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Dr. Who Birthday prep

Hello bloggosfriends!

It has been a long, long while, and although I still do not have time to get back into the party business like I wish I could, my son’s 12th birthday is coming up and he asked for a great theme: Dr. Who!   His birthday party is next weekend, and with Christmas so close, it’s always a challenge to get together a great all-out party for him like I have for his brother in June.   Plus the cold weather limits our choices for venues.  I haven’t done a party at home for him in years – it’s just too much for my little house!

Two years ago, he asked for an Adventure Time party that is still the #1 download from my blog.  Last year, we did Tron at a Lazer Tag place, and it was a bit more rushed, although he was happy with the results.  This year, I’ve already started on some of the decorations which I can make available for free (non-personalized) when the party is all done.

With two big events for Dr. Who just freshly finished (50th Anniversary special The Day of the Doctor, and the final episode for Matt Smith’s 11th Doctor (aka 13th generation, plus Christmas special) it’s an excellent time for a Dr. Who party.

I started by photoshopping my son’s picture into this image to create the invitation. I always go back to this tutorial on how to cut someone out of a picture.  I cut my son out of his picture, cut the doctor out of his pic and layered them on top of each other.

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I was going to do more Tardis and bowtie-type stuff for the other printables, but my son loves the image so much, we just stuck with that for the cupcake wrappers and welcome sign. I used these free fonts: Dalek Assiduous and Heavy Data.  I found the latest Dr. Who logo here.

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Last year, we did King sized candy bars for party favors since his friends are getting a little too big for goodie bags, and a candy table is too much to bring to a venue like this one.  Here’s this year’s wrappers:

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So that’s as far as I have gotten with the printables.  I have plans to make a Tardis back drop (will attempt to create a tutorials with printables for another post).

But what I did TODAY was test-run treats for the party.  I’ve seen on other websites that people had made fish stick (aka fish finger) cookies and “custard” (aka pudding) for their parties. I found this video on how to make the cookies.

If you don’t want to watch the video, this recipe is in the description:

Fish Fingers & Custard
*for the “fish finger” cookies*
• 1 lb. butter, softened
•1 cup powdered sugar
• 3 cups flour
• 1/2 cup corn starch
• 1 pkg graham crackers

*for the pudding*
• 2 cups milk 
• 1 box instant pudding (any flavor)

Preheat oven to 325° F.
Prepare pudding according to directions on the box.
Set aside.
In a separate bowl, mix butter and powdered sugar
until lemony yellow (about 3 minutes). Slowly add
flour and corn starch until fully incorporated.
Shape dough into fish finger shapes and roll in
crushed graham crackers. Place on ungreased
cookie sheet and bake for 11-15 minutes or until
golden brown. Serve with pudding and enjoy!

For me, these cookies turned out light and “biscuitty”.  I halved the recipe above, added a teaspoon of salt and some vanilla extract. It took the full 15 minutes on a parchment lined cookie sheet for these cookies to harden up. This yielded about 36 very realistic looking “fish finger” cookies.

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I wanted to see if I could make a cupcake look like “custard” (or pudding for us over the pond). I just used a plain buttercream frosting for these, but later this week, I’m going to see how it might look if I dip the cupcakes in two different kinds of ganache to give them a glossy-pudding-like appearance.  And maybe I will fill the cupcakes with some pudding for an extra surprise! Will update…

Finally, I wanted to try something different this year with his cake or cupcakes. I thought if I made some Dr. Who themed cookies, I could use them as cupcake toppers.  Now, I’m not the greatest cookie decorator, and so the test run cookies were to determine how we should go about this – and even if it should be attempted my me at all.

Since I couldn’t find my decorating tips, the cookies came out kind of like hilarious Pinterest fail pictures. I will post them here so you can have a laugh. I’m not sure if I’m going to try it again (I liked the effect of what looked like an army of Daleks and Weeping Angels ganging up on the Tardis (especially after the 2013 Christmas special where the invitation picture came from). And if we stick with the cookie-toppers, I don’t know if we will just leave them with the indents in them and not try to decorate them at all or use some other method.  The fondant did look ok, but it’s sooo sweet with the sugar cookie and cupcake (sugar OVERLOAD!)  And the cookies were too heavy for the cupcakes.  Lots of kinks to work out on this one.  I may just end up making a cake!

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If you’d like to imitate these hilarious results, you can find the recipe for the sugar cookies here, the recipe for the fondant here, and the recipe for royal icing here. I ordered the cookie cutters from Amazon and Ebay.

So that is all for now! Will update soon.

Letterboxing {Geeky Fun}

Looking for a family activity that’s interesting, creative and fun?  How about a creative birthday party idea for older kiddos?

On a hike in Swansea, MA

Luke’s discovery in Somerset, MA
We started letterboxing a few years ago, and found that it was a great way for our family to enjoy a hike together without hearing complaining from the kids that the unplugged activity was “boring”. Letterboxing is considered the predecessor to Geocaching.  It mixes orienteering (challenge with navigational skills) with stamp-making and collecting.  This is basically a free activity folks!

A local Geocache (we’ve done this too)!

The basic idea of letterboxing is to follow written directions like a treasure hunt with a compass to find a hidden letterbox (great lesson for kids to learn to use a compass!)  Set out on your hike, and watch for the land marks! Inside the box is a rubber stamp (some home-made, some commercial) and a notebook.  Sometimes, the letterbox owner will also enclose a pen or pencil and an ink pad, but your best bet is to bring your own.

On the hunt in Fairhaven, MA

Seth found this one!

The letterbox!

Once you find the “treasure,” you leave a copy of your stamp in the box’s notebook, and take a copy of their stamp in your personal collection.  When you get home, you can log on to the letterbox’s site and leave a message for the letterbox owner.

Getting ready to stamp in.
Victory!
We have discovered so many new places in our area by going on these little treasure hunts!  There are hundreds of letterboxes all over the world! The two best sites to find letterboxes near you are Atlas Quest and Letterboxing.org.
Westport, MA

Dartmouth, MA

Taunton, MA
Bristol, RI
Portland, ME area (Baxter Woods)
I have my kids carry a small backpack with their letterboxing kit and a bottle of water.

My cousin Ani’s first letterbox discovery!

Stamping in

Everyone takes a turn

My oldest son had a letterboxing birthday party a couple of years ago.  The first thing we did was have the kids make their own letterboxing kits.  They made their own “stamps” by sticking foam stickers to sponges with foam rubber hot glued to one side. They worked really well!  They got to choose a notebook, a pen and an ink pad to put in their plastic boxes.  These doubled as party favors for them to take home!
Letterboxing kit-making station
 

The kids loved personalizing their boxes with stickers

We hid five boxes in various places around the outside of our house and around the neighborhood.  We split the kids into teams, gave each team a map, a compass, a set of gloves, a disposable camera, and written directions and set them free! Everyone had a blast finding the hidden boxes. The kids still talk about this party as one of their favorite parties ever.

Teams setting out on “the hunt”

A letterboxing kit makes a great gift!  Make a special notebook, and put it in a nice plastic box (like a pencil box), a special pen, an ink pad and a rubber stamp and maybe a pair of gardening gloves and a compass. Include a homemade book about the history of letterboxing, and maybe a few choice letterbox locations close to you.

Using scrapbooking materials, I covered ordinary notebooks to make special gifts.
Coordinating colored pens, stamps and ink pads

What activities do you enjoy with your family?  Leave me some great ideas in the comments below!

Best,
Krysten
Clickable Party

Penny Smashers {Geeky Fun}

We do a good amount of traveling with the kids, whether it’s a day-trip or some short overnights, and my boys always want to take something to remember it by.  This can get a bit pricey for two kids over time. Solution?  A Smashed Penny collection!

You can find Penny Smashers in just about every tourist attraction (including rest areas).  For between 51 cents and a $1.01 you have an instant souvenir.
The Philadelphia Visitor’s Center

We have also found these great Penny Passport books to keep all their pennies safe and sound.
I suppose that as the designs retire, they may have a few collectors items on their hands, but really it’s just for the fun of having a collection, and an easy and inexpensive souvenir.
And of course, you can find the Penny Smasher Waymarking Group is actively indexing the locations of these machines, if you want to find a penny smasher, log your visit or index one yourself!
Best,
Krysten

The Moomins {Geeky Fun}

I’ve recently come across this phenomenon known as The Moomins, which was originally a children’s book series and comic strip by Swedish/Finnish author, Tove Jansson beginning in 1945.  These are hugely popular and beloved by many – much to my surprise, since I am a huge children’s book fan and had never even heard of the Moomins until a couple of weeks ago!

The books are adorable, and eventually became a stop-motion TV show (in the spirit of Rankin/Bass, but a bit softer) and a cartoon.  The charm factor reminds me a bit of Winnie the Pooh (one of my all-time favorites).

In Finland, there is even a theme park for children called Moominworld.

Remember my Waymarking post?  Well, there is even a Waymarking Group dedicated to logging Moomin sightings!  So fun!

Have you ever heard of the Moomins?  Share your experiences in the comments, or tell me about your favorite children’s books!

We have one children’s book inspired printable – Pinkalicious! Maybe it’s time for a Moomin inspired printable!

Best,
Krysten
Clickable Party

Stikman Sightings {Geeky Fun}

If you live in a major metropolitan area or just like to visit them, keep your eye out for this guy:

He is “stikman,” and he is a sneaky piece of urban Guerilla art that can be found from Boston to DC, from Hollywood to Toronto.  He is typically found in crosswalks, although he can also be seen on signs and walls. 
My oldest son noticed this one when we were walking in the monument section of DC, and said that he had also seen one back home when we were visiting Boston for a day trip and he wondered what they were.  He asked our waiter that night at dinner showing him this image on our camera, but our waiter didn’t know what these were either.  
Once we noticed him, we seemed to see him everywhere!  All over DC and Philadelphia.  After doing some research, I discovered this Flickr group dedicated to stikman sightings by other curious passerby’s who have been intrigued by his ghostly presence.  

Chicago, IL
http://www.flickr.com/photos/yooperann/4954980819/in/pool-42499904@N00/

Philadelphia, PA
http://www.flickr.com/photos/srhbth/4937909749/in/pool-42499904@N00/

He has become a new Easter Egg for my family while traveling.  If you want to know more about stikman, and see more fabulous pictures of him, visit his photostream.  Also, here are some articles on the elusive stikman:
Who knows, maybe he will get his own printable theme!
Best,