Paw Patrol Party

If you have young kids, you’ve probably heard of Paw Patrol. In our case, it's all we ever hear about. It’s a show on Nick Jr. about a boy and a group of pups who do rescue missions around Adventure Bay. This show - or more like the idea of it - has been Myla’s obsession for well over a year - although Wild Kratts is starting to nudge the Paw Patrol out of that top spot. (Watch out Ryder!) Myla will wake up first thing in the morning and start assigning us characters and stating the missions we are about to embark upon. The thing that might drive me the most nuts, is that Myla is extremely imaginative - a good characteristic, of course - but she prefers to act out everything rather than playing with figurines (which by the way, she owns them ALL). All this acting makes for some exhausting play when you’re expected to run, jump, roll, stand up, sit down and fly…. I now understand the insanity I put my own parents through. Like mother, like daughter.

As Myla's 4th birthday came rolling up, what else would she want as the theme but Paw Patrol, right? Although it was my intention to do mostly store bought party supplies this year, that wasn’t entirely possible. You see… Nick Jr. decided to add a NEW PUP last year to the line up named Everest. She is now one of two girl pups on the show. The other girl pup, named Skye, is pretty girly and dainty flying around in her helicopter. As where Everest is a bit more of a tough girl - driving around in her snow rescue mobile and snowboarding down mountain sides. She’s definitely a bit sillier too - all which Myla relates to better. So of course, she wanted her theme to revolve around Everest. The only problem is that Nick Jr. has been really slow to release any products with Everest on them which left me needing to figure out how I could do the least possible in the handmade department. I decided that the invite, cake and a touch of handmade decor would be my limit. And I actually stood my ground against my own creative hamster-wheel mind.

To begin, I found some decent resolution images of the pups on the internet and went to work on the invite and table decor. The invite was pretty simple showcasing Everest and Skye on the front - but of course I needed to add Ryder (the boy) and his main pup, Chase, on the back - just to make sure it appealed to both the girls and boys invited to her party. And I opted for some fun chalkboard style text (that is the trendy thing to do now, right?)

Front of Invitation

Back of Invitation (sorry about the bad print job - our printer just finally kicked the bucket - this invite ended up being it's last job)

As for the table decor, I used those images I found online and blew them up to fill almost an entire sheet of paper. I also flipped the image using photo editing software and printed both images on card stock. I used double sided tape to stick them together once they were cut out. I then cut out bands of green to make a ring which the figure would sit on by making small slits in both the band and the figure so they would stand upright on the tables. Pretty simple and a lot less time consuming than it looks. And of course, I made sure that Everest would be standing on the table by the birthday girl.

Table Decor

Pup table decor on tables.

And finally, I had to make the cake. I decided a simple sheet cake would be the way to go here since I had to transport it to Sky Zone where the party was held. Typically, I don’t like to eat fondant, but I do like using it to decorate cakes - it’s the “play doh” of the cake world. I made the large Everest head out of fondant and placed it in the middle of the cake after I used buttercream frosting to cover the cake and decorate the edges. Myla also insisted on those large, round sprinkles along the border - and I have to admit, I like her style. And finally, because I was afraid of writing “Happy Birthday Myla” on the cake for fear of messing it up, I made a little banner (and used the leftover straws from her Frozen party last year as the poles). The rest of the party, I left up to Sky Zone... and BOY did it feel good to let someone else take control… and cleanup too.

Everest Cake

Myla blowing out her candles.

Mother's Day Card & Keepsake

Maybe it’s the weather we’ve been having… the cold, dreary weather, but it’s May already. Although, it still feels like early April and Mother’s Day is this Sunday! I had hoped to post this little project sooner, but I’ve been working on a really big project that’s draining me and taking most of my time. So, hopefully if you’re still looking for an easy project to do with your little one, this can give you some inspiration.

When Myla was a little over 5 months old, I wanted to do my first craft project with her. Well, maybe not our first. We DID try one of those handprint Christmas ornament kits when she was a month old - sooo not successful. But the following year we DID find a fun way to create handprint ornaments that were MUCH more successful.

Anyways, I wanted to create Mother’s Day cards for each Grandmother with Myla’s very first finger painting (with Mommy’s help, of course) that would become a special keepsake.

I started by creating these cards using black construction paper, origami paper, ribbon, watercolor paper and paints, and my printer. Origami paper is one of my favorite fun craft  supplies to have on hand. They are the perfect little size, with fun colors and patterns, that make beautiful little backgrounds for homemade cards and gift tags. After assembling the cards, it was time to “paint” with Myla. I cut small squares of heavy card stock, dipped Myla’s tiny little fingers in some pink, pearly paint, and “painted” little hearts. What I love about this little painting, is seeing how tiny her finger tips were. I added a little tag reading “Painted with Love by Myla” and glued it on the back of the card. 

In order to make this homemade card and painting into a special keepsake, I searched high and low for the perfect size frame. After giving the cards to each grandmother, we gave them the frame so they could display Myla’s very first painting. Only thing I wish I did was make one for myself as a remembrance of my very first Mother’s Day. (So make sure you remember to do that for yourself.) 

Happy Mother’s Day to every Mom and Mom-to-be, every Step-Mom, Grandmother and Great Grandmother, to each Adoptive Mother, to the Mom who has lost, and those women who may not be mothers by blood or on paper, but are truly Moms in every sense of the word. Enjoy your special day - you deserve it as it’s you who have the biggest hearts and share the most amazing love. 

Choo-Choo Myla is Turning 2 (Part 4)

What an emotional past week it’s been and what an amazing outpouring of love I’ve received from family and friends. Although I was hesitant to publish last week’s journal post, I’m happy that I did. It’s opened the door for conversation and has helped me begin to heal. But most importantly, it’s helped me get back to my little pumpkin, Myla. And now while my little one naps, I have this blog to occupy my mind. I have been so excited to share this last post with you… so here it goes.

Decorations!!! 

In addition to the streamers, balloons, and shiny spirals hung around the house, we made a giant balloon “chandelier”. Since we have cathedral ceilings in our family room and foyer, I didn’t want helium balloons flying around as it would probably take awhile to get those things to come down. So we tied a bunch of balloons together (with a napkin ring), threw some line from the balcony railing above, over the fan and tied the balloons up in mid air. It was a great way to fill the large open space with some festive fun… and it’s something I’ll probably do again as it can work for any party theme. Although I think we could have used more balloons and maybe had a bunch of curled ribbon hanging down - but hey, this was a good start.

I also made a train themed “Happy Birthday” banner to match the invitations. I found a pack of card stock with 5 different shades of pink at Michaels. Here’s a helpful hint: If you enjoy making paper crafts, or even sewing and making your own patterns, there’s a really cool ruler that cuts down on your time measuring. It’s a “see-through dressmakers” ruler as seen below. Instead of marking a certain distance at two points and connecting the dots, you can easily line this ruler up along one of the lines (up to 2” wide) and draw a line. I have this ruler from my fashion design classes and I’ve found a million uses for it during all types of crafting. It’s definitely my go-to ruler.

For a fun little centerpiece, I created a Peppermint “Coal” Train. I bought the white mini loaf pans at Michaels and added some pink “wheels”, cut a track from the pink card stock, used a wooden train (made by Justin… more on that later), and made “coal” candy. I used the recipe from Martha Stewart which was super easy - but here you can find it with pictures I took and a few helpful hints if you've never made candy before. This “coal” would be a great Christmas treat too!

Another idea for the train would be to add a pretzel “log” car, animal (cracker) car, etc.

Favors!!!

As I just mentioned, Justin made a bunch of wooden trains for the kids. I absolutely adore how he had to get in on the craftiness… and I’m pretty sure he one-up’ed me here - they came out amazing!!! We thought about having the kids paint them as an activity to do during the party… but the thought of 10 toddlers/kids with paint inside the house made me freak out a little bit. So we figured the kids can just play with them as is, or paint them when they get home. Instead, we opted for a coloring station with crayons and 6 different train-themed pictures to color. I had also planned on making a “Pin-the-Caboose on the Train” game and/or a “Create-a-Train” felt board as an additional activity… but alas, time got the best of me. 

In addition to the handmade trains, all the little engineers received an engineer cap, bandana, and train whistle. I had planned on painting and personalizing all the train whistles and adding a little flower to the caps for the girls, but again… there just isn’t enough time in the day. Perhaps I need to hire a party planning crew next year.

Cake (& Cookies)!!!

I had this vision of re-creating the train on the invite for the cake. And in grand “Tricia-planning” style, I winged it the day before the party, crossing my fingers, hoping it would all come together. In the past, I admit, I used boxed cake mix and frosting… but this time, I wanted to make everything from scratch. While researching train cakes in general, I came across a train cake pan from Williams-Sonoma which had a recipe for both cake and frosting. I figured if it held up well to a molded pan that it would work for what I had planned. I made the recipe 2 and half times. Twice to fill up a 9 x 13 pan, to make a layered cake, and the last half recipe was to make 4 regular size cupcakes and 24 mini cupcakes. The cake held up incredibly well - it didn’t rise and bubble up high in the middle and really kept it’s height after being stacked with frosting in-between. I didn’t even have to trim the tops to make it sit level. Excellent and DELICIOUS recipe!!!

After stacking the two 9 x 13 cakes, I cut around the smoke stack. Since I’m not well trained in cake making, I opted for a simpler design than the invite and left a straight smoke stack. I was worried about trying to frost it later. I had a bit of trouble frosting that area, but learned later that I should have filled a frosting bag and ran it up and down the side instead of trying to use just the frosting knife. Lesson learned! I used the 4 large cupcakes for the wheels and the mini cupcakes for the smoke. For the large cupcakes, I cut rings from the butter boxes and covered with a cupcake wrapper upside-down and placed them underneath so they ended up the same height as the train itself.

Because this cake was a unique size, I had Justin cut a piece of wood to place it on. To give the board some color, I wrapped it in pink wrapping paper and then used wide parchment paper to cover it. A hint of pink showed through the parchment to compliment the cake and cupcakes.

And finally… a few days prior to the party, my mother, Myla and I made butter cookie. It was a recipe from my Grandmother - making it a special activity for us all. We used a train cookie cutter to make over 100 cookies!!! We decorated them in pink, silver and white. And there was plenty to send everyone home with some. But have no fear if you ate some - We kept the cookies Myla made to the side as she had to sample and smash most of what she touched.

Choo-Choo Myla is Turning 2 (Part 1)

Well, it's here… November - Myla's Birthday Month! I've been debating whether to share all her birthday crafts in one long journal post, or to split them up. Since the only thing on my mind is her birthday and I'm so excited about all the fun things I'll be making, I've decided to share bits and pieces over the next few weeks. 

Myla has many interests including Elmo, Spongebob, Cars, Trucks, Music, Dancing, Jumping, Climbing, Running (haha)… Oh yes, and Trains. She loves to run around pumping her fist shouting "Choo-Choooooo". Trains, the perfect theme for her and all her little friends. After all, a 2nd Birthday is not like a 1st Birthday (which is more about the parents celebrating the fact that they made it this far). The 2nd Birthday is all about the Birthday Girl celebrating with her best buds. Amazing how that changes in just a single year. Therefore, we're going to have a party for the smallest train engineers around (while the adults take a backseat... or would it be "a ride in the caboose?").

To begin the party planning, I made her invitations. I had really wanted to do a paper cut-out type invite like the owl I did for her First Birthday. Then reality slapped me upside the head. There's no way I have the same amount of time as I did last year as she's much more on the move. Therefore, I figured I could design something on the computer and print them out. I still wanted the invite to have the look of simple shapes as if the pieces were cut out of different papers. I also wanted to keep everything in the pink family. Who knows when Myla will declare her favorite color and what it might be (purple, green…. cadmium yellow or cobalt blue for the budding artist)… might as well get in as much pink as possible while I can. I was hoping to do pink envelopes as well, but when I realized that I would have to special order them for a ridiculous price - I settled on white. Overall, these invites still turned out pretty darn cute. Choo-choo!!!

Stay tuned for more train-themed birthday party activities, decor, food, and favors in the coming weeks.

Look Whoo's Turning One (errr, Two) (Part 1 of 2)

Many of Myla's friends have just turned 2 or are about to. Myla has a little less than 4 months to go which is starting to get my brain spinning about party themes (and honestly making me freak out a little - how, oh how, did two years go by, let alone one!?!?) Last year for Myla's First Birthday I chose Owls for the theme… what else, right? I figured it might be the last time Myla would be OK with me going a little owl crazy and this time I could make them PINK! 

The first party item I made was her birthday hat. I originally made this hat for a group birthday party when Myla was about 9 months old (pictured below). I have 17 other mommy friends that I met in a Mother/Baby Talk group for new moms - we all had our babies within about 5 months of one another, Myla being one of the younger ones. Last August, we had a 1st birthday party for all 18 babies. As part of the party prep, each mother made their little one a party hat (I still can't believe how amazing they all turned out - it's awesome being surrounded by other creative moms). Anyways, I picked up some various scrapbooking paper, large google-y eyes, and feathers and got a little carried away. I can't tell if it looks more like an owl, or a headpiece for one of those show girls in Las Vegas. Ha! But I love it and I think Myla looked adorable regardless. This turned out to be the perfect launching pad to create Myla's First Birthday theme.

Second party item: Invitations! I used some more of that scrapbooking paper to create them (seriously, the prints and textures of these papers are so amazing, and make doing any paper craft that much more fun). I bought some square envelopes and made sure to create them so they would fit inside. I used a rubber stamp on the back for all the party "info" and hand wrote the rest. Although these are definitely not the most professional looking invitations - I think they came out super cute which sparked my idea for her cake (you'll have to wait until next week's post to see that).

Third party item: Decorations! I created Owl Lanterns to hang up around the house. Four large ones and a string of tiny ones. A fellow mommy friend of mine found this idea on Pinterest and used big lanterns to create fish for her little ones 1st birthday. After seeing those, I knew I could make owls out of them too. I used felt to create the wings, eyes and feather ears.

Check back next week to see the last party items: Cake and Cupcakes!!!