A Drive and Eat Dinner

My grand kids leave for a week in Florida. It’s an annual trip to a timeshare in Fort Meyers. They spend time with their “other” grandparents. It’s tradition for me to pack them “Roadie Travel Bags”, but this year, I also made our last dinner together a bit more fun by creating a drive and eat meal.

It’s amazing what you can do with a kitchen island, black and yellow masking tape and printed road signs. Of course, a few miniature car/truck props are needed to test out the roads.

Leftover taffy candy from Halloween was a great way to keep the road signs in place; that is, until the kids mowed over them with the vehicles. There was a Michigan map (with napkin and flatware) and Florida map (on dinner plate) with each place setting.

What a great learning experience on the basics of reading a map. My youngest grandson, Fischer, was most excited about the dump truck. He broke up small twigs, loaded them in the truck and drove them to Florida (not without a few crashes).

Make dinner time fun for the little ones.

I love making memories with my grand kids. They will remember this meal long after I disassemble everything. Oh, just for the record, dinner included hot dogs filled with Velveeta cheese and wrapped in bacon, mac and cheese, spinach salad and fresh fruit on wooden skewers.

Create Holiday Table Atmosphere

Make your own table centerpieces for the holiday

I have a number of clear vases leftover from a summer wedding event. I had actually forgotten about them until digging in the attic for Christmas stuff. I was determined to find a a use for them this holiday. They were purchased at the local Dollar Store for $1 each.

Walking to the mailbox, I noticed straight twigs sticking out of ground. They were the remains from a plant cut back this fall. I fumbled around the garage for my garden clippers and away I went.

A few snippets of cedar pine, 4 or 5 twigs, water, a few drops of food coloring (I used orange to create an amber color) and I was ready to assemble my vase.

I partially filled the vase with water and added the coloring. The greens and twigs were placed around the inside perimeter of the vase.

A 6-inch stearine candle, purchased from Ikea, was centered inside the vase. They burn clean with no dripping. Be sure to have enough cedar clippings to keep the candle upright.

I do have concerns about what will happen once the candle burns down to the twigs and greenery. I’m giving it a test run, but have a back up plan. I certainly don’t want to set the holiday table on fire.

Inserting a clear glass taper candle holder inside the vase will lift the base of the candle above the greens/twigs. I will fill the vase with water to the top of the candle holder which should prevent any fire hazards.

The second plan is using floating candles. I’ve already tested this and it works well. The only problem with floating candles is their burn time is very limited. They should, however, last through a holiday dinner.

I am excited about using these at my annual Christmas Eve dinner. Fresh boughs of pine and colorful Christmas bulbs will be the table runner. These candles will be placed throughout. Love it! Total cost was around $2 per candle centerpiece.

Hanging Wine Bottle Vases

Hanging wine bottle outdoor vase

My outdoor dinner party is cancelled due to rain. There are no regrets. Rain is so needed in our area. It’s been a dry summer and crops, grass and home gardens are failing.

These are the outdoor deck wine vases I made for the dinner. Thankfully, they won’t be wasted. Tomorrow’s weather forecast is sunny and upper 80’s. We’ll spend a day on the water and enjoy an outdoor BBQ on the deck with friends in the evening.

Hanging flower vase wine bottlesI wanted to share how easy these are to make. I gathered flowers from a nearby field and added a Gerber daisy as a focal point.

You need empty wine bottles (don’t bother removing labels), twine, fresh flowers and a place to hang the bottle.

Wrap the twine around the neck of the bottle and secure by tying. Leave a sizable amount of twine for attaching to the deck area.

Fill the wine bottle with water and insert flowers. If you happen to be hosting a particular event, like a bridal shower or outdoor wedding, consider designing custom labels  for the bottles. This is easily done in MS Publisher or other software programs.

For a more formal dinner, dress guest tables with white linens, or keep in simple and use a red checkered tablecloth. The sky is the limit when deciding how and where you want to hang these bottles. My only cost was the price of the twine… just pennies per bottle.


A Polka Dot Birthday Affair

Polka Dot Birthday Party Theme

I finished planning and gathering supplies for my grandson’s upcoming Camouflage Birthday theme. It’s now time to focus on my granddaughter’s birthday. May will be a busy month with two birthday parties a week apart.

As a school principal with three kids, my daughter has little time for party planning, so I offered to help. My granddaughter’s name starts with an “O” (Olivia). A polka-dot theme seemed an ideal choice. Olivia’s only request was that pink was included in the party colors.

Polka Dot Birthday Theme InvitationYellow, pink, black and white are the themed colors of choice. The invitation (shown left) include a black and white polka dot bow in the upper right corner. I printed 6 x 9 envelopes with the same design but arranged the objects to allow for postal mailing.

 I did a quick run through on the table setting placements. I know it sounds crazy, but I leave for vaction next week and have little time to get my dots in row (yes, pun intended).

Prepping the table setting for the upcoming party.

The final table setting will include linen tablecloths (light pink with a black overlay), polka dot balloons attached to each lunch box and glass stemware tied with a ribbon. Pink lemonade with a lime wedge is the party beverage. I found the grass mats online. The cost was minimal and I can reuse them for other party events.

The menu is simple. PBJ sandwiches from Costco, pink yogurt and fruit kabobs. No cake or cupcakes, just mini cinnimon rolls with a candle in each one. This was Olivia’s request. Besides, kids tend to eat only the frosting and the rest goes to waste.

This is a “Pamper Me” party. There are four girls and one adult to work each Pamper Station. There are Mani, Pedi, Hair and Make-up stations. The hair station includes French braiding along with extension feather clips. Of course, Justin Bieber will be the background music. Yippee, I can’t wait (NOT!). The sacrifices we make for our grand kids.
Birthday Party Goodie Bag Purse

The purse goodie bags are from Oriental Trading (very reasonable). The contents include:

  • Flower hair clip
  • Pedicure set
  • Flower emery board
  • Pink nail polish
  • Mascara
  • Tinkerbell mineral make-up face paint tatto
  • Buterfly tattos
  • Lip gloss
  • Fairy dust candy straws
  • Polka dot compact brush
  • 2 Feather hair extensions
  • Ankle and wrist jingle braclets
  • Bling rings
  • Colorful bead necklace

Total cost of each goodie bag (I only need four) is $17.50 each. Plus, they can use some of these items at the party. Contents were purchased from Oriental Trading and Forever 21. The Tinkerbell mineral make-up stamp was from an online party store. It was the most expensive item at $3 each but can be reused multiple times.

The final party touch are white chair covers. I didn’t count them in the party costs since they can be used when hosting my personal events. Black, white and pink tulle dress the back of each chair along with a large black silk gerbera flower.

I will take plenty of photos once the table and party decorations are officially in place. Look for printable templates so you can create your own polka-dot party.


Happy Easter!

Jelly Bean Prayer Easter Centerpiece

I am looking forward to our family Easter celebration today. My grand kids are back in Michigan after a week’s stay at their NeNa and Poppa’s house. The table is set for our twenty guests and includes the above Jelly Bean Prayer centerpiece. I happened upon the poem while surfing the net and thought it clever. I’m not sure of the author, otherwise I would give credit where credit is due.

I printed out each poem line and secured the front and back sides with double sided tape (my favorite tape, as you know). Printing on both sides allows guests to read the poem from any table seat. Wooden skewers (cut in half) seat the poem line into the wheat grass egg cups. Yep, that same wheat grass I’ve been yapping about in prior posts.

Jelly Bean Prayer for Easter

Jelly Bean Prayer
A bag full of Jelly Beans colorful and sweet is a prayer, a promise, is a child’s treat.

Red is for the blood He gave
Green is for the grass he made
Yellow is for the sun so bright
Orange is for the edge of night
Black is for the sins we made
Purple is for His hours of sorrow
Pink is for our new tomorrow.


Jelly beans are sprinkled around each egg cup. This poem will be our Easter dinner blessing. After dinner, we will have a traditional egg hunt for the kids.Thankfully, the weather has agreed to cooperate. Sack races, canvas painting/decorating and prizes are all part of the celebration. For my family, it’s a day of rejoicing in our faith of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. However you celebrate Easter, may it be a time of sharing the company of those you hold dear.

Growing Easter Wheatgrass (Day One)

Former blog posts have mentioned I’m hosting an Easter brunch this year. Of course, I want an awesome table display as well as great food. Being the crazy woman I am, I decided to grow wheatgrass for part of my table setting.

I purchased a pound of organic wheatgrass seeds and soaked them for 8 hours, then drained, then repeated with one more soak. I’m crossing my fingers the seeds sprout after all that soaking (it was what the company recommended for optimal growth).

Prepping the growing dish.I have a plan formulated for my table setting. I selected a ceramic dish and lined it with the top of a shoebox cut to size.

Several layers of moist paper towels line the box top. I then applied a moist layer of peat soil (use a spray water bottle to moisten the peat).

Evenly distribute the soaked wheatgrass seeds into the peat soil. Push down slightly to secure seeds into the soil.

Implant the seeds into the peat soil mixture.Using the water bottle, lightly spritz the planted seeds. They need to remain moist during their growing session (about 9-10 days). I’m anxious to see if the roots sprout.

I covered the dish with plastic wrap to create a greenhouse effect. Wheatgrass does not require direct sunlight to grow which is great for me. I have very few windows in my house. I’m keeping them on a side counter in the kitchen.

Cover plantings with plastic wrap to create a greenhouse effect.My granddaughter, Olivia, helped me plant smaller egg shaped containers. If all goes well, these will be displayed at each table setting along with a colorful egg nestled in the grass. It’s a win/win or lose/lose project. Easter is on the April 8 and I’m a bit behind the estimated growing time. If anyone has cultivated wheatgrass with success, I welcome your input.

Preparing the mini egg dishes for planting.My grand kids are out of state on Easter break this next week. They are excited to see if how much the wheatgrass grows while they are away. I sure hope I don’t disappoint them. I’ll keep you posted on the progress. Oh, and for those not familiar with wheatgrass, it’s pictured below. Wheatgrass can also be juiced and drunk. Here is a list of the benefits of wheatgrass juice.


Pizza Placemats

Pizza Placemat Hide and FindThis week’s place setting was all about pizza. Dinner was ordered from a local pizza joint. Of course, I had to make the place setting match the theme (because I’m anal and that’s what I do!)

Four pizza slices were missing from each 8-piece pizza pie place setting. The pizza slices were hidden around the house and each child’s name was written on the back that noted a special prize. Not every pizza slice yielded a surprise.

My oldest grand son, Carson, found a pizza slice gifting him a library day with NeeNee (that would be me). My grand daughter gets to pick out a special bed time book. My littlest guy (age 3) found a special helper pizza slice. He so loves helping.

This pizza slice was hidden (and taped) next to framed wall art.

These simple meal time place settings don’t have to always have to be about money or gifts. Kids love coupons which that gift special treats. My grand daughter loves the opportunity to help with dishes. My eight year old grand son enoys picking out a special movie for us on NetFlix. My three year gets excited about showering by himself.

Heck, make coupons for special alone time to bake cookies, an hour for doing a craft, printing out coloring pages on the computer or reading books. We are all finacially strapped, but that doesn’t mean we can’t find creative ways to enjoy time with our kids or grand kids.


Artichoke Spinach Dip

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Artichoke Spinach Dip on Display

Last night my daughter phoned stressed about preparing an appetizer dish for a wedding shower today. Her work day had been overwhelming (an understatement), so “Blimpy Girl Mama” volunteered to prepare her appetizer.

Clueless what to make, I shuffled cans in the pantry and checked the contents in the fridge. What ingredients could I throw together without having to shop? The end result was this Artichoke Spinach Dip. A little of this, a little of that. The dip turned out pretty tasty even though I improvised on a couple of missing ingredients.

Baked Artichoke Spinach Dip

 If you follow my blog, you know I am anal about food presentation. This dish was no different. If you’re going to showcase a dish, then do it with gusto and flair. Make it stand out from the those “Tupperware container” dishes. You might not be Martha, but you can earn a close second with good presentation.

Printable Tag for the Artichoke Spinach Dip

An in-house scavenger hunt turned up a jumbo size photo clothsespin to display my appetizer name tag. A copy of the recipe (self-serving, of course) and appetizer tag are FREE to print:
artichoke dip1

FREE printable papers I used around the dip are found here: SpringTimeBackgroundPapers.Artichoke Spinach Dip on Display

A shout out to DigitalCardFun.com for their awesome background paper designs. :))

If making this appetizer ahead of time, you’ll need to warm before serving. Heat in microwave (30 second bursts). Stir mixture until heated through. Serve with crackers or scoop-able chips.

Printed Artichoke Spinach Dip Recipe

Seek & Find: Popsicle Place Mat

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Popsicle Placemats

It was another “Wild Wednesday” with the grand kids. They arrived at 5:30 with their usual boundless energy. Blimpy Girl NeeNee was on task and ready for the chaos. This week Popsicle place mats were the agenda. They were nothing fancy, but the kids sure love to be surprised with their Wednesday place setting. As they enter the door, they toss their coats and shoes in the laundry room leaping toward the kitchen island to see what’s planned.

I found these adorable printable Popsicle designs at EatDrinkChic.com. Cute, cute, cute! Of course, you’ll need Popsicle sticks, but Blimpy Girl grabbed a handful from work (I own the biz, so it was OK). We use the sticks to make Popsicle soaps. You can snag a 50 count package here for $4.95.

Olivia's Popsicle Place Mat Fischer's Popsicle Place Mat

Now for the pre-dinner fun! The kid’s assignment was to locate a hidden Popsicle that matched the one on their dinner plate. They ran around the house like they were on a serious mission and the comradery of helping each other was awesome. The prize included swords for the boys and American Girl dolly stuff for Miss Olivia.

Unfortunately, Olivia had too many time outs with her nanny and has to earn back her dolly clothes. If she proves herself by our Saturday library outing, she can add the dolly stuff to her AG clothes closet. Gotta love a five year old with spirit. It’s an understatement to say she’s a sassy little whip. God love the man she eventually marries.