29 November 2012

Christmas Inspiration - Link Up Here

It's here. My favourite time of the year... Christmas.
Mulled wine, twinkle lights, gingerbread and pine trees.

I have collected all my favourite Christmas Posts from years gone by

Every year I open a Christmas linky and invite you to share your Christmas Inspiration
with us. Your crafting cleverness, your decorating genius, your baking wizardry....
whatever. If you're feeling uninspired or overwhelmed, take a few minutes to visit the links (and my Christmas Page of course) and see if you don't feel better before long.

This year I'm adding a twist... two linkies! One for your own blog post ideas...
You can link up to one or both... (and leave me a comment before you go,
telling me your favourite thing about Christmas.)

For Bloggers: Christmas Post Linky
On the Christmas Post Linky, share your thoughts on the season, your fab ideas, your musings and inspirations. Come back and link up as many posts as you like, whenever you have something new to add. (Make sure you add my Christmas Linky Button to your posts... thanks!)

Christmas Page

[Christmas Eve 2012 with our Spanish Cousins and Santa Claus about to get Christmas PJ's]

For Pinners: Pinterest Christmas Inspiration Linky
Add the link to your Christmas Board on Pinterest and share the Christmas Inspiration you find there...

(Both Linkies will close on December 31st)
28 November 2012

Wild West Party How To's (with Free Printables)

Here's how I created the clever bits for our Wild West Campout Party. Everything is super-simple and cheap cost effective. There's even a bunch of free printables for ya... enjoy!

Rustic Burlap Jar Lanterns
  1. What you need: Clean jars (with labels removed), loose weave burlap (hessian); spray adhesive, copper craft wire, scissors
  2. This Scotch spray adhesive is FAB - super sticky, you don't need much at all
  3. Cut a piece of burlap/hessian to the right size by rolling the jar and roughly cutting the fabric as you go
  4. Spray the jar with the adhesive and press 'n' stretch the burlap around as you go until the entire jar is covered; trim off any excess (make sure you spray and stick the burlap to the neck of the jar as well)
  5. To form the handle, wind the copper wire tightly around the neck of the jar and twist
  6. Loop the wire over to the opposite side of the jar, poke the wire through underneath the wire and twist up to form a neat little handle

Put a tealight candle inside for a rustic glowing lantern, perfect for a night by the campfire.

 Rugged Wanted Posters
I created these Wanted Posters in PhotoShop, personalised for each of our party guests. They were fantastic as a decorative feature (and talking point) but were also a very cute take-home gift.

(Feel free to borrow my posters and add in your own outlaw faces and names in  PicMonkey or Photoshop; you'll need to crop each one individually and save it as a new file, then blank out the names, replace them with yours & add in faces)

I was lucky to have photos of all the party guests from soccer and school photos, which I PhotoShopped on to pictures I found of cowboys online (Google Image search). You can create similar Posters yourself (or borrow mine); if you don't have PhotoShop you can download a trial version for FREE here. You can download free Western-style Fonts here. Or you can get me to make them for you (NEW on my Etsy Shop: Personalised Wanted posters

I made the posters black and white and printed them onto A3 paper very cheaply at Warehouse Stationery (.25c each). Then Scrag and I had fun making them look old and crusty. 
Here's how...
  • scrunch up the poster into a ball, then smooth it out flat again
  • make a jug of very strong instant coffee
  • apply the coffee liberally to the poster
  • the paper is very easily ripped when wet so handle carefully
  • lay it out on an old towel to dry, so it doesn't stick to a hard surface

Along with their Wanted Posters, we also sent the boys home with a bag of sweets (Milky Bars, gold coins etc); the manila labels are from Typo and the alphabet stamp set from Kikki K. Nice and rustic.


FREE Printable Wild West GingerBeer Labels

Printable themed labels turn cheap bottles of soda into part of the party atmosphere. We bought six-packs of Home Brand Ginger Beer, peeled off the labels and replaced them with the cute ones I created, using a glue stick.
I made two sizes of labels, for the individual bottles and the 1.5 litre bottles. The old labels peel off very easily. So that's how you turn .95cent Home Brand ginger beer into something way cooler!

Here are the Printable versions for you to use at your party...
(simply right-click the image to save it to your computer; they print out on A4)

Large Bottle Labels (A4 Horizontal)
Mini Bottle Labels (A4 Vertical)

Campfire Cupcakes
These were so easy to make, tasted divine, and looked so cute!
Here's how to turn cupcakes into mini campfires...

  1. I used my fail-safe cupcake recipe, with gluten-free baking mix substituted for flour (not that anyone could tell; they are light and delicious). The buttercream recipe is also found here. Add cocoa powder to make it chocolatey
  2. Smear on a swirl of chocolate buttercream; make it a neat and tidy swirl by holding the knife still and turning the cupcake to spread the buttercream evenly
  3. Use mini Flake bars to create the "logs"
  4. Carefully cut the mini-flakes into slivers for your campfire wood
  5. Arrange the "logs" on top of the cupcakes as shown
  6. Make a half-batch of stiff buttercream and colour it orange
  7. Apply "flames" using a piping bag; start in a gap between "logs" and flick up, to create a flame effect (I used a star nozzle)
Yum yum yum.

Now what are you going to do with all that leftover buttercream? Well create a giant campfire birthday cake of course!

Campfire Birthday Cake
This was so easy to decorate, and yet it looks very effective and tastes delicious too.
Here's how to do it...

  1. Bake a double mixture of your favourite chocolate cake batter in a round or ring tin. (My favourite easy never-fail recipe found here)
  2. If you used a ring tin, fill in the centre with Pascall Mallow Bites (or Snowballs or similar). It should rise just above the level of the cake to create some height to build your log pile on. If you have a regular round cake build up a little pile in the centre.
  3. Slather the whole cake with delicious chocolate buttercream icing. Don't hold back, pile it on.
  4. Create a ring of "stones" around the perimeter of your cake with more Mallow Bites
  5. For your log pile use Cadbury Flake bars
  6. Slice your Flake bars in half and then into thinner slices to create your logs, and arrange your campfire logs, as with the cupcakes (but bigger)
  7. Mix up a half batch of buttercream, and colour it orange (or even better use the orange buttercream leftover from your cupcakes)
  8. Pipe "flames" onto your campfire as with the cupcakes, but bigger.
...then light the candles and sing happy birthday...

27 November 2012

Wild West CampOut Party

I just can't help myself when it comes to parties. Every year I promise myself, This one will be simple... and then I go ahead and make it fancy.
Three friends camping in the backyard turns into seven 10-year-olds for a Wild West CampOut, complete with individualised Wanted Posters, cupcakes and Cowboy hats.

Like I said I just can't help myself. Parties are an addiction with me (much to my kids' delight and my hubby's consternation).

So here's Dash's tenth birthday Wild West Campout. It really was Wild...

The decorating was simple and low-cost.
 Jar lanterns covered in recycled hessian. 
Tin cans with the labels peeled off, daisies pulled from the lawn...

Look at my cool-as Wanted Posters decorating the walls. These were a last-minute inspiration, and so simple to make.

I created the Wanted Posters in Photoshop, printed them out onto A3 paper and "aged" them using coffee. The boys all got to take theirs home, and had a good laugh about their outlaw names, crimes and the "Rewards" being offered for their capture.

In an effort to stick to my "simple" party plan, I also recycled some decor from earlier parties. Like the wobbly bunting (Toy Story Party), hessian/burlap (Boy vs Wild Party) and brown suedey fabric (Peter Pan Party). Cost = ZIP.

I also created printable "Wild West" labels for soda bottles, and made campfire cupcakes -which were all a huge hit when it was time for afternoon tea....

The "campfire" cupcakes were gluten free, super delicious, easy to decorate and so cute. One of the boys was overhead saying, "I don't want to eat this, it looks too cute!" (But he did).

Ten year old boys have loads of energy so we planned some simple but high-energy games...

First up was Backyard Soccer and penalty shoot-outs.
Shoot-outs, get it?? OK I'm reaching there, to make it sound on-theme. Really these are all mad keen footballers and so soccer was always gonna happen (along with wrestling pile-ups and a bit of Gangnam Style...)

The craziest game was my version of "Capture the Flag"... which became "Cowboys and Indians: Capture the Hats". Two teams, each with a base. The aim is to capture all the other team's hats and collect them at your base before they capture yours.... pure joyful mayhem...

(Recognize those feather headbands? Yep, recycled from the Peter Pan Party.)

(I just like this photo)

After the mayhem, we put up the tents and then cooked our dinner over the fire, cowboy-style. Steak on skewers, sausages, potatoes roasted in foil and damper/flatbread cooked on the grill...

See the brazier? It's brand-new. The bottom literally fell out of our old one at 1.30pm with the boys due to arrive at 3pm. Mr G had to race to Bunnings to get a new one or there would have been no campfire and hence no dinner. The new brazier is smaller but smarter. We could cook on two levels, with the potatoes roasting on the bottom level and the flatbread and steak skewers grilling on the top. Yum yum yum.

(RIP old faithful brazier. You served us and our many parties well.)

The Birthday cake was a campfire cake to match the cupcakes. So simple to make. So yummy, with that chocolate buttercream....

Happy tenth Birthday darling Dash!

By this time the boys were, shall we say, "off their heads" with sheer boy-energy and the excitement of camping, so we decided to simplify proceedings, and do away with a couple of planned activities which would only have added fuel to their hypo-fire.

We skipped "Truth or Dare" (the coolest game I've ever made, with a genuine Snake Oil spin-bottle label I had so cleverly made and loads of questions and dares which would have only put them all over the top *sniff*); we avoided all mention of toasting marshmallows (they needed no more sugar) and went straight to watching the movie. 

Afterwards they snuggled into their tents and eventually all drifted off to sleep around midnight, while me and Mr G perked coffee on the brazier and threatened them with sleeping in Scrag's tent if they didn't keep things to a whisper... Then Mr G bunked down with Scrag in their little tent, while I went off to sleep in comfort...

We survived.

And apparently the boys all had a great time. I mean, it really looks like they had a great time, right?

I don't know that I would recommend having quite so many boys at a backyard campout... it was pretty crazy. But hey, this was a bunch of outlaws in the Wild West, after all. What did I expect?

25 November 2012

Christmas Movie Nights: Arthur Christmas

This Christmas season we are looking for feel-good Christmas Movie Classics to add to our must-watch list and help get us in the festive spirit. We'll also share ideas for seasonal snacks and decorating.

Our Super-Cool-Fab Review Team...

Our crack team of expert Movie Reviewers are this week reviewing Arthur Christmas, a cool newish animated Christmas movie from 2011.

One of my favourite things to do each Christmas is watch my favourite feel-good Christmas films... and I am always glad to add  new additions to my Christmas must-watch list.

This year I have added a whole bunch of Christmas classics to my Fatso Queue, including Miracle on 34th Street and It's a Wonderful Life, which I've never been able to find in a video store. I am looking forward to getting in the Festive mood watching a whole new list of favourites, and Arthur Christmas is now firmly in place amongst my Christmas faves.

Movie Plot Summary: As soon as Arthur Christmas starts you know it's going to be good. Within the first few minutes my hard-to-impress hubby was chuckling and saying, Ha, this is good! Arthur is the family nerd, which is rather awkward when your Dad is Father Christmas. It's almost time for Santa to retire and pass the reins onto the next generation, and big brother Chris looks like he is the likely successor; he already has Christmas running like a well oiled machine, but when one child's gift goes undelivered it becomes about what matters most: recognition, fame, status... or doing what it takes to make sure that one child is not disappointed on Christmas morning. With loads of action, whit and irony this is one the grownups will enjoy and the little kids will love too.

Put Arthur Christmas on your Christmas Movie Watchlist... (or even better, try it for free from from  Fatso, along with a bunch of other Christmas Classics).

Here's what our experts have to say about Arthur Christmas...

Dash. B. Cool: "It was alright, it had some funny bits in it. It's not my favourite movie ever, but it's good for Christmas. I liked the elf Ninjas and the old grumpy Santa."

Dash scores this movie's "coolness" as: 

Foxy Fab: "The first time I watched it it was really good, but when I heard that we were watching it again I thought Oh No. But actually it was really cool. And some bits were really funny. I really think I want to give it all five stars because it was really great and it was on my mum's birthday party day so that made it more special-er."

Foxy rates this movie's "fabness" as: 

Super Scrag: "The start was a bit boring but the end was cool. I liked it cos it was a Christmas movie and I like Christmas. The funniest person in the movie was Arthur, and Santa (the really old one), and Arthur was the nicest one too."

SuperScrag scores this movie's "super-ness" as: 


The best thing to do while watching a Christmas Classic, is to munch on something seasonally delicious...

Christmas Treats (to Make Your Christmas Movie Night even more Super-Cool-Fab)

Here are some fab Christmas treats ideas from Pinterest, fun to make and yum to eat...
What are your best Movie Night Ideas? Send me an email with your ideas (include a picture or link to a blog post if you can) so I can feature it here on Saturday Night at the Movies.