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June 19, 2017

Josie's Harry Potter Birthday party

Over the years, we’ve thrown some pretty incredible themed birthday parties and if you’ve followed me long enough, you know my husband has quite a love affair with Harry Potter. This year, Josie was finally turning the magical age of 11, so on June 10th, we held a Harry Potter birthday party for 9 of Josie's friends.

While it started out like planning for any other birthday party, it quickly began to take on a life of its own. Thank goodness Chris hosts an annual Yule Ball each winter in his school district and both his elementary school offices are filled with HP decorations.

In addition to my husband’s decorations, I wanted to offer a few surprises to Josie and her crew and I found Pinterest to be hugely helpful. We might be one of the biggest Harry Potter families, but there are lots of other fanatics who have done equally amazing Harry Potter parties.

Because Josie was having both girls and boys at her party, we didn’t have a sleepover. My compromise was a 5 hour party instead ( read that correctly…Chris and I were exhausted when it was done). I wanted the party to feel like a real day at Hogwarts, not a birthday party with games and the like.
The activities
Kids arrived and entered into Hogwart's via Platform 9 ¾ . You’ll recognize this from Chris’s school events.

They then spent time posing by the Hogwart’s Express made from refrigerator boxes. We can’t take credit for this. One of Chris’s coworkers (and incredibly talented art teacher) made this for their Yule Ball. The fog machine from our Halloween parties completes the look.

Professor Dumbledore (my husband) escorted them to Diagon Alley where kids were given special wands made from wooden dowels, hot glue and paint. The wand boxes were estate sale piano rolls boxes.

After that, we proceeded with a sorting hat ceremony. You’ll notice even our sunroom year-round tree, even got a HP makeover.

It was a beastly hot day during the party, so we divided up the party into outdoor and indoor activities. Some of the indoor activities included decorating their swim noodle broom handles or creating/naming their owl made from helium balloons and markers. 
The swim noodle and yellow plastic tablecloth (fringed with scissors) were purchased from Dollar Tree. I also found all sorts of decorative tape at Dollar Tree that they used on their broom handles.

The kids loved designing and naming their owls.

I loved seeing how creative they got with their pets.

Some of the outdoor activities included a potion class (which was a huge hit), a scavenger hunt in the Forbidden Forest, Charms class, flying lessons and casting spells at Dementors. 
For the potions class, I saved party favor cauldrons from Halloween (one per child) and then we collected all sorts of bottles and filled with secret ingredients that they mixed together. We used baking soda, vinegar colored water and dish soap to create bubbling potions.
The Food
We were able to borrow a large folding table so that all 10 guests could be seated together in the Great Hall.
The kids feasted on pizza, snacks and butter beer. The butter beer recipe was super easy...cream soda, butterscotch syrup and whipped cream.
I found the glass mugs at Dollar Tree and washed them up before they went home as a souvenir. 
I wanted to give each child a chocolate frog, but they were so expensive online, so I ordered a frog chocolate mold and Josie helped me make frogs.
Rather than a birthday cake, we made owl cupcakes from slivered almonds (feathers), a walnut sliver (beak) and candy eyeballs and miniature cookie wafers.
We also made golden snitches from Ferrero Rocher chocolates and taped tiny wings made from Velium paper.
The Decorations
The store “Five Below” had Harry Potter paper products and looked great on our Great Hall table.
One of my favorite decorations was the battery operated candles hanging in our dining room. Those also came from Dollar Tree and we’ll be using these candles again at Halloween. 
I also loaded Chris’s HP decorations on top of our fireplace mantle and completed the look with a bunch of Hogwart’s letters flying out of the fireplace (made from fishing line and tape).
After Josie opened gifts, the kids had some free play time where they ran off their sugar high on their brooms throughout the yard and posed for pictures.
We ended the night with about 30 minutes watching the first Harry Potter movie. 
 It was an awesome birthday and I honestly don’t think we can top this one.

May 25, 2017


After 8 years of blogging, I never intended on taking a leave of absence, but it just kinda happened.
Since my last post back in February, we’ve celebrated Emma’s successful first year of college. She made the Dean’s List both semesters and she even had a wonderful opportunity to study abroad in Ireland at the end of winter semester with the Social Work department.
We’re so proud of her ability to juggle academia and working two jobs. She’s pretty darn incredible. 

I recently celebrated my 49th birthday. How the heck did that happen? And we’re getting ready to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary on Memorial Day. We aren’t doing anything super exciting for our milestone, but we’ll be heading to my “happy place” Aframe and I can’t wait to unplug and get away from work.

Speaking of the Aframe, it’s in the midst of a huge exterior renovation. It now has all new windows and is in the process of getting siding.

We had hoped to save the original exterior wood and repaint, but it was too far gone and Mother Nature kept finding a way to sneak inside. With us enjoying the lake year-round, we decided to go with siding so that we didn’t have any more surprises.

Our next big celebration is Josie’s 11th birthday. If you’ve been a long time follower, you know how much I enjoy party planning.

We’ll be going ALL OUT with a Harry Potter themed event early June. Stay tuned! I can’t promise how often I’ll keep this updated, but I’ll try to do a better job.  Virtual "hugs" from Kim K.

February 14, 2017

4th Annual Harry Potter Yule Ball

For my long time followers, you know that my husband loves Harry Potter and spends time each week reading Harry Potter during the lunch hour at two different elementary schools in his district.
 A few weeks ago was their 4th annual Harry Potter Yule Ball. 
Each year it gets more and more elaborate and the crowds get larger and larger!   They had over 260 kids in attendance this year!
The Grand Rapids Public Zoo was back with several of their magical creatures.

They even had quidditch lessons provided by the Grand Valley State University Grindylowe’s team.
The Knight Bus was also another popular returning activity.
As you can imagine, Chris was happy to wear his Professor Albus Dumbledore costume all evening.
Once again, the decorations were nothing short of fantastic. 
One of Chris’s amazing colleagues even created this Hogwart’s Express from several refrigerator boxes, while Chris supplied our Halloween fog machine for the steam.
Chris and all his amazing staff/parent volunteers really outdid themselves.
With Josie's 11th birthday happening in June, we've already decided that we will be recycling many of these activities and decorations for this year's birthday gala.
Until then, have yourself a magical week! 


January 29, 2017

Happy Year of the Rooster!

Chinese New Year began its celebrations on January 28th.

This year we will be celebrating the Year of the Rooster and I’ll be visiting Josie’s 5th grade classroom first thing Tuesday morning to teach our annual lesson.

If you've followed me through the years, you know that we have a year-round decorative tree that receives multiple makeovers every other month (including some made-up holidays).

I've said this each year, but of all the trees that I display in the sunroom throughout the year, I think the CNY tree is my favorite.

Wishing you good health, good luck and much happiness throughout the year!

Happy New Year!