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12th Birthday Party

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Yeah, it’s me. We are all moved into our new house and looking forward to visits from our friends. I know the promise of spending time with me is enough of a reason to make the trip. But Philadelphia has more to offer than my charm and wit.

Philadelphia has a wealth of history and historical sites. You could easily spend your days learning about the American Revolution where it actually happened. We have the Liberty Bell, Betsey Ross’s House, Independence Hall, The Constitution Center, Elfreth’s Alley, Valley Forge, and many more sites of historical significance.

Depending on when you come you might even get to experience a live action reenactment. They are having them somewhere around here all the time. There is also areas of civil war history and underground railroad history sites and reenactments.

Yep, Philadelphia really loves and appreciates it’s history. But we also have a pretty cool modern city too.

This is the view from B’s homebase in the Comcast Building, the tallest building in the city. I’m so jealous that he gets to work in the city and be near all the great shops and restaurants.

Downtown Philly is great for sight seeing, especially if you like art and architecture. This Swann Memorial Fountain symbolizes Philadelphia’s three major waterways, The Delaware, The Schuykill and the Wissahickon.

We also have Christ Church, City Hall, Eastern State Penitentiary and and many buildings by Frank Furness. Here is more info about the architecture of Philadelphia.

I love the old architecture of the city and surrounding areas. Building’s like this are common place.

This was someone’s house. Now it is a Catholic Home for Children.

An example of Victorian Architecture in Wyncote.

There are several castle type buildings in the area. This one of Chestnut Hill College.

Here is a list of 19 Beautiful Castles in Pennsylvania, many of these are close to where I live.

If you are also into art The Philadelphia Museum of Art is one of the largest art museums in the United States.  Many great artists are represented; Monet, Picasso, Dali, Rubens, Renoir, Van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec, Cezanne, etc.

The museum also has sculpture, tapestries, and other decorative arts as well as the second-largest collection of arms and armor in the United States.

For more art, you could visit the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, The Barnes, and The Rodin Museum.

It’s not Broadway but Philadelphia also has some great theaters, orchestras, and operas. All the big name bands and the small “alt rock” groups come here too. It’s a great place to catch a live show.

Besides being home to the first public library, post office, savings bank, university, and hospital in the United States, Philadelphia also had the first zoo. There is also an aquarium (um… over the river in New Jersey, but close enough). For kids there is also the Please Touch Museum.

For science lovers will love The Franklin Institute where Zoe and friend are pictured here, riding inside a flight simulator. The Academy of Natural Sciences right down the boulevard has collections containing more than 17 million specimens. There are several botanical gardens and arboretums to visit, as well as sites along with rivers, like the Seaport Museum.

If you are looking for something a little more unusual Philadelphia has that too. One of my favorites is the Mutter Museum which contains a collection of medical oddities. It is really gross but quite unique.

Laurel Hills Cemetery is a huge, grand cemetery overlooking the Schuylkill River, with over 33,000 monuments. It is really an amazing place to visit.

Literature buffs would like The Edgar Allen Poe House, The Rosenbach Museum & Library (which has the largest collection of the late, great Maurice Sendak’s illustrations and manuscripts), and The Free Library, who’s Rare Book Department features a Charles Dickens collections with first editions, personal letters, and Dickens’s stuffed pet raven, Grip.

The historic Eastern State Penitentiary is also open for tours and has an amazing Halloween event.

Other places of interest in the city are The Comcast Center, with it’s 2000 sqft television screen, Chinatown, the Reading Terminal Market (a truly fantastic farmer’s market), Rittenhouse Square and Franklin Square.

Philly is also fun for foodies. Every kind of food is represented, at every price point. Max Brenner is a favorite of ours. It is a chocolate restaurant and that is a chocolate hamburger with marshmallow mayo, raspberry ketchup, and white chocolate mustard and it is even better tasting than it looks.

If you know me then you know that my favorite place in Philadelphia is the Wissahickon Creek and the parkland that surrounds it.

It is kinda of ridiculously cool. The path along it is called Forbidden Drive. It has a cave that an early American mystic lived in. There is Devil’s Pool, Hermit’s Lane Bridge, Lover’s Leap, Ma Rinker’s Rock, a 15ft sculpture of a Lenape Indian warrior, many bridges, trails and ruins of old mills.

Forbidden Drive

Devil’s Pool

I think it is so amazing that you can just be walking on a trail and come to something like this. What is more amazing is that this huge wooded place is right in the city.

In Philly you can be driving in the city or a close suburb and suddenly find yourself in a rural scene, like a Revolution era barn, or a ruined structure of Wissahickon schist. Sometimes the wildlife comes right up to your door, like these deer in the front yard of a suburban neighborhood, or the red fox that was on our doorstep last night.

Speaking of our doorstep, come inside Gnarlwood and let us entertain you. B loves cooking for company and I love it when he does. You will too.

Right outside the back door we have the Coop/Scoop where we serve food off the grill and ice cream, as well the hot tub, and the pool. Come on in, the water is fine.

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For Zoe’s 11th birthday she got an acceptance letter to Hogwarts and a Hogwarts/Harry Potter birthday party. Zoe has loved the Harry Potter series since she was three, and we listened to the first book on tape. Soon she was reading them, over and over and over again. Then she was asking for the soundtracks for her birthday, and DVD’s of the movies, not to mention dressing up as Hermione and Bellatrix for Halloween, going to at least 3 midnight releases of the books, and participating in several other Harry Potter themed activities over the last 8 years.

This series has really been a defining presence in her life, as it has been for many other kids her age. Now the book series is over and all the movies have come out, but it doesn’t have to be the end. The World of Harry Potter lives on, and not just in Orlando.  You can throw a Harry Potter theme birthday party anytime, but the age of 11, when wizards and witches get their acceptance letter to Hogwarts is a particularly good time.

So, first thing to do if you want to throw a Harry Potter party is to get all your Halloween/ Harry Potter stuff out of storage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What do you mean you haven’t been collecting Halloween decorations for the last four years and Harry Potter things for twice that long?? Well, check and make sure, we are talking about candles, cool shaped bottles with “magical” labels that you can print from the ‘net., cauldrons, spooky looking books, dragons, etc. I got 90% of this stuff at Goodwill, especially in October.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I had this cool suitcase which I outfitted with some things from our Harry Potter gear, like her wand, Griffindor badge, S.P.E.W. badge, bag of galleons, and some magic books.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the party we had two crafts and two activities.  Our first craft was making wands. I bought some wooden sticks at Michaels, and a dark wood stain pen. I stained the rods and then, just to test the concept, I decorated a couple with glitter glue. At the party the girl got creative with the glitter glue and each decorated their own wands. Some used their “house colors”, they all made neat designs, and the sparkling glitter definitely gave them a magical look.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next craft I did, for our first activity, was to make some “quills.” I bought some colored feathers, at Michaels, and some small gel pens. I cut the tip off the feathers, took apart the pens, and inserted the tip with attached internal ink into the feather. It worked just like I thought it would and the kids LOVED them. In this picture is a reg. pen, which was too long for the feather.

Staples has mini pens that worked.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also bought them small inexpensive notebooks from Target, to be their spells books. The quills and spell books were used in our Charms class. I gathered some Latin roots from wikipedia and made a list like:

lumin-            light                    luminary, luminous
lūn-                Moon                lunar, lunate, lunatic
lup-                wolf                    lupine

The “students” put the latin words together to make their own spells and then we had a contest for the Most Ridiculous Spell, The Most Powerful, The Most Day-to-Day Useful Spell. The kids were really into this game. Some even described the wrist movements needed for the spell.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My favorite craft, and decorations was The Owlry. In Harry Potter World mail is delivered by Owl.  Harry’s owl Hedwig is a much beloved snowy owl. Zoe’s acceptance letter was delivered by the soft furry Great Horn owl, that she named Porridge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I found tons of awesome owl crafts online. You can find them too by googling “toilet paper roll owl,” “paperbag owl,” and “Paper Lantern Owl.” Here are some I made to populate The Owlry and a small collection of owls I got from Zoe’s stuffed animals and thrift stores:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The paper lantern owl was SUCH a fun project, and, since it is just an owl, you could pretty much do it anytime. Owls are really popular now too. I wanted to include a DIY  for how to make these cute owls.

What you need:
Small Paper Lanterns
Yellow scrapbook paper for feet and nose

Glue Dots to attach nose

Tape to attach legs/feet

More patterned scrapbook paper for wings

Tiny brads to attach wings

Scissors

Round sticky-backed scrapbook embellishments (2 for each owl) for eyes.

First I drew nose and feet on the yellow paper and cut them out. I didn’t want the girls to have to spend time cutting during the craft.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Again I wanted to do a proof of concept, so I made an owl for myself. I stuck some big flowery eyes to the outside of the lantern and used a glue dot to attach the nose.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I bought a small book of patterned scrapbook paper.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I cut one sheet of the paper in half and cut my wings out of that. And attached them with tiny colorful brads.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was a little tricky to open the brads inside the lantern because the lanterns were small and my hands not so much. I did manage but I had to do it for the girls. If you didn’t care about the wings being able to move you could just use another glue dot or two.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then I folded the feet like “nyah” and taped them onto the metal bar at the bottom of the lantern.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The girls seemed really excited about this craft. Seriously, they were like vultures for that scrapbooking stuff. It was scary.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is the finished craft. Aren’t they adorable??

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our last activity was a Divination Class with a tea leaf reading. I found some info about how to perform Tasseomancy online.

I covered a round coffee table with red fabric, bought a clear glass round light cover (50 cents at the thrift store), and draped some scarves over our folding screen to decorate the Divination class room.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I bought some loose leaf tea and performed the “ritual,” upended the cup, and then we tried to see our fortunes in the leaves. Of course, someone saw The Grim!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For some reason the kids were REALLY excited about this activity. Of course, I was TOTALLY making things up, but  I interpreted hearts, birds, pyramids, snakes, and letters of the alphabet.

Then it was time for cake. Look! It’s a Zoe Witch Cake. 😀

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chased down with some butterbeer. ❤ Yum!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And, if that wasn’t enough sugar the girls each got a trip to Honeydukes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was a fun party. Zoe has some really great friends, every one of them. And, the birthday girl had an amazing time. 😀

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