Princess and Knight Birthday Party- With Katie

My kids are basically the luckiest.

They are so lucky that I have been lifetime friends with coolest party-thrower ever!
Which means they get to be friends with her kids.
And they have the privilege of going to her kids' birthday parties.

And I am basically the luckiest.
Because I get to make treats for these epic parties!!!

Katie always has a vision, a color scheme, and a master plan so I love to sit down and brainstorm what the desserts will look like and how I can make them match that vision.

The princesses at the party got a cookie wand, covered in disco dust, tied with tulle and ribbon.

The knights at the party got a cookie shield.  The princess was turning 2, and the knight was turning 4.

The princesses got a vanilla cupcake with a castle wrapper and flag...

And the knights got a chocolate cupcake with a castle wrapper and flag.
Katie hand cut each cupcake wrapper and used a rectangle hole punch to notch the top border.

I know those stinkin cute cupcake wrappers are blowing your mind right now,  but you're going have to find a way to wrap your mind around a ton more extreme cuteness/cleverness.  Because Katie has given me permission to share more party pictures and ideas here on the blog!

You already know about Katie's talents from her Ladybug Party.  Well this time she chose a "princess and knight" theme for her two cuties with close birthdays.  I thought this was the perfect theme to combine a girlie party with a sword-lighting boy party!

First, I must introduce you to the princess and knight, who were dressed and ready to go!

But every child at the party got to be in on it, so when they arrived, they came over to the wardrobe to get ready.  Katie is so awesome about including all of her friends' kids.  From toddlers, to teenagers who get to be the helpers, she had all of her bases covered.  My son acted like it was Christmas morning when I told him he could keep sword and sheild!

The shining star of the party was this huge castle Katie built for the kids to play in.

She admits that this was "one of those projects that seemed easier in her mind, than it actually was" (don't I know about those) but in the end it was a huge hit for the kids.  She made the four towers out of large boxes and the side walls out of wardrobe boxes from Uhaul.  She used a whole 1.5 gallons of gray paint for this as throughly covered every surface, inside and out! Then she used a yard stick to guide her as she painted on the bricks.

All of these pictures were taken in really bright sunlight, as it was a scorcher that day.  Over 100 degrees!  But don't worry because the water bottles made us smile through the heat.  She made these darling new labels with her cricut.

Then, the set-up.  Brace yourselves.

The princess table stayed true to the pink and silver theme with "jewels" and gorgeous serve ware.  I love the little place card holders she made out of little frames.

The knight table was black, red and silver with a full on knight right in the middle.  (She found the silver plates from the dollar store and the knight from a consignment store).

And there is nothing left undone.  She found these plastic kids' chairs in bright primary colors and spray painted all 20 of them silver!  Then she tied them with embellishments!  (Wands from oriental trading and she made the shields).

I know you're dying.  But please stay alive while I tell about the activities and games she did!

I have no words for these though.

The fact that she turned 2 bouncy horses into this unicorn and medieval horse is just beyond creative.  She said she made it up as she went along with felt, hot glue, a pillowcase, some trim and a styrofoam cone!  I think she might be the girl MacGyver!

This game was like tag/flag football.  They had to chase each other to try to get their dragon tails and unicorn tails!  They were simply placed on with a clothespin.

This is the station where they could build a castle out of paper rolls.  The adults helped with hot glue as they chose where to add and build.

Katie made javelins out of half a pool noodle (spray painted) and made a target out of an antique bird cage stand.  I'll say it again.  MacGyver.

These sling shots and bows and arrows (dollar store) were made to slay the dragon.

There was also: building a castle relays, putting on the slipper relays, a princess make-up station, find the crowned jewels (by popping the balloons) and a guess the princess station and castles for the littles to play with.  Older kids were helpers and younger kids played with the toys instead of going in the relays.  Every child was entertained and happy to go home with their new dress-ups, treats, and castle project.

I am continually amazed at Katie's ideas.  She is inspiring in anything she puts her creativity into.  I think that I get just as excited as my kids when we get an invitation from her address!

Thanks for being willing to share Katie.  Now the whole blogosphere is basically the luckiest!

Mother/Daughter Interview for Gillette

I'm excited that Gillette has asked me to document an interview with my daughter about summer beauty tips!  I even took some pictures of us together!  It's a rare occasion that I get on the other side of the camera which is why my facebook profile picture is 3 years old.  
But it was fun to be silly together and take some "teenager style" pictures.  You know the kind where you squish your faces together and put your phone out in front of you, and maybe pucker your lips...  Well, now we officially have a set of those.   Neither of us are teenagers, but why not?  
Then we got down to the business of the interview...
Her:  So what do you have to tell me about staying beautiful in the summer  {giggle giggle}
Me:  Why are you laughing?
Her:  Because I already know more than you about beauty.
Me:  Oh really?
{Okay, so it may be true.  I'm pretty low maintenance, which is a nice way of saying, "I'm a frump."  I can be found with a messy bun at least 4 days a week.  I wear jeans and t-shirts.   And I do my make-up the same everyday.  BUT...  I know how to do some great hair when I have to, I dress up for dates and for church, and I've got a few beauty theories of my own.  So I told her to listen up to my policies.} 
Me: The first rule that you already know is that you need to wash your hair right after you swim.  This is your 6th summer in swim team and you are a blonde.  The chlorine can kill you hair if you don't wash it out!  But you've never had green hair, so you're obviously listening to me.  
Me:  The second rule is to wear sunglasses.  They protect your eyeballs and skin from sun-damage.  And in my opinion.  The bigger, the better!
Me:  The third thing is that hygiene is a must!  Shower often, wash your face every night, shave more often in the summer (depending on your own needs), change your clothes if you got sweaty...
Her:  I know mom!  I'm already worried about camp.  Will they let me shower every day?
{It's true.  In our family, we are clean freaks. We can't get enough showers or good smelling products.  This has already been established.  Speaking of good smells, we LOVE Satin Care Passionista Fruit Shave Gel.  It's a staple in the shower (hers and mine).  I am truly happy to review these products because I love them and use them.  I absolutely think the Venus Embrace is great.  It is also a great razor for her as a new shaver.  It is so easy to use, I feel confident in her ability to use it.  She's had it for a few months and it really does minimize nicks or cuts!  For more information, visit Venus' page!  They have some great tips.}
Me:  So what is it that you can teach me about beauty?
Her: Well, you should really accessorize more.  Like wear more necklaces.  Also, in the summer, you should wear shimmery eye shadow and gloss.  You should also get some colored jeans.  They are really popular right now.
Me:  Yes, I know I'm behind on a few trends.  I'm so glad I have you to keep me on the ball.  {wink}
The last thing to know about beauty is that it comes from being who you are, not what you wear.  
Her:  I know that too mom.
This interview has been sponsored by Gillette, but the opinions are all mine. I'm so glad it gave me a reason to chat with my daughter about girly stuff, take fun pictures, and remind her to embrace her inner beauty! If you want some more great tips for first-time shavers, go here.

And I love that this gives one of my readers an opportunity to win a $50 Visa Gift Card!  Just leave a comment to the following question which will enter you into the contest. "What's the best beauty tip you have shared with your daughter to prepare her for the summer or share your funniest beauty mishap for the chance to win a $50 gift card
No duplicate comments.
You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:
a) Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post
b) Tweet about this promotion and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post
c) Blog about this promotion and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post
d) For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.
This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected.
The Official Rules are available here.
This sweepstakes runs from 7/26 - 8/23.
Be sure to visit the Venus brand feature page on where you can read other bloggers’ reviews and find more chances to win!
Have you checked out the Life Well Lived section of There are some great tips and expert posts on everything from Looking Your Best to Getting Happy and Getting Organized!

Before I Blogged

Before I blogged the term "Bee in my bonnet" was a term Ashleigh and I used when we had some crazy idea up our sleeves.

Like the time I was 7 months pregnant and decided I wanted to drive from California to Utah for one day for the sole purpose of shopping at Taipan. I knew fundamentally that it was not normal. But my hubby wasn't about to mess with the crazy prego wife. Then, I talked my sister and my friend Katie into joining the insanity. While we were there I had a 'bee in my bonnet" that I could fit a table in the back of my Honda Odyssey. You know those things have got some serious trunk space. I was insisting it would fit while Katie and Ashleigh looked at me shaking their heads and saying pregnancy hormones had addled my space perception.

Those of you close to Taipan cross your heart that you will never take it for granted again.

Anyway..... before I blogged, I decorated my kids' rooms.

And only took one picture!
With my kids in the picture!
Wearing some questionable outfits.

Don't worry, I've already sued myself multiple times about this. In my defense, do you remember film? My budget was to buy and develop one roll a month. That's 24 pictures a month. The olden days were so sad.

Cars and trucks

And yet another one photo wonder. The Princess castle

Then I decorated my kid' bedrooms and the only people that got to see them were my friends that I dragged into my house and my scrapbook layout.

Sweet Strawberry Nursery

Turquoise Teeny Bopper Paradise
038 (2)DSC_0008

Now the pressure is on. This is blog world baby. I have to think of some clever way to decorate or DIY if I want to even think about putting it on the blog.

First I thought it was cool enough to sand and paint something, like my hot pink headboard

hot pink

Like the canvases I painted or the Baby's First Year frame for The Monkey Nursery
Or the planets I painted in the space room.

But now, the blog world has stepped up their game and I have to think about taking pictures along the way for an in depth tutorial if it is to be deemed blog-worthy.

Here we have My Zebra-tastic Room with the IKEA frame tutorial

Then we were in Crafting With the Stars and Ashleigh and I tackled this Skateboarder insanity.



With the Denim and Flannel Quilt tutorial


Oh kids,

Will you ever appreciate the paint fumes, hours at the sewing machine and trips to Michaels I have endured to make all of your dreams of a perfect bedroom come true?

If not, you will be redirected to the blog until you do appreciate it!

K thanks, Mom

Crazy for Cruisers

My husband is a road biker.  He goes on a loooong, fast bike ride about every week.  
Although I haven't been invited to ride with the guys, I'm not offended.  I'll take a leisurely bike ride on my daughter's cruiser, thank-you!

I have an old mountain bike in the garage, but who would want to ride that when I could steal this darling bike from her!  I have to admit I'm crazy for the cruiser trend.  There is something about these bikes that makes me want to ride to the "corner market" and pick up some flowers.  Not to mention they are way more comfortable to ride!

Well look out, because I now have my own cruiser!  (Snazzy, right?)

And when I like something a lot, I sort of obsess about it.  (You know me!)

And make a cookie of it.  
(I made these cookies with the help of my kopykake projector, so don't be impressed).

I took these pictures because I've been practicing my photography in preparation for my upcoming photography class.  I've been spending a little time with my camera manual, but I have a lot to learn.  I can't wait to learn more and hopefully the pictures on this blog will improve!

Photography just might be the next bee in my bonnet/obsession.  
But for now, it's my new cruiser.  :)

Review for Dove VisibleCare Toning Creme Body Wash

This is a sponsored post for BlogHer and Dove, but the opinions are all mine.

When it comes to beauty products and skin care, I can get stuck in a rut.  You know, when you keep buying the same product, not because you love it, or because it works really well, but because you don't want to go through the process of trying out 10 more products until you find one you like!?  It usually takes a recommendation from a friend to try something new.  

Well, I was in one of those ruts when Dove asked me to try their new VisibleCare Toning Creme Body Wash.  Lucky for me, I have found a way better product (thanks to my friends at BlogHer).    I'm usually weary of "moisturizing body washes" because I don't want to be left feeling greasy.  But lets face it, I need it.  I have crazy dry skin and I live in a dry place.  Trying out Dove moisturizing body wash was like a revelation because it left me feeling clean!  Not greasy!  Yet, my arms and legs  look and feel softer.  I didn't know I could get more beautiful skin from a body wash.  

Dove has created a whole new line of premium body washes that contains the highest concentration of NutriumMoisture technology.  It is available in three variants:
    1. New Dove® VisibleCare Toning Crème Body Wash helps to promote skin’s elasticity and strength
    2. Renewing Body Wash nourishes and replenishes skin
    3. Softening Body Wash softens skin and dry spots
I used the first of these, and with such great results, I wonder why I haven't been using it all along and why I've been stuck in such a rut.  Not only did I get great results, but I loved using it.  It smells so good!  Clean and fresh, but not overly strong.  It also lathers really well.  I only needed to use about half of the body wash I used to because it lathers so well.  

I love dove's philosophy of feeling beautiful, by your own standards, not the media's.  Dove is committed to building positive self-esteem and inspiring all women and girls to reach their full potential.  They want us to take action in simple ways like sending a word of encouragement to a girl in your life.  Or to support the education of a girl you know.  There are so many ways that we can mentor the next generation to celebrate real beauty!  Visit Dove's site to learn more about their products!

Dove is offering you $1 off coupon so check out this link!
Introducing Dove® VisibleCare® Crème Body Wash. Built on the brand’s heritage in cleansing and caring for skin, Dove VisibleCare combines the best of Dove technology into a luxurious experience for beauty seekers. With the highest concentration of NutriumMoisture technology across the Dove portfolio, Dove VisibleCare Crème Body Wash actually improves the look of skin over time. Visit Dove® VisibleCare® to get a coupon for $1 off!

AND...Dove is giving you an opportunity to win an amazing prize!

Enter to win one of two $500 Spafinder gift certificates!
You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:
a) Follow this" target="_blank">link, and provide your email address and your response to the Promotion prompt
b) Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: "#SweepstakesEntry"; and then visit this link to provide your email address and the URL to that Tweet.
c) Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and then visit this link to provide your email address and the URL to that post.
This giveaway is open to US Residents age
18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. Winners will have 72 hours to claim the prize, or an alternative winner will be selected.
The Official Rules are available" target="_blank">here.
This sweepstakes runs from 7/18/2012 - 8/22/2012
Be sure to visit the" target="_blank">Dove® VisibleCare™ Crème Body Wash brand page where you can read other bloggers’ reviews and find more chances to win!

Kid Wash

I've written, and deleted two posts today.  I'm off my game.

So I'm just going to pop in and show all of you the best thing I've seen all summer.  My friend Michiko made this kid wash for our Messy Party #3.  She said she got the blueprint off FamilyFun, painted it, and added the felt streamers and micro sprinklers.  Needless to say, the kids had a blast!  She let me share her instagram:

Awesomeness, right?

And in other awesome news... BlogHer has seleceted comment #57 as the winner of the Gillette Venus Embrace Review giveaway!  Congratulations LAMusing!  You have won a $50 Visa Gift Card!  Please refer to the email I sent on how to claim your prize.

Caramel and Chocolate Pretzels

Disneyland made me a pretzel snob.

As you walk off the Winnie the Pooh ride, you walk into an adorable sweet shop where the Disney experts dip the cutest caramel apples and other sorts of treats.  I was happy with my caramel apple and would have never chosen a chocolate pretzel as my treat, but Kathryn offered me a bite of hers... and the rest is history.

I can no longer appreciate a simple chocolate dipped pretzel...they MUST have caramel!

Yes, they look the same as a regular old chocolate dipped pretzel, but when you bite into them, you have a salted caramel surprise that makes you feel like you just won the lottery or something.

Okay, maybe not that.  But really, we're talking about a whole new level of pretzel.

Now I start dreaming of these things as soon as we plan a Disneyland trip.  They are almost $4.00 a pop but I just plan on wasting a cool 20 on those things for my family.  It's worth it.

I have, however figured out a way to make them.  The only bad news for these is that there are dishes waiting for me afterwards, instead of Winnie the Pooh characters, like after I leave the sweet shop.

You win some you lose some.

To get started you need caramel.  I used regular old caramel squares.  The Kraft caramel bits that come in little tiny balls of caramel are so much better because you don't have to unwrap them.  But sometimes they are hard to find.

I used approximately 2 cups of these and threw in 2 tsp. of water.  I microwaved it for 1 minute, then stirred, then microwaved it for 30 seconds more.  Your times may vary a little but this worked for me.

A 2 cup pyrex measuring cup is perfect to use.  It doesn't even have to be totally full.  If you tip it on it's side and roll the pretzel, you can get about 30ish pretzel rods out of it.  I bought plenty of extra pretzel rods because about 1/4 of the bag was always broken.

After I dip, I actually scrape a lot of it off on the edge.  You don't want it too thick.
Or maybe you do.  Who am I to say?

The more you have, the more pooling you will have after you set it down.  But no matter how little you have on there, there will be a little pooling and a flat side to your pretzel.  This is easily solved by a little trick I know.  You can see the ones I worked my magic on.

Before you dip it in chocolate, you roll the pretzel back and forth between your hands.  It's like rolling a cake pop, kind of.

Now that your flat side is gone, your can dip it in your chocolate or candy melts.  I add about 2 tsp of paramount crystals to my candy melts to make it a little thinner.  Again, you just need to tip with one hand, and roll the pretzel till it's covered in chocolate.  You can leave a little caramel showing, but I like to surprise people, so I keep it a secret.

You can, at this point, set your pretzel down on parchment paper.  But that leaves a flat side to your treat.  This is fine if you're setting them on a platter.

But sometimes I want them to come out round on all sides and I lie awake at night worrying about my pretzel flatness.  In my sleeplessness, I came up with a lame, but workable solution.  Don't laugh.

I created a way for them to dry upright, by punching holes in some flower foam and lining that hole with tin foil (to protect the food from the green stuff).  I'm sure there's a better and smarter way.  But that's what I came up with when I was tired.

Who needs Disneyland anyway.  (I do)  They turned out fab.  I could even put candy on the outside or make them look like tigger tails if I really want to be like the Winnie the Pooh shop.

These were for the 4th though, so I used some festive sprinkles.

A cylinder vase was a great way to display 9 or so of these.

This treat is perfect for any holiday.  Just match your chocolate colors and sprinkles to the closest holiday.  And when you make them yourself, you don't have to handover a 20 to get what you need!

Just one bite and you might become a pretzel snob too.
(Consider yourself warned).
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