{Giveaway} $25 to Party Scribbles

Today I have an exciting post to share… Party Scribbles (the genius behind yesterday’s Zombie Apocalypse Real Party) has offered to host a giveaway for a $25 credit to her shop! 
I love all of the fun printables, labels, and favors for a variety of parties that Party Scribbles stocks. I’m a HUGE Harry Potter fan and was thrilled to see great items to throw an amazing Harry Potter party.
Check out some of the awesome items in the Party Scribbles store:
Angela, from Party Scribbles, also sent me a couple of the printables to use for an upcoming party. Each set of printables came with a great set of instructions. The print quality was fabulous as well.
SO, if you would like to win a $25 credit to Party Scribbles enter in the Rafflecopter widget below.
The giveaway starts right now and will end in 1 week!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*This is a sponsored giveaway as the giveaway items and review items were given by Party Scribbles. I  do not agree to post positive reviews for products. If I have chosen to promote a product in my posts on my blog then it is because I genuinely like the product.

Tips for Weekly Menu Planning

A week’s worth of lunches and snacks for me and my hubby.

One way that my husband and I try to save money is by not going out to eat very often. This is difficult for us, as we both used to love going out for dinner at least three times a week. Plus, my husband works right next to some amazing food carts in downtown Portland. HARD STUFF.

But, eating in restaurants adds up. Every weekend I sit down and create a menu plan and grocery list for the week ahead. When I get really savvy I will also look up the deals at our local grocery store to help me make my plan for the week. Most the time though, I just shop at a grocery store with consistently low prices and a plentiful bulk goods section.

Some people like to stick to the same types of foods every week. While it does make grocery shopping easier, it drives me batty to eat the same thing week after week.  So, I’ve put together some tips that I have found help me in my menu planning. Over the next few months I am going to try to share some of my favorite menu plans with you along with some recipes.

Free Printable Weekly Menu Planner

Tips for Successful Menu Planning

  • Take stock of your pantry and freezer before planning your weekly meals. Try to use items you already have before running out and buying a bunch of new things. Keeping a good rotation of your food will help maintain the best food quality. 
  • Plan on using items that will go bad faster (certain fruits and veggies are prone to do this) in the beginning of your week. 
  • Don’t fill every day with labor intensive meals (even if they all sound delicious)— You’ll not feel up to taking an hour to make dinner at least one time in the week. I try to fill three out of seven days with some of my favorite standby meals that I can make without looking anything up and with minimal effort. Then I create three days worth of more interesting dishes, some of which end up going into my standby meals if they are good enough. And, finally, I pick one day for leftovers or an everything-from-the-fridge stir-fry. 
  • Pick meals that use some of the same ingredients. While you don’t want every meal to be the same, you also don’t want to buy several different ingredients. If one of the meals that you are excited to make calls for a pound of chicken, but you know that buying three pounds of chicken is a better deal over all then try to add in another chicken dish for the week. Or plan on freezing your leftover items for future use. 
  • Write your meal plan down, create your grocery list after you’ve made your weekly menu, and then stick the menu somewhere you will see it. Before I got into a good habit of posting my menu plan, I would purchase all the ingredients I needed for certain meals and then end up wasting part of it because I didn’t follow my plan. 
  • Plan on easy to make breakfasts and lunches. I typically spend one day over the weekend cooking up a storm and putting away things like breakfast burritos or sandwiches in my freezer. I also make up a week’s worth of snacks and lunches for myself and my husband and put them in the fridge. This is something I don’t make time for every week… but, when I do the whole week goes smoother!
  • Buy in bulk as much as possible. My local grocery store has an amazing bulk section. I can grab a lot of my staple items for much less money than the packaged items. 
Hopefully some of those tips help you in your weekly planning. I’m the type of person that learns from doing or seeing examples. SO, I really hope to have up my weekly menu plan a few times in the upcoming weeks with explanations of why I did certain things. I hope to add more tips on how to be successful at making and following a menu plan. I’ll most likely also add the many fun recipes I work with while menu planning.
In the meantime… I got out my sketchpad and had some fun the other day creating myself a menu planner. I like to print off several pages of my menu plan, fill it out, take the grocery list to the store, and post the menu plan on my fridge. Please feel free to download and use the printable in your home. 
How do you approach your weekly grocery shopping? Do you have stand by meals you go to when in a pinch?

Budgeting Basics: Brown Bagging It to Save Money

Brown Bagging Infographic
INFO GRAPHIC SHARED BY CREDITSCORE.NET

I am no money expert. I’ve made plenty of financial mistakes. I grew up on welfare. I have thousands of dollars of educational debt. NOT PERFECT.

That being said… I am all about living a well-rounded life on a budget. Learning how to manage your money so that you have the money to pay the bills and lead an enjoyable life is a life skill I feel would be much more beneficial to high school students than some of the required courses.

One of the things I pride myself in is my ability to menu plan. My husband and I typically eat foods that I prep and make rather than eating out or getting a bunch of prepackaged foods. I’m not the best at it EVERY week. But, I do a pretty fine job. I’ll be sharing more about menu planning and a free printable menu planner tomorrow.

Recently I was shared the pretty neat infographic above about brown-bagging-it to save money. I thought I’d share it here with you and ask:

What do you do to save money? 

*This is NOT a sponsored post. I was shared the above info graphic and I felt that it would work with a series of posts I am working on about Budgeting Basics. I am not affiliated with Creditscore.net in any way. 

{Real Party} Zombie Apocalypse

Photo used with permission from Angela of Party Scribbles

I’m super happy to be featuring an AMAZING (and creepy) real party that was done by the amazing Party Scribbles.  And, Angela has offered to do a giveaway to her Etsy store as well. More on that tomorrow!

I typically am not a bloody Halloween type fan. But, this party is SO full of amazing details! Angela created an awesome Zombie-themed 40th birthday party. The party (and party package) would be a fabulous party for many different aged birthdays or an awesome Halloween shin-dig.

Here is what Angela said of the party:They say life ends at 40, so for my 40th birthday I held a zombie end of the world party. (It’s a warm fuzzy feeling to know I have friends who will dress up as zombies in the middle of the summer for me.) Our theme was a safe house that had been over run with zombies. It was for adults and kids, so we tried to keep it from being too gory.”




Decor Details: We used rolls of plastic sheeting (available at home improvement stores) to decorate the walls. I unrolled them outside and had the kids splatter paint and paint “bloody” handprints all over them with red paint. I also used unpainted plastic sheeting to cover furniture, as if the safehouse was over run by zombies and any survivors left in a hurry. It was the best party not to worry if things would be spilled on my couches! We also pushed furniture up against the windows and my husband built wood frames to put over them as if the windows had been boarded up, but really they just sat in the windowsill.”


The Food: Brain Matter (Guacamole), Grave Mud (Bean Dip), Bone Marrow (Turkey & Ham Wraps), Severed Toes (Prosciutto & Mozzarella), Flayed Skin (Salami Wontons), Teriyucky Eyeballs (Teriyaki Meatballs), Finger Bones (Pretzel sticks with dip), Brain Dip (Pesto Cheeseball), Veggies From Hershel’s Farm (Veggie Tray) and cupcakes

The Drinks: Spinal Fluid (Sprite) and Safe House Water

The Favors:

I made labels for hand sanitizers, toxic sludge, mini candy bars and from Oriental Trading we found great squishy brains and growing brains.”


Thank you SO much to Angela for sharing this creative party with us! Check back tomorrow to see the giveaway that Angela and Party Scribbles are hosting for A Well Crafted Party fans!

*This is NOT a sponsored post. I contacted Angela after seeing her party on-line. 

Wordless{ish} Wednesday: Smile

These are his puppy dog eyes. Break my heart.

I decided this week to enter in The Paper Mama’s Photo Challenge. The subject was “smile.” Now, my kid smiles all the time unless I ask him to. :) Taking these photos I fell in love with my kid all over again. He is pretty amazing. I still can’t believe that he is my son. I am a very lucky woman.


Portland Bloggers’ Night Out

I love, love, love my fellow Portland Bloggers. It has been SO amazing getting to know the many talented people that reside in good ole PDX. I’ve been lucky enough to get to attend several of the Portland Bloggers’ events. *It helps that I now make the schedule ;-)

This time we had a Bloggers’ Night Out. Super low key, super fun! We visited Bridgeport Brewery and  then head over to Salt & Straw to finish the evening out.

As much as I love detailed parties and events… sometimes it is so nice to just have a night out!

Sam from Sam Rosen, Abby from CheersXO, and Me!

The men and all the purses. At least they had beer!

So many awesome bloggers!
Some head done by Mortormouth Studio for the Portland Bloggers’ website. Lots to do! 

We had a lot of faces at the meet-up. Please check out their great blogs and leave a comment. We ALL love some comment love.

Spencer from 12 oz beehouse
Erika of A Tiny Rocket
Kayla of Keep Moving Forward
Sam Rosen of Samantha Rosen
Abby of CheersXO
Macey of Motormouth Studio
Suzannah of Adventures in Dressmaking
Susannah of Simple Moments Stick
Ashley of This Valley Life
Bee of The Spicy Bee
Sarah of Will Run for Pasta
Brian of Bost Beer
Chelsey of The Paper Mama
Leah of The Content Owl
ME of A Well Crafted Party and Leave the Laundry for Later

If you want to get in on the fun then visit the Portland Bloggers’ Website and find out all about upcoming events! The next meet-up is a SEO workshop scheduled for Nov. 17!

{Free Printables} You Are My Sunshine Party

9.25.14 UPDATE: These printable files were lost. I’m currently redesigning the sets and will have them up as soon as possible. The redesigned pink set is available for download. It is slightly different than the set pictured below, but very similar! Click here to download your pink Sunshine Printables!
I made a bunch of printables for my son’s birthday. I loved the grey, blue, and yellow color scheme and the printables really helped bring the theme throughout the party. My printables were pretty personalized (his name on everything), so I recently created some new designs for a You Are My Sunshine Birthday Party.

Doctor’s orders: Qi Gong

I had to get a new doctor due to my move. I was pretty thrilled that I had several options at my new doctor’s office. The lady I picked is a MD, OB, and Acupuncturist. While I have never even considered acupuncture before, I suspected that she would be more whole body health centered than just the throw medicine at a problem type of doctor.

And, I was entirely right. I’ve been having a lot of health and pain problems recently. While she is getting me some blood work and has given me quite a few diet suggestions. She also highly recommended QiGong to help with my pain issues and lose weight. She said it would work “magic” in decreasing my stress levels as well. And, that little bit sold me on at least giving it a shot.

She suggested that I try Qi Gong for Low Back Pain with Lee Holden and 7 Minutes of Magic – AM & PM Routines with Lee Holden.

While those are on order I’ve been trying to do a few moves I’ve found on YouTube. I always feel silly doing yoga-like moves. But, I can’t deny how much better I feel afterwards.

What is your favorite type of low-impact exercise?  Have you done types of yoga before? What about acupuncture?

I’ll most likely let you all know how Qi Gong goes for me as time moves on. Here is hoping for the best!

First Birthday Favor Ideas

I had NO idea what to give everyone as favors for a first birthday party. We were going to have little kids there as well as adults. I didn’t want to give the adults things that they were just going to throw away. But, I didn’t want to give the kids things with tons of sugar or that they wouldn’t care about. So, I opted to make two different favors and package them the same way.

Continue Reading…

Got the Hair Did

Photo by Motormouth Studio


I’ve got a new hairdo to ad to my collage of hair. I’m pretty happy with the new hair. 
I got a coupon in the mail for Great Clips…. and, while I am all about paying good money for a good hair do, sometimes money isn’t lining my pockets and my hair still grows. I was lucky enough to have a really awesome little stylist doing my hair (I can always tell if I will like them by how their hair looks. She had the CUTEST short pixie-cut. So cute I thought about asking her to cut my hair like that!) 
Anyways, she did a great job and got my unruly hair back to fighting shape. Ended up going with a very subtle inverted bob. I’m hoping my front layers grow long soon so I can go a tad more dramatic with it. 
Then I went to my friend’s house for a ladies night and got experimental with my color! I talked a little about how I wanted to add in a fun color. I was hesitant to do too much. I did just a peek-a-boo highlight of magenta and dyed the rest of my hair a dark brown. 

In case you ever want to DIY your hair color I compiled a few tips from my experience:

1) Ask for help at the beauty supply store. I looked at the huge array of hair dye at the supply store and was seriously dumbfounded. No clue what I was doing (and I have dyed my hair before). The worker helped me get all of the tools I needed and the right dye and bleach for my goal. 
2) Wear clothes you don’t care about and stay in a space that is easily cleaned when dyeing your hair. I got dye all over the counter (serious bleach power got it cleaned up). I remembered to wear a shirt I didn’t care about. But, I totally wiped my hands on my jeans and pretty much ruined them. :( 
3) Take your time. Be careful. Read all the directions through completely. 
4) Have an extra pair of hands ready and willing to help. I was able to do quite a bit by myself. But, when it came to foiling and painting on the dye I would not have been able to do it without my friends. 
5) Don’t expect professional results. I like the way my hair looks. Would it have looked better if a professional did it? Yes. The pink is already fading fast because I didn’t leave the bleach on quite long enough. I missed a couple of hidden spots with the pink, so my hair has a bit of blonde peeking through every now and again. Did I save money and have fun doing it the DIY way? Sure did! 

Please excuse this awful phone pic.  Argh. Bad Blogger.

How I did it: 

1. I made sure I had clean, dry hair. I washed it that morning and wore it that way all day. I don’t think it is good to dye your hair when it is super dirty (lots of oils) or directly after shampooing. I’m not an expert… just what works for me.
2. I separated out a diagonal section of hair under the top layer of hair. I combed it out and placed it on top of a piece of foil. I used the salon type of foil for my hair. I’m not sure if regular foil works or not, but I assume it does. 
Another phone pic. 
3. I then put a bleach mixture ( Manic Panic Flash Lightning Hair Bleach Kit works well and has directions) on my sectioned off hair. I made sure it didn’t touch my other hair.
4. I did the strand test after the suggested time and I thought my hair was lightened enough, so I rinsed it out. I then dried it completely. I ended up realizing that it was more yellow than I wanted. I should have taken the step to highlight it again. But, I opted out. Which is part of the reason why my color is losing its brilliance already.
5. After drying my hair completely, I sectioned out my hair again. This time it was super easy because part of my hair was bright yellow and the rest was brown. I folded the foil underneath the bleached portion of hair again. I painted on the magenta color (I used Ion Color Brilliance Bright Gel in Magenta)
6. I folded the foil up to protect the hair. After about 15 minutes I put in the dark brown hair color on the rest of my hair. I used a simple box of hair dye from the local grocery store. 
7. After my hair soaked it all in for the allotted time (around 40 minutes) I hopped in the shower to rinse it out. It was suggested that I use cold water anytime I rinse my hair.


What I wrote: Week of Oct. 8

I’m trying to do better about writing here and my other blogs. I also want to share my writings with everyone who reads my work already. So, I’m going to TRY my best to update once a week what and where I have been writing. Maybe you’ll find something you missed!

A Well Crafted Party

Photo by Motormouth Studio

Woot! I wrote all week! I put a lot of effort and love into my son’s first birthday party. It was a wonderful and emotional time. I’m glad that we will always have the images and memories from the special celebration. I had a LOT of posts for you about the party.

Monday: {Real Party} You Are My Sunshine Party
Tuesday: {Recipe} Kid-Friendly Banana Cupcakes
Wednesday: {Recipe} Italian Pressed Sandwiches
Thursday: First Birthday Activity Ideas
Friday: {Friday Finds} Toddler Food Trays

Next week…. look forward to: First Birthday Favor Ideas, Sunshine Party Free Printables, A Creepy Zombie Party, A Giveaway and MORE!

Leave the Laundry for Later

I wrote over here all week as well! I’m on FIRE. ;-) If you didn’t know about my personal blog… then I’d love for you to pop over and see what it is about. I’ve been going back and forth about whether I should keep two blogs or have one blog that covers everything. I’m not sure still… but, I’d love to know what you think about the blog!
Monday: First Birthday Party (photos of the adorable guests and the birthday boy)
Tuesday: First Birthday Surprise (Idea for a special Birthday surprise)
Next Week… look forward to: Saving Money by Brown Bagging, Yoga that my Doctor ordered, and more!

Portland Bloggers’ Blog: 

Next Week… look forward to information about the SEO event on November 17 and Review of the Bloggers’ Night Out! 

{Friday Finds} Toddler Food Trays

I saw a lovely photo from Jennifer Bishop on On To Baby (and, all over Pinterest) and I was immediately inspired to create a Toddler Food area at my son’s first birthday party, in which 5 toddlers would be in attendance.

Continue Reading…

Novel November

I’ve talked a little about the fact that I am a Freelance Writer. I’ve always, ALWAYS, had a dream that I would write a fiction novel. I’ve been working on one of my novel ideas off and on for a couple years now. Recently, I’ve been writing a lot of fiction for ghost writing gigs and I have found out that I can write many more words than I thought I could. And, much faster than I had anticipated.

Anyways… then I hear about November being National Novel Writing Month. The idea is that you work really hard for one month and you write a novel of about 50,000 words. After that month you can get down to the nitty gritty of editing, but you are editing a NOVEL that you have written. Awesome.

So, I’m going to do it! There is a great (FREE) website, National Novel Writing Month, that helps you keep track of your word counts in an environment that is built to help motivate you to actually finish your work. There are also forums for people who need help with ideas, etc. I’d love to know if you are going to be writing a novel next month along side with me! If you are then maybe we can help keep each other motivated!

Now I don’t know whether I should be looking forward to the month of November or super scared!

Baby Sign: A Success Story!

When pregnant I wanted to do everything right for my son. I read every book. I watched what I ate, took my vitamins, slept, drank water, and exercised.

I promised myself that my son wouldn’t watch television until he was three, that I would read to him every night, I’d cloth diaper, I’d potty train early, I would provide routine for him, I would do baby sign,  and I would feed him all natural, organic, homemade food.
Yep, I was that pregnant woman. I didn’t live up to most of my hopes for parenting. Reality quickly settled in. I know some parents can do it. I’m amazed by them and I admire them. But, hell, I admire most parents nowadays. I’m in awe that we as a people can do this job and not screw up entirely.
Anyways, we tried baby sign. We felt entirely silly signing to a baby who was unresponsive, and often screaming. We stopped being consistent. We never saw any sign that he was getting it. So we gave it up. 
Then, I kept seeing babies do it. I saw them everywhere. They were signing please when they wanted something. Sorry when they did something wrong. Thank you when you gave them something. It was unreal how many babies were getting it. 
So, we tried it again. We decided to keep it with two signs because we knew our inability to be consistent. We worked on “All Done” and “More.”
And, after about a month… he got it. Suddenly he was repeating us and saying “All Done” or “More” with his hands. They aren’t perfect signs. His “All Done” is usually a certain movement with one of his hands instead of both of his hands. But, he is communicating to us and we understand. He is still learning to do it all the time. He mostly repeats us. But, occasionally he will do it all on his own when he wants more food or when he is all done with some activity. And, I’m in love with it. It is so nice that he doesn’t have to be frustrated with us for not understanding him.
Next on our list of signs to work on? Please and Thank You. 
Did you do baby sign? What are your tips on making it work?
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