A Planter Full O’ Pumpkins

I am frequently accused of trying to push the seasons.  When it’s summer, I want it to be autumn.  When it’s autumn, I wish for winter.  I can’t wait for winter to end to bring me spring.  And really, can’t spring just hurry up and warm up to bring me summer?  The thing about it is that I love each season so very much, and there’s always something to get excited about at the advent of each new part of the year.

With autumn fully in swing, it has, of course, become pumpkin season.  I love watching my munchkin get excited with each new decoration I put out.  She really has an eye for detail, so as soon as I put anything new out, she notices it immediately and then points, stares, and babbles in wonder.  I mean, with such an appreciation for all of my work, how could I not get into each new season these days?

And then it comes back to some of the limitations that there are when it comes to decorating.  Even if I weren’t renting, I would still need to resist the temptation to procure a bunch of decorations that won’t necessarily work from house to house.  Not to mention, I need to work with the space that I have.  Our current home has a very narrow staircase leading up to the front door.  Where one might typically set a pumpkin on the steps, if I did so here, it would be nearly impossible to get up the stairs, and I don’t want to create a hazard for my trick-or-treaters.  On top of that, if I set a pumpkin just next to the door, it would be obscured by the railing and thus be rendered quite pointless as a form of decor.  I had just the solution this year, though:  my window box planters!

I purchased some to attach to the railing (no drilling needed!) to display some flowers this past spring since there are ZERO flower beds at my current abode.  But really, who says that flowers are the only things that need to “grow” in there??

With a few more than a dozen mini pumpkins, a couple of pie pumpkins, and one big pumpkin, I found a happy compromise to the limitations presented by my front stoop.  I decided to alternate the flower boxes between solid orange mini pumpkins and the variegated white/orange pumpkins.  I set some slightly larger pie pumpkins up on the railing to frame the doorway, and there’s the big pumpkin at the bottom of the stairs just off to the grass (again, no tripping hazards on Halloween!).  Add in a cute seasonal flag and an autumn-themed wreath for the front door, and I’m set until the next holiday season rolls around!

Have you had to overcome any obstacles in your seasonal preparations?  What sort of decor do you set out each year?

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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!!