Minnie Mouse 4th Birthday Party Decorations

Minnie Mouse 4th Birthday Party Decorations | thisgratefulmama.com

A few weeks ago I shared the cake from our daughter’s Minnie Mouse 4th birthday party. Another day I’ll share the food.

Today is all about decorations.

When it comes to a kids party, my motto is ‘keep it simple‘ – it isn’t necessary to spend a lot of money or go all-out to please a 4-year-old. 

Most decorations for this party are homemade using paper. Many are printed at home and just taped up. They are inexpensive.  Most won’t take much time but will still have a big impact.

Paper decorations are more than enough to make our daughter feel special!

Art

For Disney-inspired decorations without breaking the bank, this free Waltograph font is a lifesaver. Once installed, it can be used in Microsoft Word – Disney decorations, literally, at your fingertips.

Our daughter loves Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. From watching it with the kids, I’m guessing you can also quickly rattle off these sayings:

Minnie Mouse 4th Birthday Party Decorations | thisgratefulmama.com

Photo Birthday Banner

birthday photo banner is a personal touch with big sentimental impact. By far, this is my favorite decoration to make for bitthdays. I love spending time picking out each photo – one photo per month from the previous year.  It is pure joy to see our kids’ faces light up when they see it – they love feeling honored and celebrated.

Black and white photos were printed and intermixed with the message:

Happy Happy 4th Birthday Adelyn Joy

Minnie Mouse 4th Birthday Party Decorations | thisgratefulmama.com

Minnie Mouse Chandelier

Now I want to share something SO fun. Have you seen this DIY faux-capiz chandelier made using wax paper? This Pinterest project is on my someday list. For some reason I haven’t found the free-time yet.

Who has this elusive ‘free-time’ anyway?

OK, so I did NOT make a wax paper chandelier for this party. But I did make a paper Minnie Mouse chandelier to hang over the table. Admittedly, it was kind of (ok, extremelyputzy cutting out Minnie Mouse ears and bows, but there was nothing difficult about it.

Trust me, with some time and patience, YOU can do it.

All it took was time, tape, cardstock, clear bead-thread and two steel rings (12″ and 6″) from Hobby Lobby. Just think – you could create a chandelier like this for ANY party theme – endless possibilities. 

Minnie Mouse 4th Birthday Party Decorations | thisgratefulmama.com

Entryway Signs

Originally, I planned to put a ‘Come Inside, It’s Fun Inside‘ sign on the front door to welcome guests. But a Chalk Marker and poster-board sign can’t withstand a windy, rainy day, so it came inside.

In the entryway, a sign saying ‘Adelyn is 4‘ was created using a chalkboard banner, vinyl decal letters, and a cardboard cutout ‘4‘ decorated with crepe paper:

Minnie Mouse 4th Birthday Party Decorations | thisgratefulmama.com

Balloons

What kid’s party is complete without balloons? The morning of the party, I asked my husband to go find and buy Minnie Mouse balloons.

That man, he’s a rockstar – he returned 20 minutes later with this bunch of balloons from Party City to an appreciative wife and a delighted 4 year old:

Minnie Mouse 4th Birthday Party Decorations | thisgratefulmama.com

Happy birthday sunshine girl.

 

 

 

A Kid And Guest Friendly Nautical Themed Bathroom

A Kid And Guest Friendly Nautical Themed Bathroom | thisgratefulmama.com

The hall bathroom is mainly used by our 5-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter. But often, it is used by guests. Almost 3 years after moving in, the bathroom was still builder-white.

With two little people using the bathroom, the walls were starting to look dingy from wet hands and water splatter on flat white paint.

The bathroom needed a satin-finish paint job to protect the walls and clean it up.

Plus, with a colicky baby keeping us home more than usual, I needed a project.

Bad.

With a start and finish.

And I roped my husband into it when a simple paint job became a slightly larger project. We picked out navy paint for the space, but navy was just too dark for the window-less bathroom.

To keep the space bright, and protect walls from the wear and tear that is inflicted by small children, we decided to add white bead board.

Home Depot carries this two-foot width bead board product with pre-cut grooves to fit seams together. We needed just 5 two-foot boards for our small bathroom. We spent $35 on bead board and under $10 on chair rail and caulking.

The spendy part of this project was the paint. Sherwin Williams matched the white paint to our existing trim. One gallon of satin Super Paint along with velour rollers for an ultra-smooth finish was $50, even with a $10 off coupon!

Yikes.

But now we have enough high quality white paint to use for our future mud room lockers and bead board border.

A Kid And Guest Friendly Nautical Themed Bathroom | thisgratefulmama.com

We taped and painted the navy color during nap time one day.  My husband spent half a day working on the bead board. And I spent one more nap time applying two coats of white paint to the bead board.

 

 

 

 

Paint completed, we just needed a few finishing touches.

A Kid And Guest Friendly Nautical Themed Bathroom | thisgratefulmama.com

We found the wooden ‘Splash’ sign for $15 at Home Goods. You can find something similar from this Etsy shop.

 

 

 

A Kid And Guest Friendly Nautical Themed Bathroom | thisgratefulmama.com

The wooden Whale was found on clearance for $7 at Hobby Lobby.

 

 

 

A Kid And Guest Friendly Nautical Themed Bathroom | thisgratefulmama.com

Hand towels are hung using $9 wooden fish hangers from Marshalls.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Kid And Guest Friendly Nautical Themed Bathroom | thisgratefulmama.com

The space was completed with the Wave Blue shower curtain from Target. Usually $17, we paid $14 using a 20% off Cartwheel deal.

 

 

 

 

 

Voila.

It’s amazing how just one little project can make you feel energized…and ready for the next one.

Spray Painted Flower Pots

Since baby girl was born in May, nothing has been created. And I have been in desperate need to make, decorate or complete something, anything, for my own sanity.

Since we moved in, I’ve wanted large, blue flower pots in front of our house.

Have you ever purchased large planters for your home? Talk about sticker shock! When I find one with a price I can stomach, they aren’t the color I want. And when I find pots I love, well, they are so expensive I just can’t handle it.

Last spring I told myself I would wait and find some on clearance.

Of course I then forgot to look. So this year, spring rolled around and still, no planters.

Then wandering around Target with a sleeping baby I saw these flower pots on clearance for $15 each. I like the shape and metal handles.

A Fun Weekend Project - Spray Painted Flower Pots | thisgratefulmama.com

As usual, the price was right, but not the color.

Still wandering through aisles, I stumbled upon matte Valspar Devine Color spray paint in pale blue. With paint and primer in one can, and good for interior and exterior projects, it was worth a try!

A Fun Weekend Project - Spray Painted Flower Pots | thisgratefulmama.com

I returned home excited to paint. But the problem with spray paint is you need a day that is not too hot, not too humid, and not too windy.

A tall order in MN.

So the pots sat in my garage.

Waiting.

Finally, two weeks ago it was 75 degrees with little wind over the weekend.

One nap time and two cans of spray paint completed the project.  This paint coats pretty well, but definitely needs multiple coats. The handles were protected with painters tape while painting.

A Fun Weekend Project - Spray Painted Flower Pots

These planters are pretty light weight. Instead of filling them with dirt (which is hard to get rid of in the fall, and makes the pots unbearably heavy for me to move), we decided on a different plan. We bought cinder blocks for $1.05 a piece.

They didn’t fit as perfectly as I’d imagined, because I didn’t take into account basic geometry when I measured the pot…turns out 8 inch diameter means the DIAGONAL of the cinder block needs to be 8 inches, not the edges. Whoops. Not my brightest moment.

Thankfully my resourceful husband rescued me with a helpful and can-do attitude (and no complaining!). He used a hammer to break the cinder blocks up so they fit into the bottom of the pots.

A Fun Weekend Project - Spray Painted Flower Pots

The cinder blocks provide weight so the pots won’t blow over. They’ve survived some pretty severe weather in the past two weeks and I’m confident they’ll stay put in the wind. The blocks add just enough height so our already planted flowers in their pots could be placed on top of them.

A Fun Weekend Project - Spray Painted Flower Pots

Voila.

I’ll follow up in September to let you know how the spray paint held up outside for the season.

Simple Teacher Valentines

Simple Teacher Valentines | thisgratefulmama.com

Our son is celebrating Valentine’s Day at school today. He picked out sport-themed valentines. He was very excited about them, and they were the perfect treat for a nut-free classroom.

Simple Teacher Valentines | thisgratefulmama.com

After signing 20 Valentines, he was ready to be done. However, I wanted to make his teachers something small to recognize the great job that they do.

Unsure of where to start, I decided to see if PicMonkey had any Valentine’s Day art. Lucky me, they have some really cute stuff under their Sweethearts Theme. After looking at what was available, I decided to keep it simple and create heart valentines with a short message.

I ended up making two different hearts with two different messages.

Each valentine is shown below – you can save them to your computer and print them if you’re in need of a teacher valentine. I opened my images with Windows Photo Viewer and used cardstock to print three copies (5×7 size, do not fit to frame).

Thank you Teacher Valentine | thisgratefulmama.com

Number One Teacher Valentine | thisgratefulmama.com

Our son liked the #1 teacher message best and decided to give the same one to each of his three preschool teachers. After cutting the hearts out, they were ready for the little man to sign.

To give the teachers a healthy treat, we punched a hole in the upper left corner of each heart and tied them to cellophane-wrapped red apples.

Easy peasy.

Simple, sweet treats to say thank you to three very special teachers.

Simple Teacher Valentines | thisgratefulmama.com

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Graham Cracker ‘Gingerbread’ Houses – A Simple, Nut-Free Solution

Graham Cracker Gingerbread Houses A Simple Nut Free Solution | thisgratefulmama.com

Many of you know by now that baking is not my strong suit. Not only have I never baked gingerbread, I have had little success making frosting (of any kind) – seriously, there are friends who will attest to my comically disastrous frosting attempts.

The idea of ME successfully making a gingerbread house from scratch is unlikely. Making one that will withstand decorating by children…is, well, laughable. And completely unrealistic without multiple attempts. Frankly, I’m just not committed to mastering this.

So, I went looking for a nut-free gingerbread house kit. Although I’ve heard they exist, I was unable to find one. I was stuck. Inept and lacking motivation to make one of my own, and unable to find a safe option for our family. I even considered skipping baking by forking over the big bucks to buy a LEGO Gingerbread House.

Then, something remarkable happened. We received an invitation to join our son at preschool to decorate a gingerbread house. I was curious how these teachers, who carefully ensure their classroom is nut-free, would pull this off. Is one of them a master baker? Did they find those coveted ‘safe’ kits? And how on earth could they successfully assemble a gingerbread house for each child and have it be cost-effective?

A month in advance, parents were invited to donate supplies. But instead of a donation free-for-all, the school provided a list of specific products. Not only did they specify the type of candy or treat, they included brand name, nut-free wording that should be found on the label, and where to buy it. This ensured parents bought ‘safe’ products, and that they didn’t have to run all over town trying to find a specific brand. They knew exactly where to go. No hassle.

Because ALL supplies were safe, they were able to provide a mixed bag of candy for each child.

The ‘gingerbread’ houses were simply and inexpensively made using hot glue guns and graham crackers.

Genius.

To accommodate families with younger siblings, they made extra houses. Imagine my daughter’s (and my) surprise when they presented HER with a house, frosting and decorations. The crackers were glued together, and to the plate. They were stable enough for a 2-year-old to manhandle.

You guys, I was SO blessed! This preschool cares for each child AND family.

For many, a food-related activity might bring anxiety to an allergy parent. Or at least a heightened awareness requiring plenty of preparation. But because of careful planning, research and scrutiny of staff, every single food item was safe for nut allergies. Their attention to detail and safety has blessed our family time and time again since September.

How can I express gratitude for this type of care and concern for allergic children and families?

For those of you with no food allergies in your family, this may seem like no big deal. But to us, it means the health and safety of our child. It is immeasurable. It means we didn’t have to call ahead to pre-approve snacks or read labels. It means we didn’t have to go and search for the nut-free versions of similar candy, at who knows how many stores, to provide for our son. We were able to just show up and decorate without a concern.

It was wonderfully care-free.

As a result, two children were delighted and their mother left feeling waves of emotion – joyful, grateful, blessed, cared for.

And to the kind parent who carried our gingerbread houses to the car so I could pick up our daughter when she fell down…Thank you.

Tis the season.

Master Bedroom Update: A Promised Picture

A friend reminded me that I still owe a photo of our newly painted bedroom.

And she’s right.

The Great Paint and Curtain {In}Decision came with a promise for a photo the following week.

Here we are over a week later. Still, no photo.

My bad.

It is time to make good on that promise. However, it makes sense to me that you should first see a ‘before’ photo. Our old bedroom was best described by my husband when we were preparing to paint – “Now we finally won’t look like renters”.

Bedroom BEFORE

White, bare walls, worn out 7-year-old bedding and mismatched furniture DID make us look like renters.

But renters we are not. God willing, we plan to live here for a very long time.

Fresh paint, new curtains and a Groupon-bought comforter – now our bedroom finally feels like it’s ‘ours’. And it’s always great when it doesn’t break the bank.

As promised, here’s a photo of the painted room and an up-close photo of the curtains we kept after all that indecision (thank you, Target).Bedroom Update

curtains

Yes, our new blue walls are still mostly bare, and we still have mismatched furniture. I’m OK with it for now.

Like our Dining Room update last year, we do our decorating with budget-in-mind. We have a low-cost plan to finish this bedroom that includes a DIY headboard, possibly a DIY overhead light, painting our dresser, and creating or using artwork we already have.

I’m looking forward to completing and sharing these projects sometime later on this summer.

Happy Decorating!

 

Master Bedroom Update: The Great Paint and Curtain {In}Decision

A few weeks ago I casually mentioned to my husband that I was thinking about painting one of our bedroom walls dark blue.

Surprisingly, he liked the idea. In fact, he liked it so much, he was ready to go pick out paint (in the store without bringing any swatches home) and paint our bedroom and bathroom – immediately.

His response was so overwhelmingly supportive, it left me reeling. So there I stood, glad he was on board, but feeling rushed. Flustered, I managed to stammer…wait…but…we…need…SAMPLES!

Let’s just say he and I do things a little differently. Knowing me well, he graciously agreed to slow down and let me take a little time to be as certain as he was.

I’m all about taking action – but I do need to perseverate on things like paint colors for a while.

For me, selecting paint calls for a period of indecision. It doesn’t help that the last time we bought paint at the store without bringing samples home, our bathroom paid the price and was painted a dreadful sea-foam green that made YOU look sea-foam green when you looked in the mirror. Not flattering, and not our best choice – the 70s decor was not quite what we were going for.

One week and three trips worth of paint swatches later, we finally agreed upon and purchased paint.

DSC_0350

See that pile of paint swatches? That is the evidence of one very indecisive wife. Nothing like a pile of 100 or more choices to promote a quick decision, right? Home Depot may prefer I choose my paint elsewhere – I’m fairly certain those paint swatches don’t grow on trees…

Two late nights of painting after the kids went to bed, and we finished our bedroom and bathroom.

And.

We love it.

What a relief.

Then, our attention (or rather, my attention) turned to curtains. We went to one store, found curtains we both liked and brought them home.

Easy -peasy.

They hung for one day before I decided I hated them and could not live with them.

Now, I claim to like curtains. Or rather, I think I like curtains – until I go to the store and look at actual curtains.

I realize people have widely different tastes and that my taste may be strange. BUT, has anyone noticed just how many UGLY curtains are for sale? And when I say ugly, I mean hideous. Have some of these curtains been in the store since 1980?

Seriously.

Can someone tell me WHO pays actual money to hang these curtains in their house?

Defeated after scouring the web, I decided I needed to see them in person. To touch them.

So, being the certifiably crazy person that I am,  I dragged our 2 and 4-year-old children to a curtain hunting, snack-eating-for-entertainment marathon – Kohls, Home Depot, JC Penny, Lowes, Gordmans, Marshalls, Home Goods, Target, Walmart, Macys…and a few more.

As it turns out – despite saying I like curtains…I don’t really like curtains, in-the-fleshfabric.

Picky, picky.

The marathon produced 8 options. Being the indecisive girl that I am…I bought one of each. Thankfully, 4 choices were eliminated easily. Cute in the store – but not here.

The Great Curtain InDecision

That left 4 curtains to hang up and stare at. For days. And days.

Finally, we agreed. And, when my parents came over, they picked the same one without any coaching.

Confirmation.

Done!

Now I need to return them all before I have second thoughts.

Maybe I’ll show the room next week 🙂