Captain Hook, Peter Pan and Pirate Birthday Party

“Ahoy matey!” My son started to become a huge fan of the classic Disney’s Peter Pan movie.  He especially loved Captain Hook and his cunning ways.  He asked for a Captain Hook party and I jumped up to the challenge.  This should be fun!  I started to think about the old world, treasures, the ocean and more.  This was one of my favorite parties to plan and decorate to date.

First, I had to try to figure out a tone for the party decor.  This was Captain Hook that we were talking about, and not so much Peter Pan or meager pirates.  So I had to up my game for this one.

I first incorporated a lot of red and white striped fabrics to carry over the pirate theme.  I did this by using the concept on the invite, then I also purchased this fabric to use on the cupcake SHIP, yes SHIP that I made out of a large cardboard box.  I also carried over the stripes for the table runners and more.

I also used my Cricut machine to cut out letters and treasure map routes that you see on the wall.  I actually covered some of the entrance walls with this map marker routes just to make it a bit more fun and whimsical.  You could probably achieve the same mapped look by cutting these out by hand as well as it would only

Homemade banners were also a nice and fun addition.  I designed these, cut and strung them up used cardstock paper, a hole punch and ribbon.  Super easy!  Notice, more red stripes!

Jewels, gold and treasures!  I needed to include this without breaking the bank.  Strings of pearls are so expensive and managed to find some inexpensive loose decorated pearl-like looking beads in red, black and white.  I strung them myself using fishing line that I already had.  The big bold look helped to make this big impact.

Treasure chests were a must for this one!  I had to have a few.  I found a super cute treasure chest pinata at the store and doubled it as a centerpiece.  I then surrounded it with some chocolate coins as well as ones that I purchased from a party store.  I also found a perfect sized trunk at Hobby Lobby and embellished it with party favors, jewels and even a faux wood looking sign on the inside.  How did I do that??  I used my computer to create a calligraphy font and then set the background for a matching brown colored background.  Then I printed and cut so that it looked like a wood cut out.  (What is really great about this wooden treasure box is that it’s reusable!  Years later, my boys still have this box filled with pirate accessories so that they can play dress-up.  As a bonus, closed-up it fits right in to store in my living room undetected.)

I was able to find a really cool Captain Hook and Mr. Smee stand-up.  Not only did this add to the decor, but also was a great addition for photo opps.  After the party, my son had this posted on the wall of his room as decoration.  There are a handful out there on the web, more than before!

A party like this would not be complete with pirate patches and hats which you can get at any party store!  I made sure to offer these to the kids as they joined the party in lieu of party hats.

I forgot to take photos, but offered up a feast of BBQ food.  Pulled pork sandwiches and all of the fixings for a “hearttttyyy meal.”

Root beer bottle seemed like a perfect addition for decoration and for the older kids/adults.  I created personalized Captain Hook root beer brew labels which made it pretty fun and cute.

I did a little spin on the s’mores as you can see below.  I dipped the large marshmallows in chocolate and then topped them with a graham cracker.  Then I also adding a small dusting of gold colored sugar crystals to make these look a bit like treasures.  Then when I plated them, I added MORE gold crystals to the plate.

Jell-O boats were also another fun addition to the party.  Just added blue Jell-O to some clear cups, orange wedges and a pirate sail.  Although I got these pirate sails from a cupcake topper, you could easily create these with either a black or white sail, or even with scrap booking red and white paper.

Pirate Booty!  A must!

For the favors, I knew that I wanted to give each kid a treasure pouch.  I really couldn’t find anything out there that really spoke to me.  So I semi-homemade my own.  I purchased some inexpensive canvas pouches.  I then had a really hard time trying to figure out how to decorate the outside.  I really didn’t want to add skull and bones, plus I wanted to carry on the treasure theme.  I looked all over Etsy and craft stores and really came up short on finding a stamp, stencil or anything else that didn’t break the bank.  Soooo… I made my own potato stamp!  Yes, I sure did.  I used my pumpkin carving kit and started to whittle away this cool design.  Then, I just used black fabric paint and started to stamp away.  After I let it dry, I was really super pleased with the result.  It look really vintage and authentic to the time period.  PLUS, the stamp made it easy to be consistent.  So cool!!!  I also filled the favor bags with more chocolate coins, pirate tattoos, Pirate Booty and more!


Posted on 7.6.17

Star Wars Bathroom

Our boys’ bathroom was due for an update.  There was only so much that I could do with paint and molding without going through a major bathroom overhaul.  It was time!  The boys agreed that they wanted a Star Wars themed bathroom, but my 3rd grader wanted a minimalist look.  “Don’t go too overboard on the Star Wars mom!”  (Ummm, ok, this is the one who lives and breathes Star Wars.)  So away I went, pinning ideas and creating a look-book for the bathroom to incorporate the elements that I thought were cool, while keeping a minimalist look in mind.  Subtle, easy to clean and not too overwhelming.  So I created this idea board below.I knew that I wanted a gray palette for starters.  Then to incorporate rustic, modern and minimalist elements… a.k.a. easy cleaning.  These are boys!  🙂  I have included below the elements that I incorporated along with my notes and website links below.

Hillsbury 36 in. Vanity in Cool Gray with Marble Vanity Top in Carrara White
I had a specific size that I needed and found this cabinet which also has a Carrara marble top affixed to it!  Great bundled deal as this marble can be pricey to purchase and custom cut.

One thing that I do have to note from what I have read, is that marble stains!  Since this is white marble with gray swirls, I had to change up some of the toiletries products for the boys and avoid anything with color.  So no blue toothpaste, colored soaps and etc. as I know that sometimes they forget to clean after themselves.  So I opted for color-free, white or clear products.  Probably better for all of us in the long run!
allen + roth Hainsbrook 3-Light 7.48-in Antique Pewter Cone Vanity Light
I can’t take credit for this as my husband found this.  It’s a perfect unique and vintage look.

Style Selections Natural Timber Ash Wood Look Porcelain Floor and Wall Tile
We went to several flooring stores.  Some were priced 4 to 5 times as much as the ones that we found at Lowes.  In addition, the reviews were really good.  We have had this for about 3 months now and really have no regrets.  It’s really surprisingly easy to clean and hid dirt and dust pretty well.  The look of the flooring is really cool since it looks like it would be uneven, but that is just the design print of the floor.  It’s matte and doesn’t create issues with wet feet.  LOVE!

American Standard Studio 1.1 White WaterSense Dual-Flush Round Chair Height 2-Piece Toilet
I knew that I wanted two qualities in a toilet: POWER flusher and super easy to clean, especially with boys!  I spent a lot of time on the research and found this modern toilet.
1] I love the fact that it has two flush options: one for liquids and one for solids.  The levers are also on the top button.  This is that toilet that you see where they are able to power flush at least a dozen golf balls.  Nice.
2] The toilet seat is easily detachable for easier cleaning.
3] The toilet seat has a soft close feature which means no more slammed toilet seat noise.
4] The toilet sides are easy to clean!  Did you notice that there are no visible hard-to-clean trapway grooves on the side?  Just smooth sides to clean.  Genius.
5] The toilet has a “EverClean” surface technology which make the inside stain resistant.

Pfister Ashfield Brushed Nickel 1-Handle Handle(S) Included WaterSense Tub and Shower with Rain Showerhead
The shower head went well with the sink and wanted something that complimented the lighting fixture.  I also loved the fact that this was a rainfall type of a shower head.
Ashfield 8 in. Widespread 2-Handle Bathroom Faucet in Brushed Nickel
I loved the look of how this looked rustic, but had a calming waterfall-like effect.  I thought that the boys would get a kick out of it.

MOEN Banbury Pivoting Double Post Toilet Paper Holder in Spot Resist Brushed Nickel
MOEN Banbury Double Robe Hook in Spot Resist Brushed Nickel
MOEN Banbury Towel Ring in Spot Resist Brushed Nickel
These paired nicely with the overall look.  I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the fact that the toilet paper holder does not have a spring hook.  I hate those things!!  Instead, you push up, insert new roll, push down, done.  I think that all rolls should be designed like these!

Star Wars Death Star, Tie Fighters, and Imperial Crest in Gray
I found this super awesome shower curtain at  What I love about this design is that it’s subtle!  You have to look twice to realize that there are imperial crest symbols patterned through the entire design.  As a bonus, it matched my color palette.  Yes, it was a little pricey, but the site pays an actual artist.  Pretty cool.

Suave Star Wars Collection
I found these at Target and they come in a variety of fragrances.  Perfect addition and nice on the wallet, too.

May the force be with you!

Posted on 5/4/17.


Disney Tsum Tsum Display Case & Organizer

My youngest son is obsessed with collecting Disney Tsum Tsum toys.  He has managed to collect a lot over the years and am thankful for birthday gifts, holiday gifts and etc.  We also took advantage of getting a lot of these on sale online and at the outlet for a huger discount.  Often, some of the characters will go on sale if they have and overstock.  If any of you are collectors, then I would go online as I see them dropping prices often and their inventory is way better than the retail stores.

When he first started his collection, they were in a random box, then a suitcase and then  just all over the place.  I needed to find a way to keep these tidy, cute and off the floor.  I tried to look for display cases and even tried to purchase a retail case from a local store– no luck.

Then after much searching, I found a solution!  I found “Pinnacle Frame 3D Display Case, Black” that stick out so that you can put little knick-knacks on them.  You need to make sure that you find ones that stick out about 4″ from the wall to make it work.  After purchasing one, I realized that I needed another and that it was perfect for our needs!  I placed them side-by-side on his dresser and it worked!!  You can also mount this on the wall as there are brackets in the back that allow you to do so.

I was able to fit 72 (6 x 12) mini Tsum Tsums in each of case.  Since I purchased two, that just doubled my space.  On the far left, I added the small Tsum Tsums which are only sold with the monthly subscriptions.  They are NOT the medium sized Tsum Tsums.Slide6

Easy and accessible enough for him to be able to still play with them and put back himself. With additional room to even stack on top!Slide7Slide8

Posted 2/10/17

Disney K-Cups by Joffrey’s Coffee & Tea Company

Joffrey’s, the official coffee of Disney Parks & Resorts just came out with K-cups.  Now you can savor this all year long!  They are also available in decaf as well.


They also have a really cute collection of other Disney inspired coffees in whole bean packages from various properties and resorts from Aulani to Napa Rose to the Tusker House.  Check it by clicking on this link below.  How fun is that?!

Joffrey’s Coffee & Tea Company




Toy Story Birthday Party

It’s Woody, Buzz, Jessie, Mr. Potato Head and the rest of their friends here for another birthday celebration!  My son had watched all three Disney Pixar Toy Story movies as if it were a movie marathon every day.  Needless to say, I got to know all of the characters pretty well and to be able to incorporate this into a fun birthday party for him.

I used the colors of cobalt blue and lime green as the main basis of the party.  I used these for the balloons and where I had paper products as well.

Fortunately, my son had a ton of actual toys that I was able to use as decor.  That in itself saved me a lot of money.

For the cake table, I used a cupcake tier stand that I had.  I surrounded the stand with all of his favorite Toy Story characters.  I didn’t have the infamous Toy Story ball, so I found an image online and cut it out to use as part of the display.  I also found a bucket of aliens which they only sell at the Disney themed parks, usually at the Toy Story attractions.  They are called, “Toy Story Big Bucket O Little Green Alien Men” and cost about $19.95.  I used these figures to whimsically surround the tower of cupcake.  That was a bit challenging to do as it felt a bit like dominoes at times.  “Oooooohhh the cakes!!”  🙂

For the backdrop, I used my Cricut “Old West” cartridge to cut out “Happy Birthday Tyler” in black.  I also designed a string of pendants that you see on top.

The kids also had fun with a photo booth that I created.  I didn’t have a photo booth contraption, but encourage everyone to take a selfie.  I hand designed cutouts which can be glued onto sticks.  You can feel free to download my creation here: Toy Story Photo Booth

Here is a sample of one of my fun designs.

We had to add Woody and Buzz to the party and invited them over as well.  We found these cutouts online and my son was able to mount this as decor for his room.  We got some mileage out of this investment for sure!

We also found a Buzz Lightyear pinata as well.  Score!

For the main food, we featured our version of “Woody’s BBQ.”  I used my Cricut machine to be able to print these cutouts using their “Old West” cartridge  and add them to the serving area.  They even had “Woody” which was a bonus!

I was able to use his bucket of green army men and sprinkled them around a food station.  I was lucky to be able to find GUMMY green army men online.  Let me just tell you, these were super hard to find, but found them on Amazon.  Albanese is a company that produces a lot of various gummy candies, so you can start your search there.

Vintage type cupcakes were features for this party, topped with Toy story printouts that I found on Etsy.  The hardest part about this was actually having to cut around some of the small details of the toppers.  Once cut, I used non-toxic Elmer’s glue to affix to the back of lollipop sticks.

Ok, I think that I had a little too much fun with this.  I purchased these alien looking bags through Etsy.  I probably could have made these myself, but didn’t have much time and the cost to purchase GREEN sandwich bags was another thing.  I knew that I wanted to have fun with these bags and constructed a faux claw out of a cardboard box, silver paint and a lightweight metal chain from the hardware store.  I mounted the claw from the ceiling using a 3M Command Strip Hook.  Then I attached an EMPTY alien favor bag to complete the look!  I thought that this came out pretty funny and cute.  The kids all thought that this was the best thing ever!

Posted on 2/3/17

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle (TMNT) Birthday Party

“Cowabunga dude!”  My youngest asked for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle (TMNT) birthday party and I seriously had to recollect on my younger days to come up with some really cool ideas for decoration, food, favors and more!   Here are a few things that I did that hopefully you can replicate for your own party!  Here’s what I did…

I was thinking street smart.  New York City and all things green.  So I started off with going to Hobby Lobby and getting their “Brick Photography Backdrop Paper Roll”.  I thought that this would resonate well with the theme to create the biggest impact for the focal wall.  You only really need one roll to cover what I did above.  Then, I also wanted to add my son’s name in graffiti, but I have zero skills for that!  So I opted to use a website that let me create one, customize the color and etc.  I enlarged and printed his name across two pages and then taped and carefully cut around his name, then taped it to the faux brick.  Voila!  I also decorated the brick wall with cutouts of the TMNT faces which you can download here: Ninja Turtle Faces

There are few cute ideas on the web and I used paper lanterns and simply affixed masks to them by using party streams which you can find at any party store.  Then add eyes.  Instant turtle heads to suspend from the ceilings.

The water bottles were covered with TMNT labels.  I created my own and you can download here: TMNT Water Bottles.  Simply cut around down the red lines and tape to a regular sized bottle.

I also found a really cute 3D pinata which I purchased from a local store.  This thing was crazy tall and doubled for decor as well.

On the menu, I served up what else?  Pizza!!!  Lots of it.  I also served up sour gummy worms, green grapes, “green ooze” Jello-O with a sour gummy worm on top, Oreo cookies (since they looks like manhole covers), cupcakes and more.

I always have so much fun putting together favors for the kids.  I might get a tad more excited about this portion of the party planning in particular!  I wanted to provide each kid with a pizza takeout box.  So I managed to find some inexpensive ones online that were the size of mini personal pizzas.  Perfect.  Then I personalized each box with a fake pizza label with my son’s name.  I even added a label to the front side edge to make it look a bit more authentic.  Here are the contents of what I included.
– Pizza sticker scenes found here at Oriental Trading  It’s a paper pizza and you add sticker toppings.
– TMNT gummy snacks
– TMNT lollipops
– TMNT tissue packs which I found at the Dollar Tree
– TMNT stickers
– Green apple Jolly Ranchers
– Pringles pizza stix
– Mini M&M’s.  I created a custom TMNT label which you can download here: TMNT M&Ms
– Maze activity sheet which I found through Nickelodeon and you can download here: TMNT_maze

For the cupcakes, I purchased plain ones from the bakery and embellished myself.  I purchased a turtle shell cookie cutter through Etsy and purchased pre-made green fondant.  It was super easy to make and decorate as toppers on the cupcakes.

For the cake, I purchased a plain chocolate mini cake for my son.  Something a little more special since I served cupcakes to everyone for convenience.  I decided to embellish the cake which would save me a ton of time from baking it on my own!  I purchased a TMNT looking manhole cover cookie cutter through Etsy as well as black pre-made fondant.  I carefully cut out each one, then lightly sprayed each one with Wilton Color mist in silver.  Notice that I didn’t cover the entire thing with silver so that it would add that contrast of color.  Be sure to let this dry completely!  As you can see, I also added some Lego TMNT characters to complete the look and served it on a silver charger plate.

Posted 1/12/17

McDonald’s Garlic Fries

With the world famous Gilroy Garlic Festival taking place this weekend, the local Bay Area McDonald’s restaurants have decided to join in on the garlic fun.  Today, McDonald’s in the Bay Area released their version of garlic fries, a special addition to the menu.  These savory treats are available starting at 10:30 a.m.  I headed over to check it out and was expecting to smell the aroma of garlic filling the restaurant.  No garlic smell.

McDonalds Garlic Fries

$2.39 for a large order of regular fries (which come in a paper carton)
$3.08 for a large order of garlic fries (which come in a paper tray)

I watched this process in action.  They made the fries just as they typically do, fry then salt.  From there, they measured each fry batch according to which size you ordered and then tossed them in the silver metal bowl.  Then they took it over to a special station where they added about an ounce of white thick clumpy sauce.  They had to then toss, turn and mix this up.  Just how they traditionally do with garlic fries.  This took some time to prepare!!
McDonalds Garlic Fries
Instead of stuffing the fries into the typical carton for fries, they served them in these paper trays with a fork and knife.  Sort of like the same set-up for chili fries.  I could see the garlic, spices and fresh herbs.  Looked good!

3 garlic fries

As I reached in to grab one, I noticed that the fries were a bit soggy.  Not because of the oil, but I think because of the clumpy sauce.  They were garlic fries, but not the kind that you may have had at Gordon Biersch, at AT&T Park or even Trader Joe’s.  It had a McD spin to it.  The fries were not overwhelming with pungent garlic flavors, but it was on the mild to medium side.  It had fresh flat leaf parsley herbs which made it nice.  However, taking my next few bites… I couldn’t get over the limp and wet texture.  You certainly want to eat these with a fork and this would NOT be ideal to eat in the car!

I thought that they were ok.  I shared a few with co-workers who loved it or thought that they were ok.  It’s worth a shot to check-out, but they might need to improve the recipe to highlight McD’s famous GOLDEN crispy fries!

Posted: 7/27/16

New Disney Gourmet Popcorn

Recently, Disney came out with a new line of gourmet popcorn, which extended passed their standard fare of caramel, kettle corn, butter toffee and confetti.  Upon my recent trip to Disneyland, I stumbled across the huge wall of flavors which included these new flavors:

Siracha Kettle Corn
Parmesan Garlic
Maple Bacon

Although I wanted to try them all, I had to restrain myself and purchased CHURRO and MAPLE BACON.  (I was really tempted to get TRUFFLE, but might try that the next time.)

So I purchased the MAPLE BACON popcorn.  I opened the package and had to re-confirm that there were no little flakes of bacon inside.  No bacon bits.  Boo.  It has a smoky, sweet and salty flavor.  I was expecting it to taste like bacon salt, but no.  I am not sure how they created the bacon flavor, but that was a miss.  The maple flavor was there, but was overpowered by the odd smoky bacon flavor.  I’d pass on this one.

I also purchased the CHURRO popcorn was a bit of a surprise to me.  I love churros and was expecting lots of cinnamon.  This didn’t have too much cinnamon, but a nice toasted balance of cinnamon and sugar.  It was pretty good, not great.  I would eat this over the MAPLE BACON for sure.

Then, I had to also get the classic… CARAMEL.  Ok, of the three, this was by far my favorite.  You can’t go wrong with the classics!!

NOTE #1: The churro popcorn was sold out at the retail stores inside of Disneyland.  In addition, they offer a smaller selection and variety inside the park.  Your best bet would be to go to Downtown Disney to the World of Disney Store and visit the food section inside the retail store– NOT the Marcelines Confectionery candy store.

NOTE #2:  Not all the popcorn are priced the same.  The prices vary from $5.99 to $6.99. The TRUFFLE popcorn was priced at $6.99 as with most of the ones with nuts.  Most of the others were priced at $5.99, so be sure to turn the product around to see the price tag.

I love the fact that Disney comes out with these new food creations.  These were perfect items to bring back as gifts for family and friends!

Disney Gourmet Popcorn
New Disney Gourmet Popcorn

Posted 7/25/16






School Supplies for $7.44?

I LOVE finding good deals.  It’s almost like a challenge that I am always up for and had to share with you all.  If you have kids, you know that back-to-school shopping can be pricey!  I like to stock up on hot deals and store them away to use throughout the year or for future back-to-school needs.  Although I didn’t get everything on my school list, I wanted to showcase some of the hot ticket items that our out there now.  For this trip, I purchase ALL OF THE ITEMS THAT YOU SEE here in this photo for $7.44!!!  That is a combined savings of $40.48!  Mind you, I live in CA and the sales tax here where I live is 8.75%.  I went to Office Max and Staples who are offering some awesome deals this week.

Check it out!  Inventory is limited, so be sure to make this a priority.

Office Depot / Office Max
$.01 Office Depot brand #2 pencils, 12/pack, limit 3 (with $5 minimum purchase)
$.01 Slider pencil box – limit 3 (with $5 minimum purchase)
$.01 Office Depot brand mini staples – limit 3 (with $5 minimum purchase)
$.25 Crayola Crayons, 24 pack – limit 3
$.25 Bic Brite liner highlighter, 5 pack – limit 3
$4.00 Elmer’s giant glue stick (Ok, this was just $1 off, but needed items to fulfill my $5 minimum and this was on my school list.)

Office Depot ad for Back-to-School Ad for 7/10/16 - 7/16/16
Office Depot door buster front page ad for Back-to-School Ad for 7/10/16 – 7/16/16

$.25 Staples pink pencil caps, 12/pack – limit 5

Staples door buster front page ad for Back-to-School Ad for 7/10/16 – 7/16/16

There are a handful more deals out there depending on what you need, but this is a good showcase of what you can get.  Check out your site for the full add or pick-up an ad when you go to the store.  It pays to shop around!  Keep in mind that quantities are limited!!!

Target will also usually offer a pretty good back-to-school sale towards the end of summer.  So you should wait for those deals if you don’t get them at the Office Depot / Staples and aren’t in a rush.

Happy shopping!

Posted on 7/10/16.




Walmart Beauty Box Subscription

If you have pondered over the idea of joining a monthly retail subscription, consider the Walmart Beauty Box.  Yes, Walmart.  They have a subscription that gets shipped out on a quarterly basis.  The items that come shipped to you are practical cosmetic or toiletry items that you could use or gift to someone else.  I have been a member for a little over a year now.  For $5 each quarter/season, this INCLUDES shipping which makes this a deal!  That’s only $20 a year.  In the past, I have received a full-sized lipstick from a notable drugstore brand line, a sample of face cream that I have seen retail for $10 and usually a full-sized sample of something… in addition to foil pack samples, travel size items and even coupons.  They feature a good mix of new and existing products with no strings attached.

The photo above shows a sample of my summer 2016 Walmart Beauty Box.  In this package, I received a total of 7 products– including 1 full-sized deodorant stick.  Pretty nice!  I love how I can take some of these items with my when I travel.

The packaging below is how the samples are sent to you in this box.  You will also receive an email confirmation letting you know that the item has shipped.

Walmart Beauty Box

Here is the link:

Posted on 7/5/16