Friday, May 08, 2009

Friends, Romans, Countrymen...

V's 7th birthday earlier this year was a real Roman feast! Following up the Ancient Egypt 5th birthday 2 years ago, the 7th birthday was an Ancient Roman Goddess party. The idea arose when I showed V how to translate the inscription on the Statue of Liberty's tablet from roman numerals, and also somewhat from our trip to Italy last year. I ran with the idea. V, who didn't have a 6th birthday party, was suitably excited, but did take the opportunity to ask why her parties have themes. (And by that she wasn't referring to plates and cups with Spongebob on them. She meant why is there library research involved, and why do I make costumes and plan thematic games.) I asked her, "How many of your friends' birthday parties do you return from with a complete costume, and having learned something about history?" I think she understood. Our library research included a kid's version of "Julius Caesar", books about Ancient Rome and the Coliseum, and Roman myths. V's birthday (mid-February) is nicely timed so after the Christmas and New Years activity, we can pick a theme in early January and have time to buy related items on E-Bay. This year it was Roman God/Goddess bookmarks for the girls to color while guests arrived, Roman Numeral dice for the goody bags, a Roman Numeral placemat, Roman Numeral candles, and crown supplies. More on the crowns later. For costumes, I made 10 little togas out of white sheets from Goodwill and estate sales. I ended up having enough sheets for my own toga, and for my husband and dad to fashion their own costumes. The togas were trimmed with gold ribbon. The party was on the Friday of a week-long company shutdown, so I had plenty of time to spend on the sewing machine.

I envisioned gold and silver leafy crowns, but couldn't find exactly what I was looking for in my price range, so I bought gold and silver leaves (like the ones used for corsages) with wired stems, and made my own by twisting them around metallic pipe-cleaners.

The cake was an endeavor in itself. I knew it would be a Coliseum cake, and borrowed a tube pan from a neighbor to get the desired shape. I found a recipe for Lemon Grove cake (like a pound cake) in my California Heritage Continues cookbook. At Michael's craft store, I bought a package of fondant containing 4 colors (light flesh tone, tan, dark brown and black), and brown frosting tint. I made buttercream frosting and tinted it brown. The fondant was very easy to work with and by mixing the colors, I had enough to cover the outside of the cake plus extra. I cut out sections with a knife and vegetable peeler to make the windows, and applied it to the buttercream, then added details.

Games were "Roman Numeral Bingo" and "Pin the Rome on the Italy". For Bingo, we used regular cards but I printed the numbers 1-75 in roman numerals on slips of paper. When I drew one out, I wrote the numerals on a big pad of paper and the girls had to help me decipher the number before they could mark it on their card. The winner got a Roman Numeral placemat. "Pin the Rome on the Italy" used a wall map of Europe, a blindfold, and labels with the girls names. Spin them around 3 times and let them at it. Food was an appetizer platter of grapes and cheese cubes (smokey cheddar and havarti), followed by Chicken Caesar salad. The best part was the salad dressing, which I special ordered from our local organic grocer. They don't normally sell it, but they make it for their Chicken Caesar wraps and it is out of this world. Goody bags included a Roman Numeral dice and scrapbook stickers of Italian landmarks. In the thank-you notes, we included a picture of the girls in their costumes as a memento. All in all a terrific party...and we all learned something!

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Handmade catnip mouse

I won this mouse for being the 7000th visitor to a wonderful blog. Here is my happy cat, Red, testing it out.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

What breed of liberal am I?

How to Win a Fight With a Conservative is the ultimate survival guide for political arguments

My Liberal Identity:

You are a Peace Patroller, also known as an anti-war liberal or neo-hippie. You believe in putting an end to American imperial conquest, stopping wars that have already been lost, and supporting our troops by bringing them home.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

9 More Things About Me

I have already filled out a list of "XVI Things About Me" on Facebook, but have since been tagged by others at least twice for "25 Things About Me". So I will append my previous list with 9 more items to satisfy that requirement....and I'll tag 9 more people on Facebook. RULES: Once you've been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it's because I want to know more about you. 17. I have a chronically runny nose, every day of the year. Maybe I am allergic to something totally basic that I am around every day, but I have never seen an allergist. Instead I keep rolls of toilet paper in my car, office, and in every room of the house (I installed a toilet paper holder in the kitchen next to the paper towel holder). I also keep wads of toilet paper in almost every jacket pocket and purse/handbag/backpack. I will inevitably forget one of them when something goes through the laundry and find little bits of it in the dryer lint screen. (I use toilet paper to blow my nose because I find it more absorbent and cheaper, and the size of a toilet paper square is exactly the right size for a little sniffle, so I'm not wasting the extra real estate of an entire Kleenex. And when you blow your nose as often as I do, the cost savings add up quickly.) 18. When I need something, my order of locating an item is usually this: Freecycle (because you can't beat *free*), CraigsList, EBay, Goodwill, Garage/Estate Sales, retail store. I rarely pay retail for anything. I shop this way for clothing, furniture (I got my dining room set on EBay and had it shipped from Kansas), linens, toys, music, electronics, razor blades (for my head and leg-shaving husband) and vacuum cleaner bags. I do not shop at Wal-Mart. 19. I love to cook and find most of my recipes on the Epicurious website. Very rarely do I ever make the same recipe twice, however. 20. I believe kids need to be exposed to a food over and over again before they can really make a true determination whether they like it or not. I always make my daughter take "taster bites" of everything on her plate for that reason. I think that's why she was begging me to make brussels sprouts the other day. 21. All of my major childhood injuries resulted from jumping on a bed or riding a bicycle. 22. I have the last 5 years of my daughter's artwork plastered all over my office walls at work. 23. I was on yearbook staff in elementary school and high school. I reflect on that experience when I am scrapbooking today. 24. The tips of my fingers go numb and turn white at temperatures below 60 degrees Fahrenheit. My nose feels cold below 70 degrees Fahrenheit. My comfort zone is 75-90 degrees Fahrenheit. 25. My job involves Quality Assurance at an ISO 9001 certified company. I sometimes find myself evaluating my life in terms of continuous improvement, corrective actions, and supplier quality.