Boot Camp

My 7-year-old son is really interested in the military, particularly the army. So he wanted to have a miniature boot camp/drill for his birthday party a couple of weeks ago.

I don’t know the first thing about military training, but we sat down as a family and came up with a few fun drills and games to use for the party.

My husband served as sergeant and whipped all the boys into shape. I think they all had a great time.

It was one of the easiest and most fun birthday parties I have ever helped with.

We had such a good time, I decided to share with all of you what we did.

As the boys were getting to the party we had them “enlist.” They signed a paper saying that they would obey and train to the best of their ability until they became certified soldiers.

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I painted their faces in camouflage colors.

July 158Then they were able to pick up their “gear bag” which included a toy airplane, mini army notebooks, pencil, grenade launcher, mini American flag and more.

July 213After grabbing their gear, they ready for training.

They started with basic marching and army crawl technique practice. Then they moved on to grenade launching. They had to practice grabbing “grenades” (grenade shaped water balloons) and launching them at two ring-of-fire targets on our front lawn. I’m pretty sure they loved doing this.

July 149July 148July 150Then it was on to shelter set up. They had to pop up our small play tent.

July 147After that they learned how to dress wounds. We played a wounded warrior game where they drew a card that listed an injury. They had 15 seconds to dress that wound. It was a riot to watch. Especially when someone drew the two-broken-arms card. (My boys helped me come up with the wound ideas).

July 146Lastly they took a turn at target practice. They had to chuck grenades at several tin cans on our ladder and see how many knocked over. Even in close range this was harder than the boys thought. But, boys will be boys. They loved throwing water balloons at the side of my house.

July 145At that point they had completed their basic training. To test all of their skills, we had them go through a boot camp obstacle course. During the course they had to crawl through a tube, set up a tent, army crawl under some “wires,” climb through a mine field, grab a flag, balance across a beam then climb to the top of our play fort and launch a grenade at a target on our back fence. If they hit a “mine” (grenade water balloon) during any part of the course they were “fatally wounded” and had to start over.

It was awesome.

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To wrap up the party we ended with army-style cupcakes and ice cream served in mess kits. Then the boys had army free time where they could do whatever they wanted while we waited for all of the parents to pick up their kids.

Like I said this was one of the easiest parties we have done at our house and it was so much fun. I highly recommend it!

Bachelorette Bash Boogers Style

I have never been to a bachelorette party, so I don’t know why I thought I could plan one. But my baby sister’s getting married this Saturday, and as her maid of honor, I was determined to throw her one heck of a party.

Panicked that I wouldn’t know what to do or how to decorate, I cracked open my laptop and started web surfing. Thank heavens for Pinterest.

We held the dinner/mini spa bachelorette party last weekend and I don’t know about the other girls, but I had a great time.

Here’s how I threw it all together:


First off, the invites. After looking at a couple of really cute invitation ideas online, I decided to throw together my own invitations using Photoshop and InDesign. I started with a tiffany blue background that I pulled off of one of my favorite royalty-free clip art sites:

Then I placed a red rectangular box on the bottom and played around with different fonts to come up with the text. When I thought it looked decent I took a .pdf version to the local copy store and had it printed on light-cream cardstock.

Piece of cake.

alissa's bachelorette party invites edited


If you notice, on the bottom of the invite it asks each guest to bring six $1 bills and a pair of underwear that best matches their personality or relationship with my sister. Those pieces were essential to our games. 

We played the underwear game found here. We couldn’t stop laughing at the different pairs of panties – especially a colorful lacy, top that we couldn’t figure out at first.

We used the six $1 bills to play a newlywed game that I like to call “What do they know?” I videotaped the groom answering several questions about himself as well as about my sister. Then we watched his responses while my sister told us her correct answers. If her answers matched up with his, she got $1. We put her winning money in her Honeymoon Fund Jar that I made her for one of her bridal showers. I got the newlywed game questions here.

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Party Favors

I decided it would be fun/relaxing to do pedicures at the party. My mom found a great deal on pedicure sets so each guest got an emery board, scrubbing stone, file, toe spacers and two pairs of clippers. My mom also got a great deal on nail polish so I threw in one each for the girls along with a Hershey’s Cookies n’ Cream bar and a Kit Kat (two of my sister’s favorites.)

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I made each guest a bright red sash. I bought stiff 2” ribbon from the craft store.


Then I cut out white vinyl BRIDESMAID letters on my Silhouette SD cutting machine.

Sash 1

I used double-sided tape to put the vinyl on the ribbon and smoothed it down with my handy pot scrubber.

Sash 2

Then I peeled off the tape and put a dab of hot glue at the base of the sash. They were tacky, but fun.

Sash 4

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I put everything in big red tubs that I found at the local Dollar Store. The tubs doubled as basins that we used to soak our tired feet.

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I saw a really cute banner here that said From Miss to Mrs. So I whipped out my cutting machine again and cut out block letters and chunky hearts.

Miss to Mrs Banner 1

I draped brown hemp-style ribbon through the letters and spaced it evenly over my sister’s kitchen table.

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I also saw a hanging garland made of paper cups here. I bought a pack of kids cups and a pack of thick, red cardstock. I cut open one of the cups and laid it flat.

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I made a pattern with the cup so that I could trace it and wrap paper over it.

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I traced what felt like a million of those patterns. Then I started cutting them out and gluing them onto the paper cups.

Cups 8

What was my 10-month-old doing at this point?

Making a mess.

Cups 6

After I had all of the cups covered in red paper – I did a few in blue that I had left over from the Miss to Mrs. banner – I grabbed a kitchen knife and started cutting small x shapes in the top of the cups.

Cups 4

They all ended up looking like this.

Cups 2

Then I stuck them on a strand of 100 mini Christmas lights.

cups 3

I thought they turned out really cute and the lights were really fun.

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What’s a bachelorette party without a tacky veil? I had left over 2” ribbon so I tied a giant red bow.

Veil 1

Then I bought 1 yard of tulle and set it out flat on my floor. I bunched the top of the tulle in one hand.

Veil 2

Then I threaded a needle and wove it through the top by hand, gathering the tulle about ½ inch from the top. I pulled it tight and grabbed the red bow.

Veil 4

I sewed the red bow in the center of the gathered bunch. Then I stitched on a bobby pin so we could attach it to my sister’s head.

Veil 5


For the food I cooked what I like to call Café Rio chicken salads. (I got a killer recipe from my friend Jaclyn). I cooked spicy chicken, sweet rice, easy black beans and creamy lime-cilantro  dressing and salsa (from my friend Racheal’s recipe). We used lettuce, cheese, sour cream and tortilla chips to top it all off.

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Here are the recipes I used:

Spicy Chicken

1 small bottle Zesty Italian salad dressing
1 TBSP chili powder
1 TBSP cumin
3 cloves minced garlic
5 pounds chicken breast

Cook in a crock pot 4-6 hours, then shred chicken.

Sweet Rice

6 cups water
4 tsp chicken bouillon
4 tsp minced garlic
1/2 bunch cilantro
1 small can green chilies
3/4 tsp salt
1 TBSP butter
1/2 white onion chopped
3 cups rice

Blend cilantro, chilies, onion and 1 cup of the water in a blender. Add all other ingredients (except rice) and blend. Put rice in pan or rice cooker and then add blended ingredients. Cook 20-30 minutes in pan or normal time for rice cooker.


1 large can tomatoes…any kind. I got the petite cut
4 yellow peppers (winco is the only store I could find them in the winter)
1 jalepeno pepper
1 anaheim pepper
salt to taste
lemon juice 1-2
lime juice 2-4
4 cloves garlic

Put all of the ingredients in a food processor and blend.

Here’s a link to the Easy Black Beans recipe.

Here’s a link to the Creamy Lime-Cilantro Dressing recipe.

For dessert I mixed up two boxes of my favorite fudge brownie mixes. I tried to whip up some cream but that didn’t work so my sister’s friend Mindy came to my rescue with some Cool Whip. We layered our treats with brownies, Cool Whip, then strawberries, then brownies, Cool Whip and strawberries.

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Delicious! It was a great way to end the party. We ate our treats while soaking our feet and watching one of my sister’s favorite movies: Casper.

My first bachelorette party was a lot of work but also a lot of fun. It’s nice to have a reason to make some crafts and try out some of my Pinterest pins.

Hopefully my sister had as much fun as I did.

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As far as screaming goes, I haven’t done very well lately. I am starting anew. I went 28 days without yelling at my kids, then I lost it last week. No I am back at the beginning at 1 day. You can read about my yell-free challenge here.

Bridal Shower Boogers Style

Author’s note: If you are looking to read about a major mishap, check back next week. I am sure something crazy will happen in the next 6 days and I’ll blog about a failed adventure. But last week I actually did something right. Since that doesn’t happen very often, I’m dying to share.

Thank heavens people invent crafting helpers for the homemaking impaired. Otherwise I would not have been able to help with my future sister-in-law’s bridal shower last weekend.

Luckily Internet search engines and my mom’s new cake-pop maker saved the day.

My mother-in-law held a bridal shower last Saturday for my brother-in-law’s fiancé, Aubrey. I was in charge of putting together a treat and some games.

My mom got a Babycakes Cake Pop Maker for Christmas and I had been dying to try it out. So the day before the shower I busted the thing open and dove right in.

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Can I just say, piece of cake?

I had heard horror stories of people baking cakes, crumbling them up only to roll the mess back together with a slab of frosting or cream cheese.

Not in this kitchen.

The Babycakes waffle-iron styled machine helped me whip up some cake balls in no time. The maker came with an instruction brochure that included simple recipes. I tried out the vanilla one – mainly because I had all of the ingredients on hand in my kitchen.

It was easy! With only a handful of ingredients and my 4-year-old’s expert stirring skills, we were good to go.

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I tried to pour a tablespoon full of batter into the non-stick rounded out wells, but that made a mess. So I did what I had read online and filled a Ziploc bag with batter, cut a small tip off the end of the bag and squeezed the remainder of the batter into the maker.

It took about four minutes for a dozen cake balls to golden up. I thought they were beautiful!
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I doubled the recipe and less than an hour later I ended up with just shy of 100 cake balls.

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I frosted the pops later that night after my kids were in bed.

I stuck the lollipop sticks up to about an inch in candy melt then put one pop on each. Then I took them outside in my van and let them sit in the freezing cold weather for 15 minutes.

I brought them back in and dipped them into more candy melt until they were covered. This was the hardest part for me. I lost a couple of the pops as they plopped off of the stick into the frosting. That was fun.

I topped some of the pops with ice cream sprinkles and left some of them plain. Not because I wanted to, but I ran out of frosting. And although I didn’t think they looked very good, my husband said those were his favorite.

I printed and cut out some pennant-style tags to glue to the sticks to make them more festive. They read: Be Marry, Together Forever and Love Me

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It took a little longer to frost the pops than I thought it would. I was planning on running and picking up a bridal shower gift after the pops were done, but by the time I was done I didn’t feel like going out. Not to mention the fact that most of the stores would have been closed anyway.

So, I came up with a “honeymoon fund” jar with a couple of things I had around the house. I saw a couple of these jars on Pinterest and thought they were really cute.

My neighbor gave me a few 2-quart mason jars a couple of years ago. Since I don’t can with jars that big they were collecting dust in my basement. I took one of the jars, cleaned it out and created a tag to tie on the outside. I used some tule, that I also had in my basement, to tie the tag near the top.

On my way to the shower I stopped at the bank and got some change to put in the bottom.

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Now on to the games….

I got this first idea from a friend. You can check out her baby-shower version here.

I cut out white wedding dresses onto cardstock with my Silhouette machine. Then hung them with tiny clothespins onto a ribbon.

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The dresses had the bride and groom’s names with their wedding dates on top. On the bottom I left space for people to write advice for the bride-to-be. I typed up four different prompts to get them started.

The dresses read:
I hope you’re not afraid of …
I hope you laugh at …
Make sure to never …
Make sure to always …

While people were mingling and eating they were able to write their thoughts then pin the dresses back up. At the end of the shower Aubrey read them aloud.

We also played the purse game found here. I was quite shocked when my husband’s aunt single-handedly scored 196 points, blasting out the competition. She impressed all of us by having earplugs in her bag. She won “100 Grand” to put in her purse.

Next we played a fill-in-the blank, mad libs-type game found here. It was really fun to see what fruits and vegetables people would come up with to fill in the letter.

Lastly we played a bridal-shower version of a dice game. I wrapped 20 dollar store kitchen gadgets and placed them in a pile in the middle of the floor. We sat in a circle, taking turns rolling the dice. If someone rolled doubles, they chose a present from the middle.

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After everyone had a present we each unwrapped what we had before starting the next round.

During the next round we rolled the dice for five minutes and if people got doubles they could trade their gadget with someone else’s. It was fun to watch people switch the small trinkets back and forth. Who knew measuring spoons and metal can strainers would be so popular?

Anyway, the shower was a huge success. It was fun to get to know my future sister-in-law better and it gave me a chance to practice my mad crafting skills. Even if I used the help of a cake-pop maker and the Internet to made it all happen!

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Aubrey and me!

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