Entertaining, Family, Food, Home

Edible Glitter Birthday Cake

This is the last post in the Glamtastic Birthday Party series. (Booo!) You got see the invitation, check out the details of the whole party, see a how-to about Sophia’s custom favors, and you even had a peek into the DIY photo booth. And now…the cake!

The inspiration came from this post on P.S. I Made This:

I couldn’t find the exact mold she used but I got one that was pretty similar. My visit to NY Cake to pick it up resulted in finding silver, blue, and pink Disco Dust, too!

My first attempt was a total bust but you know I’m going to show you that version, too. As long as you don’t make my dumb mistakes, it’s pretty simple to do. First, just use a new, dry paintbrush and “paint” the edible glitter into the silicone mold.

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If you’ve ever tried to wash and dry anything silicone, you won’t be surprised to see how the disco dust just sticks to the sides.

birthday-cake-103Next, I melted the chocolate (don’t forget to do it in a double boiler!) and scooped spoonfuls of the melted chocolate into the mold which should be sitting on a cookie sheet. Next, tap the cookie sheet to get any bubbles out and then place the whole tray in the freezer for about 10 minutes. Once cool, you can pop the chocolates right out. Now, let’s look at my failed first attempt and discuss what went wrong.

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Um, no. First of all, the pink disco dust sucks. It’s just not as bright as the silver or the blue so I kicked it to the curb on round two. Second, milk chocolate is yummier than white but alas, it looked all mucky and brown so I switched to white. Third, remember how I said you have to tap it to get the bubbles out? Well, I’m glad you remembered because I didn’t. Oops. And last, I filled the mold waaaaay too much. You only need to fill it about 3/4 full otherwise you end up with a lot of overflow and that just makes for a lumpy bottom once you take them out. And no one wants a lumpy bottom, right?

Second attempt: let’s watch and see how it goes…

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Glittery success!

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As for the cake, I went with a simple tiered design and I placed the chocolates around each layer. I was originally going to make the bottom two layers with 2 cakes each but I decided against it when I saw how big it was getting already. The cake itself was from a box (no apologies–cake from a box is easy and delicious) but my frosting is homemade buttercream. I just use the recipe on the side of the Domino powdered sugar box. (Ain’t broken. No fixing needed.) Someday I’ll take the time to do a crumb coat on my cakes since the crumbs on this one drove me crazy. And it kinda bugs me that the chocolates are a little too big for the cake. But overall, I think it came of great. And I totally lucked out that the #8 candle at Target just happened to be glittery blue!

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I always get myself in such a tizzy making sure every last detail is perfect for my girls’ birthday parties but when I see the beaming smile on their faces when their friends are singing Happy Birthday to them, it’s all worth it.

birthday-cake-281Happy Birthday Sophia!

Now, onto the next: Pablo turns 40 in May and Lily turns 5 in June. It’s going to be a very busy spring!

XO

Sue at Home

crafts, Entertaining, Family

Party Favor: DIY Gem-Covered Pin and Jewelry Box

For Sophia’s Glamtastic birthday party, we decided to make a custom party favor for all of Sophia’s friends. Each girl got a gem-covered pin with her initial and a simple little jewelry box with jewels on top. Sophia and Lily are ready so let’s get to it!

For the jewelry boxes, I bought some basic wooden boxes from Oriental Trading. We thought about painting them but figured it might get messy so we decided to keep it simple and just add some jewels. We had a mega bag of Big Bling from Michael’s so we used those (and had tons left for many more projects.) Sophia did most of them herself by gluing them with glitter glue so if a little gooped out, it still looked great. She did a sort of haphazard grouping of gems on each one and I was very impressed with her attention to detail and her restraint. I wouldn’t have known when to stop but she did. (Of course, Lily served as gem-sorting assistant.)

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As for the pins, I was inspired by these from Markus Lupfer. I had seen them months ago on Net-a-Porter and thought they were begging to be DIY’d.

But ultimately, the idea of a black varsity letter–no matter how glam-atized with sequins–was just too sporty for our theme. So I decided to make felt pins with gems instead. I started out by picking a clean sans serif font and printing out XL versions of the letters I needed.

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The next step was to trace the shape of each letter onto my hot pink felt. Note: I traced them backwards so if a little pen showed after I cut them out, it would be on the back.

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I felt like I was cutting these babies forever! But finally they were done.

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Next, I glued them to silver and gold cardstock and cut them out again leaving a little edge of cardstock sticking out. Then I glued gems on with fabric glue.

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Once the gems were dry, I glued pins on the back with Gorilla glue (because nothing will make that stuff budge!). By the way: it was Sophia’s idea to make some gold and some silver and since she was the creative director of the project, I had to listen to her. Right?

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I’m so glad I took the time to make the letter templates. The S on the left was my prototype and the one on the right was made with the template. So. Much. Better.

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I love how they all look together.

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The pins fit perfectly in the little jewelry boxes. We just added a little tissue paper pillow to each one so they’d all be comfy!

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Of course, once we we got the pins all nestled in their boxes, we realized that we needed some way to know which letter was in each one  so I went back to Picmonkey and made a bunch of little tags that match the invitation.

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Then I tied them on to the boxes and the favors were ready to go!

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We stacked them up on the foyer table so we wouldn’t forget to give them out as everyone left. I put the invitation in a frame to set the mood! (You know – in case anyone forgot why they were there!)

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For more recaps from Soph’s birthday party, check out these posts:

 DIY Party Invitation

How to Throw a Glamtastic Kids’ Party

DIY Photo Booth

XO

Sue at Home

PicMonkey Collage pins collage

Entertaining, Family, Home

DIY Photo Booth

For Sophia’s Glamtastic Birthday Party at our house, I created a cheap and easy photo booth that the kids loved. All you need to create your own is a tripod, a camera with an interval timer, some accessories, and a backdrop. Let’s get to the photo fun!

I borrowed a camera from a friend so I’d still have mine free to photograph the rest of the party. I set the timer to start at the beginning of the party and to snap a picture every 10 seconds so the kids could just keep posing. I made sure to tuck the camera into a corner so the kids wouldn’t bump into it.

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Then I placed a table with some accessories near the camera so the kids could dress up for each shot. Of course, you could make or buy some photo booth props like this awesome set from The Manic Moose on Etsy, but we had plenty of tiaras, hats, necklaces and feather boas around the house so we didn’t need to buy anything else. (Somehow I forgot to put out sunglasses which is interesting considering we have a bowl full of kids’ sunglasses sitting on our foyer table everyday! Oh well. They survived without them!)

I used the photo from Sophia’s party invitation to make a ‘Photo Booth Rules’ sign that read, “1. Grab a prop or accessory. 2. Stand on the X. 3. Smile!”

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To make a backdrop, I hung two gold fringe curtains and a few tissue paper decorations from Oriental Trading but you could just use a nicely painted wall to make this project totally free. (But in my experience, kids are kind of obsessed with these metallic curtains so go ahead and spring for them! I think I might even hang them in the playroom so we can keep them around forever.) I added an X on the floor with painter’s tape so the kids would know where to stand.

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Then we set the timer on the camera and let the “photo booth” do the work!

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The camera snapped over 800 frames and I only kept about 150 so there were lots of frames of the background with no one in it. But overall the project was super easy and the kids looooooved it. (As you can see!)

DIY photo booth at sueathome

XO

Sue at Home

crafts, Entertaining, Family, Food, Home

How to Throw a Glamtastic Kids’ Party

Since Sophia was turning 8 going on 18, we knew that a very glam party was going to be the way to go. And doing it at home was a natural solution for a couple reasons. 1) I get to do lots of crafty things that allow me to make it super personal for Sophia and I’m not gonna lie, I actually like all the projects. (Ok…I’ll admit it. I also love the control that doing them gives me!)  2) And it was much, much, much, much, much, much cheaper than having it at a place that throws parties. (I mean, I love my kids but $600-$1000 for an hour and a half of her life? Um…no.)

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Sure, it takes a lot of work but it was worth it to see her so happy. Let’s go over the eleven elements you need to throw an at-home glamtastic party of your own.

1. The Invitations – As I mentioned before in this post, I created a custom design on Picmonkey and printed them at home. A couple self-adhesive jewels finished them off.

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2. The DIY Photo Booth – Taking a picture every 10 seconds kept the girls engaged–and gave them just enough time to make a quick accessory change before the next shot. (A follow-up post is forthcoming with everything you need to know to create your own.)

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3. The Favor – Custom and unique all the way! Each girl got a pin with her initial in a special keepsake box. (A post with more details is coming soon!)

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4. The Manicure Station – A glamtastic party wouldn’t be complete without a little pampering! I hired a babysitter/friend of ours and some of her friends to man this station. Other than the hired help, this was free! We had everything on hand.

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5. The Makeup Station – The hired help came in handy here, too. I got Q-tips Precision Tips and cotton balls to keep it all sanitary and we kept the choices to a minimum. (Pablo mentioned that the girls looked like they didn’t have any makeup on so I consider that a huge success!) Oh…and did I mention the insane metallic tablecloth from Oriental Trading? Isn’t it amazing? (Note: There’s a silver one and a gold one but the gold one is actually gold on one side and silver on the other. It’s basically a big sheet of mylar. I’m dying to use it for a craft project but I’m not sure what. Ideas?)

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6. The Beading Station – This was an 11th hour addition by Sophia (cause she’s smart like that) and as you can see, it was literally a bowl of beads, some strings and scissors. Of course, it was a huge hit and the kids probably spent more time at this station than any of the others.

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7. The Fashion Show – This was completely unplanned but apparently Sophia can’t have a birthday party without having a fashion show in the middle of it. Pablo announced all the models in his best announcer voice and after watching most of the 7- and 8-year-olds “walk the runway”, 4-year-old Lily came stridding out like she had been taking lessons from Naomi Campbell. I mean, it’s quite obvious this girl has been “playing fashion show” for years!

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8. Dance Party – There was dancing of every kind at this soiree. The kind where you dance in the circle and the birthday girl gets down in the middle. (Yup. That’s Soph rocking out after a wardrobe change.) Freeze dance where the birthday girl controls the music. (I guess that need-for-control gene is hereditary.) And there was even an American Idol-type judging panel dance section, only much nicer. (Everyone got a ticket to Hollywood.)

Here’s a little piece of advice for you: Don’t spend a week making the perfect party mix to play on shuffle because you’ll just end up DJing anyway when they ask you to play Gangnam Style and Girl on Fire and Taylor Swift and  Thrift Shop and One Direction and…

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9. The Cake – I love the chance to whip up some sugary goodness so I created a basic but dramatic design. It was a tiered cake with buttercream frosting and accents of white chocolates covered in edible glitter. (There will be a follow-up post with all the details about how I made the glittered chocolates. Stay tuned!)

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10.  The Good Friends – No Glamtastic Party is complete without them!

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11. The Super Cool Birthday Girl – Sorry, you’re gonna have to get your own. This one is all mine!

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Happy Birthday Sophia!

XO

Mom Sue at Home

Family, Home, Travel

Our Trip to Aruba

There’s no way to say this without it sounding like a humble brag (or even just a flat out brag) so here goes nothing: I’ve been going to Aruba every year for almost 20 years. Yup – that’s fine. Go ahead and hate me.

My parents have a time-share on the island and they are kind enough to open their doors to us. They invited me back when I was in college (I brought a friend) and then into the years when I started dating Pablo (they invited him and he thanked them by proposing to me on the beach) and both of my girls have been there every year since they were born. I know that I am very lucky and believe me when I say I am thankful beyond words to have this beautiful place to share with my family.

For anyone who has never been to Aruba, I always describe it like this: If you’re looking for an ultra-chic St. Barths-type vacation where you’ll be bumping into Beyonce and Jay Z then look somewhere else. But if you want a relaxing place with powdery white sand, clear blue water, and a constant breeze that makes the dry heat really comfortable, then Aruba is perfect. (Plus it’s a desert climate so it rarely rains. I think in almost 20 years of going there, I’ve had maybe two days ruined by rain.) I really can’t say enough good things about Aruba. Just go and you’ll understand.

Here are some pics from our recent trip.

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After all these years, I’ve got my favorite Aruba restaurants narrowed down to a select few. I’m working on a post about them so stayed tuned!

XO

Sue at Home

crafts, Entertaining, Family, Home

DIY Party Invitations

Tick tock tick tock…the countdown is on to Sophia’s birthday party! I’ve got less than two weeks to get everything together so it’s crunch time now, people. I do this to myself every year. I have wayyyyyyy more ideas than I can possibly execute. But I think I’ve got a good jump on it this year. (Ha ha! I’m sure “future me” will reread that next week and laugh her ass off!)

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We’ve decided to have a “Glamtastic” party at our house  next Saturday night. We’ll have manicure and makeup stations, a DIY photobooth, a “gem” covered cake, DIY jeweled favors and possibly a fashion show and/or dance party. If everyone comes (and for some reason everyone always comes to parties in March!), we’ll have 17 seven- and eight-year-old girls in our tiny house. God bless us all. (Check out all the inspiration on my party dedicated Pinterest board.)

To set the scene, I decided to make a DIY invitation with the help of one of my favorite websites: Picmonkey. (Did you know that every single photo you’ve ever seen on this blog has been edited using Picmonkey? Well, now you do.) I started with this candid picture of Sophia.

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I know you may not believe that this wasn’t staged but it really just happened! Sophia had just received that awesome Children’s Place dress, glittery boots, plaid shirt and earmuffs. She tried it on…and then sat on the couch to watch TV! (She and Lily were both so obsessed with those dresses, they kept wearing them for days.) Anyway, I snapped the pic and it seemed like the perfect image for a girly, glam party invite. Using PicMonkey, I added a bunch of filters plus 2 of my favorite fonts: Special Elite (that’s the typewriter-ish one that I always use on Sue at Home) and Budmo Jiggler (that’s the name-in-lights one) and ended up with this:

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Next I just printed them on cardstock on our printer at home and sliced the edges off with my trimmer.

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Then I added a couple little gems to each one.

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Stay tuned for all the party details! Lots more coming soon. Wish me luck!

XO

Sue at Home

crafts, Decor, Family, Home, My house

Instant Gratification: Two Quickies for the Pinterest Challenge

Do you ever feel like you have so many projects going on and they’re all just halfway done? Case in point: The ladies each got new beds last week. Well, I should say new mattresses. (Sophia got a full and Lily got rid of her toddler bed and upgraded to Sophia’s old twin.) So of course that means changing lots of things in both of their rooms.  (Looks like I’ll probably get around to trying a DIY headboard sometime soon!) I’m also knee-deep in party planning for Sophia’s 8th birthday in less than 2 weeks. And since I’m insane, I just decided to paint the kitchen ceiling. (Test swatches went up last night!) You know…because there is not enough going on in the rest of the house. Right?

But until I get to all the big changes, I decided to try two super quick, super easy DIY projects for the Pinterest Challenge. (If you have no idea what I’m talking about…click here. And watch the adorable video. You’ll thank me.) Don’t feel like clicking over? Here’s the Cliffnotes version: Young House Love and Bower Power urge readers to stop pinning and start doing. That means, pick a project you pinned on Pinterest and do it!

FIRST UP: LILY’S 2-MINUTE PRINTABLE

Moving Lily’s bed meant all of her art was out of whack so as I moved most of the frames to the other side of the room, I remembered a pin I had just seen for a free printable from On To Baby.

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It took me about a minute to design the printable for Lily’s room (just pick a color and input a name) and print it. And maybe a minute to put it into a red Ikea frame I had on hand. Boom. Two minute project. 100% done!

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In a room that’s filled with reminders of everything I still need to do, this freebie (not including the cost of the frame, of course) gives me a little feeling of satisfaction. And Lily loves it! (More pics of Lily’s room before this switch can be seen here and here.)

NEXT: SOPHIA’S GOLD FRAMES

Onto Sophia’s room. I had seen this gold painted frame awhile back from Bryn Alexandra and thought it was genius. It’s another cheapie from Ikea but it’s been glammed up in gold spray paint.

The two huge black frames on Sophia’s picture wall had been bugging me for awhile. They just felt so heavy for such a feminine room. They were always meant to be temporary but alas, two years later, they’re still there.

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So, I took them down and got to work out in the yard with a piece of cardboard under the frames. (Yes, it was freezing and not the best conditions to paint in but mama can’t wait til spring.) I had just bought a new can of Krylon Metallic paint from Michael’s so I decided to give that a try. As soon as I started painting, I was in love! This spray paint is so much better than the Rust-Oleum Universal Metallic that I had used before for the letters in my foyer. Check out the comparison.

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I was so thrilled that I repainted them immediately. Check out the difference!

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But wait! Let’s get back to Sophia’s room. A couple of quick coats (ok…maybe three coats) of that glorious Krylon Metallic on each side and they were ready to put back in the room. I did a little rearranging too and…ta da! Instant Gratification.

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For more pictures of Sophia’s room before this switch, click here and here.

Make sure you click over to Young House Love,  Bower Power, The Remodeled Life,  and Decor and the Dog on Wednesday to see all the other projects completed in the Pinterest challenge. I know I’ll be checking them out. You know…cause I need another project!

XO

Sue at Home

P.S. I just want to give a shout out to Emily from one of my favorite blogs, Emily A. Clark, who featured my pink chair dye job on her Saturday 6 last weekend. Her readers were so kind to click over to my blog and I had my best day ever. Thanks Emily!!

If you’re unfamiliar with Emily’s blog, please check it out! She’s a super mom (with 5 kids!) who creates beautiful rooms. My favorite is her stunning office that she put in the home’s dining room. Those bookshelves are perfection!

Family, Food

I’m a Published Writer!

OK, I know that my day job as Fashion Editor for Ladies’ Home Journal means I’m already a published writer but I still think of myself as more of an editor-of-clothes than an editor-of-words. There have only been a few times over the years when I’ve had an opportunity to write more than a sentence or two. So, when a short essay I wrote was selected for LHJ’s food feature The Story Behind the Recipe, I was thrilled. It felt like the boost of confidence that I really needed with my writing but more importantly, I was getting my mom’s famous fruitcake recipe printed in a national magazine with a huge readership. And the best part of all? I was able to tell the world about how awesome it was to learn to bake from my mom and how–contrary to popular fruitcake folklore–this stuff is actually delicious. As I wrote in the story, it doesn’t have any of those “plasticy red and green things”.

For the full Story Behind the Recipe of my mom’s delicious “spice cake”, click the link  below to see it on lhj.com (or run out and grab the December issue while it’s still on newsstands for another day or two): Just Don’t Call it A Fruitcake! The Best Spice Cake Recipe

To see where fruitcakes gets it’s bad reputation, check out this Shirley Jean one that I spotted in my local ShopRite just before Christmas. I mean, what is it with those melted red candles on the box? Is that where they get those red chunks they put in the cake? Yikes! (Note the weight. It’s 3 pounds!)

Interestingly enough, a quick Google search of Shirley Jean showed me that they used to sell the fruitcakes in pretty tins that are available all over ebay and Etsy. Maybe that’s why everyone bought them? (Click images for purchase info. Shirley Jean Fruitcakes not included. Thank god.)

Images from (1)Vintage Possessions and (2) FoxyRoxysAttic.

Here’s my mom’s updated fruitcake recipe. My promise to you: Candace Ann kicks Shirley Jean’s ass.

Don’t-Call-it-a-Fruitcake Spice Cake

Work: 15 min

Total: 2 hr

2 cups water

2 cups sugar

1 1/2 cups chopped dates

1 cup chopped raisins

1/2 cup chopped dried apricots

5 tbsp shortening

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp ground cloves

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 cup chopped walnuts

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour two 9-by-5-inch loaf pans.
  2. In a 3-qt saucepan combine water, sugar, dates, raisins and apricots. Bring to a boil, then simmer, covered, 20 min. Remove fruit mixture from heat and stir in shortening; let cool, about 30 min.
  3. In a mixing bowl whisk together flour, cinnamon, cloves, baking soda and salt. Stir in cooled fruit mixture and walnuts.
  4. Divide batter between the prepared pans and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 1/2 hr. When cake is cool, cut into slices or wrap in foil for up to 1 week. Makes 2 loaves.

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If you’d like to submit a Story Behind the Recipe to LHJ, email it to recipestory@lhj.com and say Sue at Home sent you! If it’s selected, your recipe will have the honor of being in the pages of a national magazine that’s seen by more than 10 million people (yowza!) AND you’ll be paid $400! Wait a minute. I guess editors from other departments aren’t eligible for the pay out! But you are, so write that story now.

My girls love to bake with their “Mimi”. I don’t have any pictures of them making the fruitcake with her but I’ll leave you with some particularly adorable shots of these little peasant girls making a birthday cake for my dad last summer.

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XO

Sue at Home

crafts, Family, Home

Bon Voyage to Eugene the Elf

Today, on December 24th, I’d like to bid a fond adieu to the newest member of our family, Eugene the elf.

Dear Eugene,

We’ve had a lot of fun over the past month with you and we’re so glad that you enjoyed checking out our house: hiding in the Christmas tree, playing the piano, sneaking into the cookie jar, and even napping in Lily’s dollhouse.

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But one of our favorite moments was when you took command of the Barbie house. Those Barbies sure did look up to you!

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It was very sweet of you to write notes to the girls when you were proud of their behavior (and even when you weren’t!). We especially loved the note you left this morning to say goodbye. We’ll be sure to blow a kiss to you tonight before we go to sleep! Have a safe trip back to the North Pole. We’ll miss you! See you next year!

P.S. Thanks for the cute Christmas necklaces you left this morning. The girls had so much fun putting them together!

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XO

Sue at Home

crafts, Family, Home

Making a Wigwam for a School Project

This may not seem like one of my normal DIY projects but it’s still a fun and creative one so I thought you might want to see it.  For any parents out there, flag this post because your day will come too! Lucky you — I’m here to show you how we did it. Come inside and warm yourself by the fire!

Sophia’s 2nd grade class is studying Native Americans this month and her assignment was to build a replica of the shelter that the Shawnee tribe lived in. The only stipulation was that she should use as many natural materials as possible. We used this website as a guide.

We started by tracing a tray to make a big circle onto an old corkboard that I found in our garage. Then we measured around the circle and marked off where our holes should go. Next, we drilled small holes into the board to anchor the sticks but we made sure not to drill all the way through. (Truth be told, we staged this photo. No, I do not let my kid handle power tools by herself. Or maybe I’m just telling you that so my mother doesn’t freak out when she sees this photo. Whatever you want to believe is fine with me!)

We gathered lots of sticks from the yard (there were plenty from Sandy) and we tied pairs together to make the frame.

It took some time to find the right sticks (without them breaking) and get them glued into the holes but we were excited that our frame was coming together just like an authentic wigwam.

In lieu of bark or woven mats, we used brown bags to make a cover for the wigwam. First we cut them into strips.

Then we cut fringe onto each strip…

…and slowly added each row of fringe to the frame. If we had better glue, I would have used that but instead we took the easy road and used tape!

We built the layers up and then took a little time to add a rock-lined walkway and a stone hearth in the center. Sophia was great at coming up with ideas, like using red and orange construction paper to build the fire.

We dressed one of her Polly Pockets in a brown bag dress and propped her up by the door. (I had to promise Sophia that we’d be able to peel the glue off her feet after she gets the project back!)

To add a little more personality to it, we added Sophia’s name spelled out in left over tree branches.

It was a lot of work but Sophia and I had a great time building it together. She was so proud of the finished product and I’m so proud of how hard she worked on it.

XO

Sue at Home