Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Lovely Little Tea Party

Finally, I am getting the photos up from Miss Mae's birthday tea party! Everything takes so much longer these days with baby O. in the picture... We had SUCH a lovely day! Maggie invited her friends from school and they came all gussied up as the "little ladies who lunch" that they are. My mom sewed these amazing fabric garlands after we saw them at party perfect! I adore her blog, and when I saw them, I immediately emailed my mom and showed her. I thought, "maybe when Miss Mae is older I'll have time!" But grandma set to work and made them all! She turned hers on the diagonal and went with a pink theme. They are made from her stash of fabric, sheets, and even clothing she cut up. If you want any more info about how we did it, just leave me a comment and I'll be happy to fill you in. I'm posting more photos on flickr, too.

My awesome mom also dug out a box of tea cups and saucers and hunted for the perfect silver spoons for months.I really, really tried to scale this party back after the huge productions Mr. Henry's parties have been in the past - again, I'm not talking about pony rides or anything, but I like to throw a party! The little cream puffs are from COSTCO - I love them - my kids call them ice cream balls because they are just as yummy frozen. We also had fresh strawberries with whipped cream, and jam and butter sandwiches: one side wheat and one side brown for a checker board effect.
The first order of business was decorating hats. They were waiting for the girls at the kitchen table so as the girls arrived, they could all sit down together. I searched high and low for hats to decorate, and ended up finding them in the target dollar bins! perfect! Because the girls were little (3-5 ish) I hot glued the marabou boas to the hats before they arrived. (I was having images of tiny fingers covered with wet glue and boa fluffs stuck to them, and glue takes WAY too long to dry.) I had sticky back jewels ready for them to adorn their hats.Next we all moved to the living room for an old fashioned cake walk revamped for the tea party theme. Pink, blue, yellow, and white tea pots and tea cups were our circle, and when the music stopped, I called out a color or a shape, and whoever was standing on the said color or shape would get a little bead necklaces or stickers or smarties or glittery pencils. Mostly I just filled every one's little buckets as full as Icould get them.
In order to be able to set the "table" (the floor in our case) we had all of the little ladies go back to the kitchen table and make bead bracelets. Here is miss Katie working intently on hers.
And finally the tea party!! I used lemonade, just in case. And lemonade 'cream'. And pretty pink and purple sugar. After having 6 years of Mr. H. parties, I was prepared to do so much HERDING! I had my game plan and was ready for those little girls to be running all over the house. I put sheets down on the floor so clean up would be easy and nothing would have very far to fall. The girls were perfect little ladies and not a drop was spilled!

I went with my favorite cupcakes in the world, St. Cupcakes. Every year I threaten to make a cake, and that still hasn't happened! These cupcakes are SO good, no one ever misses anything I might attempt.

It was a perfect day! I can't believe my little Miss Mae is already 4 years old. She is a treasure and has chosen the best friends!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Art Potential of Elementary Students

Mr. H's school put on an art show this week. Their art teacher is PHENOMENAL! Look at these! These are just a tiny sampling of what these students did. I didn't know who Georgia O'Keefe or Matisse were until I studied art in college, and these kids are studying them like professionals!

I wish you could have seen the whole show! Every wall is covered with amazing pieces - and all done by kindergartners through eighth graders! I know when I am drawing or painting, the world looks SO beautiful to me. The colors are brighter, the shadows scream out, the poetry of the visual world is so obvious after hiding for so long. Just imagine how these kids are going to look at the world when they are taught to be so observant so young. YUM.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Genius Father's Day Gift

This is the best idea I've seen in SO long! www.memolio.com makes a fan book of your uploaded images - SO easy to drop in your purse or wallet and have photos of the fam with you where ever you go. They are advertised as "water resistant and impossible to tear"! The interface is brilliant, and no application to download to your computer. It is as simple as dragging and dropping your photos into position. The books are only $20, and they even ship for FREE. Perfect for fathers day. I'm going to get started....

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Hollywood Farmer's Market

I love the farmers' market!! We were late getting there, but we still got some great veggies, flowers and even a few tomato plants! One of the plants is for a hanging basket - i can't wait to see tons of little tomatoes cascading out of the basket!I love the way my kitchen smells when it is filled with fresh market produce. Pretty soon I'll be doing marathon sessions with strawberries and blueberries - YUM!!
I made more baby food for O., too. I used the food mill this time to make a courser texture, and he loved it. Miss Mae even had a bowl of it, it was so good.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

NW kids Love!

Yay! I was delighted to see our Firecracker Baby diaper bags highlighted in the May issue of NW kids! They really are the most lovely diaper bags - and TOTALLY machine washable!
I'm still trying to get the website to allow you to customize your bag - for now you have to email me at marne@catinanapron.com and we'll get you what ever your heart desires... well, ALMOST. Here are a couple of the styles and new fabrics:

Is This Heaven?

I think this is what heaven must be like: dining in an open air dining room, or a giant porch looking out over a lake... The ocean would be better, but I'm just saying....

Friday, May 15, 2009

Easy Organic Baby Food At Home

Organic apples were on sale yesterday, so I bought bags and bags and made baby food! It is really so easy to make - the hardest part is peeling the apples! Pureed apples make a nice sweet addition to other foods, too, so I like to keep my freezer stocked. Buying organic baby food is so expensive, and who knows how much nutrition is really left in it? It is so easy to make my own. I'm so happy that the farmers' markets are opening up! I'll be able to make much more!
Simply wash, peel, and chop up the apples and add them to a sauce pan with a couple of tablespoons of water. Boil them until they are very soft. Puree them in a food processor, blender, or food mill until they are very smooth. Then drop them into ice cube trays, freeze them, and drop the frozen applecubes into Ziploc bags. Each one is the perfect portion for first foods, and a great size to add to other foods as baby starts to eat more.
here are the recipe books I use for more complicated mixtures:

Wholesome Meals for Babies and Toddlers: Healthy Food Your Kids Will Love to Eat

Monday, May 11, 2009

Lost in Dickens

For Mother's day my parents gave me the BBC production of Charles Dickens' Little Dorrit. Oh yum, yum, YUM!!! It is, of course, a wonderful experience! There is the love story, but SO much more! A terrifying, murderous villain who stands too close and brings the perfect 'dun, dun, DUUUUN' music, a compelling view inside a debtor's prison, and a crazy family mystery consisting of secrets and letters in a hidden panel in a wooden box!!


Here is more info on the book:
wikipedia - did you know his books were originally released in installments?

and the movie:
PBS - great behind the scenes info here!

I can't wait to read the book now!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Maybe The LAST Roadtrip EVER?

We've just returned home from a whirlwind weekend road trip. We stuffed three kids, two grownups, two bikes, one GIANT suitcase, one computer, one dvd player, and at least 35 "last minute" bags into our car planning to drive out of town at 3 p.m. on Friday. By 6 pm we were sitting in a filthy McDonald's 'playland' 15 minutes out of town, with a diaper blowout and a NOT WORKING dvd player. After putting the one and only diaper I brought with us and making my husband pull out the giant suitcase from under 25 of the 35 'last minute' bags to retrieve one of the 3 outfits I packed for baby O., I looked at him and wondered, "why does this happen every time???"

We arrived at our destination close to 1 am, again. The kids were in the pajamas, the better to whisk them from sleeping in the car into their beds. Of course they ended up playing for 2 hours. The pack-n-play we packed turned out to by my 6 year old son's cot (same blue carrying case) which meant Baby O. had to sleep in our bed and was up every 2 hours eating and crying.

I romantically imagine great road trips with our kids, and getting to the country where they can play and play and play. I imagine picnics under the giant trees at my parents' house. I imagine going for hikes with them over the newest trails my dad has blazed. I usually end up groggy and crabby from my nights of no sleep, and get crankier by the minute as I discover what else I've forgotten to bring. One of us is always driving into town to buy replacement forgotten items. The kids are wound up from the excitement, and exhausted from lack of sleep which ends in multiple meltdowns. Of course the end of this day is the time they are supposed to be on their best behavior when seeing cousins they see twice a year.

Why does this happen every time? Why do I think about packing for weeks ahead of time and think I'm ready, and then end up shoving everything within reach into a giant case, while throwing everything I see on the way out into the 'last minute' bags?? Every time I think I've really got it this time, and then I end up with goofy outfits that don't match for the kids and everything I own that fits me and is clean.

The biggest problem, I know, is my attitude. I need to just go with it, and laugh when my kids are coal black with dirt 10 minutes before we are supposed to be somewhere. I need to get out there and make that picnic even though I'm dog tired and just want to drink coffee and stew.

Here are a few sites that seem to know how to pack and how to prepare for trips so the inevitable craziness that ensues when traveling with kids will NOT be the result of my poor planning skills.

LucyTravels (holy ADS batman, but scroll through to get good info)