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Thursday, August 30, 2018

Get Sharpie off of White Quartz Counters

If you looked this up because you have a disaster on your hands, I feel your pain.  Don't worry, there's an easy solution. 

(This isn't a sponsored post)


Once upon I time, twelve years ago, we built our home, with our dream 3/4" red birch hardwood floors.  Not long after that, our thoughtful (and I'm not being sarcastic) two and three year-old sons decided to surprise me one morning by sneaking downstairs and mopping the kitchen.

I woke up to two proud little boys beaming up at me, begging me to come out to the kitchen to see what they'd done.  They ran ahead shouting, "We washed the floor!"

I died.

I'm not exaggerating here.  There was a half-inch of water covering the entire kitchen.  There were plastic Ikea cups and bowls floating around the island -- which was LITERALLY an island.  

And a smattering of soggy hot dogs -- a nutritious breakfast, for sure.

I don't know how I managed to be calm.  It was miraculous.  With my heart breaking, I smiled at them and thanked them for trying so hard to do something nice for me.  Then I asked them in the nicest way possible to never wash the floor with cups and bowls of water again.

All day long, the popping sounds of warping wood stabbed my broken heart.

Why am I telling this story?  Well, it makes me laugh.  But also, because it's the reason we re-modeled our kitchen last year.  New floors, re-finished cabinets, and gorgeous new WHITE quartz counters.

And do you know what my kids did?  They decided to take some of my latex food prep gloves and make balloons of them.  Then they drew faces on them with RED Sharpies.  The marker transferred off of the balloons and ALL OVER the white counters.

These two boys are eight and eleven and I wasn't the miraculously calm mother I was the first time around.  This time I was an incoherent, crazed mess of a person.

We tried everything to scrub it off but it just made a big pink mess.  

Magic eraser didn't work.

Goo gone didn't work.

Vinegar didn't work.

I was on the verge of tears.  Until... an internet board suggested Bar Keeper's Friend -- which I only use to clean pots and pans but I was willing to try it.

I sprayed the spots with water and then sprinkled Bar Keeper's Friend all over it.  I almost bawled when the white cleanser started turning pink.  It lifted the ink right out.  With some very light scrubbing the stains were gone.  And it didn't hurt the finish on the counter.

Then I apologized to everyone for being a psychotic mess, and asked them in the nicest way possible to never touch a Sharpie again.

So there you go.  If your kids are anything like mine, tuck this away for later.  Or never buy anything nice.  Either way.

.   .   .   .   .

And I hear my mom's voice echoing in my memory, "This is why I can't have nice things!"

{ha ha} 

Sorry mom.  I guess this was karma.


Make Your Own Winnie the Pooh Hunny Jars






When I was a kid, my mom bought me the Winnie the Pooh stories by A.A. Milne.  I LOVED them.  They're full of everything that's magical about childhood -- innocent and kind, and full of imagination.  

So when I set out to style my new Bee themed table runner, my first thought was of Hunny jars (my kids keep telling me I'm spelling that wrong).  I have a tight advertising budget, so even if I could find exactly what I need at a store, I probably couldn't afford it for a photo shoot.  So off to the thrift store!  

I just needed crockery jars that were the right shape, and I HIT THE JACKPOT!!!  



Five jars, ideal shape, varying sizes, for a total of $9.00!!!!  I can definitely afford that.  And HOW PERFECT is that one on the left?!  I couldn't have asked for more.  They're a little chipped (and one a little more after I dropped it!) but that just adds to the charm.  

They were also icky dirty, which isn't charming, so they got a good scrub.

I tried spray paint first.  It was a complete mess.  It might have worked if I'd kept adding layers but it wasn't worth it to me.  

So I switched gears and went with glossy finish acrylic paint.  (If you're putting food in the jars, make sure your paint is food-safe!)
I only needed them for one-time use, so I didn't prep the surface or anything.  That would be wise if you want to keep them around.  It worked out great for me because my first attempt looked like garbage, so I just pealed the paint off.

This paint dries fast, so to keep it from looking messy and goopy (like my first attempt) I switched to a big house painting brush.  It worked beautifully.  It also covered better when I alternated directions for the second and third coats -- yes, it took three coats to cover the existing designs on the jars.

Each coat just took a few minutes, and I left an hour to dry in between.  So this could be done in an afternoon and still leave you time to get other stuff done.  

My kids begged to help so I let them take a stab at it.  If they made a complete mess I could always start over (and I did, don't tell!).



I wanted to hot glue some bees onto the jars but I couldn't find any at the craft store.  So I came up with an easy solution (see photo).  Each bee is one pom pom and a black pipe cleaner. 

I spent an hour trying to figure out the best way to get the look I wanted.  Of course I started with the most complicated way possible.  In the end, my favorite look also turned out to be the easiest {eye roll}. 

Just twist the pipe cleaner twice around a pencil to make wings.  Then slide it off and give the wings each a little turn to keep them from unlooping.  Wrap the pipe cleaner around your pom pom so the wings are snug against it, and twist the ends together under your bee's little belly.  Trim off the ends as close as you can and flatten them to the pom pom.  Your kids can even do it -- they'll love it.

I'm pretty happy with the final results!





PS:  I don't actually own fifty bazillion crayons to fill all of these jars.  Check it out:



A couple of dish towels are all you need ;)

PPS:  This is the jar I dropped.  The crayons covered that broken part very nicely.


Saturday, August 4, 2018

Don't throw away that train table!


We love Lego's at our house, but we don't love Lego's ALL OVER our house.  There's nothing more vicious than a Lego lurking in the dark -- waiting for a bare foot to come along.
  
We've tried the bag. 


It's a nice concept.  Lego's stay in the bag, never to leave; it's a mat to play on; it cinches up.  I know it works great for a lot of people, but it didn't work for us.  

After years of getting sets for birthdays and Christmas, the bag was full.  We had no room to actually play on the mat so the Lego's still ended up all over the carpet.  It's also hard to tuck into a corner to put away -- and too heavy for a doorknob.

I realized they needed a designated spot to play in.

Enter the train table:
Image result for Imaginarium 55-Piece Train Set


This was such an easy project.  It cost about $100 (most of which was the Lego base plates), including a second-hand, Imaginarium train table.  And it only took an hour or two from start to finish.  If you can find second-hand Lego baseplates you could cut the price significantly.

I'm not an expert, but I'll tell you how I did it -- and it's held up perfectly for almost a year.

For this table I used:
  • 4 large baseplates
  • box cutter
  • steel ruler
  • sharpie
  • strong all-purpose adhesive (2 or 3 tubes of Loctite)
  • damp rags for edge cleanup
  • moist cotton swabs for surface cleanup
  • and a plastic storage bin that rolls underneath (not pictured)





The gray baseplates were almost exactly the right size, but they did need a tiny trim.  We measured and trimmed the outside edges with a box cutter.  It shaved off the plastic like butter.  A rotary cutter might even have worked.

I numbered the back of each baseplate, with a corresponding number on the tabletop so I could piece it back together as they were when I measured them.

We trimmed them to exactly fit the two pieces of the tabletop -- so you can still lift one side or the other to wipe the Lego's off into the bin below.

I was GENEROUS with the Loctite.  

Lay the table top on a hard, flat surface and then glue all over and right up to the edges.  Press the baseplates on and then carefully clean up any glue that slipped out.

You need to make sure the baseplates are aligned perfectly.  Place the tabletop back on the table.  Snap some Lego pieces across the seams.  Trust me, this is critical.  You'll need to slide the baseplates into alignment until you can easily place pieces across the seams at every corner -- all at the same time.  I used flat pieces so I could leave them in place while it dried (really, make sure there isn't any glue where it shouldn't be).

Carefully remove the tabletop, leaving the seams connected, and place it on a hard surface to dry.  I weighted it with books for a good seal.

I left it for a week.

.   .   .   .   .

My kids and their friends play on it every day.  My little guy hums to himself for hours while he builds.  He even told me it's his favorite present of all time!



I love that they collaborate on their designs.  And everything they build has a story.  They combine their sets to make whatever they can dream up, and they keep adding to it.  They've had Star Wars battles, forts, towers...  Currently it's a hodge-podge of silly scenes.  

And for the first time ever, the Lego's mostly stay in their bedroom!  They do still get on the floor, but nothing like before.  

If your kids love Lego's, this is a fantastic project.

.   .   .   .   .

These baddies are playing poker.  They're about to get into a big fight.



 This is an arcade with endless lines.  The guy at the front grew a long gray beard while waiting for his turn.



They converted a raft into a scorpion attack vehicle -- to discourage those long lines.




There's a jungle where robots and octopuses live in trees.




And if you make Chewbacca mad, he'll make you walk the plank.




















Saturday, July 21, 2018

Kids + Weddings don't have to = Stress



Here's the deal

Your wedding isn't about the kids, but the kids can certainly ruin your wedding.  As a mom, I can't emphasize this enough:  PARENTS WILL LOVE YOU if you give their kids something to do.   

I speak from experience.  As a mom of three wildish boys, an invitation to a family wedding is exciting, but so daunting.  The prospect of having to make three little Tasmanian Devils, trapped in suits and ties, behave for an entire night is... ugh.  Just so much. 

My Nightmare

After a long ceremony and an hour of pictures, we found ourselves at a formal dinner in an art gallery.  The kids were tired, cranky, and restless.  We were struggling.  And then half-way through dinner the bride announced it was time for speeches.  

I really thought I might die.


The agony of those speeches!  They went on forever.  The kids were melting down.  They were 3, 6, and 7 and had been expected to sit quietly at the table for over an hour.  


And remember, the venue was an art gallery [Ack!].  We were terrified the boys would escape us and break something.  


They desperately needed something to do.  So with the words, "You broke it, you bought it" blazing in our minds like a neon sign, my husband and I took them outside and spent an hour walking them around in the cold, until we finally threw in the towel and went home.


Your Nightmare

Consider this, too: not all parents care if their kids run wild.  Some just assume you don't mind a little chaos -- because their kids are so completely adorable.  

I went to a wedding where I watched a gaggle of children diving under tables and between people's legs, playing hide and seek!  Their parents ignored them while they enjoyed their dinner and conversation.  It went on all night long.  One kid nearly knocked over the buffet.


6 Suggestions, and One Thing To Avoid

1.  Designate a space for them.  The kids table should be located where it won't interfere with the celebration, but where parents can still keep an eye on their little ones.

2.  Give them something to do.  Busy kids are happy kids!  A coloring table runner works like a kid magnet.  I used one at my son's 7th birthday party, at a play place, and not one kid left the table while we dished up their lunch and then cake and ice cream.  KID MAGNET.


These are a few of my designs (available at www.mbpartyboutique.com):








3.  Consider hiring a sitter or two to help out.  This is as much a gift to you as it is to your guests.  Like I said before, you can't always count on parents to watch their own kids.




4.  Fill the table with kid-friendly snacks.  When I was a kid, I was asked to serve at a wedding.  I spent the whole night pilfering eclairs and butter mints.  My point is, kids aren't known for self control.  If you want them to take it easy on the buffet and wedding cake, give them something they'll enjoy.  And don't forget about food allergies.  Skip the nuts, and make sure parents know what their kids are eating.


Probably should skip these too:



Bwa ha ha!  Yes, I made this mess.  These were my cookies.  I gave up.


5.  Include a Few Books and Maybe a Puzzle.  I don't mean a 1000 piece puzzle that could possibly end up all over the venue.  Small puzzle, large pieces.  Something easy to clean up.


6.  Space permitting, they might enjoy their own little dance floor.  A lot of kids love dancing, and they're so much fun to watch!  While most kid dancers don't mind mixing it up with the grownups, their own little dance floor could be a crowd pleaser.





Maybe don't do balloons.  Just a thought, but in my experience balloons always end with at least one kid in tears.  Best to avoid things that pop.






Best wishes to you!


Friday, June 8, 2018

Gorgeous Tropical Flamingo Party

Have you noticed this adorable trend?  Tropical Flamingo parties are this year's favorite theme!  It's festive, versatile, and brings all the good feels of Summer vacation.  I love it for pool parties, birthdays, bridal showers, baby showers... pretty much anything.  

 Doesn't it just scream "SUMMER?"  Everything here is available as a printable (great if you're overseas and don't want to pay postage), or printed for you.


Your custom poster can say whatever you need it to.  It's gorgeous on the wall behind your buffet table, or displayed on an easel.  We added foam-core backing to this as well.


This table runner coloring page is a kid magnet -- this photo shoot proves it.  Know why?



This was meant to be a product shoot -- no kids were invited to be a part of it!  

My little boy and his friend were eyeing the crayons, and asking a million questions, so I finally just let them enjoy themselves.  

These are always a huge hit at our parties -- with the kids, parents, and even grandparents.  They bring everyone to the table for fun and conversation.






You can turn generic party supplies into adorable custom products in seconds with a 2.5" sticker.  These come personalized and printed for you.  Use them on paper cups, napkins, swag bags, gifts, popcorn cones... Use your imagination :)





Everyone love swag!  These sweet treat toppers are printed on pearl linen paper for a little shimmer.  They ship to you cut and scored for easy folding.


Chocolate.  These gorgeous candy bar wrappers are printed on glossy paper for a classic candy wrapper look and feel.  Your guests will love them!



These toppers are seriously cute.  The sunglasses are complete with foil lenses!  Each topper is assembled by hand just for you :)


Stay hydrated!  Aren't these labels fun?!


It's all about the details.  These little table tents / place cards are also printed on pearl linen paper.  They're sturdy and gorgeous and can say whatever you need them to.  Available in sets of four.


I'm in love with these thank you cards.  I can't help it.  I love them.  Plus they're great stationary to keep in your desk for any occasion.  These are available as printables, or press-printed on 125 lb. cotton paper.  The quality is amazing.  They're postcard style, and envelopes are included with printed cards.



Also available as printables or printed.  All text is filled in for you, so if you need to include more information that's easy to do.


This door sign is 12"x18" and comes to you ready to use.  For this party we added foam-core backing and a ruffle ribbon.