The Crazy Hat Box

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(Baseball) Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend

You can’t live in the Midwest right now and not have baseball fever.  In fact, if you go out in public and you’re not wearing blue, chances are, you’re the odd one out.  It’s everywhere, and Midwest pride has never been higher!

When my sister and her boyfriend got engaged during last year’s post season, we knew we’d be throwing them a baseball-themed couples’ shower!  So we went to work gathering all kinds of ideas for decorations, foods, and gifts.  We threw a couples’ shower because, c’mon, the guys have to have fun, too, and the baseball theme was a big hit!  So, if you’re looking for ideas for a World Series party, look no further!

The Decorations

What’s a Baseball party without the baseballs?

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White paper lanterns with stitching drawn in red Sharpie

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Rubber bases used as placemats

We also created baseball-themed signs to place around the house:

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“Locker Room” sign for the bathroom

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“What a Catch” sign for the front door

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“Gift Shop” sign for the gift table

The Food

The thing about baseball food is it’s easy and universally liked.  Who doesn’t love hotdogs, popcorn, and cotton candy?

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The Extras

As a gift for the Bride and Groom, we found a wooden C (the first letter of their last name), added baseball stitching to it (with red Sharpie), and had people sign it.  And we had baseball caps with “Bride” and “Groom” written on them for the couple to wear at the shower!

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The Games

What’s a party without games?  We did a quiz about the couple, and also a quiz about Baseball Terminology.  Which is a baseball term: Uncle Charlie or Uncle Bob? If you’re curious about the answers, here they are: Baseball Terminology – answers

Get out there and party for our Boys in Blue – Let’s Go Royals!

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Spiderweb Door Decoration

I have two boys, and in true boy fashion, they love dirt, making messes, bugs, and spiders.  So, to help celebrate the season, we did a spider and spiderweb craft.  I’ve seen a lot of examples for making various bugs and animals out of egg cartons, but, let’s face it, the spider’s web is just as cool as the spider itself.  Why not make a web for our egg carton spiders and hang it on the door?  It ended up being so cute, and a perfect way to spend a sick day away from school.

What you’ll need:

  • An egg carton
  • Paint, markers, or crayons
  • Googly eyes
  • Glue
  • Pipe cleaners
  • String
  • Popsicle sticks

I cut the egg carton into sections of two egg cups each.  I was just going to cut it into one egg-cup sections, but my six-year-old informed me that spiders have a head AND and abdomen.  Then, we painted our spider bodies.

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While our spider bodies dried, I made the web (my kids are a little too young to be able to do this part).  I glued popsicle sticks together in a sort of circle.

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Then, I wrapped string around it (as much to help it stay together as for aesthetic reasons).  I cut a smaller portion of string and made it into a circle to use in the center of the web, then wrapped string around the outside popsicle circle and through the inside string circle.  Finally, I wove string through it all to make the web!  Don’t forget to add a loop at the top so you can hang up the web!

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When our spider bodies were dry, we glued googly eyes to them and added pipe cleaner legs – two pipe cleaners cut into four pieces for a total of eight legs each.

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Isn’t this the cutest door decoration?  The pipe cleaner legs hooked perfectly around the web, keeping the spiders in place!

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Happy Halloween!!

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Hosting Outside the Box

When I was first married and wanted to host something, it was almost always dinner. I mean, that’s what you do, right? You have people over for dinner. You get a date on the calendar for a Friday or Saturday night. You search the World Wide Web for a new, fun recipe. Once you find one that doesn’t have too many ingredients, or at least all ingredients that you’ve heard of, then you realize you’ve wasted 2 hours and move on. The day arrives and you scrunch in all of the last-minute cleaning that you procrastinated all week, light a great smelling candle in the powder room, put on some music and you are ready for your dinner guests. They get there, you take their coats, pour some drinks, maybe have a little conversation and then dinner is served. I have had many a fun night with this same scenario. I will always want to have people over for dinner. But, there are some fun options. I’m learning to host outside of the box. I’m sure none of these are original ideas from me. You may have tried every one of them. I’ve tried some, but I plan to try them all. Here goes…

Brunch

Our little town has a parade in May every year and it is a blast to host brunch on our sun porch and watch the parade.

Afternoon Tea

Little sandwiches and delicious desserts. So many fun things you can do with this.

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Progressive Dinner

This was quite popular when I was younger. You have hors devours at one house (or I’ve been to one at restaurants), salad at another, dinner at another and dessert at the final house. You could add after dinner drinks if you wanted to.

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You could have hors devours on the front porch, salad in the eat-in kitchen, main course in the dining room and dessert in the back yard or any combination of those. The fun thing about that would be that you could have a different ice breaker or trivia type game in each location. You could also choose to set each table with a different theme or the same theme with different colors. The possibilities are endless!

Dessert Under the Stars

Invite people over late in the evening. Set up a table with lots of candles. Put some blankets in a basket or wagon in case it gets chilly. Have a separate table with a bunch of different mini desserts, or set the table and put a little piece of several different things at each place setting. Try some new drink recipes and put some coffee in a thermos so it stays hot. Play music softly in the back ground. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Let creation be the main attraction.

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Movie and Popcorn Night

Have a popcorn bar.  You can do so many things.  A couple of my favorites are popcorn with Hot Tamales for a cinnamon popcorn taste or popcorn with Milk Duds for a caramel popcorn taste.  If you do popcorn on a regular basis I highly recommend this (it has changed our popcorn popping and eating experience).  You could add movie trivia to the night for fun.  Have a prize for the winner.  It doesn’t have to be expensive.  You could give a box of Hot Tamales or Milk Duds and a gift card (physical or digital) from Red Box.  The cost for the gift card could be as little as $1.00.

Game Night

A classic that is always fun.

Pot Luck

Don’t be afraid to let people bring food too. Have your posse over and set a theme (or don’t) and you can have a blast. You might end up with all desserts, but life is short, live a little!

Think outside the box about who you invite sometimes. Don’t be limited by only people your age or people who may have kids the same age. Branch out. You will get to know some lovely people that way!

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The Cakeless Birthday

Cake.  It’s the traditional birthday food.  You put candles on it.  You eat it with ice-cream.  If you’re going to a birthday party, you can always count on cake being there.

But what if you (or your kids) don’t like cake?

I know it sounds unbelievable that any kid wouldn’t like cake, but mine don’t.  They never have.  For their first few birthdays, I still made cake or cupcakes because that’s what you do for birthdays.  I’d serve the cake to the guests, and give the birthday boy Oreos or Reeses for his dessert – what he really wanted. But then I thought, why make something they don’t like (as cute as those cakes and cupcakes were)?  It’s THEIR birthday, and who says we HAVE to have cake?  So, I started coming up with alternatives.

Sugar Cookies

My oldest son loves sugar cookies, so that’s been his birthday dessert of choice for the last two years.  They are a great alternative because you can find cookie cutter shapes for almost any theme!  An added bonus is that my kids love to help make sugar cookies, making it a fun pre-birthday party activity to do together!

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Rice Krispie Treats

I love this option because you can mold Rice Krispie Treats into any cake pan and decorate it with icing like a cake!  And, you can even add some variety and make them with other kinds of cereal – in this case, I also used Trix.  This is a great option, too, if you’re worried about kids with milk allergies (but in this case you’d probably have to omit the icing).

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Donut “Cake”

Technically, donuts are kind of a form of cake, but that deep-fried goodness somehow makes them so much better (and magically makes them ok to eat for breakfast).  I love this because you can stack them like a cake, add icing to decorate them like a cake, and they’re already separated into portions.  And, you can get several different kinds so that everyone is sure to find something they like!

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Oreos

For my youngest son’s last birthday, I made Cookie’s ‘n Cream cupcakes, but I reserved some of the plain Oreos for non-cake lovers.  Since he had a Mickey Mouse birthday party, I made the Oreos look like Mickey, so they went perfectly with the theme!

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For your next party, don’t be afraid to think outside the cake pan!  Be creative!

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M-I-C-K-E-Y P-A-R-T-Y

There are some days that I think will never end, but when I look back over the years, they seem so quick!  How are my babies growing so fast?  A friend of mine likes to say “the years are short, but the days are long”.  So true.

My baby turned three this month.  THREE!  How is that possible?  Even though I’m always in disbelief at how big they’re getting, I love my kids’ birthdays.  They are so fun!  Every year, we have themed birthday parties for the boys.  We’ve done  a tractor theme, a monkey theme, Very Hungry Caterpillar theme, Cars…  you get the idea.  This year was the first year that little boy was able to pick his own theme, and, since he’s recently become obsessed with Mickey Mouse (if I have to watch Mickey Mouse Clubouse Road Rally one more time, I may get physically sick), he picked a Mickey Mouse party.

There are so many amazing ideas on Pinterest for all kinds of birthday parties – and Mickey Mouse-themed parties are no exception.  So, armed with tons of ideas from Pinterest, along with a menu provided by my Sister-In-Law (who did a Mickey and Minnie themed party for her kids last year), I created a party.  Here are the results.  It was so much fun!

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Signs for the front and back doors.  I found FREE printables for them here.  I glued them onto Mickey shapes I cut out on my Cricut.

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 Mickey Mouse straws from Amazon and a red Solo cup that I glued white ovals on to make it look like Mickey’s pants!

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The main course was, of course, Hot Dog, Hot Dog, Hot Diggity Dogs!

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“Minnie” carrots and jicama with Donald and Daisy dill dip.

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“Chip and Dale” chips and dip with “Goofy” guacamole.

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“Pete’s” pickles (they’re actually my mom’s pickles – she makes the best!).

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And don’t forget the “Mouseketools”!

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Every year, I set out note cards and pens so that friends and family can write the birthday boy a note.  Then, I put the notes in the boys’ scrapbooks, so they can see how much they’ve been loved over the years.

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My sweet friend, Kendel, brought all the kids Mickey suckers!

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And the main attraction – Mickey Mouse Cookies n’ Cream Cupcakes!  They were SO GOOD!  Here’s where I got the cupcake stand.

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I got the recipe for the cupcakes and frosting from Annie’s Eats.  Then, I used Oreo halves and mini Oreos to make Mickey ears.  Just cut an Oreo in half (this works best if you use a serrated knife), then split a mini oreo in two, scrape off the frosting (which I used in the cupcakes – no need to waste!), and push them into your Oreo half.  So cute!

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The Mickey candles were another Amazon purchase, as were the cupcake liners.

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And Oreo Mickeys for those who don’t like cake (aka, my children – weird, I know).

It was a great party!

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We Gather Together for Thanksgiving in April

This past weekend we celebrated Thanksgiving in April.  This is how it all started:

Every year for several years Ali, her husband, her sister Rachel and her husband, me and my husband have Thanksgiving in April. It all started because of Rachel. One year over Thanksgiving season, Rachel was very sick. She ended up needing her tonsils removed. So, over Thanksgiving she couldn’t eat the food. It was very sad and she was very vocal about the fact that she missed out on Thanksgiving food. Now, I’m not judging. I would have complained a lot too. Plus, it started our new awesome tradition. She wouldn’t let it go. So, sorta to be funny and sorta cause we love Thanksgiving food, we had Thanksgiving in April. It was delicious and it was fun! It didn’t have all the pressure of Christmas being right around the corner. We all contributed food. We burned a fall smelling candle, we ate, and we laughed. We know a great, new tradition when we see one, so it began. Now we take turns hosting. We all sign up for what to bring. We set a date. And we are thankful. It’s always in season to be with friends, to eat delicious food together, to laugh and to be thankful to our Provider for His great gifts.

Ali hosted this year and did a great job on the decorating.

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A very festive table.

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A verse about Thanksgiving at each place setting.

This time happened to be on the same weekend at Easter.  We didn’t plan it that way on purpose, it just worked out with everyone’s schedule.

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Some fun for the kids.

Here are the some of the yummy side dishes.

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I don’t think there was one bite of Rachel’s sinful potatoes left!

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My hubby’s famous deviled eggs.

Now for the main attraction!

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Ali’s turkey was delicious!

Of course, we had to finish off with dessert.

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We left happy and miserably full!  It was a good day.

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