Grad party 2.1

It might seem like I give a lot of parties. This isn't true. I just timed my children poorly. But the hour of my rest is near. I have a full three years until Rebecca graduates. Or one year if Maddie decides to go on a mission. Or 50 years if I move underground. 

Maddie's party was fun. I went with the 'One Smart Cookie' theme, remember? I made a wagon-load of cookies.  

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So. . . yes, it's out of focus. . . and the table isn't completely loaded, but this is the only pic I could find of the whole table. I cannot style, cook, clean and photograph simultaneously. It's a flaw. But there were cookies. I have witnesses. We served:  Chicago Toll House, Peanut Blossoms, Snickerdoodles,  Homemade Oreos, Chocolate Crinkles, Funfetti, Gingersnaps, and  Sugar Cookies.

For the decor, I based the color scheme off of this piece of fabric I found at Hobby Lobby (or, as my kids used to call it: Hobby Yobby). 

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From here we picked cardstock colors for the mobiles hanging above the table. Jordan was with me, and I nearly drove her insane with the picking of the colors. She was not aware she had signed up for a two hour visit to The Lobby. You have to suffer for your art, people. Also for your mobiles. The mobiles are simple to construct -- keeping in mind, I do not recommend making them at one in the morning. I'm just not a night person. The strips themselves are 1" x 7", and there are approximately 30 strips per mobile . . . although the number of strips really depends on your ceiling height, mobile needs, etc. Assembling them is easy as pie: Start feeding them through your sewing machine, keeping them as close together as possible. Leave plenty of thread on both ends for hanging and tying off.

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Other decor pretty much boiled down to flowers and some pics of the graduate. I love to buy flowers but am a complete novice when it comes to arranging them. My mom swooped in and saved the day on flower assembly. But really, in my book, anything with a hydrangea is going to work. 

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I've already posted the faux chalkboard signs that I printed up on ye olde HP printer. Just download a chalkboard background (I used one at the end of this post). Then download some chalk-y fonts and go to town. I like clementine sketch, frenchy, and ffftusj, but there are tons of them out there. 

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Jordan's friend Rachel graced us with some chalkboard art. Rachel's leaving for an 18 month mission in Tahiti, so I'll be interviewing for chalkboard artists in her absence. Please direct applications to 

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Here's the chalkboard banner that I pinned a few weeks ago. Yes, I actually made something I pinned. Call the papers. Actually, I bought all of the stuff, and then my mom offered to make it. And I totally took her up on it because my head is chock-full of my children leaving me, allowing very little room for sewing antics.

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I wanted guests to be able to leave a note for Madison, so I hooked up my old, junk-shop typewriter with a new ribbon and set out a pile of typing paper. Never underestimate the fascination of primitive technologies to the youth of today. We ended up with about 10 fully typed pages.

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See the Y cookies? They were fun to make except for the outline piping part. The icing was so stiff, I gave myself carpal tunnel just doing the outline. I even remade the icing -- still too stiff. What's the secret cookie people? Because everyone loves a Y cookie (except for possibly Utes), and I should perfect my process. 

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And after all of the cookies and flowers and hoopla, I got this very sweet graduate. I hope she knows that I love her more than Y-shaped sugar cookies, or chalkboard banners, or armfuls of white and yellow flowers. Raising her, having her in our home for 18 years, has been one of the greatest experiences of my life. And if I could, I'd hog-tie her in her bedroom and make her stay for another 18. At least. Love you Maddie!

One smart cookie

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It's the first day of summer, and I hopped out of bed at 6:30 AM (tragic). It's go time around here. Tonight is Maddie's graduation open house. As I sat icing BYU sugar cookies (for said open house) last night at around 1 AM, I pondered my proclivity to bite off more than I can chew. The rest of the house was sleeping. Not me. I was piping and flooding and thinking existential thoughts about cookies and icing and running away to a deserted isle.

But this morning? Things are looking up. The weather is beautiful. Much of the food prep is done. And we are in the home stretch for ending this school year.  

I'm going to share one of the cookies I made for the party tonight. This is an OLD family favorite. Try not to study the ingredient list too carefully lest your arteries close off completely. Despite the caloric atrocities committed by this cookie, it is hands down one of the tastiest cookies in the history of cookie-dom. (And it makes a ton, so it's perfect for a big gathering.)

Chicago Toll House Cookie

3 1/2 cups flour
3 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 TBS milk
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup vegetable or canola oil (gulp)
1 cup corn flakes
1 cup oats
1 cup pecans, chopped
12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips

Mix together flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside. In a mixer, cream butter and sugars. Once nice and fluffy throw in the egg, milk, and vanilla. Gradually add in the flour mixture. Once everything is combined, close your eyes and pour in the oil. Mix for another minute or two, until everything is well combined. Throw in the corn flakes, oats, pecans, and chocolate chips and mix by hand. Eat a bit of the dough while mixing. Bake at 375 for approximately 10 minutes (watch them because they brown easily -- because of all the, ahem, butter and oil).  

Back tomorrow with more party STUFF. 


Thinking about grad parties

In our neck of the woods it's pretty typical to host an open-house-type party in honor of the graduating senior. My girls have never been ones to turn down a party, so last year I threw my inaugural graduation party, and this year . . . it's a second annual kind of event -- meaning child number two is up at the proverbial graduation bat. These are the types of things that happen when you have kids 15 months apart. 

Last year I searched the Interwebs repeatedly for the "best graduation party ever." Surprisingly, I didn't find a whole lot. I did buy the Martha Stewart Living issue which featured a neon and neutrals grad party. That Martha -- her ideas are awesome, but she always forgets that I'M NOT RICH. Still, we took the neons and neutrals and ran with it.

[Please disregard the orange paint in the dining room. I really need to redo that but I'm too busy buying things I don't need from Target.] 

[Please disregard the orange paint in the dining room. I really need to redo that but I'm too busy buying things I don't need from Target.] 

Martha's folks had the clever idea to hang up a giant diploma-like roll of craft paper, leaving space for friends to fill it up with well wishes on florescent-colored post-it notes. This was great fun, particularly toward the end of the night when Jordan's friends went crazy with the post-its, labeling everything in site. The piano was labeled 'piano.' The table 'table.' I got a note reading 'Jordan's mom,' and so on. That's what 13 years of public education gets you.

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The tissue poms and tassle garland I purchased from Studio Mucci on Etsy. She let me pick my own colors, and since I didn't want to deviate from Martha's prescribed neons and neutrals, her flexibility worked splendidly. (Repeatedly writing neons and neutrals is making me think of blush and bashful. Movie reference anyone?)

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For food I went completely with desserts. I, along with my mom, sister-in-law, and a phalanx of friends, baked until the very AIR was laced with sugar. I know Texas isn't technically "the South," but we still hold strongly to two southern principles: everything is better with sugar AND running out of food at a soiree is completely unacceptable. In response to my upbringing then, I made WAY too many desserts. 

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Guys, my girls and I did some serious push pop graduation hat construction. I really hoped that visitors would take a push pop or two home as a reminder of a lovely evening. In actuality people were reticent to mess up the display. When I realized that the pops were essentially abandoned, I started dashing about handing them out like a mad woman. I was a pop pusher. I can't deny it.

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Probably the smartest thing I did was hire Amy's Ice Cream to some set up shop on the back patio. Amy's provided three flavors, toppings, and an ice cream man to do the heavy dipping. The ice cream was fun and having an attraction outside kept people moving through the house. Flow, when it comes right down to it, is also a party essential.

So now? On to Madison's party. I'm thinking I really like this idea. Or maybe a variation of this. Or, if I started preparing right now and worked round the clock until Maddie's graduation in June, I could possibly pull off something like this. Or maybe not. What about you guys? Any graduation ideas out there?