Friday, October 28, 2016

Trunk or Treat 2016

This year for our church's Trunk or Treat, we decorated our trunk as Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory.

I still can't believe we came up with the idea and made all the decorations the night before.  My oldest daughter and I started brainstorming when she got home from school on Tuesday.  I reminded her that Wednesday is the Trunk or Treat so if we wanted to decorate our car, we need to figure it out now.  She rattled off a few ideas and then I added that I didn't want to go to the store to buy anything so let's use what we have.  Our process changed from thinking of a theme for our trunk to what can we use.  She suggested the big blue bean bag and that it looks like the girl who turned into a blueberry from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.  So we ran with the idea from there.  I tried to add a little scene with each of the kids who toured the factory.  

Augustus Gloop, the one who fell into the chocolate river.  You can see his feet sticking out in the picture below:

Mike TeeVee is pictured here:

Violet Beauregarde and Veruca Salt:

Charlie and Grandpa Joe were hanging from the ceiling (sorry didn't get a good picture of that), they were floating because of the Fizzy Lifting Drinks.  My daughter even drew an Oompa Loompa.

Of course we had to have Wonka Bars.

Here are the kids dressed as a little old man (complete with miniature cane), a minion and a butterfly (it's hard to see her wings but they're there). 

The winner was this nose picking trunk.  The kids had to put their hand up the nose (which felt disgusting my daughter said) and pick their candy.  There was smoke coming out for special effect.  My 2 year old wasn't so sure about sticking his hand up the nose even with his sister's help. 

Not only did the kids get to go trick or treating at the different cars, inside were lots of fun carnival games to play.  Here my daughter and her friend are playing a sucking skittles minute to win it game and a block stacking game. 

Ring toss and bean bag toss were also fun. 

They even had face painting.  

Have you ever done a Trunk or Treat?  I'd love to hear what you decorated your trunk as so go ahead and tell me in the comments or link to your blog post.

And if you are looking for some ideas, be sure to check out previous year's Trunk or Treat ideas by clicking on the links below:

and lots more ideas HERE.

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Thursday, October 27, 2016

Fall Fun

I love fall, and fall in Pennsylvania does not disappoint.  It is just beautiful with the change of colors and the cooler weather.  There are lots of fun fall activities to do and it feels great to be outside, not too hot and not too cold.  

This year we went to Indian Echo Caverns for their Fall Festival.  

There were goats to pet, a corn box to play in, geodes to smash, tractors to ride, and a lot more.


While we were there, we also went to the pumpkin patch to pick out pumpkins.

Here are the girls scooping the seeds and gunk out of their pumpkins.

We thought we'd try something new this year and roast the pumpkin seeds.  After scooping out the seeds, I cleaned them and put them in a bowl with some melted butter, cinnamon and sugar.  After researching some recipes on Pinterest I thought baking at 300 for 40 minutes would be good.  Turns out that is too long so our seeds tasted more like burnt popcorn.  They were not flavorful at all and if we attempt this again (which I don't think we will), I'd bake them for half the time and add a lot more cinnamon and sugar.

The girls drew the faces on the pumpkins and I cut them out.  

So now our front porch looks like this.  The boys have yet to paint or carve their pumpkins, and I hope to get to that before Halloween.

We also went to a state park one windy Saturday afternoon.  Playing inside the kids can fight, but playing outside, they were great together.  There is just something about playing outside in nature that helps kids bond with one another. 

A few more pictures of what a beautiful day it was.

While at the park, the kids collected lots of acorns.  The girls decided to paint some of them.  I think the gold acorns and glittery tops turned out the best.

I'm not up on the different hunting seasons.  All I know is when we start to see pheasants in our yard, it must be pheasant season.  The other day, we saw 6 pheasants out back.  I could only get a picture of 5 of them as the leader of the pack was too fast and ran out of view before I could snap this picture. 

What do you enjoy most about fall?  What activities do you do with your kids?

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Monday, October 24, 2016

Pre-Teen Birthday Party

As the kids get older, it can get harder to plan a birthday party.  For young kids I like to have them pick a theme and then I'll come up with decorations, games and food to match it.  And thanks to Pinterest, I don't have to think of all the decorations, games and food myself.  As for the theme, the kids are good at telling me what they like, it's usually a favorite movie or toy.  I love doing this stuff, but with 3 kids celebrating birthdays within 3 weeks, it can get overwhelming.  Luckily I had the perfect solution for my daughter's 12th birthday party and she loved it.

Before I get to that party, I thought I'd share the parties I've done in the past in case you're looking for some ideas.  

Most recently I did a Minion birthday party for my 6 year old daughter.
I've also done the following parties, click on each link to find out the games, food, gifts and activities that went along with each:
American Girl birthday party - one of my most popular posts
Ladybug Picnic party - perfect for the preschool age kids
Surprise party for the kid who hates surprises - a low key party for kids on the autism spectrum

Now onto the easiest party I ever planned.  As the kids get older, you go from inviting everyone in the class, to inviting just their closest friends.  My daughter knew who she wanted to invite, but didn't know what kind of party she wanted.  We've done a variety of things in the past and she didn't want to repeat any of those ideas.  Also she didn't want to do something her friends had already done even though she liked those parties.  Since she only wanted to invite 8 friends, I suggested we do something out of the house, like get manicures, take a pottery or painting class, or go to a movie.  This was a great idea for her since she wouldn't have to worry about her 3 siblings crashing her party at home, and great for me since I wouldn't have to clean my house before and after the party.  

She finally decided on seeing a movie.  The movie STORKS came out the week before so that is what we saw.

After figuring out what it would cost to buy everyone tickets, a drink and some popcorn at the movie theater, then going out for ice cream afterwards, I realized it would be about the same cost if not cheaper to buy the party package from the movie theater.  The party package included movie tickets, a drink and popcorn for up to 10 guests.  Each guest after that was $15 each.  Lucky for me we had exactly 10 people on our guest list (my daughter, 8 friends, and me).  Besides seeing the movie, we got to use their VIP Lounge afterward to have cake and ice cream which was also provided.  I did bring a few other snacks like fruit and cookies so there was plenty of food.  

Behind the eating part of the VIP lounge, was a small theater.  We would have loved to have a private showing of the movie in here, but that wasn't part of the deal.  The girls didn't mind as they had fun playing charades and other games on the stage.

Her birthday was on a Thursday but the movie party was on Friday so we still celebrated her actual birthday with some cupcakes and presents at home.

How do you celebrate birthdays as your kids get older?  I'd love to hear your ideas or link up to your blog post in the comments below.

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Friday, October 14, 2016

Decorating Your Home For Fall on the Cheap

With the change of seasons, many people like to change their home decor.  I'm not talking about just bringing out a few seasonal decorations (which is what I usually do), I'm talking about a whole new look to the living room.  Transitioning from a light and airy summer look, to a warm and cozy fall look doesn't have to cost a fortune.  The change can be done by swapping out a few things such as curtains, pillows, throws, and the accent decorations you have on your tables, bookshelves and mantles.  I'm always looking to save money so I try to buy second hand when I can.  Yard sale and thrift stores are great places to find seasonal decor.  

In my area there are 8 thrift stores within about a 30 minute drive from each other.  For all you local folks, here's a link to an article that tells a little about each one HERE. That's a lot of places to find good deals.  Some stores like Goodwill, get new items (usually overstocks) from Target.  You never know what you'll find and just like regular retail shops, they also stock their shelves seasonally and get in new items all the time.

Recently I got two new blackout curtains.  They are the Threshold brand from Target.  They were marked $9.99 each but I got them even cheaper because of a 50% off sale.  Most stores have some sort of sale going on each day.  You just need to check what color tickets are discounted when you walk in and you can score pretty good deals, as if shopping second hand wasn't cheap enough.

I love autumnal colors and a few rooms in my house are decorated in these warm colors already including my bedroom.  I used to have off white curtains in there which matched the bedding but did little to block out the light.  I love these warmer colored curtains and the light blocking feature is amazing.  Now if only I had the time to sleep in.

One of the thrift stores even has a blog you can check out HERE.  It gives ideas about decorating and such.  This cute little wreath would make a great front door decoration for fall.


Besides shopping thrift stores, I love to yard sale.  I found this wreath for FREE last week and hung it up on my wreath hanger outside.  On the other side of the door is a fake pumpkin my mom was getting rid of.  I've had several people think that pumpkin is real and compliment me on my pumpkin carving skills.  

I'm still working on decorating my front porch.  I need to add some mums to those flower pots and then I'll call it done.

Antiques and vintage decor and a nice warm and cozy feel to any home.  If you want to add some antiques into your fall decor, you can find them at thrift stores but you might want to check out antique stores as well.  There are lots of antique stores in Bucks Co. PA and THIS articles lists them all along with other favorite antique shops all over the US and tips for finding antiques in any state.

New Hope, Bucks County. Photo courtesy of Visit Bucks County

I'd love to hear how you find good deals on seasonal decor, just comment below.  I also love to shop after season sales so I can get a jump start on next year's decorations.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Minion Birthday Party

It's been a while since I've blogged so I'll fill you in on what's been happening over the last month.  We went on vacation in August.  Then all the kids got sick, yes all four of them, each with a different aliment.  Luckily (for me) they were all better in time to start school.  Three weeks of school down and we're into a pretty good routine.  The middle school bus comes early which has cut into "me" time in the mornings, making it hard to find time to blog.  

Now that school has started, my focus has turned to birthdays.  We have three kids born within 3 weeks of each other so I've been busy planning parties.  My youngest daughter, who just started kindergarten, turned 6 last week and she had a Minion Birthday party.  Since we didn't know any of the kids in her class, we decided to invite all 20 of them.  

First up are the invitations.  Her favorite minion is "King Bob" so I put him on the front of the invites and had her color him in.  Inside the invitation is the standard party details.  We decided to hold the party at a local park, because 20 kindergartners at my house just wasn't happening.  I also invited the parents to stay so we could get to know each other and make some new friends just like the kids have been doing in school.

As for food, I tried to stick with a blue and yellow theme.  I bought a Mega bag of M&M's and had my daughter separate out all the blue and yellow ones.  The left overs were autumnal colors which would be great for a fall or Halloween party, but I know they won't last that long at our house.  Oh, and I thought Mega just meant the size of the bag, so I was surprised that the M&M's were mega big.  

We added the M&M's to a big bowl of popcorn along with some pretzels for a fun snack.

You know how minions love their bananas, so we had to have those too.  I used a Sharpie marker to draw on some minion faces.

I also had a some minion fruit snacks, along with some healthy food like: crackers, grapes, cherry tomoatoes and carrots.

We had cupcakes rather than cake, and I wanted to make these cute minion cupcakes that I saw on Pinterest, but that ended up being a big ol' Pinterest Fail.  I've never had luck with the gel icing pens so I thought I'd use an edible marker instead.  The twinkies are very sponge-y and didn't take to the marker.  Oh, well, the kids still loved them and even knew they were supposed to be minions.  If you'd like to try your hand at making those cute minion cupcakes, you can follow THIS link.

Decorations and games also included the blue and yellow theme.  The park had a pavillion with four picnic tables, so I set up one table with Legos to "Build a Minion" and crayons to "Color a Minion".  I had yellow tableclothes on each table and some yellow and blue streamers around the supports.  I was pretty busy getting things ready and completely forgot to take a picture of the whole set up.

I also "minion-ized" the corn hole game using yellow and blue paper and black duct tape.  Since the kids were a bit young to understand corn hole, we just used it as a bean bag toss game.

Because it was at a park, the kids could run and play on the playground equipment which meant that I didn't have to plan many games.  There was a basketball court and I brought sidewalk chalk and scooters for the kids to play with too.

Besides wanting a minion party, my daughter specifically requested a pinata.  Luckily Walmart sells minion pinatas so that's what we got.  The thing was jam packed full of candy and the kids loved collecting it as it fell out of it's butt like it was pooping - yeah the kids thought that part was funny - something I didn't think about when I bought it.

What set this whole minion birthday party theme in motion was a "Minion Camp" my daughter went to over the summer.  They made several minion themed crafts and I used some of them as my party decor.

One party down, two more to go.  As the minions would say "Boo Ya!"

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