Wednesday, July 31, 2013

WholePort Giveaway: Masking Sticker Sets

Disclosure: WholePort is one of my blog sponsors; I receive a complimentary selection of products from them to create with each month. The experiences and opinions related within this post are personal and may differ from another individuals.

Last month I introduced my newest blog sponsor, WholePort an online craft supply resource with a wide range of materials to help you create beautiful projects.  I received some really fun Masking Sticker Sets to play around with and enjoyed them so much, I decided to give away some sets to one of you!  Check out what the you could get, below.

Each one comes with several designs to play with and each set is only $2.79!  Great deal, right?  Here are just some of the quick and easy ways you can use the strips that come with the sets.
The stickers are great for adding just a little bit of embellishment to paper crafting projects.  I love to use it for layering, as I did in this mini book I am working on.
They also can be turned into cute little tags, perfect for highlighting a special feature, like this flip up I added to another mini book.  The masking tape flag draws attention to the fact this part can be lifted up and there's more to see underneath.
Here's another great way I've been using the masking sticker sets, on my Project Life pages!  We recently went to an indoor water park and I had the perfect little card to use with the picture above.  But when I combined the two, there was just something missing...a little masking tape popped on top and now it's perfect!


I love for YOU to win some the same Masking Sticker Sets I've been using!  I'll make it super easy to enter, just leave a comment on this post.  I'll pick a winner in a week, that's August 7th.  Good Luck!

Thank you to Wholeport for providing the giveaway!  Go check out their awesome selection of crafting supplies!


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

A Very Hungry Caterpillar Birthday Party

Yesterday our little guy turned two years old and the 21st his big sister turned seven.  She had her own fairy party so we combined the kids' celebration with family and close friends.  We were inspired the classic children's book The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle for the theme, which began with this adorable invitation.  It's a freebie from Make it Cozee.
This year was going to be really low key with no decorations just food and cake, but E picked out a caterpillar cake and our theme took off from there.  Here's the timeline I was dealing with.  We got home from a quick trip I've yet to post about late on the 22nd, leaving me just the 23rd to the 27th.  Most of the 23rd doesn't even count since we didn't go to order the cake until that night, when I decided to go for broke and theme up the party after all.  Good thing Pinterest made it easy to find doable ideas in a short time period.
I got the idea for the "Happy Birthday" banner from this pin.  I forgot to go back and add the antennae and feet but I think it still looked cute.  Our second row has each of the kid's names on their own caterpillar but since we keep their real names private, I've edited that part out.

My Cricut helped take care of the cutting, but if I hadn't had one this paper plate version also seems like a time saver idea.  I was tempted to go with that one because it would be big and and a real eye catcher, but the banner I made uses only supplies I already had - money saver, won out.
I saw lots of food signs and was inspired by these DIY Food Labels from Learn with Play at Home to make versions for my favorite Ikea Tolsby frames.  I used the fruit from her signs create the frame inserts, but added the text to match the one I used throughout the party.  Then I placed three on our mantle to fill in space and carry out the theme.
For the tables I put a double sided Tolsby frame, with a picture of E on one side and B on the other, taken during the past year.  E spent an entire afternoon making our own watercolored paper to use for decorations.  I used some of the larger sheets of green she painted to make sweet little leaves.  Some have holes punched where the caterpillar ate through, just like the book and so cute!  We also made pom pom caterpillars to place on a leaf.
The adorable M&M holder aka "Caterpillar Food" jar I based on an idea from this pin, using an empty pickle jar. 
The caterpillar balloon idea came from this pin.  I also really liked this one, that's crawling around a door frame.  That's perfect for when you don't have helium.  There were also great ideas for making a caterpillar shape out of large tissue paper pom poms and colored Chinese lanterns.  We had just enough air left in an a tank we got last year so the balloon idea was perfect, again I forgot to add the face but guests got the idea.
For the sign in we put out a board book for everyone to leave a message in and create a keepsake for our little guy.  E decided she didn't want a book but did want an autograph page for her scrapbook so we created a very simple one with flower stickers, thicker letters, and washi tape.  We put both out with a sign and pens.
Last year we moved E's celebration for family to the beginning of July for E and then they all had to come back over at the end of the month for B.  It was nice to combine the two into one and she was okay with it because she got her own fairy party and we went on an overnight trip on her actual birthday.

For this gathering she requested one thing, that there be a photo booth with cool photo prompts.  I found a mini pack of pre-cut props at Archivers and we were good to go!  I made a little sign and popped it into, you guessed it...yet another Tolsby frame.  I told you I love those frames!
Here's the sort of lame photo backdrop I was still making when guests began to arrive.  It should be longer so that the picture is filled with the backdrop.  But seriously, the girls are so sweet you don't notice it's incomplete, right? :)
I hope you did notice E's shirt in the photo booth picture.  I'm really proud of how that turned out!  I made both her shirt and LB's #2 shirt.  They are no sew and were made using a sheet of ink jet iron transfer paper and also have their names printed on the numeral.  It's just been cloned out of the photo so I could share these pictures with you.  
I had fun adding little touches there and there and everywhere.  I attached a little sign onto the side of the silverware and plate caddy I picked up at Target back around Memorial Day.  I've put off getting one for a long time but it's so worth it.  It's so handy to have someplace to stick all that kind of stuff that looks neat and tidy.  The sign uses the same file as the invitation at the top was created with, just re-sized.
Here is how we used the rest of the water colored papers that E made for me.  I dug out all of my little white cardstock scraps leftover from scrapbooking for this and it was a great way to use up stash!  Then I used my two inch circle punch to make a border for our island that was inspired by the dots in the book.  The other papers were used for the leaves placed on the tables, shown earlier.
I had to use some cute food signs, this platter was inspired by the book and uses some food images from the Learn with Play at Home download.  Two more great ideas I really liked are a caterpillar sandwich and all fun caterpillars formed out of cupcakes used in lieu of a cake.  There were many versions of each, I've linked to two examples.

Besides the platter above, our menu consisted of:
  • Hamburgers and Choice of Toppings: Cheeses, Lettuce, Tomato, and Onion
  • Mini Slider Burgers with Hawaiian Mini Rolls - a little sweet and really delish!
  • Chinese Slaw
  • Potato Salad
  • Veggies and Ranch Dip
  • Watermelon - also with a book inspired sign, I also was tempted to make these fruit & tomato skewers.  Mine wouldn't have been nearly as cute though!
The last little touch for guests to enjoy, were these Caterpillar Snack bags with fruit snacks for favors and inspired by Make It Cozee.

I really had a lot of fun throwing together our Very Hungry Caterpillar themed birthday, even though I was under time constraints.  It forced me to use what I had and make do with what I could find, preventing me from obsessing and over thinking.  We didn't have very many little kids there but I did come across some fun ideas to keep little hands busy and occupied.  Here are some of my favorites.

Kid's Party Activities:
Caterpillar Coloring Page
Make Your Own Caterpillar: Paper, Egg Carton, Fingerprint, and Paper Rolls.
Balloon Caterpillar Picture
Playdoh Make Your Own Caterpillar

Have you based a party off a book before?  If so I'd love to know which ones.  If you have a favorite party theme, I'm always looking for ideas for future birthdays, leave me your suggestions!  Thanks for coming by!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Our Fairy House 7th Birthday Party at Jo-Ann Fabric & Craft Stores

{Busy Hands Crafting Away}

Our daughter turned SEVEN on Sunday.  Can't believe it, seriously, where did the time go?  The little guy is going to be TWO next Monday and now that I have two birthday parties to plan each July it's a little much.  When she asked to have a craft party, I was really excited.  Then I started to think about the mess, the clean up, the coordinating, the hassle.  That's when we started looking for a way for her to get her craft on somewhere else, other than our on the small side house.  I thought I'd share our experience with arranging our party.

{Welcome & Sign In}

The Planning Phase:

We looked into hosting it at two major craft store chains, Jo-Ann's and Micheal's.  Jo-Ann's won hands down for convenience and price.  The base price is $125 for up to eight children, with each additional guests being $10 a piece.  This includes the room reservation, set up, the craft, a planner to figure out the craft and lead the kids through it, frosting and sprinkles for any cupcakes you bring in, and clean up.  Totally worth it.

At Micheal's the base price is $50 for the room rental and an employee to help run the party.  Then you have to figure out the craft and purchase all the supplies yourself - there is a discount but it was not disclosed to us how much of a percentage off it would be.  An employee is available for help with planning but it was unclear if they did the set up/take down and exactly what was included.  There wasn't even a brochure with details clearly listed, like at Jo-Ann's.

I like many parents am on a budget, I don't want there to be surprises going into something like this.  It was much easier for me to figure out what I could expect at Jo-Ann's and our party planner Wanda was great to work with.  It could've been so stress free for me.  But being me, it wasn't.  I had to make it more work with decorations and food BUT I can only imagine how tightly strung I'd have been if I also had to clean my house, plan the craft, run the party etc.  It still was a lot lower key for me and E was super happy so it was a win win. 

{The Craft Table}

The one draw back to having the party on location was that the ambiance wasn't too special.  Like the peg board background and store lighting?  Yeah, not so much. We added some helium balloons and a name banner to liven things up but there wasn't much I could do.  I had pink table cloths but I thought the paint splattered checked cloth kind of looked nice and colorful and perfect for a painting party.

{Work Space}

Each guest had her own work space with a wooden bird house, moss, paint brush, and mini glue - aren't those cute?  Shared supplies like water container, silk flowers and leaves, gems, and glittery foam pieces were spread out on the table.

We placed a fairy standee at each space.  These sweet little additions are part of the printable party Fairy Wonderland by Paper & Cake.  So is the name banner, shown above the craft table.  The name had to be edited out of the photos for privacy but it's very pretty.  You may remember that I used this printable party previously, for my daughter's fourth birthday.  When my daughter decided she wanted to make fairy houses at this craft party, I knew it would the perfect way to add to the fairy theme.
{Fairy House}

This is my daughter's completed fairy house, she's so proud of it.  It was really fun to see how each girl's house turned out and the unique touches the girls came up with.  One lined the roof with rhinestones, another used leaves to make a tree on one side...such creativity!

Party Schedule - Time, Approximately 1.5 Hours

Paint houses
Break for Fairy Bites aka Lunch - While Houses Dry
Embellish Houses with Moss on Roofs, Silk Flowers & Leaves, Foam Shapes, etc.
Decorate Cupcakes & Sing Happy Birthday
Open Presents & Pass Out Party Favors

{Fairy Bites Food Tray}

The easy route would've been to order pizza, but I just couldn't do that.  It didn't seem fairy like at all.  We thought dainty tea sandwiches were much more likely fare for our little winged friends.  In order to also make sure our party goers were also enchanted by the choices, we stuck with kid friendly food and tried to pretty it up a bit.  The birthday girl requested salami sandwiches and something pink. 


Salami & Cheese Minis
PB&J Spirals
 Raspberry Cream Cheese Triangles

Cheese Cubes

Mini Fruit Kabobs

Ruffled Potato Chips

Pink Lemonade & Sprite

{Raspberry Cream Cheese Triangles}
{Mini Fruit Kabobs}

{A Sweet Treat}

Also part of our Paper & Cake printable party Fairy Wonderland, are these cupcake picks.  There's a few different designs and I really like how one is customizable.  I was able to add my daughter's name, removed for sharing on the blog, to make them extra special.  We found the flower shaped cupcake holders at Jo-Ann's but there is also a printable cupcake holder included in the printable party.

One more custom fairy touch we put into the party were the favor tags, seen in the Welcome & Sign In photo near the top of this post.  I added each guest's name to her tag and signed them with my daughter's name before printing out.  It was so easy and then cut down on having to buy anything else to make their favor special.  Since it was an craft party, we opted to give each girl a set of paints instead of candy, which they all have too much of, or a bunch of inexpensive plastic favor stuff that usually ends up getting tossed.

All in all, it was a really fun party and once it started it was very low key and stress free for Mom.  It was a great experience and I would recommend Jo-Ann's for a great party that is tailored to your child's interests.  Wanda took our theme request and ran with it.  I could've shown up at the party with nothing but the party girls and cupcakes and had everything else was taken care of. 


Please note that while I review children's products and experiences this is not a sponsored review post and not part of any campaign or promotion with Jo-Ann's.  I have no relationship with that company, other than happy customer.

The printable party used for our celebration is a kit I won from Paper & Cake and also should not be considered a sponsored review of their product.  I am just happy to share what a wonderful addition it was to our themed decor. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Project Life 2013: May 26 - June 1

The summer is just flying by!  July is a busy month for my family, we have four birthdays to celebrate in our family and a couple of my friends were also born in July.  There hasn't been much time for blogging or working on anything other than planning parties for my kids. 
The one thing I have been able to keep up with has been Project Life.  While I might not have all the weeks blog ready, I am current on printing out photos and placing them in my page protectors.  It's mainly the embellishing and journaling I have to catch up on.  It feels really good to be at the half way point and up to date.
Going back to the beginning of June, this is the week that included Memorial Day.  That was such a big day, it got it's own spread, shared last week.  I needed things to be a bit more simple in order to keep up.  It's basically journaling cards and very little embellishing, just some washi and days of the week stickers. 
Sharing this at Jessica's place, The Mom Creative.


Thursday, July 11, 2013

Sports Illustrated Kids: July Issue, Featuring Operation Hawkeye

Disclosure: Our blog is participating in a sponsored blog ambassador program from Sports Illustrated Kids. As a part of this program, we have received paid compensation and a year subscription for placement of digital advertisements and specific postings related to SI Kids.

It's very important to my husband and I that our children are active, which hasn't been hard since both have been on the go since the second they started walking!  Great publications like Sports Illustrated Kids is not only a great way to foster an interested in sports and keep moving, it's also a way to get kids reading.  It's also packed with great action photos, easy-to-read stories about star athletes, helpful instructional tips from the pros, and humor, comics, and activities.  Each issue also comes with a double sided fold out poster and nine sports cards for an extra treat.

July's issue has First Lady Michelle Obama on the cover along with an article about her Let's Move Active Schools push to get kids moving throughout the academic day.  It also features inspiring stories of athletes doing amazing things off the field and highlights 14-year-old Will Thomas, founder of Operation Hawkeye.  Will's organization raises support for U.S. Special Operation Forces and military families. It was begun back during the summer of 2011, when Will was inspired by a tragic military event.

While just 12 years old at the time, Will pledged to shoot 17,000 baskets in his driveway as a personal way to honor our fallen heros.  As word got out about his challenge, his community pledged money for every basket made.  It took this dedicated boy nearly 60 hours to complete his baskets and was the beginning of his ongoing challenge to raise money for military forces and their families; this year's goal is to reach over $300,000.

I was so moved by Will Thomas and his mission.  He is such an inspiration.  It's amazing to realize how much of an impact one kid can have, and how he can make a real difference!  Watch his inspiring story at the Sports Illustrated Kids Facebook page:, and share how your family is using sports to give back and build community this summer.

Need an idea for just how you can get involved?  This summer SI Kids is inviting others across the country to join Will in his next challenge. The E17 Free Throw Challenge is a 60-day basketball event where kids all over the country will attempt 1,700 (individual) or 17,000 (team) basketball free throws in an effort to raise money and awareness for military families.

For more information or to participate, individuals or teams can register and pledge funds at the Operation Hawkeye E17 site, All participants will receive recognition from the U.S. Special Operations Command as well as an Operation Hawkeye bracelet. The individual or team that raises the highest donation will receive further recognition and a special prize.

The Sports Illustrated Kids July issue is on newsstands or through ITunes, Amazon Apps, Google Play or Nook Apps stores. To subscribe to SI Kids, visit


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Project Life 2013: Memorial Day

Memorial Day was a big day for us, since my first grader walked in our little town's big parade.  It seems like every kid in town is in that parade so there's always a big turn out.  We have only been spectators before so it was really special.  Grandparents from both sides came down early in the morning to see her with our Daisy troop.
It was very fun to turn my pictures into an entire Project Life spread, using the cutest Doodlebug Designs Inc. supplies, from their Stars and Stripes collection.
I had the hardest time trying to get a picture of LB watching the parade for the first time; I wasn't very happy with the one of him in the bottom left corner.  Until I realized it gave me the perfect spot for a title.  Now I love it.  The journaling card on this page was made by layering stickers.
I realize this is really not very exciting to look at since I blurred out all the pictures of E in the parade.  They were all group pictures and it was too much work to blur out each face.  But I wanted to give another look at the super cuteness of the journaling cards. 

The stars and the dot paper are sides of one sheet of paper so I was being super frugal and trying to stretch my scrappy supplies.  The journaling sticker with the ribbon originally had a 4th of July on it.  I added the heart sticker right on top to make it usable for Memorial Day.  For the bottom card I cut down a grid card and then topped with the three star tab sticker. 

I have been watching the Scrappy Jedi's Project Life videos at Two Peas and her discussion about balancing things on your layout really resonated with me.  I could've left the top right picture unmounted but added the red to balance the red of the title in the bottom corner of the left side.  It looked much more "done" after I made that little change and I've been trying to incorporate that into more of my layouts.  I highly recommend watching a couple of her videos, I've been enjoying them immensely.

Sharing at The Mom Creative.


Monday, July 8, 2013

Free Apps as Apple Celebrates 5 Years of the App Store

My husband Brad told me that Apple is giving away some of their popular apps and games today.  I've already gone on over and downloaded most of them onto my iPhone5 and wanted to make sure my Apple using friends know about it too.

There's some good stuff there, I am most excited about Over and How to Cook Everything, but I have a feeling Brad is much more interested in the games like Infinity Blade II.  For the kids, there is Where's My Water and Barefoot World Atlas.  These are just a few of the free ones available.  There are 5 games and 5 apps for a total of 10 free.

Here is a link to the post on ars technica, where my husband initially found the information, it has links to each of the free for a limited time apps and games and also a link where you can find them all.


Friday, July 5, 2013

Tutorial: DIY Fabric Wrapped Iron On Photo Canvas

I am an avid photographer and I take many, many photos.  I like to incorporate favorites into our decor so we can be surround by happy memories in our home.  I am a huge fan of canvas prints and awhile ago I saw some that were 5"X7" and thought it was a cool size and option.
On Monday I reviewed an HP® Officejet 7500A Wide Format e-All-in-One Printer from Staples.  When I first got it, I was eager to try and figure out several ways to use it.  I had some printable iron on transfer sheets leftover from another project and decided to try making my own version of a wrapped canvas with them.  I shared these at the end of my review post with a brief description and today I have a more detailed tutorial with pictures to help you make your own.
Start with a blank 5"X7" pre-wrapped artist canvas.  Mine was purchased at Joann's while 40% off for a few dollars.
Print your photos onto the transfer sheets following the direction for your particular brand.  Mine were Jolee's Boutique Easy Image Iron On Transfer Paper for White Fabrics and I have no idea where I purchased them.  These have red lines on one side so you know which side to iron on.
Cut out each image on the transfer paper and follow the instructions for your brand.
I waited until cooled to peel off for a gloss finish.  I like how you can still see some of the texture of the fabric underneath the image, which mimics the look of photo canvases.
Trim your fabric leaving enough border to wrap around the sides of your stretched canvas.  Sorry for the color change in this photo, I had to take this one at night with my flash.  Note that jagged edges on your fabric are fine as you'll be stapling it to the canvas and no one will see them.  Carefully place your image over your canvas.  Fold over edges of fabric and staple into place.
Now you have your own little canvases to show off favorite pictures and add some interest and variety to your home decor.  They can be used as table top displays or hung on the wall without needing a frame.  I purposely left "empty" space in both of my DIY photo canvases so I can add some fun dimensional embellishments right on top of the photo.  I might be as simple as each child's name in chipboard letters or AC Thickers but I haven't decided.  I am kinda liking the minimalist look for now.
I love this picture I took of my kiddo in Traverse City next to this free print from Jones Design Company, which was also printed on the HP® Officejet 7500A Wide Format e-All-in-One Printer from Staples I reviewed.

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