Monday, April 21, 2014

Happy Easter!

Hope you had a nice Easter! We did our little desert camping trip. It ended up being really fun! It was nice to go back with my parents to a place I had pretty much sworn off ever visiting again -- the Anza Borrego Desert -- due to the excessive visits to this area (in excessive heat -- no time of the year was off limits according to my dad) in my youth.

One thing that made the trip more enjoyable was this cute cabin. It was just the perfect size, and made us want to go buy 10 acres some place to plop one down on. The only downside with this one is that it really needed a window on the back side to allow for some air flow.

But, on the upside (literally), we got to sleep Little House on the Prairie style!

I bought a few Easter themed toys and activities at the dollar store before the trip. One forgets how much kids like just playing with rocks and sticks in the desert, which is what kids are supposed to do.

I had fun planning the menu for the weekend. We had banana boats (with Easter themed marshmallows) the first night.

They were roasted in the fire (which was started using my homemade fire starters -- egg cartons, dryer lint, and candle wax)

In the morning, berries were prettified in little plastic berry baskets (I have the ceramic version as well, but the plastic worked great for camping).

For dinner, our one Dutch oven meal included brats, potatoes, and onions in a brown sugar based broth.

It was very windy that evening, so we should have refreshed the coals around 45 minutes -- and roasted the brats after cooking.

Although we usually use reusable tableware when we are camping, I made carrot inspired bundles to eat with.

For dessert on night #2 -- S'mores made with bunny Peeps

The next morning was Easter. As far as I could tell, all the kids in the campground had received a visit from the Easter Bunny, despite being far from home.

Our neighbors had to keep their daughter in check, as she had her eye on the eggs in our site, and the late risers had not gotten up yet. One they did, they found Easter baskets -- Angry Birds themed for the big boy (lots of generic Angry Birds themed candy starting with glucose, sucrose, etc., a stuffed red Angry Bird wearing bunny ears, and a small mystery package toy), and the baby received a "Happy Birds" themed large egg

containing the book Are You My Mother?, a little grow kit, a rubber ducky, stuffed chick, and a chocolate covered Peep.

It was a fun trip, and was nice to see this area again through new eyes. It was cool how much I remembered. Like -- I know I've been up this wash before

Thursday, April 17, 2014

B-a-b-y S-h-o-w-e-r gift

Remember this baby shower in a box that I was treated to when I was pregnant with Hank?

Well, the son of the aunt who put together this kind present and his wife are now pregnant. You have heard about this couple before here. As noted in my previous post, shortly after getting married, they moved to Paris. My aunt and cousin are throwing a "shower in a box" for the expectant couple. They are generously going to pay overseas shipping for all the gifts -- we just had to get them everything by a certain date.

I saw this idea on Pinterest, and really wanted to try it out. I hope it doesn't infringe too much on the ideas my cousin and aunt have for the shower, but it does make for a pretty awesome gift in addition to being a game. 

The bags spell out "Baby Shower," and each bag contains an item starting with that letter. Here are the items I ended up getting (I had the monkey onesie and hat on hand, so some of the additional purchased items were monkey themed as well)

Bib (the couple registered for multiple Aden & Anais items)
Aspirator (from couple's registry)
Yellow ducky

Ear drops (not shown -- kinda weak sauce, but it seemed the only Es folks could think of were these or Enfamil)

Everything fit nicely in small kraft paper bags, and I found some cute tissue paper to use with the bags. The blogger who provided this idea also had a printable sheet to use to guess the answers as to what is in the bags prior to opening them. I included a few copies so the expectant couple, and hopefully my aunt and cousin, will use before checking out the contents.

Pretty much this will be the holiday/party/baby gift blog from here on in. I have 3 cousins, 2 sister-in-laws, and numerous friends who are pregnant, so I'll be churning out clever presents using stuff from my gift stash I am trying to get rid of, and hopefully a few handmade items as well.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Easter goodies

A few Easter goodies for the boys' classmates and teachers ~

For Hank's T-K class (24), some sidewalk chalk eggs (6 for $1 at 99 Cents Only) packaged in cello bags with blue Easter grass. Where did the blue Easter grass come from? I can't recall, but if I didn't use it for something like this, it would have sat for another 10+ years in my craft closet. Labels here.

(As an aside, I took a look through my fabric today, and realized how little I sew anymore -- and I don't know when I ever will again, at least the way I used to when I was more focused on blogging -- {sigh})

For Hank's after school center (28), I was smitten with the half clear/half colored eggs in the Target dollar section (6 for $3). The ones at Target have three small toys/treats included. I found these eggs at the 99 Cents Only store (6 for $1), which included the mini bag of jelly beans. I bought stickers and erasers to include in the eggs as well.

For Everett's day care class, I packaged small bags of Annie's Cheddar Bunnies tied with orange baker's twine and put them in these cute chicks (3 for $1 at 99 Cents Only). I used a "Hershey kiss label" printable to keep the two halves together. It amuses me to think folks are concerned with what the bottoms of their Hershey Kisses look like :)

For the teachers, I found a pack of 6 egg cups for $1 at -- you guessed it -- 99 Cents Only. I bought matching nail polish colors to include in each one. I feel kinda bad that Ms. Maria is getting yellow nail polish, but she just may like it. The tags were found here.

We are actually planning on going camping this weekend. In the desert, which is predicted to be quite warm despite only being April. Perhaps a desert hare will bring the boys' Easter baskets to them. Hope he skips the chocolate :)

Monday, March 17, 2014

Happy St. Paddy's Day!

I don't think I have ever done so much in relation to a minor holiday! Some elements I had planned to do ahead of time, others the kid introduced, and some just got thrown in along the way.

We started out the month planting clover using a little grow kit from the Target dollar section. I also put up some decorations -- which I don't normally do very often any more except for Christmas. I used this rainbow and this little dude, plus some shamrock lights also from the Target dollar section.

Next came the notes to our little leprechaun friend, or "leprecuando," as he came to be known. Hank's class was on leprechaun watch at school, and he would say some nights that he wanted to leave notes to see if a leprechaun would visit our house. I so wasn't in the mood to do another Elf on the Shelf type thing, but fortunately the requests for Patrick the leprechaun were pretty light. He was asked if he liked quesadillas and LEGOs (yes, Patrick replied).

Patrick brought the kids some Lucky Charms.

and we saw where he walked to get his quesadilla

Hank said he did not want to trap the leprechaun -- just learn more about him. He left one more note the night before St. Patrick's Day, offering a piece of the soda bread I made, and more LEGOs.

Be it elves of leprechauns or the eventual tooth fairy -- it is really hard to remember to do all the prep the night before. Or hide all of the preparations. Hank saw the Lucky Charms ahead of time in my grocery bag, lol. Hank is a born skeptic like his dad, and rarely is full of wonderment as I imagined all kindergarteners to be. I volunteer in his T-K classroom once a month. I have seen the teacher bring out something to share with the class that leads to gasps of amazement and kids standing up to crowd around her and take a peek, and there sits Hank with his head resting on hand looking like he is bored off his rocker. So, on the rare occasion that he is curious about something make believe, I tend to go a bit overboard.

Next, we had gifts. For Hank's class, we put together little tattoo gifts so the recipients would be "pinch proof." I went into the far nether reaches of the internet to find the following printables, and did not save the links, so I apologize for not providing sources. The tattoos were from Target.

For Everett's class, I added a tag to a pouch of squeezable applesauce

Finally, for my co-workers, I added a label and a chipboard shamrock to packages of green tea

There was food as well. For Sunday's dinner, we had Irish bangers and mash, cooked cabbage, and soda bread. The sausages were from Trader Joe's, and were very good. It was funny reading this article as to the origin of the name "banger." The sausages from Trader Joe's did in fact explode out the ends, as I initially had the pan too hot.

Not a bite -- just an air bubble
Soda bread is so easy to make, and produces a lovely, large loaf from just a few ingredients.

For breakfast today, everything was green, including the bagels.

and tonight's dinner ended up being St. Patrick's themed after all, as the menu planning service I now subscribe to had a St. Paddy's day theme of green macaroni and cheese (spinach, peas, and broccoli included) and a spinach based hummus dip.

Ok - enough with St. Paddy's Day! Thankful that there is a sizeable break this year until Easter.

Monday, March 03, 2014

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!

Two with bad memories, one new to the scene

allowed me to get away with pretty much a repeat of our 2011 Dr. Seuss celebration. We had green eggs, ham (Green Eggs and Ham), and Cat in the Hat strawberry and whipped cream parfaits for breakfast, and an indoor picnic for lunch, which included roast beast sandwiches (The Grinch), colored goldfish (One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish), and Thing cupcakes (Cat in the Hat).

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Bike themed gift

A little friend had her 5th birthday party this month. I decided to go with a bike theme, not knowing that the birthday girl had in fact received a bike as a birthday present!

We had received the bike stickers for Christmas. They unfortunately didn't really go with Hank's bike (coincidentally a hand-me-down from the birthday girl's older brother). I also had some Paul Frank bicycle themed items in my filler box purchased on impulse from the Target dollar spot.

The current purchased items were the handlebar streamers, spoke beads, and cool light up basket

Hope the birthday girl likes modding out her bike!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Happy New Year! Oh, wait...

Yeah, pretty late getting out the New Year's greetings. As mentioned, I intentionally did not send Christmas cards with the expectation that I would be sending out New Year's cards instead. There were some delays -- a lot of delays. One, I initially planned an elaborate home photo shoot to get pictures of us using the items that were attached to the cards below. I never got beyond the thinking stage on that one.

Next, I wanted to get some more professional photos done to celebrate Everett's first birthday, as we did when Hank turned one. We used the same photographer we did previously -- Jen Disney. So happy with how they turned out! Don't you love my perfect hair? I would hate to see the originals of these, lol. It was funny because more than half of the shoot, Everett looked like this

and had a snotty nose to show for it (also must have taken some time to Photoshop out of each picture). We figured out, though, if I flipped him upside down, and Jen snapped a pic right away when I brought him back up, he instead looked like this

Anyway, we didn't take the pictures until late January. Then we had to wait for all that wonderful editing. And I ordered a Shutterfly card.

And I had to sit on my butt thinking about making the homemade cards until I actually sat down to do them. Etc.

For the homemade cards, I had bought the noisemakers 6 for $1 at the dollar store a couple of years ago. As mentioned, I initially wanted to have pictures of us on the squares on the front doing something with the items used on the card -- Everett throwing confetti, me blowing up a balloon (I look really funny when I blow up a balloon, btw), and Hank and BT blowing on the noisemakers. Once you took off the item, you would see the picture of us using the item underneath. Cute, right? But, this was definitely a major road block on getting started with these. Did I share with you at the time that this home done photo shoot took three days to do? One day to set up, and then two days to get all of the pictures. Thinking about backdrops and outfits and how many pictures would need to be taken to get a few good ones for the New Year's cards was a project killer from the get go. Plus, I knew I was going to stick the items on the card with sticky dots. What would be the point in having the pictures underneath if they would just get torn? The final determining factor was having the Shutterfly card sent in the same envelope with the homemade card. The recipients were already going to wonder why they were receiving two cards from us -- and there are only so many pictures one needs of another family (says the girl who is guilty of posting hundreds of picture on Facebook, lol).

Once that decision was out of the way, things went much quicker. The squares were made big enough to accommodate the items, and simple numbers were used.

The inside sentiment made reference to the countdown that took place a month and a half ago.

I cut the confetti out of tissue paper with a circle punch. I had to experiment with how many pieces to use that would allow the cutter to grab, but not leave excess on the sides of the circles. I think 4 sheets ended up being the right amount. The confetti was packaged in glassine envelopes held closed with neon dots. The two cards were put together in padded envelopes. This was an e x p e n s i v e card. Luckily I had a coupon to get a significant discount on the Shutterfly cards. I purchased almost all of the supplies for the countdown cards -- the cardstock, card envelopes, tissue paper, balloons, sticky dots, shipping labels, and padded envelopes -- using our Amex rewards gift card that we get every few months (we usually apply the points towards a $250 Walmart gift card), so I look at those elements as being free. Postage was a killer, but hopefully will motivate me to come up with a normal, flat card for this year's Christmas card (back to our regular schedule later this year for sending out holiday cards -- would you believe a great aunt called me out for not sending a Christmas card? sheesh)

Late or not, best wishes in 2014!