Saturday, October 30, 2010



Its fun but it never seems to end!  I am beat already and its not even actually Halloween yet.

Last night we went to the church for Trunk or Treat and tonight the boys went out in the neighborhood.  But first, this morning they participated in the Grey Ghost kids' 1k Race.  It was a very well done event and I am so glad they are doing this kind of thing!  Now if I can just make sure they don't eat their weight in candy...

And for their costumes, the boys chose...

A mime-
An Ewok (again.  yay!)-
Link, from Zelda-
And last but not least, a garden gnome-
Sugar buzzin.  G'night!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Chair Makeover

This is kind of old news around here but I thought it would be fun to show some of the process of a chair makeover that my awesome sister McKenzie and I did when she came to Tennessee.

I love me a good hand me down and this here chair was just that.  But alas, over time it became a wee bit unsavory as far as pieces of furniture go, having been sat upon for so many years and even once puked upon.  Thank goodness for a sister who ambitiously tackled the redo with me or it may never have gotten done.  (I did not tell her it had been puked on until after she helped pull off the old fabric.  What are sisters for? :)

{The chair after Kenzie figured out how to remove the back.}

{More disassembly.}

{That is sure a lot of staples.}

OK, about the fabric.  I was wanting to use something I already had, so it was this green stuff or some really old Bob the Builder fabric I never used.  Kenz & I agreed it looked good but slightly boring so we had the idea to butcher a burlap rice bag from Costco and use a piece of it for the back.

{I love the contrast the printed burlap is with the green.  And can you see the stitching detail on the left that we left on?  That's my favorite part.}

When Kenz demoed the chair, she was careful to keep the pieces in tact so I could use them as a pattern. The green fabric was super stiff and I was really nervous about having the corners of the seat pucker so I used 1,000,000 push pins.  

Voila.  Business in front.

Party in the back.

I thought about fixing up or painting the wood but I decided that 1. I am all about the natural look and the character that defects afford and 2.  I was too anxious to be done to bother with it.  ;)

Thanks McKenzie!!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Im just sayin'...

If you know me at all, you probably know that I sometimes say things that are borderline inappropriate.  Why should my blog be any different? (I blame it on my Gardner blood ;)

That said, cast your eyes upon this pretty little necklace that seems to me to be a very useful marital communication tool.
And on the reverse side:
Found at The Curiosity Shoppe, which I heard of on DesignMom.  ;)

Friday, October 8, 2010

Plan now to attend Messiah 2010!

I am excited and honored to be this year's chair person of a local production of Handel's Messiah.  I would love for you to attend.  I can't think of a better way to invite the spirit of Christmas.  This year is unique because we are taking great pains to involve as many people as possible and as always, to make the performance of the highest caliber. Minus one dorky, redheaded soprano... ;)

Anyway - come!  You will not be disappointed!

One last thing... if you or anyone you know are interested in taking a painting class from the wildly talented J. Kirk Richards (who did the painting on the flyer), let me know and I will email you contact information.

  Plein Air Landscape Workshop - November 1st, 10 AM - 1 PM
Oil Painting Workshop - November 3rd, 6 PM - 9 PM
Nashville area, bien sur.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Will's Harry Potter Birthday Party

When it comes to parties, I have a sickness.  I have some kind of disease that forces me to hyper-analyze the theme and then produce a myriad of fun but often over-the-top ideas that drive an insane pre-party fervor that is totally unstoppable.  My kids LOVE it.  :)  Jared.... not so much.*

I tried my very best to keep it simple.  Hey, I refrained from having any live animals at the party!  So here is the VERY tempered and tamed version of the party I envisioned in my head.

For Will's 10th birthday, there was no doubt but that we would party around the central character of his heart and imagination, Harry Potter.  I have lost count how many times this boy has read the series.  He really oughta be on a Harry Potter version of Jeopardy.  He seems to  know EVERYTHING about it.

I had lots of inspiration from online sources, particularly Martha Shmartha.

First off: the invitations.

They are kinda tough to read, so here is what they say:

Dear Friend,

We are pleased to inform you that you have been invited to attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry for a special birthday event in honor of William H.  Classes will begin on Friday, September 24th from 6 until 9 PM.   You are to meet at 5555 Cherry Lane in Our Town, TN.  There you will find Platform 9 ¾  which will take you directly to Hogwarts.   Please come dressed in your best Hogwarts style robe, if you choose.  Come and enjoy a feast in the Great Hall, and try your hand at Herbology, Charms, Potions and Defense against the Dark Arts.  Please verify your attendance via Owl ( or by Muggle phone system (555.5555). 

Yours truly,
Albus Dumbledore

I put these in the big manilla envelopes and we hand delivered them.  I honestly thought that 5th graders would be "too old" for all this. but they were all about it!!!  Will and I had a little misunderstanding regarding how many people he could invite so we ended up with 16 kids in all!  WHOA!  It ended up being fine but that was truly a LOT of kids.  

As the invitation indicated, the kids were supposed to go through platform 9 3/4 to enter Hogwarts, so the entrance to our party had to be done.  I copied the idea on Martha Shmartha and came up with this:
The brick is just an old grey sheet with red spray paint and black sharpie.  Pretty easy!

When the kids came in, they were met by Professor McGonagall (me!) and a certain Malfoy/Snape hybrid (Jared!) and they received a folder and their schedules.  (Snapefoy had a very authentic sounding accent and an amazing ability to capture the boys' attention.)
Dumbledore's office/orientation area
Snapefoy and a young wizard friend

The kids were very intent on their schedules and the excitement was obvious.  Here is what they looked like:
The orientation was simply a welcome and "rules" by Snapefoy.  We quickly took the kids into the living room where I sent Snapefoy on an undisclosed errand and told the boys it was time to be sorted into houses.  I brought out the sorting hat.  I had grand plans to make a very cool version of the sorting hat but ran out of time so I simply used a witches hat stuffed with paper with our baby monitor stashed inside.  Jared hid upstairs and did his best sorting hat voice. SO awesome!  The boys were stunned that the hat could actually talk and that it knew their names!  So fun:)

After being sorted, Snapefoy took them outside where we had set up golden Quidditch hoops (hula hoops on wooden stakes stuck into the ground.)  He combined 2 houses per team and taught them our version of Quidditch rules.  I had painted a golf ball gold and I hid it well outside.  While they played I was able to finish preparing the feast along with a very helpful sister-in-law, Carrie.  We had just enough time to do so before someone found the snitch and practice was over.  

For the feast, we prepared some tables in our keeping room.  I had Jared string lights over it and it really gave it a magical feel.  The feast consisted of (KFC) chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, stuffing, rolls and of course BUTTERBEER!  I was surprised at how excited these boys were to have a "feast" of their own.  It was easy to prepare (everything was bought or out of a can or box) yet I think it made them feel special.  The butterbeer was a HUGE hit with the kids.  They loved how it looked and mostly how it tasted!
For the butterbeer, I just combined cream soda, ginger ale, butterscotch and dry ice in a bowl.  

At this point in the party we realized that we were running short on time, so we decided to just do two of our classes.  We split the group into two and Snapefoy taught the potions class and I taught the herbology class.  I told the kids the good behavior and learning in the classes would earn them "Hogwarts Bucks" (monopoly money.)  For potions, we just put a bunch of ingredients into unmarked jars and bowls and basically made up weird names for them on the fly.  The first potion was just water, bubble solution and dry ice, which bubbles up wildly.  The second we called the Veritaserum from the books and it was just pineapple juice, ginger ale and lime sherbet.  The kids tasted it and they all loved it.  

For herbology class, I just picked up a variety of plants (I made sure to get ones that I will use later) and researched which of them are edible and if they are harmful if ingested or not.  I had the kids try and identify the plants and then at the end, I told them they could earn extra Hogwarts bucks of they were correct.  The plants were:  Corn Palm, Cilantro, Rosemary, Basil, Starflower Cactus, Bear Paw, Succulent, Aloe Vera, Irish Moss, Wooly Thyme, Viola, Garden Mums, and Japanese Painted Ferns.  The discussion inevitably turned into what bodily functions one would experience if they ingested the wrong plants.  :)

The kids received their "money" and we came in and enjoyed some cake (which they enjoyed but did not turn out like I hoped).  Before we sang Happy Birthday, I brought out a "Time Turner" that I had found at a store.  We went "back in time" to Will's real birthday.  The kids cracked me up with this!  They pretended I went too far back and turned them into babies.  :)  We got back to the almost present and sang to Will.  (Will LOVES this Time Turner!  He has been wearing it around ever since.)  Then we told them they could decorate their folders and make magic wands.  We wondered if they would be into this or not and they totally were.  They loved personalizing their stuff and made a huge mess! :)  

Will then opened presents and was smiling his cute super-grateful smile and thanking everyone profusely.  I had had Zach and Tyson set up a Zonko's Joke Shop and Honeyduke's Sweet Shop and then rather than handing out favor bags, we allowed them to "shop" for their own stuff.  I had removed some of the books off of our shelves for "merchandise" and brought out a table and just filled jars and bowls with all kinds of fun things.  My kids had fun helping to set this up and Zach marked all the items with Monopoly money to indicate price.  He was dressed up as Dobby the House Elf and was supposed to run the shop but the excitement got a little intense and the kids just ended up filling their bags pellmell.  I actually loved this part.  All the kids were a little hesitant at first and politely just took a few items but when they saw I was happy to have them go nuts with it, they did just that.  I couldn't stop smiling!  I loved seeing all that excitement and happiness.  

That's pretty much it!  Now we just need to get thank you notes out... :)

*Jared totally had a blast and stole the show!  The kids really enjoyed his Snapefoy antics and I loved sitting with Jared on the porch post-party and seeing him just smile. 
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