Jan 20

A little love.

With Valentine’s Day quickly approaching, I thought I’d share a little bit of what we did around the house for the holiday. Our tradition is to make pink, heart-shaped pancakes for breakfast (and, if I’m being honest, sometimes for lunch or dinner too!). I have a set of pancake molds that I use for this and the kids love it. We also had some fun with a tiny heart-shaped cookie cutter. Cutting hearts out of strawberries, cucumbers, cheese and even pepperoni – anything we could! Easy fun, right?

The kids valentine’s were simple this years. I just printed out these “Friends make life sweet” cards, cut slits and slid a pack of Sixlets through them. The kids glued punched-out hearts on top. For Graham’s preschool class, we made our own version of the Valentine’s snack mix you’ve seen on Pinterest. I feel like snack mix is such a win with young kids! Something for everybody in there.

Not sure what we are doing this year…but I am loving all the ideas I see online! So far, my favorite is this “Over the Rainbow” option. Other favorites are on my Pinterest board.

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Jun 20

Lilah’s rainbow art party.

Lilah turned six last month and we celebrated with an art-themed party! I had so much fun planning it and even more fun watching here and her friends together. The girls played outside, ate lots of snacks and opened gifts. For the “artsy” part, they did canvas paintings and made beaded bracelets. We also gave them colored hair extensions and bling’d tattoos on their cheeks – this was a hit!

For the canvas art, I pre-drew some lines on them to get the kids started. I did peace signs, hearts and stars – all with “rays” coming from behind. I also tried the rainbow layer cake with Martha Stewart’s balloon topper. For snacks, I put out a big rainbow tray of fruit with a bowl of toothpicks by it so they could snack on-the-go style (isn’t that how all kids eat?!?). I was surprised how much time the kids spent standing by that tray! I also made marshmallow confetti popcorn – this was a hit but messier than I would have liked.

Aren’t kids’ birthday party a great excuse to use all those ideas we see on interest? I mean, when else can I make a rainbow of fruit?

Happy 6th Birthday to Lilah!! First grade…here we come!

If you’re interested in the invitations, check my Etsy shop or for more art party ideas, check out my Pinterest board.

Art party invitation

Art party invitation

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Mar 18

Owen’s Pirate Party

My son Owen is in LOVE with Disney’s Jake and the Neverland Pirates cartoon. So when he turned two in December, I decided to throw him a little pirate-themed party. I have such a good time planning parties for my kids knowing how excited they will be to see their favorite characters and themes come to life on their special day.

I built a pirate ship for the cake topper – it was made out of that foam paper and even had paper sails. Then all I had to do for the actual cake was frost it in aqua for the “ocean”. Another “fake it till you make it” cake :)

The invitations were swords with Jake the Pirates’s favorite saying “Yo, Ho!” – which Owen loves to shout. I love any excuse I can find to use my circle punch – best investment ever!

Some of the other fun pirate things were apple slice “boats” on blue Jell-O, Pirate dipped marshmallows and Origami boats with gold coins for favors. For the marshmallows – I just used an edible pen to draw on the eye patch. If you want to know how to fold the paper boats, just google “Origami boats”.

How about this swing-full of little pirates?! I think we are going to need a bigger swing soon to fit this crew!

We also had a second party for him with Daddy’s side of the family when we were all together for Thanksgiving and I decided to let the kids frost the cupcakes. At least they tasted good, right?


Happy 2nd Birthday to Owen!

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Feb 13

Graham’s Crane + Construction Party.

My son is in love with cranes. And dump trucks. And diggers. And scoops. But, especially cranes.
So for his fourth birthday, we went that theme. He received a GIANT toy remote control crane for Christmas, so I thought it would be the perfect “prop”.

If you’re considering throwing a construction themed party, I have one piece of advice for you. BUY DUCT TAPE. I feel like I wrapped the whole house in duct tape before the weekend was over! But I really liked it and feel like I will be using duct tape in more future projects in my life.

For a easy game, I wrapped miscellaneous boxes in newspaper and fashioned a wrecking ball out of duct tape to hang from the ceiling. We let the kids build towers out the boxes, then swing wrecking ball at them to see how many they could knock down. The kids – age 2-6 – all really liked it!

A week ago, I took a Social dessert table class that was taught by the very talented Sandra Denneler. (See some details on that classHERE.) One of the projects she shared was a heart-shaped molded brownie box with candy inside. (See the tutorial on that HERE.) I loved her idea and decided to adapt it to my party theme by making wrecking balls. These turned out super cool! I really should have remembered her tip about over baking the brownings, because mine did not hold up, unfortunately. If you do this project – OVERCOOK YOUR BROWNIES!!!

Some other fun things we did were color-your-own coffee mugs (the kind with the paper insert from the dollar bin), tool belt/apron favors for the kids to take home and color, and a “build-your-own-burger” lunch.

Graham thought the crane holding up his birthday number was pretty cool. He was pumped to get to raise the number off. We actually sang happy birthday to him then, instead of when he blew his candles out! Happy Birthday to my little man!

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Dec 05

DIY Christmas cards.


Is it bad etiquette to blog about your Christmas cards before they are even in the mail? Hope not!

This year, I was all set to buy a Shutterfly photo card with our family photo on it, but when it came time to send the order in, I just couldn’t. So expensive! And with postage, sheesh! So, I set out to make something a little less expensive. In the end, I did that – AND I was happier with the design than I would have been.

I had never used Washi tape yet – so I was super excited to find a use for it. So cool! All I did was tape our 4×6 photo to a piece of Kraft card stock. I also used some glue to keep the photo from popping up. And for the envelope, I just slid the card into a brown paper lunch bag, folded it over, and wrapped more Washi tape around it.

My kids even helped me with the tape – it was super forgiving and a perfect way for them to “help out”. And as a BONUS – The Washi tape can be “strategically” placed – notice how it masked Mommy’s hips?! :)

The cards only cost about 23¢ a piece. And if you printed your prints for free (here and here) – they would only cost 13¢. Not bad, compared to the $1 I would have spent per piece at Shutterfly. Yes, they did take considerably more time, of course. But, I really enjoyed it. Handmade is always better, right?

Photography by: Sarah Kaiser Photography
Paper: Hobby Lobby (Pack of 50 8.5×11 sheets for $2.50 <1/2 off>)
Envelopes/Bags: Walmart ($1/bag of 50)
Washi tape: I bought locally at Cottage Collective, but you can find online anywhere

Merry Christmas to you!

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Dec 03

DIY Ornaments.


My sister-in-laws and I started a tradition last year for Christmas – we have an ornament exchange. I decided to try to make mine and planned to create small felt rosettes to cover existing ball ornaments. Seemed simple enough.

And it was. But multiply one simple rosette x 30 x three ornaments and you find yourself burning your fingers on the hot glue gun, watching Home Alone and cussing rosettes the night before Christmas. In summary – simple can also mean time consuming.

But it was worth it! I got three great ornaments to add to my tree. One was a plain ball ornament wrapped in beautiful yarn and embellished with ribbon and a sweet tag. My other sister-in-law added monograms to store-bought ornaments – they were beautiful!

I have been on the hunt for a new plan for this year’s exchange – thank goodness for Pinterest, right?!? If you’re looking for DIY ornament ideas, check out my board here.

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Nov 17

Lilah’s cupcake party.


Lilah turned five in May (yes, May. I know, I’m behind.) and we let her have a few friends over to celebrate, in lieu of the typical family party. She loved it and the kids had such a great time. I kept it simple and used a cupcake theme. I borrowed one of those giant cupcake cake pans – and it rocked! A very easy, quick 3-D cake.
For favors, I bought pink Lofthouse cookies and candy necklaces. Easy peasy.
The kids had a water balloon fight, fed the geese in our back yard, played slip-n-slide and mostly just ran around like crazy people! Outdoor parties are the best, right?!

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Mar 08

Confessions of a Shameless Mother


I have to admit, I have been a little scared to take my three kids on vacation. The idea of hours of travel, via plane or car, have intimidated the hell out of me. Because of this, the furthest we’ve taken our kids is to Lake of the Ozarks last summer. And that was only like 5.5 hours and we left the baby behind.
If I can get my mind beyond the travel, then I start picturing all of us in one hotel room and I see sleepless nights, cramped quarters and a jug of milk in an ice bucket for the baby. I picture eating out for several meals and I see spilled drinks, a crumb-covered restaurant floor and kids whining about their food.

I also have to admit, I have often wondered how the heck my parents got motivated to take my brother and I on vacations when we were little. I vividly remember fighting relentlessly in the back seat, begging for pricey souvenirs and asking “are we there yet?” a few too many times.

But they did it. Many, many times. We traveled all over this country. Often, in a conversion van (which sounds SO nice now!). And I know of many other families that have braved the trials and flown with their kids. So it can’t be that bad, right? Or, let me rephrase myself – it is worth it, right?

Right.

We took our crew on a little vacation recently and I got a glimpse of what fired all of the traveling I did as a kid. Seeing your kids experience new stuff and get excited for it is awesome. Totally worth it.

We went to Great Wolf Lodge in Kansas City (only three hours away). They have an indoor water park, amongst many other kid-friendly attractions. The kiddos were beyond pumped to go – we talked it up for days prior to leaving. Seeing their faces the first time they got a glimpse of the water park was priceless. Watching Lilah, who is almost five, conquer new things (like giant water slides) so fearlessly was incredibly rewarding.

And yes it was work. Timing naps was difficult. Sitting still at restaurants was tricky. And it seemed like no matter how prepared we were, the kids inevitably needed to go to the bathroom as the most inopportune moments. We had to sit silently in our hotel room to get them to fall asleep (thank goodness for iPhones!) We nearly drove the car off the road to get Owen to quit crying.

But, it was all worth it. And, believe it or not, I am looking forward to our next family vacation! I highly recommend Great Wolf Lodge for a quick getaway. Go during the week if you can, for sure.

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Mar 08

Project No. 9 – St. Patrick’s Day art


Finally got the Valentine’s décor down! Luckily, I designed my “LOVE” signs to just be flipped around for the next holiday – St. Patrick’s Day! If it’s not super easy, it may not get down around here, ya know.

I also wanted to replace the heart art that I made last month. So I put together this little sign. And I thought I’d share it here too. The quote beneath it reads “A best friend is like a four leaf clover: hard to find and lucky to have.” Who doesn’t feel that way about the people they love?


CLICK HERE to download a printable version of this for your home.

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Mar 03

Project No. 8 – Graham’s Fishing Party

For Graham’s 3rd birthday, we went with a fishing theme. He really wanted another train party, but I drew the line. (I can’t believe how much he still loves his trains!!!) I really had fun with the fish theme. Don’t you think that Pinterest and the web is totally changing the face of children’s birthday parties forever?!?

The invitations:

Want to download and print your own invitations like this? Visit my Etsy shop here.
The fish on his cake were made with orange candy melts. They were sort of an ordeal and I was not happy with them at all. One of those things you start and wonder why. I put wax paper of the printout of the fish shape and spread the candy to match the shape. But since the cake is round, I needed the chocolate to dry curved. Serious challenge. I’ll spare you the details since it didn’t work out that well. I think it’s time for me to get over my fear of fondant.


I had some more sugar cookies made and I LOVED the bobber cookie and the fish bowl. Almost too cute to eat. Almost, I say.


We set up a fishing game over the stairway, which turned out to be a pretty big hit. The kids played and played and played. They got real creative about what they could “catch” on the drop side.

For favors, I made these really simple goldfish bags and fishbowls of gummy fish.


Another thing I tried, but didn’t get a picture of, was blue jello with gummy fish in it. Here is Martha Stewart’s photo. Ours turned out a little murky – but it tasted great! I also attempted to make some water bottle aquariums (made from water, baby oil, a foam fish and blue food coloring in a water bottle) – they were fun but the kids lost interest in them pretty quick.

For a gift, we took Graham to the pet shop and let him pick out a goldfish. Sadly, the party balloons lasted longer that “Three”, as Graham named him. We are NOT a family that should have pets!

We also had a fish fry with fish sticks for the kiddos. My husband jumped at the excuse to pull the fryer down from storage. I was on board cause I can never pass up an opportunity to have fried okra. One of my big weaknesses.

Overall, Graham had a great day and I had a lot of fun looking for and trying out all the fishy ideas. If you want to see any of the other ideas I collected, you can check out my Pinterest board.

Happy third birthday to my little man! He is getting more and more ornery every day! In this photo, he is giving his “Frank Martin Stare”. If you’re not from Kansas, you probably don’t know what that means. But around here, it always gets a giggle. To which he replies, “Frank Martin doesn’t smile!!” (Frank Martin is the head coach of the Kansas State Wildcats basketball team and has become well-known for his facial expressions, including a pretty mean stare.)

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