DIY Ice Cream Party

I Scream, You Scream.  We all scream because birthday parties are so expensive!

Ahhh….that’s not the ending you’ve heard before? 😉

But seriously.  Birthday parties can be so expensive.

I was able to pull off an ice cream birthday party for my ten year old for very little money.

I started by making her birthday cake.  It has become the tradition that I make the birthday cakes for my family.  I used this tutorial to get an idea for how to make this ice cream cone cake.  I was a little rushed and I had a few helpers in the kitchen but it turned out just how she imagined.

We found ice cream cone bubbles in a three pack for $1 at Dollar Tree!  Score!  They were perfect party favors.

We found the birthday banner and the stickers for the party at Dirt Cheap!  What a great find!  I simply let her put the stickers on folded posterboard and wah-la, we had a sign!

I bought coordinating plates and napkins at Dollar Tree.  I NEVER buy party plates anywhere else.   I also found the cups for the ice cream toppings there.

The blue spoons were from our free ice-cream swirls that we got all summer long at our local Race-Trac!

I went into the yard and cut a few branches of magnolia,crepe myrtle and boxwood and stuck them into a farmhouse pitcher for a table decoration.

And there you have it……our ice cream party on the cheap!

What are your best tips for saving money and still pulling off an extra special, special day?


Gifts for Those Who Dislike More Stuff

Clutter.  Stuff.  Energy-sucking things.

This is how I could describe the things that can so easily creep into my life and home.  I know that there are different degrees of minimalism and I’m somewhere in there.

I like to have a few sentimental things and a few choice pieces in my home.  However, I need for my smooth surfaces to be clean before I can rest my mind.  I’d like to say that this means that my surfaces stay clutter free…it basically means that my mind doesn’t rest as much as I’d like.

I’d really like to be able to sit and read, or play, or anything in the middle of a mess.  But I can’t.

I spent years making myself feel guilty because I couldn’t turn a blind eye to the dishes in the sink and the laundry to be folded in order to do something more fun.  I’ve now decided that I need to be efficient in getting those things done so that I can then move on to the “more important” things.

I detest clutter.  I look at possessions and think how much of my life they will require me to give up.

I’m sure that makes me pretty hard to shop for.  I’m a little embarrassed to say that there are very few gifts that I appreciate.  I don’t mean that as harshly as it sounds. I appreciate the thought but most THINGS  just don’t impress me.

Before you think that I’m being unkind, let me throw out a few things that would be great gifts for someone who doesn’t like stuff.  I’ll stress that this is my own personal opinion. If you want to buy me a gift, then check the list.  That would be super cool. 😉  Otherwise, chances are there might be someone in your life who might have a similar personality and interests and might simply dislike things.

Here are some ideas that I think would make great gifts for those who don’t want more things:

Consumables such as:

  • pretty napkins or paper products
  • nice soaps
  • a candle
  • homemade cleaning supplies
  • essential oils
  • a bird feeder and seeds

Items that might need to be replaced:

  • a nice pillowcase
  • pretty dishtowel

Food items:

  • homemade jams/jellies
  • raw honey
  • fruit baskets
  • baked bread
  • herb garden
  • specialty coffee or tea

Thoughtful Personal gifts:

  • a cutting from your garden in a pretty pot
  • an online subscription
  • a gift card for an outing
  • a night of babysitting
  • a certificate for a pedicure

While many of these things may be specific to me, I think that most people who dislike more “stuff” would find one or two things that they could appreciate.


What about you?  What would you add?  What is your view on stuff?

DIY Birthday Cakes for Your Kids

I love a good DIY project and decorating cakes is a hobby that makes me happy so putting those together is fun for me!

About half way through the mess of baking, I tend to remember that Costco and Sam’s both sell 1/2 sheet cakes for less than $20.

But, alas, my kids like for me to bake and decorate their birthday cakes and that makes me happy.  It is a labor of love and actually quite fun to see their ideas come to life!  The delight that they get from them is worth every minute.  They really are truly excited and appreciative.

For this year, my twins asked for two totally different cake styles.  Apparently when you turn eight, it is no longer cool to share a theme.  My cat lover wanted a cake with “tangled up cats.”  My horse lover wanted a pasture scene with horses.

Although I have an excellent home made white cake recipe, I went straight to Wal-Mart to aisle 9 and picked up my favorite boxed white cake mix.  You just cannot go wrong with this one!

For the chocolate cake, I used this devil’s food mix.  I am not a chocolate lover but apparently it is yummy.

I only have one set of round pans and one rectangular cake pan, so I helped the girls to decide that is just what we needed to have the perfect cakes.  The power of persuasion was strong.

So, after a morning of baking, cooking, and leveling the cakes, we were ready!

I used a basic Wilton frosting recipe for the white cake and this chocolate buttercream recipe for the other.  It is the best chocolate one that I’ve tried.   Yummm!

My cat lover is also a foodie.  She loved the strawberry cream cheese filling that I had used on her daddy’s birthday cake so she requested it for her own.  It is really, really good and takes a cake from basic to amazing.

I let the girls choose a set of Toobs to use for the figures on their cakes.  This was like a little gift before the birthday and they put A LOT of thought into just which ones to get.

You really can’t go wrong with “tangled up cats.”  This was super easy to decorate. To make the yarn balls, I covered a bouncy ball and a marble with icing.  This worked well but kept me on my toes at the party to make sure that they got removed before becoming a choking hazard!

It was a bit more fun to decorate the horse cake.  I would have really liked to add a fence  (my idea was to use pretzels and icing) but she insisted that her horses were free roaming. 😉

Overall, we had a really good time with these. It was worth the effort and I felt a bit like superwoman as they oooohed and aaahhhed over the results!

They are already planning for next year!