Maura's Horse 4th Birthday Party



Hi! Me again! Yep, still here:) Maura turned 4 in September, and even though that means her party was like, ahem, 2 months ago, I still wanted to share it with you guys. She loves anything horses...My Little Pony, the pony rides are her favorite thing at any fair or festival, and she has even taken a real horseback riding lesson before and loved we threw her a horse party (real pony rides included - it was awesome!) with a cowgirl spin:)

I was without a laptop for most of the summer, so I went with the next best thing to DIY invitations, this guy that Louisa from the etsy shop "flipawoo designs" customized a bit for me. I love that it is not overly cowboyish, just the right amount of balance between general horse and the wild west:)

I think its fun to greet guests outside with a little something, so I grabbed a couple of hay bales at the local farm stand and did up our chalkboard again with a welcome to the ranch sign. Plans here also involved one of those giant horse shaped balloons (purchased from Amazon) attached to the hay, but there was a tragic accident when we got home from having it blown up and the thing took off into the sky never to be seen again:(

I try not to spend a ton of money each year on decor to go with the specific theme, but instead use things we already have around. In sticking to tradition, I hung Maura's custom birthday banner up on the fireplace, but added some DIY horse ribbons this year to freshen it up.

Just made these by cutting out some circles of scrapbook paper and card stock, then going to town on the back with wide satin ribon and the glue gun. Hand-painted the number 4 on them since I didn't have access to a computer at the time.

On top of the mantel, Maura and I had fun arranging some of her flocked ponies that she already had...and to amp up the cuteness factor we made them little fences/corals out of popsicle sticks:)

One thing I did spend some money on was fabric to make this super easy DIY bunting (totally stole the idea from my friend, she had made some for her little girl's bday party earlier in the summer) . Wanted it to feel a bit like a square dance in a barn or something, so Maura and I chose vintagey-looking florals in the colors that she likes (just those quilting squares that are already cut up at Joann's). I made a cardboard triangle template and used that to cut out a million of these and then hot glued them to some grosgrain ribbon (also ran ribbon along the back side so that they could be sort of two-sided). Hung them all over in the kitchen and dining room.

In my mind you can never go wrong with fresh flowers, they go with any theme! Plus in mason jars, they whisper "you're at a horse farm!" even more:) I grabbed a couple of bunches from the grocery store and mixed them with hydrangeas from our yard. This is the first time I've used my blue mason jars as vases and they looked so pretty!

I used burlap as runners on the tables and mixed in Maura's Schleich horse figurines (that she has a growing collection of) with the flowers as centerpieces.

For food, we went with a bbq kind of menu to hopefully tie in to the ranch feel...homemade mac-n-cheese, pulled pork sliders (in the crockpot), cole slaw, fruit salad, corn muffins, pigs-in-a-blanket for the little ones. I made these chalkboard signs by just removing the glass and photos from rustic, barn-wood type frames and replacing them with black card stock that I wrote on in white crayon. I tried to use hokey cowboy kinda sayings like "watering hole" for the drink station, etc.

This DIY trail mix bar was really fun! I bought a ton of random food goodies...kid snack things like Cheerios, TeddyGrahams, Goldfish, MMs for the little ones and threw in some healthier options like banana chips, granola and craisins for the adults...and got some small white paper bags from Michaels for everyone to put their trail mix in. (That way they could eat it then and there or take it home.) Everyone of all ages got into it, and it was a good activity to pass a few minutes if somebody seemed bored.

I also think its extra fun to add a little dress up to things, so we had cowboy/girl hats and bandanas for the kids to put on if they wanted and then take home after the party was over. (Bought from Oriental Trading Company here and here, just so happened they came in packs of 12 and we had like 11 kids coming!)

I set them out here on a dresser (at the "Saddle Up" station) with the other favors, these little flocked ponies, one for each kid, also from Oriental Trading.

Maura had fun deciding which of her friends/neighbors would get which colored horse, and then I attached little kraft paper name tags to each one.

I figured that if we were going to do a horse party, we might as well do a horse party, so we had pony rides for the kids (also figured this would save me on the money I'd have to spend on crafts and other activities to keep them busy). Ponies for Parties (out of Middleboro, if you're local) came and they were amazing, can't recommend them enough! Super nice, flexible, great with the kids and you could really tell they cared about the horses. I had signed up to do one pony for an hour, but the weather wasn't looking good and rain was pending. Derel Lee suggested going with 2 "ponies" for only a half hour to hopefully get all the rides in before the rain and this worked out so well. She also let Maura pick which 2 of the 3 horses she had with her that she wanted to use, and I'm so proud of my girl that she went for the large, full grown horse and the medium sized pony!! So this happened in the street right outside our house and blocked traffic for a couple of minutes but nobody minded! The kids (and adults) had such a good time watching the horses get ready.

When Derel Lee arrived, she just took a quick scan of our property and figured out where would be best for the actual rides. They ended up walking the horses up and down the driveway in a big loop.

Having both a horse and a pony was actually really awesome cause 2 kids could ride at once and there was never a line or much of a wait. The little kids/younger siblings could go on the smaller pony and the bigger kids (I had my nieces there too where were 9 and 11) could ride on the big horse.

I'm glad we did the shorter time span of only a half hour as well, because by the end of it you could tell the excitement of it was wearing off (not for Maura!) and that the kids were ready to move on to something else.

I made her a cake again with home-made frosting and we simply stuck another one of her horse figurines on the top (after I washed him).

{Why will this girl not keep her hair bow in?!}
We had such a fun day celebrating with family and friends! Can't believe she's 4 already!!

PS. I'm learning I really like planning kids' parties! Check out some other ones like Maura's 2nd birthday and 3rd birthdays and Ian's first birthday parties here:)

PPS. Linking up to my friend Danielle's Silver Pennies Sundays over at Finding Silver Pennies...a blog party with tons of DIY projects and recipes to check out over the weekend when there's not as much blog stuff going on:)


An Afternoon at the Vintage Bazaar



Two weekends ago I took a drive up to the North Shore (I'm on the South) to check out the Vintage Bazaar. It takes place twice a year (one weekend in June and one in September) on a flower farm in Salisbury, Ma. Its like an antique show, flea market, craft show, festival all rolled into one with vendors, live music, food, kids' activities. This was my first year going, just found out about it on someone's blog a couple of weeks ago. I was owed some "me time" by Paul and the kids, so this is what I chose to do:) Super fun!

And guess what? I met a famous person there! Like literally shook hands with them and introduced myself and had a down-to-earth chat. Recognize this lady from the HGTV show "Cash and Cari"?!

I knew it was her (Cari Cucksey) right away!! She had her own booth there selling cool finds and then was the special guest of the weekend with a scheduled meet and greet time. I was in her booth buying some old flash cards (see below) when she came in and I was like one of those star-struck dorks although I tried to play it cool. She was so so nice, talked with me right there and showed me her new paint line (sort of but nothing like chalk or milk paint) and everything! Thanks, Cari! Check out her website here.

I got a couple of small things that I'll show you, but I was really tempted to buy this spindle bed for when Ian is out of his crib. I got nervous though and didn't have anyone to help me carry it, or really any room in the car, etc. so I walked away:(

Here's the vintage flashcards I got in Cari's booth (I bought 4). I'll probably hang them in the playroom.

I have a hard time resisting any old ephemera or botanical/nature prints I see, so I bought 4 of these really cool owl illustrations from a book "Birds of the Forest" by J.F. Lansdowne. (Love that guy on the left!)

I also came home with this hand-made pillow in a lovely blue (with bits of coral) floral crewel fabric. Love it!

What did you guys do this weekend? Get any great finds?

Flea Market Finds for Early Fall in the Foyer



***waves nervously*** Hi! I was just gone for like 2 months and didn't mean to be! Sorry about that!! How is everyone? The motherboard on my old laptop went and it took me a long time to get a new machine and back up to speed. While all that happened, I guess we had summer?! And now its fall? Waaah, I loooove summer. Sniff. Sniff. To help get me a little less depressed, I redid the top of the new painted dresser in the foyer (remember when I bought it from Danielle of Finding Silver Pennies this spring?!) for the season.

A week or two ago I dragged Maura and Ian to a local flea market one Sunday morning while Paul was golfing and came home with four things...2 brass deer and 2 vintage bird prints. I chose the bird print that had the most warm tones in it to include here (leaning in the black frame). I've always had a thing for deer and just decided that I might start collecting them:) I'm excited to leave these guys out for Christmas and winter, but for now I think they say autumn to me too.

Now I'm feeling more in the fall spirit and ready to get back in the saddle here in blogland. (Speaking of saddles, we had Maura's "horse" birthday party this past weekend, with real ponies!, and it was awesome! I'll try to get some pics up soon.) 

Ian's First Birthday Book Party: Activities, Food, and Favors



Sorry it took so long to get back with the second half of Ian's first birthday party! (Isn't the summer just flying by?!) We talked about the invitations and decor here, now I wanted to show you the rest - what we did for "activities", food, and favors.

The chalkboard wall that we painted in our new playroom is coming in handy! I lettered a Happy Birthday sign on it and then left out chalk for guests to leave the little guy a note. Here's Maura testing it out right after I finished. She signed her name as close to her brother's as she could get:)

I've found that it helps to have like one planned activity or craft to keep the kids busy. We had a book making/decorating station set up on the kitchen table with a ton of random art supplies - paint, stickers, foam shapes, glittery jewels, crayons/markers, stamps, pieces of patterned paper.


There were two kinds of books available for the kids to choose from to work on. Small hardback books like these from Rainbow Resource Center (super nice customer service too!)  that had blank white pages inside (for coloring or drawing their own stories) and a blank white cover to decorate. My oldest niece taught Maura the art of scrap booking to do with hers:)

I also bought a bunch of old school copybooks (from Target and Staples) and covered them in brown kraft paper (bought for a dollar a roll at our local Dollar Store!) that the kids could then decorate and use to practice writing their letters or whatever. I also got a bunch of different patterned scrapbook paper from Michaels and used that on the inside front and back covers of the copybooks to add some fun and cover up unsightly edges from the kraft paper. (Each copybook had a different inside pattern, so the kids could pick which one they liked best, and I get to keep these 2 that were left - win/win!) I got the idea for this and followed the tutorial from the sweetest vintage book party over at the "Aesthetic Nest", although she used fabric. (BTW, I used spray glue to both adhere the kraft paper to the cover of the book and to glue the scrapbook paper onto the inside cover...pain in the butt but its what I found that worked the best/less wrinkles.)

It was really fun once they got into it, and I was excited that even some of the adults got in on the action (here's my friend making herself a journal to write about her adorable little 18 month old in).

The only other thing that I had really scheduled to do was have a sort of story time. I asked my aunt (former teacher and one of my primary babysitters) if she would read the kids a story. I threw a bunch of pillows and blankets on the floor in the new playroom to go with the "bedtime" thing. I'll admit that this did not quite go as planned...most of the kids got too distracted by all the toys or their snacks or whatever and kind of walked/crawled off after the first few pages. We had a couple of die hards that stuck with it through the end though and that was sweet:)

The bigger kids just had fun going outside and playing on the swingset. Here's a cute shot of some of them in their pjs waiting to be let outside!

For food, we served snacks for the kids (like fruit salad cups, cheese sticks, yogurt puffs, chips) and appetizers for the adults. We also had a bunch of sweets like cupcakes, donuts, munchkins, and cookies

{most of the paper goods were from Target - I always love to find fun patterned plates and napkins to kick off the party's color scheme}
Since I was using brown kraft paper as a table runner, I thought it would be cool to go around and write/doodle directly onto the paper what all the dishes were. But of course I ran out of time and it didn't happen. This dip was the only thing that wasn't very self-explanatory, so I quickly added this...but wouldn't it have been cool if I had managed to get it done in time before everyone arrived?!

I've always wanted to serve milk in cute plastic bottles with fun straws, so I decided to go for it with this party since I thought it tied in again to the bedtime thing. I found these plastic bottles that came with lids (with a hole already punched in for the straws) here...this way the kids could carry them around without spilling. I've always wondered how you serve milk at a party and keep it cold, so I jury rigged a little cooler action here by setting up the bottles in glass pyrex dishes filled with ice. We served both regular whole and chocolate milk:)

I thought about giving out books for favors, but since ever guest was bringing Ian one I didn't want to be too repetitive. Instead I tried to think of something having to do with the bedtime thing and decided on pillowcases. I bought a pack of a dozen hotel grade white pillowcases from Amazon  and decorated them using cheap fabric paint from Michaels. I monogrammed each one with the child's name and then depending on if they were a girl or a boy hand-stamped a little decorative design around that. I set up the names in the size and font I wanted on the computer and printed them out. I then slipped them (along with a piece of cardboard to protect the paint from bleeding through to the back) inside the pillowcase. That way, since the pillowcases were white, I was able to use the printout as a template and could just basically trace over each name with my paint. The boys got blue fish that I stamped using the stamp I made myself for the drapes in Ian's nursery way back when I was pregnant with him (still have yet to post those pics, oops!) and the girls got a paisley/floral pattern in green using a block print stamp I bought at the Brimfield fair last year (it was really used to block print fabric in Pakistan at one time...I then hand painted on some of the other colors to add more depth/interest). I totally love how they came out and the kids thought they were really cool too!

We had such a fun time celebrating the first year of this little guy's life with family and friends! And we are always going to cherish the books he received that day. Here he is trying out a cupcake for the first time.

And one more of me and my little "Bubs" in his Old Navy pajamas...I love you so much, Buddy!!

pewter+sage All rights reserved © Blog Milk - Powered by Blogger