My oldest girl turned seven this month. For the past year, she's been saying she wants a pool party and I kept telling her it might not be able to happen in October! But we just so happened to join the YMCA in September and they offer great rates on indoor pool parties. Even though it seemed a bit out of season, we had a blast celebrating with an Under the Sea Mermaid theme. There are so many cute ideas out there and I couldn't help but do more themed food than I usually do. Of course, first things first, I had to come up with a new invitation design. It was a good excuse to play around with my new iPad Pro and Pencil. I've been using the Astropad App to draw directly into Illustrator and it has been life-changing! The invitation is in my Etsy shop here!
I know party favors can get out of hand, but I do like to do something. The trouble is I always end up inviting tons of kids and it can get expensive! I knew I was on to something when I saw this great tutorial for homemade Sea Glass Candy. I put my own twist on the packaging and wha-la, party favors for about $10 total! I had to make 2 batches to fill 18 bags. For the couple of really young kids that came, I filled their bags with fish-shaped fruit snacks. You can download and print the tail template for FREE.
Then there was the food. I have to admit, after being away from the US for several years and not having access to Hobby Lobby, I was so amazed at all of the creative stuff you can buy now and had to control myself from buying EVERYTHING. But I couldn't pass up food spray paint. Apparently the kids had never seen it before either and were unsure about the gold oreos that I was inspired to make from this post. One of my friends was so quick in her wits to explain to the kids that ALL the food they were eating had some sort of artificial coloring and that they didn't need to worry.
The adorable crab sandwiches were inspired by All That Glitters and the jello oceans cups I put my own spin on after seeing a bunch of different versions. The seaweed celery sticks were my last minute attempt to provide something healthy for the adults!
There are a lot of really amazing mermaid cakes out there! Most of them are far beyond my cake decorating talents! I was inspired by this simple, yet cute cake done by RoseBakes.com. I avoid fondant at all costs, so I made the mermaid using the "Frozen Buttercream Transfer" Method. I have done it for one other cake in the past. Its a great option if you feel confident with piping, but not with fondant.
I hope that you found some helpful tips and party ideas!
Growing up, my mom always got us an Advent calendar. You know, those cardboard ones with the perforated boxes hiding a chocolate? I loved them and she even sent me (ok, the kids) some last year, all the way across the world. Except of course, no chocolates because they would have melted for sure. One year we spent way too much on a Lego advent calendar. And while I'm pretty sure we could reuse it, none of us are willing to dig back through the sea of pieces to find the Christmas ones.
I've always had noble intentions of making my own Advent calendar with scripture verses and candy. There are so many amazing ideas on Pinterest, for cute little DIY boxes and envelopes and displays. But I knew it had to be really simple or it would again be just a fleeting idea. When I stumbled across this great one using socks and clothespins, I knew I had a winner. Right then and there I ordered a bunch of kid socks off online.
The most important part of the Advent calendar is what goes inside. Of course, the kids wanted candy, so I picked up some of that at the store. But I also wanted a good mix of Bible verses to share the Christmas story with the kids throughout the month. I looked around for a good set of verses that mixed both the Old Testament and New Testament. I loved the collection that I found at Sweeterthansweets. She uses little object lessons each day, which I thought was brilliant, but I wasn't sure if I'd be able to find everything in time. So I meshed up the ideas with my own graphic magic and came up with these Advent printables.
You can print these and use them in whatever type of DIY Advent Calendar that you plan to make. Download them for free, print them back to back, and then cut along the dotted lines. Wallah! If you are not crafty at all, just print them and place them on the dinner table each night for everyone to read and enjoy!
Happy Mother's Day to everyone!!
When my friends at Crestview Bible Church asked me to design something special for their Mother's Day give away, I had just had one of those days. The kind where I was not sure if I was really cut out to handle this mothering thing, especially 4 times over. This was the verse on my mind, because Luke lovingly reminded me that the frustrating situation was just normal parenting life... what our parents dealt with... what our grandparents dealt with... and so on to the beginning of time. So while fiery trials might not be typical content for most Mother's Day cards, it is certainly applicable for the job description. And likewise are the wonderful promises that He is using it all to refine us into something amazing!
Download the free 5x7 printable and share with all the special people in your life today!
March 22 was World Water Day, so maybe this is a bit late in coming. But here in India, water conservation is an every day reality, especially in the last two months of summer before the monsoon rains hit in June.
Our city in particular is at 21% of the water capacity that it should be. And we still have at least six weeks before we will see rain. But its the rural communities that get hit the hardest. Some small villages have ZERO water, and rely on water tanker trucks to bring in water from other parts of the country. Since we live in a fairly affluent apartment complex, the water makes it to our home. And my biggest inconvenience has been last week's city-wide mandate to drain all the swimming pools. But it helped me to realize even more that every drop really does count. I'm trying to do my part by thoroughly examining every piece of laundry that goes into the hamper, stopping the cloth diapers for a while, helping the kids take speed showers and making sure we don't dirty unnecessary dishes.
The irony is that Luke landed in Houston on Sunday night to witness what 16 inches of rain in 24 hours looks like. Of course, I made the joke that Luke ought to bring some of it back with him. But water is a resource that really can't be just redistributed. So what can the West do?
Funny you should ask, because I just finished reading "The Blue Sweater" by Jacqueline Novogratz. She records her journey of redefining philanthropy, striving to see more sustainable change through a combination of non-profit and profit-producing ventures. It is really sad to hear about how many good intentioned philanthropic projects can actually be harmful to those in need. Novogratz taught me that it is not as simple as bringing a new technology (a well, for instance) and training a few people. Often a shift of thinking in the entire community needs to take place, which can be a hard-fought battle, especially if attempted by an outsider. My biggest take-away is to research, research, research any organization that is promising big things with your dollar. Find out how their projects sustain over time and be especially inquisitive when solutions sound too simple.
The great news is that there are good organizations out there! You can find out more about Novogratz's organization and some of the great things already happening here.
In the meantime, as you are showering, cleaning, or running through the sprinkler this summer, don't forget those millions of people who suffer from a real, life-threatening lack of water. We live in a messed-up world, where creation itself is groaning for redemption. The change starts in our own thoughts and attitudes toward the things we have.
Feel free to download a free 8x10 printable of my "Water is Life" graphic to hang up for a visual reminder!
I know, I know, its February and everyone probably already has a wall calendar. But perhaps you are like me and get to things a little later than you should. Today Luke asked me for a oversize calendar with all the months on one page. I knew I could design it, but the first thing I did was a google search. I didn't see any that were as big as I wanted (36x48), so I went ahead and whipped this one up. I thought I'd share. It would be great for a classroom or any office project, competition or bidding pool.
Luke and I are married and have four little munchkins that travel the world with us. I blog about living overseas, travel, kids, education and graphic design.
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