nailed it

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The pictures are a little fuzzy but I still loved looking at them this morning. I think I could have slept until noon today, but the sun was out early and there’s a promise that it IS going to warm up again. It’s the last 48 hours of the school year so I really just need to slog through it. We’ve filled a few stages lately, sung and acted and played and marched until we were done. We’re down to the cleanouts, the goodbyes, the brown bag lunches, and all the extra cookies and ice cream. May can get so exhausting and so demanding, even when we plan ahead and try to stay ahead of the game. But then we sit for a spell, and watch her fingers move across her strings (correctly! we were watching!) and then she catches our eyes as she bows and smiles, and all is good in the world.

Ella

A few weeks ago M and I found a card with a thumbs up sign on it that says “Nailed It” on the front. We bought it for E, and we’ll slip it into her lunchbox tomorrow. The projects are done, the grades are in, her locker is empty, the contents spilled across the coffee table in the living room and onto the floor. It wasn’t always easy, but she did it. She did it well.

Drop off

We’ve all had to up our game a bit this year. I reread what I wrote at the start of this school year, and it reminded me again of what an enormous transition last year was. The year before was difficult in many different ways, and I’m so grateful now that we were able to reside in places that were small and familiar and supportive and comforting. And then this year came, and we were ready to stretch a little more, and stretch we did.

We had to trust that the oldest one could leave a tiny nest and navigate a larger, more complicated one. She is more capable and lovely than we even deserve.

We had to trust that the little one was ready for school as well – that she could move into a new schedule with new friends and be the youngest again, for awhile. She is more daring and brighter than we even deserve.

We had to trust that we could balance the hectic nature of two jobs and two schools, and still find time to bring our ‘A’ game to as many things as possible while being okay with our ‘B’ game when necessary. This partnership is deeper and stronger and more balanced than we even deserve.

Feeling grateful this morning for the sunshine and the promise of summer and this beautiful team of mine.

wonderland posters

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The last few days have been a bit of a blur here. (A messy blur.) The girls’ school holds their biggest fundraiser in the spring, and I’m on the auction bundling committee. Our team assembles the silent auction, organizes the live auction, and we also have sign-up parties and large raffle baskets. The thing is, the raffle baskets aren’t really baskets of items. They are usually pretty large prizes assembled from dozens of gift certificates around a certain theme, and sometimes they even include large items like a trip. So while the winnings are great, display-wise it’s not always easy to sell them. Several years ago we decided to focus on describing them in the bidding program everyone receives, and then creating really large scale pieces that tie into the party theme and (hopefully) encourage people to buy tickets. If you sell them right, they can bring in some serious dough. Who doesn’t like the chance to win a thousand dollars of local restaurant gift cards for a ten dollar ticket?

Each year I go in a different direction, depending upon my mood and what medium I feel like working in. Last year I did watercolors which were so much fun. This year’s theme was Wonderland, and after I saw the invitations, I really wanted to use cut paper and add some serious dimension. Once I saw the venue and the incredible decorations, I knew it was the right way to go.

I started at Artmart with a list of the five raffle baskets and zero ideas, and I just let the paper options inspire me. They had several papers with shiny gold details that looked like china patterns, so I thought those would work for a Mad Hatter Party themed poster, and tie in well with the table decor which included tea cups planted with wheat grass.

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I really wanted dimensional teacups, and so I remembered the spiral flowers I made in F’s room and thought that technique might work. I loosely spiraled the paper and the teacup looked like it was spiraling out of the saucer. I added a swirly handle to finish the look.

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I liked the way it tied into the rabbit hole spiral on the invite too. And then – because it was party themed – I made the teacups stack, a little tipsily, and added some confetti and gold details.

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The next poster was titled un-Birthday, and it had a collection of tickets and passes to so many great institutions around town, plus lots of ice cream and even a sno-cone machine. The winner is set for the best summer ever. I wanted to focus on the everyday celebration idea for this one, and it seemed like the best poster to tie into the pocket watch.

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I found this incredible red paper with confetti  made out of book pages sprinkled into it – it was perfect, because the decor also included stacks of old books where paper top hats perched (made by this Becky!)

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It’s hard to choose, but the un-Birthday poster might have been my favorite – I loved the clock, and was really excited to see this gigantic clock in the room next door. Honestly, the event team knocked it out of the park this year.

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The third poster was for a basket full of very girly items titled Alice Looking Wonderful. For this poster I wanted to reference Alice, but not draw her. I went to the original illustrations from Through the Looking Glass, and used this one as a starting point.

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I drew the mantel and added the paper fabric draped over the mantel. I made the mirror smaller and oval, and added a blue and white paper bow to represent Alice in her blue dress and white pinafore. And then I sassed it up a bit with red “lipstick” writing on the mirror for the title. Too bad I own no lipstick, so a Sharpie worked in a pinch. Perhaps I needed to win this one after all!

The auction room had lots of red and black, and I wanted one poster to tie into that, even if it wasn’t directly referencing playing cards (which were 10’s for our tenth year as a school)!

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I loved this paper that was really more like fabric – the graphic flowers were just perfect in the room. I kept as much of the paper intact for the background, and cut out a keyhole in the center. I hung a paper key from real ribbon in the center, and it worked well for the Make Your Own Adventure raffle which included a week’s stay in Cape Cod.

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I also liked how it tied into some other over the top decorations – the giant toadstools and enormous black vases with gold painted branches and playing card flowers with jeweled heart centers.

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The last poster (if you’re still hanging around here!) was titled Eat Me, Drink Me, and I circled back around to the invitation. I found two great papers with the perfect colors and patterns, and I cut spirals out of the green one and pasted them on the blue one. I added some silver details and writing to this one, and used the mirrored paper again, but in bottle form this time. More of the brown ribbon and kraft paper to tie it all together.

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(BTW, this last one is the cardboard from E’s science fair board, and that brown ribbon is leftover from F’s first birthday party! I love scrounging around for inspiration and materials.) So maybe this is a favorite? I don’t know. I honestly loved working on them all.

In the same room there were Eat Me cookies and cupcakes. Delicious and adorable.

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Speaking of delicious – and adorable. Local Harvest was the caterer. Their food was incredible and the styling was gorgeous. I snapped this photo just as the doors opened and caught a few people that beelined straight for the food. I don’t blame them. All of those lovely serving pieces and display items were brought in by the caterer – their attention to detail was incredible. Boxes and boxes of vintage pieces and vases and crates and flowers to help showcase the food. I was really impressed.

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My only regret is not having one more poster to tie into the flamingos / croquet more. I could have had a lot of fun with a bright pink boa from the dress up bin.

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Look at these flamingo mallets ready for some croquet playing on the balcony!

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Congrats to the whole team** for such a great effort, and to the school for a great first ten years. Here’s to many more. Can’t wait to see what you think up next year!

**I only made the posters above, all other delightful things were crafted by the many talented parents at the school. Hopefully some of it inspires you for your own future events!

six impossible things before breakfast

Soiree One

When I saw this quote this morning during the final setup for the soiree this afternoon it made me smile. This has been a week of tackling six impossible things before breakfast – and then still tending to the rest of the day’s needs like any other day.

Sometimes it’s good to stretch the creative muscles into the wee hours of the morning. Not every week, but just occasionally. It makes me feel young and energized and capable.

And now I need a nap.