Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Lego Birthday Party: Games

There are many many fun and simple game ideas that you can find on the internet. From building lego towers, car races, to lego bingo and ring toss. I chose 4 simple activities that would take up enough time to fill the 1 1/2 hour party plus 15 minutes for cake/ice cream and presents at the end.

The first game they started with....once they noticed it was here....was to guess how many lego candies were in the small jelly jar with spray painted lid. I gave them a hint to make it easier, like it's  a number between 10 and 100. The boy who guessed the closest got to take the jar home. I made the sign on Picnik via Picasa. I took a photo of this Lego dude and added the text and graphics for free! Then I printed it at Costco for 13 cents.

Because each boy received a Lego city boat kit (remember....30 cents a piece, otherwise you could invest in one of those big boxes of Legos and give each boy a pile to build a car or boat with) we took the first 15 minutes, once everyone arrived, to build them. Once they were built, we had a boat race. Just fill a kiddy pool, arm them with a straw, set the rules (like no using hands) and let them race. The boats didn't float as well as I hoped but it didn't stop them from playing anyway. They inevitably got a little wet, but they dried off quickly!

Next up: Balloon scavenger hunt. I saw this balloon idea on Pinterest from Martha Stewart. The balloons were stapled to the shed (but you could pin them to a sheet, tablecloth or tape them to butcher paper and tack to a wall) in the shape of an "S" for Samuel. We filled each balloon with a number that lead to a destination around the house/yard. Whoever found the next clue got to pop the next balloon. My husband had the list of locations and they'd ask him which corresponded with that number and they'd run to the next destination. They were so out of breath! And it took a lot of time because they had to run back and forth. The final destination had a bowl with their party favors inside, so everyone won this game.

 Last game...which was very messy by the end of the party was 
suck a Lego onto a plate. We dumped a bunch of smaller Lego's onto the center of the table and I timed them for 2 minutes, whoever got the most Legos on their plate, using only a straw, won a box of bubblegum balls.

In between games there was a lot of running, chasing, drinking liquids, eating treats, etc.

Check out all the details of this party:
Inspiration Board: Pinterest
Part 1
Part 2: Decorations
Part 3: Food
Part 4: Games
Part 5: Party Favors
Part 6: Photo Goods
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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Lego Birthday Party: Food

I chose to serve sweet treats instead of savory. I've noticed at kids parties all they want to do is play and have fun. They usually waste their snacks, including the cake. So instead of serving pizza and snack foods, to save money and not waste so much food (though there are so many cute ideas for Lego inspired food snacks) we served sweets and started the party at 2pm and ended at 3:30. After lunch but still soon enough so it wouldn't spoil their dinners. Needless to say, they were on quite the sugar high....or maybe it's just friends getting together to celebrate, the natural high.

The cake.  Samuel wanted a tall Lego shaped cake. He wanted it to be the color of sand, like a desert. One of his gifts was this Prince of Persia beetle and dude, which matched the theme perfectly. The knobs are made of marshmallows (candy coated because I ran out of frosting). The inside is made of this doctored up chocolate cake from a box (without the coffee or toffee). And as usual, I used Wilton's buttercream frosting. If I would have realized it would be this ugly brownish color, I would have made peanut butter frosting! Mmmmmm, chocolate and peanut butter.
I saw this cake stand idea on Pinterest so I mimicked it. But my cake stand was showing underneath so I added a little more bunting.

I made the little cookies 'n cream Lego blocks that line the cake by simply by melting white chocolate chips, adding crushed oreo's, and then pouring them (using a ziplock bag, cut at the tip) into the Lego mold with miniature chocolate chips placed in the "knobs" of the mold.

My kids and I made angry bird cupcakes, though out of theme, my son loved playing the game on my phone....until recently he no longer plays it. But they were so cute I wanted to give them a try. The idea came from The Crafting Chicks.  Plus I needed something to use for the little "knobs" of the Lego blocks shown here.

Samuel's only food request, other than the cake, was "green drink", ie Sprite. I saw these kid sized bottles and thought they were perfect. More than I would normally spend on drinks but they came in a pack of 8, perfect amount. Plus they had these little dimples that looked Lego-ish to me.

I simply covered the existing labels with Lego name labels. You can find the font for free here. I simply printed them off on white paper, colored the outside with yellow, cut around, and glued to a red piece of cut card stock. I adhered them with two scrapbook sticky squares, and then sealed it in back with a piece of scotch tape. Then I simply taped the blue and white paper straws (found for super cheap on Amazon).

I provided them with cups as well, for extra beverage and so I could make these fun koolaid ice cubes and they could see their Sprite change color as it melted. I found the silicone molds in a set of lego blocks and mini-figs (used to make crayons) on Ebay for $19 shipped. The biggest splurge for this party.

How can you have a party without marshmallow or cake pops? I always opt for marshmallow because they are cheaper and easier. After I dipped the large marshmallow's (see tutorial here) I added a mini marshmallow to the top. My son informed me that it looked more like a hat. So later I cut them down and just smeared some more on top. And added faces with an icing tube with a small writing tip, not the edible ink kind because I couldn't find one and this was more useful for other projects. They are stored in a painted egg carton stand.

Wait until the large marshmallows are dry to put the tops on. After I dipped the mini marshmallow, holding it with a toothpick, I used another toothpick to slide it on to the top like you see here.

Check out all the details of this party:
Inspiration Board: Pinterest
Part 1
Part 2: Decorations
Part 3: Food
Part 4: Games
Part 5: Party Favors
Part 6: Photo Goods
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Monday, September 26, 2011

Lego Birthday Party: Decorations

As they entered the yard the guests were welcomed by this stand of balloons. It had a guessing game atop it but the boys were so excited to see each other, they completely bipassed this stand and started playing tag.....disclaimer: If I had been totally ready with the party on time, I could have been standing there as they entered...but I was not....still learning! I was nearly on time!

The Dessert Table.
A small buffet table with some Ikea fabric draped over a simple white tablecloth. Giant Lego blocks created with tissue paper (from Dollar Tree) covered capri sun boxes (idea from this party.) The "knobs" of the Lego are cupcakes. (Angry Bird cupcakes, completely out of theme....but my son's favorite game....until recently...but they were too cute to pass up). I added medium sized gumballs that my daughter noticed at the dollar store, they fit the color theme perfectly and filled the front of the table easily and inexpensively. I deliberately placed this table in front of this brick mimic the "block" look. If I would have time I would have painted or taped colored paper on the outside edge blocks, in reds, greens, blues and yellows to enhance that vision...but alas, I ran out of time. Just pretend you can see them there and then try it at your own party!

This pennant bunting was inspired by One Charming Party's Superhero party. Instead I used Lego magazines and vintage polka-dotted bias tape that I had on hand to create=free! It is now hanging in my son's room for as long as he'd like.

The game & food table. As I mentioned earlier, I should have set up two separate tables, one for the food eating and another for game playing. The combination of these two activities on one table became messy and cluttered. The boys were spreading out their party favors, built boats, food, soda, and candy Legos. It was a mess by the end! 

I tried to incorporate blocks and dots, Lego like. This vinyl tablecloth was a great match, and cost under $1. Scrapbook paper place mats, red square plates and blue napkins. Each plate had their Lego boat ready to be assembled, their first planned activity.

My fabric birthday banner welcomed the guests & gifts.

Lego filled mason jar, with painted rim, for a balloon weight, idea from Delia Creates.

Check out all the details of this party:
Inspiration Board: Pinterest
Part 1
Part 2: Decorations
Part 3: Food
Part 4: Games
Part 5: Party Favors
Part 6: Photo Goods
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Sunday, September 25, 2011

Lego Birthday Party: Part 1

My oldest child turned 7 last week! I have a seven year old son! I still can't believe it. For his birthday theme, I didn't really give him a choice. Mean, perhaps, but smart. In January a friend of mine reported (on Facebook, no less) that she scored some Lego men stocking stuffer kits for 30 cents a piece!!! I asked her if her store had any more (she lives in a different state) after I had already scoured mine. She had actually purchased 12 and realized she didn't need that many and sold 11 to me. It was decided then that his theme would be Lego. And I didn't care what type of Lego he wars, harry potter, pirate, etc. Whatever he liked. I've been planning it since March! Thanks heavens for Pinterest as I've found so much inspiration from it, you can view my Lego Party inspiration board. This party from delia creates, in particular was most helpful.

Seven boys were invited, one per year of age, and although I am sad that some my son's friends couldn't come, I am glad that it was a more intimate group of 4 friends. I was prepared, mentally, for a crazy bunch! But physically I wish I was a little more prepared.

For example, this table was used for eating, playing games and building. I should have set up a second table to eat on, so that the Lego's candies and sprite did not all mix together ;)

The Dessert Table
The boys

The birthday boy with his specifically designed cake.

His favorite that I bought in January half price. I secretly encouraged him to keep liking the "Power Miner" Lego theme (I don't think it's even sold anymore) so he wouldn't lose interest in this gift. My ulterior motives at work, haha.

I had so much fun planning this party! All on a $50 budget. I like to be as frugal as possible without compromising on style whenever possible.
Keep checking back this week. I will share more posts with all the little details for this party!

Check out all the details of this party:
Inspiration Board: Pinterest
Part 2: Decorations
Part 3: Food
Part 4: Games
Part 5: Party Favors
Part 6: Photo Goods
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Saturday, September 24, 2011

Tuesday's Tip: Freezer Space

Originally supposed to "air" last Tuesday but the scheduled programing decided to on Saturday. Oh, well, here it is!

Easy and space saving tip to store ground beef.

1. Weigh beef. Either in half pound or pound increments. Store in freezer safe ziploc quart sized bags.

 2. Seal shut, leaving about 1" space open. Roll out the beef with a rolling pin or glass.
 3. You'll be left with a stack like this. Perfectly thin and easy to store! How do you store your ground beef?
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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Sage Dijon Pork Chops

Pork is often overlooked. Chicken and even turkey even seem to be the main source of white meat recipes. But here is a simple, quick and delicious recipe for that "other white meat." Don't you just hear Aaron Copeland's "Rodeo: Hoedown" song? Or don't you? I was wrong!! I youtubed it, his song was on the "Beef, it's what's for dinner" commercial. Dang,  I was way off. But I still like pork as an alternative to chicken. Pork's safe internal temperature has been lowered (from 160 degrees to 145) so now it's even quicker to cook!

Sage Dijon Pork Chops
This recipe is from Cooks Illustrated.
Serves: 4-6
  • Four-6 oz boneless pork chops, or Eight-thin 3 oz chops
  • teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2teaspoon granulated sugar
  • teaspoon vegetable oil
  • medium clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • tablespoons unsalted butter
  • teaspoon minced fresh sage leaves, or 1/2 tsp dried rubbed sage


  1.  Turn stove to medium heat. Rub both sides of each chop with 1/8 teaspoon oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sprinkle one side of each chop evenly with 1/8 teaspoon sugar.
  2. Place chops, sugared-side down, in 12-inch nonstick skillet. Press meat of each chop into pan.  cook until lightly browned, 4 to 9 minutes (chops should be sizzling after 2 minutes; if not, see step 4). Using tongs, flip chops. Cover skillet, reduce heat to low, and cook until center of each chop registers 140 degrees on instant-read thermometer, 3 to 6 minutes; chops will barely brown on second side. Transfer chops to platter, tent with foil, and let rest.
  3. Pour liquid in skillet into small bowl. While chops are resting, add vegetable oil and garlic to now-empty skillet; set skillet over medium heat and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add low-sodium chicken broth; increase heat to high and simmer until reduced to about 2 tablespoons, about 3 minutes. Add pork chop juices to skillet. Off heat, whisk in Dijon mustard and butter until combined. Stir in sage and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper; spoon sauce over chops and serve immediately.

Enjoy! Print Friendly and PDF

Monday, September 19, 2011

Couscous Stuffed Zucchini

I was looking for an alternative recipe for zucchini and I found a lovely stuffed zucchini dish on Pinterest. I made a few alterations to it.

Couscous Stuffed Zucchini
adapted from Kayotic Kitchen
1 large zucchini
1 cup prepared couscous, cooked in chicken broth
1 small onion, chopped
4 slices bacon, crumbled
1 tomato, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp basil, fresh, chopped
1 Tbsp sour cream
1/4 tsp curry powder
Parmesan cheese
Parsley, fresh

1. Wash and cut zucchini lengthwise. Gut it by scraping out innards. Set aside.
2. Fry bacon. Meanwhile, chop onion. Once bacon is cooked fry onion and garlic in some of the bacon grease. Add chopped tomato.
3. Prepare couscous by following instructions on package, in 1 cup chicken broth. Set aside.
4. Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Stuff inside zucchini.
5. Bake for 20 minutes, or until soft, in a glass dish.
6. Remove from oven, top with cheese and garnish with parsley.

Enjoy! Print Friendly and PDF

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Fish Tacos

This is a perfect late summer recipe. Or anytime summer recipe. You can use your jalapenos, cilantro and cabbage. Add some fresh white fish, garlic, onions, corn tortillas, limes and avocado and you're set!

I was browsing Pinterest for some fish tacos and I came up with a lovely combination of three different elements. A cilantro sauce, a crema and a coleslaw. What did I do before Pinterest? These three separate components compliment each other very nicely.

Here are the ingredients:

First, I made the sauce. It's from this lovely blog, originally from Gwyneth Paltrow's cookbook (what doesn't that woman do?). It's pretty straight forward. I just threw it all into a small processor, chopped up the fish and added a little wine.

Cilantro Sauce
1 bunch cilantro
juice from 5 limes
1/3 cup olive oil, plus 2 Tablespoons for cooking
1 small white onion
2 cloves garlic
1 jalapeno **
1/2 Tablespoon garlic powder
1 Tablespoon cumin
1 Tablespoon paprika

2 pounds halibut

1/2 cup white wine
**If you want less heat, for your or your children, reduce or cut this ingredient.

Combine all ingredients except the fish and wine. Process until minced and smooth (but will have a few small chunks). It comes out to be a lovely orange-y green color. Chop the halibut into 2" pieces. Cook in 2 tablespoons of oil for about 8 minutes. Once cooked through (don't overcook!) add the wine. Once it's reduced and gone, about 2 minutes. Then add the sauce. Cook through for about 2 minutes. Turn off heat and set aside.

While the fish is cooking prepare the crema and slaw.

Here is the link to the crema recipe. 
  • 3/4 cup thinly sliced green onions, loosely packed
  • 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 3/4 cup fat-free mayonnaise
  • 3/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • 4 teaspoon grated lime rind
  • 4 teaspoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • garlic clove, minced
I just used the same processor, rinsed it out, and threw all of these ingredients into it and blended. It turns out to be a lovely minty green color. Set aside.

Cabbage and Chili Pepper Coleslaw:

  • 5 ounces green cabbage, thinly sliced (1 1/4 cups)
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 1 poblano or pasilla pepper, halved crosswise, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and shredded
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon lime juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice, freshly squeezed
In a medium sized bowl mix cabbage, onion, pepper, carrots and cilantro. For dressing, combine oil and juices in a small bowl. Season with salt. Toss with slaw. Chill until served. 

In my photos I just simply used plain cabbage chopped up but I did try this recipe previously and it's wonderful. Either way you make it, it'll be good.

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