Thursday, December 13, 2012

Mesmerizing video!

I love how this video just builds with unexpected layers, from violin loops to beat boxing to playing a violin like a ukelele. Such a gorgeous mix of styles and it just makes me happy. I can't stop watching!

Scrapbook paper crafts and dog fashion. Yep. Pretty much sums up my life.

Life has been, well, life. I've stopped expecting it to slow down or for me to feel caught up. Suddenly it is the holiday season and WOW! Wasn't it just summer? That is just how it is going to be, isn't it? This wild head first slide into home plate, all the while wondering what inning we are in and if it was our day to bring the snack and oh! Did I leave the stove on at home? I'm getting old now that I think like this, right? Is this what age is? This roller coaster in my head? In my days?

I'm not even one of those busy moms. I purposely try to keep time open for us to breathe. I don't know how other families accomplish all that they do without curling into a fetal position and whimpering their days away. I'm not even all that busy compared to 'normal' people. And I'm still, well. Busy. Bless all you moms out there that earn their busy stripes with your soccering, and careering and baking cupcakes for the school this-and-that. I stand in awe. Awe, I say.

So anyway. Since suddenly we went from running through sprinklers to the Christmas season in the past week or so, out came the advent calendar I made last year. We used to buy the playmobil advent calendars and while those were awesome, we've sort of moved more toward lego and aren't looking to add to our ridiculous amounts of playmobil toys at this point. And have you SEEN the price of lego advent calendars?!?! No way can I justify spending that much for a couple minifigs!

Doing holiday/seasonal related things as a family seemed more in keeping with the season anyway and I found this cute little advent calendar thing on overstock for (I think) $14.00 and free shipping and thought it was time for a change. I had to assemble it, paint it and decorate it, and I made the cards out of small pieces of scrapbook paper and printed out 'things to do' which I laminated with packing tape. I'm happy with how it turned out for using simple materials and I like that we can use it year after year. I finished it up this year adding numbers and painting a paper star to add to the middle to match the numbers.

Before adding the numbers.

With the shiny happy numbers and painted/glittered star.

The extra box holds the extra 'things to do' cards. I made a lot so I can change things up from year to year, and because some of them are weather related like build a snowman which obviously needs cooperating weather. We also sometimes do a couple things a day as some of them are simple, like make hot cocoa. I love, love, love advent calendars. I have a thing for them. A few years back I made one using sewn cones. It was cool but took up a ton of space. And filling them was expensive! Even when trying to find cheap little things, it added up to more than the playmobil calendars. So this little one with drawers just big enough for a small 'thing to do' card and a couple chocolates is working just fine for this mama that is trying to scale back on stuff and expenses. And it works for the kids as they just enjoy the anticipation and the activities that surround this time of year. Win/win.

Other than decorating the house for the holidays, this is the extent of my holiday crafting this year. I've been going lighter than usual with projects as I've been hunkered down working on a BIG PROJECT for the past year. It's finally feeling like it might end in the somewhat near future. Yay! However, thanks to Pinterest, I did get sucked into a couple projects over the past few months and thought I'd share a couple I stumbled on when going through my pictures today.

This one still makes me smile. I made this following these awesome directions from A Little Hut. Again with the using of scrapbook paper scraps. Sigh... I love scrapbook paper. I painted the spiral on the canvas before applying the little flags of paper. I think I like her plain white spiral better, but I still like my little creation. It is on a 12x12 canvas board. It reminds me of something quilted with the texture and patterns.

Hey! This project fits into my whole wordy walls theme! I painted this on my walls after I saw a vinyl decal someone pinned onto pinterest with this quote. I couldn't find a decal that would fit the blank space on my wall so I decided to just paint it on. I found fonts I liked and printed the quote out in the size I wanted it. Then I made guides by cutting out the letters from the paper and tracing the letters up onto the wall and then painting them in. Yes, it was a pain. But I am happy with how it turned out.

This is the wall above my bed, btw. Artfully taken as to not show my unmade bed. Yes, that is more scrapbook paper mod podged onto my walls acting as a visual headboard that I did a few years back. I painted the different colored squares and then centered scrapbook paper that I like inside the squares and then put 'patches' of complimentary scrapbook paper within the squares. I also have patches randomly placed around the room to cover ugly spots on my walls (old plaster). The lights strung in front of the squares are dragonfly lights, not bats like they look like in this photo. They're pretty, with colored beads making up the dragonfly bodies. It is all very bohemian college dorm meets crafting space meets bed taking up most the room meets escaped balls of yarn that like to wrap themselves around my feet at night. Hey-- It works for me.

I have started a couple more projects recently, but due to the lack of time they are still ongoing. I'll post about them as I finish. I've learned that I can still do projects, even with a lack of time, I just have to accept that they won't get done quickly and come to terms with that 'things are unfinished' feeling that I used to freak out about. I think I'm mellowing out a bit as I age. So there are some good bits with the whole aging thing. So I guess with my logic tonight I might have a spinny, world-is-going-at-full-speed brain thing happening as I get older, but as time goes on I won't mind how crazy that makes me? Hmmm... Methinks I need to go to bed now. I'm confused.

So here ends my projects portion of this all over the place blog post. Only fun bits of random left from pictures I found while scrolling through my photo files.

Dragons taking tea:

Then the next bit needs a bit of explaining. My daughter and dog are totally MFEO. They've started this game called, 'dog fashion show' which they both love with a ridiculous kind of quirkiness that makes me laugh every time they play. I think my dog enjoys it more than my daughter. It seems she feels she was destined for great things and it is only right that people would want to faun over her and photograph her. Here is just a sample from their growing dog fashion collection:

Yes, she actually sits there waiting to be photographed. And yes, she is even wearing a headband in the above picture. This is what happens when you mix a kid with years of accumulated recital outfits and a compliant pet and a mom that is obsessively working away at projects involving scrapbook paper to notice that her daughter and dog have become addicted to fashion. 

Well folks, that was certainly a rambling journey into my recent days. I don't even know if I had a point tonight. Just felt chatty. :) Wishing everyone out there in internet-land the kind of joy that my dog and daughter find in a pink tutu and matching accessories.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Entrances and Exits, Pt. 2: More Wordy Walls

A few months ago I posted about my entryway project and at the time I mentioned I'd highlight the prints that lined my hallway in an upcoming post. Then time passed and obviously my slippery attention span moved on. However, since I posted about my wordy walls last week I suppose it could once again be considered timely to share, since this is where the 'walls of wisdom' movement all started to begin with.
I had so much fun shopping on Etsy to decorate the walls. I basically stocked myself up on super cheap black frames whenever I found them on clearance (most I bought for $2 or cheaper), and set out to fill them with typography prints that I make or buy. Often the prints didn't fit the prefab frames and in those cases I just filled the background of the frame with coordinated scrapbook paper and mounted the print on top. I know that I just made anyone who's ever worked in a frame shop shudder. I know, since I spent a few years working in a frameshop myself. But honestly? Buying so much art all at once was really pushing my budget, so dollar frames and scrapbook paper was all I could muster for framing. And I think it works for my hodge podge little artsy hallway. I like how the scrapbook paper 'matting' goes with the art and the scrapbook tiles on the stairs. 

Etsy is crazy hard for me to resist on any given day, but going on there with every intention on buying several prints... Madness! I gave myself a spending limit but it was still rather hard to not get too carried away. I am very happy with the prints I bought and there were several more I would have loved to own, but will need to wait until I have funds built up for such sport.

I'll link to the shops where I bought each print. I'd buy from any one of them again. I think every transaction was smooth, professional and perfect. I know I'm sounding like a commercial, but mostly just showing love to artists I like enough to line my walls with. I know I stumble onto blogs all the time and wish they'd post links to where they bought the art on their walls.

 Piles of pictures on my table waiting for me to hang in the hall.

 The happy little hooks I bought from our local healthfood store. 
Home to my kids' dance bags and my shopping bags.

A puppy looking out and a puppy wanting in. :)

This picture captures the dark purple color of this wall the best. This also is another example of my bizarre affinity for pantry shelves. Here it works as a catchall for hats, gloves, sunglasses, etc. I'm always finding a new use for these shelves. I'm oddly obsessed. They hold so much but take up such little space. Stuffed animal storage is one of my favorite uses for them! I also have one in my bedroom that holds my yarn and one behind each kids' door to control dress up accessories.

 A sun catcher my daughter made with a bead charm attached.

 This photo captures the light purple/gray of the outer walls.

 The random frog/turtle collection I've somehow acquired over the years.

A print I made to fill an empty frame. Not the most artistically done print on my wall, that's for sure. But I filled it with one of my favorite quotes and used a color that complimented the prints around it so it makes me happy.

 One of the biggest prints in my hall. Love this!

I never fail to 'see' this one. It never becomes background noise.
It is always a message I need too.

One of my favorite parts of Desiderata. I typed this one in photoshop and mounted it on some of my favorite scrapbook paper to fit one of my larger frames.

 Oh, one of my favorites! To Be Brave by Mae Chevrette

A fun card that I saved. It says: There is a very fine line between "hobby" & "mental illness." Oh, yes. How I dance and skitter and flirt along that line.

I think this was the first print I purchased. Because it is awesome. Duh.

My attempt to fill a small frame in an artsy way. I don't really like this one and planned to change it right away. However, it does in fact, still hang in my hallway. The likelihood of it hanging in my hallway for a long while is very high. So I include it here. And you can't go wrong with "Joy" as a message. Right?

This is the favorite one I made. I had some credits left over from an online vector graphics store, Vectorstock. I used graphics from there for this print and a little coffee one and included some good words and mounted it on scrapbook paper. This is from one of my favorite ee cumming poems.

 Filling another small frame with a card I liked and saved. The quote on it says:
Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others,
cannot keep it from themselves. J.M. Barrie

I've always loved otters and my husband and I had this poster mounted in our early days. I can't remember why. I think we liked the quirkiness of it and the colors. Quirky and colorful would be a fitting theme title for my hallway, so it fits in well.

These are two small frames I filled with quick typographical doodles I made in photoshop. I don't love either one but I like the words. And the Princess Bride quote "As You Wish" looks kind of like it's inside of a flying spaghetti monster, so that makes me smile. Since smiling is the main point of this whole project, I kept them.

I love her whole shop. If I had unlimited wall space and funds, I'd buy it all.

Wall placement detail.

 The other simple print I made using a vectorstock image. It is actually cuter than this picture seems. The coffee image is made up of smaller images, like coffee beans and such in a nice chocolate brown.

Have you seen the toxic melted bead suncatcher tutorials going around Pinterest? I followed it and came up with this. Not exactly a Pinterest fail, but it is a Pinterest tale of caution. Other than losing a few thousand brain cells due to melted plastic fumes, I'm very happy with this project. It is a very fun way to make a colorful something for a window. I recommend using an outdoor grill instead of an indoor oven if you've never tried it before. However, make sure your grill isn't upwind to your neighbors, because they will hate you once they realize the industrial chemical fumes that are invading their house is due to you grilling plastic. I may or may not know this from personal experience. Hey! I had already melted my brain from trying it inside the first time, so I wasn't really thinking when I moved the operation outside and away from my own house. Oops! Sorry neighbors! Still... Pretty!

Cluttery landing picture. World meet my plants, Charlie and Lola. Charlie and Lola, the world. Right this second, Lola is gasping out to me. Water! Water! I need water! I am a bad plant mommy.

My sad and narrow entryway. The skinny doorway represents one of the only 'real' closet type storage areas in my house. Old homes are full of fun little storage challenges, no? This is kind of an ugly photo but it shows the two purples against each other.

So at long last, the end of my entry makeover. Very likely not everyone's cup of tea, but it continues to make me happy to this day. Every time I come home and see the color and the happy messages, and I smile. Sure beats the plain white, bare walls that we lived with for over a decade. A vast improvement over entering my home and wincing or feeling down due to my surroundings. Now as I leave or return, I'm uplifted, reminded to find my smile. I like that it does the same for my family. Like a little hug from me as they walk out the door.

At this point I can't change the fact that I live in a small home with old plaster walls, weird curvy stairs, a severe lack of storage and random old house quirks, but I can change how I view living in such a place. Now that I am using my space as a sort of way to express how I feel inside, I feel more at home than ever before. It may not be perfect. But certainly, at this point, it is definitely home.

Wishing everyone a week full of color and uplifting words! :)

Monday, November 19, 2012

Wordy Walls

Second stage of my quotes wall. I've added art to the top since this photo was taken.

I have been on a mission to get my house prettified. No wall left behind, basically. Though I've been tackling my house since the first day I moved in, this last evolution has been one based more on personality and the emotion I want my home to evoke as opposed to just making it more functional. Like most projects, it has taken me way longer than I've ever thought possible, but it has also been one of the most rewarding undertakings as once the work is done it is there to make me feel happy every time I see it.

It all started when I tackled the entry stairway into my house that used to depress me every time I'd walk in or leave. You can't have that, right? Falling into an emotional downslide every time you enter or exit your home is just sad. So I tried to figure out what I'd like to say to my kids as they leave the house. The small messages of encouragement I that I hope sinks into their subconscious and gives them a bit of a boost as they transition from home into the big wide world each day. That turned into my quote stairway with walls lined with prints I made or purchased from Etsy artists and the stair risers 'tiled' with scrapbook paper tiles and highlighted with a quote.

This wall project also involves quotes. Maybe this decorating phase I've been in could be accurately named, "Read My House" or something like that. I guess I like quotes. However, when my 8 year old boy told me that his favorite quote was "May my heart always be open to little birds who are the secrets of living" by E.E. Cummings, it was enough to make it worth it to me. The words are sinking in. 

I have a love/hate thing going on with Pinterest, don't you? First, there is the whole 'go there for inspiration only to find that you've sucked away hours on the internet and no longer have time to do a project' aspect to it. Then there are the Pinterest fails, a phenomenon that has sparked several spin-off blogs, all of which I could contribute to many times over, if I wasn't wasting so much time browsing Pinterest to have time to blog.

It was on Pinterest that I discovered a project that birthed this project. The whole thing actually started out as a Pinterest fail for me. If you clicked to see the original pin, you notice it is an art wall for the kids to hang their artwork. Well, that might work if I had different kids.

My kids see such thing as a mission to accomplish. If I give them a box and tell them it is to store their art creations, then they set out to fill that box to the very top, within that very same day if possible. They kick into high production mode and all of a sudden there is no paper left in the house. And that is exactly what happened here. Within a week my husband couldn't find one stack of paper to do his weekly paperwork and these poor clipboards were straining under inch thick paper stacks of random drawings of Pokemon and unicorns. Not that I don't ADORE my kids art. I totally do. I just don't like clutter. Or not having paper to bill people for our business so, you know, we can receive money to buy groceries. 

So, one day after the third stack of papers plummeted to the floor after the clipboard gave out, I sat down, opened photoshop, typed a few of my favorite quotes in simple fonts and printed them out on some nicer quality matte presentation paper. (The stuff I keep hidden from my little Picassos.) I actually made a few extra quotes than I had clipboards for, but that has been fun because I can change out inspiration as the mood sees fit.

My now uncluttered clipboard wall. Yay!

You can click the photo to read the quotes, but the photos aren't the best. They read as follows:

"I like nonsense. It wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living" Dr. Seuss

"Risks must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing." Leo Buscaglia

"Think. Think. Think." Winnie the Pooh

"When I do good, I feel good; when I do bad, I feel bad, and that is my religion." Abraham Lincoln

"Let me guess. Someone stole your sweet roll?" Skyrim Guard (video game joke)

"If music be the food of love, play on" Shakespeare

"Words are, in my not so humble opinion, the most inexhaustible source of magic." Dumbledore

"Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do." Steve Jobs

"To be wise is to be eternally curious." Frederick Buechner *I've since replaced this one with another one by Buechner, "Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don't be afraid."

"Put something silly in the world that ain't been there before." Shel Silverstein

"May my heart always be open to little birds who are the secrets of living" E.E. Cummings

"Let the Wild Rumpus Start!" Maurice Sendack

I've added some art to the top of the clipboard wall now and am also working on another Pinterest inspired wall enhancement on the adjoining wall that is almost finished. So far that one is working out just swell and I can't wait to post about those results. Even incomplete the project makes me smile. No quotes on the new project, but I do use scrapbook paper and mod podge, which outside of quotes make up the other staples in my ongoing home redecorating projects.

Do you use quotes in decorating? Sometimes I think I'm using them too much. Who am I to bombard my visitors with optimistic propaganda? Ah, well. Words have always moved me and since my eyes are the ones that see this stuff the most, I guess my preference outweighs the few people that might see my wordy house as silly or trite. And it melted my heart today to have my son quote one of my favorite poets, showing me that he does in fact read the words I put out there for him to absorb.

I have a couple empty spaces yet on my walls. Favorite quotes, anyone?

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The world needs a lot more of this!

"Matt used to think you were either good at something or bad at something and there wasn't much you could do to change it. He wishes he'd learned sooner that you can get better at most things just by doing them over and over again. It really is that simple." - Matt the dancing guy.

Read more about Matt here where he explains the hows and whys of all three of his videos. The video I posted above is the third in a very inspirational, happy tear evoking, trilogy. I have probably watched each of them a hundred times.

I am so inspired by someone who has created something with such a clear and joyful message. It makes me feel happy that there are people that are out there steadily creating love in the face of all the anger, pain and fear-making forces in the world. It makes me want to do better at speaking my truth as well

My heart tells me it is a beautiful world, filled with as much good as bad. That people in different places, that look differently than I do, think differently than I do, that they are more like me than not. A video like this defines this reality with a song and a dance. It is genius. Simple and joyful and perfect.

Wishing anyone out there that stumbles upon this little space a weekend filled with wonder and kindness!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Turning Eleven - Harry Potter Style

What do we have here?

 Hogwarts seal. Awesome. Hmmmm . . .

Yep. My baby girl has turned eleven. She's returned from her Pokemon journey just in time to pack her bags for Hogwarts. An acceptance letter was delivered properly by owl on her actual birthday, which is a good thing as her birthday was on Labor Day, a day without normal mail service. My daughter's letter was obviously the true Hogwarts deal, however I hear this site does an amazing job if you would like your own letter. Fast shipping, high quality stuff and totally worth $12.

She was actually born on Labor Day, so it is cool that it fell on the holiday once again. My due date was labor day. My water broke the day before and I 'labored' for 24 hours so she could be born on the most fitting day of all. Life. It is art.

And here is how we celebrated the event! The obligatory wish making picture.

It was an epic day that I went all geekbusters on. Thanks in part to Pinterest feeding my obsessive personality and manic crafting habits. I could not help it. It just had to happen. It isn't like I'm trying to be mother of the year, it is more like I want to live at Hogwarts. Besides, I've been reading Harry Potter books to children since the first books were published. From my first round of kidlets to my current wee ones, I've witnessed the power of those books to turn children into hardcore readers. I am a bit of a fan. 

Now the first young boy that went on the initial journey to Hogwarts with me is a 21 year old man and just joined the army. He's been at basic training for 3 weeks now and I'm getting antsy to hear from him! Hold onto childhood folks, she whizzes by with the speed of a golden snitch.

Pre-party pictures. Banner idea blatantly copied from this amazing party at The Brilliant Crafty Type blog as were the ties I'll show later in the post. Alas, I don't have a Silhouette machine like she recommends, so I printed big letters onto sticker paper using these free Harry Potter themed fonts. Cut them out and stuck them on a piece of felt then pinned the letter banners to some cool ribbon. Oh, how I adore sticker paper. I almost love it as much as scrapbook paper. And yes, I buy it buy the 100 pack, because duh. Printing your own stickers rocks. Sometimes I even use it for actual stickers.

I also use sticker paper for labels and packaging, etc. I've even used it to organize my kids' playmobil bins with picture labels. I don't think I've even blogged that bit of ridiculousness. Still. Can't say enough about printable glossy sticker paper. (Has to be glossy, btw. I've bought the matte by mistake and it just doesn't bring the same level of joy.) Anyway, I used a lot of sticker paper to pull this party together.

Pre-party wizard duel.

Birthday girl!

Brother practicing his wand skillz in hopes to go to Hogwarts too.

Why, yes. We are all wearing HP robes. What? Standard stuff, right?

Does it help if I admit that we've had these? We went a little crazy a couple Halloweens back. Actually, my husband has a pretty kick butt Snape costume from Halloween last year. But it was hot, way too warm for hubby to get his Snape on, and we actually just threw on the robes for a bit fun before the party. We hung them in the entry before the party as decoration. Way too warm to wear in a room full of people.

Hogwarts Themed Entry

We raided a lot of our real stuff to decorate for the party. It cracks me up that the 'school' trunk in the picture is what we actually use for math and science models. The chinchilla in the cauldron was my husband's take on Hogwarts animals. As was the red panda. *shrugs* It's a group vision.

It helps that my son has a Hogwarts themed bedroom (which I realize now that I've never properly blogged about) that we could plunder. That's where the banner came from and countless other bits and bobs. Between our Halloween decorations, costumes, my son's room, the interent and just our general stuff-- I didn't have to buy much for the party. Which is awesome. That doesn't mean that we didn't spend some stupid money on this stuff over the years... But for the day, it was all just around for the gathering.

I did buy this. Because, duh. Wizards must be sorted.

Our hat had laryngitis so we had people reach into bags and pull out stones marked with animals that represented their chosen house. People could opt out and wear 'visting muggle' stickers. Not one person opted out which was so fun.

Treat table with wands, dragon wishing stones, house ties, noise makers and goodie bags. Fun stuff!

Close up of wand station, dragon and dragon stones. We used lots of led candles and wizardy looking stuff we gathered from around the house.

The kids and I made these dragon eye wishing stones which seemed to be a hit with everyone. My sister is going to make hers into magnets, an idea I plan to copy as soon as I get my hands on some strong magnets. These are a bit heavy for regular ones.

Close up.

We started with flat marbles and drew and colored eyes on the flat side with gel pens. The pens didn't set on their own, so we sealed it with clear nail polish top coat. This might be a problem over time because it does seem like a few of the colors are reacting to either the polish or polymer clay now. Not all of them, but some of them have turned really dark. So if you want to make some, I recommend not using gel pens. Maybe painting them with acrylic paint would work, or even mod-podging printed eyes to the stone might work. The gel pens made for some beautiful colors and combos, but I have my doubts as to how long they will last.

To cover the glass 'eye' with dragon skin, I rolled out polymer clay and cut a circle back like in the picture above. I cut the left over clay with the hole punched out in half and squished the circle edges flat. I draped them across the top and bottom of the eye to form lids and cut off the excess clay, smooshing it into a nice circle. Doesn't have to be perfect because I covered it in little smooshed circle scales, and lined the eyelid with rolls of clay and eyelashes. After baking I highlighted some areas on the scales and lids with metallic paint. Voila! Dragon eyes.

The paper with it says: Dragon Wishing Stone *No dragons harmed in creation.

Gift bag and noise maker corner. I used my fruit basket to hold the bags. :)

These were my awesome find of the event. A small local craft store was selling these on clearance. Needless to say, I bought enough for this party and likely enough for my son's eventual Hogwarts party when he turns eleven as well. But they ranged from .40 to .80 each and felt worth it to me with how cute they are. Not to mention I can use the left over bags for gifts throughout the year as well.

Inside the magical gift bags.

I got the dementor chocolate idea from this awesome party at Mammakaze. The  every flavor beans label was totally copied from a pic on the internet and printed onto sticker paper because I was completely out of time, people. Yes, that jars my graphic arts background soul, but desperate times and all that. The Honeydukes label was from here. Yep. Sticker paper again, as were the signs that I printed and stuck on scrapbook paper backings and spread around the various things on the table.

Yes, the beans are in teeny tiny jewelry bags because holy balls batman, Jelly Bellies are crazy expensive now. The candy was all from a nearby town's amazing candy store. That was probably the shopping trip with the biggest sticker shock. We went a little candy crazy. Did you know they make astro pops again? Remember when they used to be 25 cents? Yeah. They are $2.99 a piece now. Oy. But oh. That was a fun, fun shopping trip.

And of course Weaslys' Wizard Wheezes had to be represented, so that is the why of the finger handcuffs. They were a hit:
This look cracks me up every time I see it. He was so dumbfounded.

I had to include a close up of the tornado lava lamp fulfilling its true calling as a magical instrument. This lives in our son's room too. I really should blog an update about the room now that it has been finished for a couple years, huh?

House ties I mentioned earlier. Again from The Brilliant Crafty Type.

Once again I deviated from her instructions due to my lack of an awesome fancy machine that would have saved me from repetitive strain injuries and some dark marks for naughty word usage due to my using scissors and eyeballed it. And I also used hot glue because it is fast and furious and because I think fingerprints are overrated.

I also stuck a little copy of the signs onto the backs of the ties for those weird people who inevitably didn't know the HP story and needed reminders of what the houses were and what they represented. *sniff* Muggles.

Cauldron of wands. Sign from here. After guests were sorted they received their ties and chose their dragon stones and wands. Then the biggest hit of the party happened...

Wand personalization.

This was so random and last minute. I had initially planned to decorate the wands with yarn, string and charms myself, but ran out of time. I hated to waste the cool magical looking stuff, so I just piled it by the wand cauldron and made the sign. I got the charms for really cheap at the small local craft store, as well as the grab bags of yarn scraps. The guests LOVED this.

I have four brothers in law. Every single one of them got their crafty on, as did the teen boy at the party. The girls had no problem jumping into it, but I admit the male participation really surprised me, and made me very happy! It was hilarious to watch my giant firefighter BIL sorting through the little charms and choosing the accent yarns. It was awesome. Somehow I created a huge magical co-ed crafting party. Epic stuff. Truly magical.

Here's an example of a wand decorated with the yarn, though the pic failed to capture the charms hanging from the yarn. It really does look pretty cool all together. I took this photo when I was still entertaining the idea of doing it all myself.

Wands in progress.

I've made these wands with my kids for years. I LOVE making them. I used the same concept to make my son's Gandalf staff a few years back. I originally learned how to do it through purchased instructions from Dadcando. He now also offers the instructions for free on Instructables among other cool projects. Dadcando is an amazing, amazing site. I highly recommend it.

Over the years I've tweaked the wands my own way. I now make them with my beloved scrapbook paper. I top them with large stones and tip them with small stones or gems. I often add gems to the surface as I do the hot glue step. I then paint the hot glue black initially then cover with a metallic paint that fits the wand. I usually do a light coat of the metallic paint all over the wand as well, then mod podge the whole thing for a light seal.

They can last through some serious play, but I guess I must say they aren't toys. They are basically sticks with stones on the end, so you know, figure out who can be trusted with such tools before distributing. Right? Right. I admit, we did have a few close calls involving unforgivable curses and flinging wands getting a little too close to eyeballs for comfort. The wizarding world is a dangerous place.

Honeydukes! The rest of the expensive candy! Worth it!

Butterbeer punch station. I can't find the recipe I used. I'm not even sure that I used a recipe. I think I looked at every single BB recipe online and merged them into what I used. I basically split a jar of butterscotch syrup between two punch bowls, poured in cream soda and stirred it as much as I could. I added a goodly amount of half and half to each bowl and topped with vanilla ice cream dollops. Yeah, if I wasn't calling it Butterbeer, I could have called it sugar coma. Or beverage that tastes like marshmallows dipped in butterscotch. I had this instead of cake and it was enough.

Sign I made to prove that I also supplied water, because someone told me that there is such a thing as too much sugar. In case they are right, there was bottled water. The following day was the first day of school for our area. We homeschool, so you know, whatever. Sugar crash, smugar smash. I'm kidding! I totally warned the parents that I was sending home bags of sugar chasers with the kids after feeding them cake, ice cream, candy and sugar coma punch. I'm sure they had no problem with it. Hey! There was water available. Eek. I'm one of those parents, aren't I?

Cake decorated with, drumroll . . . Colored sugar!
Yikes. I'm one of those mothers for sure.

On a happier note, I love the decorations in this pic. My son's special box where he's kept his treasures for years. And his awesome friendly Minotaur, Ferdinand, that I bought from this wonderful Etsy seller. I was so excited when I found him. My son has always insisted that miniature friendly Minotaurs live in our basement. (Which I totally prefer to the monsters that I believe live in our basement, btw.) He has always insisted that Minotaurs were given a bad rap and were just misunderstood in the ancient myths. Finding a like-minded crafter was one of those amazing internet moments that make me so happy to be alive during this age of connection.

I just included this picture because it was sort of an epic aftermath photo. The wreckage of party plunder. I like how it has a mysterious shop feel to it or something. I almost hated to pick it all up and de-magic my house!

This shot shows the owls perched up by the banner that I failed to capture with any other shot. It also shows how all of our parties/holidays seem to end, with the building of new lego sets! Yeehaw! Side note: check out my dog to the right sitting on one of the wooden chairs. She was a bit traumatized with the house being all rearranged and with the crowd coming then leaving. Poor critter.

Here are the decorations and extras all boxed up and ready for my son's future Hogwarts themed party. Around here you don't get to choose the theme to your eleventh birthday. Much like a wand chooses a wizard, the eleventh birthday theme chooses you. He has no problem with that though. We are all looking forward to it! But a whole bunch of rest must come between then and now. Oh yes.

Well, I hope you enjoyed my rambling attempt to recreate my favorite party ever. Perhaps the indulgent length of this post can somewhat make up for my utter neglect of my blog? Perhaps not. I'm not quite sure where I belong with blogging anymore. I want to blog, but then I find myself caught up in doing things like making thirty magic wands, banners and dragon eyes. Sigh. We'll see. But for now, I am here. And here is a happy place, a sort of post-Harry Potter Party glowy world.

To any of the parents whose kid I OD'd on sugar before their first day of school that might stumble upon this post-- I so apologize. I had my head stuck in the sorting hat and just wasn't thinking straight! 

And thanks to anyone that read on until the end of this epic novel of a post. Hope your week is filled with magic and fun!