Friday, December 16, 2011

Fashion Friday: New Year's Eve Ideas

It's probably time to start planning your New Year's outfit.

Too soon for you?  Well, it's not for me.

Anyhow, last year I encouraged you to simply shop your closet to put together outfits using what you've already got.  This year, I recommend the same thing {but with a twist.  Because I like twists}

Be inspired (and remember, these formulas are easy peasy steps to fashion success! You can do it!)

For the Casual Night (out or in)

One sweater + one BOLD necklace or scarf + skinny jeans/cords + boots + bag= ready to go (or stay--your call).

For the Edgy Night Out

Embellished top + vest/blazer + necklace/scarf + skinny pants + heels=ready to party--like a rock star

For the Sophisticated Night

Little Black Dress + notice-me-necklace/bracelet + pop of color heels + clutch + outerwear = On your way!


Color dress + statement jewelry piece + black/neutral heels + clutch + outerwear+ On your way!

Some signature ideas to consider:

It's a bling thing!  Sequins are everywhere from purses and tank tops to scarves and leggings--this season there's nothing that sequins can't cover.  Add a little drama (and sparkle) to your life with sequins!

Scarves are a hot way to look cool:

Wrapped, draped, knotted ... scarves are a simple way to add serious drama to any outfit.


But do me a favor and make it FAUX fur

Remember, New Years does NOT have to equal New Wardrobe! Go shop your closet with a formula in mind and get creative with what you've got.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Things I Love: Arthur Christmas

The first time I saw a preview for Arthur Christmas, I wasn't convinced.  I wasn't convinced even though Arthur's voice is that of one James McAvoy.

If you've never been on this blog before--or if it has been a long time--you might not know that James McAvoy is one of my top two favorite actors.

Still, I wasn't even sure James could save a Christmas movie.  As much as I like him,  I still didn't think gNomeo and Juliet was brilliant so I didn't go to Arthur Christmas with much hope.

Now I rarely say this, mainly because it hardly ever happens, but I was wrong.


Arthur Christmas was about the most delightful Christmas movie I've seen in a long time--maybe even since ELF came out.

Here's what I loved about this movie:

  • There is like ZERO potty humor.  Yes yes, I know five year olds love to talk about poop but I get enough of that talk at the dinner table, I don't need it at the movies, too.  I was so delighted that there are no references to: poop, pee, diarrhea, farting, etc. 
  • The English accents.  I'm one of those gals who loves a good English (or Scottish. Or Irish. Or Kiwi) accent.  Imagine how thrilled I was when M.E. left the theater speaking in a King's English accent.  I'm still dying at the cuteness.
  • Arthur is not magical.  He isn't super smart.  He isn't "cool." He's the guy the elves make fun of.  But even though he's a bit on the strange side, he is good.  A movie that advertises that it's GOODNESS and KINDNESS and COMPASSION that matters?  What a novel idea ...
  • Though this movie is directed towards Santa believers (or those questioning Santa) and spiritual cynics, there is an incredible spiritual truth to this movie: every one matters.  As a good shepherd will leave 99 sheep to save one, so Arthur Christmas will stop at nothing to help one child.  And isn't that what it's all about?
  • My personal favorite line from the movie is this "There's always time for a bow."  Seriously, we get so wrapped up in the "stuff" of Christmas that it's easy to overlook the simple details that make this time of year so lovely--freshly fallen snow.  A smile from a stranger.  An extra day off work.  A baby in a manger.  There is always time for joy!
Here's what I didn't like about this movie:
  • There is some nuances of drinking in the family.
  • The grand-santa puts his family members down.  I realize this is a reality for many families and might help kids know that their family is "normal" but I don't think we should laugh at hurtful "normal" lest we "normalize" put downs and make kids feel like jabs and hurtful words are okay.
Overall, I loved this movie.  My kids loved this movie.  Matt loved this movie.  We'll own it for sure!

{On a totally unrelated note, today is my daughter's SIXTH birthday!  I'm tearing up just thinking about it.  What a privilege to mother and love such a wonderful child of God!}

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

What I Think About: Big Birthdays

If you read my post yesterday, you know that I've very recently threw my daughter a Taylor Swift birthday party.

Every year I prepare for birthday parties I get the distinct feeling that my husband thinks I'm going overboard.  Maybe he's right.

When I was a kid we got one party (and I use "party" here loosely), not a family party and a friend party.  One party.

The party mostly consisted of the birthday boy or girl picking the dinner meal (hello macaroni and cheese with hot dog chunks!) and cake and ice cream.  The kids might have run around and played hide-n-seek or kick the can but there were no organized games or crafts.

We invited family friends and their kids so there were generally four or five kids, aside from immediate family members (for some reason my folks always made me invite my sister.  {Sigh}).

I never got to invite my whole class.
I never had my birthday at a venue (like a skating rink, bounce house, swimming pool, or laser tag field).
I never had a designer or store bought cake.
I never gave "parting gifts" to guests.

I always had a good time!

Nowadays birthday parties are major events.  They are held at venues that cost hundreds of dollars.  They involve detailed games and crafts.  They include upwards of twenty kids.  They have expensive store-bought cakes, over-priced character plates and napkins, parting gifts, and helium balloons for all attendees

Sometimes birthday parties come in the plural sense.  For instance, our children have at least two parties (one for family and one for friends--presents at BOTH).

I'm not saying that there is anything wrong with these kinds of parties, per se, but I do wonder if parents are going a bit overboard?  Does a child really need his closest twenty friends at a party?  Would the child feel any less special at a home party instead of one held at the local ice skating rink?  Would the kids have less fun if they just had to "play" rather than line dance and make a craft?  Would feelings really be hurt if attendees left without a bag of junk goodies?

One side of me hates the idea of giving up elaborate party planning (in fact, I'm trying to convince my nephew to have a SPY party because man-oh-man do I have some ideas ...) but the other part of me misses the simplicity of celebrating in the home with family and a few friends.

What I think about big birthday is that they are totally fun ... but totally unnecessary.  I'm considering an every-other-year idea.  Elaborate party on even year birthdays; simply parties on odd years.  That's a good compromise, right?

Your thoughts?  How do you do birthdays at your house?

Thank you to Shell at Things I Can't Say for supporting my random thoughts.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Days of Play: Taylor Swift Birthday Party

I have a love affair with music which sadly omits Taylor Swift.  My {oh my gosh I can hardly believe she's almost} six year old disagrees.  She loves Taylor Swift.  So much so that for this year's birthday extravaganza, all she wanted was a Taylor Swift Party.

I had no idea what to do for a Taylor Swift birthday party so I did what any educated person would do.  I googled it.  You know what?  Unless you want to buy incredibly over-priced plates with her celeb photo on it, there's not much in the way of what to do for a Taylor Swift party--especially for a 4-6 year old crowd.

So I'm here to tell you what I did.  I'm not gonna lie--this was NOT the best party I've ever thrown.  The good news is the kindergartners didn't seem to mind.

The Invitations:

Okay, I'm in Wyoming where we {mostly} all love Garth Brooks and cowboys, and all things country so I played with that for the invitations.

I took a Taylor Swift image off the internet and pasted it into word.  The invitation read: "Because of your roots, we hope you show up in boots to M.E.'s Taylor Swift Birthday affair"  I then listed the what, when, where, why info, and sent them out.

Just so you know, all the kids came decked out in western wear complete with skirts, boots, and cowgirl hats.  Cutest thing ever!

The Decorations:

I'm totally opposed to the aforementioned over-priced paper products so I just decorated in ALL white (which, google taught me, is Taylor's favorite color.  BTW, I do feel like I've earned the right to be on a first name basis with Taylor.).

White table clothes, white plates, white forks, white balloons, white streamers ... if it was standing still at my house, it was covered in white (except for the Christmas tree--that got a free-pass).

Adding to the ambiance was low-playing Taylor Swift music.

This was the grand entrance.  The kids loved it!

The Cake:

I'm NOT a cake decorator so while I found amazing cakes on google images of guitars and frosting -painted Taylor faces, I knew that was NOT going to be my route.  Seriously, a girl has to know her limits.  My limit is cake.  So what I did was take a boxed (gasp!) cake and baked it in a 9x9 square pan.  When it was baked and cooled I frosted in in white frosting and piped it in hot pink.  I then put the Taylor Swift Christmas album on the cake and piped in "Taylor's" John Hancock and her signature heart.  Did it REALLY look like her signature?  Not at all.  Did the kids notice?  Not at all.

Ya, that's about as good as you'll get from this mom!

The Activities:

If you've had a birthday party with a lot of little kids that wasn't at a venue (roller rink, bounce house, etc.) then you know you've gotta keep those kiddos constantly moving.  So we did!

  • Apparently Taylor loves bracelets so the kids all made a bracelet.  I used leather bands and pop beads but string with beads would work well.
  • Music and dancing were really the main focus--ergo, for the first game we gave every kid a balloon and they had to try to keep it afloat for a whole Taylor Swift song (we used MEAN).
  • Game two was a relay (again to Taylor music).  Kids had to put a balloon in between their knees and hop around a course in our living rooms.  I loved watching this.  So funny!
  • Game three was Taylor, Taylor, Goose.  Like Duck, Duck, Goose (but a bit cooler).
  • Game four was line dancing.  That's right folks, I taught 8 little kids how to do the electric shuffle to "Belong with Me."  I deserve a medal.  Or maybe a margarita.  Okay, I'll take both.
  • Game five was the kids' favorite.  FREEZE DANCE.  We (and when I say we I mean Matt) played Taylor Swift songs and the kids would boogie.  Then Matt would turn the music off and the kids would freeze.  Anyone who didn't freeze was "out".
  • Finally we played musical pillows (like musical chairs but with pillows because no one ever got hurt falling off a pillow)

The Menu

We did choose to serve the kids a meal.  We went as "county fair" as possible with hot dogs, cucumbers and ranch, applesauce, and Cheetos.  Oh, cake and ice cream, obviously.

Don't Forget

To take a souvenir photo of all the kids doing Taylor's signature "heart"!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Music Monday: Music for My Man

Okay, this is NOT a band name BUT these are songs my man loves.  And even though it's Christmas and you might think I should highlight something from the Michael Buble Christmas album, I'm not going to.  I'm going to share Matt favorite songs (at least right now because like me, his faves vary which just adds to the reasons I totally heart this man!).

All The Angels--By The Dead Confederate

From Yesterday--30 Seconds to Mars

Restless by Switchfoot

Castaways by Beat Noir (they should get their own Music Monday ... maybe next week ...)

Outtathaway by The Vines

Happy Monday, Matt!  Wahoo for finishing your first semester of the LLM program and congrats on being a firm partner in TWO weeks!