Thursday, March 16, 2017

A Frozen Themed Birthday Party

Some little girl I know turned ten recently!  Time sure does fly.  We had a lovely family celebration and then a casual party with friends at a local park.  We kept things simple, because the kids mostly love to play together.  The girl wanted a Frozen theme and we put together some activities and favor bags.  The girl is a crafty one, so she put most of it together!

Rather than cupcakes, we had simple food.  The girl made icicles, which were pretzel rods covered in white chocolate and sprinkled with sugar.  Then we had cake pops that girl made.  She made chocolate cake pops with a cake pop pan, covered them in dark chocolate, and then swirled some melted butterscotch on top. Each treat was individually wrapped for easy serving.  For those that couldn't make it and didn't want to eat it then, the treats were easy to take home.  We also served strawberries.

To counteract all the sugar, we chose to serve water, rather than juice.  We printed off a premade label that said "melted snow" and the girl put them on the water bottles.

We had a bag of goodies or party favors for each kid.  The bag contained bubbles with a label that also said "melted snow", a glider to play with, a crown for the girls, a paper fan that the girl made, and a bag of Hershey Kisses with a label we made that says "I wanna stuff some chocolate in my face."

The biggest hit for the kids were the swords that we made.  The girl called them "Prince Hans swords," but most kids liked to think of them as light sabers.  We used pool noodles from the dollar store and I cut them in half.  The girl put duct tape at the bottom for a handle.  I printed off each kids' name with  my label maker and we labeled each sword.  That kept fighting and crying to a minimum (other than when someone got hit hard or accidentally in the face).  We had rules that they could only hit below the neck and could only hit someone who was also playing.  It was crazy with a dozen kids swatting swords around.  I learned that next time I should make all the moms swords also!  In addition to the party favor bags, we had chalk for the kids to draw with.

I figured if the kids were getting favor bags, that the moms would need favor bags too.  So we made up some "Mommy Bags" with some treats to get the moms through all the kid craziness.  Each mom got 8 chocolates and a bottle of frappuccino.  I chilled the drinks so that we could all enjoy them on the warm day while the kids ran around hitting each other with their foam swords.  The "Mommy Bags" were a big hit!

For the birthday celebration at home, we had strawberry cupcakes with vanilla buttercream.  The girl frosted and decorated her own cupcakes.

Happy Birthday to my sweet ten-year-old!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Annual Valentine's Funny Photo

This is our annual Valentine tradition since 2011.  This is our 7th year of making a funny face photo of the kids.  And I can't get over how grown up they look in this year's photo!  Where are my red chubby cheeked kiddos?  (Note to family:  We mailed you your magnets!  You should be getting them soon.)

Here is this year's box of chocolates funny face Valentine photo:

And here are the previous years:  (Cue the tears...and bunny bear made an appearance in first year's photo.)

I print the photo as a 2x3 magnet at MPix.  For the last three years I have used the same template.  I've made a photoshop template and just pop the photos in.  It's pretty easy now.  The kids take selfies with my camera.  We pick out 12 of their favorites each, I pop the photos into the template and that's it.  I hardly touch up the photos.  I may adjust light, but that's it.  This year we went with faces close up, compared to the previous years.  Next year we'll probably go back to photos that aren't as close, since we all agreed we like that better.

If anyone wants the template, let me know.  I can put it up in a different post.  Otherwise, you can always make your own.  Happy Valentine's Day!  Do you have any annual Valentine's traditions? We also make an I Love You Pizza every year....or an "Olive" pizza.  Get it...olive...i love!  We make a heart shaped pizza with olives on it.


Friday, January 13, 2017

Favorite Places to Visit on the Internet

Blogging time here has become minimal due to life going in fast forward.  Seriously, why does it go faster as the kids get older?

Speaking of kids...we've found a few websites that we've enjoyed in homeschooling this year.  Maybe you know of them or want to check them out.

Scratch - The kids have been learning computer coding this year.  We started with Scratch and they loved it.  They even request to use it during non-school hours.  We have now moved on to Python, but Scratch was a great place to start.

Code - The kids also love  They started with an Hour of Code.  The boy loves the Minecraft version and the girl loves the Frozen version.  Again, they request this during non-school hours too.

Kindle Scout - I've just recently discovered this.  You get to nominate up to 3 books at a time.  If the book you nominated is published, you get it for free.  The books are up for 30 days, so you can have a rotating list of books that you are nominating.  So far I'm at 0% for the books I have nominated that have been chosen to be published by Kindle.  Hopefully someone will get published!  But most of the authors have self-published on Amazon, so that's great.  You just need an Amazon account to be able to nominate books.  Check it out!

Where have you been cruising too on the Internet lately?

That's all I've got for today.  Enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

DIY Christmas Gifts & Goodies

It's a busy time of the year.  If you're looking for some last minute goodies or gifts, here's some that I have made in the past.

Here's the links to those posts on my blog:
What are you making this Christmas season?  I'm going to try and make some baklava!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Photographing Our 2016 Christmas Card

Drum roll, please!

Presenting our 2016 Christmas Card:

Yes, there was a sneak peek of it in our Favorite Christmas Card roundup post.  But here's a quick look at how we put it together.  And we put it together pretty quickly.  I look photos of the kids against my bedroom wall one morning.  The dog sat on a stool and the girl held him.  We did our best howling imitations to get him to howl.  He will "sing" along with us in his best little gravely howl.  The small photos below are the individual photos that I took.

I took those individual photos and put them together into one photo.  I started with a custom canvas (5x7) in Photoshop Elements and then put in the boy's photo, put in the girl's photo, and then stuck the dog's photo in the middle.  I had to erase some edges and blend the background a bit, but it didn't take real long.  I didn't even color correct or edit anything on the photo, I forgot to!  I usually brighten eyes a bit and soften skin, but nothing was done to these.  I ended up with the photo below.  Not perfect, but good enough.  I made the girl look taller than the boy, oh well.

My girl then took the photo above and opened it in PicMonkey.  She's becoming quite good at using PicMonkey.  She added the cartoon bubbles and the text all on her own.  Each kid picked what lyrics they wanted to be saying.  Then we ended up with the photo below.  We had them printed as sturdy 5x7 postcards to keep the costs down.  We're really happy with how they turned out.

Do you do Christmas cards?  We're going to have to start thinking of next year's card way ahead of time.  But most likely, we'll start around December 1 and try desperately to think of something to outdo the previous years.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Our Favorite Christmas Cards

With Christmas fast approaching, I thought I would round up our favorite Christmas cards from the past years.

2013 had the typical Christmas portrait photos.

2014 had 2 styles of cards.  We had the Superhero card and the "All I Want for Christmas Card."  We couldn't decide which one was better that year.

2015 had us thinking we couldn't top 2014.  Then we came up with the Lego card.  The 2 kids and the dog are hidden in that card.  It's like "Where's Waldo."

2016.  Oh, a sneak peek of this year's card.  We were having a creative rut and couldn't think of anything or how we would top the last couple of years.  We went simple this year, but we're still happy with it.  The dog just makes the card.  We got lucky capturing that expression.

Obviously, we like using cartoon speech bubbles in our Christmas cards.

You can find previous Christmas photos from previous years here.

Do you have a favorite Christmas card that you've done in the past?

Monday, December 5, 2016

Build a Shelf for Lego Minifigures

Do you have a child with a multitude of Lego Minifigures?  I never realized how many my children have until we tried to find them all.  We have Way Too Many.  We have full Minifigures, random Minifig pieces, and pieces that I don't know what they are.

I'm the kind of person who likes to have things organized and in their own places, but that hope never really materializes.  In order to corral and display the many Minifigures my son has, I re-purposed some shelves for him.

My child wrote about the shelves on his blog in this post.  You can find more photos there.  I helped with the materials and directions portion, so that gives me the mama-right to also talk about the shelves here.  They're pretty straight forward and easy to make.  You could probably figure out how to do it just by looking at the photos.  If you want the directions, you'll have to pop over to the kids' blog.  (A little mama shout-out to my kiddos!)

I originally built some photo shelves (picture ledges?  frame holders?) that were up in our old guest room/office/bonus room.  When the room was converted to a school room, the shelves came down and got stored in the garage.

One day I was frustrated with the Lego mess in my son's room and decided to put those picture shelves to another use.  I measured them and found out they would easily hold some 4x12 Lego pieces.  I ordered some at and when they arrived I hot glued them to the shelves.  We installed the shelves above the "Lego shelf" in my son's room and he neatly arranged the Minifigures for display and use.  The neatness probably lasted about 14 hours.  I had him reorganize the shelves to take the photos.  I guess that is one way to get him to clean up.

About 80% of the time, nearly 3/4 of the Minifigures are on his floor.  I'm not kidding.  It drives me nuts.  I want all the Minifigures displayed on the shelf and all his sets neatly arranged on his Lego shelf, but my child doesn't think like that.  He prefers millions of Lego scattered on his floor so that he can mix and match and build to his heart's desire.  I have to take deep breaths when I enter his room, but he does make up some fantastic creations.

How do you organize Lego stuff?  And do your kids keep it organized?


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