Wednesday, October 29, 2014

sometimes, you just have to spoil yourself (sponsored by the bouqs)

do you ever have those days (or weeks, or months, for that matter) where youre just like "you know what, if i can survive this, im gonna send myself a dozen roses"? or is that just me. 

cause im gonna be completely honest, i say this all. the. time. 

but then i survive whatever it was i was going through and forget to send myself those roses. 

but this week. this week is different. i was prepared to spend a couple weeks in a weird limbo trying to get back on my feet after two weeks of birthday chaos. but i was NOT prepared for birthday chaos to end with james working out of town for six days during midterms and then having school week the next week. 

so yeah. birthday chaos (which included a week of alice being very, very sick). immediately followed by six days by myself, which included both midterms and starting a new class at the homeschool co-op. and now im driving to whittier and back twice a day, on top of school and teaching and all the stuff thats normally on my plate. 

(update: james DID find a carpool on monday for the rest of the week)

but thanks to the bouqs, i was able to preemptively send myself those roses. 

and they are truly some amazing roses:

now the bouqs, they are a totally different animal when it comes to ordering flowers: they just sell flowers. beautiful, incredibly fresh flowers (from either a farm in california or the side of an active volcano in south america), at reasonable, up front prices, with no upselling or hidden fees and the easiest ordering process ever. oh, and no ugly vases to feel bad about throwing away after the flowers die. (also, i totally dig their eco-friendly and fair trade practices). 

seriously. once i had set my sights on the hope full bouq, it took a whopping three minutes before i knew EXACTLY when this was going to arrive:

and when it did, i wasted no time getting them into my favorite vintage vase: 

and holy moly i suddenly feel a heck of a lot better about how tired and cranky and stressed out i am right now, because are those not the most ridiculously bright pink roses youve ever seen? and they were so, so fresh. like, not even opened all the way fresh. like, theyve been on the table reminding me everythings ok for a week and only just yesterday started looking sad. 

so yeah, next time i want to treat myself (or someone else) to something nice, i know where im going first: the bouqs

(disclaimer: this post was sponsored by the bouqs and does contain affiliate links. i received a bouq to review, but have expressed my true, honest opinions. i love these flowers, and i hate school week)

The Bouqs - Premium Farm Direct Flowers

Monday, October 27, 2014

easy diy weeping angels.

youre probably aware by now that i had a totally rad dr who themed birthday party last weekend. and whats a dr who party without some (fake, thank GOODNESS) webbing angels hanging around to scare the bejezzus out of everyone? not much of a dr who party ad all, if you ask me...

anyway, fellow whovian party planners may or may not have seen this incredible tutorial using barbies and stone texture spray paint. its amazing. and also, really really time consuming and potentially very expensive if you dont already have all those supplies just lying around. (if you havent seen the tutorial though, go take a look, its not one to be missed). 

now, i am way, way too broke and lazy to deal with that involved of a project. so i came up with my own cheaper, faster, easier, and still freaking terrifying alternative:

heres what you need: 

1. assorted angel tchotchkes (note: these are surprisingly difficult to find seeing as folks tend to collect them and not get rid of them, so be prepared to spend some time looking for them. though i did find what i needed at a fairly large thrift store)

2. krylon natural stone spray paint (available at craft and hardware stores, i made five weeping angels without using up a whole can, so you dont need a lot)

3. paper and tape to mask off a safe area for overspray (very important)

heres what you do:

step 1: pick a nice sunny spot outside and tape down some paper to protect everything around you from overspray (do NOT make my mistake of picking a spot in the shade because you think it will make the project more comfortable, because all it will do is make your angels take for-freaking-ever to dry):

step 2: thoroughly coat your angels with the spray. please note that the stone spray is a lot less like paint and a lot more like stuff with bits in it so make sure to turn your pieces upside down, spray the underside first, THEN turn them over and spray from the top:

step 3: let your angels dry for at least fifteen minutes in the sun (guess how many tries it took me to figure that one out...), before going back to fill in the nooks and crannies. dont worry about the paint getting thick, lumpy or drippy though, it just adds to the effect. 

step 4: let them dry (again IN. THE. SUN.) for a couple more hours until the stone finish fully hardens, and then YOURE DONE!

wasnt that easy? 

im really happy with how these came out, and i got a LOT of compliments about them at the party. mainly im happy that i got to still have my weeping angels for about $15 and an hour, instead of spending who knows how much on an all day project. 

please let me know if you try this out, id love to see what you make!

(p.s. this post was not sponsored in any way by krylon it just so happens that they make the only stone type spray paint i could find) 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

a dr who grown up birthday party (hosted by bluff cove olive oil).

saturday night we FINALLY got around to officially celebrating my birthday. i say FINALLY not because the party was scheduled for a week after my actual birthday, but because ive kind of wanted to throw this party for, i dont know, about two years. 

i wanted to throw myself a birthday party. a fancy birthday party. for grown ups. with wine and cheese (but mostly just cheese) and tiny desserts and one heck of a theme. oh, and costumes. because a grown up wine and cheese party just isnt complete without costumes. 

like i said, id been mulling over ideas for this party for a long, long, long time. things just werent really right around my last two birthdays to pull it off. but this year, the stars and planets perfectly aligned so that when my mom asked me last month what i wanted to do for my birthday, i knew. 

we were going to throw the best damn dr who themed cheese party that was ever thrown. 

(assuming it wasnt the only dr who themed cheese party that was ever thrown, which it very well may have been)

within minutes i had basically all of the details worked out, what we would eat, drink, wear, etc., but what i didnt have immediately was a location. our apartment was DEFINITELY out because its tiny and gross and ugly, and my moms house is cool but, you know, every party ever is at my moms house. but then something amazing happened: the incredible jessica over at bluff cove olive oil generously offered to let us use the shop for the party. 

and it. was. perfect. 

I'm sure having a party at a store sounds totally weird and impractical but since bluff cove is a food store, it was already perfectly equipped: plenty of tables and chairs, multiple places to sit, and millions of olive oils and vinegars on which to base the menu. 

oh, and the stores already super cute, so i barely had to decorate. which was awesome because you probably know by now that decorating is NOT my thing. aside from the food (which in my opinion is the MOST important and attractive part of a partys ambiance), all i did for decor was display some dr who themed prints by nan lawson (that i bought at renegade):

and some homemade weeping angels so that everyone could be terrified (ill be posting a tutorial for these very soon):

(plus roses because i needed flowers AND WHAT FLOWER IS MORE APPROPRIATE THAN ROSES?!?!?!)

and then there were the costumes. ive realized recently that were slowly turning into one of those elaborate family cosplay families, which on the one hand is kind of embarrassing and makes it difficult to make friends with normal people (because its still widely believed that cosplay is for children/weirdos), but on the other hand, its super awesome. anyway, james dressed up as the war doctor, partly because hes the only doctor with a beard and partly because thats the doctor he relates too the most (correct me if im wrong, james, if you end up reading this), and i dressed as (bespectacled, hair inaccurate) clara oswald, because "impossible girl"? yeah, thats me. (even if clara is definitely not my most favorite companion). i think our outfits came out pretty great:

especially james. especially because the ONLY part of the outfit we bought/made were the gaiters. but my pride in our outfits was paled in comparison to the TINIEST. ROSE. TYLER. EVER:

but of course, as soon as i start feeling really good about our costumes, my friends shannon and stacie (cosplayers extaordinaire and purveyors of fine screen printed goods) showed up... and... well:

but enough about aesthetics. lets get to the important part. the food. 

my budget for the party was basically "whatever money i got for my birthday", and since almost everything we needed could be rounded up between stuff my mom and i already had. i spent basically that entire budget on cheese:

fifteen different varieties, to be exact (thanks trader joes!). all labeled with tiny little flags (thanks target $1 section!):

now, obviously i would have been thoroughly satisfied with just having cheese and crackers, but since there would be other people involved (some of which are lactose intolerant), we also had hummus, bread, fruit, olives, etc:

and to make sure that we took FULL advantage of being in a store full of flavored olive oil, we set up a little popcorn bar. with plain popcorn so that everyone could make their own special flavor (though mine will always and forever be truffle):

and in addition to the cheap peach wine and whisky (plus assorted beverages our friends that dont have such juvenile taste in alcohol brought) we stocked WAY up on mineral water to make vinegar sodas. remind me to do a post about vinegar sodas. because if you dont know about vinegar sodas you are missing out. 

and for dessert, we (obviously) had fish custard:

(pudding topped with swedish fish)

and adipose:

(freakishly huge marshmallows with faces)

it was a great party. so great, in fact, that i totally forgot about how i had set up my tripod (and even remembered to bring my shutter remote!) to take pictures of everyone that came. we were just all having such a great time that it really didnt make sense to interrupt several hours of this:

for pictures, you know? 

and with all that said, i just want to take a minute to say HUGE thank yous to everyone who helped make this magical party happened: especially my mom and james for helping with all the prep and shopping, and jessica at bluff cove for letting us use the shop, but also to all the friends (old and new) and family that came to hang out, the friends and family that couldnt make it but still took the time to make me feel super special. 25 has been pretty great so far. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

am i really 25?! (birthday ramblings and the finally tally on that 24 in 24 list)

a funny thing happened with mine and alices birthdays this year: they happened to fall in the same week. now i know everyones like "well DUH victoria thats what happens when things are six days apart", but please hear me out. USUALLY (as in, the first three times alice had a birthday), things spaced out in a way so that our birthdays (though only six days apart) happened on VERY MUCH DIFFERENT WEEKS. she was born on a wednesday, my birthday was the next tuesday, her first birthday was on a friday, mine followed on the next thursday, last year hers fell on saturday, mine was the next friday. two birthdays, two separate weeks. intense, sure, but totally manageable. 

well, this year, her birthday was on sunday and mine was the following saturday. meaning, we had two birthdays in the space of ONE WEEK. 

i know mathematically this makes no significant difference, but psychologically this was a HUGE DEAL. totally freaked me out. so much so, in fact, that i scheduled MY birthday party (what? i turned 25, of course im throwing myself a birthday party) for a WHOLE WEEK after my actual birthday just to give me the mental space to acknowledge each birthday separately and not go insane. 

which on the one hand was super great because i got to have a whole weekend to be spoiled rotten by my husband and family: james happened to be home the day that my aunt took alice out for HER birthday so he treated me to dinner, a surprise shopping trip, AND gifts friday night, and my mom made an INSANE birthday dinner on saturday (my actual birthday) and it was amazing. but on the other hand it is a little weird that my birthday has come and gone and we still havent officially celebrated yet. but hey, you only turn 25 once so might as well spread it out for the whole month. 

oh, and its totally weird that im actually 25. i realize that this is maybe an unacceptably low age to have an existential crisis, but (due to having young parents and an exceptionally accurate memory of my early childhood) i totally remember my PARENTS at 25. i remember my mom being 20. I AM NOW HALF A DECADE OLDER THAN MY EARLIEST MEMORIES OF MY OWN MOTHER. i mean, i vividly remember making my stepdad a birthday card when HE turned 25 (my mom had me cut out shapes from construction paper to make a collage, but she had to cut out the numbers because i was 6 and that was too hard for me i guess). and i cant possibly be as old as my parents, can i? 

yes, yes i can. because thats how time works and my parents arent currently 25 and im being an emotional idiot about this whole thing. dont mind me, im just over here being dumb. 

and to be completely honest, 24 was a roller coaster that i am MORE than happy to get off of (im just not into roller coasters, ok?). 

so yeah, thats whats been going on in my head as i get ready to actually celebrate my birthday birthday with the first full-blown birthday party ive had in quite some time. im really excited about that. i seem to be growing into the kind of person thats really into parties, i guess. 

but theres another thing thats been on my mind a lot lately: 

that 24 in 24 list i made a year ago, back when our life was in a totally different place and i was going through a super goal-oriented checklist-y phase made some goals that quite frankly, i havent thought much about in recent months. so id like to shift gears and take some time to reflect on both this years accomplishments, as well as how our life has changed/priorities have shifted and, oh, i dont know, actually finish a thing that i started. maybe 25 is the age where i start finishing things i start. maybe. 

anyway, heres the list:

1. find a better place to live. ill be completely honest here: our tiny ugly crappy apartment in a less than great neighborhood had been a huge source of shame and embarrassment and feelings of inadequacy for a very long time. but in recent months, ive really grown to embrace our current home and the benefits of small-space minimalist living. so this one isnt even on the radar right now. and you bet ill be writing more about this soon. 

2. find a new hobby just for me.  in march i started taking fashion classes at the (conveniently three blocks away) local community college and its (mostly) awesome. after this semester i only have 8 more classes and then im a fashion designer!   

3. hit 25,000 blog page views.  i just checked and im actually just past 65,000, which is pretty ridiculous when you factor in this years extended hiatus. 

4. do a craft fair.  yep! i sold at create 2014 back in august, and while it wasnt a rousing financial success, i AM (both mentally and equipment-wise) ready to re-enter the craft fair scene (though more events will have to wait until the shop cash flow gets better)

5. quit my job at joanns. done and DONE. six months in, and i am STILL in love with working for jamberry

6. write a business plan. unfortunately, business (at least in the PL department) has been on the back burner because 1. school, 2. jamberry is where im actually bringing in the bacon, and 3. i really need some time to relax and not always be WORKING on stuff. so, no longer a priority. for now. 

7. take a family trip. this one got repurposed into "take a super amazing grown-ups only vacation to the best city ever", but ill still count this one as done

8. find a new family hobby. i surrender. disneyland is our hobby. so much so that were upgrading to the nicer passes and um maybe possibly founding a social club? maybe? 

9. try a new restaurant. with our recent development of a stable income and my guts deciding to calm the heck down, weve been able to try several new places and omg im REALLY into trying new restaurants now. 

10. clean out my closet.  ok, so i thoroughly purged my closet in march because there was a clothing drive at the blogger brunch i went to. we got rid of like three trash bags of stuff then. i started a (more vicious) purge over the summer, and while its taken me FOREVER to get through (every time i think im done, i find five more things for the pile) i have about TWICE that amount of clothes heading out the door. 

11. make something just for me. this one got shifted to "buy myself something absurdly expensive" instead, when i treated myself to a KELLY MOORE CAMERA BAG with my first big jamberry bonus!

12. make $100 from blogging.  i accomplished this sometime before my half birthday, but due to the aforementioned hiatus, i havent made much progress beyond that. 

13. color my hair an actual color. in case you havent noticed, ive added some pink

14. take alice to the zoo.  mission accomplished!

15. sponsor some new blogs.  ive lost count of how many new blogs ive sponsored over the past year, but breaking out of my original "blogging circle" has probably been the best blog-related decision ive ever made. 

16. get better at sewing. im in a sewing class right now, and while we havent gotten far into the territory of "things i dont know how to do", i HAVE learned how to use an industrial machine AND an overlock, and i have VASTLY improved on the things i do know. so well count this one as a win. 

17. publish my original knitting and crochet patterns. yep! well, a couple of them. the only ones that were really any good. 

18. host a dinner party.  not a "dinner party" per se, but we have had a couple of informal MST3K gatherings in recent months, which have been surprisingly successful. 

19. take real family pictures. havent gotten here yet. 

20. purge useless files and backup our computer. or here. but please bear in mind that james has been working hours the likes of which he has never worked before, and im taking three classes this semester, so neither of these last two have been things we even have time for. 

21. get a new tattoo. james and i both got new tattoos in july. he got an anchor, i got a peach (you can see mine in these photos). and because we are excellent parents we took alice with us and watched the whole thing and now she really likes "the tattoo store" as she calls it. 

22. get at least 12 etsy orders. um, nope. but please let me remind you of the whole back burner situation. 

23. start doing yoga again. yoga takes too long and im really impatient but i did find a 10 minute cardio/ab thing thats worked wonders for the sitting-to-much-related muscle spasm in my back/hip, as well as helped me gain a few pounds of much needed muscle so i dont feel like my bodys going to fall apart at the seams any more. its a good feeling. 

24. learn to relax. a year ago, this seemed like a tall order. six or seven months ago, this seemed IMPOSSIBLE. but the biggest, most important result of all the changes and craziness thats happened in the past year, is that i am totally capable of relaxing now. i have by no means become transformed into a naturally easygoing person, i mean, im still super uptight and controlling and anxious, but not all the time. actually (james probably doesnt want me saying this in public), at one point during our trip, i told james to chill out. so yeah, im pretty happy with my progress in this department. 

so whats the final tally? 19 out of 24 goals were completed (either exactly as planned or shifted to a similar accomplishment), and four of the five not-completed goals were things that are no longer priorities (family pictures though... that one still needs to happen). not bad for a flaky art school dropout that never finishes anything.... this was actually pretty fun. 

will i make a 25 in 25 list? i dont think so. not because i dont want to make goals, its just... we seem to be in a place where we need to start thinking in the longer term. like, maybe a 30 by 30 list will be coming your way soon...


(winky face)

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

alices vintage star wars party.

on sunday, alice turned three. so obviously we threw her a party. on saturday. because saturday is a little more convenient and (also obviously) we wanted to spend sunday at disneyland and thats just how we roll. 

so yeah, birthday party. 

this year it was a little tricky to pick a theme, seeing as alice IS old enough to have interests and preferences (as in, now she has tons of friends and likes to play outside so the party HAD to be at a park), but shes NOT old enough to understand the gravity of picking a birthday party theme. wed ask her about all the different things she likes, "do you want a princess party? a my little pony party? an alice in wonderland party? a dr who party? a dinosaur party? a harry potter party?" and the answer was always "yes". 

so james and i agreed on star wars (disclaimer, alice DOES love star wars, and science fiction/fantasy in general), but since star wars is a pretty standard party theme (and i refuse to acknowledge the existence of prequel films), we went with a vintage star wars theme. 

because it was at the park (and we had QUITE an extensive guest list) we kept things simple with just treats and a piñata. i got a plain cake from costco, made pretzel lightsabers (which, by the way, is incredibly difficult without a microwave), and my brother just so happened to have a nice selection of actual vintage star wars toys to use for table decor:

oh, and there was the very, very important, not at all negotiable even though it was way expensive custom death star piñata: 

(sidenote: continuing last years tradition of birthday dress fiascos, i accidentally made alices dress WAY too big and had i had to make serious alterations the morning of the party, but thankfully no one noticed)

honestly since the majority of the kids at the party were preschool age, i was NOT expecting the party to last very long, but a friend brought some pool noodle lightsabers to share, and all the kids spent a good half hour playing contently with them:

 and totally ditching the party to go play on the playground:

but dont worry, everybody came back when we started painting cookies:

cookie painting was my moms idea, i had already bought these (also embarrassingly expensive) cookie cutters for the party: 

and with just a few jars of icing and a pack of paintbrushes, they were instantly transformed from just a snack into a super fun activity that all of the kids LOVED. seriously, my mom knows whats up: if youre having a party with lots of kids, cookie painting will always be a hit (thanks mom!). 

obviously since we had cookies, we were also going to need some milk to go with them. and whats a star wars party without BANTHA MILK!!!!

(pause for the like three people who know what im talking about appreciate what i just said)

after cookies and milk it was time to smash that piñata: 

sing happy birthday:

(btw, alice was SUCH a good sport about pretending to blow out the candles like six times so i could get a nice picture. i like her.)

and opening presents:

overall, this was a MUCH mellower party than last year (even though there WAS a similar jamess work fiasco for the two weeks prior to the party AND it was way too hot), despite the fact that there were about five times as many kids, which was totally awesome. and i dont think any of us could have been happier with how it turned out. 

especially alice, and thats what really matters. 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

7 tips for throwing an awesome theme party on a budget.

honestly, i thought id be back to a (somewhat) regular writing schedule once school settled down (which it did a couple weeks ago), BUT it just so happened that finally settling into a school routine coincided perfectly with the craziness that goes along with planning/executing alices birthday party. and while i really, really do want to show you what ive been working on for alices party, i figured it would be best to wait until the official party post to share. 

instead, today i want to talk about throwing an awesome theme party on a budget. because, thats kind of my thing. i like to think of myself as somewhat of an expert in this department (not nearly as much as an expert as my mom, but shes thrown about 71 more kids birthday parties than i have so....), and really, whats not to love here? i mean, who doesnt love an awesome party? (actually, ive recently learned that there are some moms who really like to talk crap about the moms that throw theme parties but obviously i dont write this blog for them) but obviously not everyone has the budget to go all out with a pro party planner and everything (though if you do, i totally know one)

so without any further ado, here are a few of my (tried and true) tips to save a little $$$ on your party budget, without sacrificing an ounce of awesome. 

1. stick with re-usable decor. preferably things you already own. first off (obviously) buying new, disposable decor is basically just buying things to throw away almost immediately. might as well just be throwing away dollar bills while your at it. secondly, tablecloths, cake stands, platters, vases, etc. all look a million percent better when theyre the real deal. now you have two options here: utilizing things you already own, or investing a little more money in some reusable party decor. either way, your party will not only look more put together, youll also save yourself some money (either right away or in the long run). oh and youll also save yourself TONS of shopping time for when the next party rolls around. 

2. just skip the themed paper goods. i know the first place your mind goes with a theme party is to get the plates and cups and napkins and whatever to go with that particular theme. dont do it. just dont. theyre expensive, and theyre just going to be used for a minute and thrown right away. im going to be completely blunt here: paper plates are just glorified trash. you can get a bulk pack of plain dessert plates or napkins at smart and final for the same price as one little pack of hello kitty napkins, and nobody will care. i promise. 

3. schedule your party to avoid mealtime. think about it: if the party isnt at lunch (or dinner) time, you dont have to serve lunch (or dinner), and you can get away with just serving snacks. this not only cuts your food budget WAAAYYY down, but also keeps the party brief (majorly important when small children are involved), AND makes cute table set ups even easier. a win-win-win all around. 

4. cut your menu options in half. yes, literally half. if you were thinking "snacks and desserts" just do dessert. if you were thinking "hotdogs and hamburgers" just pick one. this saves you money by allowing you to buy fewer things in bulk, gives you less things to deal with on party day, and saves you from having to throw out that watermelon or veggie tray that nobody touched and nobody wants because it was left out in the sun all day. 

5. free printables. seriously, whatever theme you had in mind, the internet has millions of free printables for it. basically ALL of the decor for alices adventure time party last year was free printables. banners, tags, labels, games, all of that you can find as a free printable. 

6. diy your invitations. and no, you dont have to be a graphic design wunderkind to do this and still have it look great. last year i bought a custom invitation graphic on etsy for like $10, and got them printed at target (with a photo lab coupon, obviously), and paid a grand total of $14 for all of her invitations. this year i was a little braver and designed her invites in the a beautiful mess app, got them printed at target, and spent just under $7, for WAY more invitations than we bought last year. also, if youre not as old-school as i am, emailing invites is completely free. 

7. ditch the goodie bags. im sure theres some old outdated etiquette rule that says when you invite someone to a party you HAVE to give them a gift in return or else YOU ARE A HORRIBLE PERSON THAT HAS NO BUSINESS THROWING PARTIES. but lets be real here, unless youve got an idea for a favor that actually has some kind of use beyond the party itself (last year for alice i used free printables to design adventure time buttons, but no favors were involved in her first birthday or this one), that baggie filled with stickers and fruit snacks and a whistle is going to be eaten/lost/in the trash within the day. 

these are just a few of the tricks that ive used to keep all of alices parties on budget, without looking/feeling like were skimping on anything. 

i want to know, do you have any great tips for saving money on parties? let me know in the comments!6