May 16, 2015

Popcorn Bar

So it's been an eventful 3 weeks at my house.  I think the month of May was named completely wrong, it should have been called Mayhem.  Between proms, 2 of them (still haven't posted about the 2nd), end of school year projects, performances, award ceremonies, graduation.  Oh, and ya, we are in the middle of a move - things really have been MAYHEM.  But, no complaints here, this is what life is made of and although I'm tired, I am happy and enjoying it. 

The good news though, in the middle of all the mayhem, I have managed to pull off a few fun projects.  Here's one from Miss M's grad party that we held this weekend.  It's my DIY Popcorn Bar!

Miss M told me a long time ago that she wanted a popcorn bar at her grad party.  So, this project has been in the works for quite awhile.  In fact, we bought the cute little burlap bags in February (Target Dollar Spot - $3)  I knew when I saw them that they would be perfect to hold scrumptious popcorn.

Seriously, aren't they perfect?!

I also grabbed some simple little food scoops.  They are just plain clear plastic so I wanted to dress them up a bit and make them match the rest of the decor.  It was easy to do though,  I just wrapped some jute and hot glued it in place on the handle.  (The scoops came from Party City $1.99 each)

And lastly, I ordered some small brown bags from Etsy and placed them in a cute little basket, yep, also from Target's Dollar Spot.  Everything else was just items I pulled from my house that I already had on hand.  

After all the display items were purchased, it was time to start working on the stand itself.  I'm lucky to have a smarty pants for a husband, so I quickly sketched out my idea and he drew up a plan and then built the frame for me.  It's designed to sit on a table top so it makes it really portable and easy to set up.  I wanted the front lower than the back, and Mr. K built me exactly what I was wanting. 

After the frame was built, I made the canopy with some cute fabric I found at JoAnn's.  Then I added a quick popcorn banner that I made by just stenciling on the word "popcorn". 

And then, last but not least, we just had to set it up and fill the baskets with goodness.  I'm very fortunate to have meet a fun couple in our hometown that run a Kettlecorn business.  (I've written about their delicious kettlecorn before - I'm probably their biggest fan.)   Filling up the baskets with their yummy popcorn was the finishing touch.  Not too mention everyone at the party loved it.

It was pretty fun to watch people's approach.  Most took just a little to start and then kept coming back to try a different flavor.  One kid filled his bag 7 times and really, I can't blame him because I just wanted to take the whole basket and sit and snack as well.  Yumm!

Anyway, thanks A-Maize'n Kettle corn, llc - you helped us pull together a super fun party.  
If you want to know more about them, you can check out this video that Kent and I made.  All three of my girls are in there, the twins are in there a couple of times (it's like finding Waldo) and the voice, ummm, well that's me.  So now you know what I sound like.  
Click here:

We also rented a soft ice cream machine and set up a self serve rootbeer and orange float station.  Sadly, due to some weather issues and last minute changes, I didn't get any photos of that.  It was a hit though and a lot of fun!

Fun times, indeed!  And, congrats to Miss M as her big day is quickly approaching.  It was so fun to have so many of her friends, and people who have been influential in her life, come and help us celebrate!  A fond memory for sure!

Apr 19, 2015

Prom Dress Upgarde


I'm not really sure what to call this post.  Here's the deal, it's prom season. I've posted about dresses we've modified before, usually though, it's on how to make a dress more modest - we have pretty high standards of modesty round here.

This time though, we found a beautiful dress that was already modest and Miss M really liked it but she had her heart set on a long dress and this one hit at knee length.  Plus, it was pretty but it was missing something.  I could see potential though and the $30 price tag had me brainstorming all sorts of ideas on how to improve it.

I mean, I took home economics in middle school, I know how to sew a pillow case and when you add that skill plus the fact that I have watched every season of Project Runway, well, I was certain I could turn the dress she liked into something she would absolutely LOVE!  (Did I do it the right way? probably not but I made it up as I went along and it worked so that's groovy)

And, I must say, it wasn't too bad or even too difficult.  Here's what I did.

Here is the dress as purchased.  It's just so-so.  The photo doesn't really help either as the sun was quite bright, but you can see that it ends at the knee but the top is pretty.  It's a classic sweetheart and it was already covering everywhere it needed to cover - love that!

The great thing about the dress is that it was actually all some sort of knit, no zippers or difficult fabric to work with.  Plus it had two layers, the top which was lace and a liner underneath.  You can see the liner peeking out in the photo above.  

I started with the liner and cut about 5 inches off the hem.  This raised the dress to end mid thigh instead of at the knee.

Then I started working on adding an under layer that had both length and volume that would attach to the liner. To do this I purchased some stiffer netting, some fabric for another liner and then some fine shiny tulle for the outer layer.  

Basically I made the bottom portion as another skirt.

My first step was to sew the netting section first.  I measured the diameter needed and then cut a strip of bias tape to the right length and sewed it into a circle.  I then sewed the netting to the tape.  I basically made a tiered skirt out of netting.  It had two layers with each layer being gathered to add volume needed.  

Then, I made a skirt from my lining fabric that went over the netting and then lastly added the softer layer of tulle to the top.  All three layers were then attached to the shortened hem line of the original dress.

The photo above shows all three layers of the skirt next to the lace overlay.

and the last step was to cut the lace top layer of the dress to the right length so that it covered the top of the under skirt and then hemmed it in place.  We liked the detail of the scalloped edge of the lace that was on the dress originally so I had to cut a section of the lace out, about 4 inches and then sew the scalloped part back on. 

Then, all it needed to finish it off was a sash and some dainty jewels! (I made her necklace and his boutonniere but I'll post about those later)

I was really happy with how it all turned out.  But what made it even better was when Miss M put it on after her hair and make-up was done and she gasped!  It was a hands to the mouth in awe gasp and I knew she felt pretty and she loved it.

And because of that, it was worth it!  So glad I could help her make her prom memorable.  

Plus, an added bonus, it didn't break the bank.  Dress, additional fabric, & jewelry all came in under $65!

And now I get to do it all again, she's headed to another formal dance in two weeks, guess I better get started!  Wish me luck!

Apr 17, 2015

Define Yourself!

I'm a ponderer.

Not even sure if that is something that is real but it seems like it should be.  Lately I have been enjoying the company of my own thoughts.  I've traversed a lot of ground in my gray matter and have come to a few conclusions.

We need to let go of the things that people define us as - unless those definitions are positive of course.  Even the people who know us and love us the most can define us wrong and if we hang on to those definitions it can lead to a lot of sadness, confusion and just over-all self doubt.

Let me share a really good example.  It's personal so welcome to my soul.

Years ago, just after I was married, I started to notice a shift in the dynamics of my family I grew up in.  All of us siblings were married, many with children of their own, and it seemed that our family closeness was well, not close.

I think this is normal as families grow and you shuffle in-laws and new traditions and life responsibilities. But I was concerned at the time that our family dynamic was suffering from these changes. Being the youngest, I kind felt like I was missing out on something that my siblings had had with each other.  So, doing what I thought was a good thing, I attempted to try and bring my family together.

I started a family newsletter that everyone could contribute to and my husband and I started to organize events that were non-religious and non-holiday.  It seemed that the majority of our family gatherings were related to church things and holidays - which is good.  However, we did have some family members that weren't religious so Kent and I were looking for ways to get everyone involved.

One event that we planned was a little potluck picnic and kite flying on an island in the middle of the Great Salt Lake.  We bought a whole bunch of kites that the kids could color, decorate, and fly and it was a lot of fun.  Or at least I thought it was.  I was really happy with how it turned out and thought it was a great thing.

Afterwards though, in a conversation with my dad, he mentioned that he thought some of the things we were doing for our family were superficial.  I was really hurt by that.  I truly thought that we were planing things, and doing things, that were building relationships.  Everyone seemed to be having fun.  And so what happened next, because of that one comment, I fully regret.

I stopped trying.

I let that comment define me and I pulled away.  We actually ended up moving really far away from family and still to this day, I'm not as close as I'd like to be with my siblings all because I thought that because my dad said I was superficial, than everyone thought I was too.

In hindsight, and now that I know myself much better than I did back then, I know that my dad was wrong.  I also know he didn't mean it in a mean way.  I wasn't being superficial I was just sharing myself in the way that I was most comfortable with.  The way I shared and served wasn't the same way he would do things so in his mind, he read my actions as superficial when I read them as sincere.

It hurt then but I understand now.

I read the well known book The Five Languages of Love a few years ago and it helped me greatly to understand more about what I do and why I do them.

I bring this all up because the other day I had a similar experience with my husband and all this came back into my mind.  I had made some little gifts for co-workers who were all interviewing for a new position at work.  The gifts were cheesy and I knew they wouldn't help them get the job but I wanted them to know I was supporting and encouraging them.  When I showed the gifts to my husband, he kinda smacked his lips like he had a bad taste in his mouth and rolled his eyes.  It is not his thing.  He's not a gift giver.  His language of love is very different from mine.

I could have very easily read his body language as him saying "that's stupid, you're stupid."  But I didn't.  I recognized our differences and I just laughed at his response and gave those gifts away anyway and I smiled because it was so "me".

And, I was really happy with that - it was "ME!"

Doing things like this makes me happy.  Acts of service and words of affirmation are my languages of love.

If I could go back in time, I would not have let my Dad's statement affect me so much.  I would have still continued with family kite festivals and other things because organizing those things was my way of showing love, through service, to my family, I just didn't realize it at the time and neither did my dad.

Funny how we become wiser as we age.  I'm becoming more and more comfortable with who I am, thick waist and double chin, too.  I've come along way to be able to say, "this is me, this is what I do!" and then not care how people take my actions and interpret them.

I am me.

So, my point.  If you are hanging on to the words that others have used to define you, and they don't settle in a good way in your soul - let them go!  You know yourself better than anyone else so go ahead, define yourself.

And, if you need a little gift of encouragement to give to someone here's an idea:

Extra Gum + a Rootbeer = I'm rooting for you & I wish you Extra good luck..."

Mar 27, 2015

RAK - Playground Survival Kit

The big day is tomorrow!  I've been talking about for a week now.  So here's one more idea for you that might help you as you are thinking of things to do for "Do A Liz Thing" day.  (March 28th = a day to show kindness & do nice things all on behave of Liz Miller - it's what she would do)

The Spring weather in Colorado is going to be beautiful tomorrow.  That means that lots of families will be hitting playgrounds all over the community.  My kids are teens now and the appeal of swings and a twisty slide are just not all that exciting anymore.  However, it wasn't long ago that I remember being the mom on the playground perimeter.  I remember the warm sun and happy kids running from one thing to the next.  But, even though the kids were having fun, they always wanted a drink or a treat or to do something else. And, there were a few times that I wanted something too.

So, tomorrow me and my girls will be hitting a few playgrounds and passing out some Playground Survival Kits" to parents.  

This was easy to pull together.  It required a quick trip to the Dollar store and a few minutes to put everything together.  The holder is a recycled cardboard drink holder.

In the Front:  Cold water, Oreo bites, Pop Rocks, and Mike & Ike's (Rootbeer float flavor - yum!)

In the Back:  Paddle catch game for two, bubbles, small frisbees, bouncy ball and more cold water

Attach a few balloons to the handle and there you have it - a quick simple gift.  It's not likely to change the world but that was never the point.  It's just meant to show kindness and make someone's day a little brighter.

If you are going to join in and do your own act of kindness tomorrow please be sure to go and share what you did either on Facebook or on Instagram or Here in the comments - or even better, in all three places. (Is that asking too much?)

Instagram:  Use the #doalizthing

Be sure to mention where you are posting from.  This all started in Colorado but how fun to see if we can get acts of kindness being shared every where.

And, if you are interested in printing some pre-made tags, the links are below:

Tag set:  Lizthing1
Tag set:  Lizthing2

Kindness matters - pass it on!

Mar 26, 2015

Planned RAK's

"Do A Liz Thing Day" is just two days away.  It's a day that I'm hoping others will go outside of their normal routine and show kindness to someone else.  We are doing this on behalf of Liz.  She was 25 when she unexpectedly passed away from a seizure that stopped her heart.

I didn't know her so it might seem strange that I'm blogging about her.  However, last year I was a recipient of an RAK done in her honor and it filled me with warm fuzzies.  It seriously made my day and I've been on board with supporting this cause ever since.  And, not only will I be out doing some goodness, I really hope my readers will too.  You can do one act of kindness or 20, no limits there, I just want to help promote this day as a day to do good and share happiness.

So, let's talk RAK's - Random Acts of Kindess are indeed, spur of the moment and Random.  Like when someone doesn't have enough money to pay their grocery bill and then someone else steps in to cover the cost. That is a random act of kindness because it wasn't planned or expected.  The moment just presented itself and that's what you do, you act on it. 

See a need, Fill a need - that's a RAK.

However, there is another type of RAK - The Planned RAK!  It's exactly what it sounds like.  You have something in mind that you want to do and you plan to do it.  The random parts come into play because you don't know who the recipient will be.  Not knowing who will be the recipient makes it kinda fun.

If you plan to join in, I've compiled a quick list of projects and tutorials of things you can make and hand out on Saturday.  How fun would it be to pick a project, call some friends or gather your kids and tomorrow night, Friday, have a craft night.

Trinket Boxes:  You can buy the boxes pre-made and then paint them and add the design on the top.  Then fill the box with a treat, some money or a gift card of some sort

Bar Necklace:  I don't know too many people who don't love jewelry.  This tutorial is pretty simple, requires few supplies and you can make a lot of them.  After making the necklace, attach it to a sweet note and give away.

Warm Fuzzies:  Silly little things really, but how fun to write out a nice compliment and then leave it on someone's car or in their shopping cart or.... anywhere really.  You could even make them with generic statements like  "you are amazing!" or  "you matter!" and then leave them at a playground or park bench.  This one is a good thing to get the kiddos to help make.

Fill Up a Fry box:  This post was for a Valentine craft however, you could take the idea, change up the theme and use it as a RAK.

Hershey Kiss Rosses:  Give out flowers - These were also a Valentine craft BUT you could change out the red cellophane and use spring colors instead

Paper Baskets:  Need something to put your RAK in, how about making a quick paper basket?  It only takes one 12x12 piece of paper and some ribbon.

If you are looking for RAK ideas, here's a list to get the ideas flowing.  And, remember check out the "Do A Liz Thing" facebook page.  It would be cool to blow it up on Saturday with all our RAK's.

- Buy a dessert for someone
- Treat someone to a movie
- Pay for something for the person behind you in line
- Go to the gas station and buy someone a tank of gas, or give them your car wash code
- Donate your hair
- Write thank you notes
- Pass out cold water to people playing at the park
- Leave notes of praise for co-workers or neighbors
- Ask if you can help
- Offer free babysitting
- Email compliments to your friends or acquaintances
- Hold the door for someone
- Hold eye contact and give genuine smiles
- Give a big tip
- Tape coins to a playground so little kids can find them
- Pass out free happy face balloons 
- Be courteous and on time, this might not seem like much, but it counts as showing kindess
- Give the benefit of the doubt and forgive
- Let someone go in front of you in line
- Pay for parking
- Leave a coupon on a store shelf
- Be a courteous driver, let people merge
- Leave coins taped to a vending machine
- Pass out lunches to the homeless
- Pay a car toll for the car behind you
- Surprise someone with dinner (I'd love this, having a night off of cooking - sweet!)
- Mow a neighbors lawn or do yard work for them
- If you get good service tell a manager that you appreciate the service you received.

So, what are you going to do?