Saturday, January 21, 2012

Of Beauty and Destruction - Part 2

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Most of the snow and ice are gone now.  Now is just the destruction.  And the clean up….

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People call these branches “widow makers”.  I am not a fan of that term.

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The sounds of trees breaking sounded like bombs going off.  That sound has now bee replaced by the sounds of tractors and chainsaws all over the neighborhood.   

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This is our huge maple tree.  Half of it is in the neighbors yard. 

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Then more huge branches are in our yard which landed on our shed and chicken coop (not a lot of damage aside from dents from what I can see.  We were lucky it fell straight down.)  I think this one may survive…  but we will just have to see.

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I have been looking at the broken cherry for two days now and although it will never be the same, I think I may be able to save it with some strategic dramatic pruning.  It’s such a beautiful tree…  Here’s hoping!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Of beauty and destruction…

Freezing rain comes to the Pacific Northwest:

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There is more than a half inch of ice on my entire world.

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This is my backyard this morning:

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This cherry tree exploded while I was taking these pictures.  It is my favorite tree.  I started crying.  It shaded the whole backyard and every Spring it exploded with pink blossoms that would dangle down into our backyard.  Sigh.

And here’s the garden:

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This branch broke off and fell as I was standing there with the camera.  I loped across the garden, jumping with my heart pounding, until I was at the chicken coop.  I turned around and one branch had fallen and the other had dumped all it’s ice and snow right where I was standing!

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It sounded like bombs going off all over the neighborhood.  I could see branches breaking and falling from all the trees flocked with snow and inches of ice.  I am sure that yards all over the neighborhood will take weeks to clean up.  That was when I stopped taking pictures and came inside.  The beauty of the morning was not lost on me… but the destruction will take weeks to clean up and years for nature to repair. 

What a bittersweet morning!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Logan’s Monster Party (or ‘the party that almost wasn’t’)

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It is my year for birthday parties in horrible weather I guess.  Yesterday started out with DUMPING snow and stories of doom.  I had, of course, spent days on this party and had everything but the food finished before the morning even started.  We went out to get some last minute things and we figured the roads were ok as they were not icy at all.  Then the snow started dumping.  And when I say dumping I mean flakes the size of Texas raining down so hard you could hardly see.  I started to panic.  Should I cancel?  Am I asking everyone to risk their lives to come to my 5 year olds party?  All of this flashed through my head 50 times as we went through the Starbucks drive through.  We got back out on the roads and even though the snow had added slush, it was still just slush.  There was no ice under the snow at all.  Annoying, but not dangerous.  So I plowed ahead.  And I am SO glad I did.  The afternoon turned out perfect and the party was wonderful!  So let me share with you a few of the details.

The invitations:

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I cut postcards from watercolor paper and drew some simple monsters.  Then I took watercolor pencils and ‘painted’ them.  I painted a frame on another postcard and scanned it into my computer.  I printed them out after adding the wording. 

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A couple googly eyes and the invites were sent off!

(I like invitation poetry, here’s more.)  Inspiration for these started at Dragonfly Designs.

The décor: 

This year, I spent quite a bit of time on décor because I have a new mantel to decorate

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I am sure that the novelty will wear off eventually, but for now, I am having SO much fun with my new ‘strictly’ decoration space.  I had these large wooden frames in my garage for another project and I figured I would bring them out for this party.  My original plan was to spray paint them bright grey/blue, but over the last two weeks there has not been ONE day where it was over 40*.  So as the party approached I needed to find a new plan.  Breaking out the cardstock I figured that a blue mat would tie the whole thing together enough to use them and I wouldn’t have to spray paint in the snow.  Smile  I drew monsters and added the blue mats to the wood frames and called it good.  The bunting is made from orange cardstock and hemp twine. 

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The vases were from Goodwill for $.50 each, and I made huge orange puff ball flowers (tutorial here) and hot glued them to sticks from the backyard.  I was tempted to add googly eyes to them… but thought that may be a bit of googly eye overkill.  These are where my googly eyes went instead:

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Aren’t they the cutest?  I got the idea from Pinterest and mixed with these cute paper straws that are everywhere now, they made the kids lunches of hotdogs, oranges, and pretzel bites ‘monstrously’ good!

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I had M&M’s and orange Sixlets set out to munch on, and the straws looked so cute in this little milk bottle!

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The games:

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The first one was a game called “Don’t scare the Monster” from a curriculum I highlighted in this post.  It is pretty adorable.  The kid who is ‘it’ leaves the room and the rest of the kids all choose which monster is their monster.  Then each monster on the board is covered a M&M.  The ‘it’ kid comes back in and starts eating the M&M’s but when he gets to the chosen monster all the kids in the room yell “Don’t scare my monster!!”  It was seriously adorable to see all the 4-7 yr olds playing this game. 

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I just love the look on this kiddo’s face here.  It’s like “should I eat it?”  It was like a ticking time bomb!  They LOVED it and everyone laughed and laughed.

The next game was ‘pin the eye on the monster’.  I used this tutorial for the game.  It was a blast! 

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The child that got closest to where the eyes were supposed to be got a mini monster chia pet as a prize. 

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Just add water!

The favors:

I spent my snowed in days these last few weeks making monsters out of thrifted sweaters that I felted. 

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Each kiddo got to pick a monster from the monster adoption crate:

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They were all super simple and each one of them was cute and unique.

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They named their monsters and Logan signed their adoption certificates.  It made the whole thing very official.  Smile

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For the certificates I used the same watercolor frame I painted for the back of the invites… I just blew it up on the computer.  I added different wording and printed them up:

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The Cake:

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Once again I outsourced the cake to my lovely, talented friend.  I suggested the coconut as ‘hair’ for the monster and I think it made the cake SO much easier to make!  She did an amazing job, as always, and it was the perfect addition to our party table!  (It was good too!)

The Outfits:

For Logan and Luke this year I picked up some second hand sweatshirts and added some terrycloth monsters so they could match at the party:

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Logan was very involved in the creation of his monster shirt… I have a feeling it will be worn quite often!

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This is as close as I got to a good picture of Luke’s sweatshirt before it was covered in chocolate.  lol!

Then a friend of ours bought Logan his new favorite pj’s.

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They have now done this three years in a row and Logan always loves their taste! I have to ask them where they went each winter before I buy pj’s for him. lol!  He went to bed happy as a clam last night and we woke up to another 8 inches of snow.  As I sit here it is STILL coming down.  I am so glad that the party was yesterday and not tomorrow!

Just a few thoughts:

Aside from the food (which we have TONS left over), this party cost me almost nothing.  We have been working on getting out of debt pretty seriously for the past few months and so I had very little to work with.  It meant extra time and work, but everything I did for décor, favors, invitations, etc, came out of my stash of craft goods. (Which also means I have a HUGE and wonderful stash… for which I am very grateful!)  I loved seeing ideas on Pinterest and figuring out how to do them for free or close to it.  It was like a game that I got to be creative and crafty at the same time.  The kids came up with ideas and designs for monsters… the orange monster on the invites was an idea from Cyan, many of the stuffed monsters were from drawings Logan did… I was able to pull from everywhere and enjoy the creative process.  And it made me realize that to have a really wonderful looking party doesn’t require fancy stuff… it requires a creative eye and willingness to do stuff with seemingly strange materials.  The old sweater I haven’t worn in years, the hemp twine I use to tie up tomatoes, the half skein of yarn a friend is done with… it can all be turned into sweet little details that really make a party.

Thanks for coming to our Monster party!