Thursday, February 17, 2011

Getting Our Craft On

Last night was the inauguration of my brainchild, my "big idea," my attempt at creating something worth doing and following.  Cocktails and Crafts!  Remember, if you want to host a Cocktails and Crafts event, here's how to do it.  The combination of some of my favorite things: hanging out with friends, eating yummy snacks, being creative with our kids, and having a cocktail.  Sounds like a great time to me!

And it was.  Thank you, dear friends!

I kicked off the Cocktails and Crafts season at my house, with best laid plans and a stellar craft, courtesy of my dear friend Beth, preschool director extraordinaire.  I decided to do Paint Popsicles, which were remarkably simple to make and very entertaining for Jax to watch me prepare.  We got them ready in the morning while Em was napping.  It took about twenty minutes.

 By the way I absolutely love this photo of him.

I bought regular Crayola kids washable paint.  Definitely should have bought the bigger size--I had some pretty teeny Paint Popsicles.  But half the fun was scooping as much paint as humanly possible out of those little cups and into... cube trays.  As you can see, pretty measly little Paint Popsicles.  So I improvised and pulled out my handy antibiotic syringe and added some water.  I think you should probably add water anyway, so that they melt more watercolor-y.  I'm not sure, since I would later accidentally sabotage these popsicles, which I will explain later.  Anyway, you wait about 45 minutes and then stick a popsicle stick in there as a handle.  Add some more water if you need a little more substance, like I did.

Then freeze and forget about them.  Easy as pie.

At this point of my day, I just wanted to be in full party-planning mode, but I still had lots of Mommy stuff to do, like feed the kids, play with them, get them to take naps, all before I could do hostess things like shower, get dressed, look normal, prepare the food, set up the house... The good thing was that I knew that these girls were used to seeing me as my normal less-than-glamarous self, so there would be no judgment, but I was planning on taking pictures and wanted everything to look nice.  Well, as they say, "the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry".  (Oh you didn't know that's what they say?  Or that that is where Steinbeck got the title of his novella, Of Mice and Men?  Well, now you know.  Some pertinent trivia to go along with your cocktails and crafts.)

Anyway.  Needless to say, an hour before I told people to arrive, neither kid had yet napped and I was definitely still in my pajamas.  My house was not set up.  The food was not prepped.  Em was screaming up a storm.  I was considering just sending a group text saying, "Cancelled" and calling it a day.  Isn't that always the way with kids?  But luckily, my considerate husband had come home to help out a little bit so by the grace of God I got my act quasi-together.  He got Em to sleep.  I got to shower and began getting the show on the road.  I bribed Jax with a bowl of grapes and Word World and threatened his life should he mess up the house.  He sat on a folding chair for the first time and thought it was the absolute coolest thing, so he didn't move a muscle.

So I'm dressed, Em is sleeping, Jax is occupied, paint is frozen, house is clean.  Food is being prepped and set out on cute plates and bowls that I used to use a lot before I had kids.  Almost done.  Almost ready for guests.  Then I ran into a roadblock in the form of this:

JDubbs made me buy it.  He said people like to dip broccoli in various types of dip.  I have no idea; I find just the sight of it repulsive.  No big deal; I don't have to like everything I serve.  Except, I didn't know how to cut it or what in general to do with it.  I swear that I called three people to ask them what to do with this hunk of vegetation, the last step before my food prep was complete.  Nobody answered.  The broccoli remained.

Luckily, the first friend to arrive (thank you, Katie!)  a) did not judge me b) likes broccoli and thus c) told me what to do with it.  God I'm an idiot sometimes.  Could I have wasted anymore time?

Now friends were arriving.  Kids were being stripped of coats and hats and mittens and boots.  Snacks were being distributed.  Toys were being strewn about.  A general clamor was escalating until there were eight toddlers, nine moms (yes, Katharine made her husband and sleeping babies wait in the car while she popped in for a cocktail; love her), and two babies (not including Em, who went out to dinner with Daddy) all crowded into our humble home.  And it was so great.  The feeling of being busy, of getting people drinks, of offering food and taking pictures, telling stories and laughing.  That's why I organized this.  A reason to get together.  To defeat the forces of winter who would have us stay inside and isolated, keeping to ourselves.  An excuse to burn some energy (and wear our blazers!  How cute is Catherine?)

After about an hour of pleasant chaos, it was time.  Time for cocktails!  Time to get our craft on!

The cocktail of the evening was a chocolate martini complete with mini chocolate chips at the bottom of the glass, getting all gooey and alcoholy and generally delicious.  Others drank wine and soda.  Lots of preggos and nursing moms present. 

Not me!  Chocolate martini, please!

Then it was time to craft, which became time to screw up those best-laid plans.  Time to sabotage my own bright ideas.

So remember how I stuck the popsicle sticks into the ice cube trays after the paint was quasi-frozen? Well, because I didn't use enough paint, they made these big fissures and cracks in the paint cubes.  I was scared that if I did the usual twist of the ice cube tray that the paint would crack into several small pieces and fall off the stick.  It probably would have, but I think it would have been a better choice than to do what I (after consulting the moms) did, which was to submerge the ice cubes in warm water to release them from the tray, hopefully in one piece.  It did that really well, but it also melted 75% of the paint cubes.  I had to quickly distribute them and the kids only got to paint with them for about one minute before they fell apart.  Kind of anticlimactic for the first big Cocktails and Crafts event.  I didn't even really get great pictures of them using the Paint Popsicles, it all went by so quickly.

Here's what I would do if I did it again.  I would just twist the darn ice cube trays and deal with what happened.  The kids would have been fine holding paint ice chips and painting with those if they had to.  I also would have had paint brushes and paper towels on the table.  Forgot about those.  And once the Paint Popsicles (quickly) ran out, I had to bust out the normal paint.  Should have had that out, too, probably.  Oh, and Beth said that if you sprinkle salt on the paint, it would have made it all glittery and festive.  Meant to do that.  Even mentioned it to the girls.  But did the salt make it to the table?  Nope.  Should have had that on there, too.  So, those are the notes you should take when you give this a try, or when I do this again (which I definitely will).  It's called preparation, you may have heard of it.  Apparently, I just throw caution and crafts to the wind.

So the kids ended up just painting the normal way.  Were they disappointed?  Not at all.  I'm sure they didn't even notice that this was not a crazy creative craft.  They were having fun and being messy and artistic. They loved it.


Present but not photographed were Stella and Colby, while Harper, Paisely, and Nia called in sick.  Can you imagine the chaos that would have been if everyone had come and everyone had been in the mood to craft?  It would have been great.

So Cocktails and Crafts Event #1 is in the books.  The disorganization was a product of my own making, and with a little time and some foresight it was almost completely avoidable.  I think if I had known what I know now, it would have gone even better, but that's part of the fun--being in the moment and making it work.  But I must say, I sure am glad it'll be almost a year before I have to host it again!  I'm ready to go to someone's else's house and get my craft on!  And I most certainly deserved that drink by the end of the night.

Thank you to everyone who participated and to JDubbs for all your help.  I had a fabulous time and am already looking forward to March!  Cheers!

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