Friday, March 21, 2014

Allie's First Birthday Party!

So only a little really late in posting a birthday recap. :)

We did a "carousel theme" because we went to the carousel at Christmas and she absolutely loved it and went crazy for it! When we left after two rides she cried and had her first "fit" - arching her back, arms out stretched crying - so cute /kinda sad. Since then we've hit up two other carousels and she thinks they are the coolest things ever. If I was a rich celebrity, I would totally have one in my mansion for her.  She wouldn't be spoiled at all. ;)
So a carousel theme it was. :) You can see part of her invite here:
This was where I left off blogging about her party, and miraculously I managed to get everything done in the nick of time YAY! (I may have been up til 2 am finishing up her "Birth to First Year" video and had terrible raccoon eyes the next day, but it got done! So I was super happy).
We had her birthday on January 25th and we were so happy that the weather ended up being great - cold but sunny skies! Amazing for the Seattle area that time of year!

I was so busy at the actual party I didn't take many photos :( (lesson learned - assign a photographer to capture the celebration!) so most of the photos I have are from right before the party or of the decorations.
The night before I painted a onesie for her to match a tutu. I used fabric paint with a small paintbrush and traced around it with a small puffy paint. (I've since washed the onesie and was pleased that the paint held on and didn't smear or fade.) I got the onesie at Old Navy for $7, and already had the fabric paint (*cough art supply hoarder cough*)
Some of the party decor details:  

*Carousel horse photo banner down our hallway from the front door:

I couldn't find any carousel themed decorations at the party store, so I made some out of some cardboard and painted them pink.

Another look at the photo banner. I used painters tape (rolling it to make it doublesided) and used one of those removable plastic hook thingys (that's the very technical name) to tie the ribbon to in the middle to help support the weight of the photos.

*A mock-chalkboard with some of our favorite photos and milestone "firsts".
I got the black posterboard at the dollar store

*Her "All About Me" mock chalkboard:
Black posterboard from dollar store. Balloons from dollar store too. "Norman" the white horse head was borrowed from my mom's house. I've yet to give him back, shhhh. 
I designed the blackboard layout first in PicMonkey (my fav online photo program) to help me get an idea of how I wanted to lay it out. You can tell (obviously) that I didn't follow it to a T or match the font exactly (I was getting tired/sloppy with my writing), but it was nice to have a general guide to glance out while working on it. If you wanted to be more diligent you could have reverse traced it on using a pencil. I was too lazy.


*Welcome sign on the door:

Super quick and easy using some chalkboard pens and adding some foo-foo stuff.  
Allie had fun playing with the sparkle tulle while I wrote on the sign a couples day before the party. She got covered in glitter though. Never mind the mess, I was totally afraid she'd scratch her cornea with glitter or something weird, so last time she got to play with that. (Can you tell I have new mom paranoia/over protectiveness?? ha ha)

*Shot of the dessert table with the quick and easy carousel cupcakes (animal cookies and little umbrellas)

The pink-n-white striped little boxes are from Party City, I found them in the favor section but used them to hold flowers and the forks and spoons by the food. The carousel horse is one of the three figurines I had as a kid, I spray painted their bases white to make them look a little brighter.

*Her "month 1" photo and little splashes of flowers and pink stripes everywhere. Here's one on the mantel. (Ignore the fact that we don't have a wood mantel above the brick yet. Another to-do on our house list)
*DIY poms. These were my first two attempts and they look  a little jacked up ha ha. Oh well. Real life.  

My wonky poms. "Happy Birthday" banner in the background
I hung them using those temporary adhesive hooks and fishing line. Another shot of the family room with the poms. I used dollar store flowers and table clothes on the banister just to add more flair to the room. My hubby went crazy buying balloons at the dollar store ("they are only $1 each!) so we have balloons everywhere which was so fun!

*The carousel-inspired bouncy horse. Our favorite part and Allie's favorite too. She loves riding this thing! I described how I painted this guy here.

We kept food simple and cheap(ish) with some grub from Costco: meatballs in a crockpot, Asian-chicken salad kit, fruit, chips-n-dip, some punch. A friend brought smoked salmon and cheese. Lots of family and close friends came. We laughed, talked, watched the video I made (I may have teared up watching it even though I'd already seen it a hundred times in the course of making it. A year goes by so fast!). Then it was present time and cupcakes!

She didn't like the cake much (we weren't surprised, she is not a big eater) but she loved it when we sang to her and especially the candle.
Who cares about cake? Where did the candle go?

The day before on her actual birthday we sang and blew out a candle too. I love this picture of her :) just seeing her little face glowing with glee makes my heart feel too big for my chest.

The party went by so quick but it was such a fun evening and we were so happy to spend it surrounded by friends and family. It was a great celebration of her first year and her milestones- and our first year surviving as parents!
At the very end of the night the last remaining few of us bundled up and we went outside and did sparklers while singing in a circle to her. Makes me tear up to remember it - it was such a beautiful moment that I will always cherish - my beautiful little girl just so happy to have everyone singing and swirling sparklers for her - just surrounded by so much love!
Overall party recap:
*Best $ saves: getting lots of decor at the dollar store like balloons, poster board, fake flowers, table clothes
*Most spendy: chalkboard pens! (they are $4 a pop! That added up quick when I bought so many colors. Someone said try metallic sharpies but I couldn't find them anywhere)
*Most successful DIY: the carousel wall banner and the cupcakes turned out pretty cute I thought
*Least successful improvise: the hanging poms. They were cheap and not too time consuming so a great party decor, unfortunately I needed to fluff them better and cut the petals less triangle-y and more petal-y. Better luck next time.
*Best part of the party: watching this little monkey having fun with all the people, her bouncy horse, her presents and her balloons (yes, we kept them around for a month after! ha ha)

Love you so much birthday girl!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Hobby Horse Makeover

I need to post all the details from Allie's party still...I've been totally MIA from blogging but hope to have things slowing down soon. (ha, famous last words)

So first I wanted to share my DIY project that was my favorite part of the birthday decor and her birthday present: a princess hobby horse!

I found this guy for $20 on craiglist - it wasn't in too bad of shape but certainly not very girly or cute. Since her party was a carousel theme I decided I'd paint it to make it look more pretty. I made a few mistakes along the way, but the end result turned out pretty cute and she absolutely loves it. I painted it over the course of four nights after Allie went down for sleep and by the end of the week after staying up late, waking up with her multiple times (yes, she still doesn't sleep through the night) and getting up early for work I was so grumpy and exhausted. But it was worth it to see how excited she was on her birthday! :)

So here's my steps if you're interested in doing one of your own - including mistakes so you can learn from my stupidity. :)

How to makeover a Hobby Horse: 

1) First I wiped it down with a wet rag. I started to sandpaper it, but after about 3 seconds I was. done. screw it. I hate sandpapering. Especially in a cold, litterbox-smelling, no-Sherlock-on-tv-for-distraction garage.

2) I spraypainted the body white for a base layer. I used whatever it was we had on hand - I think semi-gloss. It took 2 coats. (Mistake #1 - it was freezing cold when I did this and I was in a rush since I was going against precious baby sleeping time, so I didn't pull out the space heater and I got a bit sloppy so there are a few drips on the body. Also, I ended up going back and painting the handles white, I don't know why I didn't do it at the time. Derrh)


3) I started painting the body color first using crafter's acrylic paints. Even though I had the base white I wanted it originally to look like a gray dapple horse.

And here is where I struggled and wasted a whole night of painting because I couldn't really decide what style I wanted to do. I started doing a dry-brush technique to make it look more vintage and like an old carousel horse, but it just wasn't working. It just started looking dirty. I tried painting the bridle a light pink to see if that would help hone my style but it just emphasized that it was crappy looking. I think on the right horse and with more time it might have turned out okay, but it was not working for what I had in mind.
(Cue my husband's lecture: If you wouldn't wait to the last minute for these aspirational projects, you wouldn't be stressed!)

4) Getting frustrated with the body color I started painting the halter, saddle and blanket. I went with a gold saddle and lots of jewel toned colors i.e. purples and blues to give it a real princessy look. The blue part is actually supposed to be part of the saddle, but I wanted it to look less like a Western-saddle and more like an medieval saddle. (At this stage I'm struggling with the rope - I ended up going with silver at the end, this was my pink attempt which wasn't working. You can also see how the body is more gray textured and just looks messy here, thus my frustration.)

5) Decided to take another approach so I ditched the mottling and dry-brushing and went to the craft store and bought dark gray, light gray, and white. I did the entire body white, and then used the light gray around the legs blending into the darker gray near the hooves. (Hallelujah, now we're jiving! Why didn't I just do this at the beginning!)
I used the light and dark gray for the mane and then gray around the mouth and eyes. So quick and easy and clean looking! I didn't get a pic of it at this stage unfortunately because my creative buzz was so euphoric I didn't want to stop.
6) The next night - this was my favorite part :) I hot glued plastic jewels onto the bridle, saddle and blanket. (I found an assorted colors and shapes pack at my local craft store that worked perfect. I tried to pry one off to make sure they weren't going to be a choking hazard for my baby in the future - and I could barely get one off using a knife and my super strenght, so I don't foresee it being a problem.) 
Then I used the same gold paint as the saddle and using a tiny paintbrush painted some swirly designs on the bridle and along the saddle blanket edge. I also painted gold on the raised design of the blue blanket, and did a second coat of gold on the horse shoes. I also emphasized the texture of the saddle blanket by doing a few gold lines on there as well. Turning out so pretty!


7) I painted the eyes black, giving it a little white highlight for "life", and eyelashes (of course!). And then finding this cool "pearl/iridescient" white paint I decided to paint the white parts of the body to give an extra pizzazz (or so I explained to my hubby while using jazz hands).
8) The night before the party, I dragged it back out into the garage and covered the body with garbage bags and then painted the green stand a matching gold. (Mistake #2 - I ran out of gold paint, so at some angles you can see hints of green. Oh well.)
9) Voila! It was dried and ready for our birthday girl to enjoy on her birthday and for the other kidlets to enjoy at her party!
It turned out pretty darn cute - I love the gold details, jewels and the shiny white coat. I think it will be something she will love to have for years to come.

For interested parties, the price breakdown ended up being less than $50.
It was roughly:
$20 for the horse from craigslist
$5 for the bag of fake jewels (dollar store might be the place to check next time!)
$8 for gold spraypaint (we already had the cans of white)
$10 on crafter's acrylic paint (various grays and a pink, I already had the colors and gold paint)

So that's my horse makeover! I hope to do another one soon but in a different style. (I also need to spray it with a sealant/shiny varnish and put a second coat of gold on the legs still)
Happy Horsin' Around!