Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Warrior Cat Birthday Party

My little sister Sam turned 10 in June. A few weeks prior to her birthday she started dropping hints that perhaps I should be planning out her soiree for her, but, unfortunately for her, Kurt and I were finally going to get around to taking a honeymoon on her actual birthday.  In a completely un-10-year-old-y move, she decided to postpone her birthday party until I returned. But, lest you think this was because she enjoys my company, it was actually because she knows I throw the most legit-est of all the kid parties.

If you find yourself conversing with 10 year olds, then you may have heard of the Warriors book series. In short: it's a book series about gangs clans of wild cats who live in the forest and do cat stuff. I took it upon myself to do some scientific Google research so I could make the party as true to the books as possible without actually having to read them. One thing I found while trying to find parties that other people did (which was very slim pick-ins) was that grown-ups must not have really researched the books and often tried to go with a jungle cat theme. These books are about normal cats that happen to be wild, not leopards. Don't let your little humans down like this, big humans!

Cat Ears

Sam and I decided everyone would be assigned a cat-sona (see what I did there?) upon arrival. Sam went so far as to make me a list of cat names from the books and their colors so I could be sure to make the right amount of properly colored ears. I even made pairs for Kurt and me. I like to be in character.

Hi I'm Sisterpaw.

You'll need:

  • headband multi-packs (I found them at Michael's but also check the dollar store)
  • cat colored felt (no leopard or tiger!)
  • pen
  • scissors
  • hot glue and gun
  1. Pick a cat ear shape and draw it out on a piece of paper for a pattern. Also make a pattern for the inner-ear shape
  2. Trace the outer-ear pattern onto the felt, doubling it over, making sure to leave a little strip between each side of the ear so it can wrap around the headband.
  3. Repeat step 2 for the inner ear parts, but don't worry about doubling anything up. The inner ear will only show on the front.
  4. Hot glue those bad boys together.

Don't stress about how legit the cat ears look. Remember that they're for little kids and will probably be thrown away at the end of the day. Buy them in bulk online if you're craft-icapped.


'Become a Warrior' Station

Using the list Sam gave me of all the names of the warrior cats, I made name tags using clear plastic pop-out tags from Michael's. The things were miserable and I broke at least half a pack trying to get them apart to put the names in. I arranged the name tags in square faux grass patches that I got on clearance from Michael's. Sam wrote the warrior names on the inside of the cat ears to ensure that once a name was drawn from the warrior station that everyone had the proper color ears. Gotta love a kid who pays attention to details. 



Offerings

Gifts, duh.


'For the Journey' Gift Bags

Sam compiled (in all honesty) some random crap for the gift bags. I think there was a wooden puzzle, a bobble head cat, and some Swedish Fish in it. The good news is that several kids forgot their goody bags and I was able to go in and poach the candy from them. Nom. 





Moonpool

My sister is fortunate enough to live with my parents, who are fortunate enough to have a pool. They also live in the woods so it fit the theme quite well. In the book the cats assemble at a place called the Moonpool so I put my sister's good fortune to use by making the pool into the Moonpool. Kurt and my dad rented a helium machine (which was a waste of money--don't do that) and blew up enough balloons to arch over the pool. They really struggled with this, only to see most of them deflate shortly after (sorry guys!). So if you have the means and really want to do this, I'd suggest hiring a balloon person to do it for you. 




Fresh Kill Table

"Fresh Kill" is straight from the books and just means "food." The sign was from Party City and was actually for a tiki-themed party. I removed the paper backing that had parrots on it and made my own sign with contrasting forest-y looking papers. I made the letters by cutting out bone shapes. The mini tiki torches were also from Party City and were about $7 each I believe, but I found them later at Wal-Mart for much cheaper, so go there first. The backdrop was cheap plastic table clothes cut length-wise and attached to the ceiling light fixture above the table.


Strawberry Mice

You'll need:
  • a knife
  • black or red (I used red) string licorice (like the Pull-n-Peel kind)
  • strawberries
  • mini marshmallows
  • almond slivers
  • black cake decorating icing (I used the gel kind and it worked well)
  1. Cut the stems out of the strawberries.
  2. Shove a mini marshmallow in each strawberry's "butt."
  3. Cut small sections of the string licorice.
  4. Stick a licorice piece into each marshmallow "butt."
  5. Stick two almond slivers in the strawberry for ears.
  6. Draw two dots for eyes and one for a nose on the pointy end of the strawberry.

Bird Nests

You'll need:
  • mini chocolate donuts
  • a baking sheet
  • shredded coconut
  • speckled jelly beans
  1. Toast the shredded coconut by spreading it on a baking sheet and baking it at 375 degrees for five minutes. 
  2. Roll the chocolate donuts in the toasted coconut. Don't worry if this looks messy. Bird nests are messy.
  3. Top with speckled jelly beans. 

Bones

You'll need:
  • short, skinny pretzel rods
  • mini marshmallows
  • white melting chocolate
  • a cookie sheet
  • wax paper
  1. Stick a mini marshmallow on each end of the skinny pretzel rods so they look like dumb bells. 
  2. Melt the white chocolate according to package instructions.
  3. Dip the 'dumb bells' in the white chocolate and let dry on a wax paper covered baking sheet.

Moonpool Jell-O

I got the idea for a Jell-O fishbowl (in this case it would be a pond) from Pinterest and let my step mom handle it. She didn't follow the instructions which called for flat sprite and food color to make a light, see-through blue, which was initially disappointing because the fish more or less disappeared in the dark blue Jell-O, but I actually think it lent itself more to the natural body-of-water feel because generally those aren't see-through like a fishbowl anyway. Plus when the Jell-O was served the fish became visible so it was like, "Hey, surprise! There's more sugar in your sugar!"

You'll need:
  • a big bowl
  • swedish fish
  • blue Jell-O
  1. Make the Jell-O in the big bowl according to package instructions.
  2. When set, but not fully hardened, start shoving in random Swedish Fish. 
  3. Finish with a few popping out of the top.


Clan Cookies

These were sort of a disaster. My original plan was to roll sugar cookie dough onto a baking sheet, cut out the clan shape, and then draw the clan symbols onto the cookies with cake decorating icing. This did not work out for me. My alternate plan was to just draw the clan shapes and symbols onto round cookies, but this proved to be rather tedious as well. Cookie decorating, as it turns out, is not my strong suit. After decorating one cookie for each clan I lost interest and just stuck one on each pile of cookies. Only the first kid to get to the table appreciated my effort, but I got a picture first, so oh well. 


Moonpool Bottled Water

Just some copying and pasting in Word, printing, and taping.




The Cake

Sam wanted an ice cream cake which meant any decorating I wanted to do to it would have to be done quickly. I used chocolate chips to render her favorite clan (Thunderclan) in the center and then popped some of the other, already-made decorative foods on there. I thought it looked pretty rough but her and the other kids were ridiculously excited about it, so I guess it passed?


Games

Pick Your Prey
This game was basically an Easter Egg hunt, but cat themed. Sam had a few large bags of stuffed animals that were en route to be donated so we combed through them in search of animals that a cat might eat (mice, birds, etc) and my dad hid them throughout the yard. The kid who found the most "prey" won.

Pass The Prey
Hot potato, but with a stuffed mouse. I played music from my iPhone and randomly stopped it. Whoever had the mouse was out. This was a good idea in theory but I didn't think to make a playlist ahead of time and just let my iTunes randomly shuffle. I'm 27, I don't have kids, and I went through a serious unedited rap music phase so I promise you this was not a good idea. 

The Hunt
This one's slightly more confusing...but basically it's a complicated version of Tag. I separated the kids into three groups: cats, birds, and mice. Mice received 10 rubber bands to wear around their wrists, birds received five, cats got none. The rules were explained that cats were allowed to tag everyone, birds were allowed to tag only mice, and mice weren't allowed to tag anyone. Mice got a running head start, followed by birds, and then cats. If someone was tagged, that person was to relinquish one of her rubber bands and then had 10 Mississippi-seconds to run away without being re-tagged. The kid with the most rubber bands after 10 minutes was the winner. I'd never seen this game played before so I wasn't sure how it would work out...but in general the "cats" ran around and tagged everyone pretty quickly and no one else had a chance. In a surprising turn of events, however, one "mouse" hid in a bush the whole time and re-appeared after 10 minutes with all 10 rubber bands still in tact and won. 


Monday, August 12, 2013

Mid-Century Monday

Friday night I went to a slumber party. Not one of those sex toy slumber parties where someone's mom that you've known since high school shows up and randomly orders a wall banger either. A real life slumber party. With blanket forts. More on that later.

What's pertinent for now is that I woke up after a raucous night of fort building, dirty bananas, and booty shaking at 6:30 in the morning on Saturday so that I could get home to brush my teeth before heading to an estate sale in Rosedale.

Estate sales, for the uninitiated, are serious business. They require you be there early, bring tools, and be prepared for heavy lifting as well as possible hand-to-hand combat. I never mess around, but it's generally worth it.

I immediately discovered a mid-century shelving unit/desk in the basement. I'd seen a picture of it in the online ad so I knew it would be there and I was prepared to spend between $100 and $150. It was priced at $40 so I immediately went into attack mode as though I might have to fight for this prize...but no one else seemed care. At all.

And so, after I took the entire thing apart (by myself), loaded it piece by piece into my car (by myself), drove it home (by myself), unloaded it (by myself), began assembling it (by myself), realized I am shit at math and it didn't fit on the intended wall (by myself), rearranged the whole office (with Kurt), and then finished assembling (also with Kurt)...my estate sale find was complete.

Also, because I am a good wife (read: I know better than to come home with an estate sale haul without a carrot for my man), I scooped up two tool compartmenty thingies pre-filled and organized with boy stuff. Aside from the nails I have no idea what any of it is. They were $10 each.

Other goodies included: 
A 1950s stay-open clothespin bag. I live here in the future so I don't have any use for this, but damn is it cool. I can just imagine some broad 60 years ago squealing in her back yard as she hung her knickers to dry because she didn't have to keep opening up that darn clothespin bag. What a simple, yet genius idea. According to the stamp on it, it was $.69 once upon a time. I paid $10. #inflation #butdontworryitcamewithclothespins?


A pewter bowl from 1966. I originally just liked it because the turquoise and orange diamonds on the front of it appealed to me. But upon closer inspection, I found that the bottom was stamped "Stieff Pewter" and "Baltimore Gas & Electric Co. Double Diamond Anniversary, 1816-1966." That's way cool. It was $2.


This whip. I know this is weird, but at a photoshoot last weekend I was shooting with a riding crop and remarked about how 'over' this riding crop I was and how I wished I had one of those long whips. Think and you shall receive apparently, because there it was at this estate sale for $4. The handle says "Shenandoah Nat'l Park, Virginia." Virginia IS for lovers I guess.

And now, because I promised, back to that slumber party.
Behold: the blanket fort.

And this.
video