Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Up For Air

Dear Bloggy Reader(s),

Christmas is over. It was great. Kids were surprised with the new Wii. Good thing we're on "vacation" from school...

I am sore. They are only pretend sports games, but I am not pretending to be sore. Seriously, core sore. This may be my new workout.

I am tired. I must fly at night while the rest of the people that live here are asleep. (We only have 1 remote right now... 2 more are on the way from Hong Kong via e-Bay... I ordered them the first week of December... they should be here any minute!

I am almost an Island Guide now, and have many "stamps" to my credit. You should see me fly through the streets of the town just barely off the ground and even through the volcano. I just may be a better pilot than my babies' daddy. At least I am on Wuhu Island. (I'm better at basketball free-throws and archery too...)

I am doing another wedding on a super tight budget and time schedule. This one has a $300 budget (the BIG time...) but a little less than the two weeks to plan it. It's on 1/1/10 at 11 a.m. How cool is that? The only thing that would make it cooler is if they waited another year...

I am going. I have a little more flying and maybe a few frames of bowling to do before I make pew bows and go to bed...

More after the wedding. I haven't even downloaded my Christmas photos yet! I wonder how they turned out...???

Happy New Year!


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Christmas Cheer

I don't really have time (who does?) for a real post, but I wanted to share a little of what's been going on around here.

At last writing, I was quickly stuffing the Christmas decor away and reassembling the Fall displays so that we could be hosts for an impromptu Thanksgiving dinner. Next was our Black Friday romantic get-away for about 2 days total. On Sunday, we (really, just me... my husband the pilot, doesn't mind a little bouncing around,) white-knuckled it back from our whirlwind trip to Southern California and spent the week that followed knee-deep in the Christmas spirit and a maze of Rubbermaid totes and half-lit light strings. More of those trip highlights in the next installment.

It was a mad rush to finish our Christmas decorating because on December 5, we participated in a Christmas Parade of Homes with three other families in our church. The idea is that you visit for a bit in each home, enjoying a few refreshments, some Christmas music and a sampling of each family's traditions.

Our turnout was very light - only about 20 guests, and we're related to four of those and two guests were non-member friends. It seems that our church family isn't much for socializing (especially if they have to drive after dark - another perk of living in a retirement town) unless it's at a bowel-churning potluck immediately after services. (Sorry, I've never been a fan of the potluck dinner... Never trust the mushroom soup gravy...) *** ETA: Please see my comments in the comments for clarification (without a blow by blow, literally, or Imodium reference) of my aversion to potlucks...*** But thankfully, we haven't had to forgo friendship along with the potlucks! The Lord has brought us the most wonderful friends you could ask for OUTSIDE our congregation and INSIDE our association of Homeschoolers. And it's been a blessing for us in immeasurable ways.

The REAL reason I even planned the church social was to force myself to bake, and clean and decorate my home early in the Christmas season. And it worked!! I even finished all my shopping. I finished my shopping so early I've been able to finish it two more times since then!

I got all the trees up (but the one in the office/school room - and we didn't have room for it this year with our four additional computers since last year...) nearly all the gifts wrapped and under the tree, lights on the outside of the house, and the house got mostly cleaned (except for the office/school room... we just closed the door... Genius needs no explanation.

Sorry - I'm lousy at taking photos during my own parties... I don't have photos of folks roasting hot-dogs over the fire pit outside, the dog warming himself on the hearth inside, the cute gallon sized S`more Snowman hot cocoa dispenser my kids made me buy, the table full of appetizers, or people doing our Christmas Ornament Scavenger Hunt. But I do have photos of the trees... If you click them, they should open larger for a little more detail.

The Living Room - a 7 1/2 foot, scrapbook sort of tree with a varied collection of ornaments showcasing all of our interests and memorable events in our lives.

The Dinning Room - 6 foot slim tree bedecked with gold ribbon (leftover from the 50th Anniversary party this past summer) and "sugared fruit" ornaments (which coordinate with the "sugared fruit" garland and fresh greens over the table.

The Kitchen Tree - A 4 foot tree that used to have a Holstein cow theme that evolved into a Texas/Cowboy tree when we moved to Texas 5 years ago. I especially enjoy the chili pepper lights, barbed "wire" garland, and burlap "skirt".

Our Daughter's Tree - New this year, (actually last year post-Christmas sale) a 6 1/2 foot white tree replacing her 3 foot tree that she had watered with hot cocoa... The theme is sort of Pepto Bismal... Pink, with the bulk of the ornaments being "baby's first" accompanied by a feminine and girly theme. The pink tu-tu around the bottom was her idea. I think it was a good one. Yes... she's occasionally doing her own hair now.

Our Sons' Tree - A 7 1/2 foot "realistic" rustic pine tree that usually resides in our office. Normally, this is my "Snowman" tree, but the Snowmen are taking a break this year. Instead, the boys have chosen a "fishing" theme to match their newly redecorated fishing bedroom. There are almost a dozen bass fish lights, fishing lures and a few snowmen with fishing poles too. They decorated it all by themselves... from the crooked and disproportionate rod and creel topper right down to the pillow case tree skirt.

Last, but not least...
The Master Bedroom Tree - This year in the form of a little 3 foot tree. The 6 foot tree is on vacation at a friends' house this year. This is the one that had been watered by hot cocoa... It smelled a bit of chocolate when Brian got the lights working, so I figured it would be most comfortable in my space. There's just a small sampling of my Victorian ornaments on this one.

That was Saturday night...

On Tuesday the 8th, we had our annual Homeschool Mom's Christmas Party. The highlight of the season - a real red carpet event.

Our Association officers set out to bless the moms with an evening of laughter that would replace a week at the gym doing sit-ups. I hope we were successful and their sides hurt for days following.

Again - I'm bad with photos at events I'm hosting or working - so I don't have many of the detail shots any good cub reporter would get for you. But just a few to give you an idea of what we did... not too many as to give away the details of our secret meetings. Shhh... don't tell the husbands isn't not all strictly business.

Some of us dressed in the traditional Christmas colors of hot pink and lime green.
Don't you love Grateful's socks? They have red heels on them and she's so tiny that the red part is up on her Achilles heel. From the back it looks like she's been going through the grocery store with one of my kids pushing the cart behind her.
Please understand... these are unusual outfits for us... Except for Sharra.

She pretty much dresses like this every chance she gets...

There were 26 of us in this unique church sanctuary that also serves as their fellowship hall - the tables are at the back of the room on either side.

We catered our own dinner - I was in charge of that portion of the evening... it was a regular carb fest! It was fun to work in the big professional kitchen, though.

Our theme was "Game Show" homeschool mom style. There was a "guess how many math manipulatives are in this jar" game (see the jar above).

Next we had to whittle down the contestants - so we played a round of "are you smarter than a third grader?" Turns out, after a few glasses of teetotaler punch, they aren't. It took longer than expected to find 12 moms able to correctly correct a third grade math paper. (I'm SO glad I was not playing this game...)

This lovely lady in silver above was our grand prize winner for the evening.

Here is our fearless leader, Lisa, waiting for us to get 12 contestants.

Those that didn't make the cut were given a lovely parting gift of Rice-a-Roni - yes... the San Francisco treat. It wasn't a year supply... more like a 10 minute supply. And for most of the families represented, one box wouldn't be a suitable side dish for even one meal.

The twelve qualifying contestants were divided into six teams of two. Together, they played a pricing game - they were given the correct prices to the seven or so items displayed and they had to match them up. It's tough to see here, but Lisa even has a Bob Barker style "microphone".

Sharra and I served as "Barker's Beauties" (right...) Actually - just the Lovely Sharra. I was the stand in for Rod Roddy... giving an off-the-cuff description of each item.

The final four contestants moved on to the final round - a sort of "What's My Line" (the game show version) and had to match up strange facts with the "conservative" homeschool mom they were attributed to. Take a look at the line-up below and guess the punk rocker, pilot, and mom escorted out of the country of Mexico by Mexican police in the dead of night...

The final activity of the evening (except for the clean up...) was the gift exchange game. There were lots of gifts that got moved around... in "Christian" love of course.

Now maybe you can understand the immeasurable blessings I'm talking about when I refer to my friends in the Homeschool Association. I love these ladies more than my luggage.

Thanks, Sharra, for the really good photos. I haven't yet learned how to use my early Christmas present camera. I'm going to play with the "skinny" mode a little more on that...

Thursday, November 26, 2009

We Have Rules for a Reason

Happy Thanksgiving all my bloggy friends. I hope your day is filled with deliciousness and family harmony. I pray mine is too.

You know how I can take a short story and make it a whole lot longer - you might want to grab a cup of tea and maybe a sandwich.

I really shouldn't be here bloggin' right now, but it's my Blog-a-versary, can you believe it? Three Thanksgivings ago this madness began. And so the madness continues. I've got 40 plates spinning in the air, but I'm stopping to talk to you people - who are likely licking pie filling spoons, pointlessly basting birds (they say you don't really make it more moist by doing that...) or watching football. (They still play a football game on Thanksgiving Day, don't they? This country is changing so much I just wonder... Let me just step down from that soapbox mighty quick.)

Back to my long short story. We've had a bit of a change from our original plans and I just wanted to make you feel better about your day - so I'll share how things are going here.

Let's review by looking at the future. The first week of December (which begins next week) is pretty full for me. First I have a Women's Ministry Christmas social on the 3rd, (but nobody has let me know if they're coming or not yet - and I'm not twisting any arms or sending out any RSVP reminders this time...) then on the 5th we're having a Christmas open house for who-knows how many people - again - no RSVP's... Someday I'll address that in a post - I'm sure you're on the edge of your seats now...) Next we'll head to a local town for a big all day long Pearl Harbor grand re-opening of the WWII museum complete with an address by President Pappy Bush 41 and then on the 8th we have our big Homeschool Mom's Christmas Extravaganza (which I'm co-planning with my very dear friends on our homeschool association's board of directors) Oh - and my only sister's birthday is that week too.

Tired yet? I am.

File all that away and let's flash back to last Sunday. My babies' daddy was off flying somewhere... I don't know where he's flying so much any more, I made no less than four trips to the airport an hour away in the Big City last week, but I know he was flying since I'd driven him to the airport again for the first leg of his trip that morning. Well anyway, he's trying to be a romantic guy and shoots me a text message from somewhere in the Midwest and wants to know if I could work in a romantic getaway for the long Thanksgiving weekend to southern California, just the two of us. How does a girl turn down something like that???

She looks at her bulging calendar, that's how.

But I came to my senses, called my momma who assured me that getting away was the right thing to do and even promised that she would take care of everything on the home-front and I could even come back to a clean house - and children that were still alive - Bonus!

A little later that same afternoon I was driving my mother and father-in-law to a Thanksgiving service and potluck dinner at our sister church (the other church our Pastor serves) about 25 miles from us. I mentioned the potential romantic get-away and my mother-in-law offered to host Thanksgiving dinner at her house to help lighten my load. (She didn't find out until two days later that her babies' daddy of 50+ years was a walking petri dish of the shingles virus...)

This is where the rule breaking commences.

I've had a hard and fast rule ever since I can remember to NOT put up any Christmas decorations until Thanksgiving was over. And by "over" I mean, you put down your napkin and roll away from the table. It's not unusual at all for us to put up the tree while there are still dishes with dried bits of stuffing on them stacked in the sink.

But I'm looking at my schedule and wondering how in the world I'm going to take down Thanksgiving and put up Christmas by December 5, plan and execute all of those other events, while at the same time subtracting a full three days from my already sleepless schedule??

Just this once, only this one emergent time, I'll pack up the Thanksgiving and fall decor (except for the bales of hay, pumpkins, leaves and gourds on the front porch) and get Christmas up early. And it was decided.

I got my strapping farm-boy husband to hoist in the many crates, boxes and the forest of amazingly lifelike trees from our shed. My house was now a maze of Christmas craziness. The cats were in heaven and the kids got a whole new dimension to hide-n-seek games.

Let's jump a day or two forward to Thanksgiving Eve. (You see how these stories get so long... I could have said "yesterday" a perfectly acceptable description of the time period, but I went with 9 extra words instead - not counting this explanation...) Yesterday, it all began unraveling.

Father-in-law was in a considerable amount of pain with his shingles, and even though he isn't considered contagious (unless you actually come in contact with the blisters) he's not up for company. His primary care doc isn't calling him back, but waiting for the four day weekend to pass before he addresses the issue. We don't have time, but we're swinging that bat now, instructing him in being aggressive in demanding care. I'm sure that whole health care situation will be improving any minute now...

I should have seen it coming a day or two ago, but when my mother-in-law called and canceled turkey dinner at her house it kind of broadsided me. I fully expected my mom would say we could just eat dinner at her place, no problem, but she said there was no way she could get it on the table before my man and I were to be already in the air on our way to L.A. for some relaxing Black Friday traffic dodging.

So at about 5 in the afternoon it was decided that I would be hosting Thanksgiving in my half Christmas / full mess house.

Poor Babies' Daddy made the mistake of calling from the "road" again - on his way back from Alabama - wondering how my day was going. I let him know that the fecal material had hit the rotating oscillator and he needed to flap faster. He was expected in about midnight.

At 1:30 a.m. he sent me the text message saying he was back and would be home soon.

At about 2:45 a.m. I called him to see if he was dead in a ditch.
He was changing his second flat tire - which doesn't go well when you only have one spare.

By 3:30 a.m. I had picked him up, and he was home from our last minute dinner prep trip to Wal-Mart and tucked in his nice warm sheets. Don't tell CPS or my mother that I left my three kids snug in their beds while I went out and grabbed him from the side of the road. We had established earlier in the week that the 12 year-old knows where the fire extinguishers are kept... that's another short story for another day.

And so today begins. I've decided to re-pack a few of the Christmas decorations and unpack a few of the fall decorations and eventually I'll pack my bags for my relaxing holiday which consists of three points of interest, a trip to In-N-Out Burger, and a minor singing gig in 2 1/2 days. Don't worry for me... Tonight I'm sure there will be plenty of restful sleep on my sis-in-law's pull out sofa! WhoamI kidding... I don't sleep when she and I get together! There's too much fun to be had.

I'll see you in a few days with a "short" report - assuming I survive.

May your turkey be moist, your pie crust be flaky, your cider sparkling, and your family blessed!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Without a Hitch (except the hitch part)

They're hitched. It's all done and I (we) survived. I'm just sleeping. Yes... right now, I'm asleep right now. My talent is far beyond the scope you expected, isn't it... to be able to in fact do things in my sleep. That's really the key to it all.

I'll give you all the crazy details later (when I'm actually awake) and share all the photos from my fabulous photographer friend, but now I must walk away from here and get my family out the door for church services today.

I just wanted to say a big THANKS to all of my wonderfully talented friends that helped pull my vision together at the last minute before the ceremony. April, Diane, Donna (AKA Mom...), Heather M, Heather S, Lisa, and Sharra. Beautiful, selfless service, ladies. There's no way I would have been able to finish in time without your sweet help. It was a joy to work along side of you. You were a blessing to me and to the wedding couple and their friends.

More later - now I must re-focus on my own family so they're ready for my next crazy scheme - see you soon with lot's more photos and details...some of them quite interesting...

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Wedding Execution Installment #3

If you're just arriving - I'm in the middle of a series, as it were. This is day three in the step by step execution of a wedding planned in 2 weeks, for 20 guests for $200. Post number one is here, and you'll find number two (not that kind...) here.

I'm wiped out.

I got home less than an hour ago from the church where I stayed up all night setting up for my Women's Ministry dinner and card-making class tonight, and doing what wedding prep I could.

I actually got quite a bit done. I'll share photos of most of it below.

(ETA: It's now several more hours since I got home - with a couple of cat naps here and there and my daughter's voice fading in and out... I think I may have changed my will, but I can't be sure...)
Four inch purple pillar candle surrounded by roasted white pumpkin seeds from the display at the health food store (since they were out they sold me the display for decorative purposes only.)

Yesterday when I went to pick up the cake at Costco it was totally wrong... That's what happens when you send a wall flower to do a party planner's job. Last week Friday I was playing "beat the clock" as sundown and the Sabbath approached. To save some time, I sent my oldest son and oldest husband to order the cake while I ran through Hobby Lobby for the second time. I thought it would be OK since I'd written down everything that needed to be written on the order form, including "this is a wedding cake, use FALL COLORS - deep purple, golden yellow and dark red for the flowers."

The bakery lady said the form didn't specify fall colors, but my babies' daddy insists that he put it on there. I was never shown the form... And he's a "quality assurance" guy... so I'm guessing it WAS on there.

Instead of using the "fall" colored icing for the roses on top, they used those traditional clown colors. It was hideous! If I hadn't been in such shock and panic I might have taken a photo for your viewing horror. My hands were actually gripping my hair as I stood there and the selective reader bakery girl told me that the "icing girl" was gone for the day. Are you kidding me??? This wedding is in less than 48 hours! I can't think of another place I can get a descent tasting / looking wedding cake for $17.

But God always has a better plan - and I couldn't see the wisdom of it the Friday before, but when backed into a corner my eyes were opened. I left the clown colored cake and and pulled a plain white cake "off the rack" that had a mound of white roses on the top in the middle. (I'll photograph it for you tomorrow when I actually open the seal on the cake.)

My plan is to carefully remove the mound of roses, not eat the icing, and replace the sugary goodness with this:

The Bride and Groom topper I found at Hobby Lobby yesterday. It hasn't been there the last 40 times I've looked on their wedding aisle, and this was the only one. I think this even actually LOOKS like the bride. (Except she tells me her dress is red and strapless...)

I had to punt a bit here. The cake topper is JUST the bride and groom figurine. The piece they're standing on is separate - and $ .99. Incidentally, the bride and groom was $12, and I was able to use a 40% off coupon on it - so roughly $8 for the cake topper - which is awesome, if you haven't priced them out.

But that's not all... I needed to have something to stick the fresh flowers in. So I took a small clear plastic plate (dessert plate) and put two pieces of Oasis foam on it and after I carved the sides to curve it, I taped it in place with waterproof floral tape. Then I just started filling it up. I'm sure it will look much better on the cake. The size is pretty big - it takes up an entire small cookie sheet. But the wedding cake itself is a half-sheet cake - pretty big for 20 people... If we run out of yummy pastry appetizers we'll have cake to fall back on :)

This is SO MUCH better than my original idea for the white cake with the colored flowers. I'm glad the the order got messed up with the bakery. Thanks, Lord! This makes the plain old white sheet cake a little more "wedding" grand.

There is one other minor detail... My son picked up the happy couple by the bride's head (who knows what goes through the head of a 12 year-old boy...?) and they parted company (some might say BROKE!) So now, I have the task of super gluing them back together and I'd appreciate your prayers... I don't have the best track record with super glue... Remember?

Side note: The photography is making the flowers look quite garish... They really aren't this obnoxious and neon looking in person.

Well, my little panic attack in the Costco bakery ate up much of my errand running time. So I raced through cold foods, grabbed some fruit for a fruit tray, a four variety box of 48 filled puff pastry vegetarian appetizers for $12 (and they look yummy - so I got an extra box for some holiday something that I'm sure I"ll need to take some tidbit thing to...) and a cart full of flowers. And I caved for a purple fancy dress, size 6. The price was right, and if the daughter of the bride and groom doesn't have something extra special to wear in her mom and daddy's wedding, she can wear this! Then I ran to the checkout. Which had a quarter-mile line.

I finally got through that (three separate receipts later - people behind me in line just LOVE me!) and loaded up the van. As I was loading my fruit into the cooler I saw a white grape. Literally - white. Ick! When I went to dig it out I discovered that half the pack of red grapes was white! GrOSs! These had to go back... I'm not paying $8 for molding grapes.

I kid you not - the "refund" line was 30 minutes. I was getting pretty impatient, my boys were thirsty (and again, didn't bring any water along for the journey...) and I was losing time. I sent up a quick prayer telling the Lord that I hoped he was saving us from some horrible accident and not just training me in patience.

I got my money back - and now it's 4:30 in the afternoon in one of our nation's largest cities - and I have to pick up the rest of my flowers on the other side of town before the wholesaler closes at 5. Right.

Centerpieces - there are three - set in a tablescape that will do double duty - Women's ministry Thursday night and wedding Friday afternoon. Tea-lights are in hollowed out mini white pumpkins. For a "how-to" on these centerpieces, see my post here.

I made it - just barely - and was pleasantly surprised that they had my flower order I'd placed online ready. (I was surprised, since I didn't get the confirmation email they said I'd get.)

And then it came to me. The "accident" the Lord had saved me from was having an abundance of time to shop at this florist wholesaler... I could drop a bag full of money in that place... in fact... I may be just a teensy bit over the $200 budget now... but I have a lot of silks to return so I'll recoup some of my money. Yeah... that's it.

This has gone on far too long - and I've got to prepare for my card class tonight - so here's the rest of what I accomplished last night / this morning.

The bridesmaid's bouquet. (Thanks, Zachary, for being my hand model.)
I have the Bride's bouquet done too - it's a bit larger, and also hand-tied. This was a lot easier than I thought. You just gather the bouquet in your hand, wrapping it occasionally with floral wire and tape to keep it all in place. Then REALLY wrap it with floral tape and then wrap with ribbon to cover the tape. You can't see it here, but the ribbon is twisted decoratively. It will show more on the bride's when I photograph that tomorrow.

And finally, the Groom's boutonniere. Again - the colors look funky. (But oh so vibrant!)

I think I'm actually going to make it... Most of my "to-do" is check-marked and there are just a few more details to attend to (like finishing the programs and prepping the foods.) The church is already set up just waiting for the happy couple to arrive and be blessed.

Join me again tomorrow for the final touches before the big little day.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Wedding Execution Enstallment #2

I've never done a series before - so pardon my less than enticing titles. If you're just joining me, you can catch up here.

I will attempt to dispense with the usual fluff and just give you the facts for this one... No need to try to fill the page up with humorous anecdotes and clever lines. There's just too much to do around here to spend a lot of time writing a bunch of "stuff". I mean, who wants to read a bunch of "stuff" anyway. I know I wouldn't want to. And you're busy people too... you've got lives and families and places to go and people to see... you don't want to spend endless hours sorting through my blog for tidbits of interesting information. Am I right? Of course I am. So on with the show.

Today I met the bride and groom for the first time. They are a very sweet couple and I'm genuinely happy that we can do this for them. I know they'll appreciate it and be blessed.

They met with the officiating pastor (from another church) and ironed out most of the details. We're just a few tiny details away from being able to do the final print of the program. But the outside is done and looks like this:

It may be slightly familiar to you... I used the same design for the wedding of a very special friend in the fall of 2007 and again for the 50th anniversary of my in-laws this summer.

It's a very easy design that comes out looking a lot harder than it is. I once calculated the cost of the materials and the time involved and decided that I'd charge $2-3 each if someone wanted me to make them for their wedding! But... I've streamlined the design and assembly process a bit and they would probably fall closer to $2 each :0)
  • Set up your word processor for an 11 x 5 1/2 page (landscape) set up in two columns.
  • I use text boxes to hold the information and format them to have no line (unless you really want one) and no fill.
  • The cover is simply a 6 x 12 piece of cardstock (texture on the outside) with a piece of organza ribbon adhered under the matted monogram on the front.
  • The ribbon is about an inch wide and 32 inches long. These use up a lot of ribbon... buy it on sale and in large quantities. I got mine 50% off at Hobby Lobby. I prefer the organza because it's very thin and ties easily for something this frail.
  • Simply fold the ribbon in half and secure in the middle of the middle of the front. When you put the monogram on it will hold it just fine. You can add a tiny bit to the back if you want, but it's not necessary.
  • The monogram is also a text box - fade the color of the initial and keep the line for more depth and definition.
  • Overlay a second text box with the first names of the couple and the wedding date over the initial.
  • I matted the monogram on a coordinating textured cardstock with a margin of about 1/4 inch on all sides.
  • Next mat on a square of burlap with carefully frayed edges and mount the entire thing over the top of the ribbon.
  • For a nice bow, put the fold of the program away from you rather than to the left when you're tying.
Here are the rest of the things I've got done so far: (without so much detail...)

The "guest book" and official pen (which is scrapbook quality and writes purple :0) I modified the monogram from the front of the program to go in the "photo" slot until they have a wedding photo.

The favor boxes and bubbles. Easy peasy. I picked Dove and Bliss chocolates to go inside with wrappers that matched the wedding colors.

The flower on the bubbles is really much deeper than it appears here.

The pew bows. There are two.

The flower girl slash 5 year old daughter's bouquet. The bride agreed that silk would be best for staying power for the kid's flowers. Usually, I'd tie this to a basket, but the bride didn't think her daughter would be up for petal dropping. So it's just a small nosegay.

And a boutonniere for their son / ringbearer. Also silk.

And I almost forgot... the .99 cent toasting glasses and the (unnamed price) cake knife and server. (I needed a fall-ish looking set anyway... so this doesn't count toward the overall budget...)
Tomorrow is fresh flower and cake pick-up day. We're down to just one more full prep day after that... and I'm going to throw a card class for 20 ladies into the middle of that... Wish me luck - and a bit of sleep!

Monday, November 2, 2009


Happy November!

I've been looking forward to this month all year... There's just something about it. The crisp temperatures and early darkness, the wearing of tights and clogs, the fragrance of fallen leaves and burning bonfires or fireplaces. Ahhh.

This is going to be a really busy month for me, but I'm up for the challenge and approaching my "to do" lists with gusto!

One event this month has me particularly excited, and I've decided to let you come along for the stressful, yet educational, blessing.

I'm executing (probably not the best word...) a 2 week, 20 guest, $200 wedding.

"Impossible", you say? "No!" says I! Well... not if you're a party-planning-pack-rat of sorts, like I am.

This is a first time wedding for a couple that can't really afford it, but I've long felt in my heart of hearts that everyone deserves to feel special on her/his wedding day. And this couple is making a new commitment of themselves to Christ and they want to be married in "the church".

I'll tell you up front that I'll be pulling from my stash and pre-buys or leftovers, so that will cut the cost some, but what I'm using wouldn't cost you that much extra if you decided to do the same and add what I've got in my stash. Really - the things I'm using are dishes, candle holders, and candles, leftover party supplies like plastic table skirts, tablecloths, plastic cups and plates. Not overly expensive items.

I've been planning and coordinating weddings for, well... 20 plus years, if you include my own. (Which was right at $2000 for about 125 guests - including my gown and the fabric for all the bridesmaids dresses and tuxedo rental.) But since my wedding I've been the wedding planner / consultant / decorator / floral designer / invitation maker / coordinator for more than a dozen weddings that I can think of off the top of my head. That's not a bad record for a non-professional that just does this kind of thing on the side. And all of the weddings I've been involved with since my own have been much more beautiful - to the point that I'm seriously considering a renewal ceremony for our 20th anniversary next summer. (Don't mention this to my husband - though, I do plan to invite him...)

I think one of the contributing factors to doing an inexpensive wedding is the time of year you choose to have it. In my opinion, the most cost effective time of year for a "do it yourself" wedding is Christmas. You can take advantage of the decorations already up in the church you may choose to use - white lights, candles and ribbon all over the place - simply romantic. White lights have long been a favorite of mine for quickly adding a celebration atmosphere and they're very inexpensive and go a long way.

The second season I'd choose is Autumn. Because of the rustic and natural feel of the season, you can easily decorate a wedding in a rustic and natural way. And this is almost always cheaper! Take for example the burlap table runners and pumpkin centerpieces I wrote about in this post.

This is the direction I'm going with the wedding taking place in a mere four more days. Rustic Romantic.

The bride's favorite color is purple, which is easily incorporated into a fall color scheme. This arrangement I put together for my mother-in-laws birthday last week is kind of the direction I'm going, only with a little red added in and a couple of other kinds of flowers.

Don't you just love the bright yellow sunflowers and the purple together? This is really going to be fun!

Truly, one thing that is keeping the cost down for this particular wedding is the amount of volunteers I'm recruiting to help (like sound tech, soloists and photographer) and no cost for the venue. The time of day - 3 in the afternoon - too late for lunch, too early for dinner, just right for cake, punch and hors d'oeuvres. Also, the number of expected guests. Less than 15 are anticipated, but I'm preparing for 24 with favors, programs, cake and food. So if the event you're planning is larger, add about $200 for every 20 guests. That's not entirely accurate unless you're adding a lot more flowers (one of the biggest expenses) but if you add a meal and more tables with centerpieces and tablecloths to your reception it would be closer. $10 per head is about right for a "low-frills" do-it-yourself reception with a meal.

Over the next few days I'll share my plans and tips for pulling the "extras" together for a lovely wedding in a very short amount of time. (The "extras" are everything but the preacher and the groom - both of which are free in this case :0)

Here's my to-make list: (hopefully I'll get it all done...I sense some long nights ahead, as it's a very busy week...)
  • 2 pew bows (pew clips on hand in my stash, but very inexpensive)
  • Decorate champagne flutes (purchased years ago for $.99 each, "just in case")
  • Fill/Decorate Favor Boxes (exactly 25 left over from in-laws anniversary this summer)
  • Decorate Cake Knife/Server (mine, I will loan)
  • Decorate front of Guest Book/Photo Scrapbook (last one at Target - gave it to me for $2)
  • Decorate Bubble Bottles (box of 24 bubbles less than $3)
  • Guest-book Pen (Pen was $1.49 - will top with sunflowers and wrap in ribbon)
  • Guest-book/Scrapbook pages (using paper and embellishments from my stash)
  • Programs (Paper from my stash and some purchased just for this)
  • Bride's Bouquet (will be hand-wrapped and fresh flowers)
  • Bridesmaids Bouquet (just a little smaller than the bride's)
  • Daughter/Flower-girl's Bouquet (just a little smaller than the bridesmaid's, possibly silk)
  • Groom's Boutonniere (also fresh flowers)
  • Best Man's Boutonniere (same as groom only different :0)
  • Father of Groom's Boutonniere (see above)
  • Pastor's Boutonniere (see above the above)
  • Son/Ring Bearer's Boutonniere (smaller than dad's - possibly silk for staying power)
  • Church Floral arrangements (silk - to go around the bottom of existing purple hurricane's I have)
  • White Pumpkin Floral Arrangement(s) (fresh flowers)
  • Mini White Pumpkins hollowed out for Tea-lights
Hold on - it's going to be a fun ride. And if you live locally... feel free to come over for free lessons in any of the above. Warning: some classes will be starting after 10 p.m. at night.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Thelma & Louise & Some Other Chick, We're Not

I'm going to skip the usual excuses defending my lack of blogging... but keep in mind, it is my blog and I'll blog when I want to.

Actually - that's a lie.
I don't blog when I want to, but only when I seriously have the time and make the poor decision to ignore my kids for awhile - which really isn't often lately. Sadly, I mean the "time" part, not the "ignore my kids" part. But knowing it's sad is a step in the right direction, don't you think?
Anyway, my schedule lately has me looking forward to December when I can slow down!

So the opportunity to blog has presented itself. I have nothing else to do and my kids aren't even around for me to ignore. But even right now - I have another blogger breathing down my neck wanting to get to her own blog to make some pithy or insightful comment while we both are borrowing another blogger's computer.

You may have surmised that I am "away" from home right now. Away with girlfriends. It's a bit like a weekend road-trip.

Let me tell you - girlfriend weekends aren't always what you think they're going to be... If you think you know someone pretty well, just spend a day or two sharing a hotel room...

You may be feeling a little strange and uncomfortable because you personally have "stranger bed sharing" issues, (seriously, someone could touch your arm or something in the night, or worse yet, roll over and slap you in their sleep!) But you allow yourself that and really would be justified in excusing it completely because (hypothetically, of course) you may know that one of your friends has a white noise machine to enable them to fall asleep more easily, or that another friend may have a slight sensitivity to noise and light, but you don't fully understand it until you sleep in the same room. And I'm speaking quite literally when I say "you sleep" because to hear them tell it, I'm the only one that did.

Now, I will admit, there are a few times in my life that I've been aware that I may breathe a little more aggressively when I'm sleeping, one situation long ago even cured me of falling asleep in church, but I've certainly never gotten any complaints from my current bed mate. I mean, how could my husband complain about a little raspy breathing every now and again? He does a half dozen things that drive me up the nearest tree - and that's just in his sleep. Someday I may explain the "false fall" and the "breathe whistle"...

But, back to my story. If you don't don't know what a white noise machine is, it's a little device that is supposed to block out other annoyances that would keep you from sleeping - like crickets or tree frogs or fire trucks and motorcycles racing up and down your driveway. So, you turn on the little machine and it plays (ALL NIGHT LONG) the sounds of crickets or tree frogs, or worse yet, that sound your TV makes when the channel goes out or someone unplugs the baby end of the baby monitor. Ask anyone - nothing goes up my spine more that TV snow sound... Turn it off, turn it OFF, TURN IT OFF RIGHT NOW!

And let me add a little clarification to what a slight noise and light sensitivity might look like. There is to be no whistling. None. Never. And the lights must all be out. ALL of them. Cover the digital clock with a tarp and turn that cell phone over - the power indicator light is literally blinding when one is trying to sleep. Yes, the little red light that's almost three millimeters in diameter. I really do believe the ear plugs and pillow over her head was a bit overkill...
Let me tell you, friends, I did awaken a few times in the night (alone in my bed because of the whole "you might touch/slap me in your sleep" thing) but it was a strange place, and a strange bed and all so my sleep pattern was broken. And each time I awoke I was so proud of myself. Each time my mouth was closed and my tongue wasn't dry as the desert. I had been peacefully sleeping and not disturbing my roommates! Thank you, Lord, for this victory!

You'd think they'd be grateful, but nooOOOoooo. All they professed gratefulness for was the 15 minutes of sleep they got when I got up to take a shower.

In spite of it all (and I mean their unfounded teasing and complaining) we're being blessed immensely.

We're attending the Texas Home School Coalition Leadership Training Conference in Waxahachie, (don't even ask me how to pronounce it...) Texas. It really has been interesting and I must report, I'm one of the few here in a skirt, let alone a denim skirt. This, I must say, was a bit surprising to me - but we're meeting all sorts of homeschoolers that are a little more "citified" than we tend to be "back home". (I don't know what any of that really means... I'm just a transplant to the whole thing myself. I'm still feeling rather new to the homeschool scene six years in.)

I need to tell you though - it's such a blessing for me to spend time with these godly women. It's good for my soul and I feel so refreshed, and that has nothing to do with how much sleep I got last night.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Whaddaya Get?

Another year older and deeper in debt.

It's my birthday.

I LOVE birthdays. I don't care that I'm older - I've loved every age that I've ever been. I don't feel a need to lie about my age. Let me just say here that I'm indebted to my mother that passed me the "no wrinkles" and "no gray yet" genes. She could have been a little more generous with the "flat backside" and "bird-leg" genes, though...

Night before last I went out with some friends. They asked what I wanted to do for my birthday (because everyone is painfully aware that I'm up for a party any time, any occasion) and I opted for a movie - I even offered to bring some cake that we could share afterward. (I re-made the cake that I had last year - only this time with a mere three layers instead of four.)

One friend, that I'm truly grateful to know, made arrangements for us to use the "party room" at our local theater, free of charge - as long as we all agreed to not bring our over-sized purses full of bottled water and contraband soda, but instead buy their waxy cups apparently loaded to the brim with liquid gold.

I almost didn't get to attend, as it seems my babies' daddy thinks I go out often enough, but since it was a birthday celebration (and I had picked up the house a bit) he cut me a break.

As I rounded the corner, arms full of cake, past the ticket taker guy (who, thankfully wasn't there, since I didn't stop to buy a ticket) I caught quite the eye full. Eight or so grown women in pig tails (and one in pink high-top converse sneakers) jumping up and down blowing noise makers and wearing pointy hats.

I have the wackiest and most wonderful girlfriends on the planet.

We got more than a couple of drive-bys in that glass fronted room as we scarfed down cake just minutes before the previews were to begin. Some folks just don't know how to take women in their 30's and 40's having a great time. (All without the use of medication.)

We saw Love Happens, which as it turns out was somewhat of a downer, but we had fun anyhow and wrapped up the evening with a 9 pm stop at Cracker Barrel for dinner. I'd also like to note that I always appreciate waitstaff with a sense of humor - it just makes the meal that much nicer.

So I'm thankful.

Thankful for another year in which to serve
Thankful for an understanding husband
Thankful for Spirit filled, enthusiastic friends that tolerate me
Thankful for cake and presents, and
Thankful for skirts with elastic waistbands.

PS - I don't have any... but I'm told there will be photos at my friend Lisa's blog later today...

ETA: Thanks Lisa, I stole a couple of photos from your blog...

I was awakened (an hour before my alarm... I've forgiven them...) by my three favorite guys in the whole world. As I peered out between my droopy eyelashes I could see the father of my children bearing a plate full of fresh berries, firm grapes, steaming eggs and glazed cinnamon rolls. I was then handed the TV remote and left alone.

After a quick morning trip to the bathroom (where I discovered a dozen red roses, a lovely card and a bag of my most favorite chocolate in the world) we settled in to watch our DVR'd Gray's Anatomy from last week while the kids cleaned the house. (sort of...)

The coolest part of all of this? My wonderful husband is usually at work by 7 in the morning - so it was a real treat to have him home making me breakfast in bed.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

When the Cat's Away

Just to shock you, because you think I've died (again)... a blog post.

Tonight the proverbial cat went away on an overnight flight, and so, dutiful mice that we are, we played...

We started off with a marathon run at Webkinz - visiting each others homes (mine is sooo cool... with matching white sofas in my beautifully tidy living room... a real dream) trading in the trading room, playing games, sending each other surprises... we did this while we watched movies on T.V... a little "Bedtime Stories", then some "Wall-E", and when "Bedtime Stories" came on again we figured we needed a break.

So we went to grab some dinner.

Nope - not to the kitchen... way too easy. We put on our shoes and headed out to IHOP. Nevermind that it was 11:30 at night.

We feasted on pancakes, eggs, hash browns, French toast and Belgian waffles (all with water of course... soda would be over kill.) And my kids, considerate cherubs that they are, didn't even ask for dessert! Imagine! (Could it be the syrupy fruit toppings and whipped cream that came on everything???)

Next we headed to Wal-Mart for a quick trip and picked up a few more plastic bins. We're (and I mean the Royal We here) still re-organizing and stream-lining the closet in our school, slash office, slash scrapbook room.

Finally we headed back home and I offered 50 reward tokens to any kid that agreed NOT to sleep in my bed tonight. Sadly, I only had one taker, and it was the skinniest and smallest of the three...

Don't go ordering my mother of the year trophy yet... we finally wrapped up our party at a little after 1 a.m.

My prayer is that they all sleep in until about noon...

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

You Either Got "It" or You Don't

Patience, that is.

To keep you from smacking your tailbone on the floor as you teeter there on the edge of your seat - I'm NOT a patient person, and I think this has a great deal to do with a general lack of self control. Which feeds that perceived need I have for instant gratification.

Today I did the shopping and buying of our curriculum for the 09-10 school year. Some homeschooling moms may take days to do this, weeks even. I'm not one of those moms.

Some moms do lots of research and cost comparisons finding the absolute, rock bottom, best deal. Nor am I one of those moms.

Some moms consult their husbands and carefully flesh out the budget and decide where, exactly, the monies will come from and how many weeks of rice and bean and store brand macaroni & cheese they're facing. Sadly, I'm not one of those moms either.

Some people wait up to a week to have the winning, under-budget bid on E-bay. Nope, not her either.

Some moms scour the library card catalog and shelves to create their own un-schooled curriculum. Some moms hoard books by the hundreds that their kids just devour, or sew period costumes and build teepees for history class or bake Johnny cakes, tap trees for syrup and build smokehouses for unit studies. I'm not her, her, her or her either. (That 3rd 'her' needs a blog of her own, don't you think? I think week after next when she pops out number 5 she should get right on that...)

So, who am I, (or "who am you") you ask? Truth be told, I'm the mom that sticks with homeschooling because it's still best for her kids, but mostly because she gets to sleep in every day and hang out with her most favorite people. Besides - if I send them off to "real" school, who will clean the house? That's why I had these kids in the first place - cuz I was tired of doing all the house cleaning and decided the best way around that was to spawn me some merry maids. (I'm totally kidding about that last part... I wasn't really tired of doing all the house cleaning.)

But I finally feel like we might be catching on to this whole homeschooling thing. We're finding our feet as we come the the start line of our sixth year. This is really saying something if you never really feel like you reach the finish line each year, but just re-stretch, splash some cold water on your face and start over again, only in the next book up.

I was never one of those moms that always dreamed of homeschooling her kids. It was my parent's dream for their grandchildren, but not mine. I never thought I had it in me. Turns out I was right. I maybe wasn't cut out for this, but there I was, near the middle of the first semester of a school year four years ago, thrown head first into the deep end and I came up only doing the dog paddle. I've felt like I was doing the dog paddle ever since. (To assist you with the math - we did homeschool our first through kindergarten - but it wasn't really "official" in my eyes at the time - just those big fat workbooks you can buy at Costco or Sam's Club. Now I wear that year like a badge of honor!)

But now I feel like the train is pulling into the station - my ship is coming in - my eagle is landing... I think what has done this for me is the "silver lining" effect.

Let me explain:

It's been a really rough year where my babies' daddy works. There have been hundreds of folks laid off as they've scaled back production at his company. We're just so glad to hear that "change is happening" and this nasty recession is over (cough, sputter, gag). But the silver lining on this dark cloud of an economy, at least for us, is that since those nice people are no longer coming to work, they no longer need their computers. And if the computers are just getting older and more and more obsolete, why not sell them or practically give them away? Here I was begging for a "newer" computer just a few months ago, to replace my 10-year-old dinosaur with beads sliding on dowels where the calculator button should be, and the Lord sees fit to bless us with not one, but FOUR "newer" computers. Every one of them faster and more better than my dino. And three of them with flat screen monitors! And ALL of them for less than half the price of one new PC.

I was gobsmacked and still haven't recovered. Then the dream of actually having my students/children use a computer based curriculum that grades itself and keeps its own academic records was actually a possibility! Sweet mercy! My children could sit with eyes glued to the glowing screen with headsets muffing their little pointed ears while I sat at my own screen catching up on the blogs of my friends and the latest Drudge Report! Or perhaps talking on the phone for un-interrupted hours while flipping through a favorite scrapbook magazine (that hasn't been canceled in this recovered economy) all the while nibbling bon-bons and sipping diet Sprite from a champagne flute.)

See? Gobsmacked.

But it's a dream come true. Maybe I've found the homeschooling mom that I AM. I'm apparently Michelle Duggar - her kids use the same curriculum we're going to use and I got a 12% "Duggar Discount" on the parts of it I didn't buy on E-bay. Personally, I think it should have been 18%, but I'm not complaining. So we're exactly the same, Michelle and me - except that she has six times the kids that I do... but other than that, just the same. Right?

Well - not totally the same. We'll be holding on to our Saxon Math, and Michaela is still just a little young for a fully computer based curriculum. The beauty of that is that she'll have more focused one-on-one time with mom - something that's been lacking for her with mom being more focused on the older brothers. So don't worry - I won't be completely self absorbed, but I may get a little bit more time to actually blog or at least earn some Kinzcash to decorate my Webkinz estate...

I wish you the same wonderful, well thought out, caught up school year that we're going to have (starting in two more weeks...)

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Mostly Almost a Milestone

The party's over - but the occasion is still just on the horizon.

Since school starts for most this coming week, we planned my dear in-laws 50th anniversary party(s) for two weeks before the actual event, when the most family could be there. In fact, only one grandson was missing from the immediate extended family (a term I just made up meaning children and their children...) and he's nearly 18 and was permitted to decide this on his own. His story actually got a little mixed up along the way, like did he get time off work or didn't he... did his meanie boss keep him there working or was he off for the weekend to the beach with friends... hmmm... Ah to be 18 and carefree again... Anyway - the rest of us were there and we had a great two weeks together making all the plans and executing them.

Because we home-school, and the first day of the school year is at our whim, it was totally OK that for the last three weeks (since we returned from our 4 week vacation) that I neglected all of my duties that did not involve something "gold". If it didn't have gold paper, gold wax, gold foil, gold paint, gold ribbon, gold ink, gold glitter, gold confetti, gold tulle, a gold topper, or a gold wrapper I didn't have to pay any attention to it at all. Thankfully my sis-in-law was around to help keep my kids from total starvation and I've accumulated so many clothes that it was possible to keep covered and still go a week without doing laundry (unless any part of your day required you to move around in the laundry room. It's taken 3 focused days to see the laundry room floor again.)

Each time I have anything to do with event planning, I'm accused of being some kind of a "party princess" or told I should be doing this for pay. Lemme tell ya... for the time I put in - people wouldn't be willing to pay! I guess that means I'm inefficient... Anyway - I thought I'd give you a few simple tips for event planning and the process I go through.

Last Sabbath, we covertly invited the church family to join us for cake after potluck. We did a little decorating to add a bit of festiveness to the atmosphere. (Please excuse the burnt orange chairs... some things must just be ignored when you're on a tight budget...) This consisted of ivory table skirt and damask table cloth on the cake table, and 7 yards of antique gold tulle bunting accented with gold bows I made from ribbon I picked up at Costco. I LOVE the Costco ribbon - it's under $7 for 55 yards! Can't beat that... I made an 8x10 reprint from their wedding photos and put it in a gold frame with an ivory mat - I found it at Wal-mart for less than $13. There was also a candle holder with gold accents and "fifty" embossed on the side that I found a few months ago at Hallmark in the clearance section for $13. There were lots of fresh flowers from the flower market on the cake table and yellow roses on the potluck tables - plus thick paper tablecloths (also from Costco) that was a nice change from the normally naked tables.

On this small side (card) table we had a scrapbook album (picked up at Hallmark in the clearance section for 40% off – seriously… party plan ahead!) that we (my sis-in-law mostly) made some sign-in pages for so that members could leave written greetings, and a basket for cards and one for party favors (acetate boxes folded together and filled with little gold wrapped candies – pick these up in the wedding section at Wal-Mart or a craft store. They come with pre-cut ribbons, but they were silver and that just didn’t work for our purposes.

By far, the most expensive piece of our party at the church was the favors. More precisely the candies inside the little plastic boxes. We certainly could have cut costs here by using less expensive candies, but they were pretty in all their gold wrappers. To shave costs, chose just one candy and go with something simple like Hershey Hugs or Kisses.

The straight sided vases were from Wal-Mart too - just $1 each for the small ones and $2 for the one with the large arrangement on the cake table. Those water carafes are some I purchased (with church funds) long ago - but you might still be able to find them at a Dollar Store. The gold candles were an after Christmas 75% off purchase. If you know what's coming up you can really save yourself a lot of dough... These particular candles did double duty - serving as decorations at our Valentine banquet at church earlier this year. And while we're talking about these tables - consider the cost of fabric tablecloths if it's something you'll use more than a couple of times. I do have ten ivory damask tablecloths that my church purchased (at my "suggestion") for about $10 each - and I've used them countless times.

You can't really see them, but my sis-in-law, Shari, is putting out pitchers of juice.They are clear pitchers (a Target Dollar Spot find a few years ago around St. Patrick's day...) We filled them 2/3 full with white grape juice and then 1/3 grocery store brand lemon lime to give it a little 'zip'. Kinda like a sparkling white grape flavor. My SIL says that ginger ale is a better flavor than the lemon lime, but we'd already purchased the lemon lime. I'll try the ginger ale next time.

The plastic plates and two cakes were from Costco - 40 some servi
ngs each for $17. THAT's a great price if you've priced sheet cakes at a bakery lately - even the grocery store bakery! We ordered one vanilla with vanilla cheesecake filling and one chocolate with chocolate mousse filling. Both had white buttercream icing in keeping with the "wedding" theme.

The flowers were my favorite part... My Perfect Friend turned me on to a wholesale flower market in the big city. I got a HUGE armload of flowers for about $60. (I spent another $30 on foam, dishes, candle holders, ribbon, and cake knife and server.) I was able to make this arrangement here, the corsage and boutonniere, the 8 tables with a yellow rose, baby's breath and fern, another full vase of alestrameria and lilies and 3 gorgeous arrangements used at our dinner party the following day (more on that later). When you consider that a corsage alone is about $20 (from the grocery store) and that the local florist wanted $69 each for simple table centerpieces, I can't complain about the price of flowers at all! In fact - we talked about having an arrangement at church for the "actual" anniversary next weekend and saw one for $99... I'm thinking I'll just go back to the wholesale market and make it myself for a fraction of that price.

This is the chocolate cake. Now, these aren't the best cakes
I've ever had... that honor still resides with Publix in Florida (where shopping is a pleasure...) but these were pretty good. Most especially since we picked them up on Thursday and served them on Saturday. We got the most compliments on the vanilla with the vanilla cheesecake filling. Though, the chocolate got its fair share of praise also. The only real drawback is the limited variety in decoration. You pretty much have to take what you can get - but if you're willing to compromise it's a great deal and big-time money saver.

Here's my top party decor tip - DON'T go all "theme-y" and "matchy-matchy" with everything. First of all - it's just too much! You don't want the plates and napkins and tablecloths and balloons and cups to have the same print. We could have easily just gone to the 50th anniversary aisle in the party store and picked up everything in the same theme, but it would have really LOOKED cheap and COST way more than what we actually spent here.

What I recommend is finding either a printed party plate or napkin that you like and pulling out no more than three of the solid colors in the pattern for the rest of your decorations. You might get a printed dessert plate and complimentary napkin in a slightly different print, say a floral for the plate and stripe for the napkin, and use plain colors for everything else. Use the same rule of thirds for the color that you would use in making a card or scrapbook page... a Gallon of the main color, a quart of your supporting color and a pint of your accent color. (In the case of this 50th anniversary, the main color is the ivory (white), the supporting color is the gold and the accent is the yellow.) This way you avoid sensory overload. Remember - less is more and it's better to go simple and elegant rather than overdone and gaudy. To dress up those plain paper tablecloths we "randomly" sprinkled them with gold "50" confetti we purchased from Hobby Lobby for $4. You can tell it's not your standard confetti - it's larger and looks more like something diecut with a Quickutz - exactly what we were looking for AND we used it again (see the next post about this anniversary...) Oh... in case you were wondering - nothing I do is "random". Just ask the sisters-in-law that I had spacing and up-righting the confetti as it fell onto the tables...

One last note: the only thing we have with a "pattern" is our napkins (that say "50 Year's Together") I don't count the damask tablecloths as pattern...

Now, this is what it's all about...

More tips and junque on the next post - the "real" party and the first time I've hired a caterer and I don't regret it! (except for one little part - but I'd still do it again...)

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