Monday, April 28, 2014

Fishing Birthday Party

I FINALLY figured out how to skirt around my issue of picture uploading! YAY! So, check out the Beer Tasting Party post from a couple months ago to see a picture of that shindig, and hopefully I'll be posting more frequently now!

On that note, our most recent event around here was my oldest son's 5th birthday! We held a small party for him with a few of his friends who would most enjoy a fishing themed party! Yep - my 5 year old is a fisherman. He LOVES it. Fishing is often the highlight of our Summer vacation in the mountains, and thanks to some sweet fishing holes, and Grandpa who is an expert, my little dudes have caught far more fish than the average 5 and 2 year old. Rainbow trout are his favorite, since that's what we catch at some of the stocked ponds we frequent, but he can identify brook trout, perch, walleye, pike, bass, crappies, salmon and sturgeon to boot. He originally wanted a fireman birthday party so he could get a fireman costume, but when I wasn't able to find a costume his size at this time of year, and he started to talk more and more about fishing in the summer, I knew I'd have a good shot at persuading him to change the party!

There were some great ideas on Pinterest for a fishing party. Far more ideas than I could actually incorporate into one party. So I decided to keep it kid friendly, given the average age of our party goers was 5. The d├ęcor consisted mostly of my kids' toys! I transformed our living room into an outdoor paradise - stuffed animals roamed the piano and bench seat, our giant stuffed teddy sat in the corner of the room, I fashioned a pond out of fake pussy willows and blue plastic tablecloth and then set some fake fish in it. My boys also have a hunting/fishing action figure set from Cabela's which I set up as a diorama on our coffee table; I created a whole mountain scene, with a campsite by the edge of a pond, and outdoor action man catching a bass from his boat while deer and wolves looked on. This served the dual purpose of decoration and entertainment - as soon as the kids came in they started playing with the set while we waited for everyone else to arrive! In addition to the toys I also had some paper fish printed off. They were realistic looking artist renderings that I had printed to nearly life-size (ranging between 6-11") I cut them out and strung them up as a banner.

For our activities and games I planned a couple crafts - decorating rainbow trout pictures with confetti glitter, and making 'fishing lures' out of popsicle sticks - and a number of fishing games such as scooping sponge fish out of a tub of water with a net, and casting a real rod with a plastic fish on the end into a box fashioned to look like a fish mouth! The kids took turns for the first round of games, then were left to a bit of free play as they each sought out their favorite game to hover around. We had more than enough activity to keep them entertained for the hour-and-a-half party.

The food for the party was a bit different than usual. We had one child with a severe nut allergy, one with a mild nut allergy, two of them also had a gluten allergy, and the another one was lactose intolerant, but could have greek yogurt. So cake was out of the question. As was ice cream cake. I had a few options I looked at, such as 'bobber' meringues, marshmallow pops, and fruit. I resolved on the fruit - but with some changes. I made a watermelon cake! I had seen these done on Pinterest and thought they were brilliant! I cut the rind off a watermelon and shaped it to look like a cake. Then I 'iced' it with a mix of non-dairy whipped topping and coconut greek yogurt. Just a tip: if you plan to make a watermelon cake, pat the outside dry with paper towel before you try icing it! I topped the cake with blackberries and raspberries, but for another audience it would also have been nice to use flaked coconut and sliced almonds! I put on some (new) fishing lures, and sparklers for a bit of a dramatic look. For our treat bags I filled a clean tackle box with Swedish fish, gummi worms and colored mini marshmallows as faux bait and lures, and gave the kids each a paper 'bait bag' that they could fill with candies to take home!

After that party with the kids, we had some family over the next day for birthday lunch. I wanted my boy to have a real cake for his birthday so I whipped up a modified box cake (1 cake mix, 1 box of instant pudding mix, 4 eggs, 1 c. water, 1/2 c. melted coconut oil) and some almond/chocolate chip flavored buttercream. I opted for buttercream to make a 'splash' effect, and poked a hole in the top of the tiered cake to stick my fake pussy willows in. I added a jumping trout fridge magnet for a super easy on-theme cake!

My little man got some awesome fishing themed gifts, like a giant fish pillow from Bass Pro Shop, a gift card to a local sports store, a fishing garden gnome, and enough tackle from his uncle to make sure he never needs to use Mommy and Daddy's stuff again! Lures, leaders, weights, bobbers... that kid has it all now! All in all, it was a great fishing party, and a nice way to celebrate turning 5 :)

Mrs. VanderLeek ;)

Thursday, April 3, 2014


Well, I've opened an Etsy shop!

I know - I'm a little surprised myself!

What actually happened was my sister opened an Etsy store, and her and I had talked about having one store that all the members of the family could list things in, expanding our product offering to increase traffic. So I had planned to help my sister by putting on some things that I'd made up in the past year or two, and I made up some extra things just to bulk up the store inventory. But then after looking at the money aspect, and how all transactions would go through her bank account, and how it didn't actually cost anything to have a store, just to list and sell things on it, we decided it would actually be easiest for everyone to open individual stores. Honestly, I hadn't planned to sell things on Etsy seriously - I was really just trying to help my sister's store - but now I had a load of items that I was going to list, and after a short talk with hubby we figured, "Well, why not?"

So now I have an Etsy store.

Feel free to check out my store, MrsVanderLeekAtHome, and my sister's shop, HonuDesigns82. The name of my shop is derived from Regency-era Calling Cards; all of the ladies would carry cards and leave them when they called at someone's house. Essentially a business card, except that their 'business' was to pay visits, and have those visits returned. So the card would read, "Mrs. __________, at home."
Currently I have a couple different things listed in my shop: bird nest wire necklaces, and crocheted accessories. I've actually put a hold on production of the bird nest necklaces until I get some pendant clasps in. I found some on eBay that I think will look great - better than a loop of wire for sure - so I'll hold off on making any more until those come in. The crochet production is still going strong however, thanks in part to the fact that I started watching the BBC series Sherlock on Netflix. Sure, each season only has 3 episodes, but each episode is an hour and a half, so that's lots of crochet time! Anyway, I plan this summer to do some wood crafts and maybe some sewing, and in the fall perhaps I'll make up some clay owls to list as well. I think the best part about having an Etsy store is the potential it has to clear out my finished project cupboard. I've made too many crafty things to keep them all. Now I can still make more, and hopefully make some money, too!

Mrs. VanderLeek ;)