Friday, December 31, 2010

happy new year!

Tonight we are going to an adult pajama party to ring in the new year. I was thinking that espresso martinis would be fun- but, since I am pregnant, I made a dessert version instead. My friend gave me a very simple recipe for chocolate mousse. Since I love a good presentation, I found some gold martini glasses and a gold tray at the local party store to serve it in. I even found some edible gold star glitter for the top! All the best for 2011!
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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

frosty the snowman

My son is a little obsessed with Frosty the Snowman right now. So, for his library holiday party I thought these snowman pretzels would be the perfect snack. I found the idea and directions here. I bought the red and white gummy rings at Marshalls and the holiday colored gumdrops at the local grocery store. The scarves are strawberry fruit roll ups. My son loved them and so did his friends!
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Monday, December 20, 2010

Nollaig Shona Duit

My daughters pre school asked if any parents wanted to come in to share a family tradition. Since my husband comes from Ireland I decided to go in to share an Irish Christmas tradition, decorating with holly. Since holly is poisonous I brought some in to show the children but used faux holly for our project. I found these wonderful clear, plastic ornaments at Michael's craft store. I also picked up the silk holly and red glittered berries along with some white glitter. At school I showed the children pictures of houses decorated with holly, taught them how to say Merry Christmas in Gaelic, and then gave them directions for making the ornaments. The children painted the fabric holly leaves with watered down glue and sprinkled them with glitter. When they had dried I pushed them in the ornament with a long wooden skewer and added some red ribbon and "Nollaig Shona Duit." I also brought in some Irish Christmas music to listen to while they nibbled on cupcakes that I decorated with candy holly (spearmint leaves and red m&m's.)
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Thursday, December 16, 2010

teacher gifts

Another one of my "go to" gifts is the LL Bean Bag. This year I am giving them to my daughter's pre-school teachers. As I have mentioned before she has 5 teachers. So, this year we went in on this gift with two other families. I had them monogrammed with the first letter of each teachers last name so that anyone in their respective families would be able to use them. I added a sheer tartan ribbon and heart gift tag to add a punch of color and inside each I tucked a red poinsettia.
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Tuesday, December 14, 2010 fast as you can!

I often find that my gifts start with inspiration from a picture book. For this family of four it was no exception. I saw this book called "The Gingerbread Pirates" and designed the rest of my gift around it. A gingerbread onesie for his baby brother, a bottle of Baily's Irish Cream with a "gingerbread man" drink recipe for the dad and some gingerbread girl bubble bath for the mom. I wrapped everything with cellophane and used silver glitter initials so they could identify which gift was for whom. I love when I can find a theme that works for a whole family!
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Thursday, December 9, 2010

the stockings were hung by the chimney with care

I picked these petite red and white stockings up at Joann Fabric last year after Christmas. I thought they would be perfect for presenting gift cards or tied to the backs of chairs with some holly tucked inside. Recently, I decided to fill them with silverware and perched them on top of a plate for a festive decoration at a holiday dinner. I don't know if they are carrying them this year at Joann's but, I did see something similar in the dollar bin at Michael's craft store.
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Saturday, December 4, 2010

i ♥ candy canes

I found these pink and green mini candy canes at Target. Aren't they adorable? Then I remembered an idea I saw in a Real Simple article that turned mini candy canes into hearts. They suggested using them to top cupcakes for Valentine's Day. I thought they would make cute additions to my holiday packages. The directions can be found here. They are really easy to make and only take a few minutes. They would also make a great gift if you bundled them in a cellophane bag with some mini marshmallows and cocoa.
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Thursday, December 2, 2010

deck the halls (and door)

(photo courtesy of Pier 1)

I bought this wreath for our front door back in Sept. I wanted something autumnal but thought that this was more versatile than a leaf wreath that I was originally planning on buying. For Christmas this year I put a larger evergreen wreath behind it and added some festive ribbon. If I had gone with the leaf wreath I would have had to take it down for the holidays. Since the berry wreath was fairly expensive I am happy that I can use it a little longer. If you are interested in purchasing the berry wreath it is on sale right now! Just click on the link above.

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forcing bulbs

Every year around Thanksgiving I always buy and force paper white bulbs. It is so easy to do and I love having them blooming all over the house at Christmas time. You can use almost any container and all you need beyond that is some small pebbles. I just get them from outside our house or driveway. You fill the container with rocks, nestle the bulbs in, and add a few more pebbles to hold them in place. Give them a drink of water and voila! The bottom picture was an amaryllis kit I found at Target for $10. I planted the bulb and added a pretty ribbon and gave it to someone as a hostess gift. This would also be a lovely Christmas gift for someone.
Last year I made a Paper white themed gift basket for a little girl. You can read more about it here.
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Sunday, November 21, 2010

thankful 4 hugs

I am thankful for so many things this year. One is my daughters pre-school teachers. To let them know how much we appreciate their hard work and dedication I made these little favors for them. I filled cellophane bags with Hershey Hugs. To make them a little more special I ordered some stickers on etsy that say Happy Thanksgiving with a picture of a turkey that I stuck on the bottom of each one. I stamped "Thankful" on one side of the "4" and "your hugs" on the back. I tied them up with some brown satin ribbon and will deliver them to school tomorrow. You could make these with different candies and messages or use them as favors or place cards at your Thanksgiving dinner.
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Thursday, November 18, 2010

fabulous fowl

An annual Thanksgiving tradition in our family is to take a trip to the Gozzi Turkey Farm on Rt. 1 in Guilford, Ct. to see these magnificent colored birds. It truly is quite a site. Last year we went at least three times. Here is an article from the NY Times from 1989 that describes the farm in more detail. You can order fresh turkeys for the holidays or just go check out the fabulous colored birds out front. If you live in Ct. or happen to be driving through for the holiday I suggest you make the trip to Gozzi's- It's free and fun!

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Monday, November 15, 2010

book nook

I love reading picture books to my children. We have a special book shelf that I use to highlight holiday books and I switch them every month. In September there are books about going to school, October has Halloween books and above you'll see a picture of our Thanksgiving book collection. The children get excited to read these "new" books every month and I try to add a new one to our collection every year. If you don't have a book case you could also use a window sill, basket, or small table. It is like having your very own library right at home. As the kids get older I can start highlighting special authors or topics that they are studying in school.
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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

tepee treats

(photo courtesy of Barnes and Noble)

(picture courtesy of Family Fun)

It was my turn to help out in my daughters pre-school last week. The calendar said they were going to read "The legend of the Indian Paintbrush" by Tomie de Paola and do a tepee craft. I always like to bring something fun in to school when it is my turn to help so I decided to make these tepees out of ice cream cones. I used mini cones and followed the directions for the recommended frosting. I had to put on two layers of the frosting and still wasn't totally happy with the results. I think next time I will use melted white chocolate instead. Instead of using cake gel to decorate them I brought in "easy writer" decorating pens. The pens come in the four primary colors and were a great way for the kids to personalize their tepees. I packaged them in small cellophane bags and the kids were able to take them home. This would be a fun activity for kids to make while waiting for Thanksgiving dinner.
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Sunday, November 7, 2010

christmas cards

I just ordered my Christmas cards! I am trying to get as much Christmas stuff done early since I will be having baby #3 just after the New Year. I have found a system for ordering cards that works for me so I thought I would share. Every October (starting when my daughter was a newborn) we have a photographer come to the house or a nearby location to take our pictures. I try and choose coordinating but not matching outfits for all of us. I find that it is a wonderful way to document our families growth over the years. In early November we choose one of the photos for our Christmas card. I always use Tiny Prints and have been happy with their services. They have good discounts, a large variety of cards to choose from, and downloading a picture is easy. They even let you compare different personalized cards so you can see what they will really look like. I got 15% off my order plus free shipping. The picture above is one of the shots from our photo shoot but not the one we chose for our card. If you are looking for a new place to get cards I suggest you give Tiny Prints a try.
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Saturday, October 30, 2010

trick or treat wreath

This year we are going trick or treating with some friends in their neighborhood. We usually only get a dozen trick or treaters at our house and I wanted to leave something for them even though we won't be home. I was going to leave a bowl of candy and then thought it would be fun to make a wreath instead. I used a glue gun to attach some mini clothespins that I spray painted black. I got the paper treat bags at Michael's and filled them with some candy. Happy Halloween!
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Thursday, October 28, 2010

halloween play date continued....

Yesterday was our Halloween play date. After our mummy munchies the kids watched "The Great Pumpkin" which gave me time to set up our activity- decorating haunted candy houses. A few days before the play date I assembled the houses using chocolate graham crackers and orange colored royal icing. I put out candy out and let the kids decorate to their hearts content. The kids loved it! Even my two year old was able to make one. At the end of the play date I sent everyone home with some Charlie Brown hot cocoa and Halloween marshmallows. "The Great Pumpkin" is on television tonight so I hope they enjoy their cocoa while watching it. It was a fun afternoon and my daughter told me "it was the best play date ever!" That made all the time and effort worth it. If you don't have time to do a whole Halloween party consider doing it on a much smaller scale with a play date instead.
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Sunday, October 24, 2010

mummy munchies

(photos courtesy of family fun)

For our Halloween play date this week I am going to make pizza and hot dog mummies. They are simple enough to make and hopefully will be a hit with the 4 and under crowd. You can find the directions on how to make these here and here.

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Thursday, October 21, 2010


Halloween falls on the weekend this year and I would love to have a big party. However, since I am 6 months pregnant with baby number three, I knew that a party would be to much. Instead my daughter asked a few of her pre-school friends to come over after school for lunch and a play date. Since we are only having a few kids over I am able to add some fun personalized touches like these candy place cards. I got the idea from here and adapted it for Halloween. Stay tuned for our menu, activity and favors.
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Saturday, October 16, 2010

boo bark

During the holidays I often like to make peppermint bark. I thought it might be fun to make a Halloween version. I melted white chocolate and spread it in a thin layer on a sheet pan. I sprinkled it with Halloween shaped pretzels, candy corn, Halloween Oreos, and candy corn colored nonpareils. When it cooled I broke it into pieces and packaged it in a white tin. I added some Halloween ribbon and a candy corn ornament to bring as a hostess gift to a party later tonight. This was a simple and delicious project, and one that can be adapted for many different holidays.
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Saturday, October 2, 2010

october pizza & movie night

Friday in our house means that it's pizza & a movie night. Since it was the first day of October the kids got to open a gift from our countdown calendar. They got new spider web jammies! After changing into them we made pizza. We took store bought (whole wheat) pizza dough and shaped it into a pumpkin. We used orange cheese and the kids decorated it with their favorite toppings. It was easy, fun and delicious!

(picture courtesy of Amazon)
Then we watched one of our favorite Halloween movies.....

and munched on a favorite snack - popcorn and candy corn. It was a fun way to welcome October and an all around great way to spend a rainy night together as a family.
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Thursday, September 30, 2010

and the countdown begins....

Tomorrow is the first day of October and so the countdown to Halloween begins. I talked about this Halloween calendar on my blog last year and you can read about it here. I got the calendar at Pottery Barn Kids after Halloween one year for 50% off the regular price! I have noticed similar calendars at stores like Marshall's for an even more reasonable price.
This year I started collecting small items when Halloween stuff started hitting the shelves in August. I filled the whole calendar today so that it would be ready for the kids tomorrow. For the days when I don't have any small gift I put in pieces of scrapbook paper. I left the paper blank for now so that I can fill it in with a joke, or a gift certificate to bake cookies or do a Halloween craft. That way I can pick an activity based on how busy our day/week is. On the first day of Oct. both of my children will receive a gift that I will write about later. The rest of the days they take turns getting what is in the calendar. That way I don't have to buy as many items and they learn to wait their turn. My daughter was looking at the calendar this afternoon and said "I see a lollipop" and "I see bubbles." Since the "lollipop" is really a bath fizzy and the "bubble wand" is actually a glow stick, I told her there may be some tricks this year too! For the gifts that were a little to big to fit into the calendar, I wrapped them and put corresponding number stickers on them.
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Monday, September 27, 2010

welcome fall

It's officially fall! That means that it is time for our local county fair where we enjoy taking rides on the Ferris wheel and playing with baby goats.

(photo courtesy of Barnes & noble)
The fair inspired us to start reading our very first chapter book. My daughter is enjoying listening to it as much as I am enjoying reading to her.

(photo courtesy of family fun)
We also made some of these mini caramel apples as a treat for my daughters pre-school. The directions can be found here. I wanted to make them with caramel instead of the suggested chips. Since regular caramel won't stick to the apples I used sheets of caramel (you can find them near the apples at most grocery stores). I cut them into circles using a cookie cutter before folding them around the apples. They came out cute and the kids loved them!
What are you doing to celebrate this glorious season?
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Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Did you know that you can bake cupcakes right in a ceramic mug? Just make sure the mugs are oven safe, fill them with cake batter, and bake at the specified time for cupcakes. Next time I think I will sprinkle them with a little cinnamon on top to make them look even cuter.
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