Friday, August 31, 2012

Talk to Me About Big Boy Beds...

This past weekend we swung by a random stranger's house and picked up a toddler bed, very similar to this one, for the can't beat it price of 15 bucks. We actually weren't even planning on using a toddler bed. We figured that when Gabe broke loose from his crib or he turned 15, we'd get him a regular twin bed. But I saw this one posted in the classifieds section of a mom's newsletter so I scooped it up. I happen to think it's adorable. And it will slide right into Gabe's room seamlessly when the time comes.

Of course, you all know that when I re-did Gabe's nursh into his tiny British Gentleman lair, I promised John that most of it would stay the same when the time for a big boy room came along. And for the most part, it will. With a few itttttty bitty changes...

  L to R 1-unknown/2/3/4-unknown/5/6/7-unknown/8/9

Here are some of my favorite boy rooms out there. I actually tried to track down original sources and not be an internet-asshole and it's amazing how many dead links I found, so sorry for the unknowns. So anyway, I think I've narrowed down the elements I like: stripes and plaid, monograms, industrial, slightly old-fashioned and neutrals. I like rooms that look a tad bit grandpa but not too industrial prison camp-ish, ya know?

The big change? Besides the bed? I'll need a new dresser. As much as I love the look of the antique red one, it's functionality is not so great for a small boy. He needs something more sturdy...and less finicky to deal with. I'm hoping to go all DIY Campaign-style on an inexpensive Ikea dresser. The one pictured above is perfection, color and all.

I'll need a few new blankets and pillows for Gabe's new bed since the blankets he currently uses are teeny tiny yellow & green baby blankets. Most of which, get wrapped around him like a cape by his request every night for his "coat". It's presh. Anyway, I also like the idea of a little wall-mounted light that he can operate since the only lamps are across the room right now. The curtains in his room now are just cheapies from Targ so I'd like to fancy them up a bit by DIY'ing some white horizontal stripes. Annnnd maybe a striped tee pee? I've only wanted one for him for LIKE ever.

We'll also need some toy storage for his room because although the only "toys" kept up there now are books, I'm pretty sure we'll want a few things to entertain him when he wakes up in the morning and it's not time to come wake mama, right? The idea of rolling bins or crates gets my heart a racin'.

Speaking of, talk to me about the switch to the big boy/girl beds for your tots if you have one. We're thinking we'll probably need to put a baby gate up at his door (he's never tried to scale one), mostly for his own safety and our sanity. Keep in mind, Gabe is actually our alarm clock most mornings so there's no chance of him sleeping in and us having to go wake him up. Man, I wish. So tell me how this works.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

September's Meal Plan

sept

I realized, and I doubt you did too, that I took off from menu planning for the months of July and August. Simple menu planning burn-out on my part. I still planned my own meals but was a lot more loosey goosey since we were constantly eating cookout leftovers or leftover pizza from Gabe's party. But whatevs, I'm back on the meal planning train and I'm bringing you with me! All aboard dudes.

1. Chicken Rarebit I know, what the eff is a rarebit? Looks bangin though
2. Roasted Veggie Tortellini 
3. The highly recommended Knock Off Chick-Fil-A Bites
4. Marinated Cherry Tomato, Chicken & Mozzarella Rigatoni
5. Turkey Pesto Panini 
6. Chicken & Asparagus Meatballs with Tomato Cream Sauce
7. Tex Mex Rice Cakes & Salad
8. Store Bought Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons (I know, recipe not really needed)
9. Chicken Club Pizza
10. I literally cannot wait to make this French Onion Soup Casserole
11. Blackened Chicken with Cilantro Lime Quinoa
12. Nacho Cheese Chicken Chowder
13. I think the picture looks better than this dish sounds Ramen with Beef, Mushrooms and Spinach
14. Long Boy Burgers
15. Chicken Fajita Bowls
16. Lemon Basil Linguine
17. Balsamic Honey Pulled Pork Sliders
18. Jamie Oliver's Macaroni & Cauliflower Cheese Bake
19. Carmelized Onion, Walnut, & Cilantro Chicken Salad This tweet from Honest Toddler had me dying.
Caramelized onions do not contain caramel. Adults, please stop lying.
20. Creamy Basil Chicken
21. Sage & Pecan Pork Tenderloin Cutlets
22. Honey Lime Chicken with Coconut Black Bean Rice
23. Slow Cooker 3 Envelope Pot Roast Sliders
24. Penne with Pancetta & Roasted Brussel Sprouts
25. Sassy Tailgate Sandwiches (another version of the Ham & Cheese Slider) It looks goooooood.
26. It's like Butter Chicken
27. Chile Colorado Burritos
28. Slow Cooker Ham & Potato Casserole
29. Sausage Zucchini Boats
30. They're from the Midwest, you can't go wrong with Newly Woodward's Chicken & Rice Casserole

Anything looking good?




Monday, August 27, 2012

Not the Best Boy Mom

So post birthaypalooza numero dos, we are up to our elbows in new toys, which mean my house is filled with trucks, trains, cars, firetrucks, construction vehicles and books about those things. I can't get away from the incessant boy-ness around here. Don't get me wrong, normally I'm just fine with it. We get in plenty of, I dunno..."gender neutral" activities like coloring and play-dough but for the most part, it's all about the crash of a wheeled vehicle into a hard surface like the coffee table...or the side of my face.

So rewinding back to last week, John had taken Friday off so that we could do something with Gabe for his birthday. You know, besides buy him an expensive gift and throw a big adorable party. Obviously this activity had to be cheap but we wanted it to be something special too, not just another trip to the park. Like, something like Sesame Place, which is like an hour away, wasn't gonna happen. I was about to suggest a trip to the car dealership because, hey, free entertainment! And possibly free water bottles if we pretend we're car shopping. But even I thought that sounded like a horrible thing to do so we headed out to God's country, in Strasburg, PA and went to the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania.

We knew Gabe would be into it. I just hoped we would make it past the Thomas train tables because dude, we can go see those at Barnes & Noble. Luckily we bypassed it fairly quickly and got to seeing the huge museum filled with old trains.


 








Clockwise L to R 1) Gabe's oooo face when he hears the train whistle. 2) Adorable vintage luggage EVERYWHERE 3) Still love a Union Jack 4) Creepiest mannequin ever. I didn't let Gabe look too long for fear of nightmares.

Guys? It was boring. So so boring. Not for Gabe...and probably John. They both enjoyed it. Gabe ran and ran and we were all "Look bud! Another train!" and "Oooohhh look at this one, it's RED!" But mostly I wandered behind them, Instagramming. I know, not my best mother moment, but I could not get into this museum. I loved that he loved it but I was ready to get the heck outta there as soon as Gabe showed the first sign of hunger/thirst/boredom. Besides, there was a Cracker Barrell to get to. And a Janie & Jack outlet. Let's not tell Gabe that these are the reasons I pushed for the railroad museum, k? Our little secret?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

First We Tattoo Him, Then We Kill Him!


So I think our gift to Gabe for his 2nd birthday was a hit.The day after his birthday party, after we recovered from our party hangovers, we headed outside to get Gabe going on his first bike. Within minutes, he was part of a biker gang. As the youngest kid in a neighborhood where kids still roam the streets day and night, Gabe has sorta been adopted as their little pet. The girls love to smother him, constantly asking if they can pick him up. Not realizing, of course, that he is probably 2/3 their weight and they'll get tiny hernias. The boys, probably middle school age, are new friends to Gabe. They like that he wears "cool" clothes (seriously, they tell me that) and that he gives high fives and fist bumps, which I guess is all you really need in a biker gang...besides a bike.

So yeah, we headed out, Gabe climbed onto his bike and took off...walking. Remember, there's no pedals? 


Ma, put the camera away, you're embarrassing me! I got this!
 

Ohhhhh yeah
 

Watch this Ma, I'mma do a trick


Tiniest wheelie ever?
 

Oh, there's my gang. Camera away...NOW!

Sup guys? Let's do this.

Ok, so most of that didn't happen. He was pretty cautious at first but then got into the motions of stepping his way down the street to meet up with the kids. That's when chaos hit. He was surrounded.




Ok, not quite chaos. It was pretty darn cute. And I love when they ask if they can ride on his bike, he's like NO. He's got em wrapped around his little fingers.

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So after some weirdness happening on the internet recently, which of course you'd know about if you liked my Facebook page, my internet karma brought me some fantastic news. Remember my Roaring Twenties photoshoot I did for Bottle Pop? Well my whole idea behind doing it was to submit to the biggest party blog I know, Hostess With the Mostess. And dudes, she featured it the other day! Pretty freaking cool, right?

Elsewhere, there's a cool new blog out there called The Crafty Collaborative, where a group of chicks test out crafty endeavors they've found online and give honest reviews of the process. Well the other day, they featured my Hand Stamped Napkins tutorial. And while a few of them ran into some snags, it seems they were into it! So thanks for the feature ladies!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Con Agra's The Dish: Curing the Food Blogger Blahs

As bloggers, we all get writer’s block from time to time, right? It’s usually when I haven’t done anything “blog-worthy” in awhile, I get the blog blahs and it leads to no pictures and no good content. My craft table lies untouched, my camera collects dust, my cookbooks stay put on their shelves. When I’m not feeling the inspiration, you know what would be helpful? A website aimed at bloggers, filled to the brim with ideas for our choosing. How about a website offering to send us products to try?
Well guess what? ConAgra, the giant company that is home to some of your favorite brands, has launched a website that will do all that and more. The website is called The Dish and it gives bloggers easy access to recipes, cooking advice, kitchen tips, and exclusive content. Its focus is for food bloggers as well as us mom/d├ęcor/recipe/crafty type bloggers that don’t fit into any one category.
Since we all love free stuff, I’m pretty sure you’ll be into my favorite part, the First Look, First Taste section of the site. Once you sign up, using your blog’s URL, you’ll be able to browse the current promotions and request samples to be sent to your home. In the past they’ve offered RO*TEL (which I’ve never had but as a Mexican food lover, I know I should!), PAM Cooking Spray and new varieties of Orville Redenbacher’s popcorn. No obligation, no nothing! Just free product sent to you as a blogger with hopes that you’ll enjoy it and let all your readers know about it. You can’t beat it!

You’ll also find other sections on The Dish like Seasonal Spotlight, which right now inspires you to write about all things summer like grilling, going on picnics and growing your own garden herbs. All of the articles are written by a panel of experts for The Dish, including professional marketers, editors, bloggers and even a supermarket guru! Plus, celebrity chef George Duran, who you’ve surely seen all over Food Network and TLC, lends his expertise in the kitchen with video demonstrations using the products you’re reading about. You can even contact any of The Dish team members in the Ask Our Team section at any time to get answers to your burning questions.
Finally, what would a website like this be without all of the recipes? The Recipes Resource section gathers all of the highly-rated recipes from their Ready-Set-Eat website in one place, giving you all of the access without all of the searching. This is ideal for me because every month, when I’m trying to compile the next month’s menu plan, I don’t want to link up the same recipes my readers have already seen floating around the internet. I want fresh, new menu ideas that are easy to make and are easy on my budget.

So next time you’re having a slow week blog-wise, log on to The Dish and start browsing all of the inspiring content. Next thing you know, you’ll have a new recipe to make and share with all of your readers. Who knows, you might write the next viral blog post!

One lucky reader will receive a $50 Visa gift card! To be entered for a chance to win, just let me know which section of The Dish seems the most useful.
Rules:
No duplicate comments.
You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:
a) Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post
b) Tweet about this promotion with hash tag #sweepstakes and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post
c) Blog about this promotion and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post
d) For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.
This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected.The Official Rules are available here. This sweepstakes runs from 8/22/2012-9/8/2012. Be sure to visit ConAgra Foods' brand page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggers’ reviews and find more chances to win!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Twinkle Twinkle Little Party

I officially have a two year old. And just like him, his birthday weekend was pretty incredible. I made a promise to myself not to freak out during the planning and preparing process and I think I did a pretty good job. Well except for when people show up a half hour before the party is supposed to begin. Why do people do that?!? Oy. Anyway, the Twinkle Twinkle Little Star Party turned out just like I had dreamed...and I'm reaching around and patting myself on the back because this was done on a maaaaaajorly tiny budget.

First up, the dessert table!


I knew months ago when I envisioned the invitation, I wanted to include the window as my backdrop.  A friend of mine was replacing her windows so I asked her to hold onto one of her old ones for me and I am so happy she did. My local antique store wanted to sell me one for 55 bucks! Insane. I covered the back with a navy shower curtain I found at Goodwill and attached some tiny twinkle lights to the back. I could have been done here and died happy.


I'd been looking for an excuse for years to pick up a Katie Daisy print so when I saw this one that could double as party decor then go into Gabe's room, I was sold. 


You may have heard me complaining around the internet about being on a tiny budget and not being able to afford the perfect midnight blue macarons I found on Etsy. Sads. So almost everything on the dessert table was homemade. The blue star cookies were a Target find around the 4th of July. I bought them, wrapped them up and froze them, praying they would be tasty once defrosted. They were fantastic. 




I tried to make the most impact using small (cheap) details. I bought the wooden candy pop sticks and glittered them myself with the pound of glitter I bought. That ish is everywhere obvs. You know that joke about glitter being the her-peeees of craft supplies? Totally true. And yeah, the oreo truffles made another appearance, topped with edible gold stars that I somehow found on clearance at Jo-Ann and paid $2 instead of $6.99. Pun totally intended but the stars definitely aligned for me for this party, cost-wise.


The white felt puffy clouds were a last minute addition and they make me happier than anything. In fact, I think I'll leave the whole shebang set up for awhile.




A roll of gold washi tape helped me immensely. I wrapped it around white vases and serving pieces to give them a little pizazz.



I learned my lesson from last year and started the party at 4pm, when Gabe is due to wake up from his nap. It also gave us time that morning to sit around and watch Sprout to see if Gabe's birthday card made it on the air. Did you watch (say you did), it was on!! It was pretty darn exciting for my lame ass. Anyway, after Gabe woke up, he came down to see the birthday treat wonderland that awaited him.



Match!


I kept the decor sort of simple (for me anyway) and focused on the dessert table and the drink area. I had seen constellation embroidery on etsy sometime ago and realized I had all of the supplies to make some, thus a Star Bar was born! Cute, eh? I had TJ's Sparkling Lemonade, Iced Tea and Skyy Vodka to make Arnold Palmers in addition to everything else. Another cheapy fun thing was buying a huge pack of teacher gold stars and putting them, um, everywhere. Like on every single blue plastic cup.


Sofie's Big Day on Etsy was my source for a mix of stripey and star straws. Aren't they adorbs?



Since these kiddos grow a ton in their second year of life, I wanted to do a little photo display. I used the frame I made for Always Crafty which just happened to be the right color.



Last year, we did cookie favors for all of our guests but went with favor bags for just the kids this year. A $2 pack of Target lunchbags was too hard to pass up.



Favors were star-shaped recycled crayons from a horrible etsy seller, yogurt stars, a lollipop, star-filled bouncy ball, a sparkly notepad and wooden star ornament. It was tricky not buying everything on 4th of July clearance just because it had stars on it, ya know? I wanted it to look cute not patriotic.

\

After eating his weight in sugar, we decided it was a good time to open presents. He received so many amazing presents from so many awesome people. We really are lucky to know such generous people.

Of course, John and I had to roll out our present for him, a Strider PREbike Balance Running Bike. It's an adorable little bike that is missing one thing, pedals. Kids use their feet to learn to balance, then push off and glide on the bike. Word on the street is that it's an excellent bike to learn on and eliminates the usual need for training wheels. For a kid who is obsessed with cycles, this was a hit. He spent the next day learning to ride with the neighborhood kids, which made me die of cuteness. So yeah, the bike and party were a huge hit. Yay.


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