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Monday, April 14, 2014

Vintage Sewing Pattern

About a month ago, Evelyn and I chose a theme for her birthday party - a 1930's mystery party that centers around her American Girl doll, Kit Kittredge.  Everyone at the party needs to come dressed to play their role, especially the birthday girl.

After bidding (and losing out) on two vintage sewing patterns, I finally landed this pattern for $12.  When the pattern arrived last week, Evelyn and I were in awe.  We don't know exactly what year this pattern is from, but the style definitely looks like it's from the 1930's.  The pattern's tissue paper is in excellent condition, except one piece is missing.  The instructions, however, are very fragile.  They are very clear and easy to understand...I just need to be extremely careful with the delicate paper.

Yesterday Evelyn and I went to the fabric store to choose material.  She wanted fabric that looked like the birthday dress she has for her Kit doll, and this material was as close as we could get.  Today I washed (aka, preshrunk) and ironed the material, and I also ironed the pattern tissue paper.  The next step is to lay out the pattern pieces onto the fabric, in the hopes that the pattern directions are accurate.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Spring Soccer

Julia's Spring soccer season started today with her first game.  She couldn't wait to get on the outdoor field and play the opposing team.
 Last Fall, I was the assistant coach for Julia's soccer team.  This season, Julia promoted me to head coach.  Well, it might be more accurate to say she blackmailed me - she said she would only play soccer if I was her team's head coach.  True, I have never played a soccer game in my life (and never will with my bad knee), but I enjoy working with kids and thankfully there aren't very many rules when it comes to soccer.  ;)

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Julia's Tea Party Birthday Party

Who's ready to host Julia's tea party birthday party?  We are!
 Evelyn was the DJ for the first activity:  freeze dance.  This was a good activity to do as the guests arrived because everyone could jump right in and play.
 After dancing up an appetite, it was time to settle down for snacks and pink lemonade.  Julia introduced everyone to the idea of holding their tea cups with their pinky up, and I told the girls that their tea cups had a special name - demitasse.  Fancy, fancy!
 Next up was the big craft of the day:  newspaper party hats.  First, we wrapped the girls' heads with three large pieces of newspaper.  I went around each girl's head several times with masking tape to keep the newspaper in place.  Then Evelyn curled up the newspaper to get it out of their faces.  Finally, the girls had an adult help them attach feather boas and fake flowers with a hot glue gun.
 Look at all those big, bold tea party hats!
 Next, we played "Pin the Ring on Minnie."  Three girls completely missed the poster, which made everyone burst out laughing.  After that game, I read a story to the girls - Tea Party Rules by Ame Dyckman.  They all loved the funny, unpredictable story as well as the clever illustrations.
Then it was cake time!  Julia had to take a couple of breaths to blow out all the candles, but she got the job done.
 After everyone indulged in some yummy chocolate cake, Julia opened her presents.  She wanted to thank each guest for their gift...and she did so with bear hugs.  Finally, as I put the guests' tea cups and saucers into the proper goodie bags/purses, Julia's friends played BINGO.  Before we knew it, the two-hour party was over and it was time to bid farewell to the guests.  A good time was had by all - especially the birthday girl!

Egg- and Dairy-Free Birthday Party Food

Our family does not have any food allergies.  However, two of the friends who came to Julia's party today are allergic to egg and dairy products.  It was very important to Julia that all of her guests enjoy all of the food at her party, so she and I worked diligently with her friends' parents to plan and prepare egg- and dairy-free party food.

Let's start with the cake.  Using a Wilton butterfly cake pan, I made an egg- and dairy-free chocolate cake.  Then it was time to whip up homemade dairy-free frosting.  I simply substituted Earth Balance vegan buttery sticks for real butter.  Same texture, similar taste.
 I tinted the frosting per Julia's directions - she knew which sections should be which colors.  Wilton icing colors are known to be vegan, which also made them safe for Julia's cake.
I added antennae, a face and dots on the wings (again, per Julia's directions).  And...voila!  A beautiful, delicious butterfly cake...that nobody would guess was egg- and dairy-free.
 But let's not forget about the snacks the girls enjoyed during Julia's tea party.  A couple days ago, Julia and I made chocolate chip cookies - we used a Cherrybrook Kitchen box mix and Earth Balance "butter."  (Just like the cake, taste was not sacrificed - the party guests gobbled up the cookies.)  Julia also offered Oreo cookies.  The savory snack was Goldfish pretzel crackers.  We served grapes and pink lemonade, too.
Yummy party food that was also egg- and dairy-free.  That was Julia's goal, and we pulled it off without a hitch.  The only people that were in on our secret were the two girls with food allergies and their parents.  :)

Friday, April 11, 2014

Tea Party Birthday Party Prep

Julia's tea party birthday party is tomorrow.  After three months of planning and preparing, the big event is only one day away.  Three months of planning yields plenty of time to bargain hunt.  The cost for Julia's party?  $125, including food and invitations (which are not pictured).
 Julia and I found mismatched tea cups and saucers at a local thrift store - each set cost between $2 and $4.  The girls will drink pink lemonade from their tea cups during the snacks and tea part of the party, and the guests will take home their tea cups as a party favor.
 Speaking of party favors, Julia and I went to Target the day after Valentine's Day to round out her goodie bags.  We spent an additional $18 on all the goodies in the picture below.
 The last thing Julia did today was set the table.  She arranged the plates, napkins and tea cups just-so.  She also planned where she wanted the snack dishes.  This girl is ready for tomorrow's party!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

One Year Ago . . .

. . . this house came on the market.  Troy had an evening appointment with our Massachusetts realtor to see this house at then end of a cul de sac, with a creek in the backyard.  He loved it, and we put in a full-price offer.  It was the second house (in three days) that we bid on, and we honestly didn't think we would get it.  What a pleasant surprise it was, then, when Troy received a call two days later saying we got the house!  It's hard to believe all that has happened in one year's time . . .

Monday, April 7, 2014

Outlet Shopping

This is the latest I have shopped for spring/summer clothes for the girls.  When we lived in Dallas, I started shopping in February.  When we lived in Maryland, I would get warm-weather clothes in March.  I (optimistically) think warmer weather is just around the corner...at least a few days here and there...so we finally went shopping.  In April.

We live just ten minutes away from an amazing outlet shopping center (Wrentham Village Premium Outlets).  Everything at these outlet stores is offered at a significant discount, and we always find some amazing bargains.  Today was no different.  Evelyn was the one who needed the most warm-weather clothes, and she made out like a bandit at Hanna Andersson, The Children's Place and Justice.  Another reason I like our home's proximity to the outlets is that we can go on a Monday after school, when it's not busy.  Tee hee!