January 30, 2017

Pink and Gold Cake Smash

Hello and welcome to another post featuring Kaley and her first birthday...hopefully you can survive one more post on this topic. I know it's a lot, but I want to share some pictures of Kaley's cake smash in case anyone at home wants to try this.

For Braxton's cake smash pictures we hired a photographer, and I love them so much but they were very expensive (with a capital e). When you are off on maternity leave versus staying at home without any leave, things like this become a luxury. So I decided to try to take my own pictures for Kaley's cake smash. I know they aren't as good as professional pictures, but I think I'll keep the $400+ and call this good enough.

I kept the theme for her cake smash the same as her birthday party, and actually used almost all the same decorations. I threw a pink plastic tablecloth on the ground with a large peach-pink piece of fabric over top. I hung a white paper tablecloth on the wall and taped paper stars to the backdrop. To cover the two tablecloths meeting I used tissue poms along the wall and outer edges of the area. Add a pink cake with star sprinkles and gold star cake toppers and you have yourself a cake smash area.

You can see how all of the stars and tissue poms were used at Kaley's party here. I think that this worked well, but the area seemed much larger before I tried to take pictures. Next time, or if I had to do this again I would add more of a side to the backdrop so that I could take pictures on angles. Braxton just sat and played with the cake for his, but Kaley was running everywhere. It was difficult to get pictures of her because I had to constantly run her back into place and try to take a picture before she took off again. Thanks goodness for Luis.

Kaley did not like touching or eating the cake, but she sure wanted to run away with the tissue poms and stars. The cake toppers were much cooler than the cake too, and eventually had to be put up so that we could get her to pay attention to the cake. Silly girl. It's going to pretty much be pictures from now on, so enjoy our little goofball!

This was a lot of work to get the decorations and area ready, but so worth it. I love being able to look back at these and remember how little they were and how much they have grown. I'm a very sentimental person and things like this (and throwing birthday parties with tons of decorations) make me happy and feel like I will have a fond memory to look back at. As well as something for the kids to look back at as well.

That's it folks, the last time you will here the words "first birthday" on this blog. And I promise no more birthday post for at least 11 months, maybe 12 depending on how crazy life is. I saved the best picture for last, enjoy.


Linking to:
Naptime Creations - Great Things to Make for Kids 1/31/17 
Ginger Snap Crafts - Wow Me Wednesday #284 
eighteen25 - Show and Tell #7 

January 26, 2017

How to Make a Valentine's Day Themed Alphabet Matching Game

Hello, hello and welcome back! I am finally starting to feel the motivation and momentum to get things accomplished. I've had a list of little projects (crafts or small projects that don't require power tools) for years. And I am finally making a dent in the list! I know it doesn't seem like much, but I am very excited about this.

Today is a special day, I actually have a Valentine's Day related post! The first one in two years, and only the second I have ever done. I'm not a huge Valentine's Day person and have not made a big deal about it in past years, but with the kids I want to at least make an effort. Once they get into school it will be something to look forward to, so I can suck it up and do a few crafts for them. Like I need a reason, am I right?

Anyway, back to the matter at hand. I have had this idea pop up on Pinterest for every holiday, different learning tools (alphabet, colours, numbers, etc...) and in every size, and with Braxton's LOVE of the alphabet it was an easy choice to make.  I wasn't sure about the size I was going to make and was aiming for about the size of a Bristol board.

The supplies were minimal since I have so much on hand at all times, but here's a general list if you need one:

1-2 pieces of Bristol board (I used 1 1/2)
10-14 pieces of card stock
Markers (I used paint pens because I don't have markers)
Tape (depending on size)

First I cut out twenty six hearts on four different types of card stock, just free-handing the first heart and using it to cut the rest out. If you don't care about the hearts being perfectly the same, cut two or three pieces of paper at the same time. I chose to put the lower case letters on the hearts using a black paint pen, but a Sharpie would work too.

Then I used these hearts to trace onto the board, and because of the size of my hearts I used just under half of a second piece. If this happens to you, just tape the two pieces together with packing tape after you are finished writing everything on the boards. Again I used paint pens to make the hearts red and pink, the used the black paint pen to put the upper case letters in the hearts.

Now step back and watch your toddler go! I set this up while Braxton was busy in his room so when he came downstairs he was so surprised and excited. He didn't even need me to tell him what to do, he just went right for it.

Singing the alphabet while they work and making the sounds the letters makes this a fun and educational toy. The best part? It cost me less than $2 to make because I had everything I needed except the Bristol board. I love being able to make learning fun for the kids and every chance I have to expose them to the alphabet, numbers, colours (you name it!) I will take.

I am sure that Braxton loves these types of toys and learning tools so much because we are constantly exposing him to them and playing with them ourselves. It's never too early to start the foundation that they will need once they get to school. Okay Mom voice over now.

And I never feel bad about a cheap and easy craft, especially one that helps my kids learn! I haven't let Kaley near it because I am 100% certain she will rip everything into little pieces. A great alternative is to buy the foam hearts at the dollar store, that way they can't rip them easily. I didn't see them until after I had cut the hearts out already, but will definitely use them in the future because I am sure I will be making more of these for Kaley.

Now you have a fun way to incorporate something educational into Valentine's Day for your toddlers. Let me know if you try this out and what you change. Stay tuned for what I used the last little piece of Bristol board for! I bet you can guess, but still, come back and see.


Linking to:
Two Chicks and a Mom - Funtastic Friday #111
Naptime Creations - Great Things to Make for Kids 1/31/17 
Ginger Snap Crafts - Wow Me Wednesday #284 
eighteen25 - Show and Tell #7

January 22, 2017

Chocolate Cake Cookies

Welcome back and guess what, I actually baked something! Yay me, and I am so excited to have something that does not relate to my kids. I love them with all my heart, but I'm sure you guys would like to see something else. And it also makes me feel like things are getting back to before we had babies, since both kids are no longer babies.

Anyway, back to the task at hand - a yummy recipe. I was cruising my Cookie board on Pinterest for something easy to bake and I found a recipe for cookies using cake mix. And I just happened to have an extra box of chocolate cake mix unused after both birthday parties. It was meant to be.

Chocolate Cake Cookies  (original recipe here)                                            

1 box cake mix (any flavour)
2 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Mix all ingredients together. Place by tablespoonfuls on greased cookie sheet. This batter is ridiculously sticky, so do your best to make them the same size. I had to spray my fingers with cooking spray to get the batter off my fingers on the tray.

3. Bake 7-9 minutes until edges are brown.  I found that leaving the cookies on the baking sheet for an extra minute or so helped because after the 9 minutes they were still very soft. 

That's it and oh my goodness were these amazing, I was extremely surprised. Full disclosure - they didn't exactly smell bad, but the they didn't smell amazing either. Usually when you bake cookies the whole house will smell fantastic. So I was weary when I took my first bite, but then I had to stop myself from eating every last one.

And if you think these are cookies that will last longer in the freezer, think again. They were even better! I ate more from the freezer than from the fresh cookies at room temperature. At room temperature they were extremely soft and stayed moist, and just the right amount of sweetness. From the freezer they were like fudge and chewy and everything you want when you are eating a treat from the freezer.

Isn't this a great recipe for quick and easy cookies? If you have boxed cake mix on hand, like I usually do, it's nice to be able to whip a quick batch of cookies up in a jiffy. And you can use any type of cake mix, and even ice them like in the original post. Imagine carrot cake cookies with cream cheese icing.....let's be real, this is probably going to happen soon. I will share if they taste as good as they sound!

Has anyone ever made cookies from cake mix before? I would love to know how it turned out or the combinations that you used.


Linking to:
Ginger Snap Crafts - Wow Me Wednesday #283 
Two Chicks and a Mom - Funtastic Friday #111 
eighteen25 - Show and Tell #14 
Tatertots and Jello - BFF Link Party 2/17/17 
Naptime Creations - Create, Link, Inspire 2/27/17 

January 18, 2017

Paper Pinwheels

Hello everyone, and happy weekend! After the holidays this part of the year always seems to drag on. I am actually looking forward to it this year, maybe in the lull I can actually get caught up on some things. Like I said a few weeks ago, projects out the wazoo over here.

So far I have shared Braxton's third birthday party (here if you missed it), as well as the paper rosettes I used as decorations (here if you missed those). So today I want to share the pinwheels that were made for the party. These are much easier than the rosettes, super easy in fact. 

Grab some scrapbook paper and cut it into four even squares, or as close as you can. My paper cutter was having some issues, so some of my papers are a little wonky.

And my paper wasn't double sided so I cut out squares for the back of the pinwheels. Glue these together with both of the patterned sides facing out and trim if necessary.

Cut from each corner towards the centre, leaving a roughly one inch space in the middle. You can see below with the red lines the general idea, just make sure you leave an area in the middle because you will need it to finish the pinwheels. And I think more is better here, you don't want a dinky little area because you will be gluing most of this in on itself.

If everything goes according to plan, you should be left with four small triangle attached to the middle section of your paper. Glue down every other corner of the triangle into the centre of the square. I used a pencil to save my fingers from the hot glue.

You can see what I meant by every other corner a little better in the picture above. Once this is dry, cut a corresponding circle of paper and glue that down in the middle. If you're feeling frisky you could always use little gems or large sequins.

And that's it, as I often like to say. How easy are these? I could make these for any occasion and would adore them. You can even grab a paper straw, or skewer and glue that to the back and use it in a jar or pot on a table.

This was actually a craft that I enjoyed making, it was so easy I didn't really have to think while I did it. Very therapeutic, and great to binge watch TV while you are doing it too.

Happy crafting! Feel free to share if you make these, and any changes you make. I'd love to see them.


Linking to:
Ginger Snap Crafts - Wow Me Wednesday #282 
Two Chicks and a Mom - Funtastic Friday #111 
eighteen25 - Show & Tell #13 

January 14, 2017

'Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star One Year Old is What You Are' Birthday Party

Hello one and all! Can you believe it's the middle of January? That means we have almost completed the first month of winter, only a few more to go. I do love the winter season, but hate that it coops the kids up for days on end. Nothing is worse than toddlers that are sick of being in the same house for days on end.

I thought it was time to finally talk about Kaley's first birthday party, which was a Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star theme. I know most of my 2016 posts we about Kaley, but those should calm down a little now that I'm no longer doing monthly pictures. I knew right away that this was the theme I wanted to do, since I only get to pick a few for them before the start to pick for themselves.

I love the way that pink and gold look together, it is classy and girly all at the same time. This was such an easy choice for Kaley's first birthday theme, and since I picked it extremely early I was able to do most of the decorations in the summer.

I made the invitation in PicMonkey using the create option with a ton of trial and error getting glitter words to work. This was fun once I got the hang of it, and took so much longer than it should have because of it.

It's hard to see because the background of the invitation is white, done with shades of pink and touches of glittery gold (Trust me that it looks much better in person). I printed these invitations out on 4x6 photo paper and chose a matte finish so that it would be easier to read.

I wanted to have a star-filled night type background for the table, and I chose to use tissue poms as the clouds. I used light pink, dark pink and white tissue paper to make these. Then I cut out a million (not really, but it felt like it) stars in four shades of pink card stock (these were bought as a package and were in a gradient) and I used glitter scrapbook paper for the gold stars.

I hot glued the stars onto fishing line in random patterns that were roughly the same length and used the same amount of stars. A note, I taped the fishing line to the wall under the tissue poms, but also taped the stars in the middle and bottom to the wall to make sure they all stayed forward facing. To make it look a little less formal I taped extra stars along the sides to make it look a little more natural. Pictures do not do this justice, it was so pretty in person!! 

Ans if you've followed this blog for any amount of time you know I like to dress our front window up as well. The living and dining rooms are attached, so it helps the two rooms flow together for the parties. I chose to make tissue paper tassels and hang them with some extra stars from the window.

I wish it was easier to take pictures of the front window so you could see how nice this looked in person. I also wished my front window looked a lot nicer than it does, but that's a problem for another time. I can't seem to find the pictures that I took for a tutorial, so I may make some more to show you guys. I will say that the regular tissue paper (pinks) was much easier to work with than the metallic tissue paper (gold).

For the cake smash portion of the party, I set a little area up for Kaley's high chair in the living room so that everyone could see. I put the same stars up for the background, and tissue tassels around the front of the chair. I printed out Kaley's monthly pictures to frame the stars, using gold washi tape on shades of pink card stock. Because I hadn't taken her 12 month pictures yet, I just used a picture from her cake smash the weekend before (watch for a post on that in the future!).

Now for the table and the food, which we decided would be a brunch. We were having Braxton's third birthday party and Kaley's first birthday party a few weeks apart and I wanted to be able to serve different food. Add to that the fact that this party was the week before Christmas, I wanted to make sure that people would be home early in case they had Christmas dinners to go to.

A mimosa bar was a must, but I didn't want to put it on a separate table. So I just put the glasses, juice and champagne at the back of the table on each side, away from little hands. You can see this in the pictures below. For the food we had: a fruit tray, croissants, carrot cake with cream cheese icing (just boxed carrot cake mix with this cream cheese icing), banana bread (recipe here), mini cinnamon rolls and a breakfast bake that my mom made (not pictured).

Yummy. That was what all of that was, and the cinnamon rolls lasted about five minutes after the kids found them. I didn't want to have too much food because it was a brunch, and this worked out to be the perfect amount of food. And all of it was so easy to make ahead of time and set out right before the party started.

Instead of cake I just made some cupcakes with the leftover cake batter from making Kaley's smash cake. I thought it might be a little early for cake, and there were tons of sweets on the table already. I think the parents appreciated this, though I'm sure the cinnamon rolls gave them a sugar high for a few hours.

I used two cake stands to make a tiered stand to put the cake and cupcakes on, which made a great centerpiece for the table. Some gold candlesticks and glitter vases filled with pink flowers finished the table off. I used leftover gold stars hot glued onto cake pop sticks for a little food bling on the cake, banana bread and carrot cakes.

And now some pictures of the birthday girl, who had a special little outfit for the day: a onesie with gold writing and a pink and gold tutu. I don't even care if she hated it, it was the most adorable thing ever! Don't mind the grumpy face, she was tired because it was her nap time right when the party was starting.

She had such a fun day, even though she was exhausted. Kaley decided to stick close to Mommy and even helped open her gifts, kind of. Once the party was in full swing she owned the place and had everyone laughing.

It was a great day and our family and friends spoiled her rotten, and even Braxton had fun stealing Kaley's toys and playing. It was so special to be able to celebrate Kaley's first birthday as a big event, just like we did for Braxton. Though I'm pretty sure that we will now start doing a combined party, since their birthdays are only 16 days apart. Way too much going on to do two birthday parties and Christmas.

Thank you for sharing this year long journey with us, you will have to come back again next year to see what we do for the kids birthdays. It's anyone's guess at this point since my kids change favourites on a daily basis. I love planning and decorating parties, and am so happy that I have someone to share all the hard work and results with.


Linking to:
Ginger Snap Crafts - Wow Me Wednesday #282