Friday, August 22, 2014

Dear Abby,

Dear Abby,

It's your birthday.  So, I'll be telling you, once more, the story of when you were born, because that's just how we do in this family.  Grammy is going to want to tell you, again, how she was the first one to find out that you were a redhead, and how totally surprised we all were about that.  Just like Grandmother likes to tell me all the details about the day I was born and how they stopped at McDonald's on the way to the hospital and it was the first time she had tried an Egg McMuffin.  It's all part of the story of how we began.  And the details are etched in our minds because those are the days that change us forever.

Sixteen years ago, we prayed you into the world amidst terrifying complications that threatened both your life and mine.  But God delivered you safely to us because He has a plan for you.  Your influence is needed in this world.

You have a responsibility, even at 16, to let your light shine.  Don't let those gorgeous locks and long lashes be the reason you stand out in a crowd. Let the love of Christ be the first thing they see.

Keep singing in your room to the top of your lungs because it keeps us entertained.  But, let your life song always be for Him.

Be dependable. Loyal.  A true friend.  An encourager.

Don't forget to tell your brother how much you love him because you know he's crazy about you.  And he'll never have a sidekick quite like you.  

And be sure to be extra-kind to your sisters, who are looking up to you every single day and want to be just like you.

Always listen to Dad.  The older you get, the more you will understand that a dad's words of wisdom are some of life greatest treasures.  And don't forget to laugh at his jokes.  He only says them because your smile is one of his favorite things ever.

And then there's me.  You know I'll always have a few words of advice.  Ok, maybe more than just a few.  And I know I'm one of those moms, who has something to say about pretty much everything.  And sometimes I say it to the world because that's what bloggers do.  But, remember this:  God has blessed you every time you obey your parents and take our advice.  Don't forget to turn around now and then and look back at the path you've walked.  "No good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly" (Psalms 84:11).  You've already known this to be true.  And there are so many more good things in store for you if you'll keep your eyes on Him.

Sixteen years ago, you were so small you could've fit in my handbag, and now we wear each other's clothes.  You'll soon discover how fast time flies, and how we must make every moment of our lives count.  Not only for good causes, but for the cause of Christ and making Him known.  

Happy birthday, dear Abby.  You really are so dear to us!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Sweet 16 Outdoor Movie Party: Sources and How-To's

Thanks so much for all the love many of you sent about Abby's Sweet 16 party.  If you missed that post, click here to read all about it.  

The questions have already been coming in about where to get this or how to make that, so I'll do my best to share all the details and sources in this post!

Starting with the invitation...

It was handwritten, and then converted to a digital format for printing.  If you like this look and would like to order a custom invite for your next big event, I've decided to offer this option in my blog shop, at least for a limited time.  You can send me all your info, I'll write it up and then convert it to a file so you can print as many as you'd like!  You can even choose the colors you want to coordinate with your event.  Click here for the listing.  

The next big question is where to get the outdoor movie screen.  Well, my husband the graphics guru has a plethora of materials and equipment in his company to make party-planner's dreams come true. He made our screen for us, and has agreed to make these available to others who may want to throw a backyard party.  These are made of quality white vinyl and come with rope sewn in and grommets for hanging.  I have a 5'x8' size available in my shop, but if you need a custom size, just ask.  Click here for that listing.

Another thing he did for me was the lighted marquee-style 16! He made the individual 30-inch numbers for me out of a thin white plastic material and I spray painted them gold and added these string lights from Hobby Lobby to light them up.  The potential for these is limitless for all kinds of events and decor.  Contact me if you're interested in ordering some for yourself!

And speaking of string lights, we have those same ones from Hobby Lobby on our lower porch, and that's what I used when making the paper lanterns for the party.

The lanterns are so quick and easy to make!  Just start with a 12x12 patterned paper, and cut in in half to get two 6x12 pieces.

Then, fold one of the pieces of paper in half length-wise, and cut some strips from the fold, up, about an inch wide, stopping about an inch from the top edge.

Then, unfold the paper, place the short sides together, and glue with hot glue.

To hang, just punch a couple of holes in the sides and add some wire for hanging.  I used floral wire because I had it on hand.  I hung the lanterns over every other bulb, being careful to keep the paper clear of the bulb, just to be safe.

And for the white globe-style lanterns hanging over the tables and all around the yard, I bought them here for a great price on a dozen of them on Amazon.  They have other colors available as well!

And to get them to glow at night, I used these LED tealight candles from the Dollar Tree.  

We just taped them into the bottom of the lantern, and flipped the switch!

They were great hanging in the trees and glowing after dark...

Another great item I found at Amazon were these clear lidded solo cups!  They're perfect for outdoor events and I will definitely be ordering them again.  I ordered the 20-oz size, but they come in other sizes and quantities as well.  Perfect!

A couple of other details I added were the gold glitter 16 bags for the popcorn and the pennant flags.  I did this with simple number stamps, clear embossing ink, and glitter embossing powder.  

Here's a little supply list for this project if you'd like to buy online.  Just click on the links below:

And last, but not least, the "sixteen" cake topper, inspired by one I saw on Pinterest, was also done with help from my husband.  This is made from router-cut plastic which I painted gold and glued to bamboo skewers to top the cake.  This is one more item I'm making available in my shop for a limited time for those of you that would like a custom topper for your event.  It will arrive as a plain white piece which you can paint the color of your choice. Add the skewers if you'd like to use it to top a cake.  Click here for the listing or email me with questions!

Whew!  Did I cover everything? If not, just ask.  I hope this inspires those of you planning an outdoor party of your own!  Enjoy!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Abby's Sweet 16 Outdoor Movie Party

So this is the week that our red-headed, Disney-loving, piano-playing, smile-sharing, kind-hearted Abby turns 16.  And if you read my last post, you know I'm in the mood to make the most of every moment I have with my kids and do life big. Not to mention, I live for throwing parties.  So, that's what we did this weekend.

It was Abby's dream to have a big backyard party with friends and family and watch "Tangled" on a big screen under the stars.  And since she doesn't really ask for much, how could I say "no"?

Besides, I'm a pretty fond of glowing lanterns and Flynn Rider myself.  (Love these posters?  Print them here.)

So, Abby and I pinned all kinds of inspiration for weeks. And then, with lots of amazing help from my husband, we pulled out chairs and blankets and furniture from all around the house to transform the yard into a backyard theater. 

For days I had prayed for good weather, and (thank the Lord) He gave us a great night that was just the right temperature and not a drop of rain.

We kept it simple with the food.  A nacho bar, drinks and cupcakes made up the menu, which all seemed to be hit with the guests.  

(I think the lighted 16 was my favorite part--I'll tell you more about it later.)

And although I drew the line at Abby's request for everyone to release glowing lanterns into the sky just like they do in the movie, I did come up with some colorful paper lanterns, which I'll show you how to make later as well.

The biggest hit with the kids was probably the popcorn bar and soda cart. SO much fun to put together!

Do you recognize this furniture from around my house?

I totally enjoyed putting everything together to give Abby a special night, and I can't say enough how great my husband was in making all my ideas come to life.  And a big thanks to Denise for all her help on party day.  She loves planning parties as much as I do, so I'm so glad she was well enough to be there.  And we definitely had the best guests ever, who all chipped in after the movie and had the whole yard cleared in no time!

There were just enough friends, and just enough laughs, and just enough magical moments to make it a very sweet 16th birthday party.  

Sources, how-to's and details coming soon!  (Click here for that post.)