Under Construction: Beau's 2nd Birthday Party (The Details)

Planning events is one of my favorite pastimes. Being able to craft a party that utilizes a beloved theme AND makes someone feel super-dee-duper special is so much fun! My son turned 2 in June, so beginning in January, I started brainstorming theme ideas for his party. He's not much of a napper, so I start way in advance since I get very limited time each day to design.

The funny thing? I chose a Construction/Tool theme before he was all that interested in it, and through the planning process, he became more and more fascinated with diggers and dozers and dump trucks. By the time his party rolled around, he was obsessed, so it all worked out. ;)

Let me also say this: Having a Silhouette Cameo made planning this party SO much easier. When I did Beau's Woodland Party last year, I cut everything by hand. Oy.

*invite2
*invite2

LOVE my Cameo...it allowed me to cut out the heading and the pieces I needed to create some excavators. I used Sticky Doos from Hobby Lobby to give the machines some depth, and tore pieces of brown paper by hand to give the 'dirt' a jagged look.

*invite
*invite

Next, I created favors for each of Beau's little friends. My mom, ever the incredible seamstress, used tea towels to make each child their own tool belt with two pockets.

I cut various construction vehicle from vinyl to create stencils for painting.

*toolbelt1
*toolbelt1
*toolbelt2
*toolbelt2

And the birthday boy helped remove the vinyl once the paint was dry.

*toolbelt3
*toolbelt3

I designed hang tags for some baggies I had leftover from a pegboard project and filled each baggie with chocolate rocks I found on Amazon.

**rocks
**rocks

Each tool belt was stuffed with a mini machine and a baggie of chocolate rocks.

*toolbelt4
*toolbelt4

Treats for our pals, ready to go!

*toolbelt5
*toolbelt5

Since we live out in the country, I knew I wanted to mark our driveway with a sign of some sort. I used my Silhouette to cut out vinyl letters to mask off black foamcore board.

*sign
*sign

Then, I learned the hard way (with a piece not shown here), that foamcore board does NOT like spray paint. Must be the solvents or something in the paint, but it makes the board bubble up and the paper backing peels away from the foam. SUCH a mess.

So, cue Plan B...acrylic paint. I tried a brush, but hated being able to see the brushstrokes. So I switched to a brayer I haven't used since my college days of linoleum block printing.

**paint
**paint

Because the paper soaked up the paint, it took several coats, but it worked pretty well. Once the paint dried, I peeled off the vinyl letters and cut a black strip around the outside edge to mimic a true traffic sign.

**paint2
**paint2

One project I do each year is an age shirt. Let me tell you, truck fabric is NOT easy to find! We ended up with this psychedelic construction vehicles print.

*fabric
*fabric

But, once the vehicles were isolated, they looked pretty cute on a plain, brown tee. I purchased orange and yellow tin buckets to hold snacks and forks. I happened to have some construction stickers laying around to decorate the tins. I found hard hats at the party store and added the CAT logo in black vinyl.

*shirthat
*shirthat

To keep stress low as the party approaches, I always make as much of the food in advance as possible. I knew I wanted to make dipped pretzel rods, so I was excited to read they could be done up to a week in advance. So, I dipped, sprinkled, and packed away our pretzel treats.

*pretzels
*pretzels

Sugar cookies are always a big hit, too. My parents sent me this set of tool cookie cutters they found on Ebay.

*cookies
*cookies

I like to use this cookie recipe, as it holds a cutter shape really well and isn't too sweet (the icing covers that!). I made royal icing in gray, brown, and yellow and got to work outlining and flooding all the cookies.

*cookies2
*cookies2
*cookies3
*cookies3

Cake decorating is a lot of fun to me, too. I had seen this tutorial about making striped cakes, and I knew it would be perfect for our construction zone theme.

*cake2
*cake2

Because the recipe makes two cakes, I was able to practice and perfect my angles. And my mess-making skills.

*cake1
*cake1

When it came time to decorate the cake, I pulled inspiration from multiple sources. I have a copy of the book What's New, Cupcake? and it gave me the idea to create 'trees' from Tootsie Rolls and sprinkles.

*cake7
*cake7

And of course, Oreo cookie dirt! I made Beau his own little cake mound out of scraps and trimmings.

*cake6
*cake6

I used fondant to make miniature traffic cones, then added dyed coconut grass and chocolate rocks to round out the landscaping.

*cake3
*cake3

Of course, there was a dump truck, hauling a load of rocks from the quarry.

*cake5
*cake5

A little construction zone tape put the finishing touches on the cake display.

*cake4
*cake4

I knew I wanted some sort of edible "boulder," so I made chocolate popcorn balls using this recipe. I made them late the night before the party and wrapped them tightly in cling wrap so the popcorn would stay crisp and not get soggy.

**popcornball
**popcornball

To set off the area in the kitchen where the food would be set up, I hung a black curtain over the windows. Then I created a banner from cut letters and shapes attached to satin ribbons.

*banner
*banner

As for party 'entertainment', what's better than a bunch of rocks and dirt to dig through?!

I set up our pop up tent and draped a tarp over the top for shade. Orange safety netting, marker flags, and painted signs rounded out the construction zone look.

*playpen
*playpen

Stay tuned for pictures from Party Day so you can see all these details in action!

20 of 35: James Taylor

Seeing James Taylor in concert has been a dream of mine for a long time. I've loved his music since my dad played "Fire and Rain" on vinyl when I was in middle school. Since then, I've had a particular fondness for the singer/songwriter genre. Jim Croce, Carole King, and JJ Heller are just a few others I love in that category. And let's face it, as I get older, good ol' JT is getting older, too. And he did a LOT of "experimenting" in his younger days. All that to say, who knows how many tours he has left in him!

So I splurged. James was coming to Tulsa (about and hour and a half from where I live), and I bought tickets for myself and my husband Andrew.

When we got there, I was excited to see that our seats were to the side of the stage. Perfect view, and no heads in the way!

photo 1
photo 1

Besides being near the stage, we were also right next to the projection screen. Needless to say, we could see everything!

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photo 3

I would be lying if I said this dream were "just a concert." There's something about James Taylor's musical stories that resonates with me. Two or three songs in, I sat, mesmerized, tears of joy (what else could it be?!) streaming down my cheeks. Three years into our marriage, Andrew knows better than to ask me why I'm crying. I'm a crier, it's what I do.

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IMG_2294

The best part about concerts is getting to know an artist a little more as a person. Their stories of love and loss, their quirks, how they carry themselves, their sense of humor...and boy, did James have a sense of humor!

At one point, someone in the crowd yelled out "Sweet Baby James!" and he picked up the set list, turned it towards the audience and said, "See, now 'Sweet Baby James' is down here at number 15, and we're up here at number 6. Now, I know nothing in this life is certain, but I think the odds are pretty good we'll get to it."

Before singing "Handy Man", he made a reference to the main character in the story calling him "a gigolo...a he-whore, if you will." I'm not sure I've ever laughed so hard at a concert as I did when JT used the word "he-whore"!

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IMG_2300

Naturally, at the end...standing ovation. James Taylor is a legend. You don't let him leave the stage without one.

And then he blesses you by playing a couple more classics.

This concert reminded me that life is too short to NOT do the things you want to do. Spend a little money, have a lot of fun, make some ever-lasting memories.

2 of 35: Color Me Rad 5k

Gimmicky 5k races are popping up everywhere. And I love it! :) Lately, it's been hard for me to get motivated to run for running's sake, so it's been nice to do events that are designed to be FUN. And...doing this race was one of the things on my 35 by 35 list! :)

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20120714_083244

BEFORE! My bestie Lindsay, me, my SIL Anna, and her bestie, Megann. We ran in separate heats, so we didn't get an after picture together! :(

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20120714_102838

AFTER. Yes, those are horse jockey goggles. Thanks for asking.

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20120714_103144

So tough. Lindsay, me, Alyssa.

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20120714_103305

Pretty ladies. Pretty messy, that is!

Tribe Women & Dream Lists

I am one soul within a tribe of artistic, encouraging warrioresses. These women lift me up, cheer me on, and offer a safe place to cry, scream, and vent. They celebrate my victories and commiserate with my fears and failures. Then they help me pick myself up, dust myself off, and begin again, with renewed passion. I do the same for them. We preach dreams and zeal and boundary-destruction. Our tribe is a dozen strong and we are a motley crew. Of the 12, I have never met five in real life. But they love me and believe in me and share #secretmessages that give me wings.

A couple of them (one I have met, one I have not...yet!) have inspired me to make yet another dream list.

With my 30th birthday coming up in a few weeks, I've been really thinking about what I'd like the next five years of my life to look like. I've gotten really stingy with myself lately, citing work and money as the primary reasons to say "maybe someday" to fun things instead of "why not today?!"

My mentor and I discuss this topic often. I've gotten so used to delayed gratification as a lifestyle, that there's NO gratification now. Time to change that; time to dream and plan and do!

35 By 35

(in no particular order. this list will #grow as I continue to dream!):

1. Float trip on the river

2. Color Me Rad (July 14, 2012)

3. Trip to Dallas to see the Lundy family

4. Go to IKEA

5. Have a 2nd baby

6. Put on Hot Mamas Run (September 30, 2012)

7. Drastic hair cut/color

8. Meet my cyber-pal Shawna from Styleberry blog in person

9. Learn to use a sewing machine

10. Build a house...or at least start

11. Learn to bake tomato-basil bread like Panera's

12. Take Andrew on a beach vacation (Destin, FL; October 17-23, 2012)

13. Read "Little Women"

14. Learn to change a tire

15. Learn to jump a car battery

16. Trapeze lesson

17. Order a favorite photo (or two) as a wrapped canvas

18. Start & finish the book of our wedding photos

19. Go on a sisters-only trip with Arica and Sonny

20. See James Taylor in concert (July 18, 2012)

21. Attend a JJ Heller Concert

22. Buy an expensive but perfectly-awesome-and-flattering pair of jeans

23. Go on a cruise

24. Visit Zoe in Austin

25. Take the train from OKC to Fort Worth

26. Go indoor rock-climbing at Rock Town

27.

28.

29.

30.

31.

32.

33.

34.

35.

As I accomplish/complete these I’ll add the date and link to any blog posts related to the goal. Check back often and see how I'm doing!

How about you? Do you have a Dream List or Bucket List?