I can’t believe nearly 3 months have passed since my last blog post. It has definitely been a crazy time at the jkwdesigns household. But let’s be honest–when is it not??? I went on an amazing trip to Cambodia with my husband in March, then to my 14 year college reunion in April (my VERY first solo trip since having children–7 glorious kid-free, husband-free days to relive my youth–hahaha!), then my husband was gone for the entire month of May for a work trip, which really sucked, by the way… And why are the weeks leading up to the end of the school year so absolutely chaotic?
And it’s not like my kids truly understand the meaning of “summer break” since this was their first year of school. In fact, they told me that they didn’t want kindergarten to end. They just wanted to keep going to school. On the work front, I had the honor of designing the graduation program and the baccalaureate service program for Seoul American High School, and there have been so many baby showers lately! I’ve also been working on a new bridal/wedding stationary line for my delightful. Etsy shop, AAANNNDDDD… On top of that, TEACHER APPRECIATION GIFTS!!!
My boys have 8 teachers, so it really needed to be something that I could make relatively quickly and that wouldn’t break the bank. For their homeroom teacher, the amazing woman who spends 6.5 hours with my children, 5 days a week, we did something extra special, because, really… How do you thank someone for loving and guiding and teaching your children while also creating a wonderful and safe environment that is fun and exciting and filled with laughter? I don’t think it’s possible to express the depth of my gratitude.
***But you can try with this FREE PRINTABLE! Just click on the image to view it in full size and download. It’s an 8×10, so you can either print it on 8×10 photo paper or on letter sized card stock and trim the edges, frame and give it as a gift to your favorite teacher(s)!***
So with that impossible task in mind, I scoured Pinterest for gift ideas. I didn’t want to clutter teachers’ lives with more cute and nice, but useless junk or junk food or baked goods… I read several blog posts and articles written by teachers that talked about gifts they didn’t need and gifts that they would actually love. On several lists were the PERFECT thing for me as a crafter–personalized stationary. I sat down at my trusty computer and got started.
Some of the designs were easy because over the school year, I’ve gotten to know several of the teachers since I feel that as someone who doesn’t get paid to be there, I spend an inordinate amount of time at my kids’ school. Others were a little more challenging because despite wanting to capture both their style and their profession, I don’t know anything about their personal style. Still… I think they turned out nicely, and hopefully, the recipients enjoy them! I love writing handwritten notes, so I’d like to think that I’m doing my part to bring back the art of handwritten correspondence. 😉
February is a short, crazy month in the jkwdesigns household. Now that my big boys are in school, I have Valentine’s Day crafts, 100th day of school crafts, and the birthdays of all 3 of my children to celebrate. All within a week of each other. 🙁 I feel like I’m juggling 30 crystal wine glasses while doing the river dance.
When my boys asked begged me for a bowling party, I have to admit that I was a little sad. As a party planner, I had grand plans for a Jedi Academy themed party, complete with Jedi robes, lightsabers, training course and certificates of completion. Two minutes later, I breathed a HUGE sigh of relief because I wouldn’t have to worry about prepping all the activities and planning the menu. Feeling about 10 lbs lighter, I vowed to throw all my efforts into the invitations and party favors and got started.
And here’s what happened!
Inspired by other lightsaber invitations I saw on Pinterest, but absolutely unwilling to cut out individual lightsaber pieces and construct, I decided to go with a more realistic approach. Plus, hunting down card stock in various colors here in Seoul seemed like a waste of time. (I really, really miss Michael’s and AC Moore!) I did some research on lightsaber hilts and found that Yoda’s lightsaber would work best. It’s fairly uniform in width from top to bottom, so it would provide the width I needed to be able to slide a blue or green ray of light/paper in and out of the hilt. Using an image of Yoda’s lightsaber hilt, I adjusted the size to widen it without making it look disproportionate.
The lightsaber hilts are approximately 2 inches across, which leaves about 1.5 inches to work with on the inside once the pockets are constructed.
You can download the PDF file containing the adjusted lightsaber hilts (3 per page) here: Lightsaber Invitation
Print on card stock and cut the lightsabers out. You will also need to create a stencil of the cut piece in order to create the “pocket.” If you’re handy with the Silhouette cutter, then you could easily import the image and have your Silhouette do all the cutting for you.
The most tedious part of the invitation is creating the pockets for the blade. I used Sookwang tape or Scor-Tape, which is an amazing double-sided adhesive. I placed the adhesive along the edges of the lightsaber hilt (approx. 1/8 inch) and cut the excess adhesive off. This allowed me to make the pocket as wide as possible since I had very little room to work with.
For the blade portion of the invitation, I designed a long, narrow invitation strip and printed half in blue and half in green (because I have twins who insist). And the result was an absolute hit. The kids–mine and the recipients–were thrilled with the invitations, and many of them went so far as to bring their lightsaber invitations to the party.
Our local bowling alley is all set up for parties; however, as part of the party package, the only food that you’re allowed to bring in is a birthday cake. Everything else must be purchased from the bowling alley. And the options are very limited. As in what toppings would you like on your pizza limited. So pizza and fruit punch it is.
The rental is for a 2 hour party: one hour of bowling followed by one hour of food and cake. We’d been to enough parties at the bowling alley to be familiar with the set-up, and the bowling portion of the party is enough to kids occupied, so there really was no need for planning any other activities.
I did, however, create an activity placemat for the tables, just so it wouldn’t be so bare. It contains a blueprint-type coloring page of the Millennium Falcon and a personalized word search that includes my boys’ names. There are some great word search generators online–here’s one of my favorites from The Teachers Corner.
It’s no secret that I like simple, bold design, and since this party was for MY kids and not for a client, I was able to go with my very own personal style. Luckily, my boys don’t really have opinions on this sort of thing, and they were just so excited that everything was Star Wars-related that I received no complaints. 😉
So as my design style goes, I stuck with black, white and gray with a splash of yellow. Since I couldn’t bring in my own food, it limited my party styling. I kept the cake table pretty clear because I definitely wanted the cake itself to be the center of attention. The cake was made by an incredibly talented friend of mine who will be in Seoul for the next few months, so if you’re looking for a cake designer, let me know and I’ll pass along her information!
Almost all of my decorations were made with the help of my trusty Silhouette Cameo. I cut Jedi Order symbol stickers (in white) and applied them to black paper cups. I cut white star stickers and applied them to a black plastic tablecloth which was hung on the wall for the backdrop. I cut additional Jedi Order and Rebel Alliance symbols from black poster board and placed them on the yellow napkins on tables. The “Welcome Young Jedi” sign was also made from sticker letters cut with the Silhouette. Seriously, I love my Silhouette.
The only other decor item that I designed for the party is the birthday banner, which you can download here for free! This includes the Jedi Order symbols. Just print on card stock, cut, punch holes and string together!
Since I had decided early on that I was going to put all my efforts into party favors, I knew that I wanted to make personalized t-shirts for my boys’ guests. However, I knew that many of them would be coming with younger siblings. Then, I got to thinking about the people I really wanted to thank for coming, and that was PARENTS! So here’s what went into the party favors:
For the Jedi Masters:
Each of the guests received a personalized t-shirt, which was created using heat transfer paper. I’ve worked with heat transfer paper before in the past, and I don’t love it. The finished product doesn’t typically hold up very well in the wash. The image cracks, and the colors fade. However, on the bright side, if you’re going for a vintage look, it’s perfect! 😉
Younger siblings received a glow stick/lightsaber favor, which actually ended up being super popular with ALL OF THE KIDS. Luckily, I had so many glow sticks left over from our Valentine’s Day project that I’d made extras so there were enough glow sticks for everyone.
Last, but certainly not least, I made gourmet chocolates for the parents! I had so much fun with this, and I’d actually been preparing to make these for quite some time, experimenting with recipes (particularly the raspberry ganache recipe) until I came up with one I liked. My husband and I ate A LOT of chocolate during the experimenting process. A LOT. But I think the end results were well worth it! And of course, the Darth Vader and Stormtrooper molds were perfect for the dark and white chocolates. The molds are available on Amazon.
**EDIT 1/28/2016 – The Star Wars chocolate favor tags are available for free here**
May the Force be with you!
Disclosure: This post contains links to products on amazon.com. These are products that I purchased and used for my own projects with no compensation. However, if you click on the link and purchase the product, I will receive a small fee from Amazon.com.
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jkwdesigns.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.
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Life has been (as usual) a bit crazy and hectic at the jkwdesigns household. My husband was away on a business trip for two weeks, and again, as usual, the timing couldn’t have been better. :-p With all 3 kids’ birthdays in February as well as Valentine’s Day and all the crafting that (obviously) has to happen… Thankfully, today wraps up the Valentine’s crafting, so now I just have to make it through the next 4 days to bid farewell to this year’s birthday festivities. Then I can breathe. I can’t wait to share photos and some free printables from the boys’ Star Wars (surprised??) themed birthday party.
Until then… Here’s a little (free) love to hold you over. 😉
Happy New Year from Seoul, South Korea! I can’t believe it’s been so long since my last post–the past month has been an absolute whirlwind of activity. As a mother of kindergarteners, I have experienced my very first Winter Break, and let me tell you… It wasn’t pretty. My boys were BORED OUT OF THEIR MINDS and craved the daily activities, the friends, and the stimulation of school. In the meantime, I was running around like a crazy person trying to make sure that everything was PERFECT for Christmas, mostly because I know that we only have a precious few Christmases before my kids stop believing in the MAGIC of the holidays (see previous post).
So basically, this control-freak, Type-A mom was desperately trying to make sure that EVERY. LITTLE. THING. was in perfect order. By the end of their two-week reprieve from school, I was just about ready to kick them out the door and return to the (relative) calm of our day-to-day routine. Except we had friends come for a 12-day long visit with their incredibly adorable 9 month old baby, which made me even crazier because I was basically smacked in the face with baby fever and the slightly depressing (but also exhilarating) realization that I would never again have a sweet little baby to snuggle and nurse and make completely ridiculous noises and faces at–just for a perfect gummy, toothless grin. My husband commented several times within the first hour of our houseguests’ arrival that I was acting like a crazy person. He only stopped teasing me when he realized what a lunatic he looked like every time he got a hold of the baby. After a few hours of baby time, both the husband and I agreed–thank goodness we’ve both been “fixed” or we’d TOTALLY be talking about having another baby! My youngest would beg to differ though. She was not terribly pleased with mommy’s attention being diverted to the new baby in the house. 😉
Anyway, with all the excitement in the house and the fact that I was pretty much blinded by the baby cuteness, I completely forgot that the boys’ first week back in school was MY WEEK TO PREPARE CLASS SNACKS! I remembered as the kids were leaving for school Monday morning, and since the commissary is closed on Mondays, my options were limited. I sent my husband to the shoppette/liquor store and literally told him, “I don’t care what kind of junk it is. We have to send SOMETHING!” Feeling my crazy-mom panic, he assured me that all would be fine, and he wouldn’t let on to Mrs. S, the boys’ teacher, that I had forgotten.
Since Day 1 consisted of Cheez Its and Rice Krispie Treats (the pre-packaged variety that I will assume absolutely no responsibility for thanks to my husband’s self-sacrifice in the name of marital bliss), I had to step up my game and make up for my failure to deliver fun and nutritious snacks for my children and their classmates because this is the type of thing that only a crazy lady would worry about. Tuesday, I was able to deliver fruit from our local produce market (bananas, apple slices and clementines). Monday is really The Worst Day for the commissary to be closed. 🙁
Since I was (finally) able to get to the store on Tuesday, Wednesday, was more fun for me to put together, and much more fun for the kids to eat! When my boys came home from school, they were super excited to tell me about what a big hit the snacks were and what they built with their grapes, pretzels and cheese sticks! Small cubes of cheese would have worked well too as well as crackers of various sizes and other fruit (blueberries, strawberries, banana slices, oranges, etc.). So here’s a simple little printable to throw in the baggie along with edible “building” supplies!
For Day 4 of my frantic snack-making, I decided on my boys’ all-time favorite treat–S’mores. But without the fire and melted marshmallows, which seasoned s’mores-lovers may balk at, but thankfully, my audience consisted of a bunch of 5 year olds, so no one complained about the lack of dangerous, hot, burning embers in the classroom.
Delicious make-it-yourself mini s’mores can be made with Teddy Grahams, mini marshmallows and chocolate chip morsels. As my boys would say, “Easy peasy!”
Click here to download the mini s’mores printable: Mini Smores
And finally, to round out my week of snack-making hell fun, I made cheese and veggie muffins. I had originally planned to make these delicious and nutritious muffins for Thursday and give the kiddos the mini s’mores as a Friday/End of Week treat, but I failed to remember (until after the groceries were purchased) that my miserably small Korean oven can only handle one muffin pan at a time, so I needed the extra time to bake 4 dozen muffins. And please excuse my lack of a photo of the muffins. I was too busy taking photos of a certain adorable 9 month old. 😉 But you can take my word for it–they’re pretty and colorful!
Cheese and Veggie Muffins
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 diced red bell pepper
1 cup frozen corn (defrosted)
1 cup frozen chopped spinach (defrosted)
6 slices of white bread (cut into small cubes)
salt and pepper to taste
Makes approx. 1 dozen regular-sized muffins
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray muffin/cupcake pan with non-stick spray. Do not use paper cupcake wrappers. The paper will stick to the muffins and will not come off easily.
2. Thoroughly combine all the ingredients in a large bowl.
3. Spoon mixture into muffin pan.
4. Bake for approximately 20 minutes (or until tops of muffins are golden brown).
Easy peasy! 😉
I actually have no idea how well these muffins went over with the kids. My children will eat anything and everything, including spinach and red bell peppers. However, the cheesiness of the muffins mask the taste of the (healthy) veggies, so I’d say there’s a decent chance that non-veggie lovers would be willing to give it a try. When I make these muffins for my family, I also add BACON because… well, bacon. Just chop up some cooked (but not crispy) bacon and add to the mix.
Now that my houseguests have gone home and my week of snack responsibilities have ended… I can return to the lunacy of the everyday that is my life with three kids. 😉
My husband has always been impossible to shop for. Several years ago, I forced him to put together an Amazon Wish List, so whenever a birthday or holiday rolls around, I go to his wish list and buy him a few things from the list. Not terribly fun or romantic. This year, his wish list is sparse. Only 2 items! One of which is a really expensive computer/network/high-tech item (I don’t even know what it does) that he specifically told me not to buy because he’s not ready to set it all up yet. :-/ Gee… Thanks! So in a sad attempt to make sure that he has SOMETHING under the tree to unwrap Christmas morning, I bought him some socks and underwear.
After some thought though… I decided to make him something fun. Something that I know he’ll get a kick out of. Something unexpected! And since so many of my friends have been talking about how hard it is to shop for their husbands, I’m sharing! 🙂
Presenting The Naughty and Nice Coupon Book! It’s pretty self-explanatory. 😉
The free printable is a 2-page PDF that includes the two pages pictured above. Just print it out, write in things you’re willing to do for the special person in your life, cut them out, punch holes, tie with a ribbon and VOILA! You’ve got a fun-for-the-both-of-you gift!
It no secret that I love to craft. From knitting and crocheting to sewing and kid’s crafts, I enjoy everything about it: scouring Pinterest for ideas, shopping for materials, thinking of ways to make things with upcycled materials, designing and making something pretty and useful out of scraps… But most of all, I enjoy making things for other people. So several years ago, when friends asked me to make things for their kids or for other friends’ babies, the business side of jkwdesigns began. And it’s been lots of fun! I love that my clients love the things I make enough to refer me to their friends and trust my skills enough to request something vague and let me run with it.
When it comes to crafting, my favorite part–hands down–is the design process, so figuring out how to turn something like a cartoon character into a hat is what I love the most. From My Little Pony’s Princess Celestia to Optimus Prime and Bumblebee and of course, this season’s favorite Queen Elsa and Princess Anna…
Over the past couple years, I have truly been blessed with more business than I can handle. Usually, during the winter months, I am completely buried under piles of yarn, and my hands can’t knit and crochet fast enough to meet demand. And, sadly, I have come to a point where I feel a bit overwhelmed with my never-ending To-Do list, and although I still love to make things for people, as I forced myself to pick up the crochet hook after getting my kids settled into bed, I realized recently that something HUGE was missing in my crafting life. I no longer have time to just make things and give gifts to loved ones–which, for me, is the most rewarding part of crafting.
I craft for the love of the craft, but I also do it because I love to give gifts. Earlier this year, I started a Craft It Forward challenge to spread handmade love. And it’s the end of November. I’ve only managed to send out one gift. That’s not enough handmade love from me! I’ve also not had time to write and post the tutorials for the Transformers hats–I know MANY people are waiting for it! There are countless other patterns that I want to write–both for this blog and for my Etsy shop. I’ve been wanting to work on some new Star Wars themed decor for my boys’ bedroom. And now that my boys are in school, there are so many things I would like to do for their class and for their school. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day for everything. So it’s time for me to make a change.
For the love of the craft, I have decided to stop making handmade items for purchase. I want to focus my work on design and pattern writing. I want to make gifts for friends and family. I want to dedicate some more time in the kitchen working on healthy and delicious meals for my family (we were doing so well during the first half the year, but with the boys starting school and hat orders coming in, it’s been a real challenge lately!). I want to sew some curtains for my daughter’s room. I also want to continue loving the craft and not feel overwhelmed by the list of items I have to finish for paying clients. I plan to complete the orders that I’ve already taken, then spend time making gifts for some very special people in my family’s lives and focus my time and energy on the craft and not the business. When it comes to the business side, my graphic design and event planning work with delightful. has been flourishing, and unlike knitting and crocheting, it doesn’t take hours and hours of work to produce a single item. Also, because my delightful. work is ALL about the design process, it’s been much more creatively fulfilling for me.
So, readers, stay tuned! New patterns and printables (both free and for purchase), lots of giveaways, recipes and more are on their way! 🙂
The month of September was a difficult one for my kids and me. Don’t get me wrong–my boys have been having a WONDERFUL time at kindergarten, and they’re thriving, but it was definitely a month of transitions and of mommy being stretched reeeeeeeally thin, at times. My husband was traveling for work for half the month, so I had to do everything alone. This wasn’t the first time he’s traveled for work, but it was the first time I was home with SCHOOL-AGED children. Getting kids ready for school, dropping them off, picking them up–all on a strict schedule–is exhausting. Really, really exhausting. And to top it all off, all 3 of my kids have been sick at some point during my husband’s 2 weeks out of town. Figures… :-p
Anyway, one way I’ve been able to squeeze in some creative crafting time during the past month while barely managing to keep my head above water is with my boys’ school lunches. Something productive (that has to be done) and something pretty in one!
So here’s my month’s worth of fun (and easy) school lunches with brief descriptions of how I made them:
Some helpful tips about making school lunches:
Make a weekly schedule. It takes a bit of time to put a weekly meal schedule together, but it ends up saving time in the long run. Plus, it alleviates the stress of “WHAT AM I GOING TO PACK FOR LUNCH!!!” the night before. Here’s a free printable for planning a week’s worth of meals.
There are many, many tools to make your life easier such as cookie cutters, cute bento-box animal picks, rice molds, and nori cutters. Living in Korea, I have easy and inexpensive access to many of these items, but they’re also available on Amazon. For “specialty” bento box tools such as the animal picks and nori cutters, just do a quick search.
Prep as much as you can the night before. I usually prep fruits and vegetables the night before and stick the containers in the fridge. That just leaves rice balls and/or sandwiches for the morning. Keep in mind that some foods don’t reheat very well (such as the rice balls) so those must be prepped the morning off. Nori must also be used immediately after cutting. The humidity in the room will cause it to curl (or dry out too much) if you wait too long after cutting it to use it. This is why nori-cutters are so useful!
Leftovers are your friend! During the week, I specifically make a couple of dinners with leftovers for lunch in mind. Also, serve breakfast for lunch. Kids won’t mind! One of the biggest challenges for me is thinking about lunch-appropriate meals, but who says they have to eat “lunch” at lunch time? Egg mari is a popular side dish in Korean cuisine, so I make it fairly regularly for my kids. It’s basically just a sliced up omelet. I also make bacon, egg, cheese and toast muffins, which are technically a breakfast food, but the kids love it. They’ll eat it for breakfast before they go to school, then eat it again for lunch the same day. 😉
For me, packing my kids’ lunches is something I enjoy doing. If you don’t enjoy it, don’t do it and don’t stress about not doing enough for your children! When I started posting photos of my kids’ lunches on Instagram, my friends began responding with things like “You’re making me feel like a crappy mom.” 🙁 First of all, my kids would be just as happy with a plain ham and cheese sandwich, a bag of chips and an apple EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. They don’t need or ask for variety. Secondly, by the time they open their lunch boxes at school, my cute little bento creations are a COMPLETE MESS. Their lunch box goes into their backpacks every morning. And every morning, they run down the stairs of our apartment building. They run from the car to their classroom. They may even fall down, roll down a hill, jump over puddles, do a few jumping jacks, or run an obstacle course on their way. I’ve joined them for lunch from time to time, and their bento boxes are utterly unrecognizable. So basically, their lunches are for photographic purposes only. 😉 I do, however, show the boys their lunches before I put their lunch boxes into their backpacks so it’s not a complete waste. Haha!
delightful. event designs by julia (that’s me!) has opened up a new Etsy shop where you can purchase and instantly download thank you cards and posters! I’m still working on making my party designs available in the shop, but it involves quite a bit of converting and compressing of files, and well… I’m working on it! 😉 I’d love for you to stop by the shop!
When a friend asked me to help her with her daughter’s Alice in Wonderland themed birthday party, I jumped at the chance! Alice in Wonderland is such a fantastically open-to-interpretation film that the possibilities are endless. We quickly decided on a general theme for the decor (which you can see over on the delightful. website), and I loved putting it all together, but there was something special that I just couldn’t wait to see the birthday girl dressed up in–an Alice in Wonderland dress!
I scoured the internet for other Alice in Wonderland dresses/costumes, but either they would take way more time than I had to make or they simply weren’t true to the Disney version of the dress. Mostly, my issue was with the shape of the straps on the white apron.
Alice’s apron doesn’t have “straps” OR ruffles…
The straps simply get wider as they get closer to the shoulder. And even though it’s a cartoon, and I know things translate differently in real life, I just love the simplicity of the Disney version of Alice’s dress. So… I had to draft my own pattern. Luckily, the birthday girl is the same size as my Penny, so I grabbed one of my daughter’s dresses and made a quick pattern for a dress.
I didn’t have too much time to work on the dress, so I really tried to keep it as simple as possible. One of the ways I toned down the complexity was to not add a waistband or shaping to the dress. It was going to be tied off at the waist anyway with the apron, so I didn’t need to create a bodice or any shaping around the midsection. For the sleeves, I hemmed the fabric while leaving enough room in the folded over fabric for 1/4 inch elastic. I made a simple Peter Pan collar for the dress, and rather than fiddling with a zipper or buttons, I just put an eye and hook closure at the back of the neckline.
Once the dress was finished, it was very simple to draft a pattern for the apron, especially since I could use my daughter to get the correct measurements. I simply drew the shape on a piece of paper, cut the fabric and got sewing! I searched for images of the back of Alice’s apron, but I couldn’t find anything from the back, the top of the apron is hidden by Alice’s hair. I just extended the straps and sewed the two pieces together at the back.
Here’s a photo of my reluctant daughter modeling the dress. She’s definitely got my-mom-sews-and-makes-me-try-on-everything-syndrome, and she hates trying stuff on for me. It usually involves tears and quite a bit of bribery. >_<
Finally, to fill the bottom portion of the dress, I made a simple tulle skirt to be worn under the dress.
And here’s the beautiful birthday girl in all her Alice glory!