Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Memory Catchers

I absolutely love this idea to make preserving our children's milestones and special moments a simple, fun and creative task. I'll definitely be making a few of these! Oh, and check out the rest of her blog. I think this is my first time coming across The 6 O'Clock Stitch and I've thoroughly enjoyed her style of writing, her reflections and her photography.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Tea For Two

I wanted to have a tea party with Taylor on Mother's Day. But she was hit with an awful stomach flu and that put an end to that plan. So, Sunday morning I decided it was the perfect time for the 2 of us to have a tea party. We had baked a batch of cookies on Saturday, so we paired the cookies with some sliced ham, watermelon and crackers for the perfect mid-morning snacks for our tea party.

We both dressed up for the occasion.

I love having a daughter to do girly things with! Taylor enjoyed our time together, too!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Dishtowel Apron

I found these incredibly adorable dishtowels at HomeGoods last Saturday evening when I took a much needed break from the joys of an overtired, whiny, molar getting 3 yr old! Aren't they the prettiest dishtowels you've ever seen? They had several other ones that were just as pretty. I took so long to decide which ones to buy. And the price was really good! I got the pink pack (5) for $7.99. The turquoise pack was $4.00! So, when I bought them, I knew that I'd be making at least 1 half apron. After realizing how easy and fun they are to make, I decided I'll be making a lot more of these! I'll post a tutorial soon to show you what a simple project this is.

I love how it turned out. I always feel so much more domestic when I wear an apron.Even if I don't actually do any housework while I'm wearing it, I immediately feel as though I'm getting things done around the house.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Conquer the Toy Clutter!

I conquered the toy clutter! Finally! I feel like I have control over the toys in this house! The picture above and the next few pics were taken yesterday morning. The wall of toys faces into our living room. The shelves are stacked against the back of our long kitchen island. So, when this area is a disaster, the whole house feels out of control.

This is the contents of a puzzle basket that was dumped on the floor. See all the other random toys, dolls, Mr. Potato Head's shoes, baby wipes, blocks, some that belong to a shape sorter that the girl hasn't played with in about 2 yrs. See the clear shoebox on top of the green & white basket? That's full of flashcards that are often dumped out just for the fun of it and end up all over the house.

Another basket filled with miscellaneous toys that were just thrown in there.

And now....

here's what it looked like at the end of the day, after a few hours of sorting, purging, cleaning and putting away!

Doesn't it look SOOOO much better?

These are not all of her toys. She also has the Rose Petal Cottage which is in the dining room, outside of our office/craft room. All of her dolls and doll stuff is in that area. I'll conquer that soon, but it's going to be much less work than this area was. She also has a few toys and books in her bedroom. All of her art supplies are in the craft room.

I love the white cubbies and the purple crates. The cubbies are so versatile and affordable. The 2 cube shelves are about $10. As for the purple crates, I got them about 2 yrs ago at Target for about $5 each, I think. I love that they stack and of course I love the color! I labeled them with handmade tags and just drew a picture of the contents of each crate. "Toys" refers to any toys that we don't have a group of. Slinky, magnadoodle, etc. I moved the 3 tiered white baskets that were in this space into the craft room where they'll be put to better use.

Puzzles! My girl LOVES puzzles! The three boxes on the bottom are giant floor puzzles, the turquoise basket holds the wooden puzzles, the next shelf up holds some board games and other puzzles and her pegboard. Next shelf is a magnetic puzzle, Mr. Potato Head and the flash cards. A basket on top holds boxed puzzles. The magazine holders house random sticker books and a few coloring books (the rest are in the craft room).

Here's her beloved doll house and the purple basket holds the accessories for it. The popular band set is beside that basket. The shelf below houses her Dr's kit and basket of wooden blocks.
Her vacuum and cleaning supplies are behind the cradle. Beside that, which I didn't get a pic of, is the white toy chest that houses all of her dress up clothes.

When I was going through all of her toys, I realized she really does play with all of them. I fully intended to pack up or purge toys that she doesn't play with, but I only had a small box of toys that I honestly feel she doesn't use. Of course, she has a large bin of stuffed animals and she doesn't need all of them, but for now I've just packed them up and will store them in the garage.

So, that's how I've conquered the toy clutter. I'd love to hear your tips on toy organization.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

What a WEEK!!! Wow! I have been swamped with work in my "day job". I've been working overtime and have been too tired to do much creatively this week. Kind of a catch 22 because crafting is an natural energy booster for me, but at the same time I have to have enough energy to gather the supplies and get to work on a project. And I have to have the determination to refuse to go lay down in my bed because once that happens, it's all over. I was in bed by 8:00pm twice this week!

Anyway, needless to say, I am glad it's the weekend. And a THREE day weekend, at that! I'm sorry for the lack of crafty posts in the last couple of weeks but I guarantee there will be some fab crafty things to post about over the next few days. On my to do list:

1) baking with Taylor
2) showing off my crafty creations from last weekend...I spent almost all weekend with my sewing machine last weekend and I can't wait to post about it. Just haven't had the time! Pics are on my camera, though!
3)I will conquer the TOYS!!!! The toys are taking over in this house and the worst part is there are baskets of toys that never get "played" with. They just get dumped on the floor and then an argument ensues when it's time to clean up. A certain 3 yr old declares "but I'm playing with those!". Right. So, I'm pairing down the toy collection to things that are actually played with. Wish me luck and energy on this one. I think it's going to be a big project but will eliminate a lot of frustration in the end.
4) Some fun art projects with Taylor!
5) Hopefully some crafting of my own! (before that happens, some tidying of my craft space is required!).

How are you going to spend this 3 day weekend?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

National Eosinophil Awareness Week

So, if you've been reading this blog at all, you know by now that my daughter has food allergies. As an infant she had severe reflux which continued well into toddlerhood, long after most babies outgrow it. When she was around 18 months old, we finally realized she had food allergies. I connected with a local support group who referred me to Kids With Food Allergies. It was here that I learned how to manage my daughter's food allergies and how I discovered how uncontrolled her reflux was. She was still waking frequently during the night, had frequent ear infections, frequent hiccups after eating, wanted to eat and drink constantly and even spit up occassionally - as a TODDLER! Our pediatrician referred us to a pediatric GI who ultimately tested for EE (Eosinophilic Esophagitis) which often goes hand-in-hand with reflux symptoms and food allergies. Taylor was not diagnosed with EE, but for several weeks, as we were awaiting our GI consult, as we were waiting for "scope day", and as we were waiting for the results of the biopsies, I pondered what it would be like to raise a child with EE. KFA has a forum dedicated to parents of children of Eos disorders where these parents can discuss symptom management, feeding tubes and get support from other parents who have faced similar circumstances and had to make the same dificult decisions for the health of their children.

This week is National Eosinophil Awareness Week. I feel compelled to do my part to raise awareness of this rare but significant condition. As I was blog hopping tonight, not even thinking about EE or food allergies, I came across this post. This is a very touching story of a mom who's 3 year old was diagnosed with EE. Still don't know what EE is? Check out her post so you can learn more! She'll do a much better job of explaining it than I will!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Birthday Party Fun!

The big day finally arrived!!!

I've found a new love. Baking and crafting go very well together! I had so much fun decorating the cookies and frosting the cupcakes! This was only my third time using a piping bag (ever!) and I've never decorated cookies before. I love how they turned out!

The cookies are chocolate sugar cookies (recipe is here) and I dipped them in red royal icing. I used a mock royal icing recipe from Kids With Food Allergies which is free of Taylor's allergens.

Hubby did the grilled chicken with barbeque sauce and I made the amazing I Love Tomatoes Pasta Salad (this recipe is also from Kids With Food Allergies)

Taylor got some fabulous gifts, and we gave her friends plastic flower pots filled with handmade goodies! In an upcoming post I'll offer the details of how I made all the party favors.

I even painted Taylor's toenails for her special day. She's never had her nails painted before and she thought it was pretty fun!

She had soooo much fun and as you can see, she was beaming when everyone sang "Happy Birthday!" to her.

Thank you to everyone who celebrated Taylor's special day with us. And, I have to give a HUGE shout out to the fab folks at Kids With Food Allergies (KFA). When we first discovered Taylor's food allergies about 2 years ago, I didn't bake at. all. I was a decent cook, but baking? No. Definitely not. The baking support I've received from the people at KFA in the Food & Cooking Forums and the Celebrations Forum, is what gave me the confidence to pull this party together. Thank you SO much! I love you guys!!!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Birthday Party Planning - Step 4 & 5 The Food and cake

Yum! We're doing a simple menu with all food that is safe for Taylor. I do not want to tell her she can't have what other people are eating at her own birthday party! We will be doing a simple menu that will all be made in advance so we can socialize with our friends at the party rather than being stuck doing food prep. Here's the menu:

Grilled Chicken breasts with BBQ sauce
Pasta Salad
Potato Chips

Iced Tea
Capri Sun Juices for the kids.

Chocolate cupcakes (dairy, soy (protein)*, egg free) decorated to match the ladybug theme. I will be baking these and decorating them and I still haven't completely decided on exactly how I'm decorating them. I'm thinking of topping them with a chocolate sugar cookie decorated to look like a ladybug, resting in green frosting.

Once the menu is decided, do an inventory of what you have and what you need. Determine your shopping list and include any serving dishes, plate settings and napkins you need to purchase. Planning far in advance has allowed me to determine which stores offer the best prices on things I need. I'll be getting our utensils and paper goods from the dollar store.

Also, planning in advance allowed me to use a coupon to purchase a tiered dessert stand from JoAnn's for the cupcakes. I'm really happy with this! I didn't really want a traditional cupcake stand that holds individual cupcakes, so this was a great alternative. It's so versatile, it matches my white serving dishes (a very good thing to invest in is a collection of white serving dishes) all the pieces nest together so it's compact, and with my coupon, it only cost $10!, I've decided not to post the rest of the details on the party planning until after the party. I have everything planned out and I'm working on making the decorations, and goody bags. I can't wait to show them to you, but I don't want to spoil it for our guests who read this blog. So, if I don't post much this week it's because I'm busy working on the final details. Um, and baking a gazillion batches of cupcakes and a few dozen cookies. But stayed tuned because I'll be sharing all the pics early next week!!! Oh, and by the way, I'm not sure who's more excited for the party, me or Taylor!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Color Me Happy!

We had tons of fun painting with Taylor this afternoon. I have poster paint in primary colors and white. Today, we played with mixing colors. She loves doing hand prints and I had a special handprint project planned (stay tuned for that!) so we let her have fun with the paint and making hand prints in different colors.

I got these sponges at The Dollar Tree in the car wash section. They're pretty big and so I cut them up for painting and I plan to throw some in the bathtub for her to play with.

I've recently started using muffin tins as paint trays and it works out great. She tends to dump the individual cups and spills water and paint everywhere! She's not tempted to dump the paint when it's in the muffin tins (at least she hasn't dumped them, yet!) She created several masterpieces during our painting session and I'll post them later this week.

Boy, we sure can make a mess!!!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Happy National Scrapbooking Day!!!!

What better way to celebrate than with a FREE gift!!! Check out a FREE on-line issue of a Mini Albums Idea Book by Northbridge Media. I absolutely love their publications with my favorites being Scrapbook Trends and Simply Handmade. Simply Handmade also has a great blog that I've just added to my blog list on my sidebar.

Maybe the second best way to celebrate this day would be to actually scrapbook. We'll see if I'm that lucky. I have some other projects I need to get done for Taylor's birthday party which is NEXT SATURDAY!!!! No, I'm not panicking. I'm not. Really. Why would I be panicking? I just want the party to have all the handmade details and be a totally special day for her and I have it all planned out. I just need to actually bring the plans to life.