Thursday, October 20, 2011

Santa's Busy, Are You?

Have you gotten the Christmas planning itch, yet?  Word around the web seems to be that its almost time to break out the Christmas music, which is exactly how I've been feeling.
I haven't quite pulled out decorations or Christmas CDs, but I've started planning.  I have my notebook scribbled in and gift ideas floating around in my head and on paper.

Giverslog has put out a clever week by week holiday organizer printout where you can schedule in from now until Christmas what needs to be planned and done in time for Christmas.  Find the printout here.

Another holiday-esque thing I'm contemplating is this Maple Walnut Custard Pie.  It sounds amazing.  

I always enjoy hand making at least some of my gifts, but hesitate sharing them here in case of spoiling the surprise for the recipients.  But I've resolved to share at least a few of my favorite DIY present ideas.

What about you?  Any Christmas aspirations up your sleeve?  How do you prepare for the holidays?  Any favorite "go-to" Christmas gifts you'd like to share?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

5 Minute Pillows

In one of my feeble attempts at decorating a few years back, I bought three couch cushions; two of them didn't have covers.  I always meant to find some covers or make some covers, but I suffer from a few diseases that prevented me from doing that.  I have indecisiveness disease, fear of picking design elements disease, fear of the unknown process disease, procrastination disease, and lastly, inability to act unless certain of procedure disease.  All of these things prevented me from using my pillows, so there they sat, stored, for a few years until last night.  I happened upon this 5 Minute Simple Pillow Tutorial that suddenly pushed me over the hump (many humps) and into the sewing room (dining room table).  I think you find the tutorial great for people suffering from the "inability to act unless certain of procedure" disease (ITAUCOPD).  Kinda gives you that little "umph" to try it, huh?

I used a (vintage?) table cloth for the rectangular pillow and an old sham fabric plus miscellaneous scraps for the two square pillows.  This was a fun project and additionally, allows me to report to my friend, Toni, that I have indeed done some sewing lately.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

DIY Treasure Hunt Party Game

Caiden was very specific about the details of her 4th birthday party.  She specifically requested to have her presents hidden so she could have a treasure hunt with a treasure map to find the gifts.  I thought I could make that happen.  It turned out to be a big hit with all the kids and made present time a lot more fun, too.  Once they found the gifts, all the kids helped lug the loot to a central area where they made a pile and all circled around to open them up.  Nobody even seemed sad that Caiden was the only one to get to keep the treasure!  They all seemed to have a sense of pride in finding those gifts and were just too happy to be a part of making it all happen.

To do this yourself, simply: Hide something, leave clues, and make a treasure map.

All you really need is:


You might also want, but don't necessarily need:


I put 4 clues into white envelopes and taped them in the locations pointed out on the map (this was for a 4 yr. old, so we kept it really simple).  Once it was time to hunt, I told everybody to put on their eye patch (for effect) and handed them the map, instructing them to find the clues and read them to find out where the treasure was hidden.

I made sure to make it clear that the treasure they needed to find was the birthday girl's presents and she needed everybody's help to find them!

Our map led from the 'START' words to a corner in the fence where they found the first clue; it said, "Look in another corner for your next clue." Then, "Look under something blue that you can walk up." Then, "Go to a girl's room to find another clue." Finally, "Look inside a box that is old and is outside to find the treasure."

I hope you try this and make sure to take lots of pictures and let us know how it goes!

Friday, October 7, 2011

"Polaroid Posting"

From a summer outing in Berkeley where we visited the Berkeley Art Museum for a food festival.

Above: Elliott and Caiden in front of Four Barrel's history of coffee blackboard set up for the festival.
Below: Me, Caiden, and Elliott on the corner near the museum ready for an adventure!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Future Tattoo Artist?

What do you think?  Will Elliott make it as a tattoo artist someday?  I'm impressed with his "Ed Hardy-esque" skull contrasted next to a heart with an arrow through it...  Elliott's got skillz--watch out!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

DIY Piñata

What is more fun than hitting something as hard as you can and then being showered with loads of candy you then get to eat??  Not too much, I'll tell you that.  Having a pinata at your party is pretty cool.  Having a pinata you made yourself is even better! 

Here's what you'll need:

1) A large balloon
2) Newspaper or grocery store ads cut into roughly 1 1/2 inches wide by 6 inches long
3) Liquid Starch (or a mixture of flour and water works, too)
4) Paint and/or tissue paper to decorate it

What to do:

1) Blow up your balloon to your desired size.
2) Pour the liquid starch into a wide and shallow container such as a pie tin.
3) Submerge paper strips into starch and begin to place on top of the balloon overlapping the pieces as you go until you cover the entire balloon, leaving an opening around the top of the balloon where the knot is. (This is where you will insert the candy.)
4) Let the first layer dry. (Be careful not to leave it to dry in the sun if it is very hot or the balloon will expand and crack your paper mache.)
5) Do 2 more layers going in opposite directs, drying in between layers.
6) Once dry, hold the top of the balloon while making a slit in the rubber and the balloon will pull away from the paper mache as it deflates.
7) Paint the piñata and/or glue strips of tissue paper in a pattern around your balloon to decorate.
8) Fill with candy.
9) Make a small hole on both side of the balloon near the top where you can put a rope through. (I leave the candy filling hole open since it is at the top and doesn't really matter)
10) String up your pinata and let it be smashed to smithereens!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Monday Mom Moment

Today my job pretty much resembled that of a bridesmaid.  There I was, sitting on the couch, trying to recover from a Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred workout (which is excellent, by the way) when out tromps Caiden dressed like this:

I was compelled to take her picture to record this amazing presentation and immortalize it in history before I let her go back to playing her imaginary game.  She then took apart a very carefully built lego ship her brother had built.  I scolded her and explained how I didn't think brother would appreciate her wrecking his creation, so she somehow managed to put it all back together again.

Then the pirate princess had to use the bathroom.  "This dress is really fluffy!" she cried from the bathroom as I hurried in to help.  "I got it!" she yelled just before I got there.  And there she stood with all of her layers of skirts and capes held up in her little arms just like a wedding gown.  "...Ummm... Can you help me get on the toilet?" she asked.  So, I lifted her up and there she sat, clinching her toes to try to keep her plastic heels from falling off.  I left.  Pretty soon I heard the sound of the plastic heels clopping around on the bathroom tile and hurried in to make sure she could wipe.  There she stood in front of the toilet with all the layers of her gowns still in her arms.

"I'll do it." I said.  And I did.  The end.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Happy Birthday, Caiden Keats

Something crazy happened when we all weren't looking.  Caiden turned four!  I never gave her my permission to do that!  But time keeps on flying by whether we want it to or not, right?

I enjoy watching my kids grow, though, and it is a pleasure to see what kind of lady she is turning out to be.  One thing I know for sure is that my girl is decisive!  She gave me lots of very specific details whenever we would talk about her birthday and I would judiciously and furiously be typing them into my notepad on my phone so that I wouldn't forget.  This is not the kind of girl that tells you details lightly.  She means what she says!

She told me that first of all, she wanted a party hat--a rainbow colored, cone shaped birthday hat.  Also, a pink cake, please, with white frosting and sprinkles!  The next thing she hit me with was the fact that she wanted her presents hidden and wanted to have a treasure map and do a treasure hunt to find them!  When asked by her Aunt what colors she would want for her party, her reply was, "Orange, yellow, red, blue, black, gray, and white."  There is no room for error here, people!  She was even specific about what she wanted to wear on the day of her party.  In the morning, she wanted to go get donuts with Dad and wear regular clothes, "And then later right before the party starts I'll wear my princess dress."  She ran around her party clickety-clackety in her plastic high heels and told me she would wear her crown until it was time to have cake and sing and then she would put on her party hat.

Well, we did the best we could and started inviting people and as I was talking to Caiden about the people, she says, "MOM. I don't want a lot of people at my party!  I get nervous when there are too many people!"  So we didn't have too many people and the party turned out super fun!

We barbecued hamburgers and hotdogs, had lots of macaroni and cheese, destroyed a homemade pinata, went on a treasure hunt for Caiden's present, played dress up, ran around, and had cake and icecream.

At the end of the day, Caiden declared, "That was a FUN, FUN, FUN, party!!!"  I asked her what her favorite part of the party was and she said, "The part where you were singing happy birthday to me and I was coughing and trying not to cry!"  Earlier she had confided in me that she kept coughing during the song to keep herself from crying.  I think it makes her nervous having everyone looking at her!

My baby girl is FOUR!  What a happy, intense, and laughter filled four years you have given us, Caiden...  You make our family kind of magical and fill our home with glitter and joy.  Happy Birthday, Caiden Keats!