Friday, December 28, 2012

Nora's Turtle Birthday Party

My little Nora turned 3 on December 27.  That's right, my youngest baby is now three.  It's weird.  And it's only getting worse.

Nora wanted a "baby turtle" party for her birthday.  You may remember when she was a baby turtle for Halloween.

I didn't have time to mail invitations to our family members, so I emailed them this invitation:

I had found this free digital invitation at

I could edit two of the text fields, but I couldn't change the part that says "It's a Baby Shower!"  Luckily, my husband is a computer nerd.  He found a way to make an image I could edit on my computer, and I created the above invitation for Nora's party.  I also used the turtle background for other parts of the party.  I loved that the turtle is pink and that there's an actual BABY turtle!

I looked and looked for turtle party supplies, and I could only find some for a boy baby shower.  Nora wanted them, even though they were blue and green.  I ordered her plates from Oriental Trading when I had a code for free shipping.  They didn't have the matching napkins, so I took Nora to Walmart and let her choose napkins.  She chose Disney princesses.

Nora's favorite dinner right now is stuffed pasta shells from Schwan's.  

Since they cost $11.15 for a bag that serves 8 people, I couldn't afford to serve them at the big family party.  I decided to make some from scratch, and I'll share my recipe in a later post.  My brother hates ricotta cheese, so I also made a meat-stuffed option.  I also wanted a kid-friendly option, so I made macaroni and cheese from scratch (using little shell pasta).  All recipes will come later.

Not only are stuffed pasta shells Nora's favorite meal, but they also work with the turtle theme in a way.  I decided to call them stuffed "turtle" shells!  I used the image from the invitation and added text boxes identifying the foods.  I printed them on cardstock, cut them out, and adhered them to clothes pins with double-sided tape.

I called the green beans "turtle logs."  They became affectionately known as "turtle turds."  I also served garlic bread with the pastas and green beans.

For dessert, Nora wanted cupcakes.  I found this awesome idea from Betty Crocker to make a turtle out of cupcakes.  A batch of 24 cupcakes makes two turtles, and the guests can simply pull a cupcake away from the formation rather than having someone cut and serve a cake.

Nora wanted a purple turtle and a pink turtle.

I made a batch of yellow cake mix and baked it in 24 cupcakes liners (12 purple and 12 pink).  I arranged them on my largest cutting board.  I frosted the shell cupcakes with chocolate frosting and the head and feet cupcakes with colored vanilla frosting.  Yes, I'm ashamed to say that I used a cake mix and store-bought frosting.  I put leftover frostings in zip-top bags, snipped the corner off, and "piped" the frosting out to make the faces and the details on the shells.  I could have made them much neater and nicer looking, but this party was a lot more laid back than usual since I'm exhausted from Christmas. 

I put out a tray of store-bought chocolate turtles (with caramel and peanuts), but I forgot to take a picture of them.  We also had ice cream.

We really didn't have many decorations.  I had picked up these wooden turtles at Hobby Lobby for less than $1 each.  They were just in the middle of the kids table.

The teachers at Nora's Wednesday morning church program had given us a turtle picture that they found on an old calendar.  We put that out as a decoration.  Nora wants it hung somewhere in her room now.

Nora wore her turtle shirt that we bought on vacation in Gulf Shores, AL.  She did NOT want jeans, so we agreed on some comfy leggings.  We gave her about 9 different options for hair bows, and she chose one from my cousin in Texas.  She also briefly traded in her bow for her birthday girl crown.

Nora wanted a pinata.  Since I couldn't find a turtle pinata, we agreed on a cupcake one at Walmart.  She actually loved it, which made me happy.  It cost half as much as all the others, which also made me happy.

Since it's too cold to do the pinata outside, we simply hung it up in our garage.  The kids put on shoes (and some coats) and we had lots of fun watching them whack at it.  We start with the birthday boy/girl and then go in age order from youngest to oldest.  Nolan got a couple pieces of candy out, Layla got lots more, and Gracen finished it off by literally knocking the bottom off.

She chose her princess snow boots as appropriate footwear for doing the pinata.

For Griffin's party, I had made treat bags for each child.  I filled the bags with toys and candy and put the filled bags in the pinata.  Unfortunately, some of the bags and toys got broken during the pinata beating.  So for Nora's party, I made the kids treat bags and put toys in them and set them aside.  Then when the kids started picking up the candy after the pinata burst, I gave them each their bag so they could add their candy to their bag of toys.

I started with the same cards I had used for the food labels.  I just replaced the text with the kids' names.

Then I stuck the name cards in quart size bags.

Then Nora helped me put the toys in the bags so they would be ready for the party.

Nora was funny opening her presents.  She really didn't show much emotion or response to them at all.  Jared read her cards to her, and she started to wander away if they were too long!

It was fun to have family gathered 'round to celebrate another year of Nora's life.  I hate that her birthday is so close to Christmas, and I feel super guilty for only making her party half as detailed as Griffin's was.  I just couldn't put any more time into planning her party because of the 57,000 Christmas parties and gatherings we had to attend.  I know she doesn't care.  I just hope someday she doesn't think I'm playing favorites!  She had lots of fun playing with new toys with her cousins and wrestling her grandpa and getting hugs from everyone.  She was super cute and very happy.  That's all that really matters.


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