Friday, June 24, 2016

Julia's Emoji-cal Birthday Party

We had a great time celebrating Julia's 10th birthday. TEN! 10 years old! How is my baby double digits???

Thanks to Pinterest we quickly determined that Julia wanted an Emoji themed party. We found some great ideas online and added some of our own ideas too. And of course, we did this whole party on a dime. :)

Everyone knows I love the Dollar Tree, so I started there by picking up a bunch of yellow poster board. I used assorted pots and pans as my template for the yellow circles, cut out the faces out of colored paper and used a glue stick to adhere the faces to the circles.

Did you know that you can order items at that are not regularly stocked at the store and have it shipped for to the store for pick up? I needed paper plates and the only yellow they had at the store was a lemon yellow. I checked online to see if they had more of an emoji yellow and sure enough they did! I ordered cups and plates in the exact color for the low low deal of $1 a pack. I had to order a minimum of 4 packs each which was a little more than I needed, but who doesn't need extra plates and cups? And it was still less expensive than if I were to have gone to one of the popular party stores. I also found this fun garland made out of ribbon and tissue paper that just so happened to be the perfect color. And finally the Dollar Tree had yellow dinner plates that I used for the brownie cupcakes.

I am no baker that's for sure! And I am definitely not a cake decorator, however, I gave it my best shot and the cupcakes turned out great. First we made smiling piles of poo! Poo is always funny!!! Mikayla helped make brownie cupcakes and I piped a twist of chocolate frosting on top. I used grocery store frosting and man is that stuff thick! It doesn't pipe as well as I thought it would, but it was fine. We added some edible googly eyes and there we had it... edible poo! (always funny:) Next we made yellow cupcakes and armed with more edible googly eyes, heart shaped sprinkles and a black gel decorating tube, I went to town creating emoji's. Some may or may not be legit emoji's but whatevs they were fine. Definitely not a professional job, but cute and Julia loved them. Julia had the idea of placing them in the shape of a "J" on the table and they looked great! Good idea Julia!!!

For the beverages, I found a yellow container at Five and Below and what better drink to fill it with than lemonade? Yes, I did spend $5 on this item, BUT, I will get a lot of use out of this container. As we speak, Julia is using it for her lemonade stand. I also made some emoji water bottle labels to add a little more of a personal touch. 

Once all of the girls arrived we split them up in to two groups, one group went with Mikayla to make emoji cookies and the other group came with me to make emoji t-shirts. I really wish I would have been able to watch the cookie decorating because this group of girls are creative! Mikayla put a dollop of yellow frosting on their cookie and the girls took it from there. I provided the same items I used to decorate the cupcakes and I thought we would see a lot of the heart eyes emoji cookies. Nope! It turns out that the googly-eye tongue emoji (not sure of the actual name) is super popular so to improvise, some of the girls used a heart sprinkle upside down as the tongue. So cute! I'm bummed I didn't get pictures of the finished products. They did such a great job! 

Thanks to my friend Michelle Q, I scored a huge deal at JoAnn Fabrics on t-shirts. They had a one day only coupon for 5 t-shirts for $10. What a deal!! I ran out on my lunch hour that day and picked up 20 shirts. AND the best part was that is was a pleasant experience! There was a limit of 10 on the coupon, but the lady helping me, was awesome! She didn't give me a hassle about buying more than 10, she didn't refuse my coupon, she didn't make me come back the next day. She let me spend my money on the t-shirts and get a deal. Can you believe it?? A hassle free that shopping experience! Such a novel idea.  

Before the birthday party, I ironed HeatBond to yellow, black, red, white and blue felt. Next I pre-cut circles and face parts for four different types of emojis (4 sunglasses, 4 heart eyes, 4 laughing tear drops & 4 googly-eye tongue). I put the face parts into sandwich bags and stacked them on the table by type. The girls selected a t-shirt, a yellow circle and a sandwich bag of face parts. Once they picked their emoji, they came into my sewing room, placed their emoji the way they wanted it on the t-shirt and I ironed it for them.

 As soon as the t-shirts cooled off, every girl couldn't wait to put the t-shirt on. 

I made the birthday girl's t-shirt the night before and a little bit different than the rest. She got the number 10 on her shirt with the blow kiss emoji. 

The t-shirt making process took longer than the cookie making process, so that left a fair amount of girls with nothing to do. That didn't last long! As I am ironing in my sewing room, I see that they are all sitting in a circle and the next thing I hear is " concentration, what's your number". How great is that??? They totally occupied themselves while they waited for the rest of their friends to complete their shirts. What a great group of girls! 

Next up, games!

We headed outside to play Musical Squares. Mike numbered the squares 1 thru 4, Mikayla started the music and when the music stopped, we picked a number and whoever was standing in that square was out. We kept doing that until we had one girl standing. She was the winner of a yellow kickball with the sunglasses emoji on it that I bought at Five and Below. We played another round and the next winner received a smiling pile of poo emoji pillow, also purchased from Five and Below (and still funny).

Back inside, we played Pin the Tongue on the Emoji. I made an extra large googly-eye tongue emoji and used painters tape on the back of the tongue so each girl could easily stick and remove the tongue.The winner of this game received a round yellow pool float with the sunglasses emoji on it, also from Five and Below.

Julia had an absolute blast at this party and I think all of the girls did too! The t-shirts were such a big hit that the girls wore them to school the next day.

Julia took some poo brownies to school for her teachers, principal and vice principal. She laughed so hard when she told me she stopped Mr. Clarke in the hallway and asked him if he wanted some poo. I bet he wasn't expecting that!!

An emoji-cal time was had by all!! 

 A huge thank you to all of these girls and their parents for making Julia's 10th birthday a great one!


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Friday, August 28, 2015

Graduation Gifts for Smarty Pants

Turns out the Butler girls are a bunch of smarty pants! 2015 brought three high school graduates to the family all of whom are going to some pretty great colleges in the fall. I was lucky enough to be invited to the grad parties and I wanted to give them each a really good gift. Since we opened the restaurant, funds have been pretty tight so I was on a strict budget. I would have loved to have written a check to each of them (they would have probably loved that too), but I had to get creative and make the gifts affordable.

What to do? What to do? I was waiting for inspiration to strike, but it never did. Not a single idea. So I polled my girls Julie and Kim for suggestions. Kim Sage (the world's greatest, most thoughtful gift-giver ever) suggested a shower caddy filled with items for the dorm. Yes! That was it! I was inspired! I thought I could make a really great gift if I personalized it to each girl and to the school they will attend. A little school spirit is just what I needed for a theme.

First up, my cousin Eileen's daughter Maura. (Actually a Sparty pants---- ahh ha ...I slay me)

Maura is attending Michigan State University this fall and will be staying in the dorm. I decided to take the shower kit idea and run with it. I found a great shower bag at Bed Bath and Beyond and used a coupon for a little extra discount. I was happy to find a fabric bag, because I wanted to embroider her name on the bag. Who doesn't like their name on stuff?

I embroidered her name on green grosgrain ribbon I had on hand then stitched it to the top edge of the bag.

I embroidered her name on a cute polka dot lanyard I found. It's kind of hard to see it in the picture below, but it was cute.

I bought a multi-pack of washcloths at Wal-Mart, pulled out all of the white ones and embroidered her first initial. At first I was a little worried as a State fan would never EVER want to see an M on anything they own, but because this is her first initial, I think it was okay.  

Total contents of the Spartan Gift Basket: 
  • Shower caddy (Bed Bath and Beyond) with embroidered name 
  • Spartan bath towel (Target) with embroidered name  
  • Three washcloths (Walmart) with embroidered initial 
  • Polka dot lanyard (Five and Below) with embroidered name
  • Lotion, gel and body spray (Bath and Body Works)
  • Spartan shower flip flops (Five and Below)
  • Car magnet (Five and Below)
  • Bath Sponge (Walmart)
  • Small toothpaste and mouthwash (Dr. Richard Land -yep I had a dentist appointment that week) 

My cousin emailed me the very next day to tell me that Maura loved the gift AND told me that a few of her friends were there when she opened it and they loved it too! Yes! Success!

Next was my cousin Colleen's daughter Katie. This gift was tricky as Katie will be commuting to U of M instead of living on campus. Honestly, I did not know what to do. Originally, I thought I would personalize a nice Michigan sweatshirt, but that would eat the entire budget. Then I thought I would get her a bunch of stuff for her car, but everything I came up with seemed masculine and, quite frankly, lame. Then I thought of a laptop backpack stuffed with goodies. I was kind of set on doing that until I was shopping at Target and I came across a great plush backrest pillow in the perfect shade of blue. And it was on sale! So very quickly this became a "Study in Comfort" gift.

A couple of years ago I made a super cute burp cloth with the baby's family name and a U of M helmet I cut from fleece fabric. That fabric has a variety of U of M logos and pictures on it. I happen to have some leftover to use for this project.   

Let's look at how cute that burp cloth was...

So cute! 

OK... back to Katie's gift...

First, I took the stuffing out of the pillow, stitched the logo on the front of the pillow, embroidered Katie's name and re-stuffed it. 

I was going to put Katie's name on this awesome throw blanket I bought on sale at Target, but decided it didn't need it. It was perfect the way it was. 

I covered off the comfort part of this gift with the pillow and blanket, now all I needed was something for her to drink out of and of course something sweet. This M cup came from Five and Below and I filled it with Lemonhead candy.  

The total contents of the U of M gift:
  • Plush backrest pillow (Target) with stitched logo and embroidered name
  • Super soft U of M throw blanket (Target).
  •  Drawstring backpack (Five and Below)
  • "M" cup filled with Lemonhead candy (Five and Below)
  • Car magnet (Five and below)

I am so happy with the way this gift turned out! Both my daughters want a pillow for their bed.

Last but not least, my niece Maureen who will attend Notre Dame. Not only is this kid smart, she is beautiful and an all-round great person. She is an idol to my two girls.
I loved the plush pillow so much that I wanted to make one for my niece as well. Maureen's gift basket was a combo of the shower caddy gift and the comfort gift. 

This time I found the shower caddy at Target for about a 1/3 of the price. What a steal! I embroidered her name on grosgrain ribbon that I already had on hand and stitched it to the top edge. 

Unlike the U of M and State gifts, I couldn't find a lot of Notre Dame items locally. If I were a little more prepared, I would have ordered spirit wear online, but we all know that I have to wait until the last minute to start a project. I still wanted everything to be Notre Dame specific so I just needed to improvise and make it myself. 

First, I found navy flip flops at Target and I stitched little felt shamrock buttons on with gold thread. Cute! 

On a trip to Wal-Mart, I picked up a navy blue tank top on sale for $3! I pulled up the Notre Dame logo online and traced it right off the computer screen. (Of course my printer was out of ink; otherwise I would have printed a pattern). I wanted the gold to be metallic. I didn't want to cop-out and use a golden yellow fabric. I knew the logo had to be shiny like the Notre Dame football helmets, and I found the perfect soft metallic gold fabric at Jo-Ann Fabric. I ironed the fabric to HeatNBond adhesive and then cut the pattern out. Then I ironed the logo to the center of the tank top.  

After it cooled down, I stitched around the whole logo and added a little shamrock button to the center.

I bought a dark navy bath towel from Target and added the same logo to both the towel and the pillow along with Maureen's name. I also added some shamrocks to the towel. 

I found a metallic gold striped cup at Target too and it was perfect for this gift. 

I don't know how or why I ended up with so much stuff from Target. I kind of hate shopping there now. I used to love it and I used to find amazing deals, but then I didn't, so I stopped. I'm glad I gave it another shot, maybe I should start shopping there a little more often.

Total contents of the Notre Dame Gift: 
  • Plush backrest pillow (Target) with logo and embroidered name
  • Bath towel (Target) with logo and embroidered name
  • Flip Flops (Walmart) with shamrock felt buttons (Jo-Ann Fabric)
  • Navy tank top (Walmart) with logo and shamrock
  • Gold cup with metallic stripes (Target)
  • Shower gel, lotion and body spray (Bath and Body Works)
  • Shower caddy (Target)
  • Bath sponge (Walmart)
  • Manicure kit, hand mirror, toothpicks, hair ties, travel toothpaste with toothbrush and Blistex (Dollar Tree)
  • Toothpaste and mouth wash (Dr. Richard Land -kids had a dentist appointment too)

I was there when my niece opened her gift and her reaction was priceless! She seemed to genuinely like everything in the gift. I also received messages from both my brother and my sister-in-law thanking me for the gift. They loved it and showed some of their family and friends who loved it too. 

I am so happy with the way these gifts turned out! 

I think I know what all future grad gifts from me will look like! 

Congrats to you three smarty pants!! I hope you have an amazing experience at school! 


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Sunday, May 31, 2015

Boxwood Wreath

I have been looking for a boxwood wreath for the front door and I've had luck finding some, but at a big price tag. A price tag I think you know by now that I would never spring for. Target has a beautiful Smith and Hawkin wreath for $44.99. Yeah, for many people that is probably affordable and a good deal. Me, not so much. I knew I could make my own wreath for less so I started scouring the Internet for preserved boxwood. I quickly learned that by the time I bought all of the supplies and paid for shipping, I may as well just buy the Target wreath. 

Yesterday we trimmed the bushes and I asked Mike to cut deep so I could have some long boxwood branches. I thought I'd give it a shot making my own wreath with fresh boxwood, I mean, what did I have to lose? We were just going to throw out all of the clippings anyway. 

I had a grapevine wreath in my sewing room (who doesn't) for the wreath and I started with a small bag of the clippings.

I didn't do anything to the clippings to preserve them, I just started weaving the branches into the grapevine wreath. I'm hoping that I didn't make a giant mistake by not doing anything to protect the clippings. Knowing my luck, I will pay for that in a week or so when my wreath turns yellow. 

I added as many clippings as I could since I wanted it to have a very full look. Then I took clear thread and wrapped it around the entire wreath to help contain the loose leaves. I didn't want it to look compacted. I still wanted it to have a loose look, but not a fly-away look. 

I picked up an awesome resin "R" from Hobby Lobby for $5 and I thought it would be perfect for the center of the wreath. 

This was such a quick, easy and inexpensive project. I am absolutely in love with how it turned out.

What do you think?

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Monday, September 2, 2013

Backpack Makeover

I can't believe it is time for the kids to go back to school! Where did the summer go?? As far as I'm concerned we got jipped with the weather this year and we better have a nice long Indian summer. Or else! (Not sure what the or else is...)

I work at a pretty great company and every Christmas they give each employee a gift box filled with goodies. Last year one of the items in our gift box was a really nice backpack. BUT, it has the company logo plastered on the front. Other than that it is great.

At first I was going to use it for all of our camping trips, but then one day two more backpacks showed up in the kitchen with a note that said "free - perfect for a seamstress". I think the whole third floor came over to my desk to tell me about the backpacks that needed a little repair. As soon as I saw them I knew they would be perfect for the girls for school so I scooped them up. 

I tried to convince Mikayla and Julia that they would be perfect, but they just didn't see what I was seeing. They thought I wanted them to carry black Valassis backpacks to school and quite honestly they were horrified. Even when I showed them the fabric I wanted to use... nothing...they wanted Justice backpacks and that was it. As always I had to prove myself. 

I had this great furry zebra fabric on hand and I picked up a little pink, green and yellow neon bathing suit fabric. 

I took the entire front of the backpack off and lined everything up to see if I could get a reaction from the girls. Still...Nothing! They still couldn't see it. In their minds this was a "boy" backpack and there was no way I was going to make it for a girl. 

Well, they were wrong! 

I was able to talk Julia into letting me personalize her backpack. 

Here is Mikayla's backpack. I wanted to put her name or her initial on it, but she was not having it. 

And in true Sheila form... I finished them at 8:00 pm the night before school starts. Of course! 

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Monday, July 22, 2013

Staircase Makeover - AKA The Beast

When we moved into this house there were two things that drove me nuts.
1. The horrid staircase with white spindles.
2. The honey oak floors.

U-G-L-Y – it ain’t got no alibi!

After four years of living here, we decided to have the floors refinished. We got a couple of quotes for the floor and separate quotes to have the staircase refinished. We were ok with the floor quote we decided to go with especially because we got the Mike Richardson discount (negotiated deal on every product or service- he is the master negotiator). #WilliamShatnerhasnothingonhim. The staircase quotes on the other hand were outrageous! We may as well replace the whole staircase for the price they wanted.

So one day I pulled a Rachel Hall and waited until my husband was at work and I started this project myself. I broke out the wood stripper and went to town. #noturningback

When hubby got home that night all he could do is shake his head. He said "I guess YOU are doing the staircase"? 

I had a deadline to meet because the floor guy was coming to do the floors and I had to have the railing stripped and sanded and ready to accept stain.

I worked day and night and meticulously stripped and sanded the railing and I was ready. So, we packed up the kids and headed to Kalahari for a few days. This is what the floors looked like when we left:

Looking good…. On the way out the door we asked the floor guy to throw a coat of the stain on the railing and then enjoyed our mini vacation. I drove my husband crazy talking about the project being done at the house. I was just hoping the floors and railing would look as good finished as I pictured them in my head. I couldn’t wait to get home.

Well...they didn't.

They looked like crapola!

The floors were a mess and the railing was a nightmare!
In hindsight, the signs were all there. Aren't they always?

Here is the short list of red flags:

1: This was a pre finished hardwood floor. The floor guy had never done one before and it turned out to be his nemesis.

2. The floor guy let the deadline get the best of him. He knew that he should have re-sanded the floor when he noticed it wasn’t accepting the stain. He should've started all over, but he didn’t. He kept going including 3 layers of poly. #knowwhentosaywhen

3. We asked the floor guy to stain the railing. Floor guys are in the business of floors...not railings.

4. The floor guy said he could sand the false treads on the stairs. He must not have realized that his sanders have the strength to sand through a brick wall. He ended up completely destroying one tread (and a couple more that are questionable). #thankgoodnessMikeRichardsoncanfixanything

5. We paid someone to do a job we should have just done ourselves. Every time we think we will give ourselves a break and hire a job out, it is ALWAYS a disaster! #whenwillwelearnourlesson

Before we beat up on the floor guy, I seriously have to cut him a break. When we returned home, there was a note to call him and he owned up to everything. He said he was not happy with the job and admitted he rushed. He said he stands by his work and he came back and completely re-finished the floors. I am happy to report that they look great. He is a very nice guy, we have seen his work from friends and I would in fact recommend him to someone else. Truthfully, from my years of experience sewing for hire, I know exactly what it is like to overpromise or bite off more than I can chew. This was a classic case of a nice guy who didn’t want to say no and took on way more than he could handle. #sadlyniceguysdofinishlast
So this is where the beast part comes in…..

Because he covered the railing disaster with 3 coats of poly… YES THREE! WHY THREE DUDE??? Why when he saw that the stain looked like crap didn't he just leave it?
I had to strip and sand the whole thing ALL OVER AGAIN!!!

AND this time around I had to do the false treads too.

I swear I wanted to cry! The dust that was all over my house was insane! I tried to cover things as much as I could with plastic to contain the area, but the staircase is in the most open area of the house. I kept asking Mike to change the furnace filter every five minutes because I swear it was coming back through the vents. Of course he changed it once, but I’m sure you could imagine where he told me to go with the suggestion of changing it every five minutes.

Finally, I finished the staining and added 3 coats of poly myself.

I painted the side of the staircase to match the trim. This was the plan the whole time…but I wonder if I should have stained that part as well. I think I could have been happy either way.

After all this time (weeks and weeks and weeks), I felt accomplished.

Enter Mike Richardson’s handy work…. He went to his favorite wood/trim/railings/doors/man-land store called ASA Builders Supply and picked up the wrought iron railings we had ordered a few weeks before.
I was at work when he texted me this picture. YAY!!! I was giddy when I saw it!

You will notice that there is one tread that has not been stained in the picture above. Yep, that is the one Mike Richardson had to replace because somebody ruined it with their sander.

I asked Mike if he would have his buddy take a picture of him working on the staircase for the blog.

He sent me a SELFIE!!! HAAAAAA I can’t believe he sent me a selfie! Little does he know that it made it’s way into the blog! #cantstoplaughing

This is what it looks like with all of the spindles completed, I just needed to stain and poly that one step.

Ahhh... finished!

As with every project I learn a lot. Typically, the lesson is that I will never do that project again. Or that the projects are never as easy breezy as some people make it on the internet. The BEAST almost brought me to my knees, but in the end, I could not be more proud of my attention to detail and patience. #totallyworthwhile

The Beast before and after:


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