Monday, May 20, 2013

First and Last Day of School Photos

Most people take a photo of their child on the first day of each school year. And I have always done that. When my oldest was in kindergarten I came up with the idea of also taking a last day of school photo, to compare the two. And to make it even more fun, we (my daughter and I) decided to do the first and last day of school in the same clothes, and hair do!
I have loved looking back at these over the years. When the clothes are the same you are really able to pay more attention to the little subtle changes. And it is fun to see how worn the clothes get over the year. 

This is Miss B. from kindergarten. 

I also love including a shot from the back, so that you can see whatever cute backpack they had that year. 

And on that note, we have just a few weeks of school left, so I need to start rounding up the clothes my kiddos wore for their first day of school this year. ;)

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Harry Potter Party (Part 4)

Golden Snitch Cake
This was one of the easiest cakes I have done. Miss B. really wanted a golden snitch birthday cake, "but not as fancy as Mrs. Weasley's" she said. Good thing, because this momma doesn't do fancy cakes! I bought the soccer ball cake pan from Wilton. The soccer ball lines are barely visible after baking. I took a few tips from my sister the former cake decorator, and froze the two halves before frosting. I also made a very dense cake, as she said this cake can be a bugger to frost and such.

You can see the two sides did not meet up super well. I did try to even it out some with a knife, but the empty spaces just makes for more frosting in the middle!
I was super crunched for time, so I actually used store bought frosting (gasp!).I bought it in yellow, and for the family party sprinkled yellow sugar crystals on it.

It did not have quite the look we wanted, and on another trip a few days later we found Wilton spray color for icing, in GOLD! So we frosted in yellow and spray painted gold.

The wings were not too tricky, but it was nice to have our family party as the trial run. 
I bought butterscotch candies and melted them (as I did for the volcano for my son's dino party).

I then drizzled them into a wing-ish shape (I tried following lines drawn on the tinfoil, but it transferred to the wings). The first batch ended up very heavy, and we had a difficult time keeping them in the cake. The second go round I spread them thinner, and it worked much better. (I thought I had taken photos of the wings, but I can't seem to find them)

My kids always want to invite so many kids to their parties, and I always feel bad because I know someone is being excluded. Both of their parties this year we invited more than we usually do (I try to keep it to 8 kids, but this one we invited 12, I think). Anyhow, Miss B. kept thinking of other kids to invite, so we ended up not having enough favors.

We ordered these cute witch broom pens from Oriental Trading.

Somehow our personalization did not come through (It was going to say Nimbus 2000).  I did not have enough time to reorder more fun pens, so we decided to make some of our own!

We were able to find these pencils that looked about the same. I have a ton of raffia stuff, so we used that and some tan yarn (twine might even be cuter).

I lined the metal part of the pencil with hot glue 
and basically placed the raffia around it as best I could. Then we secured it further with the tan yarn. Then I cut the raffia off to make it look broom like. And I cannot believe I do not have a photo of this! (I feel like there is a file hiding somewhere with photos in it!) But they looked really cute, I promise!

Ope, I found an okay photo of one of the pencil brooms in the loot bag. 

Miss B. and I decided we liked them even better than the ones we bought. And they were more durable as well!

This was a super fun party, we got lots of compliments from family members, birthday guests, and the moms as well. It did take a lot of work, but most of it was done for pretty cheap. Some of it was done quickly and with not the best effort, but that is the great thing about kids, they really do think it is all wonderful!

And be sure to check out our other Harry Potter Birthday posts!

Harry Potter Party (Part Three)

Making the Quidditch game probably required the most time and effort, but it was so fun! I was on a mad search for hula hoops, and of course could not find any at the dollar store at that time. I searched multiple stores and finally found them at K-Mart.

My husband made one snip so that we could place them in a T joint PVC pipe. And then taped them with some heavy duty tape.

The hoops were not wide enough to fit exactly, so somehow we decided to try pipe foaming, probably because we had some laying around. I'm not sure if this was the best choice. It worked okay, but did take a few attempts on some hoops, and on the second attempt the foam can's applicator straw thing was all clogged up (multiple times) so we had to keep finding new tiny sturdy straws to fit in the nozzle.

(here you can kind of see the gap left after an application of spray foam. The gap allowed the hoops too much movement, so they would fall down instead of standing up)
I was trying to have them look pretty, but in the end just globbed a bunch of foam in there, and painted it, and you know, none of the kids noticed that the Quidditch hoops were less than perfect!

Then we stuck the T into another PVC pipe, we picked two different heights.
(this was pre hula hoops, and obviously just one height!)

Then we spray painted them gold. Let dry, flipped and did other side. 
We were not sure how we were going to get them to stay in the ground, but ultimately just hammered the PVC pipe in the grass. As I painted the Quidditch rings I also spray painted a small bouncy ball for the Golden Snitch.

Chocolate Frogs
Of course we needed chocolate frogs for our party! I bought a frog mold of amazon (there were a few to pick from) and we set to work using candy melts and chocolate chips. But beware, chocolate chips are much meltier when you start eating the frogs!

Finding boxes for our frogs proved trickier than I expected. I looked in many places. Ultimately I found these boxes at a party store (I had almost given up after exhausting the store). They had many cute wedding boxes and such, but they were entirely too pricey (we had enough chocolate frogs for each guest at the family and friend party to take one home). These were not perfect, but worked and the price fit!

We made the wands using dowels of varying sizes. Miss B. really really wanted boxes for her wands. Searching for boxes was rough for this party. I tried all kind of places and was able to find nothing! I did finally find these at Hobby Lobby, in the jewelry section. They were about $1 a box, which is more than I wanted to spend, but they did look fabulous!

We made the wands from dowels of various sizes. My husband cut them down to the box length (which was shorter than we would have liked, but it worked, no one complained about the size), and we sanded the rough ends.

I made the designs with my hot glue gun. Each wand was different. Then the kids and I painted them. My daughter was not to sure before they were painted, but she LOVED them after. 

And all the kids LOVED them too. My kids are still playing with them (7 months later) and have brought the extras to school for their friends.

Be sure to check out our other Harry Potter Party ideas!

Harry Potter Party (Part Two)

The invitations were loved by everyone! I originally got the idea here, at I think even before Pinterest was big. I love her blog for fancy and cute hair do's, and remembered this post, because it was awesome! But I know she got the idea somewhere else, and it is all over Pinterest. I was worried about this one, because of the helium shortage at the time, but we found some. It was pricey for invites, at over a dollar per invite, but was so fun!

My daughter and I drew the owls on with sharpies. I searched all over for wording for our invites, and was having a difficult time finding what I thought sounded good. I loved the invite at The Brilliant Crafty Type, especially for it's RSVP wording, so cute! We rolled them up into a scroll and attached the balloons.

Our's said:

Dear _______,
 We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted at Hogwarts School of Wizardry for a short term.

The term begins with a sorting ceremony on Friday, September 26, at six o'clock sharp.Classes will end the same evening at nine o'clock.

Please come prepared with your own broom for a quidditch match. All other necessary wizardry items will be provided to you.

Miss B.  (head girl and birthday girl)
Razzle Dazzle Mom (Head Master of our temporary location)

Please respond by owl e-post, expecto textum, or muggle mobile
(email and phone numbers listed)

(Miss B. drew the owl above!)
It was fun watching the kids' faces as they were delivered, who doesn't love a balloon! I would have loved to seal it with wax, but I couldn't find a wax seal for a cheap enough price to justify the cost. But I did like Blue Cricket Design's idea for a very cute way to get the same look for cheaper.

For all the signs, invites, and labels I was able to find many free cute fonts, Here is one site (I can't remember which we actually used)

A time consuming, but well worth the effort project was our 9 3/4 platform.
I made a simple sign in my ancient PrintShop program for the 9 3/4 , and then I made a sheet into the brick wall. I bought a used sheet at a thrift store and dyed it tan (so I could use the other half for our sorting hat, but I could have dyed it darker). I was worried about using the RIT dye in my nice newer front loading washing machine, so I sink dyed it, and did not follow their instructions exactly, and it still turned out just fine (mainly, I did not stir constantly in the sink for 30+ minutes, and I used the entire bottle).

Then I bought a large rectangular-ish sponge and some barn red acrylic paint 
(I mixed more colors in to get it darker). 
And then I sponge painted bricks onto the sheet, leaving the space in between where mortar would be. I had to do this in small sections, and hang it up/out to dry after.
I once tried doing a larger section, so I could get it done faster, and in the process got paint down my hallway walls, on the shower curtain, shower head, shower curtain rod, and bathroom ceiling! But I got a new shower curtain out of it, so all was not lost. ha ha!

Its a good idea to not saturate the sponge, because your bricks look more textured if you have the spongy look.
After the red was finished I did a much lighter coat of gray, and as my husband suggested, not on every brick. I think it turned out great! We attached it on the inside of our door frame with painter's tape, which held up through almost the whole birthday party. Once it was hung, I cut a slit in it, for the kids to fit through. I think it was the perfect introduction to our party, and get everyone in Potter-mode!

The sorting hat took some work, but so worth it!
I did so much searching for how to make my own, and found very little. But this was the best site I found.
I found a witch hat at a thrift store, and it was not in perfect repair, but since the sorting hat is worn looking, that is just fine.

I used half of the sheet from the brick wall, and cut it into 2 inch (or so) wide strips. 

I was making the pinata at the the same time, 
so I tried to papier mache the strips onto the hat, but that was a flop.
(while wet)
                                                    (dry papier mache', did not stick at all!)

 I was thinking I was going to have to sew it on, which would be so much more work, but thankfully I remembered the trusty hot glue gun! I just randomly placed and glued the strips in a very sloppy manner. It might have turned out even better had I used bigger chunks and less strips.

I made a pocket on the inside, just large enough to hold my cell phone, and then added some sticky back velcro dots (I did hot glue them on for extra strength) at the bottom of the pocket to hold the phone in. )Apparently I did not take a photo of this.)

During the party my husband went downstairs with a list and sorted the kids into their houses (my daughter chose their house assignments, and chose a few characteristics of each child for the "sorting hat" to describe them.) I just called my husband and then placed the phone on speaker, and would call out each child's name loudly so that he could hear and find their name on the list. The kids LOVED this! The excitement and surprise on their faces was so worth all the burned fingers from the glue gun!

(Be sure to check out the other Harry Potter Birthday posts for more ideas!

Harry Potter Birthday Party (10 Years)

My daughter read all seven Harry Potter's this last Spring/Summer, so she is a bit Harry Potter crazy, so of course we needed to have a Harry Potter themed birthday party!

Again, I found many wonderful ideas at, and found even more wonderfully awesome ideas at  Pinterest, and even a few in google land. I know I always say this, but this was such a fun theme. I had a lot of fun making things for this party, but they did take a lot of preparation. And being the procrastinator that I often am, I did get a little stressed. So do not as I do, and get it done early!

The invitations were loved by everyone! 

A time consuming, but well worth the effort project was our 9 3/4 platform.
 I think it was the perfect introduction to our party, and get everyone in Potter-mode!

I found the idea for floating candles here. She had a lot of cute ideas! My husband got the task of hanging them, and they turned out wonderfully! Everyone loved them. I found my LED lights at the dollar store, and they have lasted for days now!

For other decorations we found a pair of reading glasses at a dollar store that looked Harry Potter-ish and a broom to set out. My mom brought the cute frame that she found somewhere with the golden snitch and such.

I used some of the labels found online to decorate different bottles to be potions. I had hoped to fill them with fun things to match the potion, but I just did not have enough time.

Eeylop's Owl Emporium 

I always like to have an activity for children to do as they arrive, since not everyone will show up at the same time. We had ceramic owls from Eeylops Owl Emporium (or Oriental Trading) for them to paint.
Some of the kids loved this so much that they kept at it all night, even missing some of the other games to paint. And it also gave them something fun to take home.

The sorting hat took some work, but so worth it!
 During the party my husband went downstairs with a list and sorted the kids into their houses (my daughter chose their house assignments, and chose a few characteristics of each child for the "sorting hat" to describe them.) I just called my husband and then placed the phone on speaker, and would call out each child's name loudly so that he could hear and find their name on the list. The kids LOVED this! The excitement and surprise on their faces was so worth all the burned fingers from the glue gun!

After each child received their house assignment each child received a house tie. I found the idea at The Brilliant Crafty Type. These were easy and cute. We just pinned them on with a safety pin. (Please ignore the wrong colored ties in the background... we had to redo a few and kept those for extras)

Ollivander's Wand Shop

Miss B. acted as Ollivander's assistant at the wand shop. As each child came up she would try a wand and decide whether that wand fit them or not.

We had a potion shop (the drinks).
We had the kids pick a partner to concoct their potions, and then I was the assistant, and poured whatever concoctions they desired into their cups, gave them a spoon and let them stir. They all received a grade as this was like an OWL exam. I believe everyone earned an O for Outstanding. I found Over the Big Moon, that had awesome labels available for downloading or printing (FOR FREE!!), I did use some of them, and used others for ideas in making my own. My daughter picked which potions to include and which soda bottle to pair them with. Because her birthday is close enough to Halloween, I was able to find a plastic cauldron in a store. My husband picked up dry ice on his way home from work (we had never bought any before, but most grocery stores carry it). It was another small detail that really added to the party!

Golden Snitch Cake
This was one of the easiest cakes I have done. Miss B. really wanted a golden snitch birthday cake, "but not as fancy as Mrs. Weasley's" she said. Good thing, because this momma doesn't do fancy cakes!

What Harry Potter party would be complete without some Quidditch???
On the invitations we made sure to tell the kids to bring a broom or mop. :) I did have a few on hand for those that forgot. I think the kids could have played our modified game of quidditch all night long!

But it was getting dark and a little cold. 

My husband chose a different child each round to hide the snitch. 
They were all so eager to get a turn to hide it. 
Some of the kids spent most of their time just wandering looking for the snitch. We tried to have assignments of making someone be the bludger (they would throw the bludger) and other kids being the beaters or seekers. The kids did not always stay with their assigned roles, but they all had tons of fun!

We made a Voldemort Pinata. 
I used my usual pinata method here, and let my daughter paint his face. 
(which means she is a better artist than I, and I was so crunched for time that she was the best candidate!)

I was silly and forgot to attach a string or hanger to hold him up. My husband was worried about getting hit, and he had the GENIUS idea of letting the kids do a magic spell with their new magic wands! So we had the kids line up and cast a spell (my daughter gave them lots of ideas) and my husband would then whack the pinata. Some spells were well cast, and others not. Initially I thought the children may be disappointed that they were not getting to actually hit it, but I did not hear one complaint! They all loved it!

Loot bags were pretty simple. We just used brown paper lunch sacks and filled them with a few things.
They had Mad Eye Moody's eye (rolling eye from Oriental Trading) a broom pen/pencil, a few marshmallow Mad Eye Moody's Eye. My mom gave Miss B. a pack of Harry Potter bumper stickers, and since she had more than she could use, we also stuffed one of those in each bag. So the guests went home with the bags, pinata candy, their magic wand and box, house tie, chocolate frog, and their Owl.

Be sure to check out the other Harry Potter Birthday posts, for more photos and instructions on all the things above!