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Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Canvas Factory Giveaway!



This is a sponsored post for which I have been compensated with a free product sample and a giveaway prize for my readers in exchange for a product review. All opinions are my own.

Calling all professional photographers, amateur photographers and those in between! We all love to take pictures and capture our favorite memories on camera, however, do those moments just stay on your camera card and social media sites? Or do you print them to display and share with family and friends?

For myself, nothing beats having real photographs around my home to view and relive that memory. Plus, photographs make great gifts! That is why I was delighted with a 16" x 20" product sample offered to me from Canvas Factory AND one to giveaway to my readers!

I am working on a new gallery wall for my freshly painted bedroom and was excited to order a canvas print for the wall. No heavy, bulky frames to deal with, and they look great mixed with other textured signs and frames. For the print, I chose one of my children on a recent family vacation to Pikes Peak, Colorado. All four of my kids were looking at the camera, the background was beautiful, and it was a memorable day of our trip. 

The Canvas Factory makes creating and ordering your prints a cinch. Simply click the "Get Started" button and choose what material and layout you would like. I did the single print but would like to order the split image for my daughters' bedrooms next time. Upload your photograph, even directly from Facebook or Instagram if you choose. However, I would personally use a JPEG like I did to ensure a quality photo. If you are unsure of the print you want or have any questions, just click on the Live Support Chat for help.

Once your photo is uploaded you select which wrap you want for your canvas. The options are gallery-where the print continues around the sides or mirrored-where the images mirror onto the sides. I first chose gallery but a message popped up that I would have blank space on my canvas edges so I went with the mirrored effect and love it. (You can see that in the picture below.) Lastly, you can choose to add text and colored effects if you would like. I didn't add either for my canvas this time.


I was provided with timely emails on the status of my order and received my well packaged canvas about a week later.  My favorite part about this canvas print is the quality. The picture is clear, the colors are vibrant and accurate. The corners are smooth and there is a nice backing with two sturdy hanging clips. A canvas print I had previously ordered from another company didn't come with an enclosed backing. I am very happy with my canvas and cannot wait to get my gallery wall started!

Now the fun part. Leave me a comment describing your favorite photograph, one that brings a smile to your face every time you look at it - one you would love to see on your very own Canvas Factory print. I'll randomly choose one winner on Monday, May 14th, 2018 and announce it here. Open to residents of the United States and Canada only. If you reside in Canada please use this link to Canvas Factory.

Thank you for stopping by and good luck!!

For more of my party ideas, home decorating, favorite recipes, twin activities x 2, and all things
"Mrs.Party Planner" please check me out on facebook and "like" the page. New blog posts will appear in your news feed.You can also follow me on www.bloglovin.com, on Instagram and Pinterest







Thursday, May 3, 2018

Seafood Boil


The lobster dish from Market Street inspired this seafood boil
It had been awhile since I last hosted a seafood boil, and I was anxious to have another. A couple of wonderful families invited us to their Greek Easter celebrations complete with lamb on the spit, LOTS of traditional Greek food, and egg hunts for the kids so I thought this would be a great way to reciprocate.

First, the table. I covered it with white drawing paper (you could also use butcher paper) which fit perfectly width wise so I didn't need to cut it. I added the red and white checkered table cloth from the Dollar Tree, my favorite seashell sand and candle display from Pottery Barn, and paper towel. At each place setting there was a personal bucket for shells lined with super cute state of Texas paper I found at Paper Affair (here in Dallas). The bucket also contained a plastic lobster bib, crackers, a wet nap, silverware, and a mini bottle of white wine.




The guys loved it and did a great job helping drain those heavy buckets of seafood greatness!
Now that we moved south, I don't have all the delicious New England seafood at my fingertips. A majority of the seafood here comes from the Gulf and is Cajun inspired. Catfish, crayfish, and po'boys are what you will find on a typical seafood menu instead of Haddock, Cod, Maine lobster, and king crab legs. I'm not thrilled about it but I have tried them. I have also found the places that fly in seafood from Maine around here! The Oceanaire Seafood Room, Cousins Maine Lobster Food Truck, The keeper, Seabreeze, and Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen are a few of my favorites.

For this boil, I used Dungeness crab from Costco in place of lobster and was very happy with the results! They were sweet and delicious. In fact, he's almost too cute to eat...almost!


In addition to the Dungeness crab, I added large shrimp, clams, andouille sausage, red potatoes, corn, and onion. For the seasoning I use a combination of Old Bay and Old Bay Hot, butter, garlic, red pepper flakes and black pepper. For garnish I set out lemons, melted butter, and cocktail sauce.

Over the years I found that cooking a seafood boil for a large crowd on your stove is easier when you cook the corn and potatoes separately from the meat. I use the exact same seasoning combination and then just mix them all together when everything is dumped out onto the table. You could use multiple pots but be careful not to overcook the crab and clams if you have a couple pots going at the same time. If you are making a boil for 4-6 adults you could easily use one large pot.

The fun part of a seafood boil is that you cover the table and pour out the food for everyone to enjoy with their hands. However, the temps here were in the mid-90's that evening and the husbands were kind enough to let the wives enjoy a relaxing dinner while they watched the kids in the pool first. Because of that I choose to pour the boil out on cookie sheets and keep in our air conditioned, fly free kitchen.

 



In addition to the seafood I served fresh bread, traditional Greek salad and watermelon. Hamburgers, chips, and dessert of cheesecake and ice cream were also available.

I would say this seafood boil another success from all the empty plates and smiles! It left my husband begging for another so I'm already planning for this coming summer!

One of the best things about a seafood boil besides being delicious and easy to make is that you can prepare it anyway you want. Add  only shrimp, potatoes, sausage, corn and seasoning. Make it a crayfish boil. Or go all out and load it up with lobster, king crab legs, and clams. Serve it on newspaper and picnic tables or fancy plates indoors. Enjoy it at the lake or your own backyard. It's a fun meal to share with family and friends while catering it to your own needs.

Check out my Pinterest board crab,shrimp,lobster boil to see more fun ideas you can use to host your seafood boil this summer!

Thank you for stopping by! ❤
For more of my party ideas, home decorating, favorite recipes, twin activities x 2, and all things
"Mrs.Party Planner" please check me out on facebook and "like" the page. New blog posts will appear in your news feed.You can also follow me on www.bloglovin.com, on Instagram and Pinterest

















Sunday, February 18, 2018

Video Game Birthday


I absolutely love boy Birthday parties! Star Wars, Nerf guns, superheros, construction vehicles, ninjas, and now video games and laser tag! What better birthday is there for a bunch of eight and nine year old boys than a Game Truck?! If you have not heard of this, I will fill you in.

This climate controlled truck with seating for about twenty will pull up to your home, park, or wherever they have fifty feet to park. The game truck host runs the whole show inside the truck. The company we used had six different screens with multiple gaming systems and over ninety age appropriate video games. Depending on your package, you can get at least an hour or more of unlimited gaming. The game host we had was very patient and friendly. He answered many requests to change games and show the kids how to play if they didn't know how. It's a dream come true for kids this age.


However, we didn't stop there. Since the location of the party was at a nearby park with lots of green space we chose to add laser tag. And I am so glad we did, this was the boys favorite part.

While the boys were in the game truck another employee set up the laser tag course complete with tents, inflatable barrels and barriers to hide behind.The laser tag host also ran the games and was a great sport with all the boys. I was worried they would get bored and not want to play an hour of laser tag, but I was wrong. The host mixed it up with different laser tag games to play so they weren't going after the same people the whole time. Thankfully, I had pizza and cupcakes to draw them away from this once our hour was up.









I rented a covered pavilion for a very nominal fee with bathrooms just in case it rained. However, this covered pavilion did nothing to combat my arch nemesis ...wind...again...the balloons, my decorations and centerpieces didn't stand a chance.

I had green and black balloons, table cloths, napkins, and diy centerpieces that I wasn't able to use because it was so darn windy. While I was disappointed, the boys could of cared less. They had such a great time with their friends running around for two hours straight. They happily gobbled up pizza, water, and cupcakes and went on their way.


This was a super easy party to plan and host. The Game Truck company took care of everything except the food.

Thank you for stopping by! ❤
For more of my party ideas, home decorating, favorite recipes, twin activities x 2, and all things
"Mrs.Party Planner" please check me out on facebook and "like" the page. New blog posts will appear in your news feed.You can also follow me on www.bloglovin.com, on Instagram and Pinterest




Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Getting Personal: All about Balance and Self-Care


I just had the best summer I have ever had with all four of my kids! We traveled, all slept in (for the first time ever), swam in the pool, sat on the couch without feeling guilty; that I should be doing something else, crafted, tried yoga, attended circus school, read lots, watched movies, played games, and did whatever we wanted whenever we wanted, with little fighting. I know, I was surprised too! However, this was also the first summer that naps weren't needed, bedtimes could be lenient without horrible repercussions, and everyone just went with the flow and enjoyed being in the moment.

I realized that without all the hustle and bustle of school, homework, activities, room mom duties, and the constant "go go go" I was able to slow down and enjoy my kids again without being so stressed and irritable. And surprise, when I was happier, so were my kids!

However, this was also the first time ever that I have completely forgot to make a hair appointment. As in I didn't notice or care how bad my roots were and how fried the ends were after months of swimming and sun. I looked in the mirror and all I could think about was a meme I came across a few years ago.."I've learned a lot about myself since becoming a mom. I didn't realize just how far I could let myself go and still be okay with it". While I laughed at this, there is also a sad slice of truth to it. I still carry around baby weight I gained from my first set of twins almost NINE years ago.Ugh, that's hard to say out loud. And don't get me wrong, I have tired to loose it but it has been hard with four young kids, the stress associated with a husband who commuted out of state for work twice, followed by two big moves for our family. Those may sound like excuses but that was my life, and for me, it was a very stressful time. So naturally when my to do list for the day was a mile long and I was exhausted, the workouts were the first thing to go.

It may have taken awhile, but earlier this year I finally realized the time to get fit and healthy again is now. Not only do I want to feel better about myself again but I want to grow old with my husband and see my kids grow up. I started making better food choices, cutting back on wine (that's a hard one!), and realizing there is no reason I can't workout for 30 minutes most days. We also adopted our two year old Border Collie/Husky mix named Baloo who needs to walk daily. That's the secret folks, go out and adopt a dog from your local shelter, start walking daily and boom...ten pounds gone!

After that great start to my new routine came a busy end of school year and a month long vacation to visit our families and friends. After that, the summer of fun and relaxation continued until that day not long ago when I looked in the mirror.

Since then I told myself it's time to get back on track and take care of yourself. The first thing I did was make a hair appointment! Hallelujah its scheduled for this weekend! I also tossed in a pedicure last weekend just because. I've restocked my vitamins, switched my afternoon cup of coffee to tea, made time to read and go to bed earlier when I need it, pray/meditate, eat more fruit and vegtables, meal plan, resume blogging because it's a creative outlet I enjoy, got an actual pair of nice pajamas instead of my old grubby sweats (I was surprised at how much better I felt), started doing face masks again, and working out.

Walking the dog, riding bikes with my family, swimming, and going to the YMCA consistently again are giving me new muscle aches and more energy. Last but not least is my favorite. Yoga. Prior to kids I loved yoga and pilates and would take both classes back to back. When life got crazy, I knew I needed yoga back in my life. I slowly started doing some poses and breathing at home and couldn't believe what a difference it made. Then I found a yin yoga class and was in love. It's grounded, slow moving, and helps stretch your muscles. Plus you can totally be a newbie or out of the yoga practice for awhile and no one will notice or care. It's relaxing and I'm hoping this will help me slowly start to regain some of my flexibility.

I might have jumped the gun but I decided to join a vinessya yoga class early this week. Well here's how that went. I was the heaviest and most unflexible person in that room. I yearned for my old body the whole time, the one that could actually do these poses. I spent lots of time staring at the instructor who was twisted up like a pretzel and whispered "wtf" while thinking I can't even come close to bending that way. BUT...I was proud of myself because I stayed the whole class and I gave it my all. Making permanent changes is all about taking small steps and never giving up. And life is all about balance. So take care of yourself mommas and no matter what  your challenge is, don't give up!! Oh and I plan on going back to that yoga class..one of these days I will be able to bend like that.

Have a great school year!

Thank you for stopping by! ❤
For more of my party ideas, home decorating, favorite recipes, twin activities x 2, and all things
"Mrs.Party Planner" please check me out on facebook and "like" the page. New blog posts will appear in your news feed.You can also follow me on www.bloglovin.com, on Instagram and Pinterest


 

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

How To Host An Outdoor Fairy Garden Party on a Budget

 

The idea for this party had been brewing for a couple years, but life with two sets of twins and two major moves in two and a half years put it on hold. However, I am glad we waited because the party turned out to be everything I had hoped it would be!

My grandmother's gold, pink, and green tea cups were the inspiration for this party. I wanted the girls to experience a fancy tea party with a whimsical touch. Each girl received a pair of fairy wings from Dollar Tree that I spruced up with fake flowers and ribbon also from there.

At each girl's place setting was a fairy wand or star shaped sugar cookie on a stick. I picked up the Wilton sticks at the craft store and cut out thick star shaped cookies to slide on before baking. Next to the fairy wands were magical fairy dust aka fancy sprinkles. After lunch the girls frosted and decorated their wands and enjoyed!


    


Inside the gold boxes (also from Dollar Tree) were the supplies the girls needed for their fairy gardens. A fairy house, small animals, rocks, twigs, stones, benches, steeping stones, and a fairy.  Home Depot, Dollar Tree, JoAnn Fabrics, and Hobby Lobby are where we found our fairy garden supplies.


On the menu was iced tea or pink lemonade, ham and Swiss cheese pinwheels, fruit, chips, and veggies. I also had my mother in law's famous avgolemono soup, stuffed peppers, and salad available for the moms to enjoy.

Due to strong winds, and the third outdoor party in a row I've had where the winds were 20-30mph, I decided to move the food table inside the house. It wasn't what I had envisioned but at least we avoided any potential disasters.

These shimmery cake pops tasted as good as they look!






The baker I used went above and beyond and got creative with the cake decorations
 
I just love these confetti balloons!
pinkies up!

 
After the tea party it was time to make our fairy gardens! The girls said this was their favorite part. I also found the planters at Dollar Tree and filled them with dirt so the girls just needed to plant their flowers and decorate.





The prettiest little fairies around
  
Vendors:
Party: Mrs.Party Planner
Cake Pops: Pallister Pop Shop
Fairy Dust/Sprinkles:Neon Yolk Shop
Confetti Balloons and confetti:Paperscapes1212
Tassel Garland: GlamFete

Thank you for stopping by! ❤
For more of my party ideas, home decorating, favorite recipes, twin activities x 2, and all things
"Mrs.Party Planner" please check me out on facebook and "like" the page. New blog posts will appear in your news feed.You can also follow me on www.bloglovin.com, on Instagram and Pinterest


Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Halloween Fun

 
Last year I didn't get to have my usual Halloween fun because our house was on the market and life was extra crazy getting ready for our move. This year, I made up for it! The house was crawling with spiders and bats, gravestones covered the front yard, our skeletons were up to their usual antics and the month was full of pumpkin patches and Halloween parties!

One of the Halloween parties I threw was for the neighborhood kids and their families. While I love our new neighborhood we haven't found many kids similar in age to ours outside running around like we are used to. I assume this is because there is a good mix of young and old children as well as many "busy" families. Therefore, about 48hrs before our planned party of three families, I decided to invite the whole neighborhood! I panicked for a minute but as I suspected I received many thank yous but we have sports practice etc. However, we did have many families stop by who we got to meet for the first time!

Since this was more of an open house party, I put out a vegetable and fruit tray, donuts, cupcakes, and scary popcorn. Sugar overload I know, but c'mon it is a Halloween party! For beverages there was bottled water, mummy juice boxes, and apple cider.

A local donut shop made these. They didn't turn out like I had hoped, but the kids thought they were awesome and that's what counts!
Halloween Popcorn is easy and fun! Eyeballs and gummy worms this time!

Mr. Bones did an amazing job tending the food and drink table considering the high winds that ONLY kicked up after I set up outside and the 88 degree heat that killed our Halloween hydrangeas in less than thirty minutes. BREATHE MJ.....again the wind?! Well part of party planning is dealing with unexpected issues and figuring out how to overcome them. In my case, lots of Duct tape and a glass of wine solved the problem this time!

After everyone had a chance to meet and talk I had a few games planned for the kids. The first one was a Halloween scavenger hunt on our street. Since the kids varied in age from four to ten I had them all work together, and I have to say for a group of kids that pretty much just met, they worked very well together!





The last part of the scavenger hunt ended with a silly string war that produced lots of laughs! Note to self: never again let my kids play around with my camera. Half of my pictures from this party got deleted! I apologize for the quality of the pictures since most of these were taken with my phone.

Once the scavenger hunt was complete, we headed back to our yard for a pinata filled with small prizes and candy. As many times as I think to myself that pinatas are over-rated the kids have so much fun with them!



The last game I had planned was the saran wrap ball with candy inside, and yes, I think I gave more sugar out at this party than I allow my children to eat all year. I played Halloween music while the kids sat in a circle, put on winter gloves and unwrapped as much saran wrap as possible to find a treat before the music stopped and it got passed to the next person. If you are hosting any sort of party and need a good group game I suggest this one! A good friend gave me this idea when I was hosting my husbands company Christmas party and it was a hit! We wrapped up gift cards for the adults instead of candy though.




If you have read any of my previous Halloween posts you know that Mr. Bones 1 and 2 (named by my eldest set of twins) are a set of 5ft. skeletons from Grandin Road. They have been appearing on the first of October the last few years and end up in some peculiar poses. They have greeted the boys off the school bus on the golf cart, have sat on the toilet while the other one is taking a shower, or even hid in their beds. In case you are wondering if this is another edition of Elf on the Shelf, relax, it's not! They move or travel throughout the month when momma feels like doing it to bring a smile to their face. And this year, with four kids who I enjoy entertaining, Mr. Bones 1 and 2 were quite busy.

Enjoying the hot October weather or plotting their next move for Grandin Road's Halloween photo contest?

Either way they ended up as a top three finalist in the contest! While they didn't win first prize, they had a lot of amazing friends voting for them daily and they did win $100!
On Halloween Mr. Bones 1 rode shot gun to pick up the kids from school.
While Mr. Bones 1 and 2 were busy having fun with the kids I attempted some Halloween bento lunches. No, I do not do these on a regular basis because this mom doesn't have that much extra free time but I try my best around the holidays because my kids enjoy discovering these creations.

Halloween lunch

The other Halloween party I hosted that month was a small, but fun gathering with two great families we have met here. Moving someplace where you don't know a single soul is hard, thankfully these ladies and their sweet families have made it much easier! A Halloween themed dinner, fun adult beverage, a couple games, and great company was in store.


The kid's table

Target Dollar Spot is the best!

DIY Ghost and candy corn centerpiece
The ladies adult beverage was champagne with Viniq (a shimmery liquor) and it was rimmed with pop rocks for an extra burst of flavor

graveyard dip: 7 layer dip with toasted tortillas and food safe markers

The kids each had a balloon tied to their ankle and they tried to keep their balloon safe while popping everyone else's balloon, last one standing was the winner!
 

The second game I had planned was Halloween taste testing! The players were blindfolded and then had to guess be brave and try something while figuring out if it was an eyeball or an olive?! A witches fingernail or an almond silver?!
 
My first brave contestant!
Each player tried:
 a piece of candy corn/tooth
 an almond silver/finger nail
 a worm/intestine
 an olive/eyeball
 a raisin/ear

 
Halloween Night 2016
When all was said and done, it was a busy and spooky month of Halloween fun! And you better believe I already have some ideas for next Halloween!!

For more of my party ideas, home decorating, favorite recipes, twin activities x 2, and all things
"Mrs.Party Planner" please check me out on facebook and "like" the page. New blog posts will appear in your news feed.You can also follow me on www.bloglovin.com, on Instagram and Pinterest