Celebrating 7!

This weekend, we celebrated my eldest daughter turning seven. It seems like only yesterday that I found out I was pregnant with her and all of a sudden she’s turning 7! Where did the time go?

When asked how she would like to celebrate, she said she wanted a small party with just seven friends. She also said she wanted to paint and have a pinata. And she wanted purple. And no theme. Okaaaaaay…… I was seriously stumped here. So I kind of let the thoughts on the party percolate for a bit, asking for a little more detail each day. She said she definitely did not want a theme. So when I asked about the pinata, she finally told me she wanted an emoji. Great! Now we were getting somewhere!

As for the painting, no emojis for that. Okaaaaaay….. So finally I was able to get from her that she wanted a puppy. Great! More direction!

Finally, the cake. Purple. No theme. Not a dog, not an emoji. Okaaaaaay…… Hello Pinterest, can you please solve this for me? After looking at photos of many purple cakes, I finally landed on an ombre rosette cake using purple (instead of the pink I was seeing everywhere.). I showed the boss and we had a winner!

While the elements of the party weren’t in the same family by any means, it was still enough to feel cohesive and fun. I think I did a pretty good job of pulling this one together. What do you think?

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Happy Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! One thing about little kids, you don’t forget these Hallmark holidays since school reminds you of them constantly! This year, I actually was (somewhat) more organized in that I had time to think of what to do instead of just running to Target to grab whatever was left, haha!

Since school here has a strict “no food” policy, candy is out of the question. I also hate the idea of giving out a goody bag or present that will only end up in the trash. So, I landed on stickers and erasers for the kids. I mean, what kid doesn’t love stickers and need erasers as they learn to write?

I ended up drawing a simple whale design and scanning it in to use as the template for each valentine. The girls got to color them in for each classmate and fill the little bags attached to the back. This took maybe 1-2 hours of one afternoon. The girls had fun and it was a great, cost efficient solution!

2017 Holiday Season Done!

I hope that everyone is having a wonderful holiday!  I can’t believe it’s already the new year!  Time really flies!  This holiday season, as a class mom, I was responsible for helping with holiday party at the end of the year.  This meant mass cookie decorating.  I was stumped, I had never done this with more than three kids, tops!

Cue Pinterest.  I was constrained by a time limit of 20 minutes for eighteen kids, so I knew there would be no time to waste on passing out decorations or cookies and such.  I determined that I should pre-package a kit for each child that consisted of the following:

2 sugar cookies

(1) 2 oz. container of silver decorating balls

(1) 2 oz. container of mini holiday M&M’s

(1) 2 oz. container of holiday gummies

(2) mini candy canes

(1) small popsicle stick for spreading icing

I made sure each child had a plate to decorate the cookie on so the decorations wouldn’t get everywhere.   I also pre-prepared (3) bags of colored royal icing for each table of 4-5 kids so they all had a bag of red, green and white icing to share in disposable icing bags sealed with a rubber band at the end.  I cut off the tips at the event so the icing stayed fresh and made it 2 days in advance.

This went very smoothly.  Each child had a great time either decorating or eating the decorations.  The pre-packaged kits were very helpful for the event and made everything run so efficiently.  I think we pulled off a great activity at the party and got everyone in the holiday spirit!  How did you start and end your holiday season?

Pom Pom Obsession

IMG_8330It has been a long while since I have had the opportunity to go back to what started my whole blog, which was making baby hats!  I was thrilled at the chance to make another hat when I found out that one of my co-workers is expecting his first child, a sweet baby girl.

I’m really liking the look of a beautifully knit, simple baby hat, and I have been wanting to try a very large pom-pom as a surprising element in the proportions of the hat.  I opted to go for a very simple alternating striped hat as the base: classic and timeless.  I then added an oversized pom-pom to the top as a surprising and bold element to an otherwise conventional pattern.

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I must say, when I finished the hat I thought “perfect!”. Then I finished the pom-pom and thought “woah, that’s big!”  I had to giggle a little because I was so incredibly excited about the success of the pom-pom!  After I made this hat, my daughters both found it and immediately tried to squeeze their large noggins into a newborn baby hat!  Then they made me promise to make them their own hats, so I guess I got more than I bargained for!  Anyways, I couldn’t be more excited for my co-worker and hope that this hat will keep his new daughter cozy and warm as this cold weather sets in!

Wicked-ly Delicious

 

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Things have been so busy that I have found myself seriously neglecting my blog.  Not to say that I haven’t still be making things, but I haven’t had time to share all the lovely things I’ve been doing with my girls.

Well, this coming week is Halloween!  I can’t say that I am an avid participator in the holiday, but being a class mom and having two small girls who love dressing up, I find myself getting sucked in.  While both my daughters are having Halloween parties at school, I volunteered to bring the cupcakes for my youngest since I will be missing her parade to be at the eldest’s class party.

I wanted to be sure to make something that was a little more  thoughtful than the regular store-bought cupcakes (seeing as how there is no specialty cupcake store in my area that I know of).  I scoured websites and Pinterest for a simple yet fun Halloween cupcake and found this.  I had to slightly modify it based on the ingredients that I was able to find, but I think that they ended up really cute.

I know that both my daughters were very excited to help make the witches hats (especially the unwrapping of the kisses, and then making sure that they were still good… haha!)  These were relatively simple to make, and I took a little shortcut, buying a boxed cake mix since I was a little pinched for time.  Below is the quick and dirty on how I made them:

Witches Hats:

1 bag of Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Kisses

1 package Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers

1 recipe buttercream frosting

Hat Assembly: Unwrap the kisses.  Place buttercream frosting using a very small tip to ice the bottom and place it in the center of a wafer, pressing down firmly.  Pipe a ring around the bottom of the kiss to the wafer and finish with a bow.  Set aside.

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1 box Devil’s Food Cake (makes 24 cupcakes)

Cupcake Assembly: Using a large round tip, pipe the frosting onto the cupcake starting at the outer edge and then spiraling inwards.  Sprinkle the sprinkles of your choice around the sides of the frosting and place one of the witches hats on the top of the frosting.  I kinked them a little so that you could see the frosting with the sprinkles peeking out from under the hat as a little teaser.

I ended up making the frosting green and having the girls sprinkle purple and orange sprinkles on the cupcakes before adorning each with a hat.  I think that these turned out really cute and they were really quick and easy to make with the kids help.  Hopefully all of my daughters friends will have as much fun eating them as she did in making them!  Happy Halloween everyone!

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Lofty Ambitions

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Before my youngest turned three, we promised her that once she was three she would get a “big girl bed”. Previously she had been sleeping on a mattress on the floor to get her used to sleeping on a twin mattress while not having to worry about her falling off the bed each night. A little less than a year ago, my daughters decided they wanted to share a bedroom so we moved the floor mattress into my eldest daughter’s room. While the room is a good size, having two twin beds really reduced the usable space in the room because of the shape of the room and the way the door swings.

When we moved to this house, we bought a really nice twin bed frame for my eldest daughter (she had just turned three and it was her first “big girl bed”). I didn’t want to get rid of this frame so I was looking for a solution that would maintain use of this bed but still allow both girls to have a real bed. Bunk beds wouldn’t work so I was looking for loft bed solutions. I really wanted a loft bed with stairs because I was worried about my daughter climbing down a ladder in the middle of the night if she needed to go to the restroom. Unfortunately, all the loft bed solutions with stairs that I found were both VERY expensive, and they would not allow the door of the room to open. I was a little stuck.

Enter, Pinterest. I started looking for different solutions and found an amazing tutorial for a loft bed with stairs that I could modify slightly to work with our room layout! I had to change some of the dimensions to fit our existing bed frame underneath as well as modify the steps and landing because of the limitations of the door swing. But, all in all, it was pretty good.

I made this bed over Memorial Day week-end. It took me about 2 full days (having to field two very curious children, borrowing some very old and not quite right power tools from my neighbors, and not having a proper worktable so rigging up bricks on my patio floor as my “cutting table”). All materials cost a little less than $300, which is about 1/6 the price of any loft bed with stairs I was able to find that might have fit in our space. Of course, being the architect I am, I had to draw it out with my modifications and the room layout to really get it straight in my head what I was trying to do. I think my husband thought I was a little cuckoo to start this project on Saturday afternoon of Memorial Day week-end, but amazingly, everything fell into place!

My daughters were very interested to see mommy using power tools and assembling something from scratch, but I wanted to show them that this is not impossible. I was a little rusty at first and the circular saw I used was probably twenty-five pounds, but I ended up getting most of the cuts pretty straight, which is amazing given how I didn’t have a level surface anywhere and I had to eyeball a bunch of stuff.

Modifications made were really surrounding the mattress support, adding some diagonal bracing for stability, and the steps/ ladder solution. We used (3) 3/4″ thk birch plywood sheets cut down to size for the mattress support (since it was raining the day we got materials so we were trying to put everything into the car to avoid getting anything wet). Since our loft wasn’t braced on both sides by walls, I needed to add some bracing to allow for more stability when the girls climb up the top bunk. The steps were made using the leftover plywood sheets for the treads and the platform was really just scraps that I threw together to make the landing and attach to the loft frame. I have to say, I’m quite proud of the result and it felt great to be making something with my hands again.

My daughters just LOVE this bed. We have attached a sheet to the top rail of the loft and use it as a curtain to create a “tent” where they read books and play together.  We put a little rug and a seat and some pillows to make it more comfy.  This week-end they are each getting one night to sleep in the tent with the sheet closed for a mini-adventure in make-believe land.  This project is already worth its weight in gold.

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Happy New Year 2017!

We were fortunate enough to have my parents visiting for the New Year, which allowed me to be a little more ambitious for our New Year’s dinner.  I have been wanting to teach the girls how to make dumplings.  I still have fond memories as a child of all of us seated at the kitchen table making dumplings, talking and joking while making delicious food. These are the kinds of small traditions I want to pass on to my children, but it is a lot of work for just one person to prepare all of the ingredients and follow through, because, inevitably, children’s attention spans are short. With my mom in town, this eliminated a lot of these concerns as we have been working together for so long that it’s almost like second nature when we are together and making food.

We ended up making three different dumplings: shui jiao and guo tie (same style, just cooked differently), wontons and shumei. Can I just say, TASTY!!!!  To save time we bought the store-bought dumpling wrappers but made the filling from scratch. Making it fun for the kids, we had on child per adult and I had my daughters separate the he dumpling skins, spoon the filling, and put water around the perimeter of the hehe he skins for sealing.  My mom, husband and I wrapped the dumplings.  When they get older they can get more interactive, learning how to wrap the different types of dumplings.

Dumpling filling (for 5 packs of small, round dumpling skins):

2 lb ground pork

1 lb diced shrimp

2 lb chopped chives

4 stalks scallions, diced

4 slices Ginger, diced

2 T cooking wine

1 tsp white pepper

2 tsp salt

2 T cornstarch

4 T soy sauce

4 T sesame oil

Mix all ingredients together and let it sit for at least 30 minutes. Wrap away!

Happy New Year to all!