Phew.

No Christmas around here yet. Except for my daughter’s advent quilt, which didn’t even start getting filled until a few days ago. I’m so lame. Oh, and the 3-foot pink foil tree I got for $6 after Christmas at Urban Outfitters last year. I put that in the girl’s room, under the bunk bed ladder. I had a Bratz 50-light set bought at Target for around a dollar after Christmas some time ago, hadn’t used it yet, and it fit perfectly. The lights are jewel-toned, purple, blue, magenta. The base of the tree is just round & silver, so I wondered what I could cover it with… then I saw a fluffy pink boa on the floor, and grabbed it. Perfect! I just wrapped it around itself, in a circle. I love how everything came together, it’s so sparkly and girly.

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So the reason we, or I am lagging, is because the last few weeks have been filled with Nutcracker rehearsals and preparations, driving all over San Diego, and birthday party preparations for the 4-year-old. Nutcracker season was officially over for us on the 9th. Phew!! That was the Sunday matinée, which I attended by myself. My husband went by himself the night before. My eldest is such a performer. This was her 1st year as an angel, and she loved it so much. She says she likes being an angel more than a polichinelle (those are the little girls that come out from under Mother Ginger’s skirt). Not sure why.

Then it was time to buckle down and get everything ready for the party. That included cleaning, because my house is always messy, trying to de-clutter a bit, because there’s always crap everywhere, and the usual stuff. I had to figure out the food, cake, decorations, and deliver invitations. I was going to mail them, but as usual, they weren’t finished until there was almost no point in even bothering. You’re supposed to give people 2 weeks notice? Is that right? Well, I gave them a week. I didn’t go out of my way to deliver them, I made sure to do it whenever I’d be in that neighborhood, or on my way home. Another reason I preferred not to mail them is because I used vellum envelopes, so you could see the entire front, which was a pretty castle. It would have ruined the beauty and impact if I had addressed them, and put a stamp on them, etc.

I wanted to keep the food simple, inexpensive, and “princess-y”. Is that even a word? I tried to think of foods true princesses might’ve eaten. My husband offered to order Shanghai style lumpia from this Filipino place he discovered recently in Mira Mesa, and I thought that would work, but then it got to be too late, as he didn’t tell me they need 3 days advance notice. I didn’t really want him to have to leave us on party day, and drive so far, because I like to have all the help I can get. There’s always so much to do, and I like things to be just so, and never sleep much the night before. Most times I’m still up at dawn the day of the party, putting streamers up, or making party favors, something. I don’t know why I can’t get my s*!# together, and have things ready in advance. I mean, I have my party themes planned months in advance, for crying out loud. Sometimes years! For example, I already know what my son’s birthday party themes will be for the next, I don’t know, 5 years? So it’s good that my husband didn’t have to leave. Besides, I don’t know what princess would have eaten lumpia… did the Philippines ever have one? So we ended up having mainly European princess fare. We had croissants for make-your-own sandwiches, with ham, turkey, cheese, lettuce, tomato, mayo, mustard, pesto, and avocado to choose from. We had the petite quiche from Costco, so yummy. Instead of salad, we had grapes, strawberries, and blueberries. I made some strawberry cream cheese to go with the mini-toast from Trader Joe’s. We love those things. To drink, we had the sparkling pink lemonade from Trader Joe’s, both regular and berry. For dessert we bought meringues from Trader Joe’s (which had the slightest pink tint), the madeleines from Costco, pink peanut M+M’s (the breast cancer awareness ones from October), Almond Roca (had to have something gold!), dragonfly princess scepters (wands) I made with pretzels, candy melts, and sprinkles, vanilla cupcakes I frosted with either pink strawberry or milk chocolate frosting, and of course, cake and ice cream.

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My mom arranged the fruit, I was pleasantly surprised. She doesn’t normally care about fancy presentation.

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Dragonfly scepters, wands, whatever you wanna call them! Time-consuming, but yummy. They taste like yogurt-covered pretzels.

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Meringues. Not my cup of tea!

The cake was a dilemma for me. I had googled princess cakes a while back, and found a few cool ones I liked. They were all castle cakes, and used ice cream cones as turrets. There was one in particular I thought was the prettiest, and seemed to be not too difficult. But then I went to the cake section at Michael’s, and saw the Wilton castle kit again. Hmm. Well, I bought enough candy melts for the scepters, and the ice cream cones I would need to coat, if I made the cake I’d seen online. That was 3 bags each in pink, purple, and white, and 2 bags of blue. Overboard, much? Geez. I only ended up using 1 1/2. LOL. So I ended up buying the castle kit at Joann, with a 50% off coupon. I couldn’t resist. I hemmed and hawed (“Am I really gonna make this? Am I insane?! I only have a week!”), but ultimately, my thrifty nature got the better of me. 10 bucks? Of course I have to buy it. I figured I had at least 10 more years of birthday parties, for 3 kids, I’m sure I’ll use it again. For my son’s “knights” party, at the least! But then I started panicking. What the hell have I gotten myself into? So I called my girlfriend for advice. She told me to bring the kit over, we could talk about it then. I didn’t make it to her house for a few days, and in the meantime, I had gone to Baskin-Robbins to see if there was an alternative, something princess-y. I looked through the cake book, and only saw the Disney princess ones. I didn’t want that. Then the employee asked if I needed help, and I told her what I was looking for. She looked through the book as well, and finally found what she was thinking of. It was perfect! It’s called the “princess crown & scepter cake“. A rectangular cake with a silver tiara and wand on top. The wand had a huge pink frosting ribbon wrapped around the stem(?), and the cake’s edge was frosted in pink, with sprinkles. She showed me the “deco pak”, because I said I didn’t like the rainbow-colored sprinkles. The tiara’s jewels were also the wrong colors, so I asked if I could buy my own decorations, and have them put them on for me. She said they would do that. So I went next door to Party City, and found a silver tiara with pink and purple gems, that said “Happy Birthday”. They didn’t have any single wands, just a pack of 12, so I only bought the tiara. The day I went to my girlfriend’s, I e-mailed her the link to the homemade castle cake, and brought the kit and tiara. After some discussion, she said she thought she could make the cake. She said we could do it on Saturday, the day before the party. I still wondered if it might be too ambitious, because I knew I’d have other things to do, and kids to deal with. So I told her I’d leave everything at her house, so she could ask her sister what she thought the next day. Her sister works at the Costco bakery, and has lots of experience. I got an e-mail the next night, saying “Sister thinks I could totally do it. As long as you don’t mind if it doesn’t look exactly like the one on the box. It’ll be her birthday present.” Oh, I was so grateful! Because I’d managed to fracture my right pinky that evening, and had resigned myself to having to buy the Baskin-Robbins cake. Yes, my life is governed by Murphy’s Law. Why else would I fracture a finger a few days before the birthday party? With a child still in diapers?

The cake turned out beautifully. We had just enough food, I wasn’t left with crazy leftovers like I usually am. The painting was a little messy, especially when my son managed to get hold of one of the brush pens, but nothing serious. The best part was my daughter’s princess outfit, I bought the costume from Pottery Barn Kids after Halloween. The model looks like my daughter, that’s so weird. We even have a similar photo taken that day! Gosh, I love that costume. The cape is beautiful.

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My little Prince.

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Opening presents.

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Party favors.

So that’s what’s been going on, that’s why I’m not feeling so festive this year. Just pooped. Trying to recover. Can’t do much without full use of my right hand, anyway. I don’t need surgery, thank goodness, but I do need physical therapy. ??? What the hell. Not only do I break it just by hitting it on my leg, I break it in such a way that I risk it being permanently bent without physical therapy. Genius. Pure genius.

Oops, forgot to mention the cheer competition on Saturday. They do usually place, and they got 2nd place this time. Her coach rocks.

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Admiring her medal.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

XOX

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Constantly inspired

I am constantly coming across beautiful, cool, interesting, inspiring things (and people) while reading blogs and surfing the Internet. Besides the blogs I check every day, without fail, which are Posie Gets Cozy (so funny & inspiring, and such pretty photos!), Wee Wonderfuls (so talented!), and Angry Chicken (so creative!), there are dozens of others I like to check in on, and they all lead me to others I’ve never read, or websites with pretty things to look at, or Etsy shops with things I wish I could make (or just buy!). I love, love, love reading about Anna Maria Horner‘s life. She must be so busy with her FIVE children and exciting life as a designer, so I don’t get too disappointed if she doesn’t post every day. I also, out of habit, visit Pixiegenné daily. I love how she transforms vintage suitcases. So cheery and colorful! She links to videos on YouTube all the time, always something funny. You’ve got to watch this one, it’s hilarious!

I’ve been putting off posting my blogroll, because it’s such a daunting task. I’ve yet to finish copying & pasting all the links, and I feel it’s a dilemma deciding whether to include every…single…blog I have in my favorites, or just the ones I read all the time, or those and the ones I read less often, but still love, or what? Do I try to pick and choose the “worthiest” ones? That seems unfair. But I’ve gotta figure it out soon, because I feel I should share the love.

OK, last things I’m sharing today:

these tiny, perfect, surreal, fairy-like gardens

Scroll down to the 4th picture, after the text… can you believe that swing?! I love it. So neat.

and

this awesome children’s poncho

How I wish I could knit!