Monday, August 31, 2009

Getting our Medieval Groove on at the Renaissance Festival

Last Sunday Brad and I went to the Renaissance Festival for the first time, in what we think is over twelve years. We used to go on a regular basis throughout college, but after moving away our visits home rarely seemed to coincide with it. This particular festival is a pretty big operation, it's not like the kind that get put up and down, with transient carnival rides. It's got a permanent location with wood buildings that house the shops and food stands. There are parts with cobblestones and paved walkways, and even a few fountains. It was quite a different visit with our three year old along, less shopping for mama that's for sure. Don't think Brad was too sad about that! Not that I need any more souvenirs, I actually have a very pretty mirror etched with a lily, a necklace with a tiny grain of rice with Brad ♥'s Katie 4ever written on it in a little vial, and a metal rose that Brad bought for me on previous trips there. Grandma Norma and Ray also joined us; it was nice group to have along and handy to have extra eyes to keep a watch on ER as it was very crowded. There is a lot to see, even beyond the fun to be had people watching, and do. A good portion of the attendees dress up in full on head to toe medieval era garb and there are usually a few pirates, swordsman, knights, and of all things belly dancers/gypsies to be seen too. Our weekend was also the highland games, so lots of kilts were on show as well. I enjoy seeing the very elaborate costumes, often worn by reinactors working the fair ground as cast members. ER was thrilled to get her picture with this well done up noble lady above. The cast members do all sorts of things from playing a flute on a bridge, to taking you to jail, walking around using renaissance era verbige, and add real bit of flare to the whole thing. There are also plenty of opportunities for more organized entertainment of all types, ER is too young for most of the games like archery but she really liked a lot of the little street acts put on. We sat and watched a band playing Celtic and gypsy inspired music. ER was very interested in the singer's belly dance inspired moves and twirls and kept telling me about the bells she played on her fingers. We also saw some highland dancers but the biggest one we watched was the joust. Here is our noble knight, who just happened to win and become Queen Elizabeth's champion. He is quite a personality, giving the three other knights some good natured ribbing and cracking jokes the whole time. He and the other knights each ride rescue horses and all must work hard to train their mounts. They were so calm and didn't startle, even with all the cheering and booing going on. The show was very fun and watching all that riding made ER want to...Ride herself, because after all what kind of family outing would it be without a pony ride? We ate after walking about some more, but not even the allure of a big juicy turkey drumstick could make Brad wait in the extremely long line for it. Once again, I wasn't brave enough to get a scotch egg, mainly because I'm not exactly sure what's in it. Rumor has it that it's a egg wrapped in bacon and surrounded by bread. I had soup in a breadbowl and Brad had sausage, so boring I know! They do have a nice wooden play structure for kids to run around on and several fun looking rides. Most seem to involve swinging, and we tried putting ER on one fanciful looking that's right by the entrance. It looked pretty tame, when we were watching it. ER was all excited, but only lasted the first few swings. Once it got going she wanted off, NOW. After we ate, Queen Elizabeth came along with her court to the children's area. ER officially became a Dame; we even have a paper to prove it! So now I guess she'll really be putting airs!Right before we left we finally found the stand selling flower garlands. ER headed right for the blue one, because right now everything has to be just like Cinderella. She looked so cute walking around with all the long ribbons trailing after her. Thank you to Grandma Norma, for making sure ER was the belle of the fair! She loves the garland and the sparkily blue ladybug face painting you treated her too.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Blanket Fort

Around ten o'clock last night, I came downstairs and here's the husband...but where is the chicklet?
Why under the blanket fort, fast played herself right to dreamland.

On the Bookshelf: Mortal Friends by Jane Stanton Hitchcock

What's my idea of a perfect summer afternoon? A tall glass of ice tea, sunshine with a little breeze, and a fun summer read that's pure escapism. Helping me out this year was HarperCollins, who recently sent me four of their newest summer releases. Mortal Friends by Jane Stanton Hitchcock, was the first one I delved into, and it immediately became a page turner. I couldn't put it down!Admittedly, I live a somewhat mundane life, at least compared to the whirlwind of benefit dinners, gallery openings, and theater shows all held at the most exclusive of settings that lead protagonists Reven and Violet inhabit, and that Hitchcock so vividly conjures up. It was a lot of fun to enter their high society world of Washington D.C., the back drop for this compelling crime story that will rock the social scene, test friendships, and uncover secrets hidden for years.

Brief Plot Synopsis: Reven and Violet are two DC socialites, whose friendship goes back to their days at an exclusive prep school. Violet has risen in the world to become the wife of a prominent banker, to whom outwardly she has a happy marriage. While Reven's life has had more ups and downs. Currently a struggling antiques dealer; now in Violet's social shadow, where she was once the leader.

Both they and their chic Georgetown community are shocked when the latest "Beltway Basher" murder takes place on their turf. Detective Gunner comes by her shop asking pointed questions, and Reven finds herself drawn into the investigation. Helping him by going about and where he can't, which in high society, seems to be leading to a murder who's a member of the city's elite.

Meanwhile, the flashy bombshell philanthropist Cynthia Rinehart has exploded onto the scene dropping large donation checks all over town, garnering big publicity but is she after something else too? There is murder, romance, adultery, scandal, political maneuvering, back stabbing, blackmail, long held secrets, and gossiping personal shopper who know everyone's dirt in this well written and paced story.

While the Beltway Basher commits horrific crimes, they are brought into the story in a tasteful way and are not described too graphically. Ostensibly a murder mystery, it's actually secondary to the story of the women, their relationship with each other, and how people aren't always all or what they seem to be. Several unexpected plot turns and new characters means that you will be absorbed in it, throughout the entire book. This is definitely a summer read at it's best, entertaining indeed!

As you can tell, I really enjoyed the book, but don't just take my word for it! To read the first 50 or so pages of Mortal Friends, click here. I am looking forward to reading the rest of Hitchcock's titles, if this book is any indicator of her abilities, they should all be great reads.

Disclaimer: Thank you to HarperCollins for providing the reviewers copy.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Fun at the Armada Fair

Last Sunday we took ER to the Armada Fair for the second year; it's really done very well. It's not as overwhelming as the State Fair so it's just the right size for a small child. While it's not huge it does still have plenty of animals to see, the requisite 4H projects to look at, some vendors, lots of rides, and treat stands too.
We think ER got the world's longest pony ride. Around and around and around and around they went for a really really long time. It was drizzling and overcast when we got there so not very many people were there yet. The line for the pony ride was short and they let her go, for what seemed like forever. I think my Dad was plenty tired of walking around by the time she got off, but ER loved it.

Fall time will be here soon and every time we drive by the local farm stand she points to ponies, waves to them, and tells them she'll be by soon to ride them. I think they've started on the weekends already, but I make it a point to not drive by then. Once she sees them hitched up it'll all be over and we'll be there all the time.
As if she didn't get to go around in a circle enough, right after the pony ride we had to get on another one on the carousel. This time Grammy got roped into taking her, after all that's what grandparents are for, right?The animals that make noise like the squawking birds and lot pig grunts still make ER nervous but she really liked the bunnies and horses. The big kid's feeding tent she liked, not to feed the goats because they are way too pushy for her but because of the kid's farm they have set up. She loves doing the chores they have set up: picking wooden apples from the tree, digging up potatoes, gathering eggs, and "milking" the wooden cow. Well you knew there couldn't only be ONE picture with the horses! We watched one getting hitched up, the ponies exercising, and one trotting around pulling a cart. Horsies are still the biggest hit around here. After that ER watched the tractor pulls a little bit, which despite the loud noises she seemed to like. I was surprised, I still don't get the attraction. I guess it's a boys and their toys kind of thing.
All week ER had been saying that all she wanted to do at the fair was eat cotton candy. Which was a surprise because she's never had it before and I'm not even sure where she'd heard of it. But she was bound and determined, she'd even bring it up before the pony rides. Papa made sure she got her biggest wish for the day. She might not look thrilled in the picture, but it went over pretty well. She was just hesitant to actually try it once she really had some in front of her. In her typical fashion, she ate one little bit of fluff at a time. She ate so slowly that it was melting from the warmth of her hands.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Aunt Cheri's Visit

Brad's Aunt Cheri and Uncle Bill used to live in the same state as us, but have retired down south for the milder winters. They tried to met ER for the first time when we lived in NM but because our move happened so quickly their scheduled visit happened shortly after ER and I had already moved to MI. They still got to visit with Brad that year, and on last year's trip back up to the Great Lake state ER met Aunt Cheri for the first time. Because of yet another scheduling quirk she didn't get to see our new home, as we were staying at my parents' house while Brad was on a business trip.

This year she finally got to see us in our own home and see how we've settled in. We spent the afternoon visiting, playing, and having dinner together. Like usual, ER had the perfect outfit to wear, in this case, the birthday outfit Aunt Cheri made for her, accessorize in typical ER fashion with a pink tiara.

Aunt Cheri is a former kindergarten teacher, and arrived with a great book for ER. The Napping House was one of our favorites to check out from the library; I even did a whole week long theme around it when I taught. We're glad to have our own copy now. Maybe I'll have to finally get around to recreating the theme with ER in the fall to share with you.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Win 500 Business Cards from Digital Room

Well I just published a little teaser about upcoming giveaways earlier today when I shared my most recent winners AND I already have another giveaway going on with Digital Room but what the heck how about another chance to win?

This one's a big one too! Plus there are 2 winners!

Win 500 Business Cards
Choose size: 2x3.5”, 2x3”, 2x2";
Choose paper: 14pt cardstock (matte or gloss coating) & 13 pt cardstock uncoated
Choose Color: (4/4) Color both sides; (4/1) Color 1 side , B/W backside; (4/0) Color 1 side, black backside

You may have noted all the options in the prize description. For instance if you win, you get to pick from three different business card sizes. Want more ways to customize your cards and make them stand out from all the rest? Digital Room even offers several options for die cut business cards, some I didn't even know were possible for business cards. Visit their product description page and click on die-cutting to see what I mean.

Please note:
Shipping must be paid by WINNER. Offer Valid for UNITED STATES SHIPPING ONLY

To Win:
All you have to do is tell me what you'd do with the 500 business cards by September 7th, midnight EST.

So now you're thinking, but Katie, what can I do with 500 business cards?

Here are some suggestions:

New address cards: Moving soon? Send out some now and include them again in your holiday cards just as a reminder.

Mommy Cards: These are all the rage now, if you haven't heard about them basically they are contact cards for you to give out to the parents of your child's friends, so they can contact you for play dates.

Blogger Convention Cards: Anyone going to a blog convention? Get a set made with similar graphics to your blog design. Have them handy to pass out to other bloggers, vendors, and sponsors at convention.

Blog Cards: If going to a blogger convention is still a dream but you are starting to do some reviews and giveaways use your set to include in thank you notes to sponsors after they work with you to host a giveaway. Makes a good impression and then they have a handy way to contact you when they need something else reviewed.

Family and Friends Blog Card: Have family and friends who can never seem to recall your blog's URL? Give them this and have them tack it in a handy spot. Get rid of the lengthy yearly highlight letter in your holiday cards this year. Tell family and friends they can see what you've been up to and keep up with events by visiting your blog. Enclose a card with your blog's name, URL, and maybe some blog navigation tips for those less tech savvy than us.

Organizations: Do you belong to a group that could use a set? I sit on my daughter's preschool co-op, it sure would be nice if we had some snazzy business cards for our membership coordinator to pass out or post around town. On your school's PTA? Put pertinent information like regular meeting times on a set and have them out for people to grab or have teachers send them home with their start of the school year information.

Teachers: While we're on the subject of teaching, a card with your school contact information like extension, email, class web page or blog, and the best time to contact you would be a handy dandy thing to pass out to parents at the beginning of the year.

Traditional Business Cards: Are you an Etsy seller or small business owner? Do you sell through home parties or online? Make sure your customers know how to reach you. Staple them onto your catalogs and include with orders as they ship.

Can you think of any others? Let me know!

Disclaimer: Thank you to the Digital Room for the giveaway products, I am receiving my own set of business cards in return for hosting this giveaway.

Giveaway Winners and a Sneak Peek at Upcoming Ones

Hey Everyone!

I just wanted to give a shout out to some of my recent lucky winners!

Receiving the Kendall Kollection from Carolina Pad will be Annette!

The Roxio PhotoShow winner was Maria, have fun capturing all those family memories in easy to make and fun to share photoshows!

Lastly the winners for my Chiquita Smoothie free product coupon giveaways are:
Mama King
Cassie and Jase {and}

Congratulations to all my winners!

Guess what? I've also been a lucky lady lately and have won 3 giveaways!

The biggest was for a Kazam bike for ER from Flying Giggles and Lollipops. I really wanted to take a cutie pie picture of some video of her on it, but she's very wobbly right now. But she LOVES her BIG girl bike. It's pink, of course☺ I will try to share one soon.

I also won a new header design from Holly Noelle at Domestic Dork. She's designs at Freshly Roasted Design. She's the gal who made the new Muffin Tin Monday button on Her Cup Overfloweth, which is too cute. I just worked so hard on my header so I am a little reluctant to change it right now so she is going to make me a super fun winter one. I won't make you wait until then and will share it as soon as it's done.

And I just found out I won a fun personalized recipe card PDF from The Design Girl. It was so hard to pick just one but I chose the lemon slice. It goes with my fruit themed kitchen and as my close friends know low of citrus scents. Yep, I like to smell like lemon pledge!

People always ask me how do I win so much, and my answer is have to enter to win! I love winning so that's why I've gotten a little bit into giveaways. I love to brighten up someone's day. I hope you all like the giveaway opportunities I've given you here. If so, I'd love for you to enter often! High numbers of entries is how I get more sponsors for you!

Plus I got some exciting news...remember when I shared about the crafting day I hosted for my Kappa Delta Sorority alumnae chapter? Imagine my surprise when I got an email from my sorority's headquarters asking my permission to share our story and photo in the September 1st KD Connect! Evidently Goggle Alerts picked up on my post and they found it that way. My sisters and I are super thrilled to be featured.

And as if that wasn't exciting enough I may even be the featured blog of the month on a very big nationally published magazine. It's not for sure yet, I've been emailing back and forth with the fact checker so I don't want to spill the beans in case things fall through. But I'll give you a can find a lot of ideas for family fun in the publication!

Okay so enough sharing for today! Don't forget to check out and enter to win:

250 custom greeting cards from the Digital Room
$69 worth of skin care products from SIRJJ Organics

Plus be on the look out for new giveaways for a PUR water pitcher, 500 Business Cards, a photobook from CVS (So handy for showing off and organizing all those summer photos), and an exciting company launch from Envié. All of those will be in the next couple of weeks so get ready to enter and win!

Tips for Getting Prepared for the New School Year

On Monday night I went to my first board meeting for the preschool cooperative that ER will be attending starting next month. It was both fun and a bit surreal to be on the parent side of the home and school relationship. It was a little odd to be the one listening and not presenting. Discussing all the details necessary for a smoothly run program, got me thinking back to the days when I was still teaching and things I used to tell my parents before their kids came to my kindergarten class. When I returned from the meeting, one of the first emails I found in my inbox was one from PBS with some simple but effective ways to help reduce first day of school jitters no matter what grade your child is entering. Here is some of the information from the newsletter, shared with permission: Help Children Ease Back Into the School Year With PBS KIDS®!

PBS PARENTS Experts Share Tips on Getting Kids and Parents Prepared for the New School Year

Starting the school year can be a time of great excitement... and anxiety. Help calm your child's
fears with these teacher-approved hints that will get everyone ready for the big day:
  • Ease into the routine. The start of a new year can be stressful - practice your routine a few days in advance.
  • Ask your child compelling questions. Specific questions help children picture what school will be like.
  • Describe what will happen on the first day. This will help ease nervousness or confusion
  • Tool up. Obtain the class supply list and take a special shopping trip, letting your child pick out a few special items.

For more helpful tips, visit

{To these I'd like to add, if your school has a Sneak a Peek event before the first day make every effort to attend. It can really help a child to visit their new room to get familiar with the environment and met the teacher with the support of their parents. It's also nice for the kids to see each other beforehand, that way some of the faces look a little familiar. ~Katie}

Here are some suggestions from to keep the literacy learning going even out of the classroom.

  • Create a cozy, comfortable reading space with your child. Set rules for this area in your home to maintain peaceful reading.
  • Let your kids catch you reading. Talk about what you read in newspapers, books, and magazines with your children so they understand the importance of reading.
  • Encourage your child to read aloud at home. Your child will learn to read with expression and
    understanding while sharing stories with you – and siblings and grandparents, too!
  • A trip to the grocery store can reinforce reading skills. Have your child write the grocery list, find the items using the store's signs, and read product labels — you can also encourage healthy eating.
{I'd also like to suggest a family book club. Pick a children's novel and read it aloud. Read a chapter a day, take turns reading if appropriate. Discuss the book together and model critical thinking skills for your child, "think aloud" about portions of the plot or make predictions. If your children see you engaging in the book, they will too. ~Katie}
On another topic, I also wanted to share that a new show will be beginning on September 7th that I'm pretty interested in. It sounds like it incorporates science into entertainment; which I think that a low percentage of children's programing focuses on. So I'll be tuning in to see this new one, here's the description from the newsletter:

"Hop on board the fun and fantastical DINOSAUR TRAIN, a new daily CGI animated series for
preschoolers that encourages basic scientific thinking and skills as viewers learn about natural
science, natural history and paleontology through the adventures of Buddy, his family and friends.
Find more at"

We've been over to look around their website, and I like the Field Guide activity. I confess I am never sure how to pronounce all those big long names so I'm glad they do that for me! They also have some fun games, How Big Are You works on estimation. Apparently I need some to practice this skill myself. I played with ER and was wrong three times in a row!

Disclosure: I am part of PBS's Band of Bloggers, I think...LOL! I got an email back from the coordinator saying I was part of it. My picture isn't on their page like some of the others bloggers though and I never got my welcome package. So I haven't added their button to my sidebar yet, but I do support PBS (we even donated an old car to our local channel when we lived in CA) and their programing so I am happy to pass along content I agree with and think is relevant to my readers.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

SIRJJ Organics Review and Giveaway

Going green is quickly becoming a way of life for many of us. We're more conscious of how we use fuel, recycle, and how the various products we use are packaged and produced. For me this concern has also come with a new awareness about not only what I put in but what I put on my body. For me the following part SIRJJ Organic's mission is especially important:

"It’s all about purity, but in every aspect, not just a few extracts and oils. Sirjj does not use extracts, but produces products with pure organic herb powders, organic aloe whole leaf juice, and organic cold pressed unrefined oils and butters. It is evident that these practices and core principles for standard are finding solid ground in the skin care industry."
I got two products from the AcaiBerry line to try out. First up was the cleansing cream, from the beginning I could tell it was going to be very different from the cleansing cloths I had been using. It has a thick creamy consistency, with little flecks in it. Cofounder Sarah told me to expect to see these, they're raw herbs, teas and powders used solely for nutritional benefit. The cleansing cream has a mild smell to it, kind of nutty actually. That is the natural aroma from the raw oils used – fragrance oils, alcohols, essential oils are NOT used in formulas - NEVER.

Gentle Antioxidant Facial Cleanse
Contains Raw Organic Acai Berry Chips - Rich in Antioxidants and Vitamins A&C
Infused with Acerola Cherry - Intensely High in Vitamin C
Safe for Most Skin Types
Gluten Free

Like I mentioned previously, I had been using daily cleansing cloths to clean my face at night. They are convenient and with the kind I used you don't even have to wet your face. But I was getting growing concerned over the waste involved and I don't think they were really cleaning that well. I've been having breakouts on my chin and trouble in my T zone.

After a week of using the AcaiBerry Cleansing Cream I noticed a difference, my skin felt smoother and even less dry. I like knowing that there are no fillers, no thickeners, no chemicals, no parabens, and no carcinogens going on my face and that it's rich in antioxidants and vitamin C. I've also have been testing the AcaiBerry Rehydration Cream; it is thick stuff! It is:

Raw Unrefined Mango and Shea Butters combine with AcaiBerry to nourish the inner layers of the skin, even skin tone and improve the elasticity and overall appearance and health of the skin.

Made with Organic Raw Acai Berry Chips combined with
Raw Organic Unrefined Shea Butter and Organic Pumpkin Seed Oil
Helps combat signs of aging while providing deep hydration
Concentrated Skin Nutrition for Dry & Dehydrated Skin

To me this product had a very definite nutty smell to it, which I liked. It smells both earthy and sweet all at once, and it really moisturizes! I used to get dry patches on my cheeks, no more! And my fingertips are also very dry, especially around the nail. I've been rubbing this in and no more white dry skin there either. I loved the rehydration cream, it's heavy duty moisturizer and very efficient, you only need to use a little bit at a time.

I'd like to also mention that I have notoriously sensitive skin. A lot of times a new skin care regimen will result in an allergic reaction or irritated skin for the first few days even weeks. I had no problems switching over to the Acaiberry products. Now that I know I don't react to their products, I'm interested in trying some of their acne fighting ones for help with periodic break outs on my chin and around my nose. Plus they are coming out with make up soon too, I'm super interested in their cream foundation and blushes.

Interested in giving SIRJJ Organics a try?

Save 50% on either of the two products I reviewed, if you make a purchase within the next 7 days - Use code KATIET50 @ checkout

Has another product caught you eye? Save 30% on any purchase (no min. requirements) during the giveaway period and 7 days following winner announcement. - Use code KATIET30 at checkout

Win It! Giveaway!!!

Receive the following SIRJJ Organics products!

Acai Berry SPF10 Day Cream 1.0oz -- Retail $18.00
Acai Berry Rehydration Cream 1.0oz -- Retail $18.00
Green Baby Healing Shea Ointment 1.0oz -- Retail $18.00
Green Baby Shea & Aloe Lotion 4.5oz -- Retail $15.00

That's a Total Value of $69.00!

Seriously, I WANT to win this giveaway! I've entered several held by other bloggers before but haven't been lucky yet, darn it. I am so happy to have this opportunity to share a wonderful product line with my readers! Most of us are busy moms but that doesn't mean we don't want to look our best, and in my opinion, the first step to a great look is beautiful skin. This line will help you achieve that, and you can feel great knowing you're only putting healthy for you ingredients on your skin.

For a second chance at winning the same giveaway package, head over to my other blog ABC & 123, my blog partner Katie reviewed their green baby SPF lotion and is coordinating a giveaway! Plus you should visit anyway to see her too cute for words baby boy on the beach.

To Enter this Giveaway:

Tell me which product by SIRJJ Organics you are most interested in and why. Do this first and then any additional methods, outlined below. Giveaway open now through September 3rd midnight EST.

Additional Entries:
{please leave an extra comment(s) for each method}
  • Follow my blog publicly.
  • Post my button.
  • Follow me on Twitter and tweet about the giveaway, include a link to your tweet in the comment.
  • Post about the SIRJJ Organics review and giveaway on your blog, link to this post and SIRJJ's homepage. Give yourself 3 extra entries for this option ~ leave 3 extra comments so you get all the extra entries.
  • I'd love to hear your thoughts on organic skin care, do you think it's important to add to your daily routine? Why or why not, what would make your switch or what's holding you back. Tell me in a comment on this post.
Disclaimer: I received samples of the products I reviewed from SIRJJ Organics, this review relates my experiences and my opinions. They were not influenced by the sponsor. Yours may differ from mine.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Fairy Themed Birthday Party

Over the weekend we went to a really fun fifth birthday celebration, a fairy themed party filled with crafting fun. Held at a creative arts studio, it had perfect activities for ER. It began with our party hostess telling us all about fairies. All of the girls sat spell bound and hung on to her every word. I was surprised by how quiet everyone was, they were that captivated by what she had to say.
Each little girl got her own fairy house to paint; as you all know my little one LOVES to paint. She was one of the last two girls to finish. I had to stop her when she began to repaint part of the roof over again. I have seen really darling fairy houses that parents have made from scratch with their kiddos, I have to say this was the perfect fairy house project for us. It was right at ER's skill level.
After painting it was time for pizza and lemonaide. I was shocked that she drank the lemonaide, it's the first time she's ever done that. Normally, it's one sip and oh no, we want apple juice! After lunch we got to make our very own fairy for inside of our fairy house. It was actually pretty clever how they did it. It's made out of pipe cleaners, a wooden ball, a bit of shiny cellophane, fluff of yarn, and some silk flowers. Maybe I'll show you how if I ever manage to russle up the materials and if at that point I can remember how!
Then we sang Happy Birthday and ate cake. By then our fairy houses were fairly dry; it was time to decorate them some more. The girls all got to go to a fairy decoration smorgasbord. Little bowls were set out with all kinds of fun things to glue onto their houses: silk flowers, tulle, leaves, etc.
We barely had time to open presents! It was a well paced and active party. There was barely any down time for ER, since she took so long to paint. ER was so excited to show off her house and she just loves it. Bluebell has adjusted to her new home, she especially loves the front garden.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Blog Picture Monday - Picking Tomatoes

Welcome to Picture Blog Mondays! This fun linky party is hosted by the Curly Muse at Discovering Mars and it's my first time participating. I found the her blog through the My Life in Picture's Challenge I did at the beginning of August and my daughter and I really liked this post she did previously. Aren't ducklings the cutest?

Here are the rules: Post Any picture(s) you want... Its up to you if you wanna explain them or leave them a mystery! (until you explain them in comments!!) Its Picture Blog Mondays (more pictures, less words) because I should be working... Not blogging!!! ER and I just got back from a pretty busy weekend, so fun filled that she's still napping. This means that I have time for a quick post. We went to a birthday party on Saturday, then she played at Grandma Norma's while I met some friends for shopping. Saturday night we moved over to my parents' house where we spent the night. Then Sunday was filled with a trip to a local fair, which we enjoyed despite the light sprinkle of rain. We spent Sunday night over my parents' house again because I was too tired to drive all the way home. I will catch you all up on our weekend fun, but for today I wanted to just pop in and share some pictures I took of ER helping Papa pick tomatoes. She really thought it was big fun finding all the red ones. We had a relaxing morning, had Coney dogs for lunch, and did a little shopping. Now it's time to unpack and get ready for my first preschool co-op meeting tonight. I will try to fit in catching up on blog reading and answering emails and all your sweet comments tonight after the chicklet is asleep☺

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Scrapbook Sunday: Church Picnic

Back at the end of June we took ER to my parents' annual church picnic. She had a great time dancing with Grammy, eating freshly popped popcorn, getting her arm painted with a pretty flower, and bouncing in the bounce house. The highlight was getting a balloon animal, for a nearly three year old it was a perfect summer afternoon indeed.
I used quick pages to make these 12X12 pages. The top one is from Katheleen with the word art from Christy. The bottom quick page is from Suzanne with title word art from Jen. If you like the elements I used I got them from a blog train at Scrap Matters, click here for a list of all the participants. Check out my friend Noelle and Holly for more Scrapbook Sunday participants and why don't you join in too?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

For a Good Time...Get Sewing!

One of my New Year's resolutions was to get out my dust covered sewing machine and actually make a few things on it. I've actually done a bit better than I thought, but I'd love to learn more. To be honest, it's been more trial and error and a lot of error in that! When my friend Valerie at Frugal Family Fun Blog told me that she's starting a FREE Sewing in Baby Steps online workshop I had to sign up. I hope some of you will join me, we'd love to have you along for the adventure. Stop by Valerie's to learn more about it, and sign up by August 31st.

Alex Presents: Ready, Set, Create!

Remember the review I did of ALEX Toys? Well the maker of quality creative products that foster personal expression and build self-esteem, is now launching a contest just for you and your tot! Team up with your little one to enter the Ready, Set, Create Contest!

I know so many of you are crafty that I just knew many of you would be interested in joining in! Many of us already have the Mom portion done in the form of a blog post, I'm sure. Plus I know you have oodles of pictures of your kiddo's art ready to send with a few clicks. Here are the details from Alex Toys:

Mom, we want to know: How do you encourage your preschooler's creativity? Send us 1-2 paragraphs about how you create an environment that stimulates your child's artistic imagination.

Tot: The proof's in the pudding! We'd like to see some original artwork by you that illustrates just what mom does to let your creative genius shine. Ask your mom to scan or photograph an art piece of yours. Whether it's a crayon-drawn masterpiece or modeling clay extravaganza, it's up to you! The winning teams will be chosen by the ALEX Toys Arts & Crafts Panel.

The art submissions from all winners will be displayed on the ALEX Toys website ( deadline to enter is October 15, 2009. Winners will be announced by October 25th.Bragging rights included.

To enter:
  • Become a Fan of ALEX Toys on Facebook:
  • Send a single email to with a .jpg of your tot's artwork and your 1-2 paragraph submission.
The photo may be attached but your submission should be included in the body of the email with your full name, child's first name and age, email address and phone number. Children ages 3-5 are eligible for this contest. Mom's age may vary.

Click on over to Alex Toy's Facebook Page to learn more about the great prizes you can win! I'm actually most interested in the second and third prizes, how 'bout you? I'm definitely going to enter, after all art time is our favorite time of the day! Good Luck!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Paper Culture Review

As many of you already know, I have a major stationery addiction. I can't get enough, I just love the stuff and I am very picky about it. I have been known to stop at multiple card shops just to find the perfect one for the occassion and if I see one just right for someone I will buy it then and there. It doesn't matter if your birthday is in three days or three months.Recently I heard about a the modern stationery from Paper Culture and I could barely contain myself until I got my samples.

What I love:
  • Bold graphic designs, that are so popular right now and a wide variety of them.
  • They're green and eco friendly! Papers and envelopes are FSC certified as 100% post consumer recycled paper
  • Being green doesn't mean low on style, their cards are printed premium quality stock paper; you can feel the difference. It's thick heavy stuff & I love the rounded edges.
  • Embossed logo on their envelopes give them a boutique feel.
  • Matte finish
  • They're civic minded; a portion of all Paper Culture proceeds go towards supporting their local community.
One of the best perks of using Paper Culture? They even have a mail and message program, you can chose to have Paper Culture stuff, address, stamp and mail the cards for you! Try it out during the busy upcoming holiday season, because until January 1, 2010, the only charge for this service is the cost of the stamps! What a time saver; if you use it, maybe your cards will make it out on time this year! I have to admit, as much as I liked a bunch of Paper Culture's designs online, I didn't really care for any of the designs they actually sent me. But that's a matter of personal taste; I could tell from the samples I received that I do like their overall quality. I especially liked browsing through the kids' birthday party invitations. My personal favorite were the Balloon Zoo, Modern Classic Flowers, and the Penguin's 1st Birthday Party shown below:
I also really liked the Moving Truck announcements, but my favorite section to look at had to be the modern baby announcements. Isn't the Baby Stuff Galore design just too stinkin' cute? The Garden Tea Party was also just my style and I thought that one along with the Appleseed Bird Baby combined a modern take on design with whimsical. The Mood Clock Baby and the Food Cravings Mobile both just made me laugh. There are even plenty of choices for those with a more traditional taste, like the Classic Rocking Horse. I also really liked the Spirograph Flower and Teddy Bear designs. Guess I need one of my friends to have a baby!

If you're planning an event or in the market for stationery products, checking out Paper Culture is a must do, especially since right now you can save $15 off a purchase of $75 or more. To find out more about Paper Culture please visit their website: or email them at: You can also keep up with them on their Paper Culture Facebook page and on Twitter @paperculture.

Disclaimer: Thank you to Paper Culture for providing the review materials, this review relates my own opinion and experience with this product. Yours may differ.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Ocean Themed Play Date

Here's my little sea princess wearing her shell crown. It came out so pretty and sparkly! It ended up being a very fun craft, but wow was it mess to make! The glitter + sand sprinkled on them means that this is definitely an on the back deck craft. Yesterday when my friend Margaret and her two daughters came over for a summer play date we started by making shell crowns. I got idea from my latest copy of Family Fun Magazine, the directions can be found here and the template here.

I really like how they came out and think the sweep up was definitely worth it. I precut the templates out of colored poster board. The directions say cardstock but the shells are pretty heavy so I am skeptical as to if that would've been sturdy enough.

We took of the bottle top and spread a very thick layer of tacky glue over the template. Even so I thought for sure I'd need to do some hot glue repair. Surprisingly, after a lengthy drying period, i.e. several hours, the shells did stay put when I formed the crown. While I wiped down the table the girls worked on coloring in these fun wooden stand-up princesses. I got these for a dollar each and they came with a little set of markers to color with. It was a nice quiet calm down craft.

We also made the ocean in a bottle and ER really likes hers. She's been shaking that thing for hours now. She won't put it down. It doesn't make for the prettiest picture because unbeknownst to me I was out of blue and green food coloring. So I'd look at the directions on Family Fun to see it.

We had one of the easiest play date lunches ever: cold cuts and cheese platters with fruit salad. Each girl got to make their own sandwich; I had a fish cookie cutter to make them all cute. But darn it. I forgot all about it when it came to meal time.Since lunch was low key and no heat we had time for a fun snack, these pearly bites also from Family Fun Magazine. They're supposed to look like little clam shells, aren't they cute! I like how they didn't require me to bake anything and needed minimal ingredients. They were pretty quick to make too. I think they passed the taste test, judging from the smile below!I used paint pens to decorate a little sand and water bucket for each of the girls to put their crafts in along with the pink rubber ducky we gave them as favors. But I forgot to take a picture of them. Two things I forgot to do, geez memory is going already! I was pretty happy with how the underwater scene one one came out too, so that's a bummer. We will be crafting away with the girls again this weekend at the much anticipated fairy themed birthday party for Margaret's oldest. Can't wait to share the pictures from that one!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Review and Giveaway: Chiquita Smoothies

Most of you are familiar with the famous blue sticker above, after all there's a good chance that you like me, bring it home on a regular basis on your bananas. That's how I was most familiar with Chiquita; to be honest until recently I had no idea the company did anything but sell bananas. Then I found out about their new line of Chiquita Smoothies in four great flavors: Mixed Berry, Strawberry Banana, Peach Mango, and Banana Colada.
Normally, I enjoy smoothies out and about. We don't make them at home; frankly figuring out the right combination and proportions of fruit and ice and whether or not to add milk or yogurt confuse the heck out of me. If you're laughing right now, remember I told you I am not handy in the kitchen! Plus all the cleaning and all seemed like a lot of work for a drink. So I was really happy to get a crack at trying Chiquita Smoothies out. They are so easy to make all you need is to crack open the container and add it along with some ice and water into a blender. Mix and voila, you have a great tasting smoothie, a full day's worth of Vitamin C, and all for less than a dollar a serving. Compare that to the hassle of making one from scratch or the cost of buying one out and it's my favorite new thing. ER loves them, ever since we made the strawberry banana one she's been begging me to make more of the special fruity drink. Next up on our list is the peach mango!
Got anyone at home who'd love an icy treat? Relax and enjoy the last few weeks of summer with a cool smoothie!

Well I've got THREE sets of two coupons for FREE Chiquita Smoothies to give away! Have a cool smoothie and enjoy the last few weeks of the summer relaxing with a icy, fruity, smoothie☺

To get your hands one of the THREE sets of coupons, each coupon good for one free Chiquita Smoothie each, all you have to do is tell me what flavors you'd like to try!

Open to North American residents, now through Aug 25th at midnight EST. Please check on Chiquita's Smoothie website to make sure they are available in your area first! Look for them in the frozen aisle at your grocery store and enjoy a quick, easy to make, and fruity smoothie!

Disclaimer: Thank you to Chiquita for providing the review samples and the giveaway. This review relates my own experiences and opinions with the product and it was not influenced by the sponsor. Your experience and opinons may differ.
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