My last post talked about my daughter’s joint birthday party with her two friends that she has known since she was born. There were many aspects about this party that we tried to incorporate.
First, we had a great venue, thanks to one of our friends who lives across the street. Living in NYC, one finds that space comes as a luxury and a premium. We are very fortunate that one of our friends lives in a building that has a party room for its residents to use. The party room also adjoins a play room with toys for babies and toddlers. So, great space for a party? Check.
Second, because the girls are all 3, we figured they would need some sort of activities. The big activity was that we hired a musician who played songs on a ukulele and brought egg shakers and a parachute for the kiddies to play with. I think the parents had almost as much fun as the kids with this one! Other crafts we had was a drawing station with a bunch of large sheets of paper, crayons and stickers, as well as a station where kids could make their very own party favor – a magnetic caterpillar craft!
I got the craft idea from pinterest and thought that it was simple enough for a 3-year old to execute with a little help from an adult. Here is the shopping list of items that I used in order to make this craft:
Hot glue gun
The execution is very simple. Using the hot glue gun, stick a magnet to one side of the clothespin. On the other side, run a long line of glue along the length of the clothespin. Stick the pom-poms on to form a straight line. Using the hot glue gun, glue on two wiggly eyes. Voila! You now have a cute little magnetic caterpillar that can also hold artwork and other things!
I decided to prepare ahead of time by gluing all the magnets onto the clothespin. My daughter was curious, naturally and wanted to know what I was doing. So, I explained to her that we were preparing a craft for her party and she immediately wanted to try it out herself. So, I made the craft with her before the party to see how kid-friendly it was. She had a lot of fun with it and wanted to make all of the caterpillars! This turned out better than I expected and it was a big hit at the party!
My daughter just turned 3 years old! I cannot believe how fast time flies. It feels like just yesterday I was holding her in my arms for the first time and marveling at how perfect she was in my arms and how reliant she was on me for everything! Now, I can barely hold her and she’s become so independent. Now, I don’t know about you, but many of my daughter’s friends were born around the same time as her.
We have officially reached birthday season! It’s always a little bit of a challenge to throw a birthday party that won’t conflict with two to three of her other friends. So, the moms of the 3 musketeers decided to throw a joint 3-year old birthday party, since many of their friends overlap. We didn’t have a particular theme, although we had decided on spring colors. When asked what she wanted to do for her birthday, my daughter said she wanted “purple ballerinas”. Huh. Is that right. Okay…..
So, purple ballerinas for her cupcakes it was! I racked my brain for how to make a purple ballerina cupcake. I thought “well, maybe I can get a cupcake topper?” I searched for all sorts, like little doll toppers, ballerina toppers, etc. Most of them were in pink , but I figured I could use purple cupcake liners and then use a pink topper and it would still be okay. I finally settled on the following liners and edible cupcake toppers. For the cupcake recipe, I decided to be a little different and go with a strawberry cupcake instead of a traditional vanilla or yellow cupcake. I found a great recipe on Martha Stewart here and I opted for a very simple buttercream frosting recipe.
When my daughter found out I was making birthday cupcakes, she was very excited. She helped me to decorate the cupcakes. I made the cupcakes the night before and the day of the party, I made the icing, iced the cupcakes, and had her press on the toppers for the party. She was very into it and especially loved helping us pack the cupcakes away as she would get icing on her hands and get to lick it all off. Once they were packed and we got to the party venue, she immediately wanted to have a cupcake! Well, I’m glad she was so excited.
The party was a big success! I will have to write another post for it as there was so much going on. I’m sad to say we didn’t take a lot of pictures. Seeing as how we had in excess of 20 children under the age of 5, it was a little bit hectic. Well, you only turn 3 once!
The weather report going this week-end was not good. There was a prediction for more snow and cold weather. Now, normally, I don’t mind snow. But pushing a stroller in snow while pregnant is not an easy task. I was both excited and apprehensive for the snow, which put me into a strange kind of nesting mood.
My kitchen on Sunday was a hub of activity. I must be getting my energy back because I ended up making a bowl of guacamole, two dinners (one for Sunday and one for Monday) with plenty to spare, and then I decided to make a breakfast bread. I haven’t been baking in quite a while, just simple things here and there. I did make a pound cake two weeks ago and it was so nice to have a staple breakfast food again that I thought I should make another today.
The mix today was a strawberry lemon poundcake Generally, I like to use lemon when I feel spring coming on. A bit of lemon zest just adds a nice, fresh zing to anything, and to me, it is so reminiscent of spring. As for the strawberries, I happened to have a handful leftover from what my daughter didn’t eat. I was a little skeptical about using strawberries because I just find that their flavor is so subtle in baking that you sometimes don’t notice it. Oh well, waste not, want not. I ended up using my staple pound cake recipe. I made this a double recipe so that it would fill a large bundt pan. When I got to the pouring of the batter, instead of mixing the strawberries into the batter (I was afraid the weight of the berries would cause them all to fall down to the bottom during baking) I poured in half the batter, then I sliced the berries and lay them in into the batter, nuzzling some a little deeper in, then pouring the rest of the batter on top. It’s kind of like how you make a coffee cake with the cinnamon filling in the center.
Well, the moment this came out of the oven, my daughter wanted some. The smell of the lemon with the strawberries was subtle yet intoxicating and when I cut it open to get a better look, I was pleasantly surprised that it turned out better than expected. I cut a piece for my daughter, sampling a little myself and she devoured it. My husband noted that the strawberries added just a hint of sweetness that complemented the lemon quite nicely. I think this one’s a winner!
I can’t believe that January is almost over! I was looking through my blog and I noticed that the quantity of my posts seems to have diminished a little. I apologize for that, everyone! Thanks for your patience!
I can explain, really. I have been a little preoccupied lately as I am pregnant with #2! People aren’t kidding when they say that every pregnancy is different! I don’t know if it’s getting older, or having a child already, or what, but I have been so exhausted with this pregnancy. I literally could barely keep my eyes awake to get home from work, shovel some semblance of a meal into my mouth, and then go narcoleptic on my husband and daughter by passing out on whatever horizontal surface was closest. That coupled with the terrible bout of morning sickness (really, I don’t know why people specify morning. It lasts ALL DAY LONG…) made things very challenging for the past couple of months. I’m hoping now that I’m in the middle of my second trimester that things will begin to improve!
We did find out that we’re having a girl! My eldest daughter is very excited to be an older sister! We’ve been trying to prepare her for the shock of no longer being an only child by talking with her frequently about “baby” and how she will be so helpful and such a great example for baby. Of course, my daughter immediately decided that the baby is “her” baby and will never fail to give her baby a hug before she gives me a hug. Ironic, but sweet seeing as how it could go the other way!
Needless to say, all this passing out left and right hasn’t really given me much opportunity to craft anything. Even if I did find the energy to pick up some knitting needles or a crochet hook, I’d probably pass out on top of it and end up skewering myself involuntarily. I think I’ll leave the major crafting to when I have a little more control of my ability to stay awake. Until then though, happy crafting!
My daughter’s daycare has begun a great pre-k program which teaches them all sorts of fun stuff. Each month they have a theme and each week focuses on a different aspect of his theme. For example, the first month was family. So, they all made family trees and learned all about their family and each other’s families. In conjunction with these themed weeks, there are lots of different art projects to help teach them about these aspect. One day they drew a picture of mommy. One day they made a craft project of daddy. They learned the difference between girls and boys and had projects that defined the different genders, etc. etc. Well, we’re now 4 months into the curriculum and almost every day my daughter comes back with a new craft project. There are so many, which are great, but I’m having difficulty finding places to put them!
When I was growing up, I had done a lot of craft projects myself. I didn’t know what my mom had done with all of them. One day, a couple of years back, before any of my brothers or I had kids, we were all home for the holidays and reminiscing about our childhood. All of a sudden, my mom tells us that she has all of our old craft projects stored away in boxes! What!??!! So we pulled the boxes down and spent the afternoon perusing all of our different forays. Some of them were pretty hilarious. Young kids are so honest and open that when you read some of the things we wrote, it was shocking yet funny at the same time!
This moment flashes before my eyes each time my daughter brings home a new craft. I have diligently been labeling each project with a date and what it is (if it is not recognizable to me) or if there is something of note (such as – she glued all of the items on herself) and put them in a stack on top of our refrigerator. I found that if I leave them in an easy to reach place, she often wants to take them and re-purpose the craft into something else. So, the pile grew and grew. I, being a little bit of a neat freak, started to get a little agitated with the growing stack of disorganization above our fridge. I finally had a bright idea to display all the art and reclaim some of the space above my fridge. Also, it was a great project I could do with my daughter!
Since her room has a little table for her to do her arts and crafts, I had previously decorated with two simple framed pieces of her artwork. However, I realized I could put this wall to better use and display even more. I thought that having two strings with clothespins holding up her various art pieces would be a fun way to display all her crafts. As she made more crafts, we could shuffle things around and pin more up. My daughter got very excited with this idea. I taught her how to use the clothespins and she helped me pin up all of her projects. I let her decide, for the most part, what order to put them up. The final result is what you see above! I think that I’m going to need to think of another idea for displaying these crafts as there is no more room for other crafts and the pile continues to grow on top of my fridge. Sometimes you just can’t win :)
It is officially the holidays! This means decorations, presents, and most importantly, holiday cookies! I try to make holiday cookies every year, but I skipped last year since we spent the holidays in Seattle with my parents.
With the holidays upon us, and my daughter being of an age that actually is conducive to some tasks, I was thinking that making holiday cookies would be so much fun. Last year, my office holiday party had a room that was dedicated to cookie decorating for all of the kids and it was a big hit with my daughter. They had prepared cookies, icing, and tons of different sprinkles, candies and such to decorate you cookie. Then, they had little individual clear bags to wrap your decorated cookie in and take home. I thought this would be fabulous to try at home. And, fortuitously, the mommies of the three musketeers, decided that we would all get together and have a cookie-decorating session for our daughters. I (of course) got super-excited and immediately when and bought all the cool holiday sprinkles online at Amazon that I could find (I couldn’t resist).
Well, the big day rolled around and my daughter was very excited to go to her friend’s house to make cookies, but lo and behold, the fates were not with us. She woke up that morning with a weird barking cough and a mild fever. The doctor told us she had croup (again). Bother. I already had all the ingredients for cookies, icing, and the sprinkles to boot! Well, I wasn’t going to let a little croup hold me back, especially when my daughter threw a fit when she found out she wasn’t going to her friends house for cookie festivities anymore. I took it upon myself to do a mini-session a home to appease both of our cookie cravings.
While this was a little bit messy (I think we’ll be finding sprinkles throughout the apartment for a long while – those things really do travel well across a wood floor!) she had a wonderful time and we ended up with a ton of home-made gifts for friends. I would definitely recommend this as a kid-friendly and affordable activity to do at home, especially when it’s snowing non-stop outside (like it was when we made the cookies). Happy Holidays to everyone!
There were many ideas and thoughts that went into this recipe book. Really, when you get right down to it, this has become a document of our family history. As I read the stories and anecdotes and see the photos included of not just food, but our family, I find myself reminiscing over living overseas and travelling extensively all over the world and what a wonderful childhood my parents made for my brothers and me.
While I love all aspects of the book, I think my favorite part are the appendices. One of them is dedicated solely to ingredients. I am second generation Taiwanese and I cannot read the writing, so when I go to Chinese grocery stores, I recognize ingredients, but I can’t read the labels to see if they are the correct types of ingredients (is it spicy? Does it have garlic flavoring? etc. etc.) As for my brothers, I don’t know if they ever paid attention to the ritualistic grocery shopping and the time my mom took to pore over each packaged and canned good. So, we devised a section to take care of just that. We have one appendix section dedicated solely to a photo dictionary of all of the packaged, canned and bottled goods that my mom uses in her cooking, followed by a short description of it’s use, flavor, or other pertinent information. I have already used this section extensively. Then we have a photo section for all of the various vegetables, meats, and fish found in the Chinese grocery stores and how you can prepare them. I must say I am much more well-versed in the various foods now that I was before.
The other awesome appendix is based on preparation. Have you ever wondered how to wrap that bun? How do they get all that rice into the bamboo leaves with the meat perfectly in the middle? How do you clean a whole squid? How do you cut up a chicken and re-assemble it on a plate to look whole again? Well, we have a section with a photo tutorial on all of these questions and more!
For our wonderful family masterpiece, I ended up using an online publishing company called blurb.com. I found this site through one of my graphic designer friends. While there were a couple sites to choose from, this one seemed to suit my purposes the best. Since I started this so long ago, the only option was to use the blurb proprietary software. Since it was still fairly new, there weren’t many options on customizing layouts, but since I took my sweet time, I was able to upgrade the software 3-4 times, where they built in template customization and other cool tools. Now they even have an interface with Adobe InDesign where you can import an InDesign file into their program instead of using their software, making customization literally endless. They have also improved their printing options, offering many varieties of papers to print on as well for the inside face of the book.
Our family recipe book clocked in at a whopping 310 pages. No wonder it took 10 years! While I am so relieved that this is done, I…. no… I’m just relieved that this is done! If you have any interest at all in purchasing a copy, I have included the link below, where you can preview the first 15 pages of the book. I hope you enjoy!