Ninjago Birthday Party Favors

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I simply had to make the kids ninja headbands when I saw a pin from (I)(L)ove(D)oing(A)ll(T)hings(C)rafty. The (free) birthday printable is from eighteen25 and something we use over and over. ninja head band party favors

To prep your own ninja head bands, order some 1.5″ satin craft ribbon (I ordered ribbon that was too wide the first time) and print out the names of all of the party guests in 80 point Chinese Takeaway font. I had plenty of extra ribbon on hand for head bands for the adults as well. Ninja headbands

Tape the pages to a window, tape a strip of ribbon (approximately 36″ long) over the name, and trace with a fine point Sharpie pen. This has to be done during daylight hours, so I did it mostly on weekends and saved my origami throwing star folding for after bedtime. ninja head band on baby Aren’t these ninja head bands adorable?!? Almost as cute as Designhermomma’s Baby Paul

Ninjago green ninja favor bags

In addition to the head bands, I sent everyone home with fortune cookies. You can get these green bags here and the free printable Ninjago green ninja favor tags at our homemade happiness.

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Ninjago Birthday Party Activities

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Activities are Essential at a children’s birthday party. Even with several things plotted, I still clearly needed more. Heather once put on a movie while the children ate which I should have learned from. I am generally opposed to watching and eating, but it probably would have rounded things out perfectly.

origami ninja stars

One thing I did learn from Heather is to start out with a craft to keep the kids busy until everyone arrives. I folded close to 60 origami ninja stars for kids to decorate using the directions from Basic Gray. Simply coloring them probably was not intricate enough to keep them busy as long as I would have preferred. My tip is to use printer paper, cut half an inch from the long side to make the paper 8″x11″ then cut two inch strips across the paper in landscape, giving you five 2″x8″ strips per page (you will have an 1″x8″ strip left over). You need two strips for each star, so I cut two pages at a time.

ninja star toss

After decorating their ninja stars the kids got to practice throwing them (into a bucket). Since they were made out of printer paper, it was not an easy task. They each tried several times.

Ninja obstacle courseNext was the ninja obstacle course. My brother taped crepe paper strips for the kids to crawl over and under. It was the perfect time to remind the kids that ninjas are stealthy and silent. They each took several turns before it all came down. 
birthday boy ninja photo booth

Next, we posed with the ninja photo booth using the Ninjago golden weapons props, signs, and Sensei Wu’s beard. I don’t really have the set up to print out photos for the kids as party favors which would have been super fun, but I did share all of the photos with their parents. I hope the kids love them as much as I do. I mean, how cute are these kids?!

Ninjago photo booth

I also challenged the kids to chopstick races, picking up as many beans as they could with chopsticks in 30 seconds. My phone was busy with the timer, so I didn’t snap any photos. I got everyone their own bamboo chopsticks as another favor, but they were too difficult for the kids so I got out the dinosticks for the races. birthday party plates

Finally, it was time to eat all of the party food! I didn’t have enough chairs, so I had them sit on the floor. This would have been the perfect time to show an episode or two of Ninjago.

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A Reason To Party Every Day

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When I first set up my blog, I wrote this for my “About” page:

I love a good theme party. Pinterest is the platform I have been waiting for my entire life. Perhaps I should have been a Kindergarten teacher (I was an aide briefly)… I see celebration as an important part of life and fun as important to staying sane. We try to decorate and celebrate as many holidays as we can. Documenting our theme parties and the crafts I attempt (I have no skill) will only make it more fun for me.

While I don’t blog nearly enough, you know that we celebrate everything from Cinco de Mayo to half birthdays to house-warmings. We even have birthday parties for the dog and make special treats for visiting The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I haven’t gotten around to blogging the “primavera” I made for the first day of Spring, the pie we ate on Pi Day or even our celebration of the Ides of March. A lot of these “smaller” holidays may simply be focused on what we eat, but we still find a way to celebrate. For Mardi Gras I make king cake and we eat creole from our favorite Yats; but my son’s school taught him that we also need to have pancake races and lots of lots of beads. Luckily, they hurt less when you step on them than Lego’s do.

Recently, I was invited to beta test a new app from Studio 27 called Allidays, described on iTunes with:

Turn a boring day into a celebration with a holiday for all your days. Allidays features fun and quirky holidays every day of the year, with options to share your favorites with friends or add an event to your personal calendar.

I now have Waffle Day added to my calendar. We had chicken for dinner on poultry day, and an early morning text from a friend on Single Parents Day was lovely. I haven’t told my son that March 23rd is National Chip and Dip Day, but he is going to be THRILLED. I truly do believe that celebration is an important part of life and fun is important to staying sane. I am looking forward to adding more holidays and celebrations to our calendar with the help of Allidays.

You can download Allidays for FREE on iTunes. I would love if you used it to tweet me some of your favorites and we can celebrate together. Let’s make every day special with Allidays!

I was provided a pre-release version of Allidays for testing purposes. All opinions on life, apps, celebrations, and parties are my own.

Vegan Irish Cream and Cooked Cabbage Recipes for St. Patrick’s Day

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vegan irish cream recipe

We are not vegan, but we are dairy-free. My original Irish Cream recipe - before I discovered a dairy allergy – called for whipping cream and sweetened condensed milk. While you can get evaporated goat milk, I wanted to see what I could do with (canned) coconut milk. While this recipe may continue to be tweaked, but as I sip it right now I feel confident enough to serve it to friends. My original Irish Cream recipe, I bottled and gave as gifts on several occasions. I am definitely not forgetting that recipe.

My first attempt at creating my own Irish Cream recipe, I added more chocolate. My morning coffee was more mocha than creamy or Irish, so I tried again. That one could have been called “Black Irish” Cream. Here is what you will need for something closer to the traditional:

irish cream ingredients

  • 1 can full fat coconut milk (I prefer this brand in BPA free cans)
  • 2/3 cup sugar (I use organic coconut palm sugar which does add a slight carmel-y flavor)
  • 1/3 cup extra strong coffee (or espresso)
  • 1 teaspoon of chocolate powder
  • 1 Tablespoon approximately of vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons approximately of almond extract (this intensifies sweetness)
  • 1 pinch of cinnamon
  • 1 cup of Irish whiskey

Start by brewing your coffee. I used double the amount of beans and let it steep a bit longer. I brewed a full pot and can just add hot water to it before mixing in my Irish Cream in the morning.

Heat the coconut milk in a medium to large sauce pan over medium low heat. The key here is to melt the sugar not to boil the milk, stirring in the sugar until it is well combined. Reduce heat to low and add the chocolate powder. I prefer to combine all of this with a whisk rather than a spatula.

Remove from heat and add the rest of the ingredients – vanilla, almond extract, cinnamon, and whiskey.

Serve over ice or with your morning coffee. The coffee is fairly strong, so I would not consume this too late in the day or you may have trouble sleeping. Store it in the refrigerator; you will likely need to shake or stir gently before pouring.

Irish Cream recipe

We have our corned beef resting. I will add potatoes, carrots, and onions, cooking it in the slow cooker. Of course, it will be served with cabbage. Our favorite cabbage recipe is below.

  • 1 head green cabbage
  • 1 small onion
  • 2-4 Tablespoons bacon lard
  • salt
  • red pepper flakes

Cut the cabbage and let rest for at least thirty minutes in a colander with salt. Squeeze excess ager from the cabbage. Melt lard in a pan and cook onion until soft. Add cabbage and cook until soft (there is no perfect level of done – it depends on what your family prefers). I like to season with red pepper flakes. My son used to be sensitive to spicy, so I sometimes leave those out. It is easy, healthy, and yummy.

What will YOU be serving on St. Patrick’s Day?

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Lego Brick Bunting, Ninjago Decorations, and What Was Missing

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While the Sugar High Sushi was probably my favorite part of this party, the Lego brick banner was a close second. I saw lots of cute Ninjago bunting ideas on Pinterest, but I wanted to work the Lego part of Ninjago in a bit more. Delia Creates has the perfect free printable Lego bumps and lots of other cute Lego ideas. I took her printable, turned it landscape (without auto-rotate) and printed at 137% to create two 3×4 Lego bricks per 8.5″x11″ page.

lego block buntingI then printed my letters in 300 point Chinese takeaway font, cut them out, and applied them to my Lego blocks with pop dots just like I did for the antique book bunting. This, like all the other banners I have created, now hangs in the birthday child’s bedroom.

Lego block Ninjago birthday buntingWe re-used lots of dragons from Chinese New Year, like this guy with the bamboo sticks and gold pipe cleaners left over from New Years Eve, and Lego dragons from the old castle sets.

bamboo and drago

The giant Lego brick back drop is made from disposable table clothes and paper plates, although I would have used Delia Create’s Lego bumps again if I had papers in the right shades. The nunchucks hanging from the chandelier were an impulse buy at Dollar Tree which basically became yet another gift for my son along with the Ninjago Green Ninja t-shirt we spotted while picking up last minute party supplies. giant lego block back drop

The balloons (weighted by ball jars filled with Legos) would have had Ninjago eyes if I hadn’t run out of time. There was also a “7″ candle and a tall jar filled with Legos ala this first birthday party centerpiece, but it showed up (with my parents who were filling it) right as the party started and I didn’t grab a photo. Of course the birthday party wreath was hanging on the door to welcome our guests. You could use the same font to add your child’s initial just like we did for the Mario birthday party.

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Candy Sushi and Ninjago Party Food

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My favorite part of this party was the “Sugar High Sushi” made from Rice Krispie treats, fruit leather, and candy. Rice Krispie treats remind me of my grandmother. I have her recipe in her handwriting framed and hanging in my kitchen right by my stove – which was handy as I was making so many batches after midnight the night before the party.

bulk rice krispies

I ordered the Gluten Free Rice Krispies and mini marshmallows in bulk from Amazon. I used three entire boxes of Rice Krispies and part of the fourth. We only had a few left over pieces and they were all gone by the next morning. Rather than pushing the Rice Krispies, marshmallows, and butter into a pan, I created rolls in parchment paper, dividing each batch into 2-3 rolls, depending on how large you want your sushi pieces.

candy sushi cutting guideOnce the Rice Krispie treat logs were solid, I cut them into pieces using a serrated knife. The ends looked more like the oval rice rolls used to make nigiri, and they laid nicely when cut in half to give a flat edge. Then it was time to make them look like sushi.

sugar high sushi

Obviously Swedish Fish were an important staple. I tied some fish on using Strawberry rope candy (warning: this is not gluten free). I used the darkest fruit leather I could find (since dried seaweed is black) rather than trying for a neon green. To make the fruit leather stick (even though it is a little sticky), it has to be heated. I kept a tray in my oven set to warm while working. I tore the pieces into the size I wanted, then pressed them onto the Rice Krispee treats.  candy sushi close upTo create candy caviar, I tried to make paleo (blueberry) gum drops, but I wasn’t satisfied with the consistency, so I rolled some of the extra mini marshmallows in black food dye. 
candy sushi

There were at least two additional trays of Sugar High Sushi – it was popular stuff! If you notice, in the bottom right hand corner, though, after several hours the red ropes untied as they dried out.  Ninjago Green Ninja cake with fondantHeather has decorated some amazing cakes for us (John Deere Two and Half a Death Star) but I kind of like working in fondant. I use the recipe from A Spicy Perspective that consists of a package of melted mini marshmallows, a package of powdered sugar, shortening or butter to keep things from sticking, a bit of almond extract (my preference), and a bit of water. I free-handed all of this to create the Green Ninja from Ninjago per the birthday boy’s request.

One batch was enough to create two Green Ninja cakes and decorate three cupcakes for one of my favorite birthday traditions – a special cupcake with candles. We even do it for adults. There was even still enough fondant left over for me to snack on all day the next day – yum.

birthday cupcake 7I did also use the paleo gum drop recipe to make mango Lego mini figures using this mold, but I forgot them in the freezer… We served Golden Dragon Scales (tortilla chips) and Fire Sauce (salsa), a fruit dragon made with strawberries, blueberries, and mango inspired by this that the kids ate before I could get a photo, and Salted Numchucks (pretzel sticks), along with Golden Ninja Nectar (lemonade), water, and Sensei (Wu) wine for the adults.

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Ninjago Photo Booth Prep

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We are in full party prep mode here. I have been working on some things for a few weeks, but I am just getting them to the point where I can blog them. I can’t wait to show you the bunting for this party; I think it’s adorable.

Ninjago backdrop HPGMost of this photo booth is made possible thanks to the generosity of other bloggers providing or linking to free printables. I found the backdrop at Craft Interrupted along with a couple of the props: Sensei Wu’s beard and the word bubbles. The weapons can be found here. I printed the backdrop at 4×4, trimmed the margins and taped it all together. It will hang on a gray wall during the party. I will try to take photos of all of the kids and email those as another Thank You/favor to the guests.

Ninjago Photo Booth propsFor everything I printed, I simply printed on regular printer paper, cut out, taped (double sided tape) to card stock, and cut again. I printed the weapons enlarged (I believe at 300%, but looking below you can see they could be larger. The sticks on the beard and word bubbles are bamboo that was taped to the back. This was all super easy. In fact, if you look closely, you can tell that my son helped tape the weapons. The Serpentine glasses are just $1 sunglasses with hand-cut spirals glued to the lenses.

Ninjago photo booth HPGI am also making each child a personalized ninja head band to wear during the party and take home, but that is for another post.

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Sweet Red Apple Sauce, Heart Shaped Bacon and Cupid Arrow Pierced Strawberries

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Protip – trying to create a Valentine’s Day breakfast the same morning you are recording a radio program probably is not the best timing. Not all of my bacon hearts stayed together, but luckily, it was enough to convincingly celebrate for my kiddo. Mostly, he was thrilled with the stuffed “tiger” holding a heart that read “I love you.” It doesn’t take much for kids.

I actually did try to keep it pretty simple. Heart shaped can be created by cutting the bacon slices in half then folding two halves into a heart and baking the bacon. I adjust the temperature depending on my timing and just keep an eye on it until your bacon is the perfect done-ness for you. I did use toothpicks in some of the hearts to help them keep their shape while baking. You will likely need to remove them from the pan with a spatula.

Sweet Red Apple Sauce heart shaped bacon

Rather than making red pancakes this year, I used frozen waffles (I told you I was in a hurry this morning!) and made a Sweet Red Apple Sauce to top them. After apple-picking last fall, we have a constant supply of home-made applesauce, but store-bought would work. I prefer chunky. Warm your applesauce in a sauce pan and add a teaspoon to a few tablespoons (depending on how many you are serving) of honey to sweeten it a bit. The red can be a few drops of beet juice or food dye, depending on how crunchy you want to be. As you can see, it was well received. (Yea, that is my plate I nearly forgot to take a photo of.)

cupid arrow strawberries

For the class party, I was assigned “something fun but not sugary”, so I cut fresh strawberries into heart shapes by cutting the stem off with a V and piercing them with Cupid Arrow Toothpicks. For the Cupid Arrow Toothpicks all you need is some patterned paper, toothpicks, scissors, and double stick tape. I cut the patterned paper into 1″x2″ strips and taped a toothpick in between two pieces. I then cut them into feather shapes, making sure to cut diagonally down the sides. I was late to the party, but apparently all the moms in attendance liked them. You could also add an arrow tip by adding two triangles to the other end of the toothpick, but many of my strawberries were pretty large, so I kept it simple.

How was your Valentine’s Day?

Cheap and Easy Gift Wrap

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I prefer to say that I am frugal and flexible because it has a better connotation than “cheap and easy”. I prefer to make my own wreaths rather than buy them. I find friends to decorate amazing cakes for me rather than going to an expensive bakery (it saves a ton of money to have talented friends!). Gift wrap is kind of a thing for me… The Christmas presents that go under our tree are all in brown paper with ribbons and bows.

candy cane heart gift wrapI try to knock out all of my wrapping at the annual Cosmo Moms wrapping day, but the office party this year is very early in the season. It’s a Thursday night (after the kid is in bed) and I have six presents (each including multiple items) to wrap before showering and getting to bed. I knocked it out rather quickly though with lunch sacks (I found them much less expensively at Target), left over ribbon, and a hole punch. The tag is cut from last year’s Christmas cards. Wrapping for approximately half a dollar.

cheap and easy gift wrap in a paper sack

Fall Fun and a Haunted House Giveaway

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I am always sad to see summer go because I fear the freeze that comes with winter, but there can be no better consolation than Autumn. Football, pumpkins, spooks and scares, hayrides, cider, and hoodies… We started getting in the theme of things last week, decorating the house, then this weekend it was apple everything after a trip to Tuttle Orchard and Pumpkin Patch.

HPG picking applesIn addition to eating apple everything all weekend, (By the way, if you think grain-free cooking cannot be light and fluffy, you really need to try this German Apple Pancake; we will be again very soon) we started carving pumpkins. (Emphasis on started… as excited as the kids were about the pumpkins, the attention span didn’t last long.)

HPG pumpkin patchToday, I got a sneak peak into The Children’s Museum Guild’s 50th Anniversary Haunted House “Time Warp: 50 Years of Fear”. In honor of their 50th anniversary, the Children’s Museum Guild has created a haunted house that takes you back in time 50 years, back through time, and into the future with fun 3-D effects. The kids will love the Star Wars Creepy Cantina, and parents will be entertained by the tribute to Michael Jackson’s Thriller video, the computer graveyard, and Y-2 Kaos room.

TCM Time WarpI am looking forward to taking the kids, first during the Lights-On Hours, but I anticipate EW will want to go back through during the Frightening Hours “for children who dare to be scared”. This year, on Friday nights there will also be Xtreme Scream! hours focused for teens. For a guide on which experience is right for your family, check out this infographic. While you are at the Children’s Museum, don’t forget to visit their special exhibits Bat Encounter and Hollywood Haunts. The Children’s Museum Guild’s haunted house and other special exhibits are great for the whole family. You should go. In fact, I think you should go so much that I am giving you five ways to win Four Tickets to “Time Warp” at The Children’s Museum.

  1. Leave a comment below with your favorite “Fall Fun” activity
  2. Follow me on twitter and leave a comment below with your twitter handle.
  3. Pin any Hoosier Party Girl blog to your Pinterest boards and leave a comment below telling me what you pinned. You can do this once per day!
  4. Tweet about the giveaway (maybe something like: I want to visit the Time Warp haunted house at @tcmindy – @HoosierPartyGrl has tickets to #giveaway http://wp.me/p2g2wW-96 ) and leave a comment below telling me you did. You can do this once per day!
  5. Circle me in on Google+ and leave a comment with your G+ name.

I will choose a winner on Tuesday, October 15th. Good luck and Happy Fall, Ya’ll!

I was invited to a blogger preview of Time Warp by The Children’s Museum Guild and provided four tickets to giveaway. All opinions are my own. 

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