Sunday, May 31, 2009

Graduation Party: Part 6

Submitted by Linda
Yes, these M&Ms say "T-Dub Rocks" and "Congrats Tommy" and they were a big hit.
So, the party happened yesterday an it was GREAT! Before I post the actual party pics, I wanted to share some of the last minute preparations! Here is Michelle and Tommy in the early am, getting ready to BBQ the grilled veggies and the last of the pizza dough. Michelle and I got up early and didn't even take time to "put on our faces"! (Notice I didn't put up a pic of me make-up-less! Sorry Michelle!)

Now, all evening at the party people commented that Michelle and I were such a good team (me the detail planner, she the gourmet chef), but our team wouldn't work without my husband Craig. On the day of the party, he woke up and said, "Today is going to be a fun day, because we get to do all the detail work and fine tuning". He truly sees things that need to be done that I would never notice (wiping down screens, cleaning cracks and crevices, sweeping everywhere), and this is a great gift to a woman who entertains. I didn't have to worry at all about the exterior of the house, and I knew that he would take care of setup and tear down. Here is a photo of him on party day, trimming up the palms.
Here are some of the fruits of his labors........
After the yard was in ship-shape, he set up the tables and umbrellas......
Here are the real heroes! These ladies worked on their feet from about noon until 9pm, finishing up details, then refreshing platters and refilling dishes, then collecting dirty dishes and washing it all up. Pictured below is Valarie, Michelle, Lisa and her mom Yoli (who drove together from LaQuinta to help out). I was so amazed with all the great help I had. I definitely will plan to going to LaQuinta sometime to repay the favor. We could NOT have done it without all of our helpers. THANKS, LADIES!
I'm posting a photo of part of our drink area. We served Paradise ice tea and lemonade, but the most fun was the Italian sodas (Pellegrino and flavored syrups). The high school kids especially enjoying making their own nice drink.
Notice also, the directions listed on the nice white "top note" card. Those were punched out with Michelle's SU die cutting machine.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Graduation Party: Part 5

Submitted by Linda (with Michelle)

Well, after a full day of cooking and party prep, we've decided that having a catering or party planning business would be hard work. We've both been on our feet all day, cooking and chopping and prepping and having a ball doing it together.

I prepped the mini pizza dough on the grill...tomorrow folks will create their own pizza and we'll grill it again!
Meanwhile, Michelle was frying up our cubanelle peppers. These are special peppers for our sausage dish that Michelle worked very hard to find!

Michelle's Val Pal was on hand, frosting sugar cookies!
I wish I had a photo of all my helpers... Amy who's dipping strawberries, Mom who arranged flowers, Jill and Beth who rolled silverware, and Craig who laid carpet, planted flowers, and got the DVD working so we can show the video.

So now it's about 10:15 and we are tired. On my kitchen table are some of the fruits of our labors (which tomorrow will be transformed into the buffet!)
Here's Craig's workbench area, covered with serving pieces and rolled silverware....

Here's the garage, with more stuff in it!

Tomorrow this will all be cleaned up and transformed into a party! Is anybody wondering if we can pull it off???? Stay tuned......

Graduation Party: Part 4

Submitted by Linda
Now I'm working on handstamped 'thank-yous' for Tommy to send out. I wanted them to continue in the CHS color theme, but wanted to use up this cool polka-dot ribbon that I bought when I was working on a prototype for the party invite. For both cards, the card is white, with a Bravo Burgundy front. The polka-dots are stamped tone on tone with Bravo Burgundy. The card above uses the thank-you from Cute and Curly stamp set, and the graduation hat from Great Grads. And my new favorite tool, the Curly Label punch!

The card below uses Lots of Thoughts, and a couple of square punches!
I think they are the perfect blend of cute (for the mom) and manly (for the grad)!

On Friday, Michelle arrives to put the final cooking plan into action. Stay tuned........

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Graduation Party: Part 3

Submitted by Linda

Now, I realize that my almost-18-year-old won't give a flying fig about having nice centerpieces at his party. However, I'm one of those people whose 'love language' could be 'cute centerpieces'. I'm kidding, of course, but I truly feel loved and cared for when I attend an event where effort has been put into the centerpiece and linens. Please know (lest any of you hesitate to invite me over for a meal for fear that I may cast judgement on your lack of centerpiece) that I can have a wonderful time at an event or party where we are eating off paper plates sitting on a blanket. In reality, time with loved ones and friends must be the cornerstone of a meal or event.

That being said, I do enjoy using linens and having fresh flowers on hand, even for the most simple of gatherings. Most often I use a red gingham tablecloth. For Tommy's party, I have rented "real" linens, in black, with maroon napkins. I just got home from Von's, where I found these alstroemeria and mums in the perfect colors (and they were on sale). You may remember my previous entry on the virtues of the alstroemeria, if you'd like to read it, click here.

My container is an empty can, covered with cute graduation hat paper, and a nice burgundy ribbon tied in a knot (a bow may have been to 'girly' for a boy's party). These were just put into the container, so they haven't even opened up all the way. By Saturday, they will look even better. I don't claim to be a flower if anyone out there wants to give me some feedback, that would be fine with me!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Graduation Party: Part 2

Submitted by Linda
Every evening after school, I do something to prepare for Tommy's party, which is this Saturday. I've been baking and freezing cupcakes, and working on decorations. As you can see above, Michelle worked her magic and made Tommy a banner. I asked her to stray slightly from the CHS color of Maroon, to the 'brick' color of APU! So hopefully I'll be able to pull it out in four years when he's an APU grad!

Back in April I posted a 2 minute version of the video that I was working on to share at his party (To see the video, click here). As I worked on the video, I felt that those two minutes go so fast, and that folks may want to take a longer look at some of the photos. (The full length video is about 16 minutes).

So I made a long centerpiece that will be displayed at the party, showing various 5x7 photos of Tommy from birth to senior. I didn't include every single photo that was in the video, but enough to see the sequence of Tommy growing up.

Here are the first few......
....and the end!
I took it to my school today, and people really enjoyed looking at it and remembering Tommy as an elementary student. Here is his final senior portrait. Of course, I think he looks so handsome!

I used the Curly Label punch to punch out the ages or grades he was in. I also used that same punch as hinges to connect the sheets of black cardstock, using 'sticky strip' to attach them on the back. I mounted the photos on white cardstock, using Creative Memories large (clear) photo mounting corners.

Stay tuned for more......

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Graduation Party: Part 1

Submitted by Linda

Many of you who know me, know that I'm in the throes of throwing a high school graduation party for my son Tommy. I ordered the traditional graduation announcements for our faraway family and friends, but pictured above is the hand stamped version which is an invite to an open house honoring Tommy.

I really enjoy planning parties, down to the smallest detail. When my boys were small, I'm sure I was a bit "over the top" in my themes. In their elementary school years, they often opted for a trip to Disneyland with a friend, or another outing, rather than having a party. So it seems like quite a while since I've had the pleasure of planning a fun party for a son.

Now, (just like their younger days), I want to plan a 'champaign party on a beer budget'. (Don't worry, we're not serving any alcohol!) I'm good at finding bargains, and using coupons, and asking favors of friends who have tables and chairs and such. But when it comes to food, I get stuck at the usual hamburger/hotdog bar-b-que!

Enter my friend Michelle who is highly gifted in the area of food and cooking. Last weekend, when she was here for stamp club, we dreamed up the menu (with the help of a couple of phone calls and text messages to and from her Italian relatives in N.Y). We came up with an Italian menu that I am really excited about, and that Tommy will enjoy. To loosely quote Michelle: "I like this menu because it's a bit different, and people are really going to enjoy themselves - especially Tommy".

So we planned which food items to order, and which food to prepare ourselves, keeping in mind that May is a crazy time for teachers. Our plan evolved into a trip to Claro's Italian Market in Upland (last weekend), and a quick trip to LaQuinta for an overnight cooking marathon.

Here is a photo of Michelle, holding some of our Italian sausage.Here is the sausage, baked and ready to be frozen. It will become "sausage and peppers" for the party. In this photo, Michelle is prepping ingredients for homemade marinara sauce. The green item is thyme, fresh from her herb garden! It smelled amazing. Click here to see the recipe, previously posted by Michelle.

Here Michelle is filling pasta shells with a yummy filling of cheese, spinach and oregano (again from her own garden). She ended up making 99 shells, which I loaded into my car and are now in my freezer!
If you want to smell amazing Italian food smells, you definitely should visit Claro's. While we were cooking today, we kept joking about how Michelle's house smelled as good as Claro's.

Stay tuned to read about the rest of the menu.......

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Farming In Kindergarten

Submitted by Michelle

Each Spring I plant flower and lettuce seeds with my kinder kids. They enjoy watching things grow and I enjoy teaching them about the growth cycle of plants. We aspire to have a full blown garden spot like Linda has at her school, but for now we grow things in big pots.

Yesterday it was time to harvest our butter leaf lettuce and make a salad. Jiovanni assisted me while I cut the lettuce. He has a great smile, don't you think?
I brought cucumber, radish and grated carrots from home to add to the salad and preached the virtue of eating foods of different colors because it is good for you and it looks pretty! We topped it with Ranch dressing and every one got a taste of salad to enjoy.
Here are a few of my cuties enjoying their nutritious snack.

Friday, May 15, 2009

C-Mont Club

Submitted by Michelle
The third Friday evening of every month is my stamp club in Claremont. Most of the ladies in the group have been with me since I first started as a demonstrator with Stamping Up. I didn't know any of them personally when I started, but over the 4 years that I've been stamping with them, they have all become great friends. I look forward to seeing them each month and hearing updates on what is happening in their lives.

For our club tonight, I've created these 3 cards.
I like them all, but this one is my favorite.

Claremont Club also gives me a chance each month to see Linda and her family. Nicky is always willing to give up his room so I have a place to sleep and sometimes Tommy has a new favorite food to share with me. Last time I visited he introduced me to the chorizo, egg, cheese and potato breakfast burrito from the Route 66 Diner. It's a heart attack all wrapped up in a flour tortilla, but boy is it good!

Linda and I usually craft or watch Pride and Prejudice or go to Michael's and check the dollar spot ribbon, but this month we are devoted to planning the menu for Tommy's graduation party. With her energy and my love of food, we should be able to put together a feast for T-Bone's big day.

I can't wait to hit the road later this morning and get to my home away from home.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

Submitted by Linda
I was inspired by Mother's day so I made this card earlier today. I think it's so cute, I don't think I can give it away. The background cardstock is Pink Pirouette, and designer paper is Raspberry Tart (all Stampin' Up, of course). The punch is my new Designer Label punch and the glittery pink chipboard letters are from the 99 Cent store (don't tell Michelle I'm using contraband!)

But mostly what I want to share today is this beautiful video called "Words on Women and Strength". It is a moving tribute to all women, mothers and friends. The speaker is author Kelly Corrigan, and it's about 5 minutes long.

Click this link:

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Birthday Banner

Submitted by Michelle

For my nieces' birthdays this year I made banners with their names on them. They chose the paper and I worked my magic with the Big Shot, glitter letters and ribbon. I posted Sienna's banner a few weeks back. You can see it here. The picture above is of Kyla's banner. She loves cherries so the Rockabilly Specialty paper from Stampin' Up! was the perfect choice for her. Here's how it turned out.

All supplies from Stampin' Up! except the glittered chipboard letters. You can find those at Michael's craft store.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Vanilla Popcorn

Submitted by Linda

I'm really blessed to work at a school where there is a genuine caring among staff members and an honest embracing of the TEAM philosophy. I'm always amazed when various people are inspired to care for those in need, and plan celebrations for others. One of our first grade teachers invited the first and kindergarten teachers to bring in goodies this week to encourage the upper grade teachers who are in the throes of state testing. As a school and as professionals, we aren't fans of the state tests, because of the unreasonable demands it puts on our students, and because we believe that there are much better ways to measure growth (not to mention the great financial cost it is to our schools).

Since I'm grateful NOT to be one of the teachers that administer the test, I was happy to do my share to encourage those who are. On Wednesday, I brought in the "upgraded rice krispie treats" (click here to view). Everyone was so impressed with the cuteness factor of the bundt shape. I need to bring another treat tomorrow, and since it is very warm today, I decided not to heat up my oven, and instead made "Vanilla Popcorn". Here it is, cooling on wax paper. It is a simple recipe, and I usually have the ingredients on hand.
It is hard to see in the photo, but it is covered with gooey yummy sweetness. Tomorrow I will put it in a cute serving bowl, much bigger than what is pictured below:
Here is the recipe:

Vanilla Popcorn
From Country Discoveries Magazine 8/2000

3 quarts popped popcorn (I feel strongly that this should be 'real' popcorn, popped with oil and not the microwave variety. I have a "stir crazy" popper, and it barely takes more time than the microwave stuff, but is way better in texture and taste.)
1 C. sugar
1/2 C. butter or margarine
1/4 C. light corn syrup
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

In saucepan, combine sugar, butter, corn syrup, and baking soda. Bring to boil over medium heat; Boil and stir until mixture is golden, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla. Pour over popcorn and toss to coat. Cool slightly, break apart while warm.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Deal of a Lifetime

Submitted by Linda
Here is my youngest, Nick with his brand new, hot-off-the-press California driver's license. What a milestone!

Ever since he got his learner's permit, he's been dreaming the dream of a car (just like every teenage boy). I've barely seen my van this entire week of his being a licensed driver. And he's been very willing to run any errands needed - I'm sure that won't last.

The short version of a long story, is that my dad (pictured below right) was gifting my brother Larry (pictured at left) with his Cadillac this weekend. In order to bypass the red tape of sales tax, Dad actually 'sold' it to Larry for $1. Uncle Larry (who is one of the most generous uncles ever), decided to offer Nick his car, if Nick would pay Grandpa the dollar owed to him!

Nick pulled out his wallet at warp speed!!! Pictured below is Larry with his new keys, Nick with his new keys, and Grandpa with his dollar!
The actual car is not pictured.....because I haven't seen it, or Nick, since it became his. It is a nice Buick Regal, with chrome wheels, sunroof, great stereo, and a turbo charged engine. I wonder how long it took for him to discover that turbo charged engine..........