Sunday, July 22, 2012

Party Like an Egyptian

My Millie girl just turned 7! (Can you believe that?!) And it's a good thing for birthdays or I might never get around to updating my blog!

Shortly after her rock star party last year, Millie became intrigued by ancient Egypt and declared that her next party would revolve around that theme. Years ago, luckily for me, I had clipped and saved a Child Magazine article, "Fit for a Pharaoh" party of the month. It gave me lots of ideas and I came up with a few of my own.

For the invitation we set out to find some papyrus-looking paper and raffia but came away with this golden textured paper and hieroglyphic-adorned ribbon. Then I downloaded a hieroglyphic-inspired font, rolled up the invites like a scroll and voila!

For Millie, the most important aspect of the whole party was decorations! Gold decor is harder to come across than you might imagine, but I did my best.

Guests arrived to a play list including "Walk Like an Egyptian", "King Tut", and the theme songs from Aladdin, and Prince of Egypt. Then we put the girls to work making Egyptian masks.

Next we gave each girl a wooden box that had been spray painted gold (thanks Mark!), and some jewels and glue.

The boxes then became useful as they filled them with buried treasure . . . or ancient artifacts from an archaeological dig in a sandbox.

Before the party I buried rubber snakes and frogs along with jewelry and typed up a list of what they needed to find.

Then they used paint brushes to carefully search for treasures in the sand.

And no Egyptian party would be complete without wrapping a mummy!

After all that activity we took a break for a snack of hummus and cucumbers. They liked the cucumbers but the hummus? . . . Not so much.

Then we opened gifts, Millie got so many nice things!

Then everyone was ready for cake and ice cream! Millie had requested a honey cake, so Mark did his best and made this carrot-honey cake, with cream cheese, butter and honey frosting. As far as healthy-ish cakes go, it was divine!

Then we gave each girl a box of pyramid-shaped Toblerone chocolates and an encrypted hieroglyphic thank-you message to decode at home. All my idea . . . pretty proud of myself. :)

After the party, Millie's primary teachers stopped by with a card and an adorable hand-made headband. And her grandma Barbara came by with a beautiful framed photo of her mother whose name, Maurine, Millie shares as a middle name; and a monogram necklace bearing the letter "M".

After all that partying I was too exhausted to think about dinner so we headed out on the town. Couldn't think of anywhere that serves Egyptian fare, so we went with the next best thing, Indian food!

Millie and I were both so pleased with how everything turned out!
I hope she remembers it for the rest of her life.
Happy Birthday Millie!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Ivy's Sweet Shop Birthday

Anyone who knows Ivy, knows that she loves candy. So when I asked about a theme for her upcoming 4th birthday, it was no surprise to me that she asked for a "candy party". So we went with a candy/sweet shop theme and made all her dreams come true!

I had fun creating this little window display with window crayons, to welcome family as they arrived.

I borrowed the tissue-paper pom-poms from my sister-in-law, and I think they definitely completed the candy party look.

We had to make a special trip to a real candy shop beforehand, for inspiration and to purchase the giant lollipops and candy wands.

Mark had this great idea to do a write up in chalk. Love it.

And my oh-so-talented, jewelry-making sister-in-law (the same one who made the tissue-paper pom-poms), Katie, helped us make gumball necklaces for all the children.

Mark drilled holes in the gumballs before the party, then Katie strung ribbon through them, tying knots on either side of each gumball. Super adorable, but oh-so-sticky! (Especially when the sugar addicts started licking them!)

While the necklaces were being made, the kids decorated paper sacks that they later filled with candy to take home. We had a "candy cane" cake (also Ivy's idea) with ice cream and had a lovely time visiting with family and celebrating Ivy's birth. And the very best part of the whole event was that Ivy was on cloud 9 the entire time! Making this great memory for her was so worth it. Happy Birthday Ivy Jo.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Gifts that last . . . longer anyway

I read a statistic a while back stating that 99 percent of manufactured goods end up in the landfill. Ninety-nine percent! Now when I walk down the isles of our local box store I just imagine everything heaped up in a landfill and it's pretty sad. I wish I didn't contribute to such a travesty but as a materialistic American I just can't seem to get away from it; consuming goods is completely ingrained into my brain. However I am committed to doing better. I have determined to give gifts that last . . . and I'm not talking about plastic or Styrofoam that promises to never decompose in the landfill. I'm talking about meaningful, useful gifts that will get many, many years of use before they are ever considered being tossed. So no more plastic toys. There I said it. And I'm sticking to it! So what options does that leave me with when giving to children? I guess things like books, clothing, wooden toys are far more likely to be appreciated and not thrown out. More ideas would be greatly appreciated. But with my children in mind, here are a few things I'd like to get for them.

Oliver got excited just seeing a picture of this puppet. I think he'd be in love if it talk to him and tickled his tummy.

I think both my girls would get a kick out of this cube-bot toy, but their daddy would probably love it best of all.

Millie can leave a water bottle on her desk at school to sip throughout the day (what a great idea). One of these 12 oz. kanteens would be perfect for the job!

Ivy would totally love doing this puzzle (with some help). I'm trying to talk Mark into making one for her.

And this next item doesn't look that impressive but my girls would both experience countless hours of enjoyment. They LOVE straws and are always sad when they get too nasty for me and I chuck them in the trash. These glass straws come with a brush to clean them out and a life-time guarantee. They're not supposed to break but if they do, the company replaces them. Plus since they're glass they never release toxins and are 100% dishwasher safe. I think it is a must-have for us.

Unfortunately all of these things are more expensive than your regular run-of-the-mill, over-packaged plastic toys. But I keep telling myself that I'd rather pay more for a few high-quality items than pay any dollar amount for garbage.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Just for fun!

So with Christmas and my birthday just around the corner (. . . and Ivy's birthday . . . and Mark's birthday!). I am totally in consumer mode. And since I know I won't be purchasing the majority of the things on my shopping wish-list, I thought I'd post them here for all of you to enjoy. So even if I don't get the satisfaction of buying and owning them at least I'll get to pretend I did (sort of the feeling I get from "pinning" things to Pinterest but for a different audience). Since my b-day is first on the list of events, I'll start with me:
So, I have this fetish for pretty dishes, don't know why, but I do. And at the moment I am pining away for these mugs and bowls from West Elm.

Cute right? If I . . . I mean Mark, were to actually buy them for me I'm not sure if I'd go with a mix (as shown) or stick with one style. If I could only choose one I'd have to go with the yellow, but I think a mix is best. They're 20% off right now, with free shipping . . . so tempting!

I also want these bowls from Anthropologie.

I'm kind of hoping my mom will get them for me for Christmas to go with these bowls she gave me last year. What do you say mom? Pleeeeaaase.

Also if Santa is reading this, I'd love to find a new eyelash curler in my stocking along with some new mascara and non-toxic nailpolish. Thanks!

That's enough of what I want. My next post will be about my wish-list for Ivy.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

What Grandma Nora Knew All Along

My paternal grandmother, Nora Rust Mickelson, passed away last week on November 3, just over a month shy of her 100th birthday. She was an amazing woman: honest, true, chaste, benevolent, hard-working and strictly obedient to the commandments of the Lord.
At her age one might think that her death was only to be expected, however I think it still came as a bit of a surprise to many of us who knew her. In fact, the family was busily planning a big celebration for her upcoming birthday. I suppose the reason her passing came as such a surprise is because of Nora's virtually unheard of good health! For the most part she was still active and vibrant until the day she died; even joking with the ER doctor that she felt so great she could beat him in a foot race.
I used to love to brag about my 90-year-old grandmother who still raised chickens, tended to a large vegetable garden, and diligently went to the temple several times a week. Oh, how I admired her! So of course I was flattered at her funeral when my uncle said in his talk that when it came to healthy living, Nora considered me her only disciple. To that I must say, "Oh Grandma! You're too sweet! But you entirely underestimate your influence . . . and your posterity." For I know that many of her descendants are actively seeking to follow her example of healthy living!
I can only assume my dear grandma thought of me because I had the privilege of staying with her in her home for several weeks last summer where she and I had the opportunity to talk at length on the topic of health. She was thrilled to learn that I don't use a microwave oven (ever!) and that I was planning to (and later did) have a home birth.
I know those things don't make me unique but as I have received a few inquires since the funeral I'll try to briefly explain some of my other ideas.
The subject of being "healthy" has always interested me, however for years I was only motivated by vanity. I wanted to be beautiful and I wanted to be thin! So as fashion magazines had the greatest number of beautiful thin people on their pages, I mistakenly believed that they were somehow experts on how to achieve such an appearance. So I followed their advice: I slathered on the sunscreen, I dieted, I counted calories, I ate Special K cereal with skimmed milk for breakfast, lunch and dinner, I did sit-ups and ran mile after mile on a treadmill - and yet I continued to be chubby, unhealthy and of course unhappy. Eventually I surrendered to the idea that I was probably never going to achieve my goal and gave up even trying. Years passed and by fate or by chance I was led to some amazing people who opened my eyes to what true health is really about. This has set me on a journey of discovery. And the more I discover the more I stand in awe at how much wisdom Grandma Nora had all along!
As a child I remember being instructed by grandma to go outside and get some vitamin from the sun and I thought to myself, "Vitamins are the Flintstones in a bottle . . . what is grandma talking about?" Then as a preteen I went to visit her whilst wearing some of my sister, Alexis' perfume. But after asking grandma to smell me, she quoted a verse from Isaiah about how in the last days the daughters of Zion would stink! I took another whiff of my scented wrist and couldn't figure out what she was talking about. And as a newly married adult, every summer she continued to ask Mark and me if we had planted a garden. To which I always wished I could answer yes, but only twice had the opportunity to do so.
As it turns out grandma was right about everything! The sun is amazing! It doesn't actually give you vitamins but after exposure to its rays, the body produces a steroid hormone called Vitamin D. And as it turns out, for every person who dies from skin cancer, 100 people die from a Vitamin D deficiency-related disease!
As for perfume, I no longer wear it. After learning what sort of dangerous chemicals are used to constitute the word "fragrance" on a label's list of ingredients and the devastating effects they can have on the human body, I find myself shying away from all things smelly. Now I truly think they stink.
And although I always agreed with grandma on the garden thing, I now have an increased appreciation for it. It's become apparent to me that the food supply in America is very polluted, not only literally but also morally. And when food is grown for the sole purpose of being sold at a profit, the food's integrity and nutritional value is undoubtedly compromised. Consequently we are all suffering a myriad of maladies. If we are what we eat it stands to reason that low-quality food equates with low-quality health and vice verse. Grandma's health was a prime example of this scenario. She raised her own cows, chickens and vegetable garden along with many fruit trees. Giving her control over how the majority of her food was produced, resulting in a safe and nutritionally dense diet -- contributing greatly to her good health (in addition to her devout committment to following the Word of Wisdom of course).
My diet is nowhere as pure as my grandmother's but I hope that someday it will be. And I'm glad to say that I am no longer motivated by vanity. I simply wish to be as healthy as possible for as long as possible so that I can continue to serve others and serve the Lord without becoming a burden on others (or at least have the peace of mind that I did my best to avoid becoming so). For now I am taking one step at a time to change my lifestyle to be more like Nora's - free of toxins, full of sunlight and high-quality, honest food. And when it comes to finding an expert on health and happiness, we would all be wise to skip what conventional media has to say and instead, remember what we've been told by Grandma Nora.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Don't Tell Her It's Cute

We let Ivy's hair grow out for far too long. So when I couldn't stand it any longer I pulled out the scissors.

Here are the "before" shots:

And the "after" shots:

I think it turned out pretty well (considering I have NO idea what I'm doing). It turned out a little shorter than I planned so I was feeling terrible for a few hours, but now I'm over it. Now Ivy is complaining that she doesn't want to go out in public because everyone will say how cute her hair is! (And who wants that?!)

'Cuz We're Cousins

Oliver is one lucky kid! He has two boy cousins born within months of him.
Mandie, Colter, Oliver, and Me
My sister Mandie had her first baby back in June. And my sister-in-law Katie had her son back in May. (Oliver was born in March.) And I love that their names all end in "er". Oliver, Porter, Colter, so fun!

Me, Oliver, Porter, Katie
Remember this picture of me and Katie? I wish I had one with me and Mandie, but neither of us were up to much traveling during our pregnancies and we were never together for a picture. :(