Duck Derby

This is a project I’ve been brewing up for over a year. I shot the first part of the post last fall, and before I could post it, we had an early snowstorm, and the streams all froze…so it seemed really awkward to post about a fun water activity when all the water was frozen solid. So I’ve been saving this post for ages; and today’s the day! Labor Day weekend is the perfect time for an end of summer party the whole family can enjoy. And a Duck Derby is just that! Fun for everyone, and easy peasy to throw together. Ducks1My friends at Munchkin were so kind to send all these great ducks* for our party; and so patient when Mother Nature ruined my plans. We have one special Munchkin Duck (his name is Edwin) who has been a member of our family for almost ten years. You’ll hear more about him later; but let’s have a Duck Derby! 

Duck RaceHere’s what you’ll need:

Just head to your favorite stream and launch the ducks. Someone needs to stand at the finish line to make sure the ducks don’t get away; but other than that, it’s a pretty simple, fun activity to do with your family.

DucksNaturally, I took things a step further and created a coordinating picnic. I just happened to paint my picnic table bright yellow this spring; so it was practically begging for a duck-themed party. 

Duck TableJust one stop at the party store and I was in business. I grabbed some white and clear balloons;  tiny duck squirters; orange paper goods, yellow utensils and some cute striped bags

Duck PicnicI made the soap bubble centerpiece by blowing up the balloons to various sizes and taping them to the table. Then “float” a few dressed-up ducks on top for a quick, inexpensive centerpiece! 

Duck CoolerThis adorable inflatable duck bathtub works well as a cooler…so grab your favorite drinks and you’re ready to party. 

DrinksHope you all have a happy, fun and safe Labor Day Weekend!

*Munchkin provided all the rubber ducks and the inflatable bath tub for this post. I feel so lucky to work with such great companies. Thanks for supporting the brands who support my work. 

Printable Valentine’s Day Bingo

Well, Valentine’s Day is breathing down my neck, and I’m scurrying around to throw together a class party by Friday. I made a little bingo printable to play at said party…because bingo is always a no-brainer. Everyone knows how to play and it takes minimal preparation. Grab a few prizes, some candy bingo markers, and you’re ready to roll. 

Valentine Bingo

I’ve got two sets of printables to share. A full sheet, and a half-sheet, for larger groups. When I do class parties, I like to divide the class into four groups and then rotate to different activities. If you’ve got a smaller group, the larger sheets work great…but if you’re playing with the entire class at once, then you might want to use the smaller version so you have to make half the copies. I also included five different variations of the cards, so not everyone will get bingo at the same time.

Printable Valentine Bingo

Just make sure you print one extra sheet, and cut the squares apart so you’ve got the calling cards. Throw them in a bucket, or an envelope and you’re all set. My kids and I have had fun playing this one as part of our 14 Days of Love, too…so make a couple extra copies for yourself. Get the printable files down below:
Screen Shot 2015-02-07 at 10.57.01 PMFull sheet Bingo Cards

Half-sheet Bingo Cards

Minecraft Cake

My oldest turned nine over the weekend. I can’t believe how the years are flying by. Being nine, naturally, he’s obsessed with Minecraft. He’s getting a little too old for themed parties, so I just try to incorporate a couple of his interests into the cake and/or favor bags, so the party reflects him, but doesn’t come across as too cheesy or overdone. The whole gang is getting a little too rambunctious to have them all over at our place at once, so I was relieved when he wanted to have his party at an activity center. All the dudes could run between the arcade, the skating rink, laser tag, etc., and I don’t have to call in the disaster repair team after the party’s over. I didn’t have much prep work to do, which was fantastic since his birthday falls so soon after Christmas. I simply made a few phone calls, sent out an evite and started shopping for the favor bags.
Minecraft Cake DIYSince I didn’t have to do much for the party, I decided I could put most of my efforts into a cool cake. Considering my meager skills, I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. I just threw some action figures on top of the cake to distract from the lopsided shape. 

Minecraft

For the fondant: A couple days in advance, you’ll want to make all the fondant squares. I used one small brick of Wilton fondant, and colored it three shades of green and two shades of brown. Use a fondant roller, and an embossing sheet to mark the squares. Cut them out as evenly as you can. Mine are a little haphazard…but I can live with it. Separate layers of fondant between waxed paper, and store them in ziploc bags or airtight containers until you’re ready to use them.

Make the cake: I started out by using a square 8″ x 8″ x 3″ cake pan. I used a cake mix, because I’m feeding this cake to a bunch of third graders, and they won’t know the difference. I take shortcuts whenever I can find them. But I did the entire cake mix in the pan, and baked it at 350 for 40 minutes. At 35 minutes, I covered it with foil, and finished baking it for another 5 minutes. I made two cake mixes; and it worked great. 

Then I let the cakes cool at room temperature until they were completely cool. (I didn’t take photos of this because I wasn’t planning on writing a blog post about it…sorry). Then I stuck them in the fridge for several hours. After the cakes were cold, I leveled them. (Hint: it’s way easier to level a cold cake…so definitely take the extra time to let the cake chill). I filled the cake with a “dirt” mixture to make the cake look a little more Minecraft-y.

Minecraft Cake FillingPut the bowl of your mixer into the freezer for 5 minutes. While the bowl is chilling, crush up about 15 Oreos and set aside. After it’s cold, pull it out and whip up 2 C. heavy whipping cream, 1/2 C. powdered sugar, 2T. cocoa powder, and a teaspoon of vanilla. Whip on high until desired consistency is reached. Don’t over-do it. Gently fold in the Oreos. The spread the mixture on one of the cakes, and put the other one on top. 

Let the cake chill in the fridge while you get ready for the next step. Make up your favorite buttercream frosting, and dye it green or brown. Then frost the cake, and start tiling it with the fondant pixels. Mine worked out so that I could do for rows of eight squares per side of the cake. 

Now I’ve got to figure out how to make a space ship birthday cake for my youngest. His birthday is next week. Have a great day!

NYE 2015

2015 NYE TagsI know Christmas isn’t even here yet; and trust me, I still have plenty to do. I shudder just thinking about how ill-prepared I am this year. (Like it’s any surprise. I’m not prepared ever.) But still, let’s talk about New Year’s Eve for a second. I’ve been meaning to make these for ages and never got around to it, until now. I had a customer years and years ago request that I make a tag that would perch on the rim of a champagne glass for her wedding. I came up with this little guy. I make some for weddings every year, but I thought it would be fun to have some in stock and ready for your next party! 

2015 TagsI just added these 2015 tags to my shop, for your New Year’s Eve celebration! They come in four different varieties, and of course I’m still offering custom tags for weddings. But if you’re in a pinch before your NYE party this year and want to add an extra detail, grab yourself a set of tags before the big night.

Champagne TagsP. S. I used sparkling white grape juice for this photo shoot, and my kids had no problem at all helping me “clean up” my photo props. In fact, I highly recommend surprising your kids with a “fancy” breakfast sometime. Fancy glasses and sparking juice really class up that bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Cheers! 

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