Butterflies, Flutterbys, Everywhere Butterflies

Frequently, I take inspiration from a variety of websites and products when I’m making things around my house, but from time to time the stars align and inspiration strikes me of its own accord.  With so many preparations in the last few days before the big event of my daughter’s golden, first birthday party, it might be deemed miraculous that I still had my wits about me enough to get the surplus creative juices flowing.  Sometimes, I even surprise myself.  If my previous posts had not been any such indication, I operate under a budget and where I can cut costs, I most assuredly will.  It was thus that I decided to not only create my own fruit tray (I mean really, it’s fruit… not that difficult), but to also make it a butterfly fruit tray to further augment the theme within my modest home.  In addition to the obvious need of fruit (I chose bananas, blueberries, strawberries, and grapes — a variety of colors is helpful for my plan, but you can use whatever fruit you like), my plan also called for a large, flat, clear plastic tray (purchased at my local grocery store for just a few dollars), some wax paper, scotch tape, and a permanent marker.  I outlined the tray onto the wax paper so I would know how much space I had to work with, and then I set to work on my butterfly making.  It took me a few tries to get it to look the way that I wanted, but I finally created a simple design that best utilized the space provided and was, more or less, aesthetically pleasing.

Once the design was complete, I cut out the butterfly, and taped it with clear, scotch tape to the *bottom* of the tray.  Like so:

Are you getting where I’m going with this?  From here, it was a simple manner of placing the fruit in the allotted space as indicated by the outline showing through the bottom of the tray.  I used the bananas for the body, cut the blueberries in half for little antennae, and then used alternating colors of the strawberries, grapes, and remaining blueberries and bananas to best fill in the pattern.

I found that cutting some of the strawberries and grapes in half made for a more sturdy foundation for stacking of the fruit, otherwise the little guys would roll away.  In addition to the fruit tray, we also served some freshly cooked shrimp with cocktail sauce, pizza dip (thanks, Paula!), Chili & Garlic Chex Mix (gluten-free recipe — I baked it on a cookie sheet at 250 for an hour, stirring every 15 minutes, instead of microwaving to make it more crisp), deviled eggs (my mom’s most yummy recipe), Squisite Squares (they are peanut butter and chocolate bars that we have a recipe for), Ham Delights (another old family favorite — think a sort of ham and cheese roll), and some sherbet punch (1 part OJ, 2 parts Hawaiian punch, 2 parts ginger ale, and enough scoops of rainbow sherbet to cover the top of the punch bowl — I really did it all based upon color.  Poor the juice and punch appropriately until you get an appealing color).

Paper plates and napkins were found on sale (of course!) at Target.  And if you were wondering, I was not so silly of a Mama to forget the most important thing:  CAKE!

My local grocer will give you a free “Smash Cupcake” to go with any sheet cake purchase for a 1st birthday.  Perfection!  I took the bakery a copy of the image that I created for the invitations, and they were able to put it on both the cake and cupcake for me.  If you noticed my vase in the corner, I took my handy permanent marker, hot glue gun, and some plastic butterflies that I had gotten at Michael’s (I told you in my post on the high chair that I found a million uses for my clearance priced butterfly assortment!)  FYI:  the butterflies still came off easily with a bit of pressure applied and the permanent marker washed off with some detergent, so I had my old vase back at the end of it all, but I would still recommend only use one that you’re willing to sacrifice to the cause, just in case.

            

The roses are Rainbow Roses from Argentina.  I don’t question their methods in applying the dyes as they do, I just accept them as really pretty flowers and the perfect touch for my little Munchkin’s first birthday party!

Finally, after putting up some more butterflies in various places around the house (remember the ones I had on the cookbooks near my party favors?)…

…and carefully putting up some pink and polka dot streamers, pink balloons, butterfly and birthday-themed mylar balloons, banners, and other signs displaying the excitement that was my little one’s first birthday…

…I was done!  The party went off without a hitch, and every last detail over which I had labored came together to make for the perfect event befitting a butterfly-themed first birthday, and for a golden first birthday, at that (1 on the 1st!).

Is there a little one for whom you are planning a birthday party in the future?  What theme are you using?  Have fun, no matter what you do, and take pictures!!

Fluttery Favors

Some days, I must reflect how nice it is to live in the age of Martha Stewart.  You’ve got to hand it to her; she has a way with a glue gun.  With my daughter’s recent first (and golden!) birthday party, it should be unsurprising that the good lady would provide some inspiration for the big event.  Dearest Martha actually has a whole collection of butterfly-themed crafts.  What really piqued my interest were some party favor bags.  Here’s the image from her site (and you can click through if you’re looking for additional butterfly-themed goodness!)

The basic premise behind this is that you have two different colored paper favor/lunch bags.  Party City has a great supply of a variety of colors of just such favor bags —  they’re a little brighter in color than what Martha used, but for my little munchkin’s party, bright, happy colors were just what I wanted anyway.  In any case, the outer bag (green) gets trimmed to look like 3D grass over the under bag (white).  To save time, I cut all of my green bags while they were still flat.  The key to doing this is keeping all of your cuts in the paper above the line where the bottom gets folded up, otherwise, you’ll be cutting into the bottom.  This allowed me to — shall we say — mow the lawn —  of the front, back, and sides of the bag all at the same time.  When you you have several bags on the docket and lots of little pieces of grass to create, this makes for an important time saver.  Once cut, you put a little bit of glue, of the glue stick variety, to the bottom of the inner white bag so that once placed inside of the grassy exterior, they will stay together.

In my previous post on my butterfly-themed high chair decor, I mentioned that I had oodles of butterfly clip-ons that I would put to good use.  In addition to the high chair, this was one more way that I made good use of all of my clearance-priced butterfly decor that I purchased from Michael’s.  I also decided to make a slight adjustment to Martha’s original design.  I’m never a big fan of unnecessary empty space, and the white void seemed to be the perfect canvas to tie into the original design that I made for munchkin’s butterfly invitations.  Basically, it seemed like the bag needed some loop-de-loos to me.  So with the help of my handy permanent marker, I added in my swirly dotted lines and affixed the butterfly to the side where the motion line ended.  Here’s my finished project, looking rather like a rabble of butterflies, taking flight from my countertop.

To fill my bags, I opted to bake some cookies — butterfly-shaped, of course!  I found a big butterfly cookie cutter at Bed, Bath, & Beyond and enlisted my mom to help me bake them up prior to the event:  sugar cookie butterflies with pink frosting for my little munchkin.  Also, I filled the bottom of the bag with some raspberry chocolates to boot.  Also, I cropped the picture wide so that you could see another example of my usage of some of my butterfly clips.  I had a bevy of different styles of butterflies.  The ones that I used on the favor bags had more fabric-y of wings with sequins affixed.  As seen on my cookbooks (and elsewhere about my house), I dispersed larger paper-cut-out type butterflies anywhere that I could to further extend the theme throughout our party area.  I was going for a subtle and classy, yet fun-filled way to extend my theme throughout.

Still to come:  more details on decor and food, all in a butterfly-motif!

A Highchair Fit for a Birthday Butterfly

It seems that it doesn’t take a lot of searching on the internet these days to find examples of how to froufrou up your standard high chair in preparation for your special little girls’ birthday.  I mean, really, can she eat her first birthday cake if she isn’t surrounded by tons of tulle and frills?  Clearly it just wouldn’t be the same otherwise.  I wanted to make my birthday butterfly a special seat, too, but I honestly don’t know how mothers with such active little munchkins, such as mine, even have time for no-sew tutu decor like some of the samples I found online.  So much cutting of tulle…  So much tying of knots…  Even with it being munchkin’s *golden* first birthday, there are limits to both my budget and the time I want to spend on decorations.  Frankly, I’d rather spend my time with my silly little munchkin!  Yet again, it was Michael’s to the rescue!  (And yes, Target, you were there to help me, too!)   For your reference, here’s my high chair in the “before” state:

When I was in Michael’s searching for supplies for the invitations, I happened upon some very special ribbon.  It’s the sort that you buy by the yard, and it had pre-cut strips of tulle-like ribbon hanging down as a sort of fringe.  It came in a couple of colors (ivory, white, etc.), but my eyes delighted upon the sight of some in a pale pink color!  Additionally, butterfly-themed is definitely the way to go in terms of finding cheap decorations.  They had TONS of clip-on butterfly decorations in different colors, sizes, and styles on clearance.  Needless to say, I purchased a little bit of everything, and definitely found a use for every last little fluttery butterfly (details on more decor to come!).  In any case, the ribbon solved my problems in terms of being even less work than any instructions I came across for even a no-sew tutu-high chair.  When you have a 1-year old running around the house and trying to get into everything, easier and faster is always better.  Here’s what I used:

On the left, you can see the fancy-shmancy ribbon I found.  For just a couple of dollars, I got 3 yards of it (plenty of extra).  The big butterfly was on clearance from $3.99 to $0.99.   I already had the Scotch velcro on hand, so it wasn’t any additional cost for me, but you could pick some up for a few dollars from Target or any other such store.  From there, I just started at one end of the high chair tray applying small pieces of the fasteners every couple of inches around the edge. ( I recommend putting the plasticy sides on the tray and the softer sides on the ribbon — when you’re not using the decor, the plastic-sided velcro pieces will still be on the tray and those pieces won’t pick up bits of food from your little munchkin as easily as the fabric-sided pieces will.)   I applied similarly sized pieces to the fringed ribbon at the same time as the tray so that I could make certain that the pieces were similarly spaced.  Then, I cut the ribbon once I had made it all of the way around the edge, and clipped on the butterfly to the fringe.  That’s it.  It really could not have possibly been any easier.  The nice thing about this plan is that I could easily take down the fringe until the big day arrived and could throw it back up in less than a minute just before the party began.  This prevented any sticky fingers from messing up my faux-tutu before its official debut.

Finally, in addition to giving the high chair some nice trim, I wanted some wings behind my munchkin to make the pictures extra special (sorry — no pictures of her on her birthday, but trust me — they were *super* cute!).  First, I went into Party City and found some wings for about $16.  It was a little more than I wanted to spend, but I didn’t think I’d find anything much cheaper.  Ha!  I definitely returned those bad boys, because Target had a cute pink set for $1!!  Oh yeah!

The wings were made for toddlers to wear.  You can kind of see the elastic loops that are meant for little ones to stick their arms through.  Instead, I took the loops and threaded them over the corners of the high chair.  These little wings were just the right size so that they would show up behind my little lady without being too big to not fit well within the chair (or to make it too hard to capture them in pictures!).  So with all of that said, here’s my final project:

I spent all of about $6 and it took me roughly 5 minutes to do the initial set up (and another 1 minute to reassemble on party day).  It really couldn’t have been much more budget-friendly, and the cuteness factor on our birthday pictures was definitely worth it!

Know Thy Clearance Sections: The Perfect Word Art for the Perfect Space

We rent our current house, and we know we’ll only be here for a few years, so you can imagine that “permanent” is not a useful term when it comes to decorating.  “Expensive” is another one you won’t see me flout around.  Even if I find the single most perfect item to go in a room, there’s nothing that says it will go in the next home we live in or any other home further down the road.  Thus, I say, “Know Thy Clearance Sections.”

I don’t ever want to feel like I have to use some little piece of decor just because it cost me an arm and a leg, and I also don’t want to face my husband with a huge receipt for something that I can’t use long-term.  Being on a tight budget, however, does not mean that I can’t find the perfect piece at a great price.  Two of my favorite places to shop are Kohl’s and Target.  It’s not that you can’t find more expensive things there, but if you’re smart about your shopping, you can find some extraordinarily good deals.  Both places have special items on sale or clearance daily.  Sale items are typically interspersed with their more expensive cousins, but there are some magical sections of clearance that are worth investigating on a regular basis.  In either store, for each main section (home, bath, toys, kids, shoes, etc.) I have found that there is at least one shelf or rack that is clearly labeled “clearance” and has new items added to it on an almost weekly basis.  It is here that I find some of the best things for my house, my husband and me, or my little munchkin.  Go to your local stores, and familiarize yourself with your clearance sections; it will be worth your while.  On the flip side, I will say it is rare for me to make a “quick trip” into either store, because every time I go in, I like to troll along through each clearance section each time I visit.  You just never know what you’ll find!  Items might be marked down anywhere from 30% to 80% off depending upon the item, manufacturer, etc.  Frequently, I find things that are just what I wanted and are of equal or better quality to more expensive items elsewhere in the store or in other stores altogether.

Our current master bedroom has a vaulted ceiling and provides a huge blank space above our bed.  In our previous home, we had a sort of collage of artwork above the bed from Quebec where we honeymooned.  In general, this room is much bigger, and so the artwork has become scattered to smaller spots throughout the space, thus leaving the gaping white above the headboard.  See below.

Thankfully, Kohl’s came to the rescue.  Removable vinyl lettering seems to be very en vogue right now, which is perfect for a military home.  They go up easily, and they come down easily.  No worries about how to “fix it” when we move out a few years down the road.  In one of my magical clearance sections, I came across one such vinyl set that was going to be just perfect for our room.  I should start with saying that when my husband and I got married, I took issue with the “until we are parted by death” portion of the Episcopal vows, and so we dropped that and subbed in “forever and ever.”  My husband is stuck with me and just me – forever!  So you can imagine, when I found the lettering set that reads, “Just one lifetime won’t be enough for us,” I knew it would be more than perfect for our room.  To top it off, instead of the regular price of $29.99, it was on clearance at Kohl’s for $11.99.  Add in a 20% off shopping pass (which Kohl’s issues out almost every other week in the mail or via e-mail), and that brings it down to $9.60.  In case you were wondering, that’s 68% off.  My kind of deal.

Down below, you can see the finished project.  My set was made by Once Upon a Wall, and while it is “removable” it is not “reusable.”  You can do some minor adjustments as you are applying it to the wall, but you really want to make certain that you have measured out its height to where you want it to be and that the words will by and large be level.  Additionally, because the letters come rolled up on application paper inside of a tube, you definitely want to give it some time, as per the instructions, to flatten out, but even with that, I found that there would be a few creases in the paper.  What I did (and would suggest), is try to corral the creases into the spaces in between the words.  This will prevent there from being bubbles under the letters.  All in all, I’m very pleased with how it turned out, and love that it fills some of the space above the bed with love (and all on a “temporary home” budget)!