Dressed to the Fours

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This week-end was my eldest daughter’s fourth birthday.  I cannot believe that she is four already! Time really is flying and if you blink, things seem to just zip on by!

This was the first birthday party that we were going to have at our new house.  Life is finally starting to settle down and reach a routine and nothing marks an important milestone like the first birthday party in the new house!  I have been to many types of birthday parties and I have to admit that the thought of throwing a birthday bash for a class of 20 children was extremely daunting.  I decided instead to opt for a smaller, more intimate party, similar to the birthday parties I had as a child.  I told my daughter that she could invite four of her friends, one for each of her four years.  It ended up being five friends, which was still manageable.  I thought this would be much more personal and would give the parents an opportunity to get to know one another in a more relaxed atmosphere.  Days are crazy enough with school drop-offs and pick-ups that we never get any opportunity to see any of the other parents, much less talk to them!

We started preparing for the party weeks in advance. My daughter told me she wanted a princess party that was pink, purple and blue.  She wanted to have each of her friends come wearing a princess dress to do princess activities. You can recall in my previous post that my daughter and I had made a heart pinata. For some reason the thought of a bunch of 4-year old girls dressed up as princesses trying to bust open a pinata was so hilarious that it immediately went on the To-Do list.  I figured you couldn’t have a princess party without wands, so I set up an activity for each girl to make their own magic wand.  Since we were doing hearts as a theme, I ended up making heart-shaped “princess” cupcakes.  And finally, I thought, what better way to end the party, than with a special princess goody bag, which was actually a Chinese brocade jewelry bag that held all sorts of little goodies for the girls!

The nice thing about having a house and having no furniture is that you can designate a “party room” and you don’t have to worry about shuffling things around.  We spent Saturday afternoon decorating the room.  We made balloon streamers and crepe paper tassle buntings, and I made a curtain out of streamers as well.  All in all, the room was very festive and the party was a great success!  I think all the little princesses had a great time and I was correct that watching a bunch of princesses earnestly trying to crack open a heart pinata was pretty funny.  I think that the parents had a lot of fun helping to break that thing too!

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Tassle bunting – tutorial here

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Streamer Curtain – I used the same technique as a photobooth wall and just added tie-backs, tutorial here.

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Princess Heart Cupcakes – I was inspired by these images of cookie designs as well as zentangle designs such as these.

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Magic Wands – I wrapped a 1/2″ wood dowel in white grosgrain ribbon and secured with hot glue.  Then I attached some curling ribbon, where each girl selected a color, and finished it off with a silver glitter snowflake ornament.

Paper Hearts

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I can’t believe that my eldest daughter is turning 4 years old in a week!  I still remember when I brought her home from the hospital and now here she is, going to kindergarten in a year, forming complex-(ish) sentences, and growing like a weed before my very eyes!

Since moving to a new town last summer, life has begun to reach a sense of normalcy.  We are slowly getting into a routine and beginning to meet some people in the area.  Since we had a really big birthday party for our daughter last year, we decided to keep it smaller this year, akin to the birthday parties that we used to celebrate growing up.  I let my daughter choose five of her friends to invite so we can have an intimate party here in our new house.  After committing to this type of party, I dug into the recesses of my memory to try and remember what kinds of activities we had at our birthday parties back in the day.  I remembered that my mom used to make piñatas  for us as an activity and we always had a lot of fun making them and then trying to break them.  I thought it would be a fun activity to make a small piñata with my daughter as we had never done this before.

Surprisingly, when I told her the plan, she knew what a piñata was from one of the shows that she likes to watch.  She got very excited that I knew how to make one and happily dove into helping me.  I let her choose what she wanted, what color, and what candy to put inside it.  she had such a blast making it. She loved the messy beginning where you paper mache the balloon and she was very excited as the piñata dried and began to take shape. I can’t wait to see her little friends and her trying to break this thing.  I have a feeling the parents are going to get in on some of the action!  This is going to be fun!

For those of you who have never made a piñata, it’s really quite simple.  It only takes a little time:

Items needed:

balloon

kitchen twine

newspaper shredded into 1″ strips

1/2 C flour dissolved in 3 C water – should be a little thick

tissue paper

Elmer’s glue

candy

Step 1: Place the inflated balloon on a bowl to hold it still.  Dip the newspaper in water/flour mixture and run the strip of paper through your fingers to remove excess water/flour.  Place on the balloon.  Continue until the entire balloon is covered in newspaper, about 2 layers.  Set aside to dry completely.

Step 2: Once dry, tie kitchen twine around the balloon securely and tie a loop at the top of the piñata.  This is where you will hang the piñata from.  Continue to glue on at least 3 more layers of the newspaper and water/flour mixture.  Set aside to dry completely.

Step 3: Cut tissue paper into 2″ strips.  Fold in half and then cut along the folded side about 3/4″ inch down so that it is one long strip of tissue paper with parallel cuts along the folded edge.  Do this for all the tissue paper you will attach to the piñata.

Step 4: Draw a line of glue along the piñata.  Attach one side of the tissue paper along the glue and press down.  Draw another line of glue along top of the tissue paper edge that you just glued.  Fold the tissue paper over so that it forms a loop and glue the free edge on top of the first glued edge.  Continue until the entire piñata is covered.  Leave a small area on the top of the piñata so that you can cut a hole to fill with candy.

IMG_7297Step 5: At the top of the piñata where you have left it without the tissue paper, take a utility knife and cut a V-shaped slit.  This will pop the balloon inside.  Push the V flap in and push candy into the piñata until desired amount is in the piñata.  Let the V flap close and tissue paper over it.

Voila!  Your piñata is ready to party!

 

The Bright Spot

Owning a home takes a lot of patience. I keep wanting everything to be done immediately, but it takes time to figure out how the house is going to reflect the personalities that live within it. I have spent countless hours trolling websites looking at images of things I like and don’t like to try and figure out how I want our home to look.

The previous owner had hired an interior designer. While it was not exactly to my taste, it did possess a “put together” feel. One of the countless items that they had installed were a number of light fixtures throughout the house. The owners were mostly trying to align with the “Victorian” style. The fixtures are mostly heavier and hung lower than I am accustomed to seeing. Not to say that some of the fixtures aren’t lovely, but the wall sconces in the living room are especially not my taste. The moment I walked in the room, I thought the wall sconces and the pendant were extremely heavy and much too large a scale for the room.

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Old Fixture – too ornate and very heavy

I spent a lot of time thinking about and looking for fixtures that I felt would be properly scaled in the space as well as something that would align with my family’s and the house’s “style”. I finally landed on these cool industrial looking fixtures featuring a bare Edison bulb in an oil-rubbed bronze finish. I was lucky enough to find these on sale for half the price of retail at an end of the year sale so I snapped them up and they proceeded to sit around the house for a good two weeks before my husband and I got around to pulling off the old fixtures and wiring up the new ones.

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New Fixture – oh so pretty!

For those of you who aren’t afraid of simple electrical work, this was easy as pie. To remove the fixture, you just turn off the circuit to the light, pull off the old fixtures by untwisting the caps and disengaging the wires, and removing the old mounting plate that screws into the electrical back box (which is secured to a stud in the wall). Then, you mount the new mounting plate w/ the proper mounting screws (we ended up having to get new ones from the hardware store because the ones the fixture came with were way too long), twist the black wires together and cap them, twist the white wires together and cap them, screw the ground wire to the mounting plate, and then attach the fixture.

I am much happier with these new fixtures. Not only do they seem much more appropriately scaled, I feel that their aesthetic just fits the space more nicely. What do you think?

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I think I’m in love….

Blind Ambition

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A new house comes with many challenges.  We have now been living in our house for almost 6 months now and there seems to be endless things to do.  I thought that moving to a new house and new town with a 1 month old and 3-yr old was tough!  Actually, that was really tough, never mind!  Owning a home has its own set of challenges.

Before we moved in, we had to re-paint the whole house.  It’s always nice to do this as a way of personalizing the place a little before you move in.  We hired professional painters and boy, did they do a fantastic job.  I ended up using colors from the Benjamin Moore “Color Stories” palette at the recommendation of one of my work colleagues, which is just so beautiful and rich with a lot of depth.  I went with mainly neutrals to serve as a nice palette for future endeavors and had the painter just match the Benjamin Moore colors since that line is very expensive per gallon.   It turned out great and the house was instantly transformed and personalized.  What a breath of fresh air!

When purchasing our house, it came with all light fixtures, appliances and window treatments.  While the previous owner did a lovely job of designing the space, it was not quite to our taste.  I ended up throwing away a majority of the window treatments, which were heavy and very bold in color.  I’m sure it was hearkening to classic Victorian interiors.  I ended up only keeping the roman blinds at the bedrooms as a means of privacy.  However, the one room that didn’t have these blinds was the baby room.  Instead, we had very cheap roller shades.  You know, the vinyl roller shades that are super-cheap and give off a vinyl odor when you use them.  And to top that off, they weren’t even in whole condition!  One had a hole in it!  Granted, my eldest broke the other one, but this just meant that I needed to look into providing a window treatment for this room!

I liked the look of the roman shades in the other bedrooms.  But, when I was shopping online for them, they turned out to be over $100 a pop!  What!?!?  That is way too much in my opinion!  I could make these things!  So that’s just what I did!

I ended up using this great tutorial, buying some mini-blinds and using leftover Ikea curtains that we had in our old apartment.  All in all, this cost me maybe $30 for 2 windows!  SO much better!

Before:

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After:

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Home Sweet Home

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So I did mention that we purchased a house!  This is quite exciting because up until now, I have only lived in apartments since graduating from college.  Owning a home with a yard and a garage is a new experience, for sure!  Our search for the perfect house was a year in the making.  I think we must have looked at upwards of fifty houses before we found this one!

A little about this house, which is an architect’s dream:  It’s a Victorian house built in the 1870’s.  It’s located in the historic district of the town we’re moving to.  There is a lovely porch extending the full length of the front of the house.  Inside, some of the rooms have the original wood plank floors (widths from 8″-12″, and some running up to 13′-0″ in length) and there are two fireplaces, one is the original wood-burning fireplace and the other is a newer, gas fireplace.  There is a nice-sized rear yard and the front is terraced.  It was love at first sight.

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Photo of ceiling in main living area

 

 

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Photo of original floorboards

We are slowly settling in and figuring out what we want to do with the house, but it has lovely bones and lots of possibilities!

A New Addition

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I know I have been remiss in my postings lately. There has been a lot of activity in our household lately! First of all, the new baby arrived two weeks early! That was a surprise for everyone! I hate to say it, but we were not as prepared for the birth of baby number two like we were for baby number one, but we do love her just as much and her sister is beyond excited to be a big sister! Life has been turned on its head with learning how to balance two children. I’m very fortunate to have the help of my mother, who seems to have a knack for putting babies to sleep! Life is certainly not boring right now!

The other big thing is that we bought a house! Wait, what???  More about that later…. back to the baby!

Fuzzy Fun

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My last post talked about my daughter’s joint birthday party with her two friends that she has known since she was born.  There were many aspects about this party that we tried to incorporate.

First, we had a great venue, thanks to one of our friends who lives across the street.  Living in NYC, one finds that space comes as a luxury and a premium.  We are very fortunate that one of our friends lives in a building that has a party room for its residents to use.  The party room also adjoins a play room with toys for babies and toddlers.  So, great space for a party? Check.

Second, because the girls are all 3, we figured they would need some sort of activities.  The big activity was that we hired a musician who played songs on a ukulele and brought egg shakers and a parachute for the kiddies to play with.  I think the parents had almost as much fun as the kids with this one!  Other crafts we had was a drawing station with a bunch of large sheets of paper, crayons and stickers, as well as a station where kids could make their very own party favor – a magnetic caterpillar craft!

I got the craft idea from pinterest and thought that it was simple enough for a 3-year old to execute with a little help from an adult.  Here is the shopping list of items that I used in order to make this craft:

Clothespins

Wiggle eyes

Magnets

Pom-poms

Hot glue gun

The execution is very simple.  Using the hot glue gun, stick a magnet to one side of the clothespin.  On the other side, run a long line of glue along the length of the clothespin.  Stick the pom-poms on to form a straight line.  Using the hot glue gun, glue on two wiggly eyes.  Voila!  You now have a cute little magnetic caterpillar that can also hold artwork and other things!

I decided to prepare ahead of time by gluing all the magnets onto the clothespin.  My daughter was curious, naturally and wanted to know what I was doing.  So, I explained to her that we were preparing a craft for her party and she immediately wanted to try it out herself.  So, I made the craft with her before the party to see how kid-friendly it was.  She had a lot of fun with it and wanted to make all of the caterpillars!  This turned out better than I expected and it was a big hit at the party!