Sunday, February 27, 2011

How to Throw an Award Party

In doing my Oscar blog, it got me thinking more and more about the party that I planned for my Mom's Club a few years ago.  It was such a cool party and much needed.

I started it off purchasing theses cute Award invites from my local party store.  I like that they mimic an award and you seal them with a star.  I printed yellow spots with info about the party onto sticker paper and then punched them out with my star punch. They said things like, "Gifts", "Board Installation", "Award Ceremony", Cost info, "Fabulous Lunch", "Circle of Friendship", RSVP info, "Thanks Yous", and "Raffle Prizes". I also added an additional separate slip with more info on the raffles and who it benefits (since we are a non-profit, our raffles helped the Make-A-Wish foundation) .

Upon arrival, the guests walked the red carpet which had the Walk of Fame.  One of our members had the "red carpet" from a previous award party and the Oscar stand, so we borrowed it.  Really, you could have your own red carpet using a remnant or fabric swatch.  The best fabric, would probably be something like felt that is inexpensive and wouldn't move as much under foot.
Each star was easily made using an individual sticky-back linoleum tile.  To that, I added a clear address label with each mom's name printed on it and our logo underneath.

As we waited for guests to arrive, everyone found their seats and checked out the raffles.  The raffle prizes were each wrapped in black, gold, and white.  We had received a ton of donations to help the Make-A-Wish foundation.  It was very exciting.

After everyone arrived, we played an ice breaker game, called Purse Scavenger Hunt that I had pre-printed earlier.  You got points for each thing that you had in your purse.  You would have thought that I would have done better since I knew what you should have in your purse.  If I did this right now, I would have gotten a much better score!

 A month before, I e-mailed a voting ballot to each Mom asking for her to vote for her fellow Mom's in each category.  They were things like the Martha Stewart Award, The Mother Teresa, The Welcome Wagon, etc.  I gathered all the votes and got the awards prepared ahead of time.  I made sure that each mom in attendance received an award.  The envelopes with the winner were sealed with a gold star sticker and I opened them to hand out the award trophy.  Each trophy had the name of the award printed on a clear label.  Some Mom's were very surprised by the awards that they received.

I must mention the restaurant was selected since it such a great local restaurant.  It was open only for us, so we had it all to ourselves.  It is called Boulevard Bistro and they actually created a special menu just for us.  The food was fabulous and was perfect for our theme.

At each person's seat was their "swag".  I put together a gift for each person that included "pearls", dinner certificates, Victoria Secret samples, 100 Grand bars, movie certificate, popcorn and a popcorn bucket.

Everyone had a fabulous time and went home with cool stuff.
Lots of fun!


Will you be watching the Oscars tonight??  I will certainly be making a night of it (probably drive my kids crazy with it).  Although my favorite awards show has already come and gone, I always watch the Oscars.  I really love to watch all the pre-show stuff - the red carpet, reviews, etc.  In fact, my favorite morning show is doing a whole Oscar show this morning. 

One day I will host a whole Oscar Party (or maybe a Globe Party).  I did an AcadeMommy Party for my Mom's Club.  It was tons of fun.
We had a red carpet, a walk of fame (with each Mom's name on it), swag, and of course awards were handed out.  Here is the award that I won for "Best Social Butterfly" - go figure!

When I was younger (and did not have children), I would have seen almost all of the movies by now, so I definitely would have had my own idea of who should win.  Now, I have only seen a few.  Oddly enough, I have seen more of the "off" categories than those nominated for the big/main categories.  This leaves me, rooting for actors that I like.

Performance by an actor in a leading role
I am thinking that Colin Firth will win this one.  I have always liked him and from the buzz, he has a great chance.  Sadly, I have not seen any of these. 

Javier Bardem in “Biutiful” (Roadside Attractions)
Jeff Bridges in “True Grit” (Paramount)
Jesse Eisenberg in “The Social Network” (Sony Pictures Releasing)
Colin Firth in “The King's Speech” (The Weinstein Company)
James Franco in “127 Hours” (Fox Searchlight)

Performance by an actor in a supporting role
In this category, I heard that Christian Bale is favored, but I would love to see local boy, Jeremy Renner win.  He was in the same high school as me.  This is his second nomination.

Christian Bale in “The Fighter” (Paramount)
John Hawkes in “Winter's Bone” (Roadside Attractions)
Jeremy Renner in “The Town” (Warner Bros.)
Mark Ruffalo in “The Kids Are All Right” (Focus Features)
Geoffrey Rush in “The King's Speech” (The Weinstein Company)
Performance by an actress in a leading role
I think everyone agrees that Natalie Portman is going to take this one.  I have not heard a single person say otherwise.  I do like her, so I will be rooting for her also.

Annette Bening in “The Kids Are All Right” (Focus Features)
Nicole Kidman in “Rabbit Hole” (Lionsgate)
Jennifer Lawrence in “Winter's Bone” (Roadside Attractions)
Natalie Portman in “Black Swan” (Fox Searchlight)
Michelle Williams in “Blue Valentine” (The Weinstein Company)
Performance by an actress in a supporting role
I am not sure about this one, but I have always liked Amy Adams and I think she has a real chance for this one.  One of my favorite roles of hers was for Enchanted.  It's a kids film and partly in cartoon, but she portrays the role so well that I don't think anyone else could have pulled it off.

Amy Adams in “The Fighter” (Paramount)
Helena Bonham Carter in “The King's Speech” (The Weinstein Company)
Melissa Leo in “The Fighter” (Paramount)
Hailee Steinfeld in “True Grit” (Paramount)
Jacki Weaver in “Animal Kingdom” (Sony Pictures Classics)

Best animated feature film of the year
I heard that Toy Story 3 is a shoo-in, but I am not sure that it is Oscar-worthy.  There were many flaws with this one.  I am surprised that Despicable Me did not get nominated (it did for the Globes).  It was much more original and won me over - originally I did not like the idea of the film.

“How to Train Your Dragon” (Paramount) Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois
“The Illusionist” (Sony Pictures Classics) Sylvain Chomet
“Toy Story 3” (Walt Disney) Lee Unkrich
Achievement in directing
I have not seen any of these, so I can't attest to how the director did, but I guess that I would like to see Tom Hooper win for The King's Speech.
“Black Swan” (Fox Searchlight) Darren Aronofsky
“The Fighter” (Paramount) David O. Russell
“The King's Speech” (The Weinstein Company) Tom Hooper
“The Social Network” (Sony Pictures Releasing) David Fincher
“True Grit” (Paramount) Joel Coen and Ethan Coen
Best motion picture of the year
So many films nominated this year!  Wow!  And yet I have only seen 2, Inception and Toy Story 3 - ha ha.  There seem to be some well received films in the running.  I am hoping Inception does NOT win, I didn't think it was a great film, and yet it has been nominated by so many sources.  I think Black Swan, The King's Speech or Social Network would be okay.  I guess that I will go with the less popular Social Network.  I loved Jesse in Zombieland and with as much as I am on Facebook, I should vote for it.

“Black Swan” (Fox Searchlight) 
“The Fighter” (Paramount)
“Inception” (Warner Bros.)
“The Kids Are All Right” (Focus Features)
“The King's Speech” (The Weinstein Company)
“127 Hours” (Fox Searchlight)
“The Social Network” (Sony Pictures Releasing)
“Toy Story 3” (Walt Disney)
“True Grit” (Paramount)
“Winter's Bone” (Roadside Attractions)

So that's it.  Enjoy them! 
P.S.  I am working on my posts for Super Mario Brothers Cupcakes and for more Project 365 layouts.  So stay tuned.

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo review

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium, #1)The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Enough people have read this book, that it was made into a movie (twice), so I thought that I would read it.  I guess that I do not enjoy reading what "everyone" else likes.  I found it hard to get into to start with.  Also, as an American, the names were confusing at first.  Some names were very similar (Berger vs Birger) that made it hard to know who was who at first and things that I am sure are well known in the author's country meant nothing to me (aquavit- is some sort of alcohol?).

The title of the book leads you to believe that it will be about a girl with a dragon tattoo.  Her parts in the first half of the book are so sparse as to be a joke.  She is more important in the last half, but it still seems to be more about other things entirely. 

Also, it was very graphic and violent, which I have never been fond of.  I will never understand why people want to read in detail someone's torture, rape and/or death - this book has them in spades.

I got to the end finally and have no intention of reading his follow-up books.

View all my reviews

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The 13th Tale review

The Thirteenth TaleThe Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this book.  I found it interesting.  It had a touch of mystery and intrigue.  You find yourself even liking the hard to like characters and being surprised by what happens.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Book Challenge - 25% done

Some of you may remember my post about  It is a cool website where you can keep track of what you read, read reviews, post your own reviews and more.  I challenged myself to read 20 books this year.  I did pick the number conservatively since I did not want to get to the end of the year (at Christmastime when I am reading less) and be too far from my goal.  I have never really tracked how many books that I read. Sometimes, like yesterday, I can read a book in a day.  Other times, I labor over the same book for a month or more (like the book that I finished the day before).  Well, I just checked my progress and I am already 25% completed of my goal.  It is only mid-February and I have 4 months worth of reading done.  Now, I am wondering if I should change my goal or leave it, complete it and then make a new one.

I thought that I would give you my review of the 2 books that I did read:

Book 1 - "Eat, pray, love : one woman's search for everything across Italy, India and Indonesia" by  Elizabeth Gilbert.
Description (from Amazon):  At the age of thirty-one, Gilbert moved with her husband to the suburbs of New York and began trying to get pregnant, only to realize that she wanted neither a child nor a husband. Three years later, after a protracted divorce, she embarked on a yearlong trip of recovery, with three main stops: Rome, for pleasure (mostly gustatory, with a special emphasis on gelato); an ashram outside of Mumbai, for spiritual searching; and Bali, for "balancing."

I originally check out this book this summer from our local library.  It had been made into a movie with Julia Roberts and everyone was raving about it (the book, I mean), so I figured that I would give it a shot.  I always prefer to read the story before seeing a movie.  Now granted, biography is not my usual genre. I must say that I have never read a book like this, but I liked the idea of it nonetheless.  I did not get very far into it, before I had to return it to the library.  We get 3 weeks and it came when I was already reading something else, so I did not start it right away.  I checked it out again in November and only got through the first 1/3 (where she is enjoying Italy).  I did like her living life, eating pasta and learning Italian.  All too quickly my 3 weeks was up and I was in only in the India section.  I asked for it for Christmas, so that I could finish it once and for all.  I found her "praying" in India to be full of whining.  I couldn't stand her diatribe about how she just couldn't get out of her own way to meditate.  It took me forever to get through this section.  Finally, she made her way to Bali to fall in love.  She was much more enjoyable here, although, now I had a sour taste in my mouth.  Maybe I should not be that hard on her since it really isn't my normal reading material, but I have to say that when I finally finished her book, I exhaled a sigh of relief.  Thank goodness it was over.  If it wasn't for my need to finish all the books that I start, I would have left her in India.  She is doing a follow-up book, which I will be passing!  

Book 2: Awakened (House of Night, book 8) by PC & Kristen Cast
Description (from the library): 

Zoey has returned from the Otherworld to her rightful place as High Priestess at the House of Night. Her friends are just glad to have her back, but after losing her human consort, Heath, will Zoey--or her relationship with her super-hot Warrior, Stark--ever be the same? 
Let me begin by explaining that this is a young adult novel series.  To me, they are like brain candy - probably bad for me, but fun to chew on.  After reading something long or time-consuming, I love to sit down with this quick books.  This is the 8th in a series about a world where vampires are a normal part of life that some people just "become" as a teenager.  When I first started this series ages ago, I really enjoyed it.  It was fun and different.  However, I don't think that this mother/daughter author team know how to complete a story line.  Most books should be a story by themselves.  If they are a series, the characters may have new adventures, but one adventure is finished in each book.  Not so with this series.  Nothing ever gets finished, it just keeps going on and on.  Every time a new book comes out, I think, okay, this time they will finish it.  8th book finished - still to be continued!  She never vanquishes the bad guy.  The story itself is always interesting, but I think that this might be my last House of Night book, even though a new one comes out soon - as always.

So, that's it.  Now I am on to The Thirteenth Tale and Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Have you read anything interesting?  Drop me a line!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Fun

So, in addition to making heart pancakes this morning, I also hand-made cards for my friends and little candy treats.  Here is what I made:

This a candy mold from Wilton that you can do simply (with one color) or make more complicated by changing colors as I have done.  Also, it was supposed to be a pretzel rod candy and I made it into a lollipop. 
My card is using my frog stamps from Stampin' Up.  As soon as I saw the frog set, I knew that I had to have it even without knowing why.  I just love frogs!

Another thing that I have been working on is a digital challenge for February at Design House Digital.
Their photography challenge for February was "I want you to find a heart somewhere unexpected (use your imagination) OR take a fun photo of something you love."
I found a few more that I may make another page.
Have you seen any hidden hearts?

Happy Valentine's Everyone!

I hope that everyone is having a wonderful Valentine's Day.  All my kiddos were home for Oresident's Day, so they were able to go to my Mom's Club VDay Party, too. 
It was a brunch, so I made heart-shaped pancakes to share:

They were a big hit. 
Right now, I am off to take my girls to gymnastics.  If I have time, I will show you what else I made to share with our friends.
Make sure to share today with those that you love!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

How to Make Easy Hello Kitty Cupcakes

My daughters birthday always happens while she is not in school and she always seems to miss out sharing with her school friends.  All the other kids bring in treats to share and they get a special day in class.  My poor 8 yo has missed out on that, so this year, I decided to have her bring in a treat on another (random) day to celebrate with her class.  Her teacher loves Hello Kitty, so I thought that it would be cute to bring in Hello Kitty cupcakes for the girls and I also made Mario Brothers for the boys.
Today, I am going to show you how easy it is to make the Hello Kitty ones.
First, I made white cupcakes and chocolate cupcakes (I needed at least 27).  Make sure to only fill your cupcake tin 2/3 full or they are too big to ice evenly.  Also, let's be honest, most kids lick off the frosting and throw away the cupcake anyway. ;-)  I used mostly the white ones and only filled in some with the chocolate.

Now, on to the Kittys!
First roll out some white fondant (you do not need a ton for this).  I rolled it out about 1/4" thick.

I cut out the head shapes with this flower cutter from Wilton called the Garden Shape Cut-Out:

I was trying to figure out how to make the head without having to add ears to each one.  I found this cutter which was perfect.  Sometimes, you have to look for the potential of something.

After you have cut out your flower shapes, using a sharp knife, cut off the middle point of the flower, leaving the 2 outer "ears".
Now, you could leave it like it is, however, if you have checked out Hello Kitty, you will notice that her face is more oval with nice wide cheeks, so with a rounded tool (A Ball tool and a Fondant Shaping Sponge Set), you can quickly make her face the right shape. 
Lightly roll the ball tool across the cheeks, rolling out to either side of the cheeks.  As you roll from the center out to each cheek, the fondant will lengthen in that direction.
Put the white heads under a glass to keep them from drying out while you work on the other face pieces.
I added hot pink to the white to create the bows.  To make a dozen bows, you only need a ball of fondant about 1 1/2".  To start the bow, take a very small ball (about 1/4") and roll into an oval about 1/2".  Using you tool, press in the center all the way around it, until you have formed a center.
Using a flat tool like a dull knife, make the indentations for the folds in the bow fabric.  Then add a small piece of fondant for the center of the bow.
You can chose to add each element as you make them, like I did.  Using clear vanilla extract or water and a paint brush, brush on a small amount where you want to affix the bows.  After laying them on, you can use your tool to press the edges of the bow into the head to make sure that they are affixed well.
Now, onto the nose. I took my remain hot pink fondant and added more white fondant to create a light pink for the noses.  You need even less of this color.  Roll a very small ball, about 1/6" and flatten into a small oval.  Affix to the center of the face.
For the eyes, you will need a small amount of black fondant.  Make a 1/4" small black ball and roll into a long oval and flatten.  Place on face with the ovals up.
For the whiskers, roll very small ribbons of black.  Add 2-3 whiskers to each side of the face. 
Now, you are ready to add them to the cupcakes!  I tinted white icing with pink and placed it in an icing bag.  I cut about 3/4" off the tip.  I then piped the icing in a swirl on top.  I also created simple pink flowers with my leftover 2 pink colors of fondant and a flower fondant cutter. Here is the finished products

Give them a try, they are really easy!  Super cute, too.

Stay tuned for how to make easy Mario Mushroom and Stars.


Friday, February 11, 2011

Early Valentine's Party

We have had a busy few days.  After a week being sick, I feel like I am playing catch-up.  I have been running errands all over the place and coming up with new ideas.  To top it off, due to the President's Holidays, my kids will not be in school for Valentines, so they had their Valentine's parties today.

This morning, I drove 45 minutes north of here to go to an antique book/estate sale after dropping off the kids.  They had quite a few cool books, but I only came home with a nice edition of A Connecticut Yankee in King Author's Court.  I was actually looking for copies of Jane Austen's books, for a party idea that I am working on (more later).

After the book sale, I raced back to attend my 5 yos V-Day party.  They are so cute at that age.  The class made heart-shaped pancakes, decorated tortilla cookies, colored, played Valentine Bingo and passed out Valentines.  After they played, they got to eat their treats and take home their Valentines.

We hit another "garage" sale, where I did find a paperback copy of Emma for a quarter (among other things).  I still need about 20 more copies of the books, so I will have to keep looking. 

Now, I am going to take my kids to the park since the weather is so nice.

Do you have any cool plans for this weekend?

Enjoy your Valentine's Weekend!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Project 365 Week 5 & 6 Completed

Yeah, I finally got caught up with with Project 365 scrapbook pages.  I missed some days of taking picture since I was sick, but I think it still works.

thanks for checking them out

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Happy Super Bowl Day

Hello Friends!
Well today is Super Bowl.  One of the most watched things on TV all year.  Even if you don't like football, you may find yourself watching.  I myself am ambivalent about football.  I don't have anything against it, but I don't sit down to watch it.  However, I do like the whole atmosphere that the Super Bowl brings out.  All the food and parties and cheering.

Are you going to a party this year?  Do you have any Super Bowl traditions?  This year, we will be going to our friend's house for a Super Bowl Party.  I am looking forward to getting out (especially after being stuck indoors sick for most the week).  I don't know that I will cheering for one team or the other.  If I were to cheer for a team, it would be a gold and red team that did quite horribly this year (oh, the shame of the bad team).  Although, hopefully, with a new coach, maybe next year we have a better chance.  This year, I will just enjoy the company of friends - old and new.  Enjoy eating - thank goodness I can once again after strep.  Enjoy commercials - admit it, half the reason to watch, which is why the advertisers have to pay so much. And enjoy the beautiful weather that we have been blessed with the past few days.

So, rather you escape the football crazies for some "me-time" or join in the party - have a great Super Bowl Day!
hmm, reminds me that I have never made a football themed cake . . .

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Back from the Dead

I feel like I was in a coma these last few days.  I am only just now emerging from my cocoon of blankets.  I can't even say that it was something dramatic to have caused this - no, it was strep. 
I made some cool cupcakes on Monday before succumbing to my sickness, so give me a little bit of time to recover and I will post them.  I also need to finish and post my 365 layout from last week. I did miss taking any pictures during those days.  Oh well!

Newly Alive,