Entertaining + Gift Giving

Todd's 50th
50 seems like such a big number.
But then you meet Todd and that number diminishes.

Cheers to the youngest 50 year old I know!

What do you get your man when this big number rolls around?!
I wanted to make it big...something special...so for the 50 days leading up to his birthday Elias and I gave him one gift per day.
It was fun!
Some days were bigger (tickets to NYC/Peter Lugers), and some were smaller (toothpaste), some were personal (hand painted canvas from Elias), and some were silly ("It took me 50 years to look this good" t-shirt); but overall it seemed to be a hit.
You knew it went over well when you heard his guy friends telling their wives to do it for them!
Maybe I'll get 40 to 40 this summer?!
Hint, hint...

Since he didn't want a big party, I tried to pay attention to the small details...and I know from experience that cocktail napkins and matches do not go out of style in this household...

Seriously, the cake of all cakes.
Two layers of dark chocolate cake with peanut butter chips, two layers of "zebra" cake (Elias' addition), alternated and glued together with peanut butter cream cheese frosting.
The chips hide the imperfections...
With only one cake pan to my name, this took a LOT longer than one would assume...
labors of love...

Half Full Baby!

He may kill me for publishing this...

The birthday crown, courtesy of Elias

Todd's Bar

Todd's Bar set up for the family dinner.
Personalized 1965 poster;
I found out Todd was born the same year as the Pop-Tart! It was meant to be!

Not a very good picture, but these individual crab and avocado salads were to die for.
Yay me.

Ready to party!
Yes, that balloon has been inflated since Father's Day!?!

The Bar List...not that anyone used it.
I should have known; A bowl of lemon peels was sufficient with our crowd...but it looked pretty!

Party hardy!


The End

I wish I had more pictures of the food and party, but it was a success!

Happy Birthday Dada.
We love you. 
Cheers to making next half overflow!


Sculpey Gifting
 Okay, okay, one more Sculpey craft project
...or two...or three...
ah hell, who am I kidding!?! 
Get used to these regular Sculpey projects people...
Especially now that I've rediscovered labelling.

When I was teaching high school, my students used to make fun of me because I would label everything.
Tiny signs everywhere.
Signs labelling the paint brushes.
The paint.
The supply table.
The class folders.
The ceramic racks.
Everything had a place and every place had a label.
I can hear their voices now saying "uhh, Ms. Clark, is this the SINK!?" as they would point teasingly at my sign reading 'sink.'
Ha. ha. ha.
In my defense, some sinks were strictly for hand washing, others for paint brush washing, others for clay cup washing etc. 
In the art room it was all about control! 
(laughter abound!)

Well, anyway, here is where my two worlds collide; 
One, my current obsession with Sculpey, 
and two, my obsession with labelling things.

Taaa daaaa!

Decanter labels for PKR

Step one: roll Sculpey into balls
Step two: form into elongated ovals
Step three: flatten them out with the palm of your hand or a rolling pin...or a wine bottle works ironically well here!
Step four (not shown): Stamp labels and make holes with a tooth pick
Step five: bake per package instructions
Step 6: Brush with mod-podge to protect and seal, allow to dry, and string with ribbon.

You can find the alphabet, number and symbol stamps at any craft store in a variety of sizes and fonts.
Sadly, after buying these, I found the same exact size and font stamps at Walmart for $1.00;
a fraction of what I paid.
 Effing Walmart.



Cheese please!

Name labels for party favors

Irish Creme and Cafe Rica
Adult libations for my son's birthday party

Poor Todd will come home sometime soon after all of these snow days to find everything in our home labelled.
I can see it now!
Imagine the damage I can do in the kitchen alone!

Sculpey label heaven!

Party Animals!
My little man is five!
As he would say, "Holy wakkamoly!"

For the past few years I tell myself that I am going to just bring Elias to his favorite restaurant (Red Robin...ehem, no comment...), have the team of employees sing to, and embarrass him over a piece of molten chocolate cake, get him a balloon, and call it a day.
But, for some insane reason, I don't.

Something inside of me keeps me up for weeks on end making signs and banners, menu planning, cooking and baking, and this year, fashioning a million teeny tiny party hats for an army of plastic animals...
I guess this is what happens when a Master's degree in Art stays home with a son who is born in the middle of winter.
I can't resist.

Well, I can tell you it is all worth it when that little man comes out in the morning, jumping, laughing, kisses abound exclaiming "This is the best day EVER!" 
It is all worth it. 

Here is a photo spread of our day.
Elias' day.

I couldn't resist a little Guns 'n Roses reference to get people in the mood...

Activity Table

Party Animal Mantel
Thank you Pinterest...and snow days...

Gotta love Oriental Trading...

This is much easier in the morning than at night...

FYI, I was beat by a five year old...

The Watering Hole

I think I bought the straws and cups more for my enjoyment...

Party City has bags of tiny animals for a fraction of the cost I could find them anywhere else.
These were a Betty Crocker dark chocolate cupcake mix, then I made a cocoa cream cheese frosting.
I know it was a little Sandra Lee of me,
but it really was time saving, simple and delish.
I actually made them two weeks ahead of time, froze them, and frosted them the morning of the party.

Elias' Choice. Rarrrr.

Party Animal!
So cute!

Yes, we all party here...

This year's Poop and Ponder board.
What would you be?!
I don't know if a Yeti counts!?!

The Pocono Snake and Animal Farm Presentation!

Pete did an amazing job and kept both the adults and kids riveted for an hour and a half with a huge assortment of animals.
He was so professional, personable, knowledgeable and funny.
Thank you so much Pete for making our day great!

No family photo is complete without an alligator...

"A party without cake is just a meeting"
- Julia Child

Parting Gifts
(I know...more Sculpey...can't stop...)

Thank you to all of Elias' friends who came out to make today so special. 
It is not much of a celebration if you don't have loved ones to share the day, and a little bit of laughter, cake, and wine, with.
We love all of you party animals!

Cheers to FIVE!

Sculpey Madness!
Everything is turning up Sculpey.

I can not stop crafting, and I promise this will be my last post on the matter...well, maybe. 
I will try.

I both have to thank and to blame my friend Kathy for introducing me to these projects.
Once you realize how easy and fun it is, 
you feel like you could construct anything and everything out of this wonderously simple clay-like material. 

I have caught the crafting bug. 

Check these out!
...last post, I promise...

Holiday Themed Coasters

Coil, Twist, Smoosh Into a Ball  Roll Out (not shown) and Mold

The Finishing Materials:
Mod Podge to seal and add shimmer + Gold Paint to add a beautiful finished rim.


Gifts for Everyone!

 Again, I cannot take full credit for these.

My friend Kathy not only introduced me to this awesome project, 
but also to the great blog 'A Beautiful Mess,' where this project originated, and every single one of their craft projects looks like something I could get my hands into.
(Poor Elias may have a winter of crafting ahead of him)!

Check out the link for the best instructions on how to do this project, and explore all of their other great ideas:

Happy Crafty Holidays!

Valentine's Day Mugs O' Love
I personally think that Valentine's Day is a bunch of bullshit. 
Expensive flowers that inevitably die...
Everything dipped in chocolate and pink...
the pressure to show everyone around you that you love them...
blah blah blah.

With that being said, I also like to make stuff. 
And I like to show appreciation to the village that helps raise my son; 
teachers, doctors, babysitters, friends...

So, on this cold winter's day, I busted out my inner crafter and made these little mugs of love...

Just a little something for those that care for the little boy when I'm not around.

A heart bookmark, hot chocolate, mini-marshmallows + a mason jar = Mug O' Love

I hope you all survived the pink explosion!

Happy Monday!

Superhero Birthday Party
So, this is the reason I have been a little vacant lately... 
I have been knee deep in Superhero everything; 
Superhero decorations, Superhero outfits, Superhero colors, Superhero foods, Superhero colored foods...blah blah blah...

Some people may say I need to get a life.
But I wouldn't have it any other way. 
For my little hero, the sky is the limit.
Like I said he will never, ever need another woman in his life after I ruin him with an over abundance of love and affection.

I love you little man.

Here are a bunch of images from our Superhero Birthday Bash this past weekend:

This way!
The Avengers
Gorilla Glue!
Cape and Mask Party Favors
(I found the capes on-line by Googling 'bulk superhero capes,' and bought the foam glitter stars at 'Michael's Arts and Crafts' store...you can buy the capes with stars embroidered, personalized etc. on-line, and save yourself a lot of time, but they are more expensive)

Superhero Photo Prop
(Made with a display board from Target)
Testing Out The Goods
Superhero Mantel

Superhero Banner
(Made with Duct Tap and Yarn)

Detail of Duct Tape Superhero Banner

Super 'E'
(Again, made with duct tape)

Living Room Mantel 
Superhero Activity Table
"Gotham City Casserole"
New York Style Bagels, Cream Cheese, Red Onions, Tomatoes and Egg Baked To Perfection
(Smitten Kitchen Recipe: "New York Breakfast Casserole")
Super Fruit
It is amazing how much fruit these kids ate!
It was awesome!
Pulled Beef with Honey - Pineapple Bbq Sauce
Peanut Butter and Jellies
Brownie Cupcakes
Jameson For Super Dads
Bailey's For Coffee Bar
Celebratory Bubbles for Super Moms

Tower of Power

Detail Shots
The Spiderman Candle I found at Party City,
and the other figurines I found at Michael's Arts and Crafts for only a dollar each!

Party City Fun
I have a feeling this will become a permanent wallpiece in our basement....
Party City Spidey Games
PKR - Inspired Super Jump Game
It was a huge hit!
Poop and Ponder Bathroom Board:
If you could have one super power, what would it be!?

My favorite answer: "To Grow Flowers in Winter"
What a great response little Lauren!!
Red Flag to Stop...
They finally broke after fifteen years of hard work.
Nobody Ever Eats the Last One...
The End...
I can't believe my little guy is another year older!

If I had one superpower it would definitely be to slow down time...

Party Animal
Thank you Everyone for Helping Us Celebrate! Nom Nom Nom!

Greek Feast 2013
Our annual 'Feast' was this past weekend and we celebrated all things Greek-inspired, food and fun. 
For three days we cooked, ate, drank and competed in our very own Olympic events including
 'The Great Saltine Challenge' (who can eat 4 saltine crackers in a minute...try it! It isn't as easy as you think!), 
a full-fledged obstacle course (including goose hurdles and log rolls), 
a whipped cream race, 
archery, sharp shooting, rocket launching, and of course the never ending battle to get the highest score on 'Centipede.'
Here is a sampling of images from the feast-ivities!

ps. If you haven't done a log roll recently, you should give it a go. It shakes your brain, but makes you remember what is is like to be young again!
 Just be careful walking afterward...

Fun Facts About Greece
Koroneiki, Greek Inspired Olive Oil Favors

Symeon's Incredible Spice Rub
Used on the Pork Slouvaki
(Sadly, we gobbled it all up before I could get a picture!)
Red Wine Braised Goat with Radishes, Potatoes and Cauliflower Puree
Not Necessarily Greek, but Delicious Kale Chips
Paul's Homemade Pita...Incredible!
Greek Orzo
Tzatziki with Mint and Honey
According to Elias, Every Wine Glass Needs a Large Straw
Toga Toga Toga!!!!

Little Caesar

Fun on the Farm

A Toddler's Attempt at the Goose Hurdles
Annie Oakley
Jack Supervises the Log Rolls
The Dance Portion of the Obstacle Course
Pirouette Portion of the Obstacle Course
Trap Shooting
Goose Hurdles

Kathy's Awesome Greek Feast Medals

I sadly was not able to get photos of all of our food as I was too busy eating and laughing, but over the three days, this is what we cooked and ate:

Greek Orzo with Spicy Shrimp and Feta
Greek Spiced Pork Slouvaki
Marinated Baked Feta with Pita Chips
Homemade Pita
Braised Goat with Cauliflower Puree, Radishes and Potatoes
Mousakka with Bechamel
Grilled Tuna

Now, I must run five miles every day this week and eat only green vegetables...

Next year, we are going pan-Asian!...but we may have to keep the obstacle course for good measure.


Miniature Caramel 'Apples'
Candy apples are great, but you really have to commit to one once you start...and sometimes that can be a little much.
I see caramel covered children. 

These are poppers. No commitment necessary.
But you will go back for more than one, 
I promise.

These were the quickest treats to throw together, and the talk of the party. 

Thank you Pinterest! 
Pass it on!


Grapes (seedless)
Dipping caramel (found in the produce section)
Chopped pecans
Tooth picks or cute sticks

Stick grapes with toothpicks or sticks, dip in caramel, roll in pecans. Serve and accept the compliments to come.


Summer White Sangria
Can you believe it is August already?!
Yikes, but another summer weekend is upon us, so let us enjoy every minute before the temperatures drop.

Something like this might be a great addition to your next gathering.

This white sangria is made with Sauvignon Blanc, Strawberry Juice, Sliced Strawberries and Blueberries.
Strangely the strawberries floated to the top and the blueberries sank, making this the perfect patriotic punch.
We will toast to that!
God Bless America!


Baby Shower Bliss
This past weekend I had the great opportunity to throw a baby shower for one of my dearest friends.I had such a wonderful time decorating, catering and hosting this party, and I can't wait to see all of these smart, fun, beautiful ladies again soon. 
Here is a photo gallery of the special event!

Horrible Image, but you get the point;)

Party Favours
Chocolate Mint!

Every Party Needs a Good Game
Baby Scattagories!

Chocolate Prizes
The Creepy Baby Chalice
The Candy Table
The Baby Food Tasting Station

The Notorious Chocolate Platter

Baby Carrot Cakes...Can You See Where My Son Helped Himself!?
The More Cupcakes, The Better
Tropical Green Tea, Sun-Brewed

Pretty Fruity
Cheesy Poblano Scramble
Strawberry Basil Water = Yum
Grab and Go Fruit Seltzer
The Food Table Before the Food
Coffee, Teas, Chai and Such
Mix Matched Glasses; An Easy Way to Keep Track of Your Glass!

Glass Markers; Just in Case
Party Animal
Emergency Kits for Mama
Beckified's Awesome Diaper Cake!

The Alphabet Banner

Congratulations Jo and Laurance! 
We are over the moon happy for you and can't wait to meet your little person!
Also, thank you everyone for a great time and for all of your help! 
Serious FUN!

It is Egg Hunting Time Again!
Time to run out and buy dozens of eggs to decorate and hide, and hope for a cooler day so that they don't spoil before your toddler finds them all.
(Did somebody say egg salad?)
This year, think past the store bought kits, get yourself some regular food coloring and go to town. 
Here we just dipped and poured regular food coloring over hard boiled eggs in different concentrations to get an Abstract Expressionist type of effect.
Have fun with it!
So easy even a caveman...I mean a toddler...can do it!

Jackson Pollock Fans Rejoice!
Happy Decorating!

A girl's weekend is always sweeter with a Mojito or two!
I made these herbaceous gifts for a few of my girlfriend's when they came to visit last summer, but in going with the green-theme this week, I thought these would work perfectly for St. Patrick's Day!?
Green beer is so 1998.
Accompany with rum, seltzer, sugar cubes, and muddle away!

They can even double as a centerpiece

To make these I used simple mason jars that I picked up at the store, cleaned decorative rocks from the pet store (cheaper than buying the overpriced containers of decorative rocks from craft stores), and mint plants from the local farmer's market or grocery store.
The labels are homemade, but you can buy 
pre-made labels and just attach with ribbon or twine. The reverse side has the recipe for a traditional Mojito.

*Get herbs with roots attached and add water to keep them alive. If you clip them they will die before your guests arrive.
However, and especially with mint, these will live for awhile on your windowsill, or on your patio, as long as they have water. Also, you can always add soil to the mason jars, or replant them in planters so you can have mojitos all summer long!
Now that is the gift that keeps giving!

Have a great green weekend everyone!
Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Valentine's Gift Idea
Don't forget your educators, co-workers, hairdressers, and friends this Valentine's Day!
These little gigs were favors that I gave to friends at an 'Italian Feast' we had a few years back, but would be perfect for somebody nice on your list. They are simple 'Lindt' truffles, dressed up in little glass vases with ribbon.
I picked up both the vases and the ribbon at A.C. Moore, and grabbed the candy from a local grocery store.
I'm thinking red/white/pink M+M's, Red Gumdrops, or Swedish Fish would work well for this holiday?!
Simple. Easy. Pretty...
And nicer than handing them a bag of candy.

Happy Birthday Mama!
Now go play your Lexulous Hand,
Maybe I'll let you win this game...
wink, wink

 Party Party Party!
Here is a picture gallery of E's Third "Build a Library" Birthday Party this weekend. 
We love you little man!
Welcome Bears!
Detail of the Invitations
Felt Mantel Banner. I love you Target.
Three Baby!
Window Book Shelves

Book Banners. Bad Photo.
Book Themed Menu Cards
"Hansel and Gretel" Breads, Pastries and Bagels

"Alice and Wonderland" Tea Party (and coffee...and hot chocolate...and "book worms," the snack of choice for those under 7:)

"Where the Wild Things Are" Birthday Party Hats

Menu Detail Shot #1
Menu Detail Shot #2

Book Plate Party Favors
Wrapped Book Plate Party Favors

Detail Shot of Girl Favors
Detail Shot of Boy Favors
"Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site" Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese and Candy Rocks

This was such a fun party to put together, and for us i
t was a great alternative after the holidays and an over-abundance of toys.Unfortunately I didn't get pictures of all of the food and decorations, but you get the idea...Martha Stewart would be so disappointed...
If anyone wants to borrow any of the signs, banners or decorations shoot me a message, as I'd be glad to lend them out.
 We are a lucky bunch, and although Elias is young, I can't help but try to instill the importance of books and giving back to those less fortunate. Today we will be decorating the donation card to St. Jude Children's research hospital, and tomorrow Elias will send it out. He probably won't remember, but maybe we'll make it a yearly thing?!
Stay tuned!

Brainstorming #3
Alright, I know I tend to go a bit overboard with this stuff, but I can't help myself.
It is annoying. I know. I just. can't. stop.

Elias' birthday is just two short weeks away and I've been thinking about his party since last year. He was only two, and he will never remember, but we just had cake. It was great in the sense that it was just the three of us, but it is always just the three of us, so it felt anti-climatic.
Here are a few of the images from our little man's past celebrations as we gear up for #3.

Elias' First Month Birthday Cakelettes...Baby Appropriate

First Birthday Party
"Cute as a Button + the Number 1" Themed Party

Birthday #2

Trucks, Cars and Excavators

(A Boy's Dream)

I can't believe our little man will be 3 years old in just two short weeks.
Stay tuned...brainstorming in full force...
Any and all fresh ideas are welcome!!!

Teacher Appreciation

Make sure you show your teachers, and your children's teachers, how much you care this week. When you are checking your list, check it twice for those who serve as mothers, fathers, mentors, roll models, coaches, counselors, advocates, nurses, mandated reporters, and friends...oh, and educators to your children.

A small token of appreciation goes a long way in showing them you care about how hard they work for you and your loved ones.
(Wrapping paper, ribbon and crayon ornaments all found at Target! Man, I love that store....)

"Cute As Buttons"

1st Birthday Centerpieces

Even with all of the holiday craziness, I have been thinking about Elias' Birthday coming up in a month. I know, I am obsessed with this kid....Regardless, I found these images from his first birthday and wanted to share them with you. These were the centerpieces for his "Cute as a Button" themed party, and I love the way they almost have personalities. Any suggestions on what this year's theme should be?!
ps. The 'buttons' are from Martha Stewart's craft line at 'Michaels,' and are made out of thick cardstock with a sticky back. I curled the wire and then adhered the bottons together at the top of the wire. They popped apart shortly after the meal, so if you are making them ahead of time, I would suggest using hot glue to adhere them together...unless you want to find a bunch of semi-sticky buttons all over your house...

Pretty Package

Adding a pop of color dresses up this otherwise usual wrapping. Hot pink for a great girl! Let the gift giving begin.


A simple and lovely way to show your guests you care. This was quick and painless. I simply cut strips of the paper as an accent, and tied simple ribbon to seal.

Moleskin Notebooks for our annual feast; These can be used to document recipes, photos and other memories from our annual potluck-style weekend of gluttony. Unfortunately for the curious, what happens at the feast, stays at the feast.

(The wrapping paper I found at Target, and the tags, labels and ribbons were both purchased at Michaels...but I have seen them at Target, Walmart and many art/craft stores. The Moleskin notebooks were also purchased at Target).

Keep it Spicy!

Chocolate Tray

This is an easy and fun alternative to dessert, and a great conversation starter. I try to find an assortment of fun and unusual chocolates (most of these were found at Wegman's), and display them with a descriptive label so people know what they are eating. The crowd favorite for this tray was the dark chocolate with sea salt, chili pepper and popping candy. Give it a try at your next gathering; it is a sure hit!

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