Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Visit From Attah

I have been really behind on blogging, I know. But life has kicked into high gear at the Michael household! Conrad recently receieved an email from his cousin asking why am Danielle Bhabi was so delinquent in blogging. With that little push from Susannah, I decided I needed to carve out some space to update you a bit.

The most exciting happenings at our house was a visit from Conrad's Mom and Brother, Alfred, who came all the way to the states from India and Dubai to see us! They were visiting for a month and actually just left on Monday. It's always a sad day when they leave. Having Conrad's family so far away, you never know when you will see everyone again.

We tried to make the most of thier visit and did a LOT of sight seeing. One of our trips where we all went was Washington DC. Oy Vey! Tragically, our small children, don't yet enjoy the rich history represented in our great capital, and the weekend entailed much crying, complaining, sweating, whining, and begging to go back to the hotel and swim. After a couple of hours of sight seeing, I graciously complied and the kids and I went back!

Mostly, we have just spent time with the fam and let the girls get to know thier grandmother again. It has been several years in between visits and being so small, they forget in between times!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Birthday Treats

My OTHER splurge for Isabelle's birthday was a box of Push Up Pop Containers. If you spend much time on Pintrest or Mama Blog World, you have seen these awesome things. Do you remember eating Ice Cream Push Up Pops as a kid? Well, you can purchase the plastic containers themselves. If you purchase a small patch they can run upwards of $1 each...but if you purchase a bunch, like say 100, it's much cheaper. Yes, I did. With the intention of these making many return appearances and selling them myself on Etsy in small batches, perhaps to make my money back ??

Anyway, while I was baking cake and icing for Isabelle's birthday, I went ahead and made batches of mini cupcakes and threw them in the freezer. I took my leftover frosting (which was just enough) and colored it purple. I then put one yellow cupcake in the bottom of the push up pop, using a large french star tip, I put a dollop of frosting, added the chocolate mini cupcake on top, and then another dollop of frosting. I then added purple sprinkles and the push up pop lid. They were surpringly sturdy and got lots of ohhs and ahhs from the kids and teachers and Isabelle's preschool! I love something a little different...and pretty is always good!

By the way, let me know if you want to buy some from me, I'll give you a good deal! :)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Isabelle's Purplicious Party, Part 3 (and final!)

I'm going to end my Purple Party Series on the food. Of course, food is so important to any party. And I have to re-iterate one of my soap boxes. A cake can be pretty, but if it doesn't taste good, what's the point? Oddly, I have strong opinions on this for grown up parties and weddings, but not so much for kid parties, because kids really don't care and aren't that picky when it comes to desserts.

We ordered Cane's Chicken fingers, because Cane's is amazing, and what kid doesn't love Chicken fingers? I fancied it up with little wooden food skewers I found at Meyers and attached tiny little paper flags to them with a glue stick! I cut up veggies and utilized one of my cupcake tiers for serving. Grace and I also made fruit skewers, which turned out nice, and I made some homemade salsa (because I have a garden overflowing with tomatoes!)and Mexican layer dip.

I usually put the Mexican dip in a 9x13 metal pan to bake until melty, but I thought I'd get fancy and put it into my trifle bowl. I waited until my Grandma arrived and asked her if I could bake in my trifle bowl. Sadly, she said no, so I ended up microwaving the concoction for fifteen or twenty minutes on 50% and since all of the ingredients are already cooked, it just needed warming up and melted, it turned out surprising well!

For the beverage I got this beverage dispense for $9 at Target (after I exchanged the one I bought last year that didn't work TWICE) I mixed 7 up and a tub of raspberry sherbet. It was pink, so I added purple food coloring..wah la! I also got some fancy bottles of purple and green soda's for the grown ups.

Well, I have to talk about the cupcakes for a minute. I used my good ole' faithful Martha Stewart Cupcake Book, which has gotten me through many birthdays and celebrations and rarely disappoints. I made the classic yellow buttermilk cupcake and the devil's food cupcake and topped them both with my all time favorite Swiss Meringue Butter cream frosting. Ohhhh I LOVE this frosting. It's not at all sweet, but requires a full POUND of butter for every batch. So it is super rich and is very firm so it makes for great decorating. I also have to say that it's heart stopping as it tends to separate before it comes together, which always makes me think I am going to have to make a last minute trip to the Grocery Store for a canned substitute!

I topped these cupcakes with chocolate butterflies. It really wasn't as hard as it seems, although the white chocolate that I colored purple was difficult to melt and very delicate and prone to breaking because of all of the additives I put into it in order to get it to melt! I basically downloaded a butterfly coloring page from the Internet, melted the chocolate, and put it into a little bottle, I then folded a piece of wax paper in half and taped it on top of the picture. I then traced the picture with the chocolate. Then I folded a piece of card stock in half and laid the chocolate butterfly down and put it into the fridge to harden. It lifted up from the wax paper as it got cold and lifted easily from the paper. I kept them on a plate and in the freezer overnight until I assembled them the next day. They turned out beautiful!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Isabelle's Purplicious Party, Part 2

The second element of Isabelle's party involved the decorations and the activities. One tried and true activity that has made it's way to every single one of Isabelle's August birthday's is the inflatable water slide. This is a sure fire way to make a party a success. Luckily, my mom bought one and loans us it every summer for this occasion. It's huge and it is outrageous kid fun!

We added two activities to the party that were a big hit with the girls. We did make your own lip gloss and had a mani/pedi station. I searched high and low for the lip gloss idea before finally settling on a home spun recipe that basically mixed petroleum jelly and koolaid, mixed with a tiny bit of water, to add flavor and color. I put it in a baggie and let the girls moosh it around until it was blended. I snipped off the corner and let them pour it into the container.

I bought a package of small stainless steel wedding favor containers and a package of scrap booking flowers and let the girls decorate their lip gloss containers with the flowers. It was much messier than I figured, but turned out rather fun!

They then moved to "Isabelle's Day Spa" where they got their fingers and toes painted, along with nail art applied. I found some great nail stickers at Target. They also got hair glitter and what I called "Face Bling" or stick on gems for their face. This was a surprising crowd pleaser. And I told them that Indian woman wear them (bindi's) on their forehead and since Isabelle is Indian...

On to decorations! My favorite part! I got THIS idea and decided we needed a purple table tu tu. I bought 10 yards of cheap tulle, thinking that would be more than enough for our small table, and it was barely enough. I think I paid $8 total for the tulle (on sale) and a roll of purple ribbon and made it myself to wrap around the table. I also bought a cheap plastic table cloth and a whole bunch of purple tissue paper that I made into about 12 puff balls of various sizes for decorations.

I also took my leftover Fat quarters and jute and cut out a mini pendant banner, which I attached with hot glue (since my sewing skills are not so stellar!). I then just cut the rest of the material into long strips and tied it to our island. I was so pleased with this last minute addition!

One of my (two) splurges were the very cool vintagy purple and white stripped paper straws I bought from Etsy. And since I wanted to highlight the great straws, I ended up going to Gordon Foods for clear plastic cups with lids. WHY I've never done this before, I don't know. I LOVE using these cups with lids myself, for everyday use. But I have to say, that although the paper straws are so cute, it's not very pleasant to drink from paper straws and they get soggy pretty quickly. Oh well, you win some, you lose some!
Check out Part 1 and Part 3

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Isabelle's Purplelicious Party, Part 1

I had a hard time deciding on theme for Isabelle's fifth birthday party. We vacillated back and forth between a few different themes and ideas. But one thing she had solid ideas about: Purple. Purple is the color Du jour in our house right now. Which is interesting because less than a year back, it was most certainly all things pink.

So after a few false starts, we finally decided on a "Spa Party." I like the idea of having birthday parties somewhere else. It cuts down on the work and honestly, it's probably cheaper than all of the stuff I do for parties! But, I so enjoy doing kids parties, and I figure it's not going to be long before they start having strong opinions on cutesy party ideas and activities!

One of the hints that I read over and over in party planning sites is to pick one color and stick with it to make a bold aesthetic statement, and boy did we ever! It was truly purplelicious! I started off by making her invitations. I saw something I liked online and copied it. It was a pair of flowery flip flops. I bought a packages of purple "card making" blank note cards, along with some contrasting scrapbook paper. I used my cricut to cut out feet and flowers, and little brads went in the center, along with thin purple ribbon for the flip flop strap. I printed out the invitation on the inside with the following wording:
"This certificate entitles you to enjoy a relaxing day of pampering at Isabelle's Day Spa in honor of Isabelle Michael's 5th Birthday. Redeemable on August 6 at 2:00pm. Call Danielle to confirm your reservation."

The next big item on my planning list were the favors. A good kids party should include some killer favors and I think we delivered this time! I got some cheap purple totes from (where else) cheaptotes.com and bought four or five Fat Quarters from Jo-Ann's as well as some buttons. I cut out different sized circles and made a flower circle (my husband makes fun of me for all of the "crafts" that I do that involve me cutting out circles!) They turned out SO CUTE, if I do say so myself!

I filled the totes with a pair of gussied up purple flip flops (Jo Ann's Bargain Big for $1 each) with a purple flower. The downside is that plastic flowers hot glued to plastic flip flops doesn't really stay. I re-glued all of them at least twice and they have probably all fallen off again! I'll have to research a solution to that before we try anything like that again!

I also handmade some beautiful headbands with rosette's on them and a little wool felt leaf. They turned out so pretty, I even like them for myself! I finished the bag off with a ring pop and a little bottle of lotion or body spray.

I cut out name tags and hand wrote the girls names on them, along with little dye cut butterflies. I attached it with jute. It was practical and pretty. All in all, I was so excited about how my little favor turned out. They were very pretty and added just the right touch to the party. Here is the breakdown of cost (because I'm always interested in this when I'm thinking of copying an idea from some one's blog:
Tote(including shipping): $2 each
Headband: $1 for six plastic headbands @ Dollar Store, along with $5 for a yard of cotton fabric, on clearance at walmart. Wool felt about 30 cents per sheet, one sheet.
Fat Quarters (which I used for several of my other decorations you'll see soon): Four of them @ $1.50 each using one of my Jo Ann's coupons
Buttons: Package of Misc pearl buttons for $3
Flip flops: $1 each, bunches of flowers (with about 5 blossoms per bunch) on sale at Jo Ann's for about $1.50 each, making them about .30 each.
Lotion/Body spray: Bought in set of three for $2.
Ring Pop: .33 @ Party City.

Stay tuned for more pictures and DIY projects for little girl birthday parties!

Playing in the Fountains at Easton: Check!

On our Summer To Do List was to go to Easton Towne Center and play in the fountains. It was Grace's first time to do this. They had a blast!

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Nothing Says Summer Like...

Make up..or was in markers?

Gardens and waterhoses

Tutus and Popsciles, and not much else...

Tricycles and playing dress up

Monday, August 08, 2011

A Visit from Old Friends

When we got home from Tennessee in July, we had a visit from old friends, Tim and Lynely. They are Wycliff missionaries to the former Easter Block and very good friends of mine from my Teen Mania days/ORU days. Actually, Lynley is my good friend, and her wonderful husband Tim, became a friend-in-law!

We had such a great time catching up on our lives over the past..ummmm 10 years we haven't really seen each other. And meeting each other's chlidren. Tim and Lynley got married while we were in college. Which we re-lived our utter shock when Lynley told us she was in love and getting married (while still in school!) and had a good laugh over our 23 year old perspectives!

Lynley and I talked non stop for about four straight days while our husbands helped take care of the kids and looked on in amazement at how many words two human beings can use in such a short amount of time.

The blogger in me is quite ashamed that I didn't take any pictures while they were here to document our time together. Oh well, Tim and Lynley, I guess you will just have to come back soon so I can get some pictures. Love you guys and thanks for coming all the way to Ohio to see us!

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Happy 5 Isabelle

Dear Isabelle

Today is your 5th birthday. I can't believe you have been in our lives for five whole years! Daddy and I were just thinking back to the day we brought you home from the hospital. Little four and a half pound you. After everyone left we sat on the couch staring at you and wondering why in the world they let us take you home from the hospital with such little idea of what we were doing!?

We'll we've made it through five beautiful, growing, energetic, healthy, and breathtaking years and you have been the light of our lives. You are so smart, it's scares us a little. You are so sassy, it scares us just a little too. We love your beauty and your intelligents, and we also love your strength. You won't struggle with things that most other kids struggle with...you'll probably always have good self esteem and sense of life direction. But you'll have your own set of obstacles.

Our prayer for you is that you continue to grow to know God and that He will always be your hearts desire. We pray that you learn to have compassion for the lost and those in need. And that your ears will always be open to hear the voice of God and your heart open to follow His direction. These things are the secrets to a joyful and purpose filled life.

We love you baby girl!

Love, Mommy and Daddy


Isabelle @ 1 year old

Isabelle @ 2 years old

Isabelle @ 3 years old

Isabelle @ 4 years old

Isabelle @ 5 years old