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Oh, the places you’ll go! August 14, 2012

Filed under: Arts & Crafts,Cooking trials,Kid Stuff — bellsandthistle @ 8:05 pm
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A Dr Seuss 1st birthday party!

My daughter’s 1st birthday was a joint one with one of her (boy) friends H, so the red and turquoise theme worked well for both of them.  H’s grandmother is a school teacher, so we had lots of Dr Seuss characters to use as props.  I used a plastic picnic tablecloth and some wrapping paper to decorate.  We had a rather random buffet out, from savory foods to an ice cream buffet.  I also made some cards with Seuss quotes on them to scatter around, and a highchair banner for my little one.

I of course had to get her some cute outfits, and found the tutu and headband set on Etsy.  Also found the cute turquoise one-piece on Etsy but can’t find the link.

We set up a plain photo backdrop and had lots of props for guest to use…got some really cute photos that way!

I saw some wonderful cake ideas out there, but the reality is my 1 year old wasn’t really going to eat it.  So H’s mom made 2 yummy organic carrot cakes and we made cupcakes for everyone else.  I found inspiration for the cupcakes online (Pinterest wasn’t around a year ago, at least for me!), but decided NOT to use cotton candy as the hair…too many examples of FAILs online already.   However, I had my own fail in store…in the rush to prepare they were the last thing to get done (while guests were arriving!) so the frosting was not as nice as I would have preferred.  The frosting wasn’t thick enough.  But they tasted good!

…And now for the CRAFT FAIL portion of the day…

I saw some cute ribbon topiaries on Etsy for $30 each and I thought, heck, I can do that myself!  So I wanted to make 2, to flank the door.  And to top it all off I decided to through in a wreath.  A topiary tutorial is here, and the wreath is basically the same thing.   Let me tell you, these things are labor intensive and expensive!  First, you want to have ribbons of different colors and sizes…ka-ching.  Next, you have to cut them all into smallish strips.  Bor-ing.  Then, you have to glue them together and pin them in.  Ouch!  End result?  The ribbons kept coming loose so not only did I have bald spots on my creations,  I had sewing pins scattered around my house during my child’s birthday party! NICE.  {And my husband would add, now they are taking up space in the basement because I refuse to through them away since I spent sooo much time on them!} 

Needless to say, not something I care to repeat.   Think I’ll just have to reign myself in next year at NOT take Dr. Seuss’s advice:


House #3 Revamp: Nursery May 30, 2012

Filed under: Kid Stuff,Room Revamps — bellsandthistle @ 8:14 pm
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I knew I was having a girl but didn’t want to go down the pink route. I was inspired by the bright green and white colors and floral imagery of a certain bubbly wine, so I used that as my base and added brown to dampen the effect.

Here are the before photos:


And here are the after photos. I want to mention that I worked for this company at the time, so I had access to some branded materials. But I didn’t want bottles of Champagne all over the nursery either!

I painted most of the room green and one wall brown to balance it out. There was an existing closet so I used 2 patterened banners and had my mom sew fabric to the bottom to achieve the correct length. I ordered green valances and crib bedding from Carousel Designs.  And put up floating IKEA shelves for books and toys.

I just loved the Tord Boontje lamp and thought it fit well with the floral theme.

I took some creative liberties with the floral motif and had a vinyl sticker printed with the baby’s name.

Continuing around the room…

And finally the crib furniture and brown feature wall with floral motif. I used an “avocado”-type lampshade for the ceiling fan.

Yes, lime green is a bold choice for any room but I think it made this room more cheery and exciting for the baby!


Food Stylin’ April 14, 2012

Filed under: Kid Stuff — bellsandthistle @ 3:58 am
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I’ve been lucky enough to take part in some Food & Drink Photo Shoots over the course of my career (just to be clear; it’s not over yet!). Glamorous, it’s not. Think of sitting in a room, pouring and re-pouring a drink until the ice glistens “just right” and you have the preferred amount of carbonation.

Or worse, filming video outside in LA’s hot weather until just the right amount of milk swirls and adds “movement” to the shot.

Actually, I really like these kinds of shoots. They just take some TIIMMME, that’s all. It’s always more fun when you can work with great people – on that shoot it was with a great food photographer and fab food stylist (she does these amazing cupcakes!)

I also once held a steamer above a bowl of clam pasta for hours, because we needed a picture that looked like the dish was “straight from the kitchen”. Ouch.

Who knew that there was even a “For Dummies” book available? Maybe I should read it to learn easier ways to take pics of steam!

Anyhoo, I had a what I refer to as a “Working Girl” moment…there are lots of posts about Sensory Bags on Pinterest + some cool styling pics for kids foods = I went to work on some sensory fun for my little one, Baby P.*

I  chopped up some cherries, sweet potato and banana,

while she went to work on re-organizing the cupboard.

I normally don’t let Baby P have sweets but I was more interested in a safe (and edible) sensory experience. I don’t get all these suggestions of having kids play with shaving cream, when the first thing Baby P does is put it in her mouth. So I laid them on a bed of whipped cream.

Please note I AM NOT a food stylist or professional photographer. If I get it in focus that’s a bonus.

Looks like she had a fun time eating the food and then playing with the cream, no?  And the best part – remove the highchair tray and voila! Easy cleanup.

I also got excited and put together a Kids Party Tray for our Superbowl Party…here was the before shot.  Never got an ‘after’ cuz i was too busy watching the ads!

*If you have not seen Working Girl a gazillion times by now, do it!  BEST.MOVIE.EVER. Ok, that and Princess Bride. 


Gimme the phone! April 11, 2012

Filed under: Kid Stuff — bellsandthistle @ 1:32 pm
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So, Grandma got Baby P a toy, and she asked me if I remembered having it too:

And, yes, I do! But as I watched Baby P try to make sense out of the toy, I realized that OF COURSE she wouldn’t know what the heck it is, she’s never seen a rotary phone! In fact, I can’t remember the last time I even saw a rotary phone…probably on Mad Men? Which made me think, WHY is the toy manufacturer still making this toy? Is it just the Grandma-toy-purchase market they are going after? That target market is in decline if you know what I mean…

Some one also gave me a hand-me-down, and I laughed it was so big! Love the fake antenna detail.

But we know what kids really want to play with today…your iPhone!  With the flashing screen, noises, timer, apps, etc., it’s really a one-stop shop for toys.  Whenever Baby P sees it, she doesn’t put it to her ear like a phone – she grabs it and starts tapping the screen.  I bought this iPhone case, but it didn’t really work out for me.

By the time I was able to put the phone in and lock it, the baby was having a tantrum cause she wanted the toy.  And it doesn’t stop them from tapping the screen so they can easily veer away from the carefully curated selection of developmentally-appropriate apps you have spent time researching and downloading. Oh, you just picked a few free ones? Yeah, me too…

For now, I just try to hide it away when possible and distract her from other toys.  I think there are some toys that babies can play with now which have the tactile, sensory features needed to develop young minds (wooden blocks anyone?) I’m trying to avoid learning like this: The video goes on too long but you get the point, yes the iPhone/iPad can help kids learn.  Right now, I’ll try and distract her with old fashioned things like books and stuffed animals.  But I can imagine a day when we’ll need to buy Baby P her own iPhone, just to be able to use ours!