Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Holiday Craftiness

I often get the crafting bug and see so many little things I'd like to do.  The bug is especially common around holidays.  I've gotten better lately about actually gathering the supplies and taking the time to do the crafts and I truly enjoy this "me" time.  I get a good dose of happiness when inspecting a finished project and the "I did it myself!" pride from toddler hood just doesn't fade.  Becoming a Mommy has opened lots of avenues for creativity and I have to thank Pinterest for inspiring me.  I love doing little projects, but coming up with them myself is another story.  I have enjoyed starting with one person's idea and making it my own.  I've made sensory and fine motor "toys" for Becker by recycling items around the house.  I made birthday decorations, holiday gifts and special keepsakes.

I wouldn't say I could tackle building a shelf out of crates or sewing a quiet book just yet (both things I'd love to be able to do), but I'm into a certain level of DIY.  The paint and hot glue gun level as opposed to the drill and sewing machine level.  My projects have to be fairly quick to complete because let's be honest, time is not something I have a whole lot of just laying around waiting to be filled.  I also do not have space for an ongoing project to remain ongoing, so I take on the smaller set of projects that can be completed in one or two evenings.


Ever since we got married I wanted to hang mistletoe at Christmas.  There was something about getting kissed under the mistletoe from all of those songs and stories that I just wanted NEEDED.  Seven years in and I never found any.  This year I saw a post on Pinterest and knew it would solve my mistletoe dilemma.  Felt mistletoe I can use year after year!  And it's super cute.  I used this lovely tutorial and made four mistletoes in one evening.  One for us, and three to give as gifts.  Score!  I love how it turned out and now I get to experience getting kissed under the mistletoe every day.  Becker thinks it's fun.

Salt Dough Ornaments:
Some crafts end up being "we" time and that totally rocks.  Last year we made these glitter hand print ornaments to give everyone as gifts.  They turned out great and I wanted to find another craft we could do together this year. 

2011: 10 month Becker hand.

Becker can participate so much more this year so there are more options.  Pinterest inspired me once again and I decided I had to make these salt dough hand prints to preserve Becker's hand print before it gets any bigger.  The recipe said it made 12 hand prints so I thought it was the perfect activity to prepare for our turn to host playgroup.  The four kiddos each made 2 hand prints as that was the extent of their interest with the pumpkin muffins and wood trucks beckoning from the other room.  I had a lot of dough left over so I rolled it out and used some heart and circle cookie cutters to make ornaments during Becker's nap.

Growing up, we had a whole shirt box of painted salt dough ornaments the three of us had made in preschool. These were the ornaments we could touch and hang ourselves.  Everything I hung on our tree at his level is not breakable, but I thought it would be fun for him to make some ornaments himself.  I was going to wait a few days and tackle the painting when I had a whole afternoon to devote to it, but as luck would have it an opportunity presented itself when I got home from work the next day.  Becker was interested in the bowl of baked "cookies" and I asked him if he wanted to paint them.  He gave an enthusiastic "yes!" so I taped some newspaper to the counter, grabbed my art box of acrylic paints from college and let him go to town.

This is probably his third time using paint brushes and he liked the sponge brush best.  He also enjoyed using his hands and fingers to paint as well as spreading paint with a toothpick sword.  I had expected to need to do this in two or three separate sittings because there were several ornaments to paint, but his interest stuck and he painted all of the ornaments.  He went back and added paint to some after they were done and wanted his hands or the brushes washed a few times to start fresh.  I loved watching his focused, artistic side come out during this activity.  He didn't even need a bath afterwards!  Just a good handwashing.

While he was sleeping I sealed the ornaments with Modge Podge and added silver ribbon.  We put a few on our tree and decided the rest will make perfect gift adornments for grandparents and family members.  I am really happy with the new additions to our tree.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Pickle on the Shelf

This is our first year with the Elf.  If you are not familiar with this tradition, check it out here.  I heard about the tradition a few years before Becker was on our radar and instantly wanted to add it to our holiday fun.  Our elf came to us via my sister and just thinking about starting the tradition got me so excited I couldn't sleep the week after Thanksgiving. Creative hiding places swirled in my head after scouring Pinterest and Instagram for ideas.  This year will be our easiest year so I can't throw out all of the punches quite yet.  I do realize that I have just set myself up for many, many years of coming up with creative hiding places and fresh ideas, but it's also pretty fun as parents and we are enjoying the game as well.  The good thing about this year being our first is that Becker won't mind if the elf forgets to find a new hiding place and we don't have to explain the nuances too much.  Keeping him out of reach is pretty easy with a two-and-a-half foot kiddo, and keeping him in plain sight for us is still a bit of a hunting game for Becker.

Before Thanksgiving we told Becker an elf would be coming to visit us when we got our Christmas tree.  We read the book and Becker picked the name "Pickle" for his elf.  We have no idea where he got the name, but it stuck and each time we read the book leading up to the arrival of the elf, Becker reaffirmed his name choice.

Can you find Pickle?

Mark decided Pickle would arrive somewhere in or on the tree.  I bought Becker some new holiday jammies for Pickle to bring him as the first Christmas present.  On December 1st we set out to choose our Christmas tree so Pickle could come that night.  We got Becker all excited again and read the book and talked about how the elf would becoming that night.  He was into it!  The morning was another story though.

Sometimes Becker wakes up like me and pops out of bed ready to take on the day, and sometimes he lags and takes a while to really wake up, more like Daddy.  He certainly has both of our traits!  On the slow days he can't decide if he wants to get up or not and rolls around in his crib whining about how he wants to stay in the crib.  It's just harder for him to get going on those days and he doesn't want me to leave once I've entered the room.  Sometimes reading a few books gets him ready to greet the day, other times it's the prospect of his banana waiting downstairs.  This one day when I was hoping he would fly out of bed and run downstairs was one of those slow days.  He did not want to come out, he did not care that the elf had come.  He did not want to look for him.  He did not want Bodi in his room.  So I waited.  It seemed like a long time, but finally he was ready to greet the day and find the elf.  He walked down the stairs peering below at the lit up tree.  "Christmas lights!" he exclaimed.  I loved watching him discover the decorations we had put up while he slept.  Once he got downstairs he forgot about the elf and was way more interested in the sheep from the nativity scene.  "Baa baa black sheep" he called out pointing to them.  I gave him all four sheep and he sat in front of the tree playing with them.

Soon enough he was ready to look for the elf in the tree.  This first time required lots of hints, but once I held him up high, he found Pickle at the top.

His big, proud smile as he pointed to the top was priceless.  Pickle was holding a note and had brought Christmas books, an ornament and a present for Becker.  The jammies were a real hit because they had penguins on them.  He wanted to put them on right away.

On the morning of day 2 I told Becker that Pickle was hiding in a new spot.  He was catching on to this game and ready to go look for him.  I asked him where he thought Pickle might be today and he said "tree."  When he came downstairs and started looking.  He does a very exaggerated, full body "look" when he is searching for Pickle.  It's priceless and did not take long for him to find him on top of the tv, smiling down at us.  Becker said he was on top of the "picture."  I love that he has no idea what a tv is.

On day 3 Pickle had made muffins for playgroup and Becker saw them on the table as he walked down the stairs.  He said, "Cupcakes! Thank you Pickle!"  I'd say he's having fun with it.

I'll post a collage of all of Pickle's hiding places after Christmas. 

Friday, November 9, 2012

Halloween Fun

The week of Halloween was upon us faster than I could imagine and we were busy doing a festive activity each night in celebration.

First up was pumpkin carving.  Last year we didn't carve a pumpkin as life with a new baby left little time for such things and he was too young to care either way.  Our pumpkin sat on our porch through Thanksgiving in it's un-carved glory.  This year Becker wanted to bring home a pumpkin as soon as Trader Joe's busted out their display in September.  Becker chose a nice big "fairytale pumpkin" for the front porch early in the month along with a gourd for the table.  On a subsequent TJ's trip (we are there at least 3 times a week it seems), he chose his carving pumpkin.  When the night came to carve the pumpkin I remembered my childhood days of carving in our underwear with a newspaper covered table because it was always such a mess.  I covered the table, stripped Becks down to his diaper and we set to work.  For being the boy who loves mud and dirt of all kinds, he surprised me by not wanting to touch the "goop" on the inside!  This kid will bend over and take a mouthful of gravel if the opportunity strikes, but orange stringy stuff inside a pumpkin?  No way.  He was very interested in watching the whole process, but touching it was just not going to happen.  He did briefly put a spoon inside the hole, but then quickly changed his mind and said "Mama help."  He sat content on my lap watching as I picked out all of the pumpkin seeds from the goop for us to bake.  Maybe next year he will surprise me and paint himself orange in the stringy goo?

The following night was pumpkin shaped cookie baking.  Becker helped me make the dough the day before and we let it chill in the refrigerator.  Daddy is our expert roller for cookies and pizza dough so we definitely needed him to be home for this project.  Becker helped roll the dough and snagged a bite for himself with a little grin.  His normal "cookie" would be a graham cracker so I am sure the realness of this cookie dough was a bit of a shock.  He was focused on the tasks and thrilled with the end result.  He even got to share a finished cookie with Mommy & Daddy.  He always surprises me with how willing he is to share, never afraid that there isn't enough or won't be more, even when in this case, there won't.

And the finale of the week was Halloween.  Becker has been making animal sounds since well before he could talk and his pig snort is our favorite.  When his costume arrived in the mail we tried it on and he wasn't too happy with the head piece, but loved the idea of "being a pig."  I did not expect him to wear the hood and was thinking of using some bronzer on his face to make it look dirty like a little piggy.  By the time Halloween sprung upon us, Becker was more than excited to wear the whole costume, headpiece and all.  He loved his tail and his little hooves.  I bought him a small metal pail to round out the outfit and Daddy and I dressed as farmers.  We talked about wearing the costume throughout the day and Becker would ask, "pig costume on?" at various points.  We talked about how we would go knock on doors and show neighbors his costume and that they would give him food you don't eat.  He said "trick-or-treat food!" all day.  When Daddy came home we got everyone dressed in costumes and set out down the street.  Some very thoughtful people handed out mini bags of pretzels meaning Becker could have one of the "treats" when he got home.  He was a trooper and walked all the way up the street checking out the other kids and decorations.  A couple of people commented on his tiny pail because it filled up pretty quick.  I laughed as they didn't realize that was completely intentional and I told them they didn't actually have to give him anything, we were just doing it for fun.  We headed home by 6pm and Becker was in bed just a tad past his normal bedtime.  He really enjoyed dressing up getting all of the attention in his costume.

Practicing Trick-or-Treat at home

And my favorite photo of him with his pumpkin.
Little Buddy and his Pumpkin before Trick-or-Treating

Pumpkin Patches

This was officially Becker's October where he could understand the concept and ideas of fall and Halloween.  Last year we did the pumpkin patch rounds and took photos of him absorbed in these huge orange balls and then took him out to dinner in his pumpkin costume and that was that. 

This year was different.  We went to the first pumpkin patch with Becker's Great Grand Parents and he loved the different sized pumpkins and trying to pick them all up.  He's a pretty strong kiddo!

Next we drove 2.5 hours in horrific traffic to Bates Nut Farm in Valley Center.  It was close to 90 degrees outside.  We drank a lot of water and stopped for each adult in the car to use the potty once on the drive. Somehow we completely forgot about the toddler strapped in the carseat who had just sucked down 14oz of water out of his new Camelbak bottle.  When I took Becker out of the carseat he was sitting in an actual puddle and I felt horrible. When he got antsy in the car, I thought he was hungry so I had given him a snack not even thinking that he may need a new diaper.  Mommy fail!  Thankfully I had a back up outfit packed although I was pretty dissapointed that he would not be wearing "the pumpkin patch outfit" I had selected that morning.  He was a good sport and enjoyed a few minutes of "naked baby" in the parking lot.  We had a good sweaty time chasing Becker and Bodi through the pumpkin patch and got a few cute photos to boot.


Becker was a pumpkin patch pro by his third trip.  This time we ventured to Tanaka Farms in Irvine with our playgroup.  As new moms, we took our babies to a different pumpkin patch last year and it has been so much fun to watch them grow and change.  This year was even more fun now that they are toddlers.  I just love these 4 sweeties!  We visited the petting zoo, climbed in the pumpkins and rode the tractor wagon around the farm.  Now, Becker calls his friends on my old cell phone to set up play dates at the pumpkin patch.

Look how much they've changed!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Toddler Hummus

Becker has come to an age where he is really fun to cook with.  He is interested in the process and wants to be part of it.  Many months ago we started him off helping to flip pancakes or watch the mixer spin.  He found our step stool one day and never looked back.  He loves being able to stand up at the counter with us.  Now he can help measure out ingredients, pour them into bowls and watch the process unfold.  We made pumpkin butter together last week and it was such a successful activity, I've been including him in cooking as much as possible.  This morning right after breakfast we made kalamata olive hummus in our new food processor.  This was a lot of fun because Becker could do almost all of the steps himself with very little help.  You can see from the pictures that he was very focused the whole time.

First Becker rolled 3 garlic cloves to peel them:

Next Becker helped open the can of garbanzo beans (Mommy had to help on this one):

Then Becker dumped the beans into the food processor with the garlic cloves and added two scoops of tahini:

Here he is on his cute little "tool" or "ladder" (stool):

  He shook in some Cumin and added a pinch of salt:

Next up was lemon juice.  He the juice out of squeezed lemon slices:

We gave it a whirl! Becker wanted to be held while the food processor was on:

Now for the kalamata olives.  Becker added a few handfuls:

 Had to taste test:

Ready for a couple of pulses to break down the olives:

And the final taste test of approval:

*I didn't plug the food processor in until we had everything in it and were ready to turn it on*

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Granny's Farm

Becker's Great Grand Parents have a small farm in Rio Linda, CA.  We have been trying to get up to the farm ever since Becks could walk, and finally found the perfect time with a good Southwest Airlines sale to boot.  I was hoping for good fall weather, but the days leading up to our trip were pushing triple digits.  Luckily we caught a break with highs in the mid to upper 70s and overnight lows in the 50s.  Yay for Uggs, pants and jackets!  You see, the lows actually don't affect us at night as Becks goes to bed at 6:30pm.  We are all snug and warm inside after dinner.  But come 6am, the rooster calls (literally, his name is Sarge) and Becker is up and ready to get moving.  Since Granny and Grandpa were still *attempting* to sleep, we headed outside each morning to walk around the farm and help Michael feed the goats, chickens and sheep.  The cold air was wonderful and Becker thoroughly enjoyed chasing the sheep as their bells jingled in the morning mist.  Our trip was filled with egg collecting, animal feeding, a trip to a nearby pumpkin patch, a trip to the aerospace museum and a visit to Fairytale Land.  Becker topped it all off with a ride on the big lawnmower.  Busy weekend for sure and we loved every waking second of it.

My favorite photo from the trip is when Becker caught the bunny in the animal area at the pumpkin patch.  He was the only child in the small wood shed.  He picked up the bunny in his arms and walked a few steps, then paused, tucked his head in close to the bunny's head and softly said "oh bun bun" a few times.  He was in love instantly.  He remembers that day and often says, "nice bun-bun farm, Becker miss bun-bun."

Here are a few of my favorites from the trip.  In true Mamarazzi style I took over 700 photos in 3 days.  The cuteness overloaded my system.  Oh that's just embarrassing  I need a support group!  

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Throwback Thursday

Pumpkin Patch. 8 months & 20 months.  Same diaper.  What a difference a year makes.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Fall Wreath

Doesn't that just scream fall?!  The more I look at it, the happier it makes me.  Ok fall, I am ready, come sprinkle some crisp weather down here in Southern California so I can make something hearty and warm for dinner.  I'll even appreciate a windy day or gasp....rain!  I just can't wait to fire up the oven and bake something without marinating in my own sweat.  Anyway, more about wreaths.
Not only has Pinterest been an inspiration for recipes and toddler fun, it's given me the fuel to get crafty.  Wreaths are fun and you can use them again and again.  For Becker's first birthday I made this ballooon wreath I found on Pinterest:

It took me several nights of pinning balloons to the wreath in front of the tv after Becker was asleep, but it turned out awesome and we've used it for all three of our birthdays this year with many more to come.  That first wreath got my wheels turning and I've pinned many more DIY wreath ideas since.

Our hot September weather has had me longing for for fall.  I miss seasons.  I've enjoyed the summer weather, but I need a change.  Trader Joes has installed a pumpkin patch and Target is about to pull out the Christmas decortation meaning it is officially time for fall.  We've got our Uggs and our jackets all ready to go and it's still 90 degrees every single day.  Since it doesn't seem to be letting up any time soon and I won't get to FEEL fall weather, I can at least make my house LOOK like it's fall.  I fell in love with this yarn wreath on, you guessed it, Pinterest!  My sister also fell in love with it after seeing my pin and made an absolutely beautiful version:
When she texted this picture to me, I knew I wanted to make mine NOW.  This one took her a couple of days to complete and she had sore arms from wrapping layers upon layers of yarn around the wreath form.  It looks amazing, but I wasn't sure I had the patience or energy to tackle a multi-night project with a very busy toddler in the house to possibly find and destroy said project.  I've also been liking the monogram wreaths and decorations I've found and instantly liked this DIY fall wreath project.   Hot glue, a little paint, glitter and burlap.  I can do that!  When I bought my supplies, Michael's had leaves with a touch of gold glitter that was going to match my glittering B perfectly so I grabbed those up in lieu of the plain fake leaves.  Once Becker was asleep last night I set to work.  This is what the dining table looked like as I was about to get started with the hot glue. 

After burning my fingers numerous times (burlap is full of holes) and also dropping a burlap loop covered in glue which hit the table and then landed on the floor, I did finish the wreath in one evening as hoped.  The glue on the floor was a bit of an issue at first.  When the loop fell, it smeared the glue so it wasn't as easy as waiting for that little hot glue bubble to dry, and then popping it off the floor.  A little ice and butter knife scraping got the glue off the floor.  Once it was done, I hung it up on the inside of our door to admire and Mark commented that it wasn't centered and needed more leaves on the right side.  Originally I had wanted the B to be more off centered to the right, but once it was glued it was not coming off so I had to make do.  Back to work, I added more burlap and leaves to even it out and called it a night.  I really like the way it turned out, so here it is again.  Ta dah!