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Thursday, February 16, 2017

Boom Town Presentation


Boom Town Presentation

How do you even start a presentation on a Boom Town?  I have been doing these with
the first graders at a local school for over four years now.  I researched extensively in the presentation, but there really wasn't a lot of information out there.  So, what I did find, I had to put on an elementary level.  Below is the BASIC list of topics that I cover.

Before the teachers and I even plan the day, we must reserve a space big enough to hold at least two classes.  We usually use a classroom.  The evening before, we push all of the desks together in the middle of the room and cover them with large pieces of brown paper.  We use blue posterboard/paper  to make a big lake and rivers.  We scrunch up
more brown paper for hills or one major mountain.  We have decided ahead of time, what the natural resource is for this year.  We have had mining and brick making a few times.
The read brick building in the photo above is that year's brick factory.

Talking Points


If you notice the green posterboard spaces on the maps, we decide where our open spaces and parks go at the town meeting, before any buildings are added.

Town Planning

This Boom Town was built the entire length of the school's gym.

Because transportation into a town is so important, the teachers and I agreed that
our towns would always have a railroad.  They introduce the idea of Boom Town to the classes by reading "Boom Town."  It is a story about a little girl who starts a pie business in a mining town.  The town booms up around her business.  The railroad tracks are always
a VERY EXCITING addition to the beginning.  One group years ago had their tracks go right
over the lake.  We've subsequently discussed the pros and cons of this every year.
Using Cereal/Food containers is just the right scale for Matchbox cars.

Real Life Examples

Again, before building I use two major examples of real towns with major differences in layouts.  CHARLESTOWN, SC  has a lot of residential buildings along their waterfront.
I tell them about visiting it and the carriage rides.  They have made their milk carton houses and a very eager to place them.  But they must wait until the green space is added.  The other city is Wilmington, NC.  It has major businesses along the water.  We talk more about tourism and how important to a town it might be.

INDUSTRIAL:  the main source of income to the town, after train stations and airports have been established, is the industry that supports the town.  This usually becomes a heated debate (lol) but they usually decide it should be on the outside of town near the railroad.  Seriously, first graders can understand this.

The students make their businesses as a homework project.  This is a wonderful idea, mostly because the parents help make the buildings with them and the creativity is awesome.  The teachers discuss ahead of time what businesses are ESSENTIAL to a town, and which ones are for entertainment.  Last year we had a CIRCUS for the first time.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

London Party

The Theme

I thought I would start with my "Christmas in London" panels I made for the office party. There are eight major windows in the office lobby for which I design panels.  Each panel is 36" x 72" and fit together in pairs to make a scene.  The two below make up
London Bridge downtown.


These two panels show holiday shoppers, Big Ben, the ferris wheel, and a flavor of London houses.                               
Here's a little taste of Covent Garden.

It wouldn't be complete without Buckingham Palace.
This is our pretend host's, Sir Robert Morenton's, downtown house.
He is VERY wealthy and has an attached menagerie to his grounds which
house exotic animals.
Why did I invent him?
Because. . . I had a LOT of oversized stuffed animals I used as props for the Office's fall Margarita Party's Safari theme.  I wanted to use them again and then raffle them off as prizes for the games.  TA DA!
The Games
So, now that I've set the theme, let's see some photos.

        I had eight carnival style games.  Each game had a circus wagon backboard with an animal in the cage.  See the frame on the left with six windows.  I ordered it on Etsy.   It had screen on it and hung on a ceiling for a tent wedding chandelier.  I removed the screen and added a backboard.  My hubby drilled round holes for each opening.  The contestants used an air nerfball shooter that shot multiple balls rapid fire. Each opening had a different point value. 
     The middle game used a wooden backboard I've used before.  I  bought it on Etsy also a few years back.  It was worth every penny.  I put dinosaur banks at different positions in it, front to back.  I made cardboard signs that stuck into the bank slots.  Each one had
a simple target with a number value on it.  I reused my spud guns and real potatoes.  They are toy guns into which you stick the barrel to make a spud.  The contestants shot the spuds at the targets.

    The blue backboard was also from Etsy.  But it had nine slots.  It was designed as a
bean bag tic-tac-toe.  I decided to stand it up and Velcro buzzers I bought on Amazon to each slot.  Each buzzer makes a different sound.  I had three large stuffed frogs, that I did emergency surgery on the morning of the party.  They weren't heavy enough to ring the buzzers.  So I opened them up and added quite a bit of small rocks to each one to make them heavier.  It worked like a charm.
     The last game was just a wooden box turned on it's side.  Contestants had whiffle balls
to knock over the cans.  I placed everything in a large tray to contain balls going everywhere.  It seems simple, but it WASN'T.  Ha ha.


I put painters tape on the floor for throwing lines.  It's is a large party, so our office
kitchen was the perfect place.  Normally, I spread the games out along the hallways, but we had a scooter race going out there.

 On the right in the back you can see the tip the bottle up game (found on Etsy).
Our last game in the kitchen was using my snowball shooters, ito which we put small bean bag birds.  We launched them into a series of nests (left over from Easter place settings).

Here is Sir Robert Moreton's house and his Christmas Menagerie. He is standing in front of it to greet visitors.  In the front of the photo is one of the two oversized giraffes we used as markers for the right side of the kitchen.  The scooter contestants turned around them to ride back up to the front of the office.

The final game was in the building's lobby, outside Architecture Inc.'s front door.
These are Santa's (or Father Christmas's) dogs.  He wants to take them down the Thames River with him.  Contestants stood across the lobby with tennis ball throwers and tried to get three balls in the boats.  This is the dogs second party appearance.  Last year we tossed bones into their dog bowls in front of Santa's camper.
The Set-up
Meanwhile upfront. . .  here is a peek at panels on the window, the tree, the couch seating area, and a display of prizes.  The live band is back near the tree.
Above are some of the cardboard house centerpieces.  Each had a few houses, a London street sign, and an elf in a car.
I made another evergreen tree in my floral design class this year.  It made a nice
centerpiece, along with one of the elves in cars on the coffee table in the lobby.
I am NOT going to pass up holding a baby if I get the chance.

The Raffle
The final photo is the chart in main hall.  Here are some of the teen boys from staff families.  The score chart is in the background.  Races were run during the week.  I bought three different types of exercise scooters, to give contestants choices.  Only the teens could successfully ride all three.  For the RAFFLE, we tape up tons of envelopes on the wall of the conference room.  Some said "stuffed animal" inside.  Some said "prize" inside.  Others had cash with $25 to $200 in them.  At first, we drew names from each of the eight game boxes, where winners had placed their tickets.  Then we drew names from the raffle box with names from everyone who came to the party.  The party-goers love this part of the evening.  In case you are worrying that we didn't feed anyone, there was a Christmas turkey dinner  buffet with all the fixings in the conference room. 
What's Next? 
Another year.  More targets.  More group contests.  What does 2017 bring?  Of course I already have a theme and have started on the panels, but first the Lumberjack Chili Contest is March 16, so I've been preparing for that. 

Monday, September 26, 2016

Margaritaville Jungle Cruise 2016

I have not posted anything lately, because I have been so busy with multiple party preparations.  The biggest was this year's annual office Margarita Jungle Cruise office one.  I chose this photo as the first one because I have been taking floral arrangement classes at our local community college.  One of the sessions was about underwater flowers. This was my jungle themed version of a centerpiece.  I got the frogs from AC Moore and the iris and grasses from a local florist.
To set the theme I created these two large panels of an African River scene.
I created the boat from scratch. I built the people in Photoshop from different pieces of clipart.
Above are the two panels I created for the elephants watering hole for client check-in.

I threw in large stuffed animals to keep with the jungle theme.  Most of the time, the snake above was wrapped around someone's neck. The beach rug went back down in front
of the band, and the giraffes kept watch. People got a kick out of the parrot tree. We bought eight large palm plants on sale to make the garden more plush.  Since it was a
beautiful day, we did not put up the sides of the tent in order to make the area more open.  I put the community raised table in the tent this year in order to have more circulation on the patio.  This worked great!!

The palm trees added another layer of lush to the tent.  I bought lots of leaves in bunches at Hobby Lobby on sale over the summer.  I used my pvc pipe stands as the tree bases.  Now that Rustoleum spray paint works on plastic, I just sprayed the trunks brown.  I still used the green umbrella leaves from previous years.  I think the dark green tablecloths blended everything in.  I had extra irises, which I placed in one of my antique pitchers.  It is hard to tell, but I made a cucumber snake on the veggie platter.

The theme of the Tiki bar this year was MONKEYS.  Most of the desserts were banana flavored.  I used Pinterest recipes to make cheesecakes, banana cake sushi, monkey cake pops, and key lime crack (lime jello and confectionery sugar coating cereal, candy, melted green chocolate.  At first, people were hesitant to try it.  Then once word got out,
it went first.  I did lower my standards for homemade goodies by having Costco's cream puffs because they are always such a hit.  On the second shelf, there were small candy- loaded brownie bites and elephant sugar cookies.

Since I love Disney, and their Jungle Cruise, I wanted Trader Sam at the party.  After much internet searching, resulting in mostly posters, I created one close enough to enlarge and make in fun foam on wall insulation.  He is over five feet tall.  I just love him. The poster above is a picture of his store I created.  There were over 200 people at the party, but since we could use the garden again this year, people could spread out and move around.  We had a table and chairs with an umbrella and a fire circle to the right of the garden.  I had a bear and stuffed skunk (that fooled a few people) by the fire pit,
because we traditionally make s'mores at this party.  All in all, I feel the party was a success.  Hmmm....I wonder where our palm trees will take us for next year's party.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

A Presidential Themed Wedding

I thought I would start with the theme for the wedding.  Washington, D.C. is the bride's (my niece's) favorite city.  Her fiancĂ© took her there purposely to propose.
So, knowing we were on a $5,000 budget, we decided last September to have
a theme.  The bride wanted the wedding on Presidents' Day weekend, thinking
things would be discounted in the winter.  In addition her guests would have an extra day off of work to travel.  Plans changed.  Then we tried for March.  No go.  Finally, she secured a date with her church and a vendor for Friday, April 15.  We thought that since it was tax day, the theme would still fit in. 

I used bits and pieces of people graphics to create my protestors and the secret service man.  I make these posters starting with a 14 x 27" sheet in Photoshop.
I enlarge them to 36" x 72" at Staples or Office Depot.  I used to do it at my husband's architectural office, but they hired a lot more people, remodeled, and took the machine away. (Boo hoo).  If the posters are for a client party, the firm sends them out for me and pays for them. (Yippee!) Anyway, it costs about $40 for each panel.  I used these two above taped together for a photo op background. 

What I didn't know was that this guy above would be the source of so much fun.
I blew two of him up to 36" x 72" and my hubby and his brother spray mounted them on cardboard science boards from Hobby Lobby.  For each one, we duct taped two red ones together to get the height we needed.  We used measuring yard sticks to support the back.  We cut him out (taking away the white) and they glued him to the red front of the boards.  The side pieces of cardboard were bent backwards to use as the stand. 

Two of the groomsmen took turns standing at the doors, in their dark suits and sunglasses, "protecting" the reception.  They even invented a GAME called "The President's Down."  Someone in the group would yell, "The President's Down," as if he was attacked.  The last person to put a finger to their ear (like a walkie-talkie) was out and got "bopped."

My third favorite item was the map of Washington, D.C. that I created, piece by tiny piece for the menu board.  Since the wedding was in Austin, Texas, the bride arranged for two food trucks. The first was a Texas barbeque truck with sliders, the second one was a cupcake truck.  The food was absolutely delicious. But being an aunt, I worried constantly about rain.  So I created a salad bar with Panera bread bowls placed in an antique bread bowl, ordered pizza, and was prepared to buy a big patio umbrella. It was 81 degrees and sunny.


We also ordered pizza for the kids and grownups who didn't like barbeque. It was fun.  I have a photo somewhere of the bride eating a piece.

Oh, you are thirsty after just looking at this photo.  Well, have some vodka lemonade and blueberry punch.  I cheated, myself, and had a cupcake BEFORE
I had my sliders.


Having to order everything long distance for Virginia, I needed a portable punch bowl, that was fairly inexpensive. had these plastic acrylic ice buckets that I put to a new use.  I had another one filled with Kahlua, coffee, milk, and chocolate and vanilla ice creams.  These went fast.  We also had a bar set up with beer and wine and waters.  The venue had a kitchen, so we had apple juice in their fridge for the little ones.

The reception was in a dance studio, which was adorable.  But the low cost of renting it left many items to be ordered.  We called rental companies in the area, but they wanted surcharges on top of large fees because it was on a Friday.  Normally, rental companies will pick up the items the next day.  The venue wanted everything out by 11p.m.  So, we got silverware and napkins in bulk on Amazon.  We bought the red melamine plates (a mistake) on the Dollar Tree.  I should have bought their glass ones.  These worked well, but had to be tossed afterwards.  We bought the glasses at Target for $1 each.   My sister had to go to five Targets in Austin, but she found the 75 we needed. We also had large votive candles on wooden pedestals I bought on Etsy.
The bride folded the napkins into pockets and we placed the themed essay card you see above in the pockets with flashing rings onto each .  I will NEVER go to a wedding without bringing flashing rings.  I got those on Amazon in bulk for about 50 cents each.

Look carefully to guess which President is in this photo.

Here is a picture of my sister, the bride's mother, with her new son-in-law.  I especially wanted you to see the Prego jar with flowers.  The bride had collected over 100 jars and really wanted to use them to save money.  We used about 36 of them with salt and battery operated candles in them.  The next 36 looked like the one above.  I kept checking Pinterest for ideas and finally found one that looked like this.  But, I worried and worried about the cost and where I'd get the flowers.  I finally READ the pin and the author stated she bought the bouquets from Trader Joe's for $3.99.  So off I trouped to the store in Virginia, and sure enough, they had the bouquets.  I called the Trader Joe's in Austin.  Sure enough, they carried them also.

I am taking a flower arranging class at our local community college.  We learned how to make simple topiaries this session.  I made 6 of them for additional anchoring centerpieces at each table.  We had 12 tables pushed together to make six long ones.  We had 6 jars of flowers and 6 jars of candles on each long table.  I bought small checked cotton cloth from JoAnn's and ripped it into ribbons to tie around each of the jars.

Look at the enlarged table set-up above again.  Do you see the gold frames?
Each table had two of them.  They were pictures of past presidents and their wives on their wedding days.  I started collecting them on Pinterest, but ran out of them.  I searched and searched online for months.  Alas, there is a shortage of them.  But, through the magic of Photo Shop, I could create a few of my own.
Stop laughing when you see my favorites below.

Since there were no young Washingtons, I used computer generated heads I found on the internet.  What do you think? I did the same thing for the Lincolns.                                                             
Since it was a Catholic church ceremony, I wanted something special for the program.

 Above is the front and back of the program.  The back explains the significance of the birch tree.  The bride didn't want to spend money on church flowers, so we build a version of one I found on Pinterest.

My sister  ( really my sister-in-law) had a large wooden container, almost like a huge hat box.  We cut the four 8' logs I had ordered from Amazon into varying heights, the tallest being about 5'.  We secured them in the container with the cardboard box from which they had arrived.  It packed nicely.  We hid the cardboard (I am saying we because I had a lot of help), with silk ivy and azalea which I had found at a garden center in Virginia and had shipped there.  I had also ordered birch branches on Amazon (aren't they amazing?).  We wired these between the logs at the top and hid the wires with smaller ivy we got at Hobby Lobby in Austin.  I love it.  The violinist in the photo is the groom's sister.
By this time, you really want to see a picture of the bride, don't you?
Here she is eating donuts from her donut cake.  She LOVES donuts.  She doesn't like cake.  Thank you Pinterest for the idea.
 Here she is walking down the aisle.  She made all of the bouquets from book pages.  She made one for herself, one for each of the bridesmaids, and corsages for the rest of the wedding party.
She was upset that she couldn't find a hair dresser to do her wedding hair.
My daughter Annie did all of her friends' hair for years for events.  She is an interior designer who just knows these things. She set up a beauty parlor in my sister's bathroom.  The bride wanted a low bun style with a clip in net on it (which she made herself).  I think Annie did a pretty good job.

Here is a picture of the happy couple the night before at the rehearsal dinner.  It was actually a "breakfast for dinner" event at their favorite coffee cafĂ©, which they go to after mass on Sundays.  Their coffee is OUTSTANDING.  The owners, who know them well by now, erased the menu blackboard and wrote, "Congratulations Mary and Brandon."  By the way, I just love my new nephew. AND...his family.  They have been so welcoming to us.  His grandfather still flies airplanes.  His grandmother loves Chicos, just like me. I am now Facebook friends with his mother.
Groom's mom Cheryl is on right.  His grandmother is on the left.  See photo below for his grandfather.
Rehearsal Dinner


What do you do the day after a wedding?  You eat left over donuts; then you
head to downtown Austin, to a restaurant the groom has recommended, and you have delicious drinks and food; you take pictures of their capitol: and of, course, you shop for cowboy boots.

 We had quite an adventure for our week in Austin.  Now I want to go back and actually SEE Texas and float down one of their fabulous rivers.  But I can't leave without showing you my partners in crime.  Below is my hubby's brother Chip and his wife Lois.  They ran errands with us all week, help build things, glue, arrange flowers, get food, and were just
AMAZING.  But, isn't that what families are all about?  Isn't it the real reason we have weddings?