Thursday, December 13, 2012

We got an Elf on the Shelf

Alrighty, at first I must admit I did no want one of these "creepy little elves" in my house. I didn't get the point in them.. I assumed it was to keep an eye on your kids so that they knew Santa was watching (which is actually true). So I bought a different elf at Safeway and called it our Elf on the Shelf and named her Tinsel. It wasn't until I came across them on pintrest that I decided I had to have one. The things people do with these dolls are hilarious. We bought ours over a month ago with survey points I earn so it cost me nothing but time. The reason he is in different spots is because every night he flies back to the North Pole to tell Santa what he saw that day. You don't have to even do silly things with the elf. All he has to do is move spots. Someone just got creative and decided to.

Now there are a lot of people out there who do not do them. I've even seen a blogger bad mouth the parents who do. I feel like that is taking it a little far. If you don't want to do them, that's fine but don't be rude to people who want to. Not doing an elf doesn't make you a bad parent- teaching your child to put others down for wanting to does.

Today, November 24th, We got our elf on the shelf. We decided he shows up right after we decorate the tree. His name is Peppermint, or just Pepper for short. I liked Lenny or Chester- but they were nixed.

We got a visitor this year. Our Elf on the Shelf.
Day two:
Taking a nap


 Day Three:
Turns the Milk green

We decided he was going to start off doing harmless things and then as the days progress he was going to get more entertaining.

 Day four:
Riding in a sleigh with Mickey and Minnie

Day five:
Cotton ball bath

The lighting in my bathroom is terrible, but here is Peppermint taking a cotton ball bath. You can use marshmallows and your sink. But I only have one bathroom so I can't be too extreme

Day six:
Convinces other toys to play board game

Day seven:
Makes a flour angel on counter
 I didn't go crazy on the flour because I was going to have to clean it up.  Plus I didn't want to waste the flour. An alternative to that is putting the flour in a 9x13 pan

Day Eight:
Roast Marshmallows on a candle

To roast the marshmallow, I stuck it underneath a lighter for a few minutes

Day Nine:
 Hides in a Jewelry box.
Now I would have loved to have done what the original blogger did, but that is extremely hard to do in the dark while your kids are sleeping. This was the closets I could get. Also I just found out through this blogger that they have added wire into their elf's body. See instructions here

Day Ten:
Packs the kids their lunches with random items in the cupboards/house
Peppermint really thought about what the girls might need to eat when they got to school: Sugar, condensed milk, lime juice, an onion, and soup still in a can. To get him to sit I taped his butt down... after he fell off the candle a few times I was determined to keep him where is is.

Day Twelve:
Replaces all photos in the house with ones of himself

Thankfully when I moved we did not unpack all of our photos or I would have been there all night!!

Day Thirteen:
Elf is playing Santa

I took a cotton ball and small double sided sticky tape to his face to get it to stay. A few days beforehand I hid the dogs under their bed (where they usually are, but closer to where I needed them). We got the sleigh from a Lowes Build and Grow workshop that was promoting Dreamworks "Rise of the Guardian"

Day Eleven:
 Builds Snowman out of marshmallows

 I Used Wilton food color pens and spaghetti sticks to make the snow men.  This was by far the most annoying one ever. 1) Because the Marshmallow snowmen kept falling over and 2) I still have yet to doctor the elf to make him bend and stay.

Day Thirteen:
Elf Graffiti- He uses window markers to color all over the bathroom mirrors

 Alright this one kinda happened quicker than I was planning. With my allergies kicking in yesterday I was so tired I went to "rest my eyes" while I waited for Hannah the night owl to fall asleep. Next thing I know I'm waking up an hour and a half into my nap disoriented wondering what the elf was supposed to do (a down side of owning an elf is this moment).
Our graffiti didn't show up as nicely as the other moms who used dry erase markers...

Day Fourteen (open because I'm not home).
 I decided there was no way I was going to try to bring him to grandma's house and get caught.

Day Fifteen:
 Stays up all night watching T.V with Barbie

This was a little hard because I had to se it  up right before I left for the weekend. I managed to do it without the girls seeing.

Day Sixteen:
Zip-line Elf

This was super fun to do.  First I had to wait until the girls fell asleep last night (of course since they fell asleep in the car they were crazy napped kids who had more energy!). I would have tied it to my tree, but it is one of those fake ones (don't judge me) and it is on a motor. So when the lights turn on the tree spins slowly in a circle. Super awesome. Only problem would have been if I had put the zip line it would have pulled the string into it. So I had to put it on the binds instead.

Day Seventeen
Piggy Bank thief

 I made the bag out of tissues, stuffed it with cotton balls and tied it with some yarn. I taped the quarter into his hand. We used a scarf to make it look like that is how he climbed up to the piggy bank. Then at the last minute I decided Aurora needed to be the getaway driver.

Day Eighteen:
He replaced all the stockings with the girls underwear.

Day Nineteen:
Photo Booth with Aurora and Barbies

he backdrop is a flat present I had wrapped.
To make the props you have to go to the original bloggers page and print them out. Getting all the dolls to pose was a very frustrating task. But we got it!

After taking these photos I had to switch the dolls positions because he was eying Rapunzel and the girls would make a comment about him liking Aurora.

Day Twenty:
Builds Fort out of popcorn box

Wraps girls door in crepe paper

Uses Husbands razor
Elf has a sick day. I thought it was only funny because both girls over the weekend were sick.

T.P's the Christmas tree

He reads a nice Christmas story (My favorite!) to some stuffed animals

Stuck inside the M&M's

Potty Humor

 Hiding in the candy bowl

Lego Men capture elf
I accidentally deleted the main photo of this one off my camera. This is the best I've got- right after this my daughter mentioned her cousin touched the elf and we went into "Emergency Elf Kit" gear.

I can't believe I missed the picture of this. He was sitting on our advent calender and there was a note saying : Santa's coming tonight!

OTHER IDEAS: These are ones I was going to use but eventually were nixed for whatever reason:

1) Elf colors in coloring book or makes a self portrait
2)Does "YMCA" with Barbies
3) Sets up dominos
4) Makes a Good Morning cup of Hot Cocoa
5) Makes mini pancakes for the kids
6)Spells out a message in cereal or candy
7)Builds a real snow man out of shaved ice in your freezer
8) Super Elf
9) Weight lifting elf

Other Pages to visit for more ideas:

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Scooby Doo Birthday!

Scooby-doo! Where are you? What a fun theme.  To be honest it's nice not to plan a princess party, again. We started by making the evites (I always try to save a tree) it read:

Jeepers! The Creeper has been spotted in the courtyard outside of ____ Manor. We need your to help unmask the villain and solve the mystery of the missing birthday cake so we can celebrate Hannah's birthday.

The case will take place _____.

**Character Dress (even just the colors) is suggested and appreciated, but not required**

Now I had been thinking about it for a while and decided that I was going to have the kids search around for the cake. Once all the sleuths were here we headed up to our apartment where they will notice shoe prints that I've cut out and taped to the ground.

This was annoying because I didn't want to actually download the pattern, so I had to copy the shoes and clean it up a little in paint then print off a set. After I cut the first one out I made extras just by copying them by hand. There was also left over icing on the door handle. 
Way before the party, I printed off the pieces of paper and taped them to the wall. Then drew pictures of us onto them. They said things like : reason for possibly committing the crime and their alibi. It also mentions shoe size. 


Before we start the search for the cake, we will play some games to get them ready.

 Who's Who:
 All of the kids hands were traced and numbered on a black board wall and they had to identify whose were whose. While I was busy tracing them the other kids were playing a game of Clue or Guess Who?

Sketch artist

 Give a description of the villain or suspect (Or in our case the missing cake!) The kids have to sketch a face to match the decrpition you give. To make it even trickier they had to draw the picture on a plate on their heads.

“Hannah’s cake is two tiers. The first tier is green with pink flowers. The bottom tier is white with colorful stripes. Around the cake are Mystery Inc. figures. Scooby doo is on top along with ‘Happy 7th Birthday Hannah’”

"What would you do for a Scooby Snack?"  

We chose several "Minute to win it games" and let the kids compete against each other. The games were optional to play.
 Find more ideas here

Whack a Villain 

I took pictures of various Scooby villains, printed them off and taped them to 8 different water bottles. You then had to put a stocking with a baseball at the bottom on  your head. With out using your hands you had to knock over as many water bottle villains as you could before the minute was up. Who ever had more knocked over wins a prize
Face the Cookie! 
Place a cookie on player’s forehead.  Using only your facial muscles, move the cookie to your mouth.  The kids were too smart for it and a couple of them dropped their crackers and stuck them straight in their mouths when I wasn't looking.... they were disqualified ;)
Like, Groovy Moves
Wiggle a box that is attached to your waist filled with ping-pong balls until the box is empty.

The LAST game we played was :

Cereal decoder
Cut up two identical cereal boxes, all the pieces are equal size. In teams of two have them put the picture back together. To make it harder you could mix ALL the pieces up in one pile.We made this the last game because on the back of ONE box I wrote the first clue to where the cake had been hidden.

 Clue one:
"You've played some games and had fun,
It's time for cake but your work isn't done.
(Why the party has just practically begun).
 You're going to go on quite a quest.

Start in the room where the birthday girl rests.
The kids will end up in Hannah's  room. an envelope hanging from a balloon. We decided the next clue needed to be backwards. So the kids had to go to the bathroom to read it.

 Clue two:
Nice work, gang you found this clue!
I'm sure you know the next thing to do.
Bring your decoding page and head out the door
to the place where you'd roast tons of s'mores.

The kids then rush outside to the courtyard in our complex to the BBQ pit. The game continues for as long as you want. While they were outside it was a great time for us to pull the cake out of it's hiding spot. If there is another adult at the party have them do it. A great suggestion was: put it on the table. If you keep it hidden in the box imagine how excited all those kids are coming towards it... results? smashed cake.

Meanwhile at the BBQ pit... we decided it needed to be harder so we made them decode half of the message

 Clue  three: 
You are great detectives. that's the scoop
your next clue is hidden where you throw away dog poop

Friday, November 16, 2012

How to throw an inexpensive party

Birthday parties can get expensive. Every year I've tried to come up with something that makes it less expensive. Here is what I've got:

**Stick to a budget!!!** I know that sounds like a no brainer- but seriously it's amazing how fast things will add up. Or is you're my sister its: I spent $350 and I'm still not done!  If you have to write it down on a piece of paper and put it on the fridge or in your wallet (or for the people who really love to spend) wrap it around your credit card.  
Don't go over!! try to buy generic things to put in the goody bags. I've thrown over 12 parties and I can tell you every time you buy character 2 things happen: 1) They are more expensive and 2) It's typically junk that breaks. Think about the party theme (if there is one) and buy around that.

My budget: $125 which includes food. I typically end up under budget.

To make it easier for yourself. Make a list of things you've like to serve and have on hand at the party. Then break it down to what you need for each item listed. (i.e. Pasta salad: Pasta....Italian dressing). Then keep an eye out for that stuff for when it goes on sale up to 3 weeks before as long as it isn't a perishable item. Or if you shop several places make a note of how much it costs at each store and pick up the cheapest.

When it comes to buying goody bags and decorations and plates. Why not wait until you have all your RSVP's in before you buy. This way you have an exact number that you need buy for.

For us this year it's a Scooby Doo! theme We found :

3 pack of small bags we're using as goody bags  (I needed 9) $4.
Bought some pencils, (12 pack) $1.10
magnifying glasses (12 pack) $2
Coloring books (9) $10

Total: $17.10 for 9 goody bags
Then my friend Avery gave us more stuff to put in the goody bags. Thanks Avery!


Once you take it somewhere and rent out a place you've already gone over my budget... All the places where I live start around $120.. and most don't include food or cake, etc...

Summer or Spring Birthday: Outside at a park.
Summer should be in the morning more (before it gets hot-unless you're having a water party) and Spring should be at the peak of warm weather. We bought those pop up tents when they were on sale in May (check sports stores) and just held onto it. Our friend rented  one for the same price we bought ours for. We did not count it toward our budget all at once. We considered it an investment and every time it's been used (7 times in 3 years) we just think of how much we've saved just by storing ours. That and camping chairs.

 Fall or Winter Birthday: In our 930 square feet apartment.

Sounds crazy, right? But I've done it at least 3 times now. The trick is it can't be a big party. Which means that it is a drop off party and the adults don't stay (less money on food and less crowded) It must be a small group of close friends each time. She was allowed to choose 9 kids- amazingly enough being the weekend before Thanksgiving break they have all RSVP'd yes. It makes 11 kids and 2 adults in my house at the time of the party.

Before a party at my house I move all of our extra stuff into our room so that there is more space in the living room. Then I close our door and pretend that mess doesn't exist until after the party.
We also bought a long table and a card table and chairs when they were on sale before Thanksgiving- We've used those for over 8 parties now.

If you have a smaller place you may either want to get the kids outside for some point of the party to do some running around or exercise. If not they will get rowdy in a small area ;)

If you're buying on line check out: for promo codes. They sometimes have printable coupons as well. Also just try googling the store you're going to shop at plus the word coupon.
Happy savings!

For plates, napkins and utensils: 
We buy generic colors or just paper plates- there are more and we can use them for both parties for the year. Spending not more than $7 total or $3.50 each party. Another great way to save is if you have enough regular plates and cups and forks, etc.. for the whole party.
Since my parties are typically small we have enough to go around. This year we also let her get plates because it is extremely rare that she ever gets the character plates with the exact person she is looking for : $8

Center pieces:
I don't always buy them but because that's typically the only character decoration I buy, I let it slide. Wal*Mart was the only place with Scooby-Doo stuff and it was cheaper by $2 than anywhere online.

Table cloths are the only thing I'll buy in color. I try to only buy them at the dollar store or at Wal*Mart where they are only $1. Depending how many tables you need to cover will tell you your price. This year Grandma was nice and bought her two Scooby table cloths $6

Decorations: One year I bought generic birthday decorations (Happy birthday sign, and dangling signs) I've kept them safe in a box for the parties that don't exactly have a theme or if you can't buy "Lemon Meringue"only decorations from Strawberry Shortcake. We found a Scooby one for $3.50 at Wal*Mart.

No matter: what if you think your child will have a Princess or Batman or SAME character party the following year. Try to save off the decorations that you bought the first time. I Can't tell you how many princess parties we've have between the two girls. Each time I've saved the Happy Birthday Banner and center pieces for the party. That saves at least $8 each time.

Helium tank: I always buy mine. At Michael's it's $18 and some change with a 40% off coupon. Target is: $19 plus tax and Wal*Mart is the worst at $21 plus tax (this obviously didn't include main stream stores like Party City. This year Micahels was out and we bought it at Target because we were running out of time. $20 and an extra pack of Balloons from $1 store that was bought for the Summer party: that puts us at $21.20

For supplies and decorations $41.20

Amount used so far:


You need the food to be appealing and filling.

I always buy the box mixes when they are on sale and stock up. $1
Frosting: I try  to get this on sale but typically spend $1.50
This year we've got Fondant that I'm making with marshmallows (sale 99 cents a pack-used 2- $2) and powder sugar 1 bag : $2. Basically you melt the marshmallows with some vanilla extract or water and add in enough powdered sugar to make it stiff.

for directions on the cake, visit my other blog here

Cakes at the grocery stores cost about $35. $15 more than when I worked there six years ago!! That's a lot for a cake- now I'm not denying their deliciousness...but still even if you just buy toy figures to put on top of the cake.. (ours were $10 at ToysRus...$16 amazon. they were her bday present) plus cake decorating isn't that hard, not with Wilton's sugar pieces (just don't forget your coupons!)

Papa Murphy take and bake pizza ( I only do this when our parties are at our house) I find a coupon and purchase the pizza the night before the party. Then I pre-heat the oven before I think the kids will get hungry and bake the pizza's. It's time consuming and you have to be "on the ball" but the price it right for my budget.
$30 I had a coupon and actually spent $15!

For our outdoor parties we typically do a BBQ. Although our Ariel themed party we had Dominos delivered. We found coupons.

Chips: 2 for $4 plus tax

Kool-aid: 5 pack for $1.25 (plus sugar at maybe ten cents for all 5 because I buy in bulk) $1.40


$103.40 from budget and still money left over.


Two days before: get everything ready in bins (f you're going to the park)
at home: Super clean up house, getting all details done.
(Order cake if needed)

The day before the party: 
Bake and decorate cakes
Put together goody bags put in bins
Double check bins to make sure you have everything.
Set up decorations (if you're at home)
Make some food (i.e. a pasta salad can easily be made the day before, so can rice krispies)

Day of:
Morning of party if you have fruits you should cut them up at least 2 hours before.
move bins into cars
or put finishing touches on party set up at house
wipe down bathrooms once more time

 my numbers are approximate. Sometimes I shoot high, others right on the money.. either way I still was under budget for the party.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Easy Turkey Craft

What you need:
google eyes
yellow, orange and red construction paper
toilet paper roll

This craft is a cute and easy keepsake. Once you've got an empty toilet paper roll handy (in a house of 4 that's not hard at all!) Trace your childs hand in Fall colors (red, orange, yellow). Much to my crafting embarrassment I have no red construction paper so we had to color white paper red. With Christmas around the corner I better stock up on some.  Have your child (or you) cut out the hands and glue them to the toilet paper roll. To make the beak kind of bend the toilet paper roll & cut a snip in it. Glue google eyes and add the gobbler under the beak (I had to use sharpie).

5-10 minute paper crafts
Turkey Hair

**If you found this fun, useful or tried to make it. Follow me and post your pictures!**

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Thanksgiving Turkey Hair

Happy 1st of November! I always feel that Thanksgiving is not a very celebrated holiday. To "bring it back" we decided to create this festive hair style.

I started by heating my glue gun up so that I could make the turkey's face. For that I used: black pipe cleaners (I have no brown) and I kind of make an oval with it. I took a small strip of red and yellow for the beak.  When the glue gun was hot I glued it all to the black head.  I make the feet by taking more black pipe cleaners and wrapping a smaller piece around it- making 3 toes.

For the  body I started with a pony tail and bobbi pinned it into a bun. I added the head and feathers to the top and bobbi pinned them down. Then I added the feet at the bottom and once again bobbi pinned those down.

Here are some Thanksgiving Crafts you might enjoy:
5-10 minute paper crafts
T.P Turkey

**If you found this fun, useful or made it- feel free to post pictures of  your work and follow me. Thanks!**

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Scooby Doo, Where are you?!

As some of you may know already I'm trying really hard to make this a smaller, more meaningful Christmas. I must admit without cable we have no commercials, which means the girls have a smaller almost non existent Christmas list.

This was the year we outgrew Princesses. Sad, but true. This year it's all about Scooby-Doo! and what better way to commemorate that then to make their dolls costumes so they can play Scooby-Doo too?
All the patternes I used are from: ( You can print them for FREE. I used: Kirstens party dress, Felicity's Holiday gown (sleeves only) and Josefina's Camisa's dress.

Orange felt
Red fabric

 I used Kirsten's party dress top, I added about one inch to the bottom and a 1/8 of an inch all the way around and about 1 1/4 inches to the bottom.

 You will cut the top pattern once on a FOLD for the front and then two separate pieces for the back. Then you will sew the sleeves together. Since I used felt I did not have to hem at all.

 For the sleeves I used Felicity's Holiday sleeve pattern and added about  1 1/2 inches to the length. After I fitted it to the top I cut the excess fabric off. Then I added Velcro to the back.

To make the "turtle neck" 
I cut a strip of felt (the longest I could on the piece I had) and accordion style folded it and sewed it to the neck/back neck line

For the skirt I also used Kirstens party skirt. However I shortened it to knee high. After I cut out the fabric, I gathered the skirt at the top to fit the waist/belt strip.

 Then I began pleating the skirt. I did this by making an "A" out of the fabric and pinning it down. Once I was finished I sewed it together and ironed the skirt to add more definition.

For the Shoes and Glasses:
I bought them at Michaels with 40% off coupons. I pushed out the sun glass lens with the glasses to make them look more like Velma. The magnifying glass is a small glasses repair kit I had lying around.

*Teal Felt
*Yellow felt
*Green Felt

 note: I used the reverse colors for the diamond and SD

Measure the neck of the dog you're going to use (we have Chocolate Chips from the AG store). Cut appropriate length and width (you have to eye it). Add Velcro to the back to keep it on. Cut a diamond out of green. Cut thin strips of yellow and shape them around the green to make an outline and a S and D for the middle part of the collar. Hand sew on.  Hand sew onto teal felt.


Light purple

I printed off Josefina's Camisa's dress pattern, cut it out and made these alterations: 
*Made it shorter
* less wide (about as wide as the Kirsten birthday top)

Begin with pinning the pattern to the fabric (one on a fold and two for the back)  To make the light purple strips on her dress, I cut out long strips (the length of each piece) and added that to the bottom, sleeves and middle ribbon/design. Making sure to fold in the raw edges for a clean look.

 After that I sewed the dress together. It was still WAY too big. So I turned the dress inside out and pinned the dress a little more fitted. Then I sewed that together, tested it, liked it and cut the excess fabric off.

For the ascot I wrapped the
I used this pattern for the head band
For the Shoes I bought them at Michaels with a 40% off coupon.

**If you found this funny, useful or made it, follow me and share your pictures!**

My other American Girl items:
school supplies
feel better kit  (Just like McKenna's!)
Gymnastics accessories
head band
Minnie Mouse ears
sleeping bags
sleeping mask
pillow dress
pet accessories
generic witch costume
Tutu Style Witch Costume