Crystal Madrilejos

Design & Creative

I mentioned in my last post that I’d post about the Totoro party, so here I am making good on that! The party, overall, was a success. Considering how little planning I did and just sort of threw some things together at the last minute, I was pretty happy with how the decorations turned out. If you aren’t familiar with the movie “My Neighbor Totoro,” you should check it out. Quil loves it (obviously,) as do Andrew and I
Also, BIG THANKS to my sister Maria for hosting and helping with decorating and making food and baking the mini-cakes. She is the best planner and most organized person I know. No family holiday or event could take place without her. The members of our family would all be arriving at different locations at different times and there’d be no food if she didn’t wrangle us all together! She really is “the glue” in our family.
Here are various photos of the different details. Totoro is a forest spirit so a lot of the theme was basically nature related. 
The table center piece consisted of faux-plants, dried moss, grapevines, fabric flowers, and flower stickers. I hot-glued dried moss to wooden boxes from the dollar aisle at Target, we then used as risers for the cakes. 
These wooden acorns were made from mini-wooden eggs found at the local craft store that I stained and painted to look like the acorns the Mei collects in the film. It’s hard to see in this photo, but they have a clear coat of gloss spray on them as well. 
Here is a wider view of the table with all the mini-cakes (there were five birthdays being celebrated. We have a big family!) All the faux-plants were purchased from a local craft and hobby store. 
In place of party hats, we had a few leaf hats based on the scene from the movie where Totoro has a leaf on his head to protect from the rain. These were pieces of felt cut in the shape of a leaf, with a little extra piece for the stem, hot glued to brown headbands.
We happened by this outfit for Ellis at Target randomly. It’s supposed to be a rabbit, but I thought it looked close enough to a Totoro costume to warrant its purchase. Plus, it’s just super cute. Target has that ability to lure you in with their low-prices and high-cuteness-factor. It’s a dangerous situation to go into when shopping last minute for a party!
This paper cut mobile was supposed to have three tiers, with Totoro at the top and then the two smaller Totoros (the blue and the white ones) hanging below. However, the pieces for the smaller Totoros were so tiny, there was no way I was going to be able to cut them out within a reasonable amount of time. Mind you, I was working on this around 10pm the night before the party (because I’m nuts.) So I decided to forgo the smaller guys even though the OCD/perfectionist in my brain was giving me hard time. In the end, it still turned out fine.

And a few more shots of the mini-cakes my sister made. You can see some Soot Sprites peeking out here and there. For these, we bought black pompoms and stick-on googly eyes. They were so simple, my 4-year-old niece was able to make them. We had her churning out Soot Sprites at maximum speed! The little pink, orange and aqua flowers are from the dollar aisle in Target. They came as long ribbons, but I just snipped a few strands apart and sprinkled them around. They actually reminded me of the candy the Soot Sprites eat in Spirited Away.

So, that was our joint-birthday Totoro Party, in a nutshell! I can relax for another 5 months until Ellis has her FIRST BIRTHDAY. Yikes. Hers should be extra nuts because she’s a summer birthday! I’ll be sure to “over-do” like I always do, according to Andrew.
Whew! This past month has been a whirlwind. I just wanted to pop in and say “hi!” because I know I’ve been absent here lately. Work has been super busy and, as per usual, I’ve got my plate full of other fun side projects which haven’t left me with any free minutes to just sit and type. My blog RSS reader is up to over 1000 unread items because I haven’t had time to catch up on my regular reads. First world problems, I know.
The intense work days that start early and end late combined with a lack of sleep have finally caught up to me. Ellis is transitioning into going all night without nursing. She has cried for about 20 minutes somewhere around the hours of 2 or 3am for the past few nights. And Quil is in this terrible phase of only wanting to sleep in our bed and he’s an awful bed mate, forever tossing and turning and kicking. It’s been extra hard since Quil and Ellis share a room and we haven’t yet found a balance of them co-existing in that space without one waking the other. I slept horribly last night and when I did sleep I had nightmares of work projects gone awry. Ugh. So, today I felt rundown and just plain exhausted. 
So, tonight I’ve finally able to just (sort of) relax and write this post and work on a little crafty project: Wood Acorns for our Totoro-themed party this Saturday! Q turned 3-years-old last weekend but this Saturday we’re celebrating all the February/March birthdays in my family – there are five.
I found some little wood eggs at the local craft store that I stained to look like the acorns from Totoro. They still need a few finishing touches, but I’ll post finished pictures when they are done.
If you’ve never seen My Neighbor Totoro, I highly recommend it. Quil loves it, as do Andrew and I.

Image by Peter Funch via Honestly…WTF

Hope everyone had a great holiday weekend! Personally, it went way too fast for my liking. But it was enjoyable nonetheless. Lots of sitting around and sweating. Andrew, Q and I had a slumber party in our living room for the weekend. We pulled our mattress downstairs and watched movies every night. It was great!

Today I wanted to share this awesome video I found. I’m sure many of you have probably seen this, I know I’m a little late to the game. We don’t have a TV (just a movie projector) so we don’t see TV commercials very often. Which is usually a good thing, but then we miss the really good ones like this one for Sony Bravia:

But the best thing about it is that it was completely real! The creators of the commercial threw 250,000 bouncy balls down a street in San Francisco.  Watch the behind-the-scenes:

How awesome is that?

Found via A Cup of Jo and Honestly…WTF



On Sunday we saw the new Disney/Pixar film UP in 3D. I cried. Multiple times. UP was both funny and extremely sad. After the first 15 minutes Andrew whispered to me “This is the worst movie ever,” while I cried big tears behind my 3D faux Ray-Bans. But all in all, it did not disappoint. The story was delightfully strange and the 3D was better than I expected.

Both Andrew and I enjoyed it a lot, but we also agreed that we liked Wall-E better. I hate to even compare the two because they were both so good. But I think the humor in Wall-E was more on point and in general I liked the characters in Wall-E better. But both are definitely worth watching.


If you have a chance, you should see this documentary. You can find out more information about it here. We were fortunate enough to have seen this movie two weekends ago at the 33rd Annual Cleveland International Film Festival.

It’s a documentary about a community and what happens to when its livelihood is threatened. It takes place in Cairo, a city of 8 million people with no official garbage collection service. For decades, the Zabbaleen, a community of about 60,000 people, have become the unofficial garbage collectors of the city. They’ve made their living collecting and recycling the trash of the residents of Cairo. But in more recent years, they’ve had to compete with foreign garbage collection companies contracted by the government to do the job they’ve built their lives on. The film focuses on three young Zabbaleens and follows them as they “come face to face with the globalization of their trade.”

“Each of the teenage boys is forced to make choices that will impact his future and the survival of his community.”

It’s a fascinating film, not only the overall story but the boys have such character it’s hard not to find them endearing.


If you haven’t seen this trailer, you must watch it.