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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Olaf Meets the Minions Party

 We are going back to the beach with all of my (grown) daughter's friends (and some of  their husbands).  I always pick a theme to work the party around.  Even though all of these party goers are grown-ups, they get into the fun.  I couldn't decide between a Minions theme or an Olaf theme, so I went with both.
  I love Olaf's saying, "There's always someone worth melting for."  How appropriate for a beach party.  And our daughter, to us, is "one in a minion."  I made all five characters from fun foam after enlarging the patterns.  I took a little leeway with the hula girl.

 I bought both stuffed characters on Amazon.
 I have TWO large tables, so I needed two
 centerpieces.  I bought two of the beach chairs from ebay.  I think they look cute together, don't you?  Here are my refillable plastic envelopes I use every year and change
to match the theme.  See the chair.  What's left to do at the party.  Show everyone how to use FONDANT to make Olaf and minion cupcakes.  That's the ex-Girl Scout leader coming into play.    I hope you all are having a great summer.  


Monday, June 1, 2015

Nautical Birthday

I put on a birthday party for hubby this weekend on my deck.  Since I am also doing a nautical themed wedding in the fall, a nautical twist to the office Margarita Party, and a cruise theme for the Christmas office party, I am collecting boats, flags, graphics, and made a dock.

In the top left box of the collage is the antique window with twelve panes I got on Etsy.  It is going away tomorrow to be professionally painted for the wedding.  My hubby helped me make the stand for it.  On Sunday, after the party, we trimmed the stand down when we realized how much room it took up on the table.  We cut the lower front pieces off and it still stands great.  If you see the yacht in the middle, I made that from bits and pieces of other clipart boats to get just what I want.  I am going to give you the jpg to enlarge if you want to use it.

           Hubby and I love watching the tv show "Shark Tank."  I thought it would be funny to give him a shark tank of his own for his birthday.  He loved it. 
         In the top right corner of the collage are my kids posing in front of the four new 18 foot trees I got him for his birthday.  Our neighbor's house is pretty close, now we have privacy.
          Costco had beautiful white rose and cactus arrangements which my oldest girl turned into fabulous arrangements in my white milk pitchers I've been collecting.

 Here are the crab cookies.  My second attempt at piping edges and filling in the middle with frosting.  The are at the end of the dock I built with my son's blocks.

We strung two strands of clear bulbs across the deck and it gave us just the right amount of light.

 (Sur la Table sells 4" tart shell pans.  Each one makes four pie shells.)

I went on Pinterest and learned you can make pie crusts from cake mixes.  It really works.
1.  Use one box of any flavor  SIFTED cake mix.  (I used chocolate).
2.  Add 1 whole egg and 3 egg yolks.
3.  1 Tblsp slightly softened butter.

4.  Knead then wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 15 minutes.

5.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.

6.  Fill with 8 oz cream cheese softened, mixed with 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 2 Tblsp heavy cream, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, 1 egg.  Blend above with mixer.
7.  Top with canned fruit toppings, or crush candies or cookies in to filling.  I crushed Oreo cookies and folded them in.

I needed extra seating, so I placed one of my lounge chairs ( which have double pads) against the sliding doors with lots of pillows.  I used two card tables.  I added my wooden chairs that go with my outside table around the outside.  It worked great.  I brought my dining room chairs outside and this gave me extra seating around my patio table.  I have a round patio table from the backyard that seated six with my kitchen chairs.  Twenty-five people sitting down to dinner outside--no problem.  I am from a large Italian family, so I have even more chairs downstairs for holidays.

It was a fun party. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Cruising Themed Bridal Shower

I threw a bridal shower for my niece Valerie this weekend on April 11.  She races boats
all over the U.S. for a hobby, but is an accountant for her living.  Since her wedding has
a nautical theme, I decided use a CRUISE theme for her shower.  We held it at my husband's office, since it has a large lobby and a kitchen, and a big conference room, and a coffee bar.  You get the idea.  She wanted a sit down luncheon and this let us have
plenty of tables at which to sit.  I used two of the 36" x 65" panels for the ship.

We had an arts and crafts activity, as this was something you would do on a cruise.  I saved brown paper grocery bags for months, so that there was one for each guest.  The idea was for each table's team to roll up the open end, decide as a group how to decorate them, then the whole winning table would win a prize.  My interior designer daughter and talented other daughter and niece, with a few other guests decided to break the rules and design a whole outfit for Valerie.  I thought it was inspiring, and she loved it.

Here she is with a few of her friends.  In the right hand picture, these two girls are wearing the hats from my table's group.  I thought they were quite stylish.

Please note in the first of these two photos, my sister Patty who decided to decorate her hat with things on the table, and not with their table's supplies.  She used paper napkins and my sister Terry's shawl, then continued drinking the white wine based SANGRIA.
I quite like the hats Terry and I created.

 The above photo shows one of the tables busy at work, along with the centerpiece and two of the banners of cities one would see on a cruise, Paris and Germany's Rhine district.
I especially loved this one.

 In this background you can see a Mexican beach town on the left, with London on the right.  You can also see one of the ship's Casino boards sitting on the table.

 Since Valerie loves her dog, I thought it would be fun to include dogs that represented each of the five countries on the posters in a couple of the games.  I own a big wheel that spins.  Each dogs leash matched a color on the betting board.  Each guest chose a dog (and color).  When their color came up on the spin, they moved a penny to the next box.
Everyone with the winning dog's color got a prize.  Since there were FOUR red boxes, but only two of each of the other colors, if it landed on red, Valerie had to answer a question the guests called out to her.  If anyone got bored during all of the present openings, they could earn a prize throwing loops into the dog bowl or around jars full of dog biscuits.
They did.

Since most cruises have some kind of skeet shooting, we adapted ours to shooting squirrels into a nest.  This is my daughter practicing at home.  She is a lot closer in order to get the photo.  I also read to the guests all about how squirrel habits can be compared to choosing the right groom.  It's funny what good habits these little rodents have.

You can see from the photos that we had lots of flowers.  I had an Eiffel tower and a flower bicycle on the buffet table.  My daughter made this arrangement for me.

You can see how big the office's lobby is in this picture.  These are the tables from the
office kitchen.  Some of our staff moved them forward for me.  Some of the husbands who came along (two hour trip for some) helped move them back.  Don't worry.  They spent the afternoon at my house watching the Master's and having "guy" time.


Above is the buffet table. I ordered from Chipolte catering.  I bought bamboo bowls online and we made burrito salad bowls.  They include the stands and sternos, along with serving spoons and all the fixings.

Second appearance of Sunshine Pole which labeled the drinks.  I made a Dreamsicle punch from cream soda, vanilla ice cream, orange sherbert, sprite, and a splash of orange soda.
I made white wine sangria and had a mimosa set-up with champagne.

The labels have a cruise ship with the words "Thank you for coming along on Valerie's Shower Cruise.  We've prepared something sweet for you from the galley."

We tied up each box I made with raffia.

Sunday, April 12, 2015


I am not an overly creative person, as people keep telling me.  I just a little fish swimming in the
                    SEA OF PINTEREST.

Yes, I have ideas.  Yes, they are inspired by things I see and hear.  But, in order to implement them, I need help. I want to acknowledge the help I got on putting on two
bridal showers this weekend, and many office parties over the years.  I could NOT have made any of this happen without my friends and family.  So here goes a partial list of the
other fish in my world.
1.  Karen  R.  She helps hang banners, bake with me, shop, move tables, listen to ideas,
     and just be there all of the time.
2.  Patty G.   She does everything Karen does, but even loads rubber band guns for four 
                    hours.  We are talking YEARS of helping for these two people.
3.  My twin Annie.  She spent all week at my house baking bar cookies for favors, helping
     me with my old dogs, running errands, organizing, cutting out printed objects, and
     many other things.  Kisses for this Michigan hero.
4.  My sister Patty.  She has been cutting out magazine ideas (before Pinterest) for years
     and being a cheer leader with a check ready for years.
5.  My girl scout troups.  They were always ready to pitch in before they grew up and
     had husbands and babies.  Now they cheer me by saying lovely things on Facebook.
6.  My husband.  He spent FIVE HOURS in Office Depot for the Chili Contest when the
     printer didn't work waiting for the posters.  He prints, totes, moves office furniture,
     gets carry-out when I am too busy to cook, moves supplies and decorations from home
     to work and back, puts up with piles of supplies all over the house pre-party, along
     with many more little things.
7.  My daugher Maryanne.  She SHOPS for the supplies.  She's an expert at this now.
    She knows every color of fun foam that exists.  She helps load the car, make flower
    arrangements, and hold down the fort when I am at my busiest.  Then she takes 
    pictures of everything for my blog.
8.  Jane W. and Helene W.  sat on the floor way late into the night at Maryanne's grad
     party blowing up balloons and making balloon poles.  Their daughters weren't 
9.  For all the friends who came to my door last year to pick up "teeny weenies" to bake
     in their ovens and bring to the Margarita Party.
10.  My sister-in-law Lois.  She comes to every party and just runs the kitchen and event
      so that I can relax and have fun with my guests.  This shower, she even enlisted her
     sister Susan to help cook the entire dinner for my niece's shower after the afternoon
     one.  Susan taught me how to tie a perfect package bow, something I had never 
     conquered.  They ran the kitchen at the afternoon shower also.  Kisses and hugs.
11. My daughter Annie.  She helps me with graphics, baking, making new friends, and
     just overall admiring me and cheering me up when I am exhausted.
12. The teachers at Floris Elementary School.  Thank you for letting me come in to do
      programs at school with your kids.  No idea is too big.  Your encouragement keeps
     me running.
 13.  My niece Sarah and her new husband Fernando.  They have both worked my parties
       when no one else was available.  Sarah's feet needed massages after many events.
       It was trial by fire for Fernando, but he is such a good sport. Sarah, thanks for the
       cupcake and cake books for all of their ideas.
14.  Everyone of my friends and relatives who think I'm creative and say so.  Ha ha.
      You didn't know I was fooling you.  That I'm just the little fish inside all of the other
      fish swimming in the sea.  It is so wonderful being surrounded by love and
15.  Last, but not least, my sister's Terry and Mary Lou.  Even though you are 
      long distance, you've never once said those dreaded words, "Oh, Jani.  WHAT do 
      you want us to do now?"

                         THANK YOU, EVERYONE.   

Friday, March 20, 2015

Wild West Chili Contest 2015

We had over 200 people/clients at this year's annual office CHILI CONTEST.  Since the theme this year was "The Wild West,"  I wanted you to see the backdrop banners I made for the occasion.  The are each 30" x 65."   If you look at the third one from the left, you will see why I put toy buzzards in the manzanita tree centerpieces.

Look all the way down the windows to the right.  It took me two panels for my SALOON.
Want a closer look, see below.

I put the band behind a cardboard fence in front of the saloon.  I had to cut and piece tons of pieces of clipart to make my five saloon girls, then hand outline and color them.  The band was FABULOUS, by the way.  They played tunes that fit the theme to a tee.

 Here is the cow tipping at the party.  The guests loved doing this and won $25 coupons if they tipped over four cows with five puffs.

We also offered "pony" rides in the lobby and outside.  Here is yours truly in her cow apron.

Here is Aunt Polly in fun foam standing by her "dairy farm and bakery."  See the cow cookies in the basket?

See the Kahlua Brownies...look fast...they went twice as fast.  See the chicken cake pops.  Oh, you want a better look at those.  See below.

My pie safe with cherry cheesecake mini pies.  And cow napkins.  The pies on the left are apple.

Here are the awards.  I bought a toy cooking set on and glued the pieces onto wooden blocks sprayed with silver paint.

See the top right photo?  That is Aunt Polly's dairy barn done in two panels.

These photos give you a good overview of the party.  It was fun. If you want the cow patterns go HERE

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Chili Cookoff 2015

I haven't gone missing.  I have been busy with two old dogs, a funeral, a chili contest, and a wedding shower.  The last two events are still in the planning stages. things I am doing for the party.  I wanted an EASY target game for my Wild West theme for this year.  So I bought two airbazooca guns from  I spent last weekend shooting lightweight things, and finally decided to use plastic drink cups.  You get five blasts to knock off five cups from a table.  It's fun.

I went through a faze of thinking that I am too old to dress up for these parties.  Then I decided, "Naw."  So the above is my newest apron for the Chili Cook-Off.

 Since we are renting an ice cream machine, I need pies to go with the ice cream.  Logical, you are thinking.  But...I needed a pie cupboard to put them in.  One that was portable, not too small, and made me smile every time I lugged it to the office.  Look what I found on  It is 30" tall.  Now I have to find a Pinterest recipe for tartlets, and get me some there tartlet pans.

Not everyone drinks alcohol with their chili.  We provide water and punch for the others.
The huge drink dispenser at work is GLASS and a bear to wash.  I saw this galvanized one online and tracked it down after a couple of hours--on  It holds a ton of liquid, but better yet, when the liquid gets below the spigot, I can provide a ladel to get the punch down at the bottom.  YIPPEE!!!

Landscaped with two of the voting sheets.  The guests were given six voting dots each.  They put one in a box on six chilies they liked.  I have included to two halves of the dairy barn in case you ever need one.


Below are the pattern pieces for the cardboard tipping cows.  Glue the front to a piece of cardboard "pizza box" thickness.  Cut out.  Glue the reverse cow to the other side.  Repeat process for legs.  Cut 1 1/2" into cow's lower line to slide the legs into.  Repeat for cow legs.