New Shop Items!

Check out these new clip sets! Each set is color coordinated and comes with an elastic headband and interchangeable hair clips. Many of the clips are made from vintage fabric and buttons. My daughter loves the fact that she can mix and match the clips to her outfits. It’s all about accessorizing!

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THE ART OF LUNCH

When my daughter started school, I was eager to pack her fun lunches to brighten up her long school day. There are tons of resources out there, but I’d thought I’d throw together a list of what I consider the essentials of Bento lunch making. I am certainly not an expert, just a Mom having fun making sweet lunches for her daughter 🙂

THE ESSENTIALS:

BENTO BOXES1

I love these bento boxes, but any box will do. (I have many Sistema boxes that I picked up for a good price at TJ Maxx.) These boxes latch nicely, and they come in a wide variety of cute colors designs. The only drawback to the boxes pictured above, is they are hand wash only.

*Some things to look for when buying bento boxes:  look for BPA free. Make sure the latch is easy for your child to open and close.

FOOD CUPS

Food cups are great for separating your child’s food…keep grapes packed tightly in a cup and away from the meats and cheeses, etc… I prefer the silicone cups over the paper ones because they hold up much better.

CONDIMENT CUPS

These little condiment cups are invaluable, not to mention adorable! I pack one in my daughter’s lunch almost every day. They are easy to open/close and they haven’t spilled on her – yet!, (fingers crossed)  I have used them to fill up with ketchup, hummus, ranch dressing, cupcake sprinkles, and granola.

EGG MOLDS

These egg molds and sandwich shapers are fun, but certainly not necessary. The egg molds work nicely and are a fun way to present a hard boiled egg to your child. The sandwich shapers create adorable little bite-size sandwiches. They are easy to use, but be warned, they do waste a lot of the excess bread, meat, or cheese. I always save my meat and cheese for scrambled eggs and feed the little bits of bread scraps to the birds.

DECO CUTTERS

Deco Cutters or any variety of cookie cutters are used to shape sandwiches or meats and cheeses into fun shapes. They’re cheap and can be picked up anywhere.

FOOD PICKS

Food picks are a great way to dress up your child’s lunch. They come in a wide variety of girl and boy friendly designs.

Here are some of the ways to use food picks:

  • layer fruits, veggies, cheese or meats on the picks
  • decorate the tops of sandwiches
  • Your child can use them as a utensil to pick up food with.

BARAN

Baran food sheets are decorative, as well as useful. Much like food cups, these are used to divide food. These come in decorative sheets of Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) or you can find silicone versions.

FOOD MARKERS

Although I don’t use them as often, I keep food markers on hand to decorate sandwiches with every now and then.

I use sprinkles pretty often as a fun way for my daughter to decorate her own yogurt. I throw a variety of sprinkles into a condiment cup and store them beside her yogurt.

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It’s pretty exciting to open up a box full of Bento supplies! My Aunt sent me this box full from California!  🙂

*Not listed, but very useful:  plastic utensils. My favorite are the plastic kind that break down into two parts for easy packing, such as these from Sistema. And also, don’t forget to pick up some blue ices to keep your child’s lunch cold.

SOME LUNCHES:

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This was my son’s snack at home. I would never pack yogurt in a silicone cup like this to send to school with my daughter…it’d be a huge mess :-/

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My kids love these homemade granola bars, and they’re a fun addition to a bento lunch. Recipe here

GREAT RESOURCES:

Almost all of my supplies were purchased online at BENTO USA

http://www.anotherlunch.com/

http://cookiecutterlunch.blogspot.com/

http://wendolonia.com/blog/

http://www.meetthedubiens.com/

CITY LIVING

I have come to love and hate many things about city life. Mostly I just hate the traffic.

Having grown up in small rural town, I LOVE what the city offers in terms of diversity and culture.  Tonight, my Husband and I were lying in bed shuffling through countless apps on our iPhones, when my husband came across a shop that serves up authentic waffles from Brussels. It sounded wonderful to us. We made a snap decision to go seek the place out. We bundled the kids up in their winter coats and told them they were in for a special surprise,  an outing to a Belgium waffle shop.

Ooooh they were delicious.

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We ordered two Antwerps and a Bruges

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I ordered my Antwerp sans the chocolate sauce. Not because I don’t love chocolate, but because it was Belgium chocolate and I thought it might possibly contain nuts. My absolute favorite dessert is bread pudding and the sugar waffle mixed with the vanilla ice cream tasted just like it! Ok, back on my diet tomorrow….

CELEBRATION DINNER

for my Husband’s birthday this year, I decided to forgo the diet for a day and indulge in a meal fit for a celebration. We hadn’t made up our mind where to eat, but luck was in our favor when we stumbled upon Cooper’s Hawk. We had one of our best meals together there, and it wouldn’t be right if I didn’t mention that the warm pretzel bread they bring to the table is heavenly.

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Over the Border Eggrolls

 

Our dessert came highly recommended by our waitress. We shared the Seasonal Berry Crisp. Yum.Yum.

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Although, the oatmeal raisin cookie was top notch, I think I can easily recreate this delish dessert at home…

Start with fresh berries, top with fresh-baked oatmeal raisin cookie-crumbles, layer on macerated strawberries, and top with either ice cream or freshly-whipped cream.

14 KID PARTY ACTIVITES

I must admit, it’s birthday season in my household. Three Spring birthdays and one Summer birthday add up to one busy SAHM this time of year. I am just beginning my search for ideas and inspiration. I compiled a list of my favorite party activities to share with you.

Here is a list of 14 of my favorite fun and easy party activities that are sure to keep your party-goers entertained!

1. BIRTHDAY INTERVIEW~

Birthday Interview - Free Double-Sided Printable!

http://tiffkeetch.blogspot.com/2012/06/half-birthday-interview.html

How fun would it be to look back on these when your little one is all grown up! This is a cute memory keeper activity to do with your child, or you can make copies and encourage the kids at your party fill them out. This activity is a great way to learn more about your child and their friends.

2. PHOTO BOOTH~

Cool idea for making "little monster" birthday photo props by @Kara's Party Ideas!

http://www.parentmap.com/article/12-birthday-party-activities-for-kids?page=5

Yes, they’re fun at weddings, but photo booths can also be great fun at a kid’s party, too!

1st – make a backdrop….hang a curtain, streamers, or decorations.

2nd – find or print out some fun props.

3rd – let the kids have fun coming up with silly poses.

4th – snap away.

Don’t forget to mail the pictures out with your thank you cards.

*You don’t need a fancy camera, there are even quality photo booth apps out there for the iPhone.

3. PLAY DOUGH~

party play dough

http://www.homemadeginger.com/2012/01/indoor-activities-day-6-perfect-play.html

I like this play dough recipe because it uses Jello. The recipe is easy and the resulting play doh has a pretty color and fruity scent. My favorite Jello flavors to use were cherry and berry blue because of their yummy scents and vibrant colors, but it would be fun to do a whole rainbow of colors.  Not only is this a great party activity, but it doubles as a fun party favor, too!

4. MAKE A PINATA!~

Pinata

http://news.holidash.com/2010/09/27/diy-pinata-kendra-smoot/#

Remember making a pinata when you were in school? I remember making one for my High School Spanish class.  I made one similar to this for my daughter’s birthday and all the kids enjoyed trying to break it open. It took several tries and a couple broken bats (that baby was pretty solid and packed tightly with treats), but eventually it rained candy from the sky and the kids scattered on the floor to collect it up!

5. GUESS HOW MANY _____ ARE IN THE JAR?, GAME~

tea party games jar of candy -     You can also place a clear jar filled with some type of candy (gum balls, tootsie rolls, skittles etc.) and have them guess how many are in there. At the end whoever was closest gets to take it home!

http://www.crazyfortea.com/tea-party-games.html

I did this for my daughter’s La La Loopsy-themed birthday party. I filled up a small glass jar with buttons and taped the answer to the bottom. Near the jar was a sheet of paper for everyone to write down their name and their guess. At the end of the party the two who came closest to the correct number won prizes.

*Make sure the answer is a number age appropriate for the children attending. Example, nothing past 100 for a 5 year old.

6. CANDY JEWELRY~

Bird's Party Blog: Valentine's Crafts for Kids: DIY Marshmallow Necklace

http://www.blog.birdsparty.com/2013/02/valentines-crafts-for-kids-diy.html#.UTjvohlAszQ

Those chalky pastel candy necklaces from the store are nice, but why not make your own? Here is a fun candy jewelry tutorial that uses marshmallow rope. Have kids pick out their favorite candy and make a pattern, then you can string them into a necklace or bracelet. Enlisting the help of another parent is a good idea!

7. DECORATE MASKS~
Superhero Craft activity for a playdate or party. We had some basic shapes and the kids created their unique and wonderful superhero masks. Great fun and the kids *super* happy! (Templates included in post)

http://www.redtedart.com/2013/02/13/superhero-mask-template-party-activity/

I’ve attended many parties where my children were given masks to paint or decorate and embellish. They enjoyed wearing their creations while they ran around and played. You could make this activity even more fun by having the children line up and parade around the room with their finished pieces.

8. FRIENDSHIP BRACELETS~

LEGO Friendship Bracelets- would be so cute for Valentines or a lego partyFriendship Bracelets

http://www.tipjunkie.com/activities-for-kids/lego-friendship-bracelets-kids-crafts/

http://www.purlbee.com/friendship-bracelets/2011/7/10/mollys-sketchbook-friendship-bracelets.html

Here are a boys and girls version of friendship bracelets. I remember making these as a kid and layering them up and down my arm. This is an affordable and fun project – especially for older, middle school aged kids.

9. CANDY BAR~

Old Fashion Candy Bar... great for a kid's birthday party (or adults with a sweet tooth!)

Indulge every child’s inner sweet tooth with a candy bar. Set up jars with an assortment of candies and lollipops – there is no need to go crazy, a few colorful confections will do. Supply glassine baggies, paper cones, or paper favor bags, and let the children go crazy!

10. FACE PAINTING~

Adventures of a Face Painter: I Made Their Day, They Made Mine

http://njfacepainter.blogspot.com/2010/05/i-made-their-day-they-made-mine.html#

What kid doesn’t want their face painted? Don’t sweat this one…. no one’s expecting a masterpiece. Hearts, stars, lightning bolts, ice cream cones, smiley faces – so many simple kid-friendly shapes to choose from that can be done with just a few brush strokes. If you’re not up to the challenge, maybe a friend could help out? Face paints are easy to find and are affordable! Look for paints at the craft store or online, here’s a link I found  –  http://www.karaspartyideas.com/shop/party-fun/face-paint-crayons.html

11. COLORING PAGES~

Lalaloopsy Doll Coloring Pages

http://www.cartoonjr.com/lalaloopsy-doll-coloring-pages/lalaloopsy-coral-sea-colori/

A quick search on the internet will bring up an assortment of coloring pages –  there are plenty of themes and characters to choose from!  Print your favorite pages out and be sure to bring a large supply of crayons or markers for the kids to use at the party. Coloring pages could also be used as each child’s placemat to color and personalize before the food or cake is served.

11. CEREAL NECKLACES~

Fruit Loop necklaces

http://room-mom101.blogspot.com/2010/02/fruit-loop-necklaces.html

These cereal necklaces are as fun to make as they are to eat!  You can help the kids think up neat color patterns or just let them go crazy. Boys and girls enjoy this activity, and the finished product is a cute and tasty treat!

12. BIRTHDAY BINGO~

FREE Printable Pinkalicious Bingo - Games at Kid Scraps—kate birthday

http://www.kidscraps.com/GameCentral/Bingo-pinkalicious/PinkaliciousBingo.htm

My daughter’s 4th birthday party was rainbow themed and for a fun activity I made an “all about Madeline” bingo board. It had her favorite color, ice cream flavor, book, etc. I used fruity, rainbow colored Starburst candies as the markers. If you’re not up for making your own bingo boards – I have to admit, it took me a lot of time – there are plenty free versions out there.

13. SCAVENGER HUNT~

American Girl Doll Scavenger Hunt

http://livelifecreateart.blogspot.com/2012/06/american-girl-doll-birthday-party.html

This is an especially good activity if you’re planning on hosting an outdoor party. I can remember attending a birthday party/sleepover when I was a young girl and having so much fun with the scavenger hunt – the best and most memorable part was winning the game and getting  a whole bag of gummy worms as my prize!

14 PHOTO BOOK SIGNING~

sign the photobook

http://www.shutterfly.com/photo-books/kids-photo-books

For my daughter’s 5th birthday I cashed in one of shutterfly’s many coupon codes and made her a photo book. At the party, I set the photo book out on a table by the door with a pretty pen and a note card asking guests to write the birthday girl a special message. It is a wonderful keepsake, and best of all, was how heartwarming it was to see all the kids write their names in their adorable penmanship.

I hope you try some of these at your next party!

Have any activities I should know about? I’m always looking for more ideas….leave me a comment! 🙂

Don’t Get Pinched

March is just around the corner, and with it brings the first day of Spring, my Husband’s birthday, and St. Patrick’s Day! That’s right, St. Patrick’s day is Sunday, March 17. Do you have your pinch protection yet? Get some here!

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BICYCLE PARTY

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For my Dad’s birthday party this year, we decided to add the element of  s u r p r i s e.

The night before, the idea popped into my head. I got my husband, kids, and Mom in on it, and we quickly set a plan in action. While my parents were away at a community fundraiser for bike advocacy,  we drove two hours to their house and decorated their kitchen in orange (his favorite Orbea bike is the color orange).

Did I mention my Dad is a bicycle enthusiast?

We quickly made signs, a card stock banner to hang across the kitchen, chocolate-chocolate chip cupcakes with buttercream frosting tinted orange, and I whipped up some cool, bike-themed cupcake toppers.

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When my parents arrived home, we yelled “Surprise!” We had practiced with the kids a few times before my parents arrived, so we all yelled it right on cue. My Dad was certainly surprised and overjoyed. My kids quickly jumped up and gave him big hugs.

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We didn’t waste anytime singing him “Happy Birthday” and eating the yummy cupcakes. The kids were eager to help him blow out the candles and open up his gift.

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This impromptu surprise party was as fun to plan as it was to participate in!

FREE DOWNLOAD:

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a SKULK of VALENTINES

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I remember getting such enjoyment as a child creasing construction paper in half, cutting out hearts of different colors and sizes, gluing and arranging them to doilies and giving them to the ones I loved.

I am a lover of all things handmade, Valentine’s cards are no exception. I do enjoy the convenience of the store-bought variety and even purchased a big box of Spiderman Valentines for my son to hand out in preschool this year. However, the simple art of hand-making a Valentine is a skill I learned at an early age, and one I want to share with my daughter.

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My daughter and I created these cute and simple fox valentines. I found the tutorial here, which includes a downloadable template for the fox tail and ears. I made my own heart templates out of white card stock. After a lot of cutting and gluing our foxes were complete, minus the face. We glued tiny black pom-poms for the eyes and nose with hot glue and drew on a cute little mouth.

On the other side, I glued another white heart and hand printed “Happy Valentine’s Day.” My daughter carefully printed her classmate’s names on each, and for an added treat, we taped on an Airhead taffy.

Voila! A happy, homemade Valentine fox.

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