Thursday, March 31, 2011

april fools food ideas

So.... tomorrow is April fool's day. Another fun holiday to exploit here at the ranch. (Muahaha) 

I remember when i was about five or so, my mom helped me concoct this amazing plan (It was amazing to a 5 year old. Trust me.) to 'fool' my dad at dinner time. If you were born a million years ago, as i was, you'll probably remember this commercial for imperial butter:

It was the bee's knees to a kindergartner. So. I spent all day making my dad an awe-inspiring crown, and the BIG PLAN was to jump behind him and put it on his head when he buttered his roll. The joke went off without a hitch. And thus began my love of playing (harmless, fun - because the other kind are just mean) pranks. 

(This whole paragraph is going to be in parentheses because I think some of the things I am about to mention might qualify as being mean... also, because if I mention anyone's real name, something bad might happen to me tomorrow....  ahem. That being said, there's this delightful and sweet older lady at the church where I grew up who ((I only found this out later)) LOVES April Fool's Day. She goes FAR out of her way to prank people. And not just her family. Even people she only kind of knows. They NEVER suspect her. And she ((I am convinced)) sits at home and giggles to herself... perhaps while watching the pranks unfold on state-of-the-art surveillance equipment cleverly hidden in a china hutch. She has been known to deliver cookies baked with cups of cayenne pepper, to switch the sugar and salt dispensers at the table, to cellophane the toilet seats... the list is long and inventive. Her husband long ago discovered 'urgent business' that always seemed to take him away from home on the first of April. Needless to say, she is a dear friend and true inspiration. :) 

so, if you're thinking that pranks are dumb and immature... well, you're right. But done in the right spirit, they can also be Super FUN! And one of many ways to spice up your family's day-to-day. Here are some great April Fool's Recipes to try out.

april fool's dirt salad from The Polka-Dot Umbrella.

Kibble Candy (can you imagine your kid's faces when you serve them some of this for snack?!)

and THIS POST from Family Fun has SO MANY ideas for Food-pranks. Such as: 

Whatever you do, don't let tomorrow go by un-funned. Be silly with your kids, and don't forget to act surprised (you might want to practice your AHH! face in the mirror tonight) when the little ones spring a prank or two on you! 

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

30 days of books - color! (and other books you maybe didn't know existed)

i've been slacking off on the book recommendations of late. which is horrid, as i have SO MANY to share! ah well, we may have to sneak a few into april, or make this a weekly thing... or something.
at any rate, todays books are awesome. and a little obscure. woo hoo! i love finding awesome books i never knew existed. (as well as awesome music, art, movies... food... it's all good.)

for the little ones, today's pick is My Many Colored Days, by (you'll never believe this...) Dr. Seuss!! 

maybe i've just been under a rock for the last 30 years, but i had never heard of this particular volume of Seuss fiction before. but it's a good read. like so many of his books, it looks at serious childhood (and - who are we kidding - adult) issues though the lens of playful understanding. (and now i'm wondering how many other amazing seuss-books there are out there that i haven't yet read...) 

plus, it's a spectacular springboard to a study in color for young children! having just turned two, naomi is at the perfect age to start learning to distinguish and name her colors, and even annika, at age four, still sometimes confuses green and yellow. 

so we created the RAINBOW JAR PROJECT!!
i tend to save things that i think i can reuse (either practically, or for art-project goings-on) and noticed recently that i have almost an entire drawer full of empty glass jars. (pickle, spaghetti sauce, olives... you get the point) 
and so, in an attempt to both work with the girls on their colors, and clean out my over-full drawer, we made these. 

for the labels, i just grabbed some notebook paper and colored in a square for each color of the rainbow. (you could make these labels a lot cuter, or more fancy, but we were trying to get these made quick, so we could get to the fun! and they ended up looking like squares on the candyland board, as annika observed. which was fun for her.) 

so the game works like this:
(of course, feel free to change the rules to suit your house / time schedule / personality etc. this is what works for us... at least, it did today.)
we read the book together (really, any color-themed book would do) and then i showed the girls the jars. we said the color names together as we pointed to each jar. then i explained the rules. throughout the day, and entirely without warning, i - the color fairy - will blow my whistle three times. when i do, the girls have to choose a color and run around the room in search of some small object of that color that can fit inside the jar. (note, they do NOT take the jar with them. two-year olds running around with glass jars is not the goal here.) 

it worked so much better than i had hoped. they LOVED the game, and kept asking me when the color fairy was going to blow the whistle. (note, the mischievous color fairy enjoys blowing it at inopportune moments. such as: during dinner, while the girls are in the bath, when they're outside playing... etc. the expression on their faces when they hear it blowing is AWESOME. i wish i had my camera handy when we were doing this, but alas, it was not to be found. ((we did find it later, fortunately, in a coat pocket. ugh.)) ) 

anyway, after a day of color-fair whistle-blowing (bell ringing would also work well, i think, and be slightly less stridently loud...) this is what we have collected:

not bad, girls. and thanks for the fun day!


for the middle-sized kids, today's pick is Mr. Pudgins by Ruth Christoffer-Carlsen 

i loved this book, growing up. Mr. Pudgins is the unlikely babysitter for a family of interesting kids. He makes all sorts of wonderful things happen. flying bathtubs, faucets that run soda, a visiting DoDo bird... it's whimsical and delightful, and broken into stand-alone chapters that can be easily read in one sitting. 


and for the grown-ups, a fantastic read  you might not have heard of, today's pick is The History of Love by Nicole Krauss.

this book manages to be both honestly funny, and sweepingly romantic. 
read what the critics wrote:

The History of Love spans of period of over 60 years and takes readers from Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe to present day Brighton Beach. At the center of each main character's psyche is the issue of loneliness, and the need to fill a void left empty by lost love. Leo Gursky is a retired locksmith who immigrates to New York after escaping SS officers in his native Poland, only to spend the last stage of his life terrified that no one will notice when he dies. ("I try to make a point of being seen. Sometimes when I'm out, I'll buy a juice even though I'm not thirsty.") Fourteen-year-old Alma Singer vacillates between wanting to memorialize her dead father and finding a way to lift her mother's veil of depression. At the same time, she's trying to save her brother Bird, who is convinced he may be the Messiah, from becoming a 10-year-old social pariah. As the connection between Leo and Alma is slowly unmasked, the desperation, along with the potential for salvation, of this unique pair is also revealed.
The poetry of her prose, along with an uncanny ability to embody two completely original characters, is what makes Krauss an expert at her craft. But in the end, it's the absolute belief in the uninteruption of love that makes this novel a pleasure, and a wonder to behold. --Gisele Toueg --

linking up to:

We Play

Shibley Smiles

play academy

Saturday, March 26, 2011


so much of what comes out of my kid's mouths is ridiculous and cool. and i rarely am in a position to write it down... or remember. boo me.

but here are a few recent gems for you:

annika: i know why they call them 'movies'
me: why?
annika: well, the moo is for the cows. they go moo and then we all get to watch! 

max: owen, how many times do i have to tell you, don't sit on the baby!

me to naomi: no, sweetie, cows don't drink coffee. 

max's friend #1: *sigh* i guess we'll all have to work when we grow up.
max's friend #2: not me, i'm gonna marry Megan Fox, and... and just do that. 
max's friend #1: you can't marry her. she's old. she's like, 23. 

friday finds - on saturday

yesterday was max's birthday. 8 big ones. 

{here he is with his sword and a homemade shield. he can usually be found wielding either a weapon, some sports equipment, or food. :) }

march is a big birthday month for us. 
we had his first slumber party last night. ... and we're all still here. and generally happy. so, i'd say it was a success!

pics will come soon. 

but that's my excuse for not having the friday finds up yesterday. ... 

so, it's a quick look at cool stuff, and then i'm off to enjoy the weekend - or at least the next few hours until the snow flies again. ugh. 

** so check out this super-rad library desk made of books! i love it! look at the way they layered the colors too... sooo cool. 

** for all you scrapbookers out there (i can't seem to find the time... sadly) here's a FREE organizational workshop for you. 

** if you're a travel nut like me (whether you ACTUALLY travel or not) here's a gorgeous video of iceland that will make you want to book your flight to Reykjavik today. (the music - Sigur Ros ((who is from iceland)) is breathtaking. i love his stuff)

** i have a wall that i want to give a kind of cluttered-gallery look to. (<-- grammar police!!) these walls have the look down. such pretty inspiration!

** we all know it's a 'heard of cattle' and a 'colony of ants' but what do you call a group of badgers? or jellyfish? check out this killer list of collective nouns for a giggle. (ps. betcha didn't know a group of cats is called a 'chowder'... gross.)

** i love this idea for stringed letters from lilla a. can't wait to do these with the kids!

wouldn't they look so cute hanging in their rooms? or as a mobile? or spell out a whole word and string it as a garland in the window?? ... so many ideas!

** here's a tutorial for a really cute ruffly skirt that looks easy enough for even me to attempt. great for spring!

have a great weekend, everyone!
go out and find a bit of spring. 
- shawnacy

Friday, March 25, 2011

30 days of books - Treasure Hunt Party

my baby girl turned two last week. 
it's a common thing that it doesn't seem possible. but common or not... it doesn't seem possible. 

isn't that the way of things. 

so before we go into the book. and the party. and all the fun.. here's a thing or two about the kid. she's pretty terrific. 

she loves to color and read books (especially my books. the big ones with no pictures) and sing the abc's. whenever she sees me writing something she points to it and says 'ay, ee, ay, ah, oh.' 

she can do 'head, shoulders, knees, and toes' as well as 'ring around the rosie' like a pro. plus, she has the longest, prettiest eyelashes EVER.

she plays music on her toy piano with intense consentration, then looks at me and asks , 'like it?' she's great at taking turns, and she cracks herself up playing peek-a-boo.

she's great at helping me clean up, dancing with her brothers, riding her rocking horse; and she loves, loves, LOVES tangerines.

ok. 'nuff mom-gushing. 

so we had a little (emphasis on little - just two friends) party, and used the Klutz, Treasure Hunt Book  as inspiration. 

the book is awesome. it has pages of punch-out cards, for different treasure-hunt variations. there are SO MANY different ones to do!! 

some are geared for younger kids, (like the ones we used at the party) and use pictures or colors (the color-themed hunt is a great way to teach colors. kind of like eye-spy), and others are more complex. some use clues, others have different types of code, and my kids (all of them!) love playing detective and and finding all the clues. normally, the prize is a snack, but as this was a birthday treasure hunt, the prize was the presents for Naomi and the goodies for the guests. 

here are some of the photos i managed to take as they were all jumping and running around the house looking for clues. 

this one was on the clock.

figuring out where to go next.

find the hairbrush! find the hairbrush!

consulting with her peers.

Naomi's best buddy. this was his first treasure hunt. he handled it expertly. 

we did it! we found the TREASURE!!!! 

the prizes were opened, and another round of hunting began. this time the treasure was ...


there were balloons, 

and car races

and general silliness

and then it was nap time and everyone went home.
so Naomi thought it would be a great opportunity to 
crawl up on the table...

... eat a pickle...

... and sack out. 

all in all, a simple, fun, manageable day for everyone. 

it may have something to do with having to cover 7 birthdays every year, but low-key parties always seem the most fun to me. fewer kids, neat decorations, an engaging activity or craft... and cake, of course. 

what do you think? does a birthday party need to be a huge blow-out to count?

Thursday, March 24, 2011


this has been one of those weeks. in the middle of one of those months. 
one of the ones where there is JUST. TOO. MUCH. of everything. and nowhere near enough of the stuff you need in order to balance out all the rest of it. 

my solution?

make stuff. 

usually, i'd write, but since, at the moment, that's technically 'work' my brain tells me to shut that off and go cut and glue and sew and 'knid' and draw. 

so here's a little peek at what i've been doing when i'm putting off doing all the other stuff.

Repurposed Leg Warmers for Baby. 

i have had this blue turtleneck that i liked for the color and the softness, but HATED PAST THE POINT OF REASON for the turtleneck. i hate wearing turtlenecks. i feel like i'm being slowly asphyxiated all day long. sometimes i have trouble swallowing. or smiling. it's weird. but there you have it. turtlenecks are not for me. 

so, in a fit of frustration the other night, i decided to cut the turtleneck off and see how the shirt worked without it. 

it worked fine. :) 

i was about to toss the loathsome neck-piece into the trash with relish, when the crafty part of me whispered... why don't you make something out of that?

that whisper is hard to resist. 

so i've been wanting to make some leg warmers for Naomi for a while. "it's been a long, cold, lonely winter" as the song goes, and Namoi's poor little legs are chilly when she wears skirts or dresses. 

that ugly neck was destined to be cute legwarmers. 

so i cut the circle, so it formed a rectangle, and then cut the rectangle down the center, giving me two longer rectangles. (i wasn't sure how it would turn out, so i didn't take any pics of that part...)

but when i saw those two empty rectangles, i thought what a perfect opportunity this would be to jump into the lovely world of embroidery. 

not that i had any embroidery floss. or a proper needle. or a hoop... 
but it was just for practice anyway...

so i took out a sharpie and drew a little owl on one rectangle, and a teacup on the other. 

i'm not sure why owls and teacups should go together. but it seemed right at the time. 

the knit material was really thin and stretchy and hard to keep straight. 

this was how things looked at that point. 

also.. did i mention i don't have a sewing machine yet? well, it's coming, hopefully soon. but the lack of machine meant hand stitching the wrong sides together. 
i'm not the world's worst hand-stitcher... but i could be her understudy. 

this is how they looked after i'd stitched them up.

and because i like crocheting a whole lot more than i like hand-hemming, i decided these needed some crochet lace trim to finish off the bottoms. 

so i blanket stitched around the edges with the yarn, and connected the trim to the blanket stitch.

this is the ... 'finished' product. 

and here they are on the kiddo.

sorry for the horrible pics but it was a wiggly morning. she kept pulling them on and off and calling them her 'sockie-pants'

they reach all the way up to her undies when they're pulled up, or can scrunch agreeably to any other size. i'll probably end up taking them in a little, as they tend to slip down after a while. she was asleep when i was making them, so i had to guesstimate on the size. 

but all in all, not a terrible project. probably a number of things i'd do differently for next time (like, use the right materials for the embroidery, have a sewing machine and measurements... etc) but for a throw-it-together-on-the-spur-of-the-moment project... well, Namo's legs are warm and cozy, so... mission... decently done. 

and because i got bitten by the embroidery bug, i decided to repurpose an old crib sheet that wasn't being used into some handkerchiefs for the kiddos. 
and homemade handkerchiefs just scream out to be embroidered. 

the first one i did, ... i used regular worsted weight yarn that i pulled apart to make a thinner string. it didn't work well. the threads kept ... just disintegrating. 
this was the first one, for Max. (he was the most keen on having his own hanky) 

still no sewing machine, so the edges are all unfinished. i was going to run around them with some pinking shears, but then i remembered, i don't have any of those either... grrr... i need a serious trip to the craft store. STAT!

i made annika's in the same way. she wanted a little kitty in the corner. 

and then i said, forget this, and sprang for a few bundles of embroidery floss, and a real needle. 

an owl and an octopus followed the cat.

and lastly, a little pink monkey, commissioned by Naomi. this one's not quite finished yet. 

oh, and i've been making these. 

56 delicious chocolate bomb cupcakes for Max's birthday tomorrow. they'll get decorated in the morning. 

these aren't shop-worthy, but the embroidery practice has been good, and so far the kids are pleased to get the results of my practicing. (especially with the cupcakes!)

what about you? 
what are you working on?
how do you drown your frustrations?
what new skill are you learning?