Thursday, June 30, 2011


When I noticed this shirt at the Goodwill I nearly did a little jig once I had my hands on it, it was that amazing. The best part was, the shirt had the correct barb for that week's 50% off sale. Final cost with tax: $2.08. When I bought it, it was a man's dress shirt, but now it is a shirt for my daughter. I made it tunic length, so right now she can wear it with leggings, but in a year or two it should still work with jeans. (It's quite roomy.)

She prefers the softer feel of a knit fabric so this shirt isn't one of her favorites, but when we're traveling (and there are fewer choices) it gets lots of use.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Cat Party Table Decorations

I tried not to spend an arm and a leg decorating for this party, because I really tend to go overboard on birthdays. I bought a pack of cat-toy mice at the dollar store, a pack of six styrofoam balls and a few skeins of yarn at Wal-Mart. The cat stuffed animals, and shrinky dinks I already had. (More about what I used it all for in a minute.) Oh yes, and I did buy the fabric to make the napkins.

About three weeks before the party I started stashing all the stuffed animal cats I found around the house in my sewing room. Surprisingly, the kids never seemed to miss them. I guess that means they have too many toys!

The photo isn't the greatest, but I used the shrinky-dinks to create place markers for each guest. When each person sat at the table he or she was greeted by a cute little kitty wearing a collar with his or her name. I just stitched the tags to a piece of ribbon and tied it around the cat's neck. My daughter really loves cats right now, so I had a ton of stuffed animals to choose from. If you don't have any little kitties lying around, you could probably find a few of them at your local thrift store. Our guests were all adults, but the stuffed kitties could make a cute party favor for kids to take home.

I made the collar place cards using shrinky dinks. They shrink down to one third their original size, so I made three-inch circles in Word. (That way I would end up with once inch name tags for each stuffed animal.) Within each circle I stuck in some cute cat clip art and the name of the guest, and then I printed right onto the plastic sheets using my ink-jet printer.

On my first sheet I discovered that black and gray ink ran - badly, but dark blue didn't. Why, I have no idea. And the dark blue really looked black after they shrank down. I also needed to adjust the fill of the clip art about 40%. As the plastic shrinks the colors concentrated and got significantly darker. Finally, I punched a hole for attaching the tag to the collar before they were placed in the oven. The plastic gets much thicker as it bakes, so punching holes afterward wasn't an option. If I hadn't already had the shrinky dinks, I would have just printed them out onto card stock - they would have been every bit as cute.

As for the table, I created a centerpiece using balls of yarn. (Which, of course, coordinated with the napkins.) I created the "balls" by winding yarn around styrofoam balls - just thick enough to cover up the styrofoam. It was a lot less expensive that buying all that yarn. Then I used the leftovers to string all over the table. I wanted it to look like all those little cats had been playing with it all afternoon. I added a few bowls of gold fish crackers (the perfect snack for hungry kitties,) a few candles and the toy mice and the table was done.

Cheap, easy, not too time consuming - and it looked great. This morning she told me, "Next year, I want a hummingbird party." I'm sure she'll change her mind 18 times between now and then, but it's fun to imagine what I might do...

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Cat Cake

While planning the cat birthday party, I had visions of cute little cat shaped cakes, but my husband had other plans...

This part of my daughter's cat party was all his idea. Personally I thought this had to be the most disgusting looking cake ever. I was also a little worried it would make her cry. (Especially after my son got this cake on his last birthday.)

Luckily she loved it! It was my husband's brilliant idea to ask her to help him make the cake. She was thrilled to help, wanted to know exactly what the "secret" ingredients were and loved how her grandparents reacted when we brought it out. Of course, she thought it was the best birthday cake she'd ever had. Trust me when I tell you that while it may look disgusting, it tasted great!

My husband found the recipe here.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

You Guessed It

Thank you so much for playing along! Several of you guessed our destination correctly. Go back and click on the photo of the condo and look at the railing on the porch. Do you see the "hidden Mickeys?" They are all over the parks: shaved into the back of a sheep, arranged in rocks in the bottom of the aquarium and even in the opening of the slide at Disney's Old Key West Resort. The kids had a hoot searching for them.

We had such an amazing trip!

My son nearly passed out from all the choices at the Lego Store, guarded by this guy. My daughter, whose world currently revolves around dinosaurs (and stuffed animals and cats) loved this place. If you are going to Disney I highly recommend getting a reservation ahead of time. We had them for all of our main meals and never had to wait for a table.

Our table was in the "ice cave." Several times while we were there a meteor streaked across the ceiling, but luckily the only thing to become extinct was our appetites. Attached to the restaurant is a shop similar where kids can build a dinosaur (just like the Build-A-Bear store.) My daughter built Sparkle, a diplodocus, who was her favorite friend of the trip - until we rode this.

photo courtesy of Disney

My husband thought his little dare devil would like it, but when she got off she said, "Papa, I'm NEVER going on that ride again!" Poor sparkle spent the rest of the trip in the closet...

Sunday, June 12, 2011


So sorry that I've been ignoring this space lately. I've got a very good excuse, I promise. We've been on vacation! It didn't seem wise to inform the world that our house would be empty for a week, so I opted to post about the trip once we returned home. Let me tell you, leaving on vacation the day after school got out made those last two weeks in May a little crazy, but it was so worth it.

Can you guess where we went? Perhaps a few clues will help...

Of course, from that first photo you know we flew. Actually we rode our bikes, took a ferry, drove five hours to Detroit Metro Airport and then got on the plane.

We went some place warm; considerably warmer than the 65 degrees (about 18 C) we left behind on Mackinac.

Our destination had amazing ambiance. And great light fixtures. Through my travels I've noticed that I seem to have a thing for lights. On this trip alone I probably ended up with pictures of ten different lights. Anyone out there recognize these little beauties?

Your final clue is our condo. I suppose it isn't really ours, but it was our home for the week. It was huge; two bedrooms, two full baths (one with a whirlpool tub), a kitchen, a living room, and a lovely little porch that overlooked a pond. It was bigger than pretty much every apartment I've ever lived in. We owe our friends Mark and Karen a HUGE thank you for helping us with that condo. We never could have done it without them.

I know it's not much to go on, but give it a shot. Where do you think we went? Awww c'mon, take a guess!

My apologies to my Facebook friends. Since I already posted a few photos there, you guys already know...