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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Ice Cube Castles

Ice cube castles.  A science lesson, architectural lesson, a chance to use your imagination and a great way to stay cool in the summer.

While preparing Grace's summer busy bags, I scoured pinterest for fun crafts and activities we could do to beat summer boredom.  When I came across Fun-A-Day's instructions to make an ice castle, I immediately added it to our summer to do list.

The first thing we did was take a walk through our yard collecting flower petals and smaller wildflowers.

Then, we filled ice cube trays and decorate each cube with a flower, glitter, sequence and beads. {We also made blue ice cubes adding blue food coloring to the water}.

 Grace's decorated ice cubes is much like she lives her life, full of color, sparkles and flowers. 

The hardest part...the waiting for the water to freeze.  

Then, using a paint brush and some water, construction began.

The water helps bind the cubes together.  Although, this part is mildly deceiving.  I expected the water to act like mortar is to bricks.  That was not the case.  The water kind of keeps the ice cubes together in a wobbly sort of a way.   


Though we weren't able to build our castle as high or securely as we had hoped, we still had fun.

That mischievous kitty got her nose stuck to the ice...and, to be honest, Grace's fingers stuck to the ice a bit too.


When we were finished creating, imagining and making our ice cube castle, we enjoyed watching it melt.

 You can see the full tutorial at Fun-A-Day here.

Garden Party Budget

If it isn't already obvious, I love parties.

All year long, I scour blogs and pinterest for party ideas that inspire me.  My pinterest board, Let's Celebrate! has almost 600 pins {and if you go peek at it, you can probably guess what my latest party pinning trend is}.

About 2 months before Grace's birthday, Grace and I look through my Let's Celebrate board.  She picks out things she likes and then I start brainstorming.

When you pick your theme early, you have more time to search for deals.  For example, Grace's 5th birthday was a bunny themed party.  By deciding on a theme early, I was able to hit post-Easter sales and score some unbelievable deals to use for her party.

As soon as I know the theme, my eyes are peeled for deals.  Though I do look for party supplies at post-holiday sales from stores like Target, I prefer the thrill of the hunt and searching for the unexpected at Goodwill...

or at flea markets.

For Grace's Garden themed party, I found over 30 yards of vintage fabric from a local flea market for $12. The vintage fabrics were used as table clothes, backdrops for pictures, decorations on the snack table and for the gardening aprons each guest got to take home.  That's what I call stretching a dollar!

And, when I am lucky enough, I will even find things on the side of the road that prove useful...and even better are free!

This planter stand, abandoned at the side of the road, I quickly rescued and transformed into a farmer's market stand.  For how much...FREE!

The same was true for a large window we found roadside.  For the past 2 years, it's served as a backdrop for a our snack table.

Though it involved more labor and repurposing, we also used an abandoned pallet and turned it into a garden stand, including a no dirt garden.

I invested $20 in tissue paper and countless hours making tissue paper flower.  The $20 tissue paper supply allowed me to make 14 party hats, about 20 large tissue paper flower and 15 small tissue paper flowers.

I also like to shop my own house and my own supplies to fill in for decorations.  My vintage hankie collection was pulled out and used as a table runner.

By shopping early, using things I already had on hand, making my own decorations and party favors and hosting the party at my own house, I was able to throw a one of a kind party on a budget.

I started with a budget was $150.   I justified that as my maximum budget since most facilities that host a party charge about that {and often that limits the number of kids you can have and does not include party favors}.

Want to see how I did?  This is where I reveal exactly how far I can stretch a dollar.

The tent, tables and chairs where borrowed from my in-laws. Admittedly, a huge savings.  Our cost...nothing besides for the manual labor of setting up and taking down.

Every party needs food, right?  I spent about $30 on food including a watermelon cake, dirt cups, popcorn and goldfish {including paper plates, napkins and cups}.  We served water and juice boxes for drinks.

As detailed above, $20 was spent on tissue paper.

Party hats cost $5.49 {.49 cents for a set of hats from Goodwill and a second set had to be purchased full price for $5...lesson here, when you see party supplies at Goodwill for a fraction of the cost, buy them!}.

Again, as detailed above, vintage fabrics $12 {for table clothes, aprons and decorations}.

Fake flowers and mason jars to fill the flower shoppe $20.

Party games, $10.

Party favors $5 {not including vintage aprons as itemized already above}.  From the dollar store, 5 seeds packets for $1.  I needed $3 worth of seeds.  Flower pots, from the dollar store, sold in sets of 12, 2 sets needed.  Flower ring pops, pilfered from an Easter egg hunt and reused for the party!

Card stock and yarn to make bees $2.50 {yarn was bought at Goodwill for .49 cents}

A necessary indulgence, fresh flowers, which I was able to appreciate not only at the party but nearly a week following the party as well.  $30.

And, for fun, let's throw in my thrifted dress, found at Goodwill, for $7.50.

For the grand total of $142.49, I frugally threw Grace a garden themed 6th birthday.

You can see more details from Grace's garden themed birthday party here.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Garden Party - The Big Reveal

I've kept you in suspense long enough, doling out details here and there.  Your patience, sweet readers, is about to pay off, today I'll share the all the details for Grace's garden party.

To be honest, though, our garden party theme was stretched to suit whatever I came up with that had anything flower or garden related.

I like to set the tone for my parties as soon as you walk up to our house.  This year, our front porch steps read:  6 and sweet as can bee. 

6, well, because this sweet little girl of mine in what seems like a blink of an eye has turned 6.

And, this little lady, is truly sweet as can bee.  *This is where you have to agree to go along with the liberties I took in stretching our garden theme to now include bees.

Decorations included pom pom bees {inspired by bloesem kids}.  I mean, these bees were so cute, I could have done an entire bee themed party.

Since we all known bees need to pollinate and to bring us back to the garden party theme, decorations also included flowers, both real...

and in tissue paper form.

The Goodwill desk we bought, last year, for Grace's bunny themed birthday party, was used again to hold snacks for the party.  And, our salvaged {aka found on the side of the road} window, was used as a backdrop.

Flowers and greenery nestled among the goldfish.

Popcorn in individual cups, set upon a rustic wood block, next to a beautiful 'Do you suppose she's a wildflower' print.

I was also able to reuse the moss covered letters from Grace's bunny themed party.  With the addition of some flowers and bees, it transitioned well from bunny party to garden party.

The backyard was set to accommodate 14 little girls.

The chairs were decorated with more tissue paper flowers {and if you are starting to wonder how many tissue paper flowers I made...I made too many!}.  

The tables were covered in vintage fabrics found at a local flea market and fresh flowers.

 There were also stations set up outside for games and imaginative play.

Pin the flower in Grace's hair proved to be a party favorite...

Along with the flower themed punch box.

Homemade vintage aprons were tucked inside each flower.

So, each guest went home with a garden party favor bag filled with an apron, a packet of seeds, a flower pot and a flower ring pop.

In addition to games, the girls were also encouraged to use their imaginations and run a flower shoppe or a farmer's market.

There was also a garden station...

including a no dirt garden

Our party guests were encouraged to wear tissue paper flower hats.

Once corralled, we plied the 14 girls with dirt.  Choruses of 'ews' and 'yucks' were heard until their first bites and then, it was blissfully quiet. 

Worried about sending these little girls on a sugar high, instead of cake, we served a watermelon cake.  

Watermelon, cut into a cake shape and iced. 

In the end, 14 little girls came to a garden party.

And, 1 little girl turned 6 in the sweetest way possible.

To see more garden party details {budget, pictures, tips and tricks} click here.
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