Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Favorite Thing #16

I can't upload any photos to iphoto because the computer keeps telling me that my memory is full!  I'm not really sure what to do about that but until I figure it out I thought I would share a favorite thing!

Five years ago I bought the Tight-End Reversible tights in brown/black from Spanx and have worn them almost exclusively through fall and winter. Therefore, I find it pretty impressive that they have just now gotten a hole in them.  Five years seems like a long time for a pair of tights to last!   I love, love, love the fact that you can wear them as black tights one day and brown tights the next.  Anything that can do double duty and do it well is a favorite in my book.  Actually, they do triple duty since they also help in other areas as well (they are Spanx after all!).

P.S.  The above picture is no longer the design for these tights, but I preferred it to the half naked gals on the new design!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Holiday Attire

I've recently taken advantage of some sales and free shipping to put together the children's holiday attire.  In years past Grace has had dressier dresses, but this year we went with something that she will be able to wear well past the holidays.  This dress from Olive Juice is super comfy and cute at the same time and I love how the buttons on the MiniBoden sweater add some fun color and will match most anything!.  Harris is wearing a sweater that has somehow managed to be wearable for several seasons (which makes me wonder just how big it was on him when I bought it!).

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

Thanksgiving was perfect.  We had a slow, happy day at home.

My Mom came over and she and the children made adorable turkey fingerprint art for the table.  I even found a note in mine!  How awesome is it that Harris included a thanksgiving banner?

Our fresh turkey was delicious!  It was moist and flavorful and we have a ton of leftovers!

We had all the usual suspects for dinner- turkey, stuffing, green beans, sweet potato souffle and cranberry sauce.  Delicious.

Dessert was a big hit!  It was over the top good.

I hope that you all had a wonderful day too!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Preparing for Thanksgiving

Are you ready for Thanksgiving tomorrow?  I spent some time today baking a salted caramel cheesecake pie and getting our cranberry sauce started.  It was a rainy day and it felt great to be in the kitchen while the children played and did some crafting in preparation for the holidays!  I love Thanksgiving weekend because it's a relaxing, low key start to our holiday season.

I sent in a small Thanksgiving snack to Harris' class today.  I pieced these cute turkeys together from several that I had seen online.  I tried to put a popsicle stick in the oreo but they kept breaking on me.  And then I got frustrated and decided the children didn't care about a stick anyway.  Right?

Speaking of turkeys, we got a fresh turkey this year.  It was delivered last night and I can't wait to see if they are as good as everyone says that they are.  It's a 19 pounder so we will be eating turkey for a long time...

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Detective thank you notes

Harris has been working on getting out his thank you notes for the lovely gifts he got on his birthday.  I thought it would be fun for the boys that attended to see themselves as detectives.  Plus, they are awfully cute!

In about 5 minutes I was able to create these fun cards in iphoto.  It was quick, easy and they arrived the next day!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

School Auction

On Friday evening the PTO of the children's school hosted a fundraising auction for the school.  Rachel, Gretchen and myself were the decorating committee for the event and I think it turned out really lovely.  I thought I would share a few pictures that I snapped (they are low light and poorly done but you can get the gist!).

We kept the decorating scheme simple with black cloths, burlap runners and giant balloons.  

P.S.  I won a watercolor painting of our house, a perfect way to celebrate our construction/renovation coming to a close!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Mr. and Mrs. Pillowcases

This morning I took a bit of time to work on a project that I've had in mind to do for a while- Mr. and Mrs. pillowcases!  Whenever we take our own pillows on a trip I alway attach a clothes pin to my pillow because otherwise I can't tell mine and Bryce's a part.  I dearly love my husband but I'm very attached to my pillow!  I thought of taking them to be monogrammed but I decided to try my hand at embroidering them.  I love how they turned out!

Are the stitches even and perfect?  Not even close, but I sort of love the homemade look of them!  The project took me a little over an hour to complete and now I'm thinking of all the other pillowcases I want to make.  Wouldn't they be a fun wedding shower gift?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Rice Krispie Ice Cream Cones

I'm taking a belated birthday treat into Harris' classroom today and I decided to make a treat that I've had bookmarked on pinterest for this very purpose (and no, mine did not turn out nearly as adorable as hers!).  They are rice krispie treats dressed up to look like ice cream cones!  I think they turned out rather cute, but I did have a difficult time with the candy melts because I couldn't get it thin enough to run down the sides.  In the end I ended up globbing it on top and then shaking the treat with my hand to get it to smooth out.

I have a funny story about the making of these treats.  I forgot to put the sprinkles on and was disappointed because they would have helped mask the messy candy melts.  I decided to use my hairdryer to melt the candy melts enough for the sprinkles to stick.  I poured the sprinkles in a bowl and started up the hairdryer. I then accidentally aimed the dryer at the bowl which caused approximately one million sprinkles to scatter throughout my kitchen and dining room!  We will be finding sprinkles for days...

Monday, November 14, 2011

Favorite Things #15

Often it's the little things that make you smile that bring joy into your life in an otherwise insignificant moment during your day.  My coffee "cozy" is one of those things.  Bryce gave it to me several years ago for Valentine's Day and I love using it.  I keep it in my purse so that I can just pull it out when needed.

P.S.  I know he purchased it on Etsy but I'm not sure from what storefront.  It looks an awfully lot like these.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Countdown to Christmas

Can you believe that the holidays are right around the corner?  Neither can I.  On the other hand, the children are so super excited that they have already been making lists and making gifts.  In fact, there is already a gift sitting in the living room where our tree usually goes!  It even has a homemade card (I know that kid spell is not as popular with teachers as it used to be, but I still love and encourage it!)!

A few weeks ago I printed out this darling printable from Giverslog  to make a holiday to-do list*.  I filled it in with all that I want to accomplish during the season so that I too can (hopefully) have a magical and relaxed holiday season.  I feel good knowing that I at least have everything to do written down even if it's not done yet!

*She also has one that is already filled with things to get done!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Shower

Our bathroom is this close to being done!  All that is left is painting, wallpaper install and some tweaks here or there!  Our shower door was installed on Monday and it looks great.  I love how the tiles, stone and marble all came together.  

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

At Home Party Tips

Thank you for your kind and gracious comments about Harris' detective party, each one made me smile and appreciate the fact that I get to share special moments in our lives with you.  Thank you for reading. 

We have hosted almost all of our birthday parties at our home, and both the children, for now, prefer that their parties are home based.  Certainly that could change, but for now we are content to keep them here.  I know that throwing children's birthday parties at home can be stressful and overwhelming but it can also be wonderfully fun.  At home birthday parties also lend themselves to all sorts of imaginative things that can be hard to do elsewhere.  I'm certainly no expert, but I've made a list of tips that I've learned about throwing at home parties and I thought I would share them with you, maybe they will be useful to someone! 

1.  Pick a theme.  I could never have a party without a theme.  Having a theme helps pull together every aspect of the party and helps you to make decisions about every element.  Everything from favors, to cake, to activities are easier to come up with if you have a jumping off point.

2.  Keep it small.  Our house (and my nerves) are not large enough to have a whole class party in our home.  We've always loosely gone by the rule of age- you can invite as many guests as you are old.  The exception to this rule is the first birthday party- that's for the parents as much as for the child!

3.  Keep the food simple but fun.  I love Amy Atlas type food tables, and the past couple of years I have loved putting together a little food table.  However, I've learned that going over the top doesn't pay off because the children cannot possibly eat all that food!  Those tables make for a great gathering point and for terrific pictures but they aren't the party.  The party is the children having fun together and celebrating a birthday!  

4.  Keep it short.  We make almost all of the parties an hour and a half.  It's enough time do some activities and eat cake! 

5.  Plan every moment of the party.  I know that sounds over the top but having a timeline can help keep things from getting crazy.  I plan enough activities to fill our time so that the children are together and busy the whole time.  For me this is not the time for the children to run off and free play (remember that our birthdays are during the colder months so we are almost always inside!). 

6.  Send out themed invitations.  Evites are huge and for good reason but it's nice to send out a themed invitation to get the children excited.  Plus, the children don't often see the evite on the computer, it's exciting for them to see the invitation!

7.  Don't worry about how clean your house is.  The children do not care.  Really.  

How about you?  What are some of your tips for a fun and smooth party?

P.S.  The above picture is from Harris' first birthday.  The house was a wreck.

Monday, November 7, 2011

A Detective Party

Harris' detective party was so much fun for the children!  I think that this might have been the most excited Harris has ever been for a party.  And I have to confess that I believe it was the least prepared I've ever been.  Two days before the guests arrived I still was unsure exactly what we were going to do!  However, it all came together easily and swiftly in the end.

It was important to Harris that he look the part and he asked if I could try to find a trenchcoat for him.  I kept striking out (I was unwilling to spend a lot of money) until I happened upon one on the Target website!  He met his friends at the door looking very dapper!

We divided the party up into three "segments."  First, we had detective school where the children learned and then practiced detective skills.  We then took a break and ate cake (and licorice pipes and chocolate moustaches).  Finally, we discovered that we had a true mystery to solve!

While I was looking for cake ideas I kept coming up with cute magnifying glass cakes, but since Harris was embracing the old fashioned Sherlock Holmes look I really wanted to reflect that in the cake.  I had a vision of a fondant detective and when I broached the subject with Bryce he was willing to give it a try.  I couldn't have asked for a cuter cake topper.  Didn't it turn out adorable?  The cake was chocolate with chocolate buttercream icing.

We kept the food really, really simple.  In addition to the cake we served licorice pipes (Sherlock Holmes style) and chocolate moustaches.   I called the chocolate milk Private Eye grog.

We started the party off by explaining that all good detectives have some important equipment that make their jobs easier.  We gave each child a "briefcase" that contained a magnifying glass, moustaches, spy sunglasses and a notepad to take notes.  The "briefcase" was a legal sized folder that was closed on three sides.  I made a slit in the top so that the top flap would close and added a yarn handle.  My dear friend Dawn made a detective society logo that was an awesome addition to the briefcases!  The boys loved these briefcases.  They carried them around for the rest of the party.  These were also their take home gift.  Grace also made name tags for everyone with code names.  She did this on her own and they were such a great addition to the party!

Our first activity was playing an observational game.  The children had to study a bookshelf and then try to figure out what was moved while they weren't looking.  It was hard for them to do!

We learned how very important it is to be able to disguise yourself adequately.  After they dressed up Bryce took their picture for their spy ID (which I'm planning on sending with thank you notes).  How awesome are these guys?

We then moved on to decoding and secret messages.  I showed them how to make invisible ink from a lemon and they each wrote a secret message.

We also worked on fingerprinting.  Each child got fingerprinted and then studied their fingerprint with their magnifying glass.  We then learned how to lift fingerprints with fingerprint powder and clear tape.  The boys loved it!  (I got the fingerprint kit at Michaels)

Soon after we were done with fingerprinting I "remembered" that I forgot to serve the thumbprint cookies (get it?  thumbprint!) when I served cake.  When we made it to the kitchen we discovered that there were only crumbs and no cookies.  Someone had stolen the cookies!  We had a mystery to solve!

Here were the steps we took to discover the Birthday Bandit...
1.  We followed the trail of crumbs to the stair landing where we
2.  discovered an open window!
3.  The Bandit must have jumped out the window because there were muddy footprints leading into the grass
4.  where we discovered a note written with invisible ink!
5.  We decoded the note, which led us to the playhouse,
6.  where we discovered an empty plate.
7.  This led to mad running around until the Bandit was found hiding out!

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