20 Harry Potter Party Ideas

February 10th, 2014

In the past, I’ve never been one to go to a lot of trouble or expense for my kids’ birthday parties. But last week my daughter turned 10 and made a special request for a Harry Potter themed party and sleepover with her besties, it’s all the rage among her group right now. I indulged her because frankly it was just so fun.

She and her friends are totally into these books and movies having read and watched them over the past few months. Her dad and I enjoy the stories and characters just as much, so together we got creative with a few ideas for her party and they turned out so cute I had to share. I also rounded up some other *brilliant* ideas spied across the internet in case you have plans for a Harry Potter themed birthday, dinner, or Halloween party in your household too.

1. Get Creative with the Harry Potter Fonts. I discovered the free Harry P font (download from Dafont) and made printable banners representing each house at Hogwarts, using these public domain logo images on the Harry Potter Wikia site for Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff, and Slytherin.

hogwarts house logos

I printed them on off-white cardstock and gave them Old World parchment look by burning the edges with a lighter. More Harry Potter fonts can be found here, download our four house banners seen below here.

hogwarts house banner


2. Honeydukes Treat Bags.  We have a fabulous candy store in our town that carries everything you can imagine so Honeydukes Candy Store treat bags made perfect sense. I filled clear bags from Michaels with gold & silver chocolate coins with a Gringots label, turned rock candy into “Exploding Crystals”, turned red thin licorice into “Dragon Veins” and a chocolate stone lookalike was Severus Snape’s “Sleeping Stone” causes extreme drowsiness – not from the books or movies just us having fun. Of course everyone wants official Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans – buy them online here. That fantastic treat bag label I downloaded from here.


honeydukes treat bags


3. Hedwig Owl Balloons. These are a MUST! This is not our idea, this one’s been floating (pun!) around the internet for a long time so we absolutely cannot take credit, it came from Lizzy Writes but I love this simple idea. My daughter copied the detail with a black and yellow marker and we scattered a bunch of them around the house and gave them out to all the girls.

hedwig balloons


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In Search of the Perfect Quilt

February 6th, 2014

When it comes to bedding (especially in the master where you sleep each night) you have to love your bedding, really love it, the look and the feel. It’s like picking an outfit you will wear over and over, it has to look good and feel great day after day, night after night.

We’ve enjoyed the same set of bedding for almost three years, neutral and lovely, but we’re ready for a change. We used to sleep with the flat sheet + quilt + duvet on top for extra warmth setup but I found switching them works better. Now I prefer the feeling of a flat sheet + duvet with down comforter next to skin and a quilt layer on top for pattern and warmth.

So, I’m on the hunt for a new patterned quilt to layer on top of a plain white duvet, stylish, elegant, and somewhat similar to these looks below. 

duvet and quilt


blue and green bedding bhg


I’m crushing on this Varkala quilt by Pine Cone Hill with a geometric pattern on top and a different motif on the reverse, a splurge for sure but I can’t get it out of my mind, it’s definitely a top contender.

Varkala quilt


The Ava block print quilts at Ballard Designs are fresh – they caught my eye in the recent catalogue and I have a code for 20% off, tempting!

block print ballard designs

If you spy anything similar in a block print or geometric motif, send me the link! I’m sticking with pale blue or green or gray colorway.

And if any of you are on the hunt for a cozy bedroom blanket, this Berkshire blanket is my favorite. I bought it last fall and now I carry it around the house with me like Linus. I must have it near me at all times in winter, it’s lightweight but so so soft and I can’t live without it, especially on a rainy day like today. Yay, it’s raining in California!   berkshire blanket


bedroom images via better homes & gardens 1 / 2


Stay warm everyone!

. .

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Vinyl vs. Laminate Plank Flooring

February 5th, 2014

My friends, I am up to my ears in plank flooring samples and could use some insight. We want to replace the stained Berber carpet in our studio above the garage and we’re finally ready to tackle replacing the flooring.

Originally, I thought we’d go with hardwood or engineered wood but the more we thought about it, we decided to go with a laminate or vinyl plank flooring. It’s a small studio, not used for anything other than extra storage and styling right now, but it will be occupied by a tenant in the future so we need durable good looking flooring in the bedroom/living area that flows into the kitchen (seen here), and potentially the bathroom (seen here) and a product that won’t break the bank.

I’m drawn to the weathered plank look in grayer tones, and the ones that look and feel more like wood are favored.

vinyl and laminate options

I’m really so surprised how far laminate and vinyl products have come in the past few years! So many of these really do look and feel like wood but bonus for those of us on a budget, they lack that higher price tag. Prices range from $1.50 for more basic products to $4.50 a square foot for more luxury products. We prefer to keep the price as low as possible, don’t we all :)

Thankfully these samples are all the easy click/lock together styles so the replacement doesn’t require professional installation and is simple enough for us (or any DIYer) to tackle. We will have to remove existing baseboards but it’s all very doable with an underlayment and the right supplies.

I like the feel of the laminate options, the samples I have are textured and feel more authentic given they’re a faux wood plank product. The boards are longer, the install is simple, but the price point is a little higher.

laminate flooring options

Then there are vinyl plank products, waterproof instead of water resistant so great for kitchens and bathrooms, but some of the cheaper ones are thin, lack warmth, and feel more like plastic to the touch. Will these vinyl options hold up better than the laminate?

vinyl flooring options

I’d love commentary from those of you who have installed and lived with either laminate or vinyl plank wood lookalike flooring.

How durable are yours? Are you satisfied with the look after living with the floors for a period of time? If they are laminate, how are they handling water in wet areas such as the bathroom or kitchen? Did you order from a local merchant or from an online source? Is there a brand of laminate or vinyl plank flooring or company you recommend? .


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