Wednesday, September 21, 2011
First, an apology.
To all three of you out there who actually take the time out of your busy schedules to read this blog, I'm sorry for being so terribly remiss in posting our crafty goings on this summer. Rest assured there was plenty of paint, glitter, glue, paper and the like in our lives these past two months to keep the creative juices flowing. And though the photos I have documenting said crafts are of significant sentimental value to me, do you really want to see Michael finger painting? Yes? Well, I'll email you. They are adorable.
Now to the subject at hand. Charlie's birthday.
My middle boy, Charlie, just turned four. After my last post about Jake's birthday, where I expressed anxiety over what kind of celebration was appropriate and whether to give out goody bags (luxury problems, anyone?), I decided that Charlie's birthday would be a simple and stress free affair. Picnic in the park, cake, games, friends, and yes, goody bags. But 100% handmade this year.
The bags themselves I made from natural muslin and ribbon, using my favorite, simple tutorial from Skip To My Lou. I used silky ribbon in place of the rope she calls for in her instructions, and I ironed each child's initial onto the front of the bags using fusible web backed fabric that I traced and cut the letters from.
They looked like this:
And all together, like this:
Inside each bag there were three items: a felt crown, bubbles, and a chocolate lollipop. As usual, I didn't invent any of these crafts or ideas, I just borrowed from other crafty moms who do this stuff a lot better than I do, and who, unlike me, are selfless enough to photograph the steps they took and post them online as tutorials for the rest of us. I thank them all!
The first item I made were the crowns, which, as modeled by Liam and Casper, looked like this:
They were made using a very simplified version of this tutorial from Jessica Levitt over at Juicy Bits
I also ironed initials onto these crowns, but didn't have time to do all of the fancy embellishments shown in the tutorial. I had fifteen crowns to make in a week, so I had to keep it simple. The girls got very sweet pink crowns, the boys got blue, maroon and gold.
The chocolate lollipops looked like this:
For the lollipop molds, which were very inexpensive (about $2.50 for a tray of four molds) and are endlessly reusable, Charlie and I trekked to a store in Bay Ridge called Choc Oh Lot Plus, where they also carry cellophane wrappers, twist ties and any other chocolate making supplies you could ever need. What we didn't buy there was their melting chocolate, the first ingredient of which was sugar, followed by corn syrup. The guy behind the counter warned me against using "regular" chocolate to make our lollipops, insisting we needed special "tempered" chocolate, but I couldn't bring myself to buy that crap he was selling. So I stopped by Jacques Torres in Dumbo, and bought a few bars of 70% dark chocolate, which melted very nicely in the microwave and did just fine in these little flower molds, thank you very much. (I also watched a Jacques Torres You Tube video which shows how to make these lollipops-easy peasy!) To personalize the lollipops, I printed out pictures of Charlie onto round Avery labels (#22807) and stuck them on the front. I also made text labels with the words "Happy Birthday Charlie" on the back, not shown here.
For the bubbles, which looked like this:
I bought a bunch of bottles of Pustefix, which are those fancy German bubbles with the picture of the teddy bear on the front. These I love not only for their great bubble making quality, but because the wand is attached to the top of the lid which means kids don't have to fish around with their fingers in the soapy bottle to get the blower out. And as bubble containers go they're pretty sturdy and therefore refillable.
These were also simply customized with photos of Charlie printed onto Avery shipping labels.
I also made the birthday banner shown in the top of this post, which I hung from the tree under which our picnic party was camped. This I made with card stock, an exacto, a glue stick and some ribbon. So simple.
Alas, I'm not much of a baker, so we bought the cake at our favorite local bakery, Ladybird. This is a Brooklyn Blackout Cake, which reduced one chocolate-hating party goer to tears when he saw it. The next time I see him I'm bringing him a vanilla cupcake, if its okay with his mom.
Here (L to R) Casper, Michael and Jake wait patiently for their pieces. Chocolate doesn't make them cry.
We brought a few diversions along to keep the kids occupied at the party. There were a few kites to fly, a Hoberman sphere to roll and climb into, and a Mega bubble kit which was kind of a failure, despite the best efforts of experienced mega bubble blowers to make it work.
Mostly the kids and parents just enjoyed each other's company. Charlie loved his gifts, which were mainly of the superhero variety, but he is at his absolute happiest basking in the love and attention of family and friends. He had a happy day.