Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Put Your Mouth Where Your Pin Is

You are all Pinterest junkies like me, right?  One of the many things I love it for is recipes.  I pin myself a boat load of recipes.  Now I will say they are not always a success, but I think that is true with many recipes sites and cookbooks so no fault to Pinterest.  But the thing is you never know until you try.  So I am trying to actually make some of those millions of recipes I have pinned.  What a concept...I know.

So this week I am trying out three recipes.  I have not yet tried them and they may be a hot mess but they all look so yummy that I think any fails may be the fault of the chef not the authors.

The first I am trying is in honor of my husband, the no-bean eater.  Beanless Beef Chili was a pin from a while back but actually comes from The Food Network.  And since I seem to be living in the Arctic I thought chili sounded perfect.  So here is the recipe copied straight from here.

Picture of Beanless Beef Chili Recipe

2 tbsp. canola oil
1 (2 1/2-pound) beef chuck roast, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 medium chopped yellow onions
1 tbsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 small chopped jalapeno pepper
1 tbsp. chopped garlic
1 (28-ounce) can chopped tomatoes
1 cup beef broth
Kosher salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste

1/2 cup sour cream
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. lime juice
1 tsp. hot sauce
2 scallions
2 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
Put a deep heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat and add the oil. Put in the beef, season with salt and pepper, and cook until it is well browned, about 10-15 minutes. Remove the meat to a bowl with a slotted spoon and discard the fat from the pan. Pour half the broth into the pan and scrape up any browned bits.

Pour this into the bowl of a slow cooker. Add the onions and put the meat on top. Add the chili seasoning, red pepper flakes, cinnamon, jalapeno, and garlic.

Add the tomatoes with their juice and the remaining broth. Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours. Taste, and adjust the seasoning. Serve garnished with spiced sour cream.

The next recipe I am going to try out are Chicken Gyros.

Chicken Gyros with Tzatziki sauce

Don't they look awesome!  This recipe is from a blog called Basil.  (Love that name!)  And you can find the recipe here.  Or right here...

Chicken Gyros

2 chicken breasts, cut into strips
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon oregano {dried}
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon onion {powder}
1 teaspoon salt
  • In a bowl or bag, place all of the ingredients together and mix well. Marinate for up to 2 hours.
  • Once ready, place the chicken on a grill {I use a George Foreman} or in a pan and cook for about 3-4 minutes per side.
Tzatziki Sauce

1 cup cucumber, finely chopped
1/2 cup greek yogurt
1/4 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon mint
1 teaspoon cilantro
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt

  • Mix all of the ingredients together and let sit for at least 1 hour before using.

pita bread
tomatoes, sliced
red onion, thinly sliced
tzatziki sauce {recipe above}

  • Take a piece of pita bread and layer with the lettuce, chicken, tomato, red onion and tzatziki sauce.

And last but not yummy least is Greek Yogurt Blueberry Banana Bread from No Sugar Sweet Life.

Greek Yogurt Blueberry Banana Bread.


1 1⁄2 cup
 Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
3 tablespoons
 Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
1 1⁄2 teaspoon
 Baking Powder
1⁄2 teaspoon
 kosher salt ((optional))
1⁄2 cup
 Brown Sugar (or 1/4 cup agave nectar)
1 teaspoon
 Vanilla Extract
  Large ripe bananas
6 ounces
 Chobani Vanilla Greek Yogurt (or Blueberry)
1 cup
 Blueberries (fresh or frozen)


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Start by combining flour, baking powder, salt in a large mixing bowl.
  2. In a separate bowl, mash bananas with a fork until they are gooey and liquid-like.
  3. Add eggs, vanilla and brown sugar… mix thoroughly.
  4. Add greek yogurt
  5. Whisk until everything is well combined and there are no lumps.
  6. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, and mix until just combined.  At this point, fold in the blueberries.
  7. Pour batter into a greased loaf pan and distribute evenly.
  8. Put into the oven and bake for one hour, or until the top is golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean.
  9. Transfer to a cooling rack and (try to) let the bread cool for at least ten minutes before slicing.
Yeilds 12 Slices

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Goodbye Blogger, Hello Wordpress

So I have made a big blogging decision and I am kinda scared.  This may mean absolutely nothing to non-bloggers, so I apologize if this doesn't compute but I am making the big switch.  Bye bye Blogger...hello Wordpress!

Let me start at the beginning.  When I first started Mission Decorate I knew nothing about writing, designing, maintaining, all that stuff about a blog.  And for me Blogger was the perfect home.  First of all it is free.  And how was I to know that 306 posts later I would still be doing this.  (Let me say I did purchase my domain name right away, which is why I don't have "blogspot" in my URL.  Which I HIGHLY recommend doing if you are starting a blog and the name is available.  It is maybe $10 a year.)  Blogger was also a good decision because it is very straight forward and easy to figure out on your own.  It has served me very well.

But what began as a side project has grown into something I love, dedicate a lot of time to and truly wish to grow.  And that is why it is time to say goodbye to Blogger and take the Wordpress leap.  There are endless reasons why people prefer Wordpress to Blogger or vice-versa and I am not about to claim to be an expert, but I will say my main driver is design capabilities and plug-in options.  But if you want to read more I thought this post from The Painted Hive is very well written.  I also like this list of pros and cons from Lovin' From The Oven.

So once my decision was made to make the change I then had to decide how I was going to do it.  It is very possible to do this conversion yourself.  There are actually great e-books out there that walk you through it, like this one from Addicted to Blogging.  But in addition to the conversion I was also hoping to get some design help to change the look of MD.  And that is why I decided to seek out help.  I researched high and low, in every price range, offering every service and made the decision to work with Stephanie at Dirt and Lace Designs.

It may sound silly but just committing to someone has been stressful.  Mission Decorate is my baby that I have built from the ground up and it is hard to hand it over to someone even if it is just for a day or two.  And one of the most redeeming qualities about Blogger is that I know how to use it!  I have no idea how to use Wordpress.  I have watched videos and it looks pretty straight forward but eek.  I am pretty computer savvy and I know I will figure it out but it is still scary.

Now I still have some things to do before the big conversion can get started including selecting a host (which is why Wordpress is not free).  But I wanted to keep you all in the loop because although this wont make a big impact on your Mission Decorate reading (hopefully the site wont be down at all during the switch), it will make a big impact on my Mission Decorate writing.  So wish me luck and I will keep you posted on the progress.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Art Activity Of The Month Club

Back in October I introduced you to my friend Kerrie in this post.  Well in January I received this email from her...

Hi Mamas,
Happy New Year! As the weather keeps getting colder, I am realizing there will be quite a few days where we will be inside and searching for something new and exciting to do. A while back I saw an ad for an art activity of the month club where you subscribe and each month they send an art project in the mail. It was pretty expensive though and another friend had the idea of getting some moms together and doing it on our own. I thought of each of you because of your child's age and the possible interest in something like this. There is absolutely no pressure to do it.
What it entails:
Sending an art activity to each person on the list on your designated month (probably 2 times per year).
You can be as creative as you want. You can come up with your own project - you just need to send everything the person would need from the glue to the tape so that once they get it in the mail they can get started. Or you can buy an art project kit from the store and send it. It will be some work on your month, but the other months you can just sit back and wait for a fun project to arrive in the mail.
Depending on who is interested the projects will need to be geared towards 2-6 year olds.
Again, no pressure, but if you are interested send me an email with your address.
I will organize the lists, send out reminders and will be in charge of the January project (coming soon!).


Um, hello, brilliant!  So you know I jumped right on this!  Kerrie assigned months and put together the address list as well as sent out the first craft.

We got our craft in the mail and I set it aside.  But then a couple of weeks ago we were trapped inside in a huge snow storm (kinda like today, actually) and pretty much driving each other nuts.  And I cannot tell you how happy I was to have that craft all put together and ready to go.  My daughter and I spent the afternoon making popsicle stick frames and snowflakes and it was so much fun!

So I wanted to share this idea with you as I thought you might just want to put together an Activity of the Month Club yourself.  And I also wanted to give a big shout out to Kerrie cause this is just brill.   

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Grown-Up Valentine

Dear Husband, if you have opened this post STOP NOW, shut your eyes and back away from the computer!  

OK, now that that is taken care of...I wanted to share the really fun grown-up Valentine I have made for my husband.  And as I have shared in the past, Valentine's Day is not only love day for everyone but it is also my husband and mine dating anniversary.  Yup, this February 14th my man and I have been in love for 12 years.  WOW!  So I wanted to come up with a Valentine / Anniversary Gift that wrapped all that up in one.  And I think I did it with this card / art I made at PicMonkey.

As you can see the background is a map of Colorado featuring Boulder,which is where my husband and I met.

I printed it on glossy card stock and plan to frame it.  From there I'm thinking it would look great in our upstairs family gallery wall.  But of course it is his gift so he can put it were he wants.  (Stop laughing, that is kinda true!)

This is also an easy idea for just a card (doesn't have to be framed).  So if you want to make one yourself follow this link to my PicMonkey Card How To.  And where did I get the map?  Google Images!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back Or Something Like That

Remodeling projects, no matter how simple they seem, are ever well...simple.  In addition to the light fiasco, we also purchased a new faucet, knobs and mirror for the main floor bathroom.  The fixture arrived and we tried to install it this morning but of course it did not fit.  So we boxed it back up to ship it back and went to Manards (the Mid-West's version of Home Depot.  We have Home Depot too.  I mean we aren't barbarians.)  And actually found something that looked good and actually fit.  I guess the "fitting" part is crucial.  So that was one step back and then one step forward.

Hubs working hard to install the new faucet...

Sorry ladies, he is all mine!

We also bought new knobs for the bathroom cabinets.  And those were a slam dunk the first time out the gates.

So we will call that one step forward.  (Or do two knobs count as two steps?!?)

Next we splurged and ordered this awesome mirror from Pottery Barn.

Kensington Pivot Mirror, Regular, Antique Bronze finish

It also arrived this past week but when we went to install it this morning it had a crack.  Booooooo!  So one more step back.  We called Pottery Barn right away and they will have another one in the mail tomorrow.  I was hoping to get some kind of credit or discount on my next purchase since the crack sets us back at least a week.  But after consulting with her supervisor the woman on the phone said "Let's get the mirror shipped out to you.  Make sure you are happy with it and then we can address your request."  Translation - we are expecting that you wont take the time to call us back in a week when you get the new mirror so hopefully we will get out of this without giving you anything.  Lame-o!

So the status is we have a new faucet and knobs and we are waiting on the new light and mirror to arrive.  And that officially takes the tally to one step back...one step forward...another step forward...and a giant mirror step back.  As I said, never simple!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Easy Valentines

"Love Day" as my daughter calls it, is right around the corner.  And for us this is our first year of having a class to give Valentine's to!  Now my daughter only has 8 kids in her class so the idea of making our own Valentines isn't that overwhelming.  I understand it may be a bit different if your kiddos have 25 kids in their class.  But this is a really simple project that you can get the kids working on and you probably have most of what you need already at home.  

All you need is paper or cardstock, yarn, a hole punch and pens or crayons or stickers to decorate with.

Start out by making a heart template out of paper.  Fold a piece of paper in half, cut half a heart and open it up to have a full heart...you know how to do that.

Next use the template to cut out hearts.  You will need twice as many hearts as Valentines you want to make.  I cut 16 hearts to make 8 Valentines.

I used paper I already had in my craft supplies and decided to do solid paper on one side and a print on the other side, but this isn't necessary - just use what you've got.  You could even use paper bags or wrapping paper or gift bags.  This is a great project to recycle stuff around the house!

So now that you have cut all your hearts, put two together and start punching holes.  Do not punch holes in part of the top of the hearts because this is where you want to leave it open to create your pocket for candy or other little goodies.

Cut a long piece of yarn and lace it through the first hole and make a knot so it wont go anywhere.

From here let your kids take over.  My daughter loves her lacing game and that is all this is!  

Actually, her version looks more like this...

Tie off the yarn at the end and start decorating.  

You can write the kids name's on the Valentines, decorate with stickers or glitter or anything you would like.  Fill the Valentines with goodies and you are ready for Love Day!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Failure With Enthusiam

Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm - Winston Churchill

Well, it is true - I failed.  But as Mr. Churchill suggests I have not lost enthusiasm, instead I gained some knowledge and even some confidence.  So what did I fail at?  The light.  The bathroom light I recently told you about.  No, I did not burn down the house.  As a matter of fact the confidence I gained comes from the really good job I did installing the light.  It turns out it was just a bad design choice.

You see, I am not thrilled by the basic 2 or 3 bulb vanity lights.  The design just doesn't appeal to me.  So I reached outside the box by ordering this galvanized outdoor light from Lamps Plus.  

Barn Wall Urban Galvanized Outdoor Wall Sconce

And I still love this light.  But see here is the problem.

No, I didn't lower the ceiling and cut off the top half of the room...that is the lights doing.  I mean it is obvious now.  A light bulb with a non-translucent shade aiming straight down well gives you light shining straight down.  Darn it.  And no, there is no other light in the room so it just doesn't work.

So it may go back in the box to be shipped back to Lamps Plus or we might just keep it because we really do like the light.  We shall see.  But in the mean time I made a new purchase and although it is exactly what I didn't want I have come to the conclusion that function sometimes needs to out way form.  And it doesn't hurt that I found something I actually really like.

It is almost 3 times more expensive then the first light (uggg) but it will look fabulous, especially with the other fixtures we ordered (that just came in yesterday!).  So the Campaign Triple Sconce from Restoration Hardware won out in the end.  And at the very least now I know how to install it when it arrives!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Pretty Box

Isn't it funny where our inspiration comes from sometimes?  I was shopping with a friend (Hi Anna!) a few weeks back, actually getting everything she needed for her daughter's birthday party and we were snooping around the dollar bins at Target for goodie bags.  (Don't you love those dollar bins that they sneakily put right at the front of the store so you can't help but stop and look.)  And we found what we needed but I also spotted this...

It is wrapping paper, but don't you just love the pattern.  And it was one dollar.  Now I had no idea what I was going to do with it but I loved it so I bought it.  Correction...Anna bought it.  I had no cash and was to embarrassed to pull out my credit card for a $1 purchase.  Now don't get me wrong, I would have done it but she was already buying a bunch of stuff so I suckered  her into buying it for me.  (Don't worry, she earned good karma for it which you will see if you keep reading.)

A few days later while on a shopping trip to JoAnn's I picked up this box for about $4 I think

and a bottle of matte Mod Podge.  Which, by the way, I thought was Modge Podge until I did this project a while back.  I followed the tried and true rules that I found on this website when attempting my first Mod Podge project and I think it came out looking pretty snazzy.  Oh yeah, I said snazzy!

And I added some robin's egg blue to the inside with paper I found at Michael's.

So now you are wondering about this karma thing.  Well, as I type the finished box is in a gift bag sitting on Anna's front porch.  There is nothing better then giving pretty things to wonderful friends.  (A wonderful friend who buys you dollar bin goodies!)

Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Dark Side Of The Bathroom

The light that I ordered for the bathroom just came in and I am SO excited!  But before I can get that baby up (and show it to you) there were a few things that needed to be taken care of.  The first of which was saying goodbye to this 80's beaut...

Goodbye little buddy!  But here was the thing, it is the only light in the room.  Do you see the problem?  To take it down I had to turn off the power but with no power I had no light to take it down.  Ahhh things are never simple.  

And speaking of never simple, I was home alone doing this project.  The hubs is in 80 degree Miami and I am stuck in feet of new snow schools closed lovely Madison.  I ran downstairs into the very depths of our basement to shut off the power but of course the circuits where not labeled correctly and the one named "hall bath" did not turn off the power to the hall bath.  Usually no prob...one person stands in the bathroom, one goes downstairs and turns things on and off until the other yells "that one"!  But nope, I had to switch off one circuit,  run upstairs and around the corner to see if the light was still on, run back downstairs and try another one.  I ran up and down the stairs 11 times (yes, I counted) before finding the right circuit.  U-G-H!   

OK, but back on track.  So finally I turned off the power and then I had to search around the house for light.  After a few laps I headed into the garage and grabbed these babies.

Wondering what's up with the dark pictures?  Well, see the thing is when a room is dark, the pictures are dark.  Sorry!

So in the romantic light of the camping lantern I took down the gold monster.  Goodbye.  Goodbye.  Luckily no huge problems taking it down.  The screws came off.  I did remember to remove the light bulbs first, just in case it came crashing to the ground.  And I even saved all the pieces so I can pass this baby on to the Habitat ReStore (which is also where the mirror is going).  

But of course a boomerang project developed.  You know, a project that happens when you start one project and then another project comes up that has to be done to complete the first project...a boomerang project.  In this case the boomerang project came because of these

Huge screws where holding the fixture to the wall and huge holes where for some reason needed for those screws.  No idea why.  I had never fixed a hole in the wall before.  But hey, no time like the present to learn so I went to eHow and found this tutorial on how to patch a hole in drywall.  And happily I already had all the supplies I needed except the self-adhesive mesh tape.  But all that took was a quick trip to my local ACE.

As instructed, I cut a piece of mesh tape and adhered it to the wall.  I put the spackle over it and let it dry.  The next morning I lightly sanded it and used spray texture to match the rest of the room.  Damn, I am good!

I know, great picture huh?!?!  But you don't see two holes on either side of the wires anymore, do you?

So the wall is ready for the new light.  And I will let you in on a little secret...I just put the light up and I love it!  But I'm not quiet ready to show it to you yet.  However, I will say I still have all 10 fingers and my hair is not standing up on end.  An electrical success (and my first electrical project, may I add).  So go ahead, pat me on the back and say good job :)  

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Displaying Kid Art!

Way back when, I created this photo wall in my daughter's room...

It was a really simple project.  I went to the ribbon isle at JoAnn's and bought that thicker cording that is kinda like the good old boy scout belts.  Do they still wear those horrible things?  I also bought a little fun frilly ribbon to coordinate.  I cut slits at both ends of the cording, strung the frilly ribbon through and tied the frilly ribbon to create a loop.  I put two copper nails in the wall and strung the cording between them.  I attached pictures with some painted and some plain clothes pins and it was a great way to display cute pics in my daughter's room.

But I was recently sitting in her bed reading her a book and started thinking that maybe it is strange for a 3 year old to have a entire wall of pictures of herself in her room.  Hmmmm?  Is that odd or am I just odd?  Well, that's a whole other topic.  But maybe it is time to change it up.

Ever since she started school my daughter comes home with piles of papers.  Many of them "art" that I have no idea what to do with or honestly what they are.  I put them on the fridge for a day and then when she isn't looking I sneak them to the trash.  (Horrible mother, I know.)  But as she has become a big 3 year old in recent weeks I am trying to get her more involved in decision making so I thought maybe I could turn her picture of me wall into my art wall.  And when she brings home a new masterpiece that she wants to add to the wall she can decide what comes down and what stays.  What do you think?

So I snatched down all the pics and put them in a keepsake pile, which btw I need a true home for at some point - add to the project list.  And I have started putting up her art.  The very first to go up is my very favorite because it is her first ever scribble...

...and I was smart enough at the time to put a date on it so it is a great keepsake.  But as the art comes in it will go up and eventually rotate out.

And as I think about it, this idea was inspired by The Happiness Project idea of "be a treasure house of happy memories".  For a DIYer there is nothing better then the bargain of home made art and for our happiness there is nothing better then displaying things that fill your heart with wonderful thoughts.  So this project is a two for one deal, how about that!?!?!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Happiness Project

Have you read this book?  The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.  It is not a new book.  It came out in March of 2011, but it seems to be popping up in places again so I thought I would check it out.

The Happiness Project

As the full title explains The Happiness Project is a book about why Gretchen spent a year "trying to sing in the morning, clean (her) closets, fight right, read Aristotle, and generally have more fun."  It is not the story of a woman who leads a miserable life, who is unhappy and needing a huge change.  Instead it is about a woman who is a lot like many of us.  She loves her job, has a great marriage and two pretty awesome kids, but even so she often asks herself if she could do better, live better and treat others better.

Have you ever asked yourself these questions?  Are you sitting around waiting for "when this happens" or "when that happens" you will be really happy?  Don't we all do that?  I know I do.  And along the way I take out my grouchy moods and unnecessary stress on the people who matter most to me (read - my husband).  Oh and one of my biggest faults - everything becomes about the to-do list and the good stuff just slips on by.

Well, I am not her publicist and I have no monetary connection to Mrs. Gretchen Rubin but reading this book is really making me think and act in a happier way.  And that right there is worth selling!

the happiness project

She also writes a blog and you know I like me some good blog.  You can check it out on her website here.  She seems to be half way through a 21-Day Challenge right now, which I know nothing about but I'm sure it is great.

So let me know if you have read this book and / or read her blog.  I would love to hear others' experiences with their own happiness project.       

Monday, January 28, 2013

Mirror Mirror Off The Wall

Birthday week is over and now it is time to get back to business; Bathroom Business.  I last left you hanging a little with this post.  What to do?  What to do? Do we work with what we've got (wainscoting, new fixtures, paint) or  do we go all the way (tile, tile, tile)?  Well the final decision is somewhere in the middle.

No, we are not going to tile.  A decision that is not only more budget friendly but also more hectic life friendly.  Sometimes you just gotta say no, even to yourself.  But we did decide to take one more giant leap.  It was a leap because the move left us with some uncertainty.  It seemed simple enough but who knew what lied beneath.

Yup, you guessed it - I'm talking about the mirror.  The big builders mirror with gold brackets.  Now there are many options for updating a mirror.  One used a ton in DIY world is framing out a builders mirror like Sherry and John did at YHL.  Or you could order a custom frame from Mirror Mate.  (I've never used them but I hear great things!)  But even though we have been warned against it we decided to go all the way and pull that sucker down.

(Yuck, bad pic...sorry!)

Well hold on.  I need to be honest with you.  When I say "we" it isn't really "we".  We got help.  We asked a friend who is very handy to help us pull the mirror down and tackle the mess that lay beneath.  My thought was we would do it together so next time I would know what to do.  But schedules got crazy and timing wasn't working so he snuck in when we were gone and pulled that baby down.  So that picture you see above is what my husband and I came home to Saturday afternoon.  Pretty awesome, right?!?!

Now I have read and been told that pulling down a builders mirror can be a nightmare because of one word...glue.  There is really no good way to figure out how much glue was used and what damage it will leave behind until you pull that baby down.  We got pretty lucky.  No huge chunks of wall came off and no huge holes were left behind.  It will take three coats of mud (allowing 8 hours to dry in between coats) and a coat of texture to match the rest of the wall but that is minor compared to what could have been left behind.  So win for us!

So what is going in its place?  No final decisions have been made but I have been pinning away and I like these 3 from Home Decorators Collection who just so happens to be having a bed & bath sale right now!

Reflections Mirror I

Keys Bath Mirror - to country?

Artisan Mirror

Is it funny that I haven't even showed these options to my husband yet but you all now know what I am planning?!?!  I guess he will just have to read my blog ;)  So tell me which you like best, I just can't decide!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Dora Backpack, Map & More

When hosting fifteen 3 & 4 year olds at your house I think the only way to survive is to plan an activity.  So that is exactly what I did for my daughter's third birthday party.  And as you all know by now the party was Dora themed.

I apologize that I am about to be wordy but I gotta explain a little.  Once all the children arrived and had a chance to play for a few minutes we gathered them around.  I told them how excited Kylie was to have them at her party and that she had made them Backpack treats!  But there was one problem...Swiper had come and taken all the treats out of the backpacks.  So if they wanted their treats they were going to have to follow the Map.

OK, so break time here for your "how to make a backpack treat bag tutorial"...

Here is what you will need:

Purple Bags - paper or cloth    I scored cloth bags at the dollar store - 2 for a $1
School Glue - the old school stuff
Red Paper
Yellow Paper
White Paper
Cream Paper

On the red paper you will print out the mouth

Those lines above the mouth are just left over from cutting & pasting and can be ignored.  

On the white paper you will print out the eyes

Same deal on the dots below the eyes.

On the yellow paper you will print out the eyebrows

Now, I am still trying to figure out how you can download and print the above sheets straight from here but in the mean time just email me at missiondecorate at gmail dot com if you would like me to email them to you (or if you know how to create the link I need, please).  I will send you the template and it will make your life much easier.  

The next step is to cut out each face piece outside of the black print lines.  You want the black lines.  This takes a little time.  When you are done just glue everything onto your bag!  

And remember, School Glue dries clear so don't worry if a little squishes out on the sides.  

Now for the map.  First thing, you will want to print the map face so it falls in the upper left corner of the page.  Haha!  I can't get the pic below to rotate so you are just going to have to look at him sideways.  But I am happy to email this to you and it is easy to rotate for printing.
Then take out a Sharpie and hand draw your map on a piece of paper.  Keep it simple, they are 3 year olds after all!  Mine looked like this...

Scan your drawing to your computer and print the map on the opposite side of the cream paper from the map face.  Now all you have to do is roll up the map so the face is what you see and tie a ribbon around it.  

One quick note - I decided to let the kiddos go to any of the three spots when they wanted, rather then go in a specific order.  I found this spread everyone out a little bit.  

Now you are wondering what my three stops were?  But before I explain that I also want to add that we dressed the birthday girl up as Dora for a little extra fun.  (It doesn't hurt that she already has the Dora haircut!)  

Pink Shirt found at JoAnns 
Orange Shorts which started out as leggings from Carters and my fab sister-in-law sewed into shorts
Yellow Socks oddly hard to find but eventually I found them at H&M
And Backpack found here
all these links take you right to the items I bought - told you I would make it easy :)

But back to the stops on the map...

First there was the Rainbow Cave - a room filled with all different color balloons.  Each balloon had a treat hiding inside and the Explorers had to pop the balloon to get their surprise.  (So sad, but I didn't get a pic of this.)

Next was Sparkle Lake - a kiddie pool filled with treats (with paperclips attached) and home made magnetic fishing polls ready to reel in the goods.

And third stop was Star Island - my home made paper cut out "island" with a cardboard palm tree to boot.  The kids got to make Dora Stars at this spot using foam stars, stickers, puff balls, markers and glue.

Once all the treasures where found lunch was served followed up by a yummy chocolate birthday cake from Costco.  Have you had their cake?  I don't normally like cake but this stuff is gooooood!  

My daughter agrees.

My other tips for hosting a successful toddler party at your house are...

1. Keep things moving.  Start activities soon after guests arrive.  Follow that right up with food and cake.  Then if the kiddos want to stick around and play they can do that for as long as they want.  But attention spans are short and nap / bedtimes creep in so don't take your time, get right to it.

2.  If guests bring presents hold off on opening them until after the party.  It is really hard for kids to sit still and watch someone else open toys.  They run around.  They grab the presents.  They just don't really get it.  So open the gifts once everyone has gone home.  Take pictures if you want and send them with thank you cards.  And then just be specific in your thank you notes so everyone knows their specific present was opened and appreciated.   

3. Can your decorations also be party gifts?  This happened by accident but it is something I will definitely remember in the future.  We decorated the play room with milar (sp?) balloons from the dollar store.  And as they left a number of little ones asked if they could take one home.  Heck yeah!  An extra gift for them and one less thing to clean up for me.  I take full credit for that brilliance.   

4. My last tip is to give people jobs.  If you can ask friends or family to help with a few things during the party then their is a much better chance of you actually enjoying it.  Assign picture taking.  Ask someone to get the cake out of the fridge at a certain time.  I even assigned my mom to lead my daughter through the activities so I could watch all the kids having fun.

Happy Partying!