New starts are always a time to celebrate. Send your student back to school with a fun, festive packed lunch with these quick & easy Fairy Sandwiches.
New starts are always a time to celebrate. Send your student back to school with a fun, festive packed lunch with these quick & easy Fairy Sandwiches.
The youngest son turned 6 a few weeks ago. And gone are the days of Mommy’s-pic, cute, cuddly party themes. We’ve finally graduated into picking our own, from last year’s Minecraft Party to this year’s choice of The TMNT.
Cowabunga Dudes (and Dude-ettes) !
Let’s take a look at our totally radical Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Birthday Party theme.
First, the cornerstone of any good party: The Cake.
We opted for an actual turtle to grace our cake, and the sons favorite it had to be. I thought our little Mikey (Michelangelo) turned out pretty well.
I frosted it completely with green, left it in the freezer for a couple of hours, then used a toothpick to lightly draw the outlines of the face into the frosting. I recommend starting with the nose line. If you get that right, everything else is *ahem* a piece of cake. Then we piped in frosting of various colors to fill in the lines, and used a spatula to gently smooth them out. We finished it off by piping a line of orange rosettes around the bottom edge.
The Turtles, Mikey especially, have a thing for pizza– so naturally we had to have some at the party. We picked up a few pizzas from Little Caesar’s for ‘eats’ and had pizza, and more pizza for dessert with these cute cookies. They’re sugar cookies I frosted red. The ‘cheese’ is finely grated white chocolate, with red M & M ‘pepperonis’. SOn # 2 works at a local pizzeria and snagged me a few pizza boxes for presentation, but I’m sure most local Mom & Pop joints wouldn’t mind giving you one or two upon request.
We had Oreo cookie ‘Sewer Lids’ to munch on too. And in a nod to our anthropomorphic friends radio-active origins, we had some Toxic ‘Ooze’ to wash it all down with.
We tend to keep the deocrations simple, using things we already have on hand. In this case? Nunchucks on the table (another nod to our beloved Mike) and talking turtle figurines. We used plastic bowls that happened to coordinate and red solo cups for untensil holders. I did splurge on coordinating plates and napkins ( each about $1 at Walmart) and a table cloth to keep clean up easy.
Another thing we don’t do? Goody bags. You get cake and ice cream. Copious amounts of sugar are my gift/ thank you to you. On the other hand, we all know how much I love a good diy, or any kind of imaginitive play the keeps them away from outlets and batteries. When I saw an idea to make your own wearable turtle shells? Every kid was gonna get one! And they were adorable 🙂 I’ll have a how-to up next week so you can out fit your own Ninja Turtles in proper DIY-couture.
And here’s my gorgeous sister so kindly modeling a shell for the birthday boy, and also using some of the photo props from a kit we found on clearance (again at Walmart) in the party planning section.
Simple. Straightforward. And the birthday boy and his friends thought it was all totally gnarly. Even the one boy who looked at my like I’d grown two heads when I asked him to eat over a plate as he was on his third bite of pizz-ookie, sprinkling my carpet with ‘cheese’.
Son # 1 is a walking, talking teenage garbage disposal. He loves food. He’s obsessed with food. He’s a growing boy, for sure. I get that. There are certain foods he prefers to eat, like poptarts and hotpockets and generally anything that’s heavily processed or full of caloric garbage, but in a pinch will grab whatever is closest to his face in the refrigerator and just work his way down through the shelves and drawers. I’ve witnessed him eat droopy, on it’s last leg, I personally probably would have tossed it and sucked up the loss, celery, slathered in peanut butter, shoving it in his mouth while making a face and asking me why I buy such awful tasting stuff. Last weekend we went out for burgers; I stood there awestruck, and mildly horrified as he ordered two full-size meals, while the hubs and I issued the standard rule the sons are all familiar with, “if you order it, you have to eat it. ALL of it.” This didn’t deter him in the least and he smiled as he said he’d be good. We watched him scarf down his own food and then immediately begin eyeing his brother’s plates to see if there were any stragglers who’d need help cleaning their plates. To his disappointment, their weren’t.
The point of this story? Son # 1’s birthday was last week. His 16th birthday. The hubs and I don’t buy cakes, we make them. When the sons were younger they would inundate me with all kids of creative possibilities and decorative ideas for their birthday cakes. As they’ve gotten older, they pretty much leave it up to Mom. They just want to know that there will in fact be copious amounts of ice cream and frosting flowing. I always try to come up with something that either says something about them, or represents something they love. With Son # 1, that’s food of any kind, and in desperate times, in any capacity. What better cake for him, especially after his recent burger binge, than a Big Mac Burger birthday cake?!
It’s super easy to make, even for a total beginner at cake decorating. The best part for us? Seeing his eyes light up when he saw the finished product. Those cool Mom moments may come a whole lot less often as he’s gotten older, but they’re still just as special when they do.
Also, have you ever seen a ‘pretty’ Big Mac? Be honest. No, you haven’t, because they’re kinda messy and never look that perfect way that they do in the commercials, relax and know that your cake doesn’t have to look ‘perfect’. In this case, messy is spot on.
2 boxes yellow cake mix
1 box (family size) fudgy brownie mix
frosting, homemade or store-bought
green, yellow, and orange food coloring
1. Cook each box of cake mix according to the package directions to make 2 circular cakes. In the end you should have 4 cakes total, although we’ll only be using 3 here.
2. Mix your brownie batter up and divide between two circular cake pans, the same size as the ones used to make the cakes. Cook according to package instructions.
3. Divide your frosting into 3 separate bowls. Use your food coloring and add into the frosting to make one bowl of each color, green, yellow, and orange.
4. Using a sharp knife, cut the crusty outer edges away from the cakes so they look for hamburger bun-like.
5. The bottom will obviously be a bun. So put one of your cakes down onto whatever surface you’ll be presenting the cake on. Top that with a brownie hamburger patty.
6. Spread/drizzle the different colored frosting’s over the ‘patty’, allowing some to run down the sides, to represent the lettuce, mustard, and secret sauce.
7. Top that with another cake ‘bun’ and another brownie ‘patty’. Repeat the frosting layer.
8. Top this with the last ‘bun’. Voila, you’ve got a cake-mac! I sprinkled on some sesame seeds for added effect, but that’s totally optional.
Anybody who has a young boy (or even girl) right now probably has heard of Minecraft. It is the thing. Literally, THE. THING. But if you’re like my husband, or our parents, you probably have no clue what it actually is other than a game the kids play that they’re crazy about. And even worse, if you’re trying to throw a Minecraft-themed party, you might not be able to find many decorations or idea at the main stores, or even Party City. Ahh! This could be time to panic. But rest assured it’s not. So what do you do? You make due and do the best you can.
With a little patience, and a little ingenuity, you can easily throw your own DIY Minecraft birthday party. Here’s how we did it.
But first, here’s son # 4 enjoying some of the frosting leftovers the night before his big day. He’s just a stud muffin looking for a cupcake. 😉
Ok, getting down to business now, Minecraft makes an excellent theme for a birthday party. The simple graphics make decorating easy, and there’s a ton of ideas around the internet for games and party food. For the cake, we use different color dots of several hues of green icing to give our ‘dirt block’ the pixel-ated Minecraft look. It dawned on me after the cake that I should have used a square baking dish instead of my regular circular cake pans to give it a truly authentic look. I found the toy set I used as toppers in Walmart. They had 3 different options. We crushed oreos in the food processor and pressed the crumbs into the side of the cake for our ‘dirt’.
Creeper. cupcakes. The sons were stoked! They couldn’t have been any easier and coordinated perfectly with our cake. Kudos to the hubs for decorating them while I was trying to get all the last minute details perfected and in place.
For drinks we had Minecraft water (not pictured) by adding a few drops of blue food coloring to 2 2-liters of diet Sprite. We also had ‘Creeper-ade’. Tape a cardstock kreeper face onto a clear drink dispenser and fill it with green Hawaiian Punch. Again, super easy. I found chocolate candy rocks online to represent the coal/iron ore. We had sourpatch candy watermelons for the ‘melon’ and used potato chips to represent the game’s ‘gold’. There were square jello cubes for water blocks. We served square sandwiches. Square crackers, several kinds. You get where we’re going? Everything in Minecraft is square. Serve square food. So simple, and oh-so impressive to the Minecraft fandom.
Son # 3 came up with the idea of using some balloons & crepe paper (again found at Walmart, for $1/ea) to make some Enderman decorations. In the end he decided they looked more like squids but, since there are in fact squids in Minecraft, it was all good. In the end the boys and their friends took turns playing Minecraft on our Play Station, ate, played some more Minecraft, opened presents, ate cake/cupcakes with scoops of ice cream and left. It was one of the best parties I’ve done for them yet. Fun, exciting and easy to do.
Best of all, both birthday boys felt super special on their special day. And that my friends, covers it. No muss, no fuss, simply a great Minecraft party that had just the right amount of themed items that impress the kids/guests without stressing the host/ess out!
Happy, happy birthday to two of our sweet, sweet boys. We love you and are so blessed to be your parents. We’ve loved every minute of being your parents and watching you grow into the compassionate, inquisitive, happy, and comedic souls that you are. We love you, honeynugget & little man!
Get ready for the Olympics, get the whole family excited, and learn a thing or two about other cultures with a couple fun Olympics Themed Party Ideas.
In honor of the 2014 winter Olympics in Sochi, here are two simple ideas to do with your kids to celebrate and help them feel connected to it all. And no, it’s not too late. You’ve still got another week to enjoy these sweet and simple treats. Shoot, does a party always have to be at the beginning anyway? Have a going away party for the Olympics to celebrate the great games and events over the last week and week to come. Go against the grain. You just might be creating a new tradition or find your snazzy ‘bid the Olympics adieu’ party idea suddenly trending.
I know I mentioned these are simple ideas. Just how simple? Two ingredients each. That’s it. Barely any assembly required. Lazy Mom status. That’s how I roll. At least today anyway.
The Olympics Themed Party Ideas
Gold Medals for your Champions
Adorbs. Totes McGoats.
Cut a fruit by the foot in half and gently bend until the ends are brought together. Slap an oreo onto said ends and there ya go. You’re ‘gold’en!
For quality control purposes, I would suggest not actually consuming ice cream cones and cheetos together, but the sons are weird and didn’t listen to my advice. No surprise there though. What could Mom possibly know that they don’t? Ok, rant over…
I, sophisticated as I am, ate my cheetos first and then (after making sure the inside wasn’t powdered orange) added a scoop of ice cream to polish off my cone. I didn’t tell them there was ice cream? They’d already eaten their cones? There aren’t anymore cones?! Oops. 😉
Back to the torches. These make the perfect edible, and adorable ‘toast’ to the Olympics. As son # 1 said, “It’s our ‘shout-out’ to Sochi.” So if you missed the boat like I did and didn’t usher the Olympics in with style this year ((or even if you had your ducks in a row and had your Olympic party when things actually started on Friday), bid them a fond farewell with these fast, fun treats.
Sons 1 & 3 have birthdays within a week of each other. Since the dates are so close together they typically have a combined celebration where all of their family and friends can get together at once. We almost always do a cake and coordinating cupcakes. This year, they opted for a combination of comic books (Son # 1 collects them) and some of their favorite Super Heroes (is any boy ever too old for them?). These were the results and they thought they were absolutely fantastic!
Comic Book Birthday
Holy Cupcakes, Batman! I loved, as did Sons 1 & 3, how these turned out! They were a huge hit. The cupcake toppers are from 3 separate printables. The first one, representing some of the boys favorite iconic comic book superheros was from Less Than Perfect Life of Bliss. Batman was present, but isn’t pictured. The Happy Birthday, Bang, Pow, and blank printables I found at Let’s Panic. Finally, the smaller ‘Boom’ & ‘Pow’ came from Simply Designing with Ashley. I just cut out the printed images and hot glued them to lollipop sticks. Last minute I decided to add some Pop Rocks as ‘sprinkles’ so the cupcakes matched their comic book captions.
A few months ago I had found Thor’s hammer on clearance at Target for less than $5. I purchased it immediately with this cake in mind. I used chocolate frosting to cover the cake. I gently pressed the hammer into the cake at an angle creating an indention. I removed the hammer and had my husband cut a rectangle into the indention, in the center, where the hammer would rest to make it stable and ensure it would remain upright. I then stuck the hammer on top and sprinkled crushed oreos around for ‘dirt’.
While the older boys wanted things kept simple party-wise, both loved their cake and cupcakes. Seeing their eyes widen when I presented them with their birthday treats made me feel pretty darn ‘super’ myself. They can just call me Wonder Woman. Just Kidding.
I love my little ‘Supers’.
With four boys, you’d think that would mean A LOT of birthday parties. I used to have visions of perfectly planned out, whimsical themed parties. As the kids grew, they pretty much let me know I’d lost a marble or two. I’m lucky if the older boys let me comb their hair on their big day. All totally normal I’m told, but I still don’t have to like it. Do I?
That being said, I’m taking full advantage of the youngest son’s obsessive love of things and getting in as many themed birthday’s as I can before I’m stuck with just super heroes, and then nothing but cake, ice cream, pizza, and presents.
Since he first got it for Christmas, the youngest son has been in love with The ‘War-ax’. I had flirted with the idea of Toy Story, but as I watch his love of this famous Seuss’ character continue to thrive, logically I knew nothing else would do. That being said, while I enjoy having a ‘theme’ especially one so close to his little heart, I do have four kids and there’s only so much I can do. While I wish I had the time, and energy, and let’s be honest… motivation to throw the super elaborate parties some of my friends do where everything is planned out, coordinated, and theme-centric (virtually down to the tp in the bathroom), I just can’t.
Son # 4 walked in, took one look at the few simple treats in store for him, and his face literally lit up. Now, if only I could keep him thinking I’m that cool forever.
Dr. Seuss’ ‘The Lorax’ Themed Birthday Party
The Lorax face was made using a pumpkin template that I traced onto construction paper. The pumpkin template can be found here. Orange Hawaiian Punch made his ‘body’. I did have to explain that punch, in this instance, is something you drink and not something you do. The ‘UNLESS’ quote printable can be gotten from A Little Delightful. The I speak for the trees picture was made using lollipop sticks, a sharpie, sparkly pom poms, and a glue gun.
Since my son absolutely loves The Lorax movie, and it’s adorable cast of characters, I knew I wanted to have some themed goodies to snack on. We opted for Teddy Grahams ( as Barbaloots), Goldfish (representing the Humming Fish), Marshmallows (their most favorite treat), and yellow and orange Reese’s Pieces to represent The Lorax himself.
Also, to note, when setting out snacks at a party, vases, bowls, glasses and jars all make cute serving dishes.
Of course, the youngest son had to have a ‘War-ax’ cake. Again I used the cut out pumpkin template to ‘trace’ the basic outline with a tooth pick. The eyes were made using life savers, smarties, and miniature chocolate chips. We also made him his very own Truffula tree forest.
Again, these cupcakes were made using lollipop sticks that I had ‘sharpi-ed’ Truffula bark onto. Tufts of cotton candy made the ‘wooly’ bits. While I had seen these cupcakes in several party posts, there was on lesson they all failed to mention that I had to learn the hard way. Cotton candy melts, especially in a moist atmosphere. These were what the cupcakes looked like about an hour after being tufted.
Pretty depressing, right? I felt a brief wave of panic when I checked on them before I went to bed the night before the party and originally discovered their sorry state. However, I was easily able to re-do the sticks and waited until just before I was ready to serve cake to re-tuft, and they stayed perfectly fluffy up until the moment they were greedily gobbled up.
So, son # 4 thought he was pretty much the luckiest little boy in the whole world when he saw his special cake and cupcakes. I know this because he told me so himself the next morning when he borrowed one of my rings and proposed to me.
In March my big, bad 12 year old (I’m kidding, he’s an angel) turned an even bigger and badder 13. I’m a die-hard Doctor Who fan creating another generation of fan-boys So far all four love the show, but with my 3 year old, and the now 13 year old it’s a love bordering on obsession The 3 year old refused to be anything other than THE Doctor for Halloween, and my birthday boys entire wishlist was related to the show. I had found this really awesome Thor hammer on clearance at Target and just knew he’d love a Thor cake (he’s a fan-boy he loves comic books), but I was wrong. Nothing but a Doctor Who themed cake would do. The result was a lovely Tardis cake, and he was happy and impressed!
My little Wholigan with 10’s customary blue suit, converse sneakers, glasses, and of course his sonic screwdriver (built by my wonderful husband).
In anticipation of the premiere of the second half of season 7 of the show, I decided that since it was such an exciting night in our house, I’d make some coordinating treats to add to the anticipation. While we watched the premiere episode, ‘The Bells of St John,’ the kids munched on slices of Fish Finger and Custard Pie (which was actually a basic ‘dirt’ cake with a few changes made) and mini Adipose.
Fish Fingers & Custard Pie
Warning: Unlike me, be sure to warn your child that a ‘dirt’ cake doesn’t actually contain dirt. Otherwise they might refuse to eat it and wonder why on earth you would ever willingly feed them dirt.
These treats would also be great for an end of the season party or even to celebrate the 50th Anniversary special! What Whovian, young or old, wouldn’t go ga-ga over themed treats during an episode?!
Sensory play is a wonderful opportunity for young children to explore the world around them using their five senses while also honing their fine motor skills. My boys have always been very touch and texture oriented, and sensory bags have been a wonderful way to encourage them. Below are two examples of some of the sensory bags I’ve made for them to play with. It’s so neat to watch their little fingers as the discover how the different items in the bag feel, and watch their little fingers work to move them around. I always find myself wondering what they’re thinking and what conclusions they could be drawing during play as they become engrossed in the activity. Sensory bags are a wonderful quiet time activity. Perfect for tummy time, or anytime I need to get a little one to sit still, but still need to keep them engaged. The possibilities on themes is endless. Get creative, play with it, and see what kind of sensory bags you can come up with. Or just copy these.
Simple Sensory Bags
Growing up my Mom tried really hard to make memories and create traditions for myself and my sisters. We always had something to look forward to. No matter what the holiday, we had something special to coincide. Looking back now, it always added to our anticipation and made events seem more special, even the little ones, and sometimes almost magical. Mom also loved flags. She had lots of flags, a flag for everything. We would even compete for the honorable duty of ‘changing the flag.’ Perhaps the only occasions without their own designated banner were birthdays. I will never forget the year I woke up to discover a special flag had been hung, while I slept, with a birthday cake on it. Let me tell you, when you’re under 6 and there’s a banner waving to the world announcing your birthday, you feel like royalty. Every year after that, for every birthday, we woke up to our flag flying high. I wanted to do something similar for my boys, but I didn’t inherit my mother’s love for flags, so that was out for me. However, I do love wreaths! I had seen several balloon wreaths for sale and decided that would be the perfect announcement to grace our front door announcing my own children’s special days. The boys loved it! I loved it! It was simple, affordable, and could easily be adapted by coordinating colors for any theme or other event.
Birthday Balloon Wreath