007 Secret Agent Birthday Party! {and a bit about the healthier side of birthday parties}

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This week, my kiddo turned the big 007!  So in honor of his 007 birthday, he wanted a 007 party!  Bring on the spies, incognito, Secret Agent Training, and all sorts of gear and gadgets!

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The invites were simple {mostly} file folders that had the birthday info {in spy-speak, of course} and an areal map of our neighborhood.  The not-so-simple part was the video that went along with it {outtake pictures below… WHO ARE THOSE CHICKENS WORKING FOR???}. 
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The video was epic in it’s awesomeness, but parts of it were copyrighted so I will not be sharing it on here.  But mostly, it was my son, sitting in his blue chair with his fedora and spy glasses stating that “there is an important mission, if you chose to accept it, to join a group of the very best spies to find the bomb that is hidden in our headquarters and disarm it…”  The kids who received this invite were very excited to join in the mission and all of them wrote “MISSION ACCEPTED” …. from a secure phone line, of course!
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The food was basic healthy fare.  “Secretive Sandwiches” were the only things ‘in theme’ with 4 different kinds of homemade jelly and a mix of almond and peanut butter which were all mixed up so you didn’t know what you would get.  All prepped with my ‘cut and seal’ from Pampered Chef oh so many years ago.  {That thing has seen a LOT of miles and the kids LOVE it.}  In this case however, I honestly don’t think the kids noticed the differences, and I was not going to stop their revelry to make sure they did… so my effort was wasted and I could have saved myself a whole 15 minutes of prep time by making them all apple peel jelly and peanut butter… but I digress.
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We had a lose ‘international super spy’ thing going on with the mustaches and world maps and world flags, which I just loved.  It kept this theme from being too ‘grown up’.  Many spy movies you see now-a-days, even the good ones, end up with someone being tortured or some other ‘verynotformysevenyearold’ type stuff.  I wanted to keep it as ‘G rated’ as humanly possible while bringing in a little ‘Spy Next Door’ and ‘Get Smart’ for good measure.
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(Soapbox alert: skip this paragraph if you love bathing small children in incredible amounts of sugar for every birthday celebration.  For I am currently channeling a healthy food nut and you will find no quarter here.  lol)  Notice how these water bottles are in theme and yet, still water??  I am not above a little sugar on a special day like this one, but I am not going to deck a whole table out in sugar and dye like I have seen the trends moving towards with these incredibly beautiful, but deadly, dessert tables.  Who needs cake pops, and popcorn balls, and cup cakes, and four jars of candy, and giant lollypops AND a full sized cake all at the same party!  There are so many other ways to make a party theme than to have hundreds of pounds of sugar and dye available for all the little kids that I have invited over.  Pinnably beautiful?  Yes!  But dang!  I wouldn’t want to take my kid to that party, nor would I want to deal with her after.  So I stuck with one cookie, and one cupcake, and the rest was the same thing you’d see in any really healthy lunch.  You’re welcome.
Ok, soap box over.
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One comment about my spy travel line… “How very ‘cold war’”.
The activities were all part of one big hunt… to find the bomb!  We had a ticking suitcase located in the house that was locked!  What to do?!?  Well, I made a treasure hunt of sorts, where each clue the kids had to use a different cipher or spy technique to figure out where the next clue was.  One was a riddle, another was a finger print match, another was disappearing ink, and yet another was a cipher wheel with a code they had to break.  They were smarter than I was though, and ended up solving them all in short order.  At the end of the treasure hunt, they found a envelope with 5 keys in it, one of which would open the ticking suitcase…  which was at the end of a ‘hall of lasers’ they had yet to navigate through.  For the setup of said ‘hall of lasers’ I had superspy help:
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The lasers were passed, and the proper key was found.  They brought out the ticking suitcase, but inside was…. dum dum dum…  my kitchen clock and homemade marshmallow shooter kits!
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  I sent them outside, into this glorious {and completely unseasonable} day to decorate and assemble their marshmallow shooters.  They took this job VERY seriously.  I even have a picture of Logan saying “MOM!  No pictures, I’m working here!”  LOL!   They proceeded to pepper each other and my lawn {and my dog} with high-speed, international  super spy marshmallows.
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Then it was cupcake time.  I got to do the honors and light the dynamite candles for my sweet birthday boy!
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Happy Birthday to you, Agent 007!
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The favors {along with the marshmallow shooters that they got to take home} were CD’s of our favorite Secret Agent Tunes, a gum ball, and a large homemade sugar cookie in full incognito. 
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Secret Agent Tunes were:
  • Peter Gunn
  • Dick Tracy Theme
  • Secret Agent Man
  • Superspy (by Save Farris)
  • Mission Impossible Theme
  • The Pink Panther
  • Theme from Dragnet
  • Super Bossa Nova (from Austin Powers)
  • Get Smart theme
  • James Bond theme
And that was a wrap!  The kids had a great time and the marshmallow shooters have already been brought back to my house on a playdate for more sticky fun.  My dog is convinced they are food dispensers and follows the kids around when they have one in their hand.  The Secret Agent tunes have been played around the clock and all the ‘in theme gifts’ have been locked up in a box at night so the ‘bad guys’ {ie: Little Brothers} don’t get them.  It was a huge success! 

{spontaneous gratitude}

The month of January is always SO incredibly dark.  The days are short and usually rainy.  It’s easy to settle into discontent and frustration with everything.

Today, I woke up to an almost 3 year old who had, overnight, transformed into a snot factory, and a fog that was so heavy it was hard to see the neighbors house.  Plus it’s the first day of a 3 week fast of meat, sweets, and leavened bread.  The world felt a little oppressive this morning.  So I thought that it would be a good time for some spontaneous gratitude.

Today I am wonderfully thankful for:

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Thifty finds and misty mornings.  (This is the mailbox between the neighbor kids and my kids.  It is used often.)

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When the misty morning, turns into a sunny late afternoon.

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Feathered friends.

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Fun crafts with sick babies…

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Furry friends…

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Grand plans and helpful ideas.

I hope you are all having a wonderful Sunday.  Oh, and BTW, the Seahawks are going to the Super Bowl!  I honestly don’t really follow football but when there are fireworks going off in honor of your local football team and everyone you see (including senators etc) are wearing Hawks colors… well… it’s a little hard not to get excited.  lol!  So I am grateful for that too!

For the history of spontaneous gratitude click here.

How to make {almost} everything - my facial routine

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This post is starting a series called ‘how to make almost everything’ in which I will share with you my tried and true recipes for all of the things I use on a daily basis.  Everything from face wash to cough syrup to dog biscuits.

My facial routine could also be named “I put food on my face” because that’s what I do.  My scrub, toner, face mask, cleanser, and face wash.  All food items.  First off… let me show you my skin.  I decided to take pictures in all kinds of light because skin looks different in different lightings.  So please excuse the sudden overload of my face:

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Ok, that’s enough…. but there you have it.

I am 35 years old and I don’t ever use soap or concealer/foundation on my face.  It’s not perfect skin.  And by ‘not perfect’ I mean ‘I have pores’.  But it is good, even, blemish-free skin and I have no issues with buildup, breakouts or blackheads.

Why do I chose to put food on my face?

Well, that starts with a simple anatomy lesson.  My skin is my biggest intake organ.  It brings in quite a bit of stuff into my body via my environment.  So, frankly, I chose not to add to that with chemicals in my cosmetics or lotions.  But I know NOTHING about cosmetics.  I just recently entered into a realm of “all things not eye liner” as eye liner had been the only cosmetic I used in the first 30 years of my life.  I didn’t even use a ‘facewash’.  Just soap.

Usually made from oatmeal and goats milk.

See?  Food.

Food, I know well.  I have been interested in nutrition since middle school and have marinated in every superfood factoid and diet fad that comes along (and how to avoid all of that).  I know how to read labels and what feels good inside my body… so I decided to use that same stuff on the outside.  Now-a-days it doesn’t take long to research ‘homemade’ beauty products. Pinterest alone had many suggestions on how to wash my face with food.  So I printed out a few recipes I liked, copied a few more from books I found in the library and started some experimentation.  This is the routine I came up with and have been using for the past year.  I am very happy with it.  When I go to bed at night, my face feels fantastic and I can rub my eyes without worrying about looking like a clown when I wake up.

The routine:

It all starts with a little concoction:  2 Tbs baking soda and a little bit of warm water to make a paste.  I gently rub this onto my face and wash it off by splashing warm water over my face.  Then I pat dry.

After this, I wash my face with coconut oil.  I just put a teaspoon or so size dollop in my hand, mix it around in my fingers until it’s liquid (because coconut oil is mostly solid at room temp) and rub it gently all over my face.  Even my eye area gets this treatment.  After I do this, I put a warm washcloth on my face for about 10 seconds, just letting it sit.  Then I gently rub it all off.

If I have a particularly grimy day… like I worked in the sun for a long time or cleaned out the chicken coop, then I use a baking soda mask:  2 Tbs lemon juice and enough baking soda to make a paste.  I spread it on my face and leave it for about 30 minutes.  (I usually take this time to take a bath, read a book, or watch an episode of some twaddle - like “How I Met Your Mother”.)  You can do this as many times per week as your face enjoys.  I find that if I do it every day, it dries my face, so I have settled to about 3 times per week max.  If you have oily skin, try it with honey or water instead of lemon juice.  I find that without the acid to help balance the alkaline of the baking soda, I get this mild burning sensation for about an hour after my mask.  So I like the mix of lemon and soda for myself.

If I don’t feel I have time to do a mask, I dab a cotton ball with 1/2 and 1/2 apple cider vinegar and water and wipe that all over my face.  It will work in a pinch to dull down the shine and has the added quality of being an excellent ‘toner’.

Then, my face feels amazing!  Like seriously.  I love this routine.  It doesn’t dry anything, make anything itch, or make me feel as though my skin is too tight.  It just cleanses beautifully.

Look for my other posts soon on 'how to make {almost} everything'!

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