Welcome to my blog!

This is a place to share my many ideas, (along with a story or two), about party planning from the theme to the thank you note, organization from your closets to your kid's artwork, and home decor, from wall color to window treatments. I have a passion for graphic design, fine art, photography, interior design and a great party! Creativity and the visually aesthetic get my juices flowing and I hope this blog can be a place to have fun exchanging ideas and resources and help your creative juices flow too!


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Back Yard Movie Night!

Two years ago, my husband and I hosted our first neighborhood back yard movie night.  It's a short season here in Vermont since it doesn't start getting dark enough to do at a reasonable hour for the kids, until September (which makes it a fun way to kick off the school year) and it typically gets too cold to do come November...then again, we've never attempted a winter-time one.  I suppose we could all just bundle up and we plan to get a fire pit, so maybe it'll be doable.  Or maybe we could get an overhead space heater...hmmm.  Anyway, the school year as started and it started getting darker earlier, so we just hosted our first BYMN of the season.  The feature presentation was The Lorax.  With 26 people, it was our biggest turn out yet (and 24 others couldn't make it)!  I had posted the about photo on my Facebook page and tagged the attendees based on the questions and comments I received, as well as hearing people talk about it at my daughter's soccer practice a week later, I decided it was worthy of a post to give all the information I can about how to host a back yard movie night of your own.  So gather up your friends and neighbors, set up the A/V system and pop some popcorn.  You'll be glad you did!

Our Set-Up:

The first screen (pictured in the above photo) and our current, larger screen (which we'll use for the first time at our next movie night) were both made from blackout fabric from Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores.  The first screen was made out of a single panel of blackout fabric and had a strip of wood stapled to both the top and bottom.  The current, bigger screen, was made by sewing two panels together and stapling a strip of wood to the top and sewing a pole pocket on the bottom and sticking a steel rod (which you can get at any local hardware store) though it since my husband couldn't get a long enough piece of wood.

Portable Outdoor A/V System:

My husband has been planning this for 5 years so each time we upgraded in audio-visual components, he saved our old ones to use for his outdoor system.

Note: Everything is permanently fixed to the cart so he can wheel it in and out of the house without risk of anything falling off the cart.
  • Garden and Home Organizer cart: Amazon
  • Epson Projector: Amazon 
  • Old Audio Receiver (our new TV forced us to upgrade receivers so we used our old one)
  • DVD Player (when we upgraded to Blu-ray we saved our old DVD player)
  • Cheap Car Speakers: eBay
  • Bass Cannon Subwoofer my husband has been hanging onto one he's had since he was 16 years old
  • Extension Cord
  • Protective Cover: my husband was going to make one but he had an electric smoker cover that he had been meaning to return  but thought that maybe it could work as a cover and to his amazement, it fit perfectly.

What You'll Need:
  • Screen: Any white flat surface will do.  You could even project it on the side of your house if you want but obviously, the whiter and flatter, the better it looks.   
  • A/V Stand: Last year, when we borrowed our neighbor's projector, all the equipment just got tied to a step ladder.  If you plan on hoisting many movie nights you may want to create a permanent and portable system rather than setting one up and taking it apart each time.
  • Projector: There are a million of them out there, it just depends on what you want to spend.   The cheapest option is to repurpose one.  Try finding one at a garage sale. 
  • DVD Player: A DVD player is a DVD player.
  • Audio Receiver: Any audio receiver will do.
  • Speakers: Any cheap, generic speakers will do.
  • Bass Cannon: If you don't have a subwoofer of some sort it will sound a bit twangy and you won't have the lower frequency sounds that give you that real world feeling that you're in the movie.
  • Extension Cord: Just the obvious; it has to be able to reach your outlet.
So basically the only thing that really matters when getting your equipment together is to make sure the outputs match the inputs.

Other Stuff:

Seating: For the kids: BYO blanket or sleeping bag to sit on the grass up by the screen.  This last time one of our smart neighbors thought to bring giant tarp for the kids to put their blankets and sleeping bags on and it kept everything nice and dry.  I highly recommend using a tarp.  For the adults: BYO camping chair.

Popcorn: Popcorn simply makes movie watching better.  You can provide it or make it BYO.   This last time I made this last showing a BYO movie snack night (I figured parents would bring water bottles and anything they wanted to drink as well) but one of my thoughtful neighbors (who was too sick to join us) sent over a bunch of microwave popcorn bags for the group, so of course, I used them and nary a kernel was left at the end of the night.  In the past I've put out different sizes of mixing bowls but I'd love to have special popcorn ones like these:

Or you could also hand out individual servings in fun bags or boxes like these:

Other Snacks: Another neighbor surprised us all with chocolate chip cookies and they were a huge hit among the group.  While popcorn makes movie watching better, chocolate makes everything better.

I hope this post inspires you to host your own back yard movie night and I'd love to hear all about it!
Have fun!


New Screen Debut for "The Muppets"

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Let the Games Begin!

As I work on this post, I'm watching the final day of the US women's gymnastic Olympic trials and becoming increasingly excited for this year's games to begin!
The opening ceremony for the XXX Summer Olympic Games will be held in London, England on July 27th, 2012.  This will be the first year I can recall missing them but at least I have a good reason: I'll be in Montreal at my first Coldplay concert :)  It's times like this when I love DVR.  While it's fun to watch it live with the rest of the world, I'm okay with enjoying it at my leisure without my kids talking the entire time since I promised them they could watch it.

One of the best parts of the Olympics is the emotionally moving commercials.  I've watched this tearjerker (click here to watch) more times than I can keep track of.  The music, the cinematography, the direction by the brilliant, Alejandro González Iñárritu, all add up to perfection.  I've produced tears every single time I've watched it.  I remember loving (and welling-up to) this one from the 2010 Olympic Winter Games (click here to watch).*

The P&G "Raising an Olympian" mini documentaries like this one on Gymnastics Olympian, Shawn Johnson, and this one on Track & Field Paralympian, Kortney Clemons, are very moving as well.  But enough praising P&G's amazing Olympic advertising (even though I'm a loyal Bounty, Tide and Cascade consumer), and on with the festivities!

If you're planning a gathering to celebrate the opening ceremonies or a particular event you and your friends are into, here are some fun, Olympic-inspired sweets & potables (as long as some other party ideas) to inspire ways for you to give your event some special Olympic flair.

And here are some links that can help you to more fully participate in the Olympics without actually competing in them or attending them.


Official Website 



Laurs_1981 via Cake Central

Fancyflours (Olympic rings wafer papers)

Ann Clark Ltd.
This fantastic cutter (made here in Vermont!) can be used with the above wafer papers 

or to create the "Nanaimo Bars" listed below under, "Cakes".

Beaches Pastry

Little Birdie Secrets



Edible Gifts Plus



The Green Album

Victorious Cupcakes


Coco Cake

Cake Picture Gallery

Lavender Bakery


Clever Cupcakes


The Kitchn (Nanaimo Bars)


Perfect Cake by Shirley


Edible Art


Miller Design Enterprise

Taste of Home

Taste of Home

Sugarbabies via Cake Central


An Olympics of Beer
Photo: The Washingtonian

 Olympic Rings Cocktails
Every Joe

Olympic Rings Cocktail
Olympic Ring (Tequilla) Drinks

Party Planning Ideas:

I just saw this version of the "kids"commercial for the 2012 summer games (click here to watch) as well as this new "thank you Mom" one (click here to watch).  

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Iron Man for Orion Man

After listening to me and my daughter discuss plans for her 7th birthday party at the beginning of the year, my son chimed in that he wanted to have a Superman birthday party, which quickly became a The Flash birthday party, since The Flash, according to him, is "lello".  Shortly thereafter, he requested a Batman party because apparently, he saves the most people in danger.  But soon after that, while looking at a pair of his superhero underwear, he took a liking to Iron Man because he is both "lello" and saves more people in danger.  I wonder if he also subconsciously liked the similarity in their names...after all, as my cousin pointed out to me, "Orion" has only one more letter in it than, "Iron": ) Once he had made up his mind he couldn't remember Iron Man's name and would ask me on a regular basis, "what kind of birthday party am I having?"  While I had started to get into what I could do for a The Flash party, I realized that next year would be a better year for him since the movie, The Flash is due to come out this summer.  Then I heard that the movie, The Avengers, was coming out in May, so it was just my luck that Avengers merchandise started cropping up everywhere and having had two Iron Man movies (starring the fantastic Robert Downy, Jr. ) in the past 4 years makes Iron Man the most merchandised Avenger at the moment.  But besides all that, Iron Man is just. plain. cool.  Even his TV show theme song is cool!Listen here!
And for all you AC/DC fans out there, click here and here!

I gotta say, I love super heroes and there are so many creative things you can do with a super hero theme, specific hero or not.
I hope he wants another one next year!

What the Birthday Boy Wore
Old Navy

What the Father of the Birthday Boy Wore
(He also grew a goatee to look more like Tony Stark but then shaved it off for a job interview.  Bummer.)

how'd he do that?
Custom Made Iron Man Chest Plate
He drilled holes around a LED tap light, sodered blue LED lights from Radio Shack to an electric board, stuck them in the holes, and tada!

The Goods:

Birthday Direct

Thank You Notes
Birthday Direct

Birthday Direct

Glittering Gold Forks

Avengers Coloring Book
Helpful Tip: I put tape labels (yellow with black print) with each child's name on the coloring books and used them as place cards so there would be no squabbles over who was sitting where.
You could, of course, use a permanent marker, I just love printed labels.

Mini Pack of Crayola Crayons

Blowers (to put at every place setting)

Gold Confetti (to sprinkle on tables and for the kids to play with)

Treat Bags (for arcade tokens & prize tickets)

Helpful Tip: I made name labels like the ones on the coloring books so that there would be no issues over whose bag was whose.
Again, you could, of course, use a permanent marker.

6' 5" Laminated Cardboard Standup

I wanted to take a photo of each child standing with Iron Man to include with their thank you note, but only had a few takers.  At least I got some fun shots of adults with him : )
 After the party, my husband had the brilliant idea of sticking the chest plate he created on the standup and then putting it in Orion's room as a giant night light.  I think it will be too bright and could scare him but we'll see.

The Cake:
I love that Shen, the baker, surprised me with a flashing light in the cake!  How fun!
Sweet Surprises & Memories

Gold Spiral Candles

The Favors:

Cellophane Treat Bags  & Blue Glow Sticks from iParty
Metallic Iron Man 2012 Pez Dispenser from PEZ
Personalized Gold Shimmer and Red M&M's from My M&M's
Iron Man Temporary Tattoos

More Cool Iron Man Party Goods

Invitations & Thank You Notes:

Superhero Stuff

2009 Iron Man Pez Dispenser

Iron Man 2 Mask
Toys "R" Us

Cakes & Cupcakes:

The Great Cake Company

What the Cake

Ilene Miriam Baked Goods

Cakes by MAC

Dork Chocolate

Debbie Lennon

Iron Man Cake & Cupcake Toppers

Tall Girl in Heels

Iron Man 2 Candle
Party America

Standing Iron Man Candle
Country Kitchen Sweetart


The standup as a night light for O's room was as anticipated,
way too bright as well as scary.  
Oh well, at least it'll be fun to have in his room or the play room :)

Alternate Favors for Neighborhood Friends (older kids) Party
(changes from school friends party favors: gold personalized M&M's, light blue Sixlets, no tattoos, curling ribbon)
Iron Man Arc Reactor
Chasing Fireflies

Iron Man Arc Chest Light

Tony Stark Light UP LED Iron Man T-shirt

Arc Reactor T-Shirt (my husband ordered one of these)

My husband just returned from the World Maker Faire in NYC
and brought me a business card for Instructables.com's post on DIY Iron Man Costumes!
So cool!  Check it out!