Bee Do Bee Do! Minion Party!

My middle baby turned three over the summer, and what with Baby J’s arrival, it got a little hard to post about her party.  Here we are in the end of November and I still haven’t told you all about it.  Keep in mind I was 1800 months pregnant when I pulled this off, so it was a feat of strength.  I had been dreaming up and pinning ideas for months, so not going big wasn’t an option.  Did that sentence make sense?

Anyhoo…  Despicable Me is one of the few movies I like and let my kids watch.  I love Steve Carrell (the voice of Mr Gru) and I adore his adopted daughter characters.  They are quirky, smart and fearless and that is something I want my young girls to see.  Also, just knowing that Russell Brand does the voice of Dr Nefario makes me happy.  PS – I want a shark to live in my house.

K is a hardcore Mr Gru fan and loves minions and all their gibberish and hilarity.  I asked her months before this what theme she wanted and it didn’t even take her a second to scream “Minions!”  We may have been watching the movie at the time…

I started a Pinterest Board and looked first at cake and loot bag ideas.  Those are my main ways of tying a theme together.  Food is a huge component of my planning and I like to get food that not only ties in the colours of the movie but little ideas that are part of characters and plot lines.  Here are some pictures to get us started:

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The cake was a feat of nature.  I used four 8 inch rounds and then a half-ball mould to make the rounded top.  I used confetti cake mix, which I have to say is not the most stable cake mix in that it is soft and crumbles easily.  I find that if you refrigerate or freeze the cake it is easier to ice.  I did two crumb coats and froze the cake for five minutes in between icings to help things set up nicely.  I shoved three dowels down the top of the cake (measure beforehand so you can cut the dowel to size and avoid having wooden sticks poking up the top of your cake) for stability.  I iced the cylinder first and then the round head separately with yellow fondant.  There ends up being a seam in the middle of the minion’s head but that is conveniently covered by his goggle band.  I did the goggles with a combo of brown, black, grey and white icing.  If you buy white icing and have good gel food colouring (I use Wilton), you can dye small pieces of fondant however you want.  Pro tip:  Use gloves!  Otherwise you end up with black hands.  His overalls were blue fondant rolled out and cut to size and then I used a rolling tool with teeth on it to make the stitches around the straps and bib etc.  I think he turned out really well.  Did you notice the Minion cupcakes!  So easy and so funny. They were my favourite!

If you are making your cake more than a day in advance, be careful.  Cakes always settle and move so if your stability is at all off you could end up with cracked fondant or dowels sticking out.

As for other food, there were lots of marshmallow bananas (minions love bananas), fruit shaped candy (from the second movie when they make jam and jelly), a fruit tray, Twisted Pasta Salad, Nacho’s Nachos and we served hot dogs for an early dinner.

The loot bags were a hoot and so easy to make.  I just got yellow bags from the dollar store and cut blue card stock into overall shapes and used minion goggles I got at a party supply store for the eyes.  I had to cut out paper and draw in the pupils as well as the pockets on the overalls, but they were easy.  In the loot bag were candy bananas, a minion t-shirt, a minion cup and a bunch of party supply minion things like stickers and bubble wands.  I was lucky in that the second Despicable Me movie had recently come out so there was a lot of stuff to be had in the stores.

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I recently got myself a juice dispenser and have been using it to create characters from my themes.  I made a minion with yellow and blue card stock and those handy dandy goggles from the party supply store.  You’ll see this technique in lots of parties to come, I’m sure!

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I made minion banners, labels, signs and other silly things to put about the house and on the table to make sure the theme was seen everywhere.  Yellow and blue table ware and balloons helped as well.  I also always make labels when I give funny names to foods so people can appreciate the tie-ins of the theme.

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Since K was born in August, her birthday parties usually are blessed with nice weather and we are able to eat outside and play games.  In the past I have done hunts in the backyard but this time I decided to do a water balloon minion game with yellow and purple balloons.  The kids were each on a team divided by colour and had to get the balloon in the minion’s mouth.  I also had yellow bubble wands for the kids to play with and it was so nice to have lots of the action outside.

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Inside, I had pin the pocket on the minion (a pre-bought game).

REAL MOM PARTY PLANNING TIPS

When I am planning the party, I usually start a few months in advance and follow these steps:

1.  Choose a theme. I consult with the kids about this and make sure they choose something they like and that it is something I can actually make happen.

2.  Record ideas as they flow.  I usually keep a list in notes on my phone and I also keep a Pinterest board for each party.  I also usually do a simple Google Images search and that helps me put ideas together.

3.  Make shopping lists.  My main go-to locations for party planning and shopping are Dollarama, Michaels, Bulk Barn, Walmart or Target, Party City and the Dollar Store that isn’t really a dollar store near me because everything is more than a dollar.  Dollarama has the good, basic things like balloons, plates and cutlery, streamers, tissue paper, card stock and sometimes some random loot bag fillers in the book aisle or the craft aisle.  Michaels is great for the more specialty items like fancy paper, craft items like feathers and eyes, wreath forms, cake decorating supplies, fancy decorations, pretty bags and seasonal items.  Bulk Barn has amazing pinatas, cake pans, icing galore, candy for loot bags and pinatas and specialty drinks.  Party City, Target and Walmart round things out with colourful items and loot bag finds.

4.  Shop.  Do this over the course of a few days or even weeks.  Plan it out with a detailed list.  I make a list of crafts I want to make and the supplies I need to make them in order to make sure nothing is missed.  I hate going back for return trips.

5.  Start crafting.  I usually start with the loot bags and then move on to decorative elements and I end with the balloons and streamers and paper-based decorations.  These things are all simple to make but take time.  I have three small kids so I do most things during nap times and at night.

6.  Make the cake.  I do this the day before the party.  Give yourself time in case of mishaps and always have extra mix and icing on-hand in case!

7.  Make the food.  I usually have themed food so this has to be planned and shopped for much like the decor.  Those are separate lists!

7.  Set it all out.  The day of the party is when all the magic comes together and I am usually on a bit of a high watching my vision come together.  I set up my table and put out all the food, make drinks and clean the house.

8.  Enjoy!  I truly love having these parties for my kids because it is a fun and special way to get family and friends together to play and celebrate.  My kids love it and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Here are a few more snaps of the fun day:

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Terror In Ottawa: An Attack On My Hometown

I am from Ottawa.  Actually, I am from all over the place.  My dad worked for the Federal Government for 37 years as a diplomat and we moved to various places during his career like New Delhi, Moscow and Washington D.C., but we always returned to Ottawa and call it home.  I now live in Calgary, too far from home for my taste but we are here for now and we love our adopted city.  What happened today, in my hometown, has shocked and disturbed me in too many ways to count.

When I flipped to various news channels and scanned online articles and posts, I kept seeing glimpses of downtown Ottawa, the Parliament Buildings and the War Memorial – places I know very well.  I kept thinking of happier times that I spent in those places.  Summers spent strolling along the Rideau Canal, going to the National Art Gallery, and taking family members on tours of the Peace Tower.  One of my fondest memories of being in Ottawa was when M and I got married and had our photos taken at the Parliament Buildings.  Behold – happy days:

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I wanted my photos done there because it was the summer after our first year living away from home and I was missing Ottawa desperately.  I love the downtown scenery, especially the green tops of the Peace Tower and the East and West Blocks of Parliament.  These majestic buildings are almost an oddity – beautiful and stately – nestled in amongst more modern and sometimes tacky structures that fill the downtown core.  For native Ottawans these buildings are a gathering place for festivals, fireworks for Canada Day and ceremonies for Remembrance Day.

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I remember spending a particularly grim morning there just after the terrorist attacks of September 11th.  There was a ceremony held to show support and solidarity for our brethren to the south after they had suffered so greatly at the hands of terrorists.  I never thought we would have our turn.  No, we didn’t lose thousands of lives today, but we lost one too many.  My heart goes out to the family and friends of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo.

How did this happen?  How did someone born and raised in our own country grow to hate it so much that he would turn on it and muddy some of the very symbols that represent what we stand for?  To shoot an unarmed honour guard at the memorial that represents freedom, justice and respect for the men and women who have helped to shape Canada into the spectacular place it is today is cowardly, dastardly and contemptible.  As the days stretch out and give us more space between the awful events of today and ourselves, more information will surely come out about the shooter that took a life and scarred the hearts of so many people today.  I won’t name him here.

After the attacks of 9-11, Canada and the US joined forces and turned their attention inwards and put more resources into identifying and mitigating threats from inside our own borders.  We, the general public, will never know how many attacks like this have been thwarted.  In the 13 years since the World Trade Towers fell and the Pentagon was damaged, I never once thought this could happen in our country.  Now I know better.  It can happen.  It has happened and now we enter a new era of awareness.  What I hope we can avoid is succumbing to the fear and terror of today.  As Stephen Harper said in his speech today as he addressed our nation, “we will never be intimidated”.  Heartbroken, yes.  Angry, yes.  But not intimidated.

As a nation, I lift up the stories of Cpl. Cirillo and Sgt. At Arms Kevin Vickers as examples of what our country truly stands for:  Homour, Bravery and Solidarity.  I leave you with one more image that was taken the day I was married, and this is the way I want to remember and represent my beloved Nation’s Capital.  Because although our flag will fly at half mast in honour of the brave man we lost today, I want to remember it flying high, representing our True North Strong and Free.

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All Photos courtesy of Don Weixl Photography.