Thursday, November 24, 2011

Keziah's Rainbow Party

I'm pretty sure Keziah's been planning her 5th birthday party ever since her 4th one was over last year. And she's changed her birthday theme several times over the past 12 months. As November crept nearer, she was really leaning towards a princess fairy theme. But since we've done either princesses or fairies for the last 2 years, I hoped to convince her to change her mind. After she saw a few of the rainbow party ideas I had pinned on Pinterest, she started to see my vision and get excited!

There were so many great ideas, but I decided to pick just a few ones that were do-able. The first being this rainbow pennant banner. I used scrapbook paper that I already had on hand (thanks to the big Costco pack of paper I bought several years ago) and used this free printable template to trace them. I bought some ribbon at the dollar store and then stapled the paper on in a rainbow pattern. Very easy and super cute. I think I'll hang it in the kids' room now that the birthday party is over.

With the extra paper from the pennant banner, I had an idea for the invitations. (This was an idea I came up with on my own - no Pinterest needed, thank you very much!)

I cut up the coloured paper into strips and glued them onto a piece of folded card stock. Then I free-handed a cloud shape on a piece of white card stock, glued it on the paper and cut any overhanging edges. It was a bit time-consuming since I had to make about 10 for all the little girls Keziah had on her list of party guests.

But I think they turned out pretty cute! I purposely didn't worry about cutting the strips all the same width or lining them up evenly (which was also nice since Keziah wanted to help with the gluing and she didn't have to be too careful). I think it turned out better that they were intentionally a bit crooked.

I also let Keziah address all the envelopes. I suggested writing all the names in rainbow colours and Keziah decided to draw a rainbow on each one.

I found a really cute idea from here for rainbow cupcakes. I made the cupcakes (using rainbow bit cake mix of course!) a few days ahead of time and then froze them. On party day, I died my white icing sky blue, warmed it up a bit in the microwave and let the kids help me with the cupcake dipping. This technique is SO easy that they were able to do all my cupcakes and they all turned out great!

Then came the decorations. I found these sour rainbow belts at my new favourite Dollarama in Aldergrove. I decided to try to make the clouds out of marshmallow cream because it seemed like it would make the clouds extra fluffy and creamy. But it turns out that marshmallow cream = a BAD idea. I should've just stuck with white icing (and I would've had plenty leftover from the icing that I already had, except that I had died it all blue), but you live and you learn, right?

After making a few cupcakes I quickly realized 2 things.
1. Marshmallow cream is really sticky. And I had about 5 different spoons and knives going to try to get the goopy stuff where I wanted it on the cupcake.
2. My rainbow belts were too long. I ended up cutting about an inch off of each one so they wouldn't droop. (But that was OK, because the kids and I were happy to eat those extra inches :)

The finished product:

Another downside to the marshmallow cream was that by the time we got around to actually eating the cupcakes, it had all sort of melted down the sides. Of course the kids didn't notice one bit - and I was just happy I'd thought to take some pictures before they got all melty and drippy.

Rainbow goody bags.

Party snacks.

Another idea I found was a rainbow drink. The week before the party, I made different colours of ice cubes from Kool-aid packs (omitting the sugar that it calls for).

Then you just serve them in a clear cup with clear pop and let the ice cubes melt and make the drink all rainbow-y. It's also nicer than just food-colouring because each ice cube had a different flavour as well.

I also decided to make rainbow fruit skewers. The kids LOVED these. I forgot to take a picture of the ones that I made. (Honestly, they got gobbled up so fast I didn't really have a chance!) But this was my inspiration picture (from here).

Erik totally thinks I went overboard with the party. Like, how much do 5 -year-olds really care about whether their drink and their fruit and their invitation look like a rainbow?
I know, I know.
But I just couldn't really help myself :)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


My sweet little Keziah turns 5 today.

She's done a lot of growing up in this last year. A year ago she was still at home with me every day, all day, and now she's a full-time Kindergartener! During her few short months of preschool in the spring I felt a little leery about how she would handle full-day K. At one point I was very sure that I would wait another year to put her in. But I decided to go for it, and she's doing better than I expected. Other than the odd Friday afternoon konk-out session - where we'll find her passed out in random places around the house - she seems to be adjusting well!

In this last year - especially in the last few months - I've seen her come out of her timid little shell. She lights up when she sees her little friends at school and seems to have found a new comfort zone in her Kindergarten classroom. One of her teachers told me that she actually takes a little bit longer to get her work done now because she's chatting more with her friends during class - but after her very shy and quiet start to the year, her teachers agreed they would let her continue for a little while before reprimanding her for talking when she should be working :)

Keziah is definitely cut from the same cloth as I am - she loves quiet activities and would rather spend time inside than outside. Despite having 2 brothers, she is a true girly-girl. Our mutually favourite activity is when she "does" my hair. I get to lay on the couch or my bed while she clips every single hair-clip into my hair and then proceeds to take them all out and start again :)

A very significant thing happened just last week when Keziah decided she wanted Jesus to live in her heart. While we were in the van one day, Micah started talking about what it would be like to see "bad guys" in real life. I explained that bad guys are just normal people who make bad choices. We talked for awhile about choices and Micah announced that he wanted to choose to "follow God and go to church." I commented that that was a really great choice. Keziah was quiet during this whole conversation, but at that point she piped up - in a very sad voice - and said, "But I don't even know how to ask Jesus into my heart!" So, that night she prayed with Erik and I, and decided to become a Christian!

Fast forward a few days later to Saturday - the day of Keziah's rainbow-themed birthday party (of which I will post pictures soon!). Before eating breakfast, Erik asked if anyone wanted to pray and Micah said that he wanted to (which definitely isn't something that happens every day around here). His prayer went like this:

"Dear God, thank you that it's Keziah's birthday party today.
Thank you that Keziah asked Jesus into her heart.
Help her to grow into a godly girl.

We were so touched by his thoughtful prayer and both commented to him about how special it was, to which Micah cheered, "Woohoo! I'm the champion of praying!!"

I guess humility is next on the list of character traits to teach our kids??

This morning we gave Keziah her birthday gifts.

The first was a Belle dress-up dress.

And the second was this silver heart necklace. I bought it from my mom who sells Jolica jewellery - which is all hand-made by artisans in developing countries and sold using fair trade principles. I thought it was a special gift for a special 5-year-old girl.

Happy birthday Keziah - we love you!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

While We're on The Topic

Of home improvements, that is.

Here's a couple other minor (but kinda major for me) improvements that have taken place over the last while...

Some of you might remember the lovely artwork that the previous owners left us to cover the gaping hole of the fireplace in the living room. If you don't remember, no worries, you know I've got a picture to remind you.

Here's a close-up in case you couldn't get a good look with all those moving boxes in the way.

Well, it got a bit of a facelift by way of some white paint and a roller. I took a moment to appreciate the artistic work that went into the custom made half-circle. But it was a brief moment. And after a couple of coats of paint I felt so much better about displaying it in the fireplace hole.

By the way, this room has the same paint colour that was here when we moved in, but it looks so much better with the repainted board and some different accessories. I'm definitely ok with this colour (and not looking to do any more brick painting in the near future, thank you very much).

Unfortunately as of a few days ago, that same fireplace hole is now filled with a big old ugly piece of styrofoam. With the colder weather, we're discovering many areas of heat loss in our house - this being one of them. The good news is, styrofoam boards don't come in floral painted designs. So, it's white.
I can live with white.

And I realized that I never gave a proper before and after of our sun room - which serves as our dining room.



I've heard lots of positive comments about the floor and I've definitely come to appreciate it. I just don't love all the wood tones going on in this room. I would love to paint the paneling out someday. I also have had my eye on some white chairs for our dining room table (that Erik built himself). Right now we're using Erik's parents chairs since they don't have room for them in their own living space.

And along the interior wall of the sun room, we have this bank of cabinets and countertop. Not super stylish by any means, but on the other hand, VERY functional. These cabinets are packed with stuff.


Please don't overlook the most significant improvement to this room, perhaps the most significant improvement to this house... well, for sure the most significant improvement to the sanity and mental well-being of the mother and main kitchen cleaner-upper in this house! Yep, that would be the lovely stainless steel dishwasher.

So pretty. And so, SO helpful.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Kitchen Reveal (better late than never)

The kitchen is officially complete!

The makeover had a hesitant start and was met with much opposition (ahem, my husband), but I pushed forward, finding encouragement from those who assured me that they would do the same if they were in my shoes (Rosanna, Andrea, Elissa... thank you!)

I've been itching to share pictures but have been waiting oh-so-patiently until the makeover was totally complete. Finally, I am ready to share the finished product!

First, let's jog our memories and look back to what the kitchen was like when we first moved in...

On first appearance, most people were pleasantly surprised by the original kitchen. The white cabinets are pretty and the space is big. And for this reason, even I was hesitant about whether I should really go to all the effort of painting. But, upon closer inspection you would see that the paint colour on the walls (and above the cabinets) had a bit of a pink-ish hue, while the brick backsplash gave an 80's vibe to the space.

The whole jagged-toothed grin from the fireplace-wall was anything but welcoming.

And a close-up of the brick. Just because.

And we can't forget the red wall. I tried to pretty it up by putting my little knick-knacks up on that white shelf, but it wasn't really helping. The fire extinguisher to the right of the closet wasn't doing much for the space either. Erik and I agreed we could still have it close enough to be safe without having it bolted to our kitchen walls.

So, I took a deep breath and the project began. Erik strongly suggested that I should prime the brick before painting it. I questioned him on this slightly, especially since the bricks had already been painted (which meant I wasn't dealing with raw {and porous} brick). But, being the submissive wife that I am, I acquiesced.

I can't remember how long I painted that first night. All I know is that I zoned out while listening to the movie Julie & Julia playing in the background from the other room.

And I wasn't getting very far.

I was still working at getting into a good brick-painting rhythm at this point - how much paint to get on my brush and exactly which wiggling technique would work best for getting in between all those deep grout lines. About 1 hour in, the fingers on my right hand were starting to cramp.

The next day I continued on for awhile and was getting more and more overwhelmed at the realization that I was going to be painting these bricks THREE times over - with 1 coat of primer and 2 of colour...

So, that's when I made an executive decision. I informed Erik that, whether he agreed with me or not, I was only going to prime the black bricks. I figured the other bricks were light enough to go without primer, and because they had been previously painted, they would take the paint better. And even though it wouldn't have mattered (because my mind was already made up), I was thankful that Erik agreed.

That meant that my priming was almost done. I only had a little more black left on the main fireplace wall, and just one row of black bricks around the kitchen in the backsplash.

So, with priming complete, it was time to move on to colour. In my original post, I was pretty confident I would go ahead with Oriental Ivory on the walls, but I decided to take Elissa's advice and put the paint chips up against my cabinets for a day before deciding. It definitely made a difference, and after doing this, I realized I preferred Shadow Dream after all.

As the first coat of colour went on the brick backsplash, I was feeling excited and optimistic. Anything was an improvement over the splattered beige and salmon I was dealing with. And my brick-painting skills were improving - I knew just the amount of paint needed on my brush and I was perfecting my wiggle-the-brush-in-the-grout-line technique.

But as the colour dried and darkened, I had that sinking feeling of just really not liking it. At all. It was like mint ice cream. A lot of mint ice cream. And the colour looked even more intense on the backsplash because it was under the shadow of the cabinets. It seemed a little tacky (which, by the way, was not the look I was going for). I went to bed feeling discouraged and wondering whether tinting the colour lighter for the second coat would make it look better.

The next day the family was at our place for Thanksgiving dinner and my sister-in-laws helped me determine that white on the backsplash would be a better choice. Luckily, I had a half-can of off-white on hand that matched the creamy cabinets almost perfectly. So, another deep breath and I began to paint over all my hard work from the day before. Erik thought I was totally nuts at this point. But, once again, my mind was made up. And as soon as I saw the white going over top of the mint ice cream, I knew I had made the right move.

I wasn't sure what to do about all the brick on the fireplace wall, but since it was already half-painted in Shadow Dream I really didn't have the courage to change it at that point. I figured, if anything, I would paint all the walls with Shadow Dream for the first coat and then lighten my paint (perhaps by mixing the white and Shadow Dream half and half) for the second coat.

When it came time to roll paint onto the flat wall sections (which, by the way, felt incredibly fast and easy after painstakingly brushing all that brick, let me tell ya...), I fully expected to get the same mint ice cream feeling. But, as it dried, I actually really liked it. It was totally the soft and creamy blue-green that I had been hoping for from the beginning. It made me realize how different the exact same colour can look on 2 different surfaces.

Here's a comparison picture of Shadow Dream on the bricks and on the adjoining walls. Don't they look like 2 totally different colours?

One small time-saver that we discovered as the project evolved was that if we focused on only painting the grout lines with a paintbrush, we could roll the surface of the bricks with a thick roller (the kind used for textured ceilings - don't ask me for the technical name). But the best discovery was that, in the end, primer on the black bricks and only ONE coat of colour on all the fireplace wall bricks was all that we needed! What a relief after imagining the hand cramping that would've ensued from three tedious coats...

But, even with the extra work that I saved, I was still pretty done with the whole brick-painting saga. I admit there is a teensy tiny part of me that still wants to go back and paint the fireplace wall in the creamy white to match the backsplash... But, I'm drawing the line. Because if we end up renovating this house, I expect this wall will be one of the first to go.

And, much to his credit, Erik changed his tune and totally jumped on the kitchen-painting bandwagon. And he was very helpful despite his initial hesitance. He even dismantled the gas fireplace and repainted the whole thing in black.

In fact, after all was said and done, he may or may not have suggested that some new baseboards would really finish the space off well. Yep. I called it from the start. He couldn't resist the home improvement vortex.

The red wall transformation was definitely the easiest and fastest part of the process, but I think it was also the highest impact. The whole room felt instantly bigger and brighter. But that one wall stood empty and stark until this week. I was waiting for Erik to make me some coat hooks. I wasn't expecting anything too fancy - just some flat moulding with some hooks screwed on. But Erik took it a step further and fashioned these babies for me.

They look almost too pretty to hang stuff on.

And even though Erik warned me not to take any pictures until he could cover the screw holes, I did anyway. (Seriously, how many of you didn't notice those little screw holes until I mentioned them just now??)

With the rest of the wall, I debated putting up a frame gallery, but in the end I had Erik put up the white IKEA floating shelf that we already had.

I found a few things around the house to stick up there, including a picture of Micah and Keziah's feet that my sister took a few years ago. And my new favourite idea from Pinterest - putting pretty scrapbook paper into white frames. I would love to find a wallpaper in this pattern!

So now, after that very lengthy preamble, here is the kitchen before and after!