DIY Paper Mache Fish ~ Under the Sea Birthday Ideas

                       I think I bite off more than I can chew with ideas for my girl’s birthday parties sometimes. But I have so much fun crafting stuff it’s hard to stop myself!

In my last post I shared our girl’s fourth birthday party. Let me show you how we made our big paper mache fish for our little one’s Under the Sea Birthday!

First, I had my helper tear newspaper into narrow strips for the messy part of this project. While she did that I made the form for the fish. I blew up a balloon, then raided the recycle bin for some cardboard pieces that I could cut the fins out of, then attached them to the balloon with masking tape.

Shred the paper make the fish form

There was a brief break for balloon madness…

Not going to paper mache, but play

Back to work ;-)

I then made the paste. This is very non-technical, mind you. I didn’t want to make a lot of paste for one fish (as I had to work in layers), so I mixed about a half cup of all purpose flour and about 3/4 cup of water, whisking the water in a little at the time until it was about the consistency of thin pancake batter.

Make the paste

I will say, if the paste is too thin it will cause the paper to tear and be hard to handle. If it’s too thick, then you have a gloppy mess. So you may have to play with it until you get a consistency that works.

I dipped the strips of newspaper in the paste and slide my fingers down either side (squeegee-like) to wipe off the excess, then applied them to the balloon and cardboard form.

Place the paper mache on the fish formI only applied one layer of newspaper, then let it dry overnight. It’s pretty humid here, so I set the fish up to dry in front of a little fan to help the process go a little more quickly.

Fish is ready to dry

I applied a second layer of newspaper over the fish the next day, and once it was dry I really thought it was sturdy enough. But if your feeling froggy (and have the patience), you could add one more layer to make it extra sturdy ;-)

Now it’s time to paint!  

The bearded fish painter

Wait, doesn’t everyone paint in disguise?


I let my girl go town on this part. She really wasn’t into helping with the paper application as it was too sticky for her liking (this coming from a kid that will help me peel shrimp…eww). We had four fish to paint, so she was busy for a while… 

Nearly naked fish paintingNow, using a balloon as a form is not without its faults. Not only did I manage to tape the fins on this fish below all wonky (it looked more like a narwhal or a unicorn), but the balloon leaked out overnight after I applied the first layer of paper. Not to be discouraged, I applied another layer of paper and painted it to look something like a unicorn. It was extra special ;-)

The NarFish craft fail

After painting, we had an assortment of googly and foam eye stickers that we used for the eyes. I hot glued some colored macaroni for fish lips.

I had my man push large safety pins through the top fin, then hung them on our line at the party with some ribbon…


  Big Blue Fish   Four Little Fishes

We gave some of them away to the guests as a little extra thank you.

These were so fun to make, and we are still enjoying them hanging up in the bedroom!

Next up I’ll share how I made our mermaid…that took some serious rigging and recycle bin digging!

Do your kids enjoy getting messy with crafts? What messes have you made lately?

;-) Anna-Leigh

Linked up to Today’s Creative Blog, The Sunday Showcase, Pinning for Play, Create and Share

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Under the Sea Birthday Ideas

It seems like this year, my girl’s birthday kind of creept up on me. I’ve usually had ideas and projects in the works for a couple months prior. But I didn’t even send invites out this year until about two weeks before her party…What!?!

This year she wanted to have a mermaid themed party. It kind of turned into more of an “under the sea” theme. While I didn’t get as much done/made/accomplished as I might have liked decor wise, all the youngin’s had fun, and that is what’s important!

I did want to share a few things that we made (tutorials to follow) because really these projects are so fun for the little ones to help with! You can’t go wrong with paint and paper mache…unless your kid is like mine and won’t touch the stuff, but that’s another story ;-)

We had her party at the park again this year. (I swear I’m saving my pennies from now until next year so we can do something where it’s air conditioned!) Fortunately, it wasn’t too hot, and we snagged a spot near the spray and play where all the kids could get wet and stay cool.

Birthday Girl is ExcitedSomeone was excited!

Running in the fountain copyWhen I was making decorations, I started out with some paper mache fish

Blue Fish Rainbow Fish

And my girl quickly decided that I needed to make a mermaid too.

insert crickets

Uh, yeah, so I wracked my brain and raided the recycle bin and came up with this beauty.

Paper Mache Mermaid at Under the Sea Birthday Party

I know, no hands, but come on, I tried! ;-)

I had seen some cool jellyfish on Pinterest. So I came up with my own rendition…

Jellyfish for Under the Sea Birthday Party

We tied a clothes line between two trees near our tables and hung the fish and jellyfish from it

We also did a photobooth again this year. I’m not sure where I was during all the dressing up. But by the look of the pile of dress up stuff left on the ground, it looked like someone had fun!

Mustache Girl

This year for cake I did some plain vanilla cupcakes and some strawberry cupcakes. Both with a pretty light blue icing and sprinkles that our girl picked out. I topped them with little gummy fish.

My girl wanted me to make a mermaid cake like the one I made last year. I really couldn’t figure out a way to make it work with cupcakes. Noticing that we had a ridiculous amount of rice krispie cereal in the cabinet, I decided to make a “cake” shaped like a mermaid out of a giant rice krispie treat. I iced her up in the likeness of our girl and there you go! Not too shabby if I do say so myself…

The Birthday Mermaid

Fun was had by all!

Family Photos

I’ll be sharing our craft projects soon! So make sure you sign up to receive my posts in your email box!

What kind of birthday fun have you had lately?

;-) Anna-Leigh

Linked up to Chic and Crafty Thursdays

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Baseball, Cotton Candy and Fireworks ~ #happyfamilysummer

Nothing says summer like baseball, hot dogs and cotton candy! And not too long ago we got to experience all three! We are big fans of our local ball team, the Charleston Riverdogs. Every time we drive through the “crosstown” section of downtown near the Joe Riley Stadium, our girl says, “I see the Riverdogs’ home!”

We headed out on a warm Friday night, grabbed some food and the cheap seats and settled in for some fun!

Welcome to the Joe

The girls at the ball game

Taco Herbs

Hot dog and fries

If you ever have the chance to go to a Riverdogs game, the food line up alone should be enough to entice you. Taco bar, bacon wrapped corn dogs, more hot boiled peanuts than you can shake a stick it…Yummmmy!

Our girl got to visit all her favorite characters, the Pig, Chelsea and Charlie Riverdog.

Pig and Riverdogs

We did battle a bit of the grumps, but what’s new?

The Daily Grump

I usually try to keep sweets to a minimum, as the wee one goes a bit nutty. But we all managed to share a bag of cotton candy this night.

Let the sillies begin!

Cotton Candy

Daddy started it!

Cotton Candy girl

Blue tongues

Am I messy mommy

Oh my! What a mess!

Evenings spent at the Riverdogs’ stadium are not without beauty too. I mean, what a sky!

The Ball Field

Sunset Behind the Ball Field

The Riverdogs had their rears stomped that night. (11-2 in the 8th, ouch!) Not the best we’ve seen out of the team, but they won the rest of the series, and that’s what counts!

We got stomped

By now the wee one is pooped…

Someone is sleepy

So we make our way back out to the car before the mass exodus post game.

Do you know what else Friday night baseball means?


Oooh Fireworks

Post game fireworks

Oh what wonders!

Summertime with family, fun and fireworks, what more can you ask for?

Summer is coming quickly to an end. What have you marked off your bucket list?

;-) Anna-Leigh



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My Green Thumb Has Died ~ The Little Garden That Didn’t

For the longest time I was relatively certain that I had been lucky enough to inherit a green thumb. I could grow just about anything.  Ficus? You betcha! Coffee plant? It grew to be almost 5 feet tall! Begonias, fuchsia, cactus, philodendron, orchids? All happy!

And then? Well I guess I could blame it on having a kid, or maybe it’s global warming rearing it’s ugly head. But I can’t keep a garden worth a toot!

I was so excited to start seeds and watch our lettuce and carrots grow! The thought of being able to step out back and grab a hand full of basil or cilantro was pretty awesome.  Fresh tomatoes and strawberries when ever we wanted sounded great!

Right…strawberries. Don’t they look great? lots of fruit growing here.

Strawberry Pots

They look lovely until you go to pick one…

Strawberry Before

Strawberry After


EWW!!! At first all I could see were centipedes crawling all around the plants and on the fruit. But eventually realized there were slugs helping themselves to the strawberry buffet.

My girl did spy one tiny strawberry that didn’t get eaten first by the slugs…

Yummy Strawberry

And let us not forget the toad making it’s home in one of the plants…

Strawberry Toad

That little booger scared the crap out of me when I was watering the plants one day. Jumped right out of it’s hole at me!

Bell pepper anyone?

Bad Bell Pepper

Yeah, I didn’t think so…

I tell you, one day the pepper plant was fine. About two days later it looked like that.

Lettuce, carrots and herbs?

Lettuce and Herbs

They look slightly happy here. But about a week (and then some) of rain and it’s all been pounded back into the dirt…no mas :-(

The tomatoes, I thought might have a chance…

Tomato Plants

But I suppose the rain got to those too. There were two very nice looking roma tomatoes…one of which rotted from the bottom up…I’m still hopeful for the second one.


On the bright side, the garden has made a lovely perch for some rather large and gnarly looking spider…GAH!


I zoomed in on that…didn’t want to get too close if you know what I mean!

Well, we tried! One strawberry and one tomato are better than nothing, I suppose ;-)

How does your garden grow?

;-) Anna-Leigh

Linked up to the Nurture Photography Challenge this week where the prompt is Green/Adventure.

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Sunset and a Super Moon #happyfamilysummer

The ocean makes for a great escape for me and my girl. We are lucky to live so close to the beach. I love to go out in the evening when the traffic is not as bad and the beach is less crowded. When emotions are of a high and aggravated nature in the house, I find that a quick trip out to the beach to decompress usually helps to clear the cobwebs.

You may recall that there was a super moon a couple weeks ago. Watching a sunset was on our Summer Bucket List this year, so I thought it would be fun to watch the sunset while we waited to see the moon. Throw a big ice cream cone into the mix and you have yourself a pretty fun excursion!

This Ice Cream is Messy Me and my girl with ice creamMessiest ice cream cone ever, by the way…

Then my girl took the camera…

Ruby takes the camera

The coast of South Carolina where we are is at an odd angle, so sunsets are toward the “south” end of the beach. I forgot this when we were going to the pier…there’s a mighty big hotel in the way, blocking most of the sky and the sunset…

The Sunset at Folly Beach

So I was hopeful that the moon would be over the ocean for easy viewing…but wait, what are those? Clouds forming?

The Folly Beach Pier

As the evening waned on the clouds were building, so I wasn’t too hopeful that we’d be able to see any of the moon. So we went about our business of frolicking at the beach.

No beach frolic is complete without a pair of butterfly wings ;-)

Butterfly Girl at the Beach

Butterfly Girl in the Surf

Yup, more clouds…

Folly Beach Pier

Little One on the Beach

So the sun was down, it was nearly 9pm, and the clouds had built up quite a bit. I decided that we just might not see the moon tonight. So back at the car, I was changing my girl out of her wet clothes. When what do I see? But a crowd of people all lifting their cameras up in unison, pointing eastward.

(I forgot to mention that everyone and their brother with a camera was at the beach, waiting for the moon to appear.)

So I get my girl situated, and grab my camera in just enough time to see it peeking through the clouds, a tiny sliver. I’d say it showed itself for all of five minutes before it became blanketed by the clouds again. But it came out just long enough for me to grab a couple shots, and get some oohs and ahhs from my girl…

Super Moon my phone

Super Moon Folly Beach

A perfectly big, perfectly golden moon…

Now we could go home happy ;-)

Sharing part of my Summer Bucket List and linking up to the Nurture Photography Challenge (Gold/Evening is the prompt this week).

;-) Anna-Leigh


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The Blue Background ~ Nurture Photography Challenge

Blue/Freedom ~ Nurture Photography Challenge

The day that my girl turned one was a busy day full of packing. We were leaving that afternoon when her daddy got home from work, traveling to Georgia for a family reunion. Now she did not travel well at all when she was tiny. Getting in a car with her usually meant lots of screaming and lots of tears, so long trips were few and far between. But we were going to brave it.

I had spent the morning making sour cream pound cake to take to to the reunion (I let the birthday girl lick the beaters). I let her open a few gifts and a card (or rather, tear them open).

Then as I was getting the last of our packing done, a piece of fabric on her dresser caught my eye. I had planned on making some cloth diapers for her (never happened, by the way) and had found this awesome two tone blue minky fabric. Super soft, super pretty…might it make a fun background for a photo? I tried it, and I love it. The fabric is really only big enough for a head shot. Trying to shoot a small person on a small background means you get to take lots of photos…most of which become out takes.

I love them all!

But I’ve photographed her every year, on her birthday in front of that fabric.

She turned four last week…


She has grown leaps and bounds this last year. I swear she’s going to be 14 before I know it. She’ll start school this fall. And you know who’s going to be in tears that first day, right? I guarantee it won’t be her ;-)

And now for some out takes…

Blue 3x4w

She is quite the character!

I’m joining in for the Nurture Photography Summer Challenge. Hop on over and check out some other inspiring images. You’ll be glad you did!

;-) Anna-Leigh


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Camping at Skidaway Island #happyfamilysummer

I am a bit overdue for this post, but the last month has been a bit of a blur. It seems that my girl’s birthday month just flies by with all the prepping I end up doing (and loving) for her birthday party. (More on that soon!) We’ve knocked a few more things off our Summer Bucket List and now it’s time to start sharing!

Earlier in June we took a little camping excursion down to Skidaway Island State Park, near Savannah, GA. We met up with some family and camped out for the weekend. I highly recommend checking out that park if camping is your thing and you are in the Savannah area. It is a beautiful park, full of education opportunities and lots of GeoCaching opportunities if you are into that sort of thing. Historic Savannah is a short drive away, as is Tybee Island if the beach is what your heart desires.

Our first evening there was full of setting up camp…our home for the weekend…

Camping 1

And getting reacquainted with cousins that hadn’t been seen in a while, and chilling out.

Camping 2

Camping 3

Turns out they have quite the raccoon population there. We had wandered over to a playground near our site, and shortly after, a dog chased this “little” fella out of a trash can and up a tree! See him just hanging out?

Camping 4

The kids also found creative ways to light up our site at night!

Camping 5

I think one of my favorite things about camping is cooking outside. While I didn’t do any of it this time, there was plenty to grub on!

My girl was up before the crack of dawn the first morning. So after a wake-me-up shower, we chilled out in our tent until everyone else woke up.

Camping 8

Did I mention my girl is my favorite barista? Thank goodness for Starbucks ice coffee packs (I’m not being paid by them, I just like them ;-) )

Camping 6

Early morning snacks…

Camping 10

Early morning snuggles…

Camping 11

And of course, a yummy breakfast with family!

Camping 7We gathered ourselves together and decided to trek over to Tybee Island, the closest beach to the park. It was about an hours worth of driving, and a nice little trip for the day.

Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH

Later in the day the crew wanted to search for a GeoCache at an observation tower that was on one of the park trails. It was a very pretty walk. I ended up carrying my girl in my carrier on my back for a good bit of the hike, she was pooped from the beach trip that morning. But she eventually perked up and trotted along.

Camping 14

We spotted pileated woodpeckers, tons of spanish moss and other critters…

Camping 13

Camping 15

Oh, and in case you didn’t know what a dead tree was…

Camping 16

Very educational! (hehehe!)

We finally made it out to the observation tower, and what a view!

Camping 16-1

Later that evening the park hosted a campfire with storytelling and s’more roasting. The guide was such a sweetie and full of information about the park. You could tell she really loves her job. We roasted our s’mores and were treated to a little “pixie dust” magic in the fire!

Oooo, pretty!

Camping 17

The next day, before we packed up our camp site, we wanted to explore the educational center that they offered. They have a decent collection of reptiles on display as well as artifacts found in the area. Apparently, a giant prehistoric sloth skeleton was found nearby in the coastal waters. That skeleton is now in the Smithsonian collection, but they have on display another skeleton (I think originally found in Florida)…and boy is it large!

Imagine walking up on this bad boy in the woods!

Camping sloth

Camping SLoth 2

This park is full of critters big and smallish….

Camping 19

 Needless to say we had a blast camping! It was a bit buggy, but fun none the less!

What have you crossed off your bucket list lately?

;-) Anna-Leigh


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Epic Water Gun Fight Challenge #happyfamilysummer

Last week, those of us with blogs that are contributing to The Happy Family Movement’s Summer Bucket List Challenge were given an extra challenge, to go out and have an epic water gun with the family.

Well, we accepted that challenge and all came out winners in the end…even if our mascara was running and the undies were left in the pool (WHAA???!!)

Saturday our little girl had her first dance recital. It was too stinkin’ cute! And to wind down after a long anticipated day, we filled up the kiddie pool, brought out the water guns, and soaked ourselves silly. Grandma’s included!

Note for future fights – no white t-shirts, no squirting up the nose, and I must teach my man how to focus and shoot my camera (so please excuse any technical photo issues as I have not fully trained my assistant ;-) ). And as for the junk in the yard? My landlord has a love for junk…not much I can do about the aesthetics.

Other than that, please enjoy!

Water Gun Fight Begins

Grandmas Water Gun Action

The Other Grandma Get her Water Gun

The Water Gun Fight Crew

Yup, just a little mascara was left after the dance recital…

Please Excuse the Mascara

Mama gets her Water Gun

Water Gun Fight with Mama

Choose Your Water Weapon

And this…

Filling Up

Quickly turned into a fully clothed slide into the pool…

Relaxing after the Water Gun Fight

Water Gun Fight Face

And well, when you’re that wet and that little, you just pull off those soggy bottoms before you go inside ;-)

The Mess After the Fight

How’s that for a challenge?!

I’m certain that won’t be the only time the water guns come out this summer!

How’s your Summer Bucket List coming along?

;-) Anna-Leigh

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Bee City ~ Summer Bucket List Challenge #happyfamilysummer

 This year for our Summer Bucket List I am hoping to take advantage of those places around us that just beg to be explored. We live in Charleston, SC, a pretty touristy area with tons of fun things to do. But I find that we don’t take advantage of that enough.

Since having our little girl, and becoming involved in kid life, I had heard/read about a place called Bee City. It’s about an hour outside of Charleston near a little town called Cottageville. I imagined tons of hives with bees a buzzing, but upon further investigation (check out the Bee City website) discovered that they have quite the little petting zoo and classroom space for learning all you can about bees. I thought I had read it somewhere on the site (but can’t find it now) that they had had numerous hives at one point, but only have an enclosed wall of bees for folks to observe. For safety reasons, I’m sure.

So grab a cup of joe and kick back, this is going to be one of my more photo heavy posts. There was just so much fun stuff there, it was hard to keep the photos to a minimum!

Welcome to Bee City!

Arrived at Bee City

Yup, grumpy face…that pretty much summed up the day. But you can’t say we didn’t try to have fun!

Upon paying to enter, you get two cups of food for the critters. One for the moneys and lemurs, and one for the deer, goats and llamas…I love llamas ;-) The first monkey we came upon was a naughty one. We put the treat in his cup and used the pulley to slide it to him. Well, the little furry booger was quicker than my girl and her finger rolled up into the pulley causing quite the boo boo…I guess that really set the grumpy tone! But moving on…

Feeding the monkey

The lemurs were awesome! There little fingers felt like velvet, our girl loved feeding these guys!

Lemur is Hungry

Feeding the Lemurs

Next we wandered through an area that housed an assortment of pheasants and peacocks. The last one in this bunch was quite the chatter box, carrying on a cooing conversation with our girl.

Three Pheasants

When we arrived a man told us Bee City now has two miniature cows in there collection. They looked like mini brahmas. And apparently have a prehistoric ancestry, who knew?!

Miniature Cow

Next were the jokesters, the goats. I really get a kick out of watching goats, there were babies that were just too cute! As we were feeding them, there were too adults head butting each other to get to us for a snack…as if they were starving, you know?

Feeding the Goats

I Want a Goat

I’ve always thought llamas were cool. Now I know for sure that I love them…maybe one day I would like to have one. My man on the other hand thinks I’m bonkers! But can’t a girl dream? They all look a little naked as they had recently been shaved. They were pretty entertaining all on their own!

Feed the llamas

The doe like llama

Yup, even daddy fed one! He said he swore that one was plotting world domination ;-)

Even daddy fed the llama

A herd of llamas

This one was my favorite!

My Favorite Llama

I’m not sure how well you can see it, but this guy definitely could use some dental work! Holy under bite, Batman!

The Llama needs dental work

Wandering on there was a nature center where they house an interesting collection of reptiles, amphibian and fish. The volunteer that was working in there had tons of information and was happy to answer any and all questions.

Biggest toad ever! Like bigger than your face big. I’m just glad it didn’t decide to jump!

Biggest Frog Ever

In a nut shell, snakes bug me out…even if there is some mighty thick glass separating us! Rattlesnakes, EEKK!


Look! We got one smile out of her ;-)

I told you she had horns

She even got a high five from this little alligator!

(Pardon the blur, I just wasn’t prepared for that one!)

Alligator High Five

Outside the nature center is a little children’s garden where they can pump their own water to water the plants. And even pump water to come out of the massive watering can!

Childrens Garden

The people running this place have quite the sense of humor. There were silly little boxes, signs and saying all over the grounds…

Rare White Bees

Rare white bees?

Hehehe, snort!

As I mentioned, Bee City doesn’t have hives that can really be accessed, other than the one open viewing window in their class room. But they do have a cute little “village” set up in the middle of the petting zoo.

Little Bee City

On our way over to the classroom the check out the bees we also passed some pigs, miniature horses, pigeons and a beautiful koi pond. Of which I have tons of pictures, but I’ll spare you…this time!

I would imagine that siting in on a presentation about the life of bees would be pretty cool. How they build their hives, make wax and honey. And how the honey is collected would be cool to learn about too. I guess since it was the weekend, there wasn’t really anyone around to give out much info. But there was a fair amount of signage that gave us some information.


You could actually see the wax on the bees legs in this enclosure. We never did find the queen. Her workers had her well hidden!

If you can see the tube in the bottom right of the picture below, it runs along the wall into a triangular glass tube that goes outside. That is how the bees move in and out. You could watch them fly off through the window looking out the back of the building.

Wall of Bees

Lots of Honey

That’s an awful lot of work for such a small amount of honey!

 Thank you, bees!!

More Beeswax

We could hear the bees buzzing…

Listening to bees

And of course Bee City has a gift shop. You could buy as big or small a container of the sweet stuff as you can handle. They also had candles and soaps made from bees wax. Fun stuff!

Honey Store

All grumpiness aside, I think we all had a great time. If you asked my girl what her favorite part was, I’m sure she’d tell you feeding the lemurs! I of course, loved the llamas ;-)


That’s one fun thing marked off our Summer Bucket List! And if you don’t know by now about the Summer Bucket List Challenge sponsored by The Happy Family Movement, take your little tushie on over there and sign up! You’re sure to be inspired to get out and have tons of fun this summer!

How is your summer going so far?

;-) Anna-Leigh


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