soup
 Taco Night
 St Patty's Day! 
 Chicken and Spinach Stuffed Shells
 Pizza Night
 Taco Night.... again


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

{Pinned there, Done That} Crockpot Corned Beef , Potatoes, and Cabbage

I have been making Corned Beef for quite a few years (mom's recipe) with RAVE reviews. No joke, it was my late father-in-laws favorite meal... and if my mother-in-law catches wind that I'm making it, she will show up unannounced. So I was hesitant to try a new recipe; but since I've been looking for some new crockpot recipes due to our busy schedule I figured I'd give it a shot.

What I normally do is boil the corned beef in the given seasoning packet, then remove and bake at 350* for 15min covered in a dry mustard, brown sugar, ginger, and soy sauce glaze. Then let it set for 15 minutes. The glaze, I say, totally makes the recipe! WHich is probably why we enjoyed this recipe.... I removed the corned beef and baked it for 15 minutes with my glaze on it.

 I wasn't a HUGE fan of the carrots; maybe it's because I didn't use low-sodium chicken broth, but I thought they were a bit salty. Hubby, on the other hand, LOVED everything about it. Though he wouldn't tell me which recipe was better.
Crockpot Corned Beef, Potatoes, and Cabbage
In case recipe gets lost online. My changes are in red.
1 (4 - 5 pound) corned beef, rinsed
1 medium head of cabbage, cut into 2-inch wedges
6 red potatoes, halved
4 carrots, cut into ½-inch chunks
1 medium onion, cut into ½-inch chunks
2 cups low sodium chicken stock or water
8 ounces beer (any unflavored kind will do; you can substitute water here, as well)
3 large bay leaves
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon black pepper corns
3 T brown sugar
1.5T soy
1.5T dry mustard
1t dried ginger

Place onions, carrots, and potatoes in the bottom of a large slow cooker pot.

Rinse the corned beef and lay it over the vegetables. Add in bay leaves, pepper corns, and Dijon mustard.

Pour beer and stock over everything. Make sure liquid covers most of the corned beef; if not, add more water or stock. Cover and cook on low setting for 8 hours.

Add the cabbage to the slow cooker and cook until cabbage is just tender (about 30 minutes).

Remove Corned Beef and place on foil covered cookie sheet.

To make the glaze - Combine 3T brown sugar, 1.5 T soy, 1.5T dry mustard, 1t dried ginger.

Coat corned beef on all sides with the glaze mixture. Bake at 350* for 15 min. Let stand for 15 minutes

Plate beef and veggies.

Slice beef against the grain and serve with extra mustard.

Hope you enjoy it!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Weekly Meal Plan

Well, like usual my weeks don't go exactly as planned... I didn't get around it on Saturday (we got take out!) so I'm going to give the Mushroom Asiago Chicken another shot this week. I'm throwing caution to this wind this week with 5 brand new recipes.

Hubby is Grilling out

*new* Mushroom Asiago Chicken

TUESDAY (ballet)
*new* Crockpot Santa Fe Chicken

WEDNESDAY (ballet)
*new* Crockpot Pork Carnitas

*new* Slow Cooker Chicken Parm Soup

*new* Grilled Salmon with Avocado Salsa

Probably take-out - we're heading to Busch Gardens for the day!

 Crockpot Corned Beef Potatoes and Cabbage
Salmon, Mushroom, with Pasta


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