Battlebots and Moana Last Minute Birthdays

If there is an award for best-way-too-early or way-too-late parent, I could win it. If I don’t get something done when it’s fresh and new and way ahead of time, it simply doesn’t get done. Lucky for me, when the boys birthday’s were coming up and I had a lot on my plate, my Mom had us do a small get-together to celebrate the boys birthdays several weeks ahead of time because she would be out of town the following weeks. We decided to do it just a day or two before, so lucky for me, one trip to Michaels and I had some perfectly good supplies to make it a great birthday for those boys.Battlebots Moana birthday party (28)
(check out those fine wrapping skills of mine right up front and the Christmas wrapping paper. I know I’m not the only one who uses whatever’s around, right?)

We are usually pretty old-school as far as birthdays go. The boys get to say what kind of cake they want, there’s usually some balloons (I failed on that part this year), and a couple of presents. We break out out the classic paper streamers and I try to throw together some decorations from around the house. Weeks ago when I asked Sawyer what kind of cake he wanted, he immediately said “Battlebots.” If you don’t remember his Halloween experience, here’s the post where I shared just a bit about his obsession with combative robotics. Nothing has changed since then, he acts like a Battlebot on a daily basis and ask me questions about each Battlebot from the show and their strengths and weaknesses and battle strategies. If you ever want to talk for an hour about why a Battlebot team chose a certain weapon or size or even name for their Battlebot, I know just the kid for you to sped an afternoon with.

Since Battlebot cakes aren’t exactly lined up in the bakery windows (although they should be. It’s pretty awesome), I had to get creative. He’d asked for a cake of his favorite Battlebot, Bombshell, but I know my limits. I have zero cake decorating experience, and I’m smart enough to know what I definitely can’t do, and building a cake that looked like a battlebot with a vertical blade or axe on the front was definitely on the not possible list. Instead of making Bombshell, I decided to make his cake a giant nut, which is the trophy for winner of the Battlebot competition. Pretty circular, so easy to use standard baking pans, some straight edges cut, I figured I could do it. Lucky for me, they sell silver food coloring spray, and problem solved, I’d have it done. It really wasn’t too hard too make the main shape and my Aunt let me borrow some of her more professional frosting tools which made it easier, plus the silver food coloring spray hid lots of my imperfections. The cake was looking so good.  At the last minute, I decided to add some words out of sprinkles using a template I cut, and it looked awesome until we rode in the car and it shook the sprinkles out of place. I wish I’d gotten a picture before we left, but it’s no matter because Sawyer couldn’t have cared less if the words were messed up. He was so excited, and that’s all that mattered.Battlebots Moana birthday party (3)

Tell me that’s not one happy kid? He was SO proud of that cake. And can we just take a minute to appreciate my handi-work? Check out those details, my OCDness came out a little bit on the sides of that hexnut. I even measured and used a compass to make sure each side was the equal and that the points were in the right place, and used a pie server to make the screw threads inside the nut. Not that anyone cared or noticed but I had to do it right or it would have bugged me. haha. Here’s an upclose shot- It’s by no means perfect, but it’s good for me, and was everything Sawyer had hoped for.
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Apparently it didn’t taste half bad either. Now, Rhett, had no idea what he wanted. He probably would have been okay with a plain cake, or even sharing Sawyer’s, but I didn’t want him to see Sawyer getting all excited and not get something special for himself, I mean, it is his birthday, so while I was at Michaels I grabbed a couple miniature figurines (they’re made for fairy gardens), some teal and orange food dye and sprinkles, and I was ready to create the best last minute cake ever, but I’m completely bragging on this one- it came out awesome! Rhett loves the movie Moana and ask to watch it every single day, so I went with a Moana-inspired cake for his.Battlebots Moana birthday party (32)Battlebots Moana birthday party (18)Battlebots Moana birthday party (22)

Moana’s boat was one of the fairy garden figurines, I just added the little red Moana logo like her canoe has. You’d be surprised how hard that little symbol is to draw, I had to practice a couple times before I got it right. All of the flowers on the cake are sugar flowers they had in packages at Michaels, and so is the “Happy Birthday” words, which I think totally made the cake. Thank goodness for ready-made, easy to add supplies.

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The coconut Kakamora was my favorite part to make. I just bought a coconut at the grocery store and googled Kakamora and took whatever features I liked (and looked easy to replicate) from some of the Kakamora from the movie and painted them on. The great part is there are so many of them in the movie and they all look different so there was no way to really mess it up.

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Like I said, I am by no means an expert cake decorator. Most of my food taste awesome but looks terrible haha, so for this to come out so well  was amazing. Making something look like water was pretty forgiving though, I purposefully didn’t mix the food coloring all the way into the frosting so it would have some color variation, and was able to make it all swirly and not-flat and blame it on looking like water haha. The “mountain” and beach didn’t look very great until I covered them in orange sprinkles and added the shell and tree and flowers and magically it looked amazing. The Happy Birthday words were the real focusing point and made the cake look so much more professional and the little boat was a fun addition that made it obvious that I was going for the Moana theme. Most importantly though, Rhett was so excited when he saw it. His favorite part was the Kakamora and after the party we broke it open so they could try coconut milk.

Now we’ve got a 5 year old and 3 year old (and the 1 year old of course) and I am constantly on the edge of anxiety just thinking about Sawyer starting Kindergarten in the fall. I can’t believe I have a “kid” now, not just toddlers or babies. Time really does go by so fast. Rhett had a baby-face for so long and he’s starting to lose that toddler chubby tummy and it just makes me want to grab him and squish him and never let him grow up, although sometimes I feel like I got jipped on the baby and little toddler stages with him because he grew SO fast. Sawyer is 98th percentile for height and Rhett is 100th, and Rhett is only a couple inches shorter than Sawyer. For the most part they wear all the same clothes and Ford is so big that he’s only one clothing size behind them. Both sides of our families have a lot of men over 6’2”, and even a lot of women over 5’10” on my side, so it looks like at 5’8” I’ll probably be the shrimp of the family. I look forward to being the short Mom with her boys towering over her someday, but not quite yet. For now I’ll enjoy them being small enough to still cuddle up on my lap and watch Battlebots or Moana with me.

(Last Minute) Lumberjack 1st Birthday Party

Poor Ford. He is totally getting the “third kid” treatment. I knew his birthday was coming, knew I should probably do something for it, but it wasn’t until two days before when I realized that if I didn’t use Amazon Prime to order things that day, that I would have to actually take my three rambunctious boys into a store, that I actually put something together. I’m not sure how actually “themed” this party can be called, but I was inspired by all the amazingly cute Lumberjack parties on Pinterest. Feel free to note the lack of decorations/games/silly printables and notice the most important thing- everyone’s happy. You can’t beat a birthday party that Mom didn’t break her back trying to plan and the kid is totally happy. He’s a baby anyways, all he cares about is that cupcake. Happy Birthday Ford!DSC_7000DSC_7074

He’s gotten so big! I can’t believe it and I see him every single day. Onto the food!

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Thank goodness for Publix and their delicious always ready desserts. Once again, (if you’re interested), I got the bow-tie, the little trees, and the buffalo plaid pants all off of Amazon Prime just two days before.

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I try not to brag on my kids much, but this kids adorable. Look at those eyes.

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Can you tell he liked it? We had some Publix cake for everyone else, and presents for the little birthday boy.

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Happy Birthday Ford!

All-American Party Ideas

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #BlockPartyHero #CollectiveBias

Can we officially say it’s summer yet? I don’t remember when the bonafide “first day of summer” is but once we start celebrating all the patriotic holidays and the temperature is above 95, I think it’s safe to say hello summer! One of my favorite things about summer is all of the outdoor parties and celebrations we get to go to. I thought it would be fun to share ideas for an All-American block party. We live on an awesome street who has tons of families and the block parties are always fun (one family owns an inflatable slides/moon bounce business so that really amps it up!). patriotic party

Red, white, and blue is a great color scheme for summer block parties. With Memorial Day and 4th of July kicking off the summer there are plenty of patriotic cups, plates, décor, etc at the stores. Even candy is made in those colors for the summer. Not only is it easy to find, most people already own a lot of things those colors so it makes it a breeze to find supplies you need without a run to the store. A lot of my décor were things that I already had around the house for decorating with. I used lots of patriotic flag pennants, red, white, and blue plates, and used some of the fun things for people to play with as décor too. Adding a few bottles of bubbles and some fun sunglasses to the food table added more color and interest to the food table as well as little signs, wheat bundles, and of course, flowers!Patriotic party (17)Patriotic party (7)Patriotic party (19)Patriotic party (50)

On the tables, I just used simple tablecloths and added a few cute red, white, and blue accents. Fresh flowers are a must-have for parties, which I surrounded with ceramic vases (also just a dollar!), lanterns, and lights. Simple yet cute! A great party hack is to use your tea light candle holders to put citronella candles in to ward off bugs!
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See those stacking chairs? They were green and faded and dirty from fifteen years of use. My Mom was going to throw them away but they were in great shape structurally still so I took them, gave them a fresh coat of spray paint and now they’re like new!Patriotic party (22)

The sunglasses were one of the biggest hits of the party; I bought them for a buck each and by the end of the evening everybody was wearing them and getting in the party mood and taking pictures. Patriotic party (41)Patriotic party (40)

It’s most likely that you’re block party is going to be outside and you want to make sure that there’s shade somewhere for people to relax and cool off. You can plan to have your party in a shady area, round up some pop-up canopys, or have it on someone on the streets shaded porch.

Now let’s talk food! Block party’s are fun because it’s a laid-back, fun atmosphere. One great thing to take to block parties, or any kid of party, is a light side dish. I made this super easy Quinoa and Pepper Pilaf using truRoots Quinoa and Swanson’s Chicken Broth. Here’s my step by step and you can find the exact recipe here.
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For this recipe you’ll need Swanson’s Chicken Broth, which is available in bulk packs at Sam’s Club, and truRoots Organic Quinoa, which I got at Sam’s Club too. You’ll also need fresh bell peppers, shallots, parsley, olive oil, and a little bit of garlic. DSC_7878

First, chop up your vegetables and heat up a skillet with a tablespoon of olive oil. DSC_7873

Add the shallot and garlic, and cook for two minutes, then add the peppers and quinoa and cook for two minutes. TruRoots Quinoa is certified USDA organic, gluten free, and super easy to make so it’s great for a big party like this!
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Next, stir in the chicken broth and bring it to a boil. The Swanson’s broth really brings out the flavors and makes the truRoots extra delicious. Reduce the heat to low, cover it, and let it simmer for 20 minutes. DSC_7886
Once it’s done, garnish it with parsley and you’re done! This pilaf can be served hot or cold; I served it cold since it was so hot outside! Delicious!DSC_7971

My Sister-In-Law (who recently became a US citizen, so she was loving this patriotic party) made the cutest fruit kabobs that looked like an American flag. She alternated using blueberries, strawberries, and large marshmallows and it came out both delicious and cute! I was so impressed and everyone loved it!Patriotic party (4)Patriotic party (6)

We also had delicious chips and salsa using Pace’s organic salsa, which is delicious by the way! It’s the same as their original salsa, just organic, and it comes it medium, so it’s got just the right amount of kick!-DSC_0142

Hot dogs wrapped in cute scrapbook paper make for a really cute entrée-Patriotic party (29)DSC_7962

Corn on the cob-Patriotic party (12)

And for dessert, patriotic cupcakes, candy to snack on, and ice cream sandwiches dipped in red, white, and blue sprinkles!Patriotic party (51)Patriotic party (15)Patriotic party (60)

No All-American block party is complete without lots of lawn games. Adults love playing out door games just as much as kids do. I made up a game area with outdoor games for people to play with and set out a corn-hole board in the yard for a little fun competition. Having a place for all the fun outdoor toys makes it easy for people to find fun things to do and keeps the party going all evening! DSC_0174

I stocked the activity area with jump ropes, chalk, butterfly nets, binoculars, flags, bubbles, sparklers, pinwheels, games, wooden airplanes, and bags for corn hole.DSC_0123 copyPatriotic party (62)Patriotic party (46)

Corn hole is a great outdoor game for adults. Croquet, lawn darts, and frisbees are fun outdoor games for block parties too. I like games that you can just pick up and play at any minute. I put footballs, big balls, and soccer balls out too.Patriotic party (65)Patriotic party (64)

As it got darker, we broke out the glow sticks and sparklers. Who doesn’t love sparklers?Patriotic party (69)
Block parties are a super fun way to get to know your neighbors or spend time with friends and family and have a little summer fun. Sam’s Club is holding Summer Block party events in-club to help you get ideas and shop for your summer block party. Check with your local Sam’s Club to see when yours is, but until then you can gather ideas on their block party website! I got all my food supplies at my local Sam’s Club!IMG_20160615_153142

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Easter Table Set-Up and DIY Mini Easter Baskets

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser but all awesome-ness, ideas, and opinions are all my own. #SweeterEaster #CollectiveBias

I’ve been getting everything all ready for Easter around here. Every year, we go to church, have a big dinner with lots of food and an Easter Egg hunt that all the adults join in on too. It is one of my favorite holiday celebrations we do all year. I’ve wanted to share with you my table décor and a fun d.i.y. I made for mini Easter baskets that I used as placecards on the table.

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I’ve been loving everything moss for Easter this year and how cute are those miss-matched cloth napkins? Easter_Table_Decor (36)Easter_Table_Decor (42)Easter_Table_Decor (41)

Did you see the little baskets I used as place card holders? I made them myself, and they were super easy!

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Here’s how I put them together-

Supplies:
Brown floral vine
Brown floral tape
Fake flowers
Parchment Muffin/Cupcake Lotus cups
Loose Moss
Candy

That’s it! Well, a pair of scissors too. The first step is simple- take out the vine and wrap it around the top of a lotus cup in a circle. While pinching your finger there, go about six inches down and cut it off. Wrap the vine around itself to form a circle.Diy mini basket

Next, cut a seven inch piece of the vine, and bend one end about an inch and a half down around the circle you made and twist it around (see the picture below). Do the same on the other side to form a handle.

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Next, take a few fake flowers, place them to the right side, and wrap the ends with the floral tape. Keep adding flowers and moving down the vine as you wrap. I added four or five to each basket, but you don’t have to add flowers or greenery if you don’t want to. Next, take a lotus cup and fold down the top edges until it’s all flat, more like a muffin cup. It’s okay if they stick out some, the moss you’re putting in will hold them down. DIY_Mini_Easter_Baskets (11)

Finally, slide the lotus cup into the little basket handle you made and add in some loose moss and top with little candies! Easter_Table_Decor (46)Easter_Table_Decor (50)

I typed our names into a word document, changed them to “Bakery” font in size 48 and shaped them to cute shapes with scissors. You don’t have to add placecards if you don’t want to. They would make a cute party favor or just a cute little treat at each plate, even without the names! For my baskets, I found all the candies I needed at Walmart. I got M&M’s® Easter Sundae (have you tried these? So good.), M&M’s® Milk Chocolate, a DOVE® Milk Chocolate Easter Bunny, a DOVE® Solid Milk Chocolate Bunny, Skittles®, Starburst® Jellybeans, and a M&M’s® Easter Tri Pack. I used the chocolate bunnies to decorate the table. I’ve seen so many pretty vintage photos with big chocolate bunnies on the table and the DOVE® ones Walmart had were perfect. The M&M’s® and Jellybeans were perfect for going in my mini Easter Baskets, and I have enough left to use in our Easter Baskets on Sunday too. Easter_Table_Decor (4)Easter_Table_Decor (5)

I love these little M&M® Tri-Packs. They are super cute colors and are made to fit perfect in Easter eggs. No more smashing bags into the eggs!
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I love the way the bunnies look on the table, I feel like they have such a time-less, classic feel. Easter_Table_Decor (31)Easter_Table_Decor (34)Easter_Table_Decor (35)Easter_Table_Decor (6)Easter_Table_Decor (18)Easter_Table_Decor (2)

I love these little bunny napkin holders. Easter_Table_Decor (15)Easter_Table_Decor (45)

I can’t wait to have people over and love sharing it with you all! I hope you get your fill of candy this Easter, and if you haven’t tried those M&M’s® Easter Sundae, you need to head to Walmart to grab some because they are only going to be out for a limited time and are only sold at Walmart! They’ve got all the candy I showed in one easy Easter aisle and more great options for Easter baskets! They’ve got a Mixed Brand Chocolate bag with SNICKERS®, M&M’s®, TWIX®, MILKY WAY®, and 3 Musketeers®, they’ve got Hubba Bubba®, Bubble Tape®, and Skittles® $1 Tubes! Those all remind me of awesome Easter’s past, and I love that they will be part of our Easter memories!  InStore

I hope these gave you some great ideas for Easter, but if you need more Easter basket inspiration or recipes to fill your table, head here! Happy Easter everyone!Easter_Table_Decor (49)

Fun Basketball Tournament Party Set-Up

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #HoopMadness #CollectiveBias

My brother-in-law has moved in with us and my living room has turned into a man cave during sports games. With all the big college basketball tournament starting up, I joined in on the fun and planned the ultimate basketball tournament watch party and made some amazing food including my Coca-Cola Meatballs that I share my recipe for down further and I show you how to turn your table into a basketball court. We had a lot of fun and I hope you’ll get some great ideas!
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For my set-up, I wanted it to have a classic basketball theme so I started by turning our table into a dining room court. I simply cleaned it well and then took 3/4” white electrical tape and made all the lines for a basketball court. I used an illustration from Google images for reference and if I messed up, it was easy to pull a little off and start over!basketball party table Basketball Party (1)

Electrical tape is stretchy so it wasn’t very hard to make all the curves, but I did use a plastic plate to help me get an even circle in the middle. I love that it looks like a worn out basketball court.

To go with the basketball court we made a basketball hoop to go on the wall out of old pallets. Brandon got an old pallet, took it apart, cut five of the boards down (our pallets boards were 1X4’s), and then simply nailed them into two of the extra 1X4’s that were left over. I painted a white rectangle on it for the sweet spot and then looped a basketball net onto an old embroidery hoop I had, off set it a little so that the screw mechanism on the hoop would be offset and then nailed it into the backboard. It was so easy and I love the look it added.Basketball Party (29)

For food I wanted to make a whole spread of things that were easy to grab and take back to the TV that way the guys wouldn’t miss a single minute of the game. For the main dish, I made these amazing Coca-Cola Meatballs. They were so easy to make and were the first thing gone, everyone loved them! Here’s how to make them for your party:

Coca Cola Meatballs

Ingredients:
2 lbs. of Beef Meatballs (I used frozen to make party day easier prep, or you can make your own)
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1 can of Coca-Cola
1/2 cup of barbecue sauce
2 tbsps. of Grape Jam

First, put the meatballs into a pan. Pour in the brown sugar, Coca-Cola, barbecue sauce, and jam and stir. It will be hard to stir at first but try to get the meatballs a little wet on each side. Turn the burner on high until the mixture starts to boil (you can see that I am pouring it into a crock-pot here, I started making them in the crock-pot but then decided to make them on the stove. I’ll give the directions for the crock-pot too).Basketball Party (24)Basketball Party (25)

Once boiling, stir well, reduce heat to low and cover. Let it simmer for about 15 minutes and then remove from heat. Let the meatballs sit for about 10 minutes to allow the sauce to cool off and thicken on the balls. If you find that your sauce still isn’t thickening up, you can add flour and stir it in, a tablespoon at a time.
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Serve with toothpicks so it’s easy to eat! For our party, I found these great toothpicks that looked like little cheerleader pom-poms. You can also make it in the cock-pot, just dump everything in, stir and let it cook for four hours on high, then turn it off and let it sit for an hour.

I wanted to make sure we had plenty of Coca-Cola products for the meatballs and for the guest to drink so I ran out to Sam’s Club the week before our party and picked up the 28 pack of Coca-Cola and a 24 pack of Sprites. I love being able to get everything I need in one place and get the soda in bulk so I can get it all at once.
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We also had fruit kabobs with grapes, cheese balls to look like little basketballs, sliders, pizza bites, sweet potato fries, and oranges that I drew lines on to look like little basketballs!Basketball Party (36)Basketball Party (34)Basketball Party (38)Basketball Party (31)Basketball Party (30)

I also had cupcakes in my party colors for dessert! I stayed with blues and oranges since basketballs are orange and blue goes great with everything!

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To help tie everything together I added a cute basketball garland that I made. I started with a simple string of felt circles that seem to be all over the place lately. Next, I took a sharpie and drew a straight line down the middle, and a line perpendicular to that one, using a straight-edge to make my lines pretty. Basketball Party (4)

Next I made two small half-circles to finish the basketball. Luckily for me, I had the perfect sized template near-by (Ford’s paci) but you could use a cup or cut a template out of cardboard to help you make smooth lines.

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I always love to have some kind of flowers or greenery on the table at parties. I slipped a wrist-band over a mason jar full of carnations for an easy, cute sports feel.

I also made some cute pom-poms to be décor and for people to cheer on their teams with. They were really easy to make from a roll of crepe paper you can find in the party section.

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I loved the way they looked on the table and broke out some of my best cheer skills for the game too.Basketball Party (52)

We wanted to make brackets this year so we could follow along with the basketball tournament. I printed off extra brackets and had them on the table so that everyone could fill them out and join in on the fun. Basketball Party (33)Basketball Party (54)

I always enjoy a little friendly competition so I’ll definitely be checking in on how mine compares to everyone else’s through the season. I thought I’d share my brackets so yall could use them too! You can download the pdf and print them here.

The guys enjoyed some basketball and I had even set-up a mini basketball hoop so they could play during the commercial breaks. It was a lot of fun and made watching the game even more fun.Basketball Party (55)DSC_4028Basketball Party (57)

Will you be having a basketball party this year or are you making a bracket? This is the first year I’ve made one so I’ll be following along all season!