Joon’s Amazing Harry Potter Pool Party!

Joons-Harry-Potter-Birthday-Pool-Party-1

As you probably know, Joon celebrated her tenth birthday this last Sunday and it was a splash and a half. Actually, make that five-thousand smashing splashes and a half because it went off like no other pool party I have ever planned.

Have I ever planned a pool party before? No, I don’t think so. But that’s beside the point.

A little back-story on this party: It was cold and rainy on Monday. Payam and I even had a fire in the fireplace on the Friday before so the fact that Sunday rolled around to be a scorching 83 degrees Fahrenheit was downright providential. It was the PERFECT day to have a party at the pool. In fact, I doubt we could stand being anywhere else.Harry-Potter-Birthday-Pool-Party-Friends

Pool parties are easy. You know why? Because you don’t really have to do anything. Just throw in some pool toys, order a few pizzas and maybe bring a cake. That’s really all you need to do and at the end of the party all the kids will go home sun-kissed and exhausted.

But of course that’s not how we roll. We go big or go home!

We made pool noodle brooms, aka The Aqua Nimbus 2000: They are very good at hovering over water and then bucking you off into a big belly flop of a splash. The kids had a blast with them, and then afterwards used them to mop the deck. (Just kidding. There was no mopping.)

Harry-Potter-Birthday-Pool-Party-aqua-nimbus-2000

We made butter beer (skipping the sweetened condensed milk in favor of whipped cream out of a can, because come-on, who’s gonna deal with that sticky mess at the pool?). It was a huge hit. It looked nasty like a pot of kombucha or something but that didn’t stop the kids from sucking it down in their miniature plastic beer steins (aka coffee cups ordered from Party City that I customized with a Joon’s Butter Beer Pub logo.)

Harry-Potter-Birthday-Pool-Party-butter-beer

And of course edible wands (cookie sticks) and Levitating Lemonade (aka regular old lemonade in a neon green cooler that broke half an hour into the party. Note to anyone planning a party like this: Do not buy this model of a cooler from Party City. Do not be tempted by the el cheapo $16 price tag. It is junk and you will rue the day. The knob broke off the top the minute I touched it and the spigot broke during the party, leaving everyone to ladle lemonade out of the top with a paper cup. It was super messy and super stupid.)

Don’t you love a good back-story? Here’s some more:

Harry-Potter-Birthday-Pool-Party-snitch-pinata-2

How did we make the giant snitch piñata? With paper maché of course! I did it very much the same way I created the giant cat toy piñata for Bug’s black-cat-themed seventh birthday party but this time I took my time and applied FOUR coats of newspaper and flour-water paste over the span of a week.

It was so much more solid than the cat toy. Awesomely solid in fact. I could have rolled it down the street if I wanted to and it would have held up. But it was also very big so in order to make it strong enough to hold the 20 pounds of candy and prizes we needed to stuff the piñata with, we had to create a macrame holder from string. Otherwise the pure weight of the piñata would have busted off it’s top.

Payam and I worked very hard on this thing. We haggled over how to make the wings for hours. We tried all kinds of wire (you should have seen Payam stripping tv coax cable which unfortunately didn’t work either) before we finally found the right gauge combined with a small piece of a wire clothes-hanger to keep it just stiff enough. Then I covered the wings with gold tissue paper and cut the feathery bottom. We sprayed the whole thing with gold spray paint.

Harry-Potter-Birthday-Pool-Party-snitch-pinata-3

I also made some baby snitches (or actual-size snitches) for anybody who might want to play quidditch in the water. Those were made from ping pong balls, wings cut from duct tape and hot glue, of course. Hot glue is my spirit animal.

Harry-Potter-Birthday-Pool-Party-snitch-pinata-4

SMASHING SUCCESS! That thing was so satisfying to smash. It broke just the right way, like smashing a big hardboiled egg. Everyone got a good thwack and then the birthday girl got a second turn to really whale on it before all the candy rained down on their heads.

Harry-Potter-Birthday-Pool-Party-snitch-pinata-5

Joon’s mom made a really cool Harry Potter cake with a chocolate fondant sorting hat, broom, glasses and even a tiny, super-cute, red-and-yellow stripped Gryffindor scarf.

Harry-Potter-Birthday-Pool-Party-cake

I think this kid is loved. Don’t you?

Harry-Potter-Birthday-Pool-Party-Joon

Joon is TEN!!! Can you believe it?!!  This is the best age. I used to worry that Payam and I rushed into living together too soon but when I look at our girls and how they get along so well most of the time (while bracing for the hormone-riddled teenage years) I am so thankful. These are the best years. I love this family that we have created so much! Sorry to gush, but you know how I feel. It’s just probably been the best twisty turn I’ve ever taken.

Harry-Potter-Birthday-Pool-Party-Berties-Beans

And last but not least, I leave you with a closing shot of Joon giving Payam a rotten egg-flavored Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour jelly bean. Yes, we totally re-posed that shot because I wasn’t quick enough to catch the original but let me tell you, that belly laugh is real.

Love you Joon!

Grass Valley, The Buddha Embiggerment Project and other News…

grass-valley-1

Another month goes by and I have been busy! Time to report!

My friend, Teri, and I flew up to Grass Valley (via Sacramento) last week and visited my friend and fairy godmother, Susan. It was a business trip disguised as a girl’s getaway which means we visited the spa, sipped wine and tea, ate at all the good restaurants, shopped in groovy downtown shops and talked our heads off deep into the night. I think we got about four hours worth of work done but those were concentrated hours!!!  And a baby business was born so there’s that! I’m sure I’ll share more on that later. Maybe more later than sooner but things are always cooking around here.

grass-valley-2

Susan took us to the Ananda Gardens in Nevada City to see the 15,000 tulips they planted this year.  Fifteen thousand bulbs!!! Not all of them came up because of the crazy rains we had this year and other challenges but they were AMAZING. Like they always are.

Ananda is a meditational retreat seeped in spirituality which has been kind of a theme with me lately, even though I do not subscribe to woo-woo in general (being raised the way I was).  I do, however, connect deeply with the thousands of happy-faced tulips covering the terraces and hillsides and that powerful sense of peace and quiet you feel when you stand on the edge of  a vast ravine. The sheer compounding of atmosphere in a space like that is overwhelming and beautiful.  It demands respect and reverence.

grass-valley-3

We tripped around downtown, tucking into shops for trinkets to bring back to our girls. I swear every shop in Nevada City has a yoga studio sound track playing and crystals dangling in the windows, catching rainbows. It’s not a bad mental state to be in. I wish Southern California could get a little more of it’s woo woo on sometimes and a little less of it’s stress and traffic and real housewifery. It’s very beautiful there and everyone seems to be an artist or a connoisseur of something delightful. I could definitely see myself living there someday.

buddah-1

Speaking of woo woo… I’ve made some progress on the embiggerment of the Rockin’ Buddha painting. I busted it out a few weekends ago and now only have the details left. It was a blast to paint. I got lost in the movements and swirls of the paint and kind of forgot what I was painting. I might put a light wash over it to bring down the garishness of the colors. It just feels a little loud for our living room. I didn’t mean to make such a big Buddhist statement with it. I was just trying to replace the artwork Payam already had there.

Sadly, I think some of my relatives (and friends) who are devout Christians have found this painting offensive which I never meant it to be. It doesn’t feel that way to me, even though I was raised to believe that any idol or graven image was a portal for Satan to come into my life and wreck havoc. And here I am painting a giant one for my living room!!

I have mixed feelings about it. I may or may not keep the giant Buddha in the living room. Right now (s*)he feels very happy and pleasant, like she’s rocking out to The Weekend and she wants you to come stay awhile and stop being so afraid that bad things are going to happen.

buddah-2

In other news, Payam has been rocking at the woodworking. He’s been making some beautiful things!  He’s also had some health issues and is on blood thinners right now which sends me into a deep state of fear every time I hear him fire up his bandsaw. I’m sure you can imagine all my daymares.payams-striped-coasters

Thankfully, he has not cut himself and he humors me by wearing gloves, big sturdy construction worker boots and being very very very careful all the time. But still I am a mess worrying about this.

payams-woodworking-branding

We’ve been tightening up his branding which I LOVE. He has a logo that is now on a branding iron and he can brand all of his wood pieces with a searing hot logo. It’s very cool but also difficult to get just right so you can imagine the carefulness it takes to brand a cutting board that you spend hours and hours working on and is made from expensive materials. No pressure! OR more accurately, JUST THE RIGHT PRESSURE! Just right. Then we wrap it all up in salvaged coffee bean bags I found and ship them off to customers. It’s been fun!

mothers-day-jewelry-boxes

What have I been making? I’ve been making lots of stuff. Mostly our house has been full of pink boxes, ribbon and pretty silk flowers for this Mother’s Day jewelry box craft we did for alphamom.com. (Do click through and watch the movie, I worked hard on it!) It’s funny because I needed a jewelry box which is what prompted this craft and now I have about five. Payam also bought me one from a thrift store that he is refinishing. (It’s really cool and has yellow velvet from the 70’s which I LOVE.)  Now I just need another dresser to display them on! I’m not complaining though.

home-front-news

And, and, AND!!! Big news alert!!!  WE ARE GOING TO LONDON AND WALES this coming fall. With the kids! Can you believe it!? Seriously, making friends with a travel agent was my best decision ever.  Of course, the next trip I plan needs to be to the country of Payoffyourcreditcards but I am really happy that we can have these experiences and especially with the kids. I love travel. I am happiest when I am planning a trip or a party! Bring on the adventure!

Speaking of parties… you knew I was going there! Joon is having a Harry Potter-themed birthday party in a few weeks and I am in my favorite mad-manic party-planning mode. I love the challenge of combining a pool party with an unlikely theme like Harry Potter. I’m thinking terry cloth robes made from long burgundy towels I find somewhere cheap like Walmart, white helium balloons that look like owls, flying envelopes as a garland and of course brooms made out of pool noodles! Bring it on! Underwater Quiddich anyone?