Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Christmas Gift Ideas for Newborns/Babies: What's Up Wednesday!

In my previous What's Up Wednesday posts, I've covered all the little men in my household with my favorite gift ideas for 7 year olds, 5 year olds and 1 year olds. Since I am often buying new baby gifts and it wasn't too long ago we were celebrating another first Christmas, I thought I would post a few ideas for those soon to be newborns or little tiny babies you may be shopping for this holiday season.

This was a lifesaver for our family when our third child was born.  Since we were temporarily living at my parents house during a relocation, we needed a tiny sleeping space for our newborn! This was perfect! It was portable, lightweight and a magical dream for the baby to fall asleep! The deluxe version is soft and plushy and definitely worth the extra cost!

These lightweight blankets are an essential and one of my top baby gifts.  They are the best swaddle blankets I have ever owned and also double as a perfect breathable shade on the stroller during those sunny outings.

This has become our son's favorite nightime slumber toy (even more so than the sleep sheep). He will easily lay down and listen to the music and watch the light and fall asleep.  We take it everywhere with us and he adores having this around at bedtime.

Another one of my ultimate gift list items for babies! These blankets are super soft and come in a variety of bright colors.  Each of my three boys have had their own and they are their hands down favorite blankets.  You can't beat these for durability and affordability!

Hanna Andersson makes the best pajamas out there.  They wash well and do not pile like some other brands. I love all the adorable prints they come in and right now they are all 20% off.  We just picked out our favorites for the upcoming holiday season!  I highly recommend these as a gift! 

Hope you've enjoyed another Christmas shopping adventure!


A Superhero 5th Birthday Party with Free Printables!

Our middle son turned 5 last week and over the weekend we celebrated with a few friends and family.  I had intended to make a number of other items for the celebration but time got the best of me between my husband traveling for business, school and baseball.  Our son said it was a super awesome day and was so thankful for all the fun, food, family & friends.

I made the cupcakes myself.  If I don't have time to whip up a homemade recipe, I will add ingredients to a box mix.  The biggest trick I have learned is that the new box sizes are not the same so I usually buy two mixes and scoop up a 1/3 mix from another box to make the recipes work. No cupcakes would be complete without my favorite buttercream recipe from Magnolia Bakery.

The POW! boxes I bought a Party City and were filled with Pirates Booty and Smart Pop Popcorn (my son's favorite) I made the party POW! Circles and have included a free download HERE. I used a 2.5 inch circle punch to make them and double sided tape to attach to the boxes. 

The Superhero Masks and Capes were a big hit and I made them all out of felt and glue (no sewing required).  I will share more about the capes in a future post. They definitely made the party a success!

After the kids dressed up, we went on a short scavenger hunt through our yard and unfortunately, I don't have the greatest pictures.  The kids first searched for some power pellets (I found superhero PEZ dispensers at Wegmans). Next they looked for their power source (glow sticks from the Dollar Tree) and finally they found kryptonite (silly string from the Dollar Tree). After they found the silly string they chased the villain (aka my husband) through the yard and sprayed him.  I think this was their favorite part of the whole day.

Next came pinata time.  You can see the instructions for making the pinata HERE.  I filled it with superhero gummies, pencils, goldfish and some candy.  It took a while for the kids to finally break it down.

Here are the bags the kids used to store all the scavenger hunt supplies and their pinata goodies inside. I designed the label and have also linked to my free printable HERE

If this expression doesn't say it all! I definitely think he had a terrific 5th birthday!  


Linking up here:

Monday, October 21, 2013

Painted Pantry Door

There are many things I would love to change about my kitchen (the white laminate cabinets, the dark granite and the ugly fluroescent lighting); however, the budget just does not allow for any major renovations at this time.  Since we moved in last fall, I've managed to change out all the old brass knobs on the cabinets and add some nice nickel ones but really wanted a splash of color in the room!  Across the blog world, I've seen a number of painted pantry doors that really have helped to brighten up the space. 

So off to Home Depot I went to gather some paint samples to paint our beautiful white door

Let's just say, I had no idea what color I wanted to paint the door. After letting the paint sit there a week, I finally decided on Behr Lap Pool Blue: a great turquoise blue color!

So much better! We also decided to switch out the brass hinges and door knob and found a great satin nickel one at Home Depot!

I just love how much this pop of color adds to our kitchen space!


Sunday, October 20, 2013

DIY Superman Shield Pinata

This weekend we celebrated my middle son's 5th birthday with some superhero fun (more details to come). The one thing he wanted was a pinata for his birthday and I decided to tackle the task this year and make my own.  After I saw this awesome tutorial of a Captain American Shield Pinata over on Sunshine and a Summer Breeze, I decided to do my own version using a superman shield.

 Here are the details:
Step One: Cut out two front/back pieces in your desired shape using heavy cardboard: I used the printer box from our new printer we just bought last week. 

Step Two: Use lighter weight boxes as the sides and attach with duct tape: we used diet coke boxes but cereal boxes would be another great option.

 Step Three: Continue to attach the sides and then the front layer using duct tape.  Make sure to leave two flaps opened to place goodies inside.

 Step Four: Take tissue paper and cut off about a two inch strip from the length.

 Step 5: While tissue paper is folded, cut 1/2 up the paper using short snips to make the fringe look.

 Step Six: Glue tissue paper strips starting from bottom up, layering them on top of each other.

Once you have finished, we poked two holes in the top for the rope: we filled it with crazy straws, pencils, candy and super hero fruit snacks.

I definitely think the kids enjoyed it! Plus, unlike store bought versions, it took several rounds of hitting to break the pinata, which made it even more fun!


Linking up here

My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia
Love Grows Wild

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

What's Up Wednesday: Christmas Ideas for 1-2 Year Old Boys

The past two weeks I have covered some Christmas gift ideas for 7 Year old boys and 5 Year old boys. Now it's time to focus on the youngest member of our crazy boy clan: our almost 15 month old who is one busy, on the go guy! With 3 boys, I have a number of "boy" toys already taking up residence in my house; so coming up with new ideas for Christmas and birthdays can be a challenge. Thankfully, though, the toy industry helps in that process!
Our youngest son loves to go "shopping" in the pantry and play with our Grill and Play Patio that we've had for years. This is definitely high on my list for him! Also, for all parents out there looking for a push type toy to help aid in balance and walking: this is perfect.  Load it down with toys/books and it provides a great sturdy structure for children.  We used these all the time in pediatric clinics I've worked at over the years.

A Shopping Cart definitely needs some new about these adorable basket sets from Learning Resources.  You can get a breakfast, lunch, and dinner set.  As much as I love Amazon, the best deal is at Costco! I bought all 3 sets already for $19.99!!! That is how much one set costs on my beloved Amazon.

Green Toys makes a fabulous line of vehicles that are durable and don't make loud annoying noises! They provide endless amounts of imaginative play time and who doesn't love a "green" item.  You can often find these at Homegoods, Marshalls and TJ Maxx for a bit cheaper than on Amazon.  I just saw the new Ferryboat today and it might be another addition to our collection one day soon. 

A gift idea wouldn't be complete without a Think Fun Game on it! I'm so excited they created a line of games geared towards the toddler age group as our older children are big Think Fun fans.  Now our littlest guy can have his own fun gametime with his big brothers.

 Puzzles are another big hit in our family and these Melissa & Doug varieties are perfect for tiny hands.  I love the themes they have too: dinosaurs, tools, construction, pets, farm animals, etc... We love to play pretend with these and make our only silly sounds to go along.
We've had these picture cards since our oldest son was one! We have several different varieties of them and they are always on my gift list for 1st birthdays/Christmas items.  They are sturdy, provide bright pictures, a texture based play option and even give ideas on the back for parents.  We love playing find the "object" with these cards and all of our boys have loved having them at church, in the car and on plane rides!
Hope this helps you get a head start on your shopping today!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Mini Apple Pies

Remember when we went apple picking? Well, I'm still baking away with all the apples we managed to pick that day.  It's amazing how many apples 3 little boys can accumulate! Since it's been a rainy few days here on the east coast, my kitchen has been filled with the amazing aromas of cinnamon, nutmeg, & apples! What a great fall combo. Apple Pie is one of my favorite fall treats and mini apple pies are perfect for when you just want that little taste!

Perfect size for little hands as well!

As an added bonus they are easy to freeze and you can just pop one into the microwave or toaster oven and enjoy apple pie all winter long!

I used my new favorite pie crust recipe from Pioneer Woman although you could use a store bought recipe as well.  Either way, make sure you have enough for a 2 crust pie.
Mini Apple Pies
Apple Filling
  •  5 cups apples ( I used a combo of Macintosh & Golden Delicious) peeled, cored and chopped into cube sized pieces
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  •  In a large pot, stir together the apples, brown sugar, white sugar, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg and cornstarch
  • Cook covered over medium heat, stirring occasionally until apples are tender (about 20 min)
  • Uncover and cook until the mixture has thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in lemon juice and let mixture cool to room temperature (about 20-30 min).
Pie Directions
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • Spray a muffin tin with cooking spay and set aside
  • Roll out pie crust on lightly floured surface and use a circle cutter, mason jar lid, or glass to make circle shapes that will fill the muffin tin
  • Place the apple pie filling in each individual pie crust
  • Use a small cookie cutter or just cut extra pie scraps to place over top the apple pie filling
  • Use an egg wash (1 egg & 1 tablespoon water whisked together) and brush on lightly on top of crust, sprinkle with sugar and into the oven
  • Bake for 20 minutes or until the crust is lightly golden brown and the apple mixture is bubbling over ( I put another pan on the rack underneath in case it spilled over)
  • Allow to cool for 10 minutes and then use a knife around the edges to pop them out of the muffin tin
  • If you plan to freeze them, allow them to cool overnight and then individually wrap in plastic wrap and place in freezer safe container (I use tupperware).
Hope you enjoy these yummy treats!
Linking Up Here

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

What's Up Wednesday: Christmas Ideas for a 5 Year Old Boy

Last week in my What's up Wednesday post I discussed some Christmas gift ideas for our 7 year old. This week I am turning my attention to the next age group in our household: the 5 year old. I can sum it up this way: lego, superheros and spies.....oh my! His imagination runs wild with anything related to the aforementioned three so here are some top choices so far.
We have several different Imaginext items already: dinosaurs, space shuttle, fire station, etc. I actually love this line of toys from Fisher Price.  They are sturdy, bring hours of entertainment and our kids have a great time using their imagination.

This set is sold only at Target online and in stores and he has been eyeing this all summer.  Every time we head into Target he reminds me that Santa knows this is on his wish list. The action figures are actually a decent size and he loves playing with the Little People set he earned when potty training 2.5 years ago! Maybe it's time for something new!
Just like his older brother, our 5 year old loves playing with the world of playmobil toys. He really loves the top agents line that is all about spies! This is one of the newer items playmobil has recently released.  Playmobil is another great line of sturdy toys that provide endless hours of imaginative play.

Think Fun Games are truly some of our favorite items.  We own several different varieties and our kids love playing them. I love the fact that many of these game promote logical thinking as well.

A list wouldn't be complete without Legos! Both of our boys love the endless adventures of building with Legos and several of these DC Superheros are on our 5 year old's radar.  When shopping for Legos, check out Amazon, Target and Walmart online.  There prices are often lower than in the stores!
Tune in next week for some more Christmas shopping up...the one year old!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Mildew Be Gone!

When we moved into our house a year ago, the thing that bothered me most was the bathrooms. We are talking stark white everywhere! White tile on the floors, white laminate cabinets, builder grade off white (more yellowish looking) counters and white tile in the showers.  Now, our house is 20 years old and keeping white in pristine condition is difficult.  Imagine have 3 boys....well 4 if you include my husband and keeping this white clean! The biggest issue I had was all the showers were filled with mildew and as much as I scrubbed and tried every cleaning material under the sun, nothing worked for these hard set in stains. So this weekend, I was fed up and took the necessary step of 100% pure bleach! Yikes!
This is a picture of the corner of my kid's shower! Granted, I ripped out the old caulking too.
3 words come to mind: dirty, dingy and disgusting!

So I grabbed the bleach, some cottons square, a shallow pie dish and rubber gloves and went to work.
I used the pie dish b/c it was rather shallow and easy to absorb the cotton.

I soaked the cotton in the bleach and placed each square side by side along the seam.  I turned on my exhaust fan, shut the door and let it sit for about 8 hours!

Wow! Look, it's gone! Such a huge difference in such a short amount of time.  I can't wait to finish the tub and do my two other bathrooms this week!  Makes me feel all squeaky clean!