7 month countdown...is that too long?

Because of previously mentioned health problems our Harry Potter 7 movie party did not happen.  Instead I bought 48 tickets to the midnight release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows so my two teenage girls could enjoy a long night with friends.  And no, I was not kind enough to pay for all those tickets myself (in case you were wondering)

I ended up not going (trust me when I say...it killed me to not be at the midnight showing) but I did drop off dinner and treats to the big crew waiting in line so I did get to enjoy a bit of the excitement that surrounds big movie releases.  

I also dropped off Hedwig cupcakes to the theater employees to thank them for putting up with all the crazy Harry fans.  These are not my cupcakes (I apologize for not knowing where this photo is from) but this is the picture I used for inspiration.  I used white frosting and vanilla Oreos to make my cupcakes resemble Hedwig.  I thought I had a few pictures but they seem to be lost on my highly unorganized slew of pictures on my computer.

So with Part 1 of Harry Potter gone and only one movie remaining before it all comes to an end I have resolved to spend the next 7 months in planning for the biggest Harry Potter shindig ever.  Sure 7 months may seem like a long time but  I'll need it if I want to create the party I have in my mind (plus my husband will say it will take that long to save some money to bank roll this little soiree)  Plus the extra time will be helpful as I try to get things done while dealing with my health.

So as of now I'm still in the planning stages - compiling ideas in computer files and accordion folders that get bigger each day.  I love all the ideas I come across but will also be working in some of the past Harry Potter ideas I've used.  Here is one I used for the premiere of the 6th movie.

You can read more about it here and find a link to download the label to use for your own party.

ADDED...I just realized there is a typo - I spelled Britain wrong.  I will try to fix it as soon as possible and repost.


you are all so kind

In the last few weeks I have heard from many of you inquiring about my where abouts and just sending your love.  I can't tell you how much your thoughtfulness has meant.  

By way of an update...

I have been battling insomnia for 5 months now.  Due to the lack of sleep I am experiencing other health problems as well.  It is a vicious cycle of trying to decide what to tackle first - the sleep or the various other health issues. There are lots of talks with the doctor, new medications to try, and experimenting with various tricks and ideas all in an effort to get myself back to feeling normal.  I plug along each day trying to get the basics done and am managing because of my beyond wonderful husband and my equally amazing kids.  They have all been troopers helping me deal with everything.  

Unfortunately, party ideas and actual parties have taken a back seat.  I was going to say that you can't imagine how this kills me but I am sure many of you can imagine how sad it makes me feel.  I just truly don't have the energy or the health to do it.  

I make attempts.  In my head I have been planning a Harry Potter movie release party for the past few months  but here I am a couple weeks before the said party should take place with nothing done.  Part of me says "Don't do it Denise, just concentrate on getting healthy." Then the guilt steps in..."Your teenage daughters and their friends love your parties and will be super disappointed."  Then my party girl mentality steps in..."Denise, you know if the movie comes and goes and you do nothing to celebrate it you will be so bummed.  Think about how much fun it will be to creative a potions class or to make 50 wands!"  Does anyone else have these internal arguments or am I sicker than I thought :)

We'll see how it plays out.  Maybe you'll see a Harry Potter post from me in a couple weeks.  If you don't you'll know I'm trying to be good and get myself back to a healthy state.  Who will win...practicality or party girl?

I did muster up enough strength to get 4 Halloween costumes done for my kids.  It was my attempt to make up for my seriously lacking mothering efforts since the insomnia hit.  Here are my kids as Robin Hood, Circus Ringmaster, The Mad Hatter and Dracula.  Oh, and the incredibly attractive man that jumped into the second picture is my husband - he makes me proud!  And just so there is no question...he is in a costume complete with mullet wig and Billy Bob hillbilly teeth.

My cute little Dracula and Ringmaster were the easiest with most of the costume coming from our own closets or costume boxes.

Umm, Robin Hood and Mad Hatter...not as easy.  At times while sewing, attaching, dying fabric, gluing, etc. I questioned my sanity at attempting costumes this year.  However, now that its all done and past I'm glad I did it - I love how the costumes turned out.  I also had lots of help from my husband so I didn't do it all on my own.  My 16 year old also stepped in and did the Mad Hatters amazing make-up.  It's no easy feat getting an 11 yr old boy to wear so much make-up.

Anyway...again, thank you for all the thoughtful emails.  I appreciate being thought of and missed.  I'm hoping I can be back soon sharing ideas and throwing parties - I miss it!!


real party/really tired: sweet sixteen

So this is how lazy I am...

I posted about my daughters 16th birthday on my family blog so family could see how it went but I don't have it in me to post about it here on little ant. 

So if you are interested in checking out the sweet 16 shindig head over to my family blog here.  Hopefully, in the next week or so I'll post more here with links to where I got some of my supplies, food, ideas, etc.


real party: oscars/old hollywood

I mentioned awhile back that I was working on a Spring Formal event.  I have waited to post about it in hopes of gathering pictures from others put I haven't tracked many down yet.  I have a few pictures that I took (I never get many pictures at my parties) that will have to work for the moment.

I was on a fairly tight budget which isn't always fun but does make you get creative.  It also makes you think about the creative talents of friends.  When planning for the outside decor of the venue I called in many a favor from talented friends and family members.

I started by asking a good friend of mine, Herk Wright to help me out.  Herk is the one that remodeled my kitchen in our old house - the kitchen that we redid and than a year later moved from :(  He did amazing work, check it out...

Here is the before

and a few after shots

Herk did an amazing job, right?  If you are in the Orange County, California area and are looking to do some upgrades to your home let me know and I'll pass along Herk's number to you.  

But back to the party...Herk was kind enough to say yes to me when I asked him if he could make me 4 large wood frames.  His 4 frames along with 4 smaller ones I purchased at Aaron Brothers was all I needed to get started on my first project.

I made a few measurements and then drilled holes into the frames.   Here is a shot of one of the Aaron Brother frames getting drilled. 

Once all the holes were drilled all the frames got a few coats of some silver metallic spray paint.  Once dry I inserted some white ball lights that I picked up at Target.

The part I really loved though was the 1930's inspired artwork, my nephew Sam Ricks created, that went in the frames.  Sam is amazing!  You can check out his work on his blog and website.  In some of the pictures further down you can see the 4 designs he made - each one represented the city that the youth attending the Formal were from.

The outside of the venue (below) all put together and waiting the arrival of the kids.  The event was held at Soka University - can I just say what a beautiful campus this is.

To finish off the look of the entrance I called in another favor from an artist friend, Steve Ogren.  He created these massive academy styled statues for me out of cardboard, paint and sequins.  I love them!  I actually have them sitting in my front room at the moment while I figure out a place to store them.  Nothing like walking into someone's home and being greeted by an 8ft sequined man.

This last shot isn't great but it allows you to see the check-in tables where I used the 4 small frames mentioned earlier.  The frames contained the same posters as the outside they were just smaller in size.  This allowed for easier check-in as the youth could check in at the table from the city they live in.

Most people don't have plans to decorate for a 400+ youth Spring Formal but you can still steal some of these ideas for a party at home.  

The lit signs would be great at your front door welcoming guests to a movie night.  Buy a movie poster or create one of your own on your computer.  All the poster enlargements from this night were done at Costco with their online photo center.  It is easy and inexpensive.  If you haven't checked out all the Costco Photo Center offers you really should.  I use them for parties, school projects and more.


invitations: download and print

Have you seen this yet?  I first found Download and Print over at one of my favorite blogs iDiY.  I couldn't believe it - beautifully designed invites free to download?  Crazy, I tell you!

I'm loving this one for my next beach soiree...

How about these two graphic beauties...

I love this one.  Something about it being off centered makes me giddy...

You definitely need to bookmark this site.  What a great little internet treasure.  Can't wait to see new designs.

party: so easy even a caveman can do it

On my daily blog rounds I was pleasantly surprised to see my caveman party up at Frosted Events.  Thanks Kim for posting it.  Be sure to visit the Frosted Events blog for other great party ideas - she has a ton of them.

This party was done for a friend's 40th and was originally shared with the blog world over at At Home with Kim Vallee in  January 2008.  To this day this is one of my favorite parties and one that costs very little.  With so many watching their wallets now it's nice to be able to throw a fun party without breaking the bank.

Here is a bit of a breakdown on how to throw this party yourself...

Plate Chargers are stepping stones from Home Depot/Lowes's or whatever your local home improvement store is.  They cost right around $1 each.

I took some brown craft paint lying around my house (use whatever color you have) and painted some simple "cave drawings"  If you have kids get them in on this - they'll love it. 

Second step is to rub some good old backyard dirt all over the stone.  You can even use a rock to scratch up the stone a bit (see those white marks?)  Then take a hammer and chip away at some of the edges and corners (I started this step in the top left corner but hadn't finished when this picture was taken)

In this next picture you can see the roughed up edges - you don't want many straight lines, cavemen don't roll like that.  You also don't want every charger to look the same so take a hammer to the stone and break it up some.  As long as you keep each separate piece fairly close together your plate will sit on top perfectly.

You can see in this next picture some of the different charger shapes.

Some other details from this picture...

Dinosaur place cards - these little prehistoric guys came from my little guy's toy chest but they can be picked up cheap at a local dollar store.  I made simple labels on my computer using this font from Dafont.

Fur table cover and animal print chair backs - hit up a fabric store.  This stuff is always available and you don't need much.

I used terry washcloths instead of napkins since we went total caveman and ate with our hands.  The washcloths were picked up at my local Big Lots so check out your local discount stores.  Wrap those washcloths up with some twine from the garage and add a leaf picked from your backyard tree to complete the look.

Serving dishes were baskets and containers that I already had plus some brown paper grocery sacks.  I needed another serving dish and didn't have anything that fit the look so I ripped the top of a bag just a bit, folded it down and it made the perfect "serving bowl" for some roasted potato fries.  You can get a bit of a peek at my homemade bag bowl in the picture below.

The food was the centerpiece of the table but you can see that i threw in a few other things too...rocks from my yard, candles, moss and some strange dinosaur egg looking vases filled with succulents (can't find a similar "vase" try making them out of paper mache - they'll hold up for the night) 

My favorite part of the decor?

The jungle vines.  I hit up my local Army Surplus store and bought cheap camo netting.  If you don't have a surplus store near by you can find camo netting on the internet.  All you do is take scissors to the netting and start cutting away.  Vary the width and length of your strips (remember you are trying to imitate nature so don't make anything uniform in size)  The vines were hung from the top of the canopy. For lighting I added green paper lanterns purchased from Cost Plus.

This party was for a 40th birthday so the prehistoric man theme was rather appropriate and was much more appreciated than the standard over the hill theme.  The beauty of this theme is that it worked for my 40 yr old friend but would be a complete hit with kids as well.


harry potter party

Party plans have begun swirling in my mind for a Harry Potter party to celebrate the 1st installment of the 7th movie scheduled to be released November 19th.  I was thrilled to see the abundance of cute ideas over at Hostess with the Mostess.  Check out Jen's great ideas here and here.  I'm especially loving this idea...

For others searching for more ideas for their own movie release party, a Potter themed birthday or better yet a way to celebrate a family trip to Universal's new Wizarding World of Harry Potter (oh how I wish I was heading there with my family in June) here (scroll through all the posts) are some more ideas from some of our past wizard shindigs that I've posted about previously on Little Ant Design.

Here are some never before posted photos of our very first Harry Potter party that we threw to celebrate the release of the last book - Deathly Hallows in 2007.  We held the party open house style with people coming and going through the night and ended the party with party guests heading over to a local Borders to await the midnight release of the book.  

Look at my cute little guy, dressed up as Dobby the house elf, taking 1st place in the Borders costume contest.

Now some more pictures of the festivities at our home...

I turned my kitchen/dining room area into the potions class.  A cheap piece of plywood was stained to cover my tiled kitchen counters for a bit more authentic Hogwarts feel.  Labels were made for bottles that I had been collecting and filled with various "specimens"  This are also served as the drink station so I labeled sodas, drink mixes (Kool-aid, powdered Gatorade, etc), juices and other drink add-ins with interesting names and guest were able to concoct their own potions.

In an effort to keep the kitchen from ruining the potions class atmosphere I added a "stone wall" behind the drink area.  I had this left over from an Indiana Jones Halloween theme I had done prior but this is an easy DIY project.  I simply bought sheets of insulation foam and using a wood burning tool that I picked up at a local craft store I carved the stones into the foam.  The foam usually comes in pink or blue - use the blue.  Add some paint to get the weathered look you want and you have instant stone walls.

Other areas inside the house were...

Ollivanders wand shop - a little bookcase that jewelry boxes labeled with wand labels that I made on the computer.  Guests used these boxes to hold wands that they made during the evening.  Wands were made using wooden dowels and varying sized balls (with holes drilled them).  Guests took the balls and glued them to the end of the dowels to create wand handles.  I wish I had pictures.  I am notorious for not taking pictures of my parties so all the pictures you see here were taken by my brother or other party guests.

Trophy Case - here various Quidditch and other awards were displayed as well as containers that held the house points.

We also had an area full of Honeyduke's sweets.  Guests could eat some Bertie Bott's every flavor beans and guess the flavors.  We also had lots of yummy treats to make up for the grass and boogie flavored beans.

Outside we had...

Herbology class - guests were able to snack of food here.

We also had a pensieve that contained floating orbs filled with deep thinking quotes from some of the Harry Potter characters.  Guests could pull these out of the fountain to read them.  I didn't think this would be too big a deal but guests enjoyed this - the kids especially.

I wanted a place for people to congregate and chat so we set up a Yule Ball area.  We were supposed to have snow falling down on our guests but we could not get the snow machine to work.  I'm still irratated about it all these years later :)

Out near our fireplace we set up the Divination Class.  Here guests could make their predications about what would happen in the last book as well as read their fortunes with tea leaves.

There you have it - a few pictures from one of my favorite themes for a party.  To see a few more photos from that night you can go here.  I can't wait to throw the next one.  

I'm always looking for ideas so if you have thrown your own Harry Potter party or know of some other great HP ideas (like those from Jen at Hostess with the Mostess) please let me know.  


a reprint from my family blog

We like to celebrate Aprils Fools Day at my house.  Here is a peek at the "chicken pot pie" I made a few years ago (2008)...

For our April Fool's dinner we had chicken pot pie and for dessert we had cupcakes.

Where is the fooling in that you ask?  The pot pie was made with vanilla pudding for gravy, dried pineapple slices for chicken, and candy for corn, peas and carrots.  

I was especially fond of the corn.  Who knew that nuking some Starbursts in the microwave could create such a good "clay" to mold little corn kernels?!?!?  The carrots were also Starbursts and the peas were nuked Airheads rolled into little balls.
The cupcakes were made from meatloaf and covered in purple mashed potato frosting.  We have had the cupcakes for previous April Fool's dinners  so the kids weren't as surprised by them (Luke was - he was obviously to young to remember the last time) but the chicken pot pie was a hit.  

pride and prejudice wedding

I have no time to post but had to share this wedding by Amorology - love it!


to my favorite peeps

Cute, huh?  I'm so making these for friends.  Get the free download here @ eighteen 25.


thank you spammer man

What is it with spammers?  I have had so many spam comments left on this blog as of late it's driving me crazy. 

I have always felt like blogs should be open for anyone to comment (kinda the point of blogging) and I have never used word verification on this blog because I think it's nice for people to not have to worry about it (besides sometimes it's impossible to read those dang words)  Well that is about to change.  I have now added word verification to comments thanks to some spammer in Japan.  Sorry for the inconvenience.

Things like this make me mad (not to mention I'm a little irritable as I'm living on no sleep because of the flu in our house and the last few crunch days before the big Spring Formal I'm decorating for - will Saturday ever get here?!)

So I apologize to those of you that will no longer be able to just leave a comment but instead have to retype some crazy word that you can't always read.  I also apologize for my bad attitude and promise that once I've had some decent sleep I will be a much more pleasant blogger.


queen bee market - let the shopping begin

I have a great friend that I have yet to meet in person but we are in her words "blog bffs"  Mique is the genius behind 30 Handmade Days - a great resource for ideas, ideas and more ideas on anything from crafts, parties, sewing, etc.  If you haven't visited her site, you really should and tell her Denise said hi.  I'm sure you'll love her as much as I do.  

As if Mique wasn't busy enough she is now taking on more and I couldn't be more excited.  I wanted to share with you Mique's newest venture... Queen Bee Market - a hip, modern, and fresh art and gift show in the San Diego area.

Held on Saturday, May 1st, perfectly timed for the week before Mother's Day and beautiful San Diego weather (but really, when isn't it beautiful weather in San Diego?). 

Unlike any other craft fair or boutique, Queen Bee will feature vendors from all over the handmade scene. With purses, jewelry, home decor, children's items, accessories, baby products and more- you won't want to miss out. There's sure to be something for everyone.

In addition to unique products, we'll also be focusing our attention on giving back to the San Diego area. For more information, read what we're up to on our 
charity page.

You can also visit the the Queen Bee Market blog or check it out on Twitter and Facebook.

For those of you that are interested in selling at the market go and check out the vendor information.  What a great way to get the word out about the products you make.

I'm making plans now to get myself down to San Diego to enjoy some sun and shopping and I'd encourage you to do the same.  It would make a great girls trip!  So pass along the info.  Perhaps I'll even finally get to meet my "blog bff"   See you there Mique!