Since 1877, The Fresh Air Fund, a not-for-profit agency, has provided free summer vacations in the country to more than 1.7 million New York City children from disadvantaged communities. They also have year-round programs and off-season camping options.
In 2008, The Fresh Air Fund's Volunteer Host Family Program, called Friendly Town, gave close to 5,000 New York City boys and girls, ages six to 18, summer experiences in the country and the suburbs. Volunteer host families shared their friendship and homes for two weeks or more in 13 Northeastern states from Virginia to Maine and Canada.
If you live on the east coast and are interested in being part of this amazing program, check out their website.Back in college, I had the pleasure to work a few summers with the IHAD program; it provides children in low-income communities with the opportunities to achieve higher education by providing them with guaranteed tuition support and equipping them with the skills, knowledge, and habits they need to gain entry to higher education and succeed in college and beyond. They enter the program in early elementary school and stay through high school. Our affliate serviced middle school students (or Dreamers) from Portland, OR. They stayed in the dorms of Whitman College, where college students served as counselors. I, along with other educators, shared information through fun classes.
Check out an affliate in your area to help out, it will be worth your time.
A fun and fab 3rd birthday party from Lovely Sprinkles....
The before-mentioned Dynamic Duo grace a twin party at Divine Party Concepts...
This Elmo party has been floating around for awhile, but it's perfectly classic...
"C" is for cookie at Fine Stationery's inspiration board...can't you just see yourself at the milk-and-cookie buffet?
Couture fabulousness from Couture Parties.
I've found some really fun drink recipes, and narrowed it down to four. A nice rainbow collection, and since this group loves to drink (one of the hostesses has 5 martini shakers and a veritable collection of designer martini glasses!), I hope they will be impressed.
Triple Orange Margarita - courtesy of Glam.com
1 1/2 ounce ultra-premium tequila
3/4 ounce Imported GranGala Triple Orange Liqueur
1 ounce freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 ounce agave nectar (a natural sweetner; you can sub simple syrup to taste)
1 lime wheel
1 orange peel
1. Pour the tequila, orange liqueur, juices, and nectar into an ice-filled shaker.
2. Add the orange peel, shake vigoriously, and strain into a chilled ice-filled glass or chilled margarita glass to serve it “up.”
3. Garnish with a lime wheel and the orange peel.
Pomegranate Margarita - a great group recipe, courtesy of Southern Living
6 cups white tequila
12 cups water
4 cups cranberry juice cocktail
2 cups pomegranate juice
1 1/2 cups Triple Sec
2 (10-ounce) cans frozen margarita mix, thawed
2 (11.5-ounce) cans frozen cranberry juice cocktail, thawed and undiluted
2 (12-ounce) cans frozen limeade concentrate, thawed and undiluted
Light corn syrup
Coarse sparkling sugar
1. Combine first 8 ingredients in a very large plastic container. Cover and freeze at least 24 hours or until slushy.
2. Pour a small amount of corn syrup onto a flat plate. Pour coarse sugar onto another plate. Dip rims of margarita glasses in corn syrup; dip each glass into sugar.
3. Pour margaritas into prepared glasses.
Pineapple Margarita - courtesy of High Octane Blenders.com
1 1/4 ounces tequila
3/4 ounce triple sec
1 1/2 ounces pineapple juice
1 ounce lime juice
1 ounce sweet-and-sour mix
1/3 cup pineapple chunk, frozen
2 cups crushed ice
1. Rub rim of margarita glass with lime wedge and dip in granulated sugar.
2. Combine ingredients into mixer until smooth.
3. Garnish with a speared pineapple chunk and cherry.
Blue Margarita - recipe courtesy of Southern Living
1 (10-ounce) can frozen margarita mix
3/4 cup tequila
1/4 cup blue curaçao liqueur
2 tablespoons lime juice
1. Rub rim of margarita glass with lime then dip in salt.
2. Combine all ingredients in a blender. Fill with ice to 5-cup level, and process until smooth. Serve immediately.
Robin at Mix Mingle Glow used them as invitations for a beach party. Setting The Mood With Jamee's beach ball and preppy pink and green version.
Clusters of beach balls cruise over tabletops at this fun event.
Try your skills with Wilton's Sports Ball cake pan, while these beach ball cookies make perfect party favors.
With another excuse to throw a fab party on the horizon with Cinco De Mayo, here are some new and exciting ideas to get your fiesta's signature cocktail crack-a-lackin'.
Check out Lolita's painted margarita glasses, fun to look at and drink out of.
Mixing one drink at a time is so 2008. Sur La Table's Margaritaville Tahiti Frozen Concoction Maker DM 3000 sounds like something from South Park. And no surprise, they thought that too!
Williams-Sonoma's premium cocktail mixers are not your ordinary mixers; have you ever had a margarita made with mango?
100% recycled glass and hand-blown in Mexico, these red-trimmed glasses are sure to make a statement!
A personalized margarita pitcher makes a perfect gift for yourself or a special friend.
Come back on Sunday for some amazing margarita drink recipes!
If you insist on having graduation and luau go hand in hand, isn't there any way to make it a little classier? "Tiki" doesn't have to mean "tacky" so here are some hot looks to make your soiree a hit and the talk of the summer.
Last year's post on luau ideas is sure to get you inspired.
In The Gospel According To In Style Parties,the reigning divo that is Colin Cowie, designed a fab backyard luau complete with a pan-Asian menu under a canopied structure lit by Chinese lanterns and surrounded by tiki torches. They covered the sides of their table with grass skirting, fabric leis on the chairs and hurricane lamps are alternated with mounds of whole and halved tropical fruits and studded with tropical flowers.
In The Gospel According To Great Parties For Kids, they outlined a fabulous tropical paradise party, complete with dressed up garden furniture, and topped off with tropical-island style sunshades from a home-improvement store. Flower-shaped tealights float in bowls of water, chairs are dressed with leis that guests can add to their costumes.
I love their party favor, a flower lei coiled into a cocktail glass with a pair of shades and a monkey swizzle stick wrapped in cellophane, and tied with a bright ribbon.
For table décor, Moana Events suggests to focus on clean, organic lines with a lot of natural elements and just a few tropical ones. Their beautiful tabletop kept the floral print to one aspect of the table and balanced it out by using many wood elements and limiting the use of color.
Instead of floral centerpieces, they chose to use two large Monstera leafs in a simple wood bowl. Simple, off-white ceramic plates are placed on top of a woven grass charger; sleek modern silverware and stemless wine glasses complete their place setting.
The ultimate tropical party guide has to be The Gospel According to Trader Vic's Tiki Party! From setting the party mood to fabulous recipes, they have it all covered! They suggest a trip to a well-stocked florist or wholesaler, get your hands on large leaves like palm fronds and banana leaves, and focus your decorating skills on the entry, the bar, and the main food table. Tiki torches are perfect mood lighting, as well as paper lanterns and votive candles to create a warm and flattering light.
A good chunk of the book is devoted to setting up the bar (non-alcoholic for the high school set) and a plethora of amazing drink recipes, a few I will be sharing over the next couple of Sundays.
Bottom line, keep it simple: grass skirting, leis and brightly colored tableware and a special prop or two. Inviting your guests to come in island attire will easily set the scene. Throw in some reggae, lounge music, Cuban or African music in addition to Hawaiian music and you have the perfect recipe for an amazing time.
1 oz. vodka
2 oz. fresh pineapple juice
1 1/2 oz. fresh pink grapefruit juice
2 half-moon grapefruit slices
1. Fill large tumbler with ice cubes up to the rim. Add vodka, juices and stir.
2. Garnish with the grapefruit slices.
So, I'm shopping the other day in Safeway with the boy, looking for his snack for school. Now, let me preface this with saying I'm not a perfect mom, never claimed to be; I figured the first one might not turn out so hot, so I'll do better with the second kid, and learn from my mistakes. My kids KNOW however where and when to cross the line. Out in public is not, because heaven help them when we get home.
This one particular child, she looked about 8, decided that the world would end if they didn't purchase the High School Musical cereal, and proceeded to let everyone know exactly how she felt about it. I believe it came to a head when she told her mother to "shut up and buy the d*&% cereal already".
Cut to "Keeping Up With The Kardashians" on E! Why do I watch this show? I'm a sadist, and I like to see rich people boo-hoo about their lives. The last installment I watched was Khris (their mom) finalizing Kim's perfume deal, and her two sisters blowing a gasket about taking their name, being more famous than them, having better hair, I don't know. All I know is Khloe (she who went to jail for like 2 hours on a DUI charge and couldn't figure out why she got in trouble in the first place) went gangsta on her mom's ass. I say, thank your lucky stars you have a hot sister who had a sex tape and made you all interesting/pathetic enough to have a reality show, when there are people losing their real jobs. Oh, I'm sorry, dancing on tables, having two boutiques and money from your famous parents isn't a real job. It was the rudest, most pathetic tantrum I'd ever seen, until I saw the same one in Safeway.
Now how much of it is TV you wonder? I'm a grown woman with children and even for a million dollars wouldn't have the cajones to yell at my mom. I did actually get upset with her once when I was a new mom, and let her know. Talk about her turning on Mommy Guilt, it was turned up to MAX POWER. Trust me, never did that again.
I saw the same horrible behavior on "Real Housewives Of The O.C." where the oldest son berated his mother when she came out to watch him play baseball and when she came on the field, told her later she was lucky he didn't hit her with a bat. Now, mind you, her husband wasn't too nice either, but then she proceeded to make excuses. When I saw that episode, I thought I would have knocked my son out 10 ways to Sunday if he ever talked to me like that, whether we were on TV, in the store, or our backyard. But then came the excuses, and much like Kim's mom, this mom in Safeway, conceded to buying the cereal, and actually said "You didn't have to yell, sweetie, I know you are tired".
I'm often complimented on how well-behaved my kids are. That's frightening, because that should be normal behavior. They are supposed to be well-behaved. And it's hard work, they don't roll out of bed saying "please" "thank you" and "Sorry I stepped on your toe". I've done my fair share of shrieking, and they aren't perfect...last week the little one had a breakdown at Gymnastics, and we promptly left, with 20 minutes left in class. Hey moms, here's a tip; if your kid(s) are acting up, leave. Don't torment the rest of us, and try to make it better by giving them a cookie. When my kids hit the wall, peace out, yo. I know my kids, and once that happens because they are tired/pissy/hungry, that was my fault for not reading the signs. Plus, it's a great reminder that MOM is in charge, and I will leave a cart full of groceries/playdate/birthday party/wedding (been there, done them all) if you plan on acting up.
If good behavior is out of the ordinary, I shudder to think what the next generation will turn out like.
Did I mention I heart that video? Anyone who can make Girl Scout uniforms sexy is #1 with me. Of course, Destiny's Child's "Bootylicious" works too. Just substitute "Cougarlicious" in...." 'cuz my body's too cougarlicious for ya baby' "
Anyhoo, I'm back from that train wreck of thoughts...the video's Candyland-with-bling theme seemed perfect...lure-the-youngsters-in-with-candy-diamonds-are-a-girl's-best-friend vibe is perfect for the gal on the prowl. It feels very grown-up but still a little whimsical. Plus, with the premiere of TV Land's The Cougar on Wednesday, and Madonna newly single, cougars are having the Best Week Ever. Loved that show before they went to a one-man train wreck....arg, focus!
Beautiful baubles from Jamali Garden are perfect adornments. A centerpiece of those ubiqutous manzanita branches would look look fab with them hanging from the branches. They also have crystal tea light holders, but you can score them at your favorite craft store. Or try their sparkling crystal votive holders.
Disco balls and feather collars are hot hot, hot! A tasty tabletop - fill plant pots with Conversation Hearts, jelly beans, rock candy and Red Hots and nest lollipops in the mix. Or swap out the candy pieces for floral "ice".
Indulge the ladies with a decadent candy buffet, or set up a martini bar with sweet-tooth concoctions like a cotton candy martini or a banana creme pie martini.
Candy Shop - 50 Cent
Mrs. Robinson - Simon and Garfunkel
Candy Man - Christina Aguilera
Maggie May - Rod Stewart
I Want Candy - Bow Wow Wow
Tootsie Roll - 69 Boyz
Candy - Cameo
Lollipop - Lil' Wayne
Lollipop (Candyman) - Aqua
1. A pretty party favor, complete with the couple's initials.
2. I'm inspired by these over-the-top centerpieces that are bouquets of oversized lollipops, birch and paper cones of ranunculus
3. Lovin' the TomKat Studio Etsy party pack! Everything you need, from invites to cupcake toppers.
4. Check out the pack in action.
5. A clever tree guards its candy table.
6. Martha's white-chocolate daisies sprout from chocolate flowerpots.
7. Perfect cupcakes; find mini lollipops at your favorite candy store, and I've seen them at Party City.
8. Coffeebeans as a double-duty centerpiece filler? Genius!
Who are these people you ask? A brand new way to organize and manage parties, get-togethers, events and meetings with features like sending invites over email SMS and Facebook. Not only do they have online invitations, announcements, ecards, printable games and activities, there is an event store, chock full of party games and activities for every type of party! Plus, they have articles full of party planning tips and ideas.
Today's giveaway is for the Basic Plan which is loaded with fun extras. So how to get your hands on one? Peruse their articles on Party Planning Basics; leave a comment here on your favorite article, and if you have more than one favorite article leave another comment, because each one will count as an entry.
The giveaway will end next Tuesday April 21 at 11:59 p.m. and the randomly-picked winner will be announced sometime on Wednesday. Good luck!
The pictures do them no justice, they appear to be made thousands of yards of tulle and intricate detailing, and every color of the rainbow. And her clothes were divine; alas, my boys aged out of her selections, the highest appeared to be a 5T. I wept openly as my ovaries screamed at me to try one more time, we might get a girl this time. Sigh.
There are actually 3 businesses in this small blue house; Inside Out, a country decor shop, Heather Lynn Photographie (yes, that is how they spelled it), and up the narrowest stairs you've ever seen is Bee Bops and Lollipops, taking up two small bedrooms and a closet. There were like 5 of us up there, and we literally had to take turns moving around.
Did you know there are an unending plethora of businesses that do ballerina parties with dress up tutus and real ballerinas to teach your prima donnas dances? That's another post for another day. So check out these amazing sites...shush ovaries, no babies for you!
1. Tutu Couture
2. Hannah's Tutus
3. Fairy Wonderful
4. Tutus and Tadpoles
1 1/4 oz 360 Vodka
3/4 oz melon liqueur
1/2 oz peach puree or daiquiri mix
1 oz orange juice
1 oz pineapple juice
maraschino cherry for garnish
1. Pour the ingredients into an ice-filled shaker.
2. Shake well and strain into glass.
3. Drop the cherry into the glass.
Get The Party Started
Use services like Evite and Purple Trail for online invitations; they have Earth Day themed invites. If you just have to have send paper invites, how about writing party info on paper lunch bags that invitees can reuse?
Setting The Scene
Potted plants and seedlings make great decorations that can be given to guests to take home and plant. Put them in recycled decorated coffee cans, yogurt cups or glass jars.
There are many wonderful CDs featuring relaxing nature music. Check them out for free at your local library.
Menu ideas should include creating foods that use little to no energy, and using natural foods to celebrate the Earth. Do some BBQing, pasta salads, and dips with cheese, crackers, local fruits and veggies.
Younger guests will love eating dirt cups; line clay pots with foil, fill with chocolate pudding and top with crushed chocoate cookies and gummi worms.
What To Do
Earth Day games are a fun way to reiterate the importance of protecting the environment. Test your guests' knowledge with an Earth Day trivia game. Know how hybrid cars manage to conserve gas? How many tons of waste Americans produce each year? A little pre-party research and you'll have plenty of facts to entertain and spread a little eco-awareness. Check out these quizzes at CNN and Lesruba Designs.
Let guests lend a helping hand to the birds in your area by supplying them with simple nesting materials. All you need to do is fill a onion mesh bag with dried grass, short lengths of yarn and string. They can hang their bag in a location that the birds can safely access, watch them collect, and might even get lucky enough to see a nest in one of their trees.
Plan an outdoor scavenger hunt. Send your guests out to retrieve a list of items found in nature, such as acorns, pine cones, even an earthworm. Add litter to the list and the game doubles as a neighborhood beautification project.
See which guest can turn trash into treasure. Use milk jugs, grocery bags, aluminum cans and other recyclables to create sculptures that can be used as centerpieces.
Send Them Home With A Smile
Send guests home with favors that encourage them to conserve. Send home energy-efficient light bulbs or these favors, made from 100% post-consumer waste and embedded with wildflower seeds, recycle themselves by growing wildflowers right of the paper.
Check out this special Earth Day giveaway over at Celebrations; their friends at Honest Tea are giving out a Jamis bike AND a $100 Whole Foods gift certificate for the best idea. They just wanna hear about how you will celebrate Earth Day. And what's really neat, you can enter as many times as you want as long as each entry is unique and your original work.
The contest ends on Earth Day, Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009
Today's appropriately named; a cool store in Santa Monica, CA...I'm in love with it simply because it looks cool...no babies to shop for...just cool to look at. Plus I love dragonflies.
1 part Stirrings Peach Bellini mixer
1 part Smirnoff vanilla vodka
dollop of honey
2 splashes of Silk vanilla soy milk
2 dashes ground cinnamon
1. Mix ingredients in a shaker with ice until frothy.
2. Strain into a martini glass, and garnish with a dash of cinnamon.
Setting the Scene
Don't you just love Birthday Express? Check out their LEGOville party pack.
Primary colors everywhere! Balloons, streamers, tableware...
Have your child build a LEGO set for a table centerpiece.
Create large blocks by painting large boxes bright colors. Use colored cups and cut off them about 2″ from the top so that only the bottoms are left. Glue the bottoms to the boxes to make them look like LEGOS.
What To Do
Free play with LEGOS of course. Oh, need more? Dump a bunch of LEGOs on the floor, then time guests to see who can build the tallest structure in two minutes.
Guess how many LEGOs are in a jar; winner takes all.
Pin the LEGO on the...LEGO. Create a landscape with an integral piece missing, like a boat's deep-sea diver or a castle's flag, and, with eyes closed, kids must take turns trying to place it in the right spot.
Make a LEGO pizza! Make rectangular cheese pizzas and top with pepperoni to make it look like the top of a LEGO piece.
Check out this plethora of products from Lego.com to create your own treats....brick cake/Jell-O mold, minifigure popsicle mold, cookie cutters and a rolling cookie cutter.
Inspired LEGO cupcakes by Hello Naomi.
If you can't beat them, join them; a too cool party from Creative Holiday Gift Ideas....don't you just love her goody bags and cake?
Better Homes & Gardens never ceases to amaze me - Turn a handful of dyed eggs and a bouquet of carnations into a playful spring centerpiece; an Easter egg vase; improvise a pretty Easter basket using a sweet straw hat; a wooden egg painted pink nestles in a ribbon-wrapped ramekin full of wheatgrass to make a unique place card; opened peonies become a decorative nest for a few little eggs.