Housekeeping: Throw a party

Our pastor described his daughter as a “Party waiting to happen” once when I was in middle school and I’ve never forgotten that phrase. I decided; to be known as anything – a “party waiting to happen” was probably top of the line and I wanted in. I liked the connotation of the description. It didn’t mean she was a partier, on the “wrong side of those illusive tracks”, or someone to beware of. It meant she was fun, happy. It meant anything could be a party, a good time. It meant she was joyful.

There’s some great resources out there to get your creative juices going about how to host people in your space. Use them!

Pinterest
Picmonkey (How I make my invites)
Amazon
Your friends – borrow, borrow, borrow. Their cupboards are full of unused crockpots, platters, and napkins. Ask. And you will hopefully, probably receive.
Magazines. (My favorites are Midwest Living, Southern Living, This Old House)

Today's the day! First peer-group birthday party. #picmonkeyinvites #DIY #OliverWayne

I grew up in a house with a lot of people. Sunday’s were packed, our table was full but there was always room for more. My mom fed us our favorites every week and we’d sit around drinking coffee or hot chocolate reading the Sunday ad’s or watching football. Sometimes we’d sit around the piano and pluck away together. Everyone would smoke in the garage and laugh. My brothers would tell stories of “back then” or when my sister and I were younger and all the pranks they’d pull on us. It was so happy. Even though we had our problems, and still do, these are some of my favorite memories. Sunday dinner. The tension could be tight, or we could be holding babies, or plotting our black friday wish lists, or talking about buying houses, or broken hearts, or family trips.

When I moved out of my parents house and into my own – I got the biggest table I could fit in my dining room. I couldn’t wait to host dinners, parties, friends, and my family.

So maybe I come by this honestly. But I love a good cook out. I love to feed people, I love to play games, I love to try new recipes and drinks, I LOVE TO HOST.

I will rearrange my entire house to fit everyone around a table. And I’m always looking for a reason to throw a party.

Here’s my rules:

Have an idea.
Do it.

Here’s how:

I might see, read, experience or think of something that sounds like a good time to me. I make a note, pin the idea, gather the information needed and then I tell someone. Usually Aaron or some of my girlfriends. I’ve done this in almost every one of my jobs as well – I create experiences for a living and then I tell those stories to the masses so they can recreate the experience on their own.

Then I make a list (we know I love lists) of what might be needed for said idea, what the menu might look like, and the timing.

If I’m roping some of my friends into the hosting, we divide and conquer.

I don’t believe in having a spotless house in order to open your doors to friends or family, I really like feeling comfortable in my space. We built this house to be lived in, but my general rule is that the sinks are clean, the toilets fresh and the dirt is off my floor to start the evening. By the end of the night, my sinks are full, the toilet’s are used, and there’s a new layer of dust and dirt and fun to sweep off the floor. I’m also a huge fan of laundry baskets. They’re always full and I can shove them in a closet that no one generally is bold enough to go hunting for. If they are: surprise! I stuff dirty crap in my closets. That’s called Monday in this house.

So, for example: Oliver’s 6th birthday we threw a food fight party.

Happy little DIY thank you's for Oliver's party favor tomorrow. #someoneis6 #birthdayparty #picmonkeyinvites #DIY

DSC_6303

Oliver's 6th birthday (party!)

How did you come up with the idea??

So glad you asked. Oliver had been hinting that he really wanted to have a food fight. In our house. In our just-finished-brand-new-newly-remodeled-home-with-white-walls. I said, you’re cute but, um, no. He started saying “Are you thinking what I’m thinking??” at the dinner table every night and we would yell in unison “NO!!!!!!”. This was a fun game and since it didn’t go away I thought, well ok. We’re going to give him his food fight.

I enlisted my mom for some back up help and to bounce ideas off of. We came up with pasta being the easiest way to host a food fight since I could batch make it in advance, cool it, and oil it up so it wouldn’t stick together. We already own two 6-foot tables that we store in our garage and bring out when we’re hosting something. We set them up in the driveway, dressed all the little kids in garbage bags and told them to keep their eyes closed. We plopped so many pounds of cooked spaghetti pasta on the table and then we yelled “Hey Oliver!!! ARE YOU THINKING WHAT I’M THINKING???!!!? …… FOOD FIIIIIIGHT!!!”. The kids all opened their eyes and hilarity ensued. We also had cool whip out for them to grab and throw and the laughing and screaming and exclaiming was just the best.

Turns out Oliver doesn’t like food fights. He didn’t think you’d get dirty … so, we got that out of his system. It was awesome.

A few other parties I’ve hosted in our home have been:

A champagne toast to the Tiny House with friends!

TinyHouse

What we needed:

Champagne
Friends

A 3rd Grade Rocked My Socks Party for Jessica and friends!

picmonkey invite

What we needed:

I borrowed a popcorn maker
Enlisted help from my mom
Qued up some music, there was dancing
Snacks!
Jessica taught us how to make Italian Soda’s
Gift bags with little notebooks so we could all exchange numbers to keep in touch through the summer

Pumpkin Fest with 6th Grade Girls Youth Group

Pumpkin Fest 2016
Pumpkin Fest 2016

What we needed:

Chili & S’more stuff
Pumpkins
Music
Spoons

Decorations 101

I’m a fan of simple. Streamers and balloons are about as festive as I get. Just know what you can do. Are you going to have more fun decorating with lights and party themed items or are you going to enjoy cooking a meal or making a cheese plate or cocktail? I think you have to pick what you want the focus to be and then just focus on that. The food IS part of the decoration. If you have empty bowls and lots of fruit or veggies in your fridge or pantry – those can be decorations. Pick a color theme but don’t marry it. For starters if you feel super overwhelmed with this part of hosting, copy something you’ve seen before. Out of a magazine, at your friends house. Just copy it. Think to yourself “What did I like about that? Where were the glasses, what was on the table/bar/island? What did I see first? What made me think it was memorable?”

It's time for the Third Grade Rocked My Socks Off kick off to summer party! #thisiswhatialwaysimagineditwouldbeliketobeamom

Set up!

paper airplanes

Jessica's 11th birthday party

The Farmhouse Deli // Oz is Event March 8 2015

June 20th Oz Event

I will always focus on flowers. They’re beautiful, they bring life to my home, and they’re the gift that keeps on giving. I’d rather spend $15 on a beautiful bouquet that will last past the party (so many fun memories to be reminded of) than on a specific center-piece I might only use once a year (but forget next year all-together). I almost always have flowers in my home – plants work too. You don’t have to constantly spend your dollars on stems. Carrots with their tops look like a bouquet when stuck in a clear case. Use your garden, your trees in your yard, the sticks from the side of the road.

Lighting is also important. I’m a huge fan of low lighting. Lamps and natural light are my favorite. Candles are fun but they’re always meant to be the background. They offer scent more than illumination and a good candle in your bathroom goes a long way. Trust me. Outdoor lighting is probably my favorite. Twinkly lights around the Tiny house or over the deck, around the porch … who doesn’t have twinkly lights from Christmas time? REUSE THEM. Get them out – plug them in. Create a canopy of magic above your head. Everything tastes better under twinkly lights.

Here’s what I don’t do: I don’t stress out about this. The most important thing, for me, when I’m hosting is that people fill my space. So I make sure it’s not full of extras. I don’t shop to decorate for parties. I will thrift items if I know what I’m looking for and have time to wait and find it. Usually with serving dishes or bowls. I like having a variety of sizes, heights, and finishes. Wood, marble, slate, white, dark, small bowls, little plates.

If you’re still with me at this point, you get a gold sticker. And an invitation to my house.

The last thing I’ll say is this: Before you execute ask yourself, How can I make this easier?

You’ll be surprised, there’s always an option for less which leaves the rest of the event/evening/party up for more connection and conversation. Host the kind of party or dinner you’d like to attend.

Just do it, you already have everything you need.

Handlettering

I found hand-lettering after years of wondering how to make something with the watercolor feel, but held like a marker. I don’t know why I never just ventured to that part of the store and looked around, maybe I didn’t think I was qualified to meander but it’s been a lot of fun learning. I had to go looking for one of the words I had already done and there’s a box full of scraps, letters, little phrases … like periwinkle shoes you forgot you had. It’s just delightful fun, finally figuring this out and exploring it.

I have a vagabond heart. #watercolorlettering #handlettering #brushlettering #sumiink

Let go, Let's go.                                                 #handlettering #brushlettering #sumiink #watercolorlettering

that was a bear

Make your own magic

nothing else matters

This all began when I started on a painting for Oliver’s room – I have this phrase I say to him every night I tuck him in … “I love your brave heart, your kind hands, and you’re beautiful mind.” and I wanted to have that written on the painting but couldnotforthelifeofme figure out how to make it look like it did in my head. So I started exploring a few things … I still don’t have that phrase mastered but I’ve found something I love in the meanwhile.

Who’s still pinteresting out there? What are you finding you love lately?

Kids summer rec. and a story

Lunch break planning session. Each kid has an oversized calendar - all info on camps, VBS weeks, summer programs, and rec guide in one place. I master plan the budget and available weeks and sign up in one afternoon. Hopefully. That's the idea anyway.

I’m the youngest of 4 kids and before my parents divorced we lived in Texas. I was born in Africa and all of this has a point, hold on, because my parents were missionaries there and while doing so my father was a pilot – he flew supplies (medical mostly I think) to remote areas. He took sick people to the hospitals. I was hours old the first time I was on a plane, legend has it. This profession carried through and my father is still a pilot … so growing up my mom had all 4 of us kids to entertain and keep busy on a very different schedule than any of my friends.

I think thats where I get this from. My mom was (still is) the queen of recreation organization. If there was something free happening in our small towns and cities – we were there. City pools, block parties, VBS camps, parades, and celebrations. We frequented our Libraries, always stopped at the Big Read Bus, and I was a champion Salamander hunter. (That last one is just for fun.)

When my kids were very little so much of this free stuff was for us … something to do, something new for the little kids to see. Although for a while it was enjoyable because we were all together; now these activities are fun because they’re excited about them. Their interests are being catered to, their senses. Riding bikes isn’t exercise … it’s an adventure.

So when my kids started getting to the age of appreciation or eligibility – I started making lists of all the fun things to come:

Summer Jar 2010
Spring Break Staycation
I Live in Holland, Mi (And freaking love it.)
Labor Day weekend circa 2007
Tulip Time 2013! (And every year after … I love this festival)
A collection of resources and links

This year, similar to years past, I’m working this summer. I’ve done a few different things with my kids like nannies/babysitters, daycare centers, summer week day camps … and I’m going to do the same again this year. I’ve been compiling all the information and we talked over a budget for both kids for the entire summer and then one afternoon I gather everything up, take two oversized desk calendars (one for each kid) and pencil in every possibility.

Then I master plan, fill in holes, rearrange classes or workshops as needed, and register.

So. Here’s my list this year – we aren’t doing everything but this is what I found available for the summer of 2014.

Vacation Bible Schools (VBS)

Beechwood Church June 16-20, 9am-12pm
Central Park Church June 16-20, 9:30am-12pm
Rose Park Church June 23-27, 6pm-8:15pm
Park Church of Holland June 23-25, evenings, with picnic on 26th.
Providence Church July 14-18, 6:30pm-8pm
Christ Memorial June 16-19, 9am-11:30am (had to call to get info)
Calvary CRC July 21-25, 9am-11:45am
Community Reformed in Zeeland June 16-19, 6:15pm-8:30pm
Harderwyk Church June 23-26, 9:30am-12pm Thanks, Julie, for the info!

Holland Local Recreation Programs

Degraaf Nature Center Various classes for various ages. Day trips, 3 day (mornings or afternoons) classes, etc.
City of Holland Playground Program
City of Holland Junior Adventure Club
Hersheys Track and Field Age 9-14, June 11.
Holland Rec (Here’s the bulletin online)
Herrick Library various events, have to search for them. Fridays they have a free lego club for an hour. Just show up and build! (This link might help)
Holland Farmers Market events for kids and chef series.
Zeeland community activities

Zeeland picnic, local links

Macatawa Bank’s Movies in the Park
Macatawa Bank’s events
Kids Summer Movies Goodrich Theaters
Holland Events Music in the parks, at restaurants, Summer film series…
Huntington Bank Summer Concert Series

Camps!

Critter Barn
Frederick Meijer Gardens Classes and camps
Downtown Market GR summer classes and camps
SpringHill Day camp Zeeland, Mi
Kids Rock Summer Camp Zeeland, Mi
Winding Creek Dive Camp Sleep-away camp in Hastings, Mi
Camp Roger Sleep-away camp in Rockford, Mi
Camp Geneva Sleep-away or day camp in Holland, Mi

Information overload much? Yes. If you’re sticking to free things only your best resource is going to be your cities event calendar, the libraries and the local attractions (free days for residents, for instance.) or for the banks in your area who host or sponsor events.

Don’t overlook the touristy things in your town that you never really check out because you live there. Many of them have freebies for residents or events and classes you’ve always wondered about and they’re discounted because you live there. Museums are a good check-in point to remember. In Holland we have Windmill Island and Dutch Village. Great little day trips. Nurseries (Countryside Greenhouse, as an example) have great playscapes for the kids and often a hot dog cart out front. You can go for an afternoon just to play, or scavenger hunt for certain plants and plan to eat lunch.

I’m hoping we make it to a few of the events in GR this year, movies on Reeds lake? Yes. We have full calendars, I’m so excited for Summer!

I’m sure I missed many things – so if you have something (even other areas) that you want added to the list, leave them in the comments and I’ll keep building this as a resource.

3 things to do with glass jars

We’ve taken to reusing our glass jars out of necessity because our drinking glasses kept breaking. Jam jars, ball jars, and other random jars don’t break as easily and I’m a sucker for most anything in a miniature form. (Jam jars, check.)

learning how to make Italian Soda's

But then I was looking through my old pins and boards on Pinterest and came across this lovely idea.

I have those jars, too.

details of remodel

Currently housing my thank-you cards for easy access and a beautiful, texture filled display.

I’ve used this jar for years – it’s been filled with Fall Trail Mix, cookies for a bake sale, and homemade hot chocolate mix.

Fall Trail Mix!

Cookies, each sold seperately

Hot Chocolate

And any way, it got me thinking. I haven’t put plants in them yet. You guys, you can buy these jars (in different sizes) at Walmart (no this is not an ad).

Jar with lid at Walmart. Under $10

2 Gallon jar – $9.97

1 Gallon jar – $7.44

And we all love the Terrariums you see, but how easy is this? Stick a potted plant (even in a bowl) in this jar and it’s an instant center-piece. Did your Easter gathering just get interesting?

I think mine just did.

So, to recap because I used a number in the title of this post … here’s my 3 ways to use glass jars.

1) Store pretty textiles in them. Cards, paper, stationary. Tea towels, cheese cloth (or if you’re a cheesemaker, your own little haven of tools/special items), your fabric or knitting supplies.

2) Store foodstuffs! Any foodstuff will do. (I’m a sucker for layering color and texture, or very neatly stacked rows of miniature cookies.) ((Miniatures, it’s like catnip.))

3) OR! Make an indoor garden or fool-proof terrarium with out the mess.

When you’ve conquered your center-piece you can move on to this easy and adorable gift for the little bunnies in your life. I know I will.

Caught up

It’s so easy to get caught up in what everyone else is doing (which usually means, for me, that I’m not happy with what I’M doing …). But I know I’m not alone in this. There’s a reason self-help books, organizational and inspirational speakers, and classes/conferences do so well.

There seems to be a cusp I walk right up to, look over the edge, see the success (or whatever it is my vision of success might be) but the fall, maybe the climb, to the destination is too unknown. Or it’s entirely too much to chew all at once. So I sulk backwards. To safety. I gather my goals and we cheer each other on (hooray!) and then, together, we hold hands as we seek comfort underneath our blanket of voices telling us we’ll never get that far.

Saturday's at Good Earth

Sometimes it feels like this inside my heart; a mess of colorful ideas strewn about my wakeful moments … none of them in order, most of them out of focus.

Last week I had the privilege of hosting a meeting in my home with a few other bloggers. (86 Lemons, Girl Meets Paper, Stacey Says) We shared links, got excited, encouraged one another to go further … to lean in.

Then, as I was going through the backlog of posts in my Reader, I came across a few different ECourses, some great posts on pushing yourself, and I wanted to share them just in case you’re there too.

Snow days at Good Earth

Some of these links are geared towards the blogger-minded. Take what you can from them, pass it on.

I haven’t read this yet, but I want to: 31 days to a better blog

The “Treasure Hunt” e-course caught my eye, got me thinking about color and how much I crave it when I’m hiding: SuperHero Life Courses

Young House Love does an amazing job of being a two-person team. Not all blogs that are successful take time/energy from resources so often outside of our reach. Their honest approach to being “just two people” really inspired me to think big(ger): Young House Love breaks it down

This site was passed around as a great resource, one I’m excited to start to use: Blogging with Amy

Another link passed around: How to pitch blog campaigns

These classes are $10 and not limited to members, this was another link passed around I hadn’t seen before – but the topics (and price point) are worth a second look for me: The Influence Network

Lastly, this blog (mega information/inspiration) and the courses offered are highly recommended: Braid Creative. I actually took their first course (I think) but didn’t get what I should have out of it. I was in transition and thinking through my creative process or dreaming big was such a chore for me at that time. But as I gear up, I’m excited to check back in and see what I can gain from their community.

What pushes you when you feel like the only person at the dance without a date? How do you keep yourself from becoming the wallflower in the abyss?