Friday, April 29, 2016

How Pinterest Has Helped Me Draw Closer to God

Our family is facing a challenge. 

My Dad is very sick.  The prognosis is about 3 months.  This is challenging because Dad is struggling to understand his illness.  I live with my parents so I see his frustration, exhaustion, confusion and deterioration everyday.  Sometimes it is really hard to watch my Dad suffering, knowing there is nothing practical I can do.  My mum and I share the responsibility of caring for Dad.  That is hard too, sometimes. 

I am somewhat distracted most of the time these days.  If I'm not with Dad, I have him (and all the things related to caring for him) humming along at the back of my mind.  I think about his medications, his pain, his sleep patterns, his diet and even his bodily functions.  Reading a passage of scripture and devotional lesson is difficult.  I struggle to concentrate.  This is difficult for Dad to do too.  My mind wanders while I read and when I try to pray.  I continue to persevere with this, but sometimes it feels like I'm not doing so well.

The Pinterest Board, which I created way back when I joined up, has been a real comfort to me of late.  I also followed other Christian women on Pinterest as well as Bible-based online communities.  Whenever I log on to Pinterest, I see Bible promises with beautiful images among the noise of education and craft photos.  I see them, I read them and I am reminded that I serve a Loving, Merciful, Powerful God who loves me and listens when I pray.  Then I thank God for His word.  I thank God for my Friends and Family who pray for me.  I claim God's promises for my family.  I sit still for just a moment and I breathe in His Peace. 

Social Media is often bagged out for the negative impact it has on society.  Today I am thankful for the escape of social media and the contact I can have with the outside world.  I can do all this from the comfort of my recliner. 

If you are interested, check out some of the links below to see what is encouraging me online. 

My Pinterest Board= TRUE

Instapray - post your own prayer requests or pray for others.

1 Minute Bible Love Notes - short, powerful messages from God's word

Amazing Grace Blog - encouragement from a Christian Woman

Happily Hope - Bible verse printable pictures

I have an Awesome God! 

Friday, April 22, 2016

Note to Self: Travel and Booking Hotel Rooms

I recently stayed at a hotel for a weekend so I could have some alone time.  The purpose of my 'retreat' and how I spent it might sound strange to many but it was exactly what I needed.  Every experience is an opportunity to learn, and I don't want to forget what I learned from this particular little adventure.  If I can't say it here, so I remember it later, where can I say it?

When staying at a hotel that claims to have cable channels, take the portable DVD player, just in case! It's better to leave it in your bag than be bored because you can't watch all those awesome DVD's you brought with you. It is a bit tricky to watch DVD's and work on your laptop at the same time when your laptop is already slow.

Spa baths are great fun and always worth the extra money tacked onto the price of a hotel room.

Air Conditioning is a must!

Wifi is a must!  Sometimes this is FREE and sometimes paid per day.  Check locations - sometimes throughout the grounds, sometimes only in shared spaces such as the lobby and or business centre.

Room Service is also a must. Check the hours that the room service is available.  Sometimes it is 24 hours... great... sometimes it is only for specified meals during specified hours.  It's worth finding this out before you book especially if you plan to eat in and don't want to pack your own food.

Use a travel app (like Trip Advisor) to find out what is close to the hotel (before booking) including restaurants, take away joints, shopping centres, convenience stores, cinemas, bus stops/ public transport and places of interest (e.g. museums, theme parks).

Find out if your Hotel caters for major events such as weddings. While you might not be planning to tie the knot, if you are there for a weekend it is likely that at least one Wedding or other big celebration is going to be taking place.  Be prepared for noisy/ happy (drunk) neighbours.  There could also be a conference of some kind going on where you could find yourself surrounded by a bunch of scientists or accountants.  Some people might feel this is a bonus.  Some people might not.  Either way, it's nice to know what to expect.

If there is a pool, pack your swimming costume.  It's nice to know you can use the pool even if you don't take the option.

Sleep in and take advantage of all the perks that are available to you.  You will have more fun that way. 

:) So glad I am no longer in danger of forgetting all these things that I forgot last time I stayed at a fancy hotel.  :)

Friday, April 15, 2016

FROZEN Decoration (part 2): Photobooth and Table Settings

The FROZEN party of the Decade (it was a big deal for us, okay!) had many elements that made it so great.  There was a Delicious Menu, Fun Activities and Decorations that created a magical celebration world.  For the final post in my series about the Great FROZEN Party I want to show you how we decorated and set the table.  Then, I will show you how we put the Photo Booth together. 

Hurricane Lamps - we had in the cupboard.  You can purchase these for less than $5 at your local Discount Store.  The Frozen Figurines came in a Mystery Mini Doll Set which I purchased at our local supermarket for $3 each.  There were four of these evenly spaced along the centre of the table.

I used snowflake stickers (which I bought in the after Christmas sales) to decorate the drinking cups and the small plastic shot glasses that we used to serve the Nutella fondue (click here to see my post about the Menu for the party). 

The photos below show the table after it was set.  Hagrid couldn't resist sitting in the birthday girl's chair just to see how it felt.

It seems that a Photo Booth is a must have element for almost any celebration these days.  The advancement of technology means that everyone has a camera phone and even the most mundane life event is an opportunity for a selfie.  A Photo Booth is also an opportunity to play "dress up" and little girls love to dress up, so it was a no brainer.  There are lots of Photo Booth ideas out there from simple to complicated.  You can find printable/ cut outs for making props as well as ideas for making your own.  You can even buy ready made props.  Our props included:
-reindeer ears,
-big sunglasses- like Olaf wears in his Summer Song,
-two plastic tiaras,
-2 fairy wands (with blue and silver ribbon tied around them),
- hair piece headbands (a blonde single plait and a red double plait),
- blue sparkled cloth,

I purchased the reindeer ears in the after Christmas sales and the hair pieces at Best and Less.  The blue sparkled fabric was bought at a local fabric shop.  I picked up the rest of the props from various discount stores by looking in the party/ costume section each time I was out and thinking about how they could be linked to the movie.  As it was my other niece's birthday the following week, I saved all the props to create a dress up box for her.  Totally worth it because the dress up box was a huge hit!

I presented all the props for the photo booth in a small wicker basket (another item from my Mum's cupboard of craft and other supplies) set beside the backdrop.  We used white paper lanterns (also bought from the discount store) to 'build a snowman' and placed some fabric snow (another after Christmas bargain) on the floor. 

That's all you need to know about my Great Frozen Party.  Check out my Pinterest Board to see more great ideas shared by other Party Planners (from ordinary Mum's to the professionals).  If you have any questions or want to share your own ideas, please do so in the comments.  I would love to hear them. 

Have Fun Planning your next Great Party!

Friday, April 8, 2016

FROZEN Party Decorations!!

The GREAT FROZEN Tea Party was a rousing success which made all the preparation totally worth it.  While it takes a lot of time to sift through ideas and resources on the web and actually narrow it down to a manageable load, I am not even counting that as the hardest or longest part.  The most elaborate part of hosting a party is the decorating. 

While the menu must be magical and memorable, the decorations set the mood from the moment guests step through the front door.  I have to say, I did a great job of creating a magical and fun atmosphere from the front door to the tea table and back again. Everyone seemed suitably impressed by the decorations.  The only thing I would do differently is make sure I had created more things in the weeks before the party so the few days before the party were less busy.  I suppose you are dying to find out all about the creation process... which I must admit was the most enjoyable part of the whole affair in my mind.  :)

I divided the house into three zones for the party activities and tried to decorate each of them in a way that showed each zone as individual but tied the three different zones into one magical FROZEN world.  This was a bit tricky, as the kitchen was in the middle of it all and it was difficult to decorate such a functional  area.  I used some of the snowflakes (which were also placed throughout all the party zones) to decorate cupboard doors.  That seemed to make the party zones come together.   

What would a FROZEN party be without snowflakes?! Boring, that's what.  My mum used this tutorial to create 3D snowflakes.  We hung the 3D snowflakes above the table that the girls sat at for tea.  There are tutorials for different styles of these 3D snowflakes, although this is the most common one.  Mum said that once she had a couple of practice runs it got quicker and easier to make these. 

We both used blue cardboard/ paper to cut out paper snowflakes.  I also purchased about 150 paper doilies from our local dollar store, which made my snowflake cutting really easy! There are several tutorials and templates for cutting identical looking snowflakes.  I used these as a rough guide to get me started, but mainly I just cut random shapes out of the folded doilies.  Every snowflake in nature is unique so I think it was better to make each of the 2D snowflakes a little bit different. 

We laminated most of the 2D snowflakes so we can use them again for other parties... whether FROZEN or Winter Wonderland or other Snowy theme, these will come in handy. 

There are a lot of these on the internet- click the link in this paragraph or check out the link at the bottom of this post for more sources.  Quite a few party planning sites and friendly Blogging Mum's who offer printable resources that you can download if you are hosting a party of your own and then all you have to do is cut out and hang.  I compiled a list of quotes from the film myself and printed them out.  Some were on blue paper and some were on white paper. 
I used the lyrics from "Fixer Upper"
(a song from the movie)
to make this sign for the Bathroom

We used the 2D snowflakes and a couple of the quote posters in the entry way of our house to compliment the two big things that welcomed our guests.
First we had a wreath on the door.  Mum made this with a feather boa and a wreath ring she had in the cupboard. 
The sign under the wreath says,
"Love is an Open Door" (Come on in)

Next, we had a curtain made from streamers and plastic tablecloths in the hall. 

Guests walked through this to get to the dining table where afternoon tea was set up.  Click here for an easy to follow tutorial of how to construct a similar curtain/ back drop for your party.  I used this as inspiration for our curtain and other backdrops through the house. 
The back drop to our Tea Party. 
The cake was presented on the cabinet (on the right)
Battery Operated Fairy Lights hooked over the curtain rod
hung beautifully behind two plastic table cloths to make this backdrop.

More Snowflakes and Quote Posters
and additional decorations
Close Up

Check in Next week to see the Photo Booth and the Table Decorations!

Saturday, April 2, 2016

A Great FROZEN Party Menu

The most talked about and remembered part of a celebration is always the food!  It doesn't matter if you are throwing a party for a one year old or a one hundred year old, if it is a wedding or a wake, the food will be noticed and people will talk about it.  You can be forgiven almost any party faux pa if the food is exquisite.  You can impress them with decorations and entertain them with activities, but if you don't wow them with food, your party will be a dud.  It's not enough to just feed them, you have to seduce their senses and tantalise their taste buds. 

Your Menu Must be Magical!

The Menu at our FROZEN party looked like this...

Looking at various Party Planning websites and blogs you can find several themed menu items for your FROZEN party and plenty of party staple foods as well.  What you ultimately include on your menu will depend on a number of factors including: time of day, season/ weather, party location, entertainment/ activities, dietary requirements of guests, parental restrictions, guest demographics, what your guest of honour likes to eat. 

As this Great Party was for my niece, my sister had to approve the menu.  This meant that several menu items I would have chosen were not included.  Ultimately, what we served was a good mix of nutritious and treat and all of it was yummy! Mum and Grandma had their hearts set on a "high tea" so I did some research and found this great article (pin) about traditional high tea and the etiquette rules.
I used this as a guide rather than a gospel for my menu and of course I checked out the themed party foods from lots of other FROZEN parties before creating the menu for this party.  The mother daughter mix of guests had a bit of an influence on the menu as well and we decided to have a separate serving table just for the adult guests. 

Children's Menu
1st Course
Sandwiches: Cheese and Vegemite, Cheese, Vegemite, Ham and Cheese, Chicken and Mayo, ("We finish each other's sandwiches")
Carrot and Celery Sticks (Sven Snacks)
Small Meatballs (Troll rocks) with tomato sauce for dipping.

2nd Course
Mini Cupcakes- vanilla cakes. Some had white icing and blue/white pearl sprinkles.  Some had light blue icing with Frozen Character Cupcake toppers.

3rd Course
Fruit Fondue (Anna sings about the chocolate fondue in her duet with Hans "Love is an Open Door"). This included cubed seasonal fruit with a small plastic shot glass filled with melted Nutella. 

Adult's Menu
1st Course
Sandwiches (salmon and cream cheese, cucumber, chicken and mayo).
Small Meatballs with dipping sauce
Carrot sticks and Celery sticks

2nd Course
Scones with Strawberry Jam and Whipped Cream.

3rd Course
Seasonal Fruit and Cupcakes.

The birthday cake was prepared by a talented family friend.

I pinned lots of cakes on my party planning board and narrowed it down to three choices.  My niece chose her favourite and then our friend got baking. 

That's that then.