Monday, November 16, 2015

The BEST Michaels haul ever and a Giveaway

DUDE. YOU GUYS. I had an INSANE shopping experience at Michaels on Tuesday. Like, completely bananas.  I went in to look for some cookie cutters totally on a lark and saw a huge bin of $2 grab bags. I had never seen this before- it was a bunch of "crappy" looking plastic bags filled with who knows what for $2. I initially walked right by them but after I couldn't find the cookie cutter I wanted I came back to them and HOLY CRAP THANK GOD I DID. 

I assumed a bunch of junk would be in the grab bags but NO. They were filled with amazingness, apparently anything that had been on clearance and didn't sell. I think each bag had a retail value between $20-$40.  Seriously. Because they were in plastic bags I could see through them and as soon as I saw some of the stuff in them I spent a LONG time picking out almost half the bin. 

What was in them to necessitate a blog post about a stupid sale? Well....SNAP albums, Project Life albums, Marquee lights, Burlap table runners, Candles, Candle holders, Wilton Decorating Supplies (I got cookie cutters after all!), and about a trillion other things. 

I bought 12 bags the first day and somehow only got charged for 11 so it cost $23.  Seriously $23. WTH.  Here's what I got.  I'm not kidding, this ALL cost $23.

Freaking ridiculous right?!?!?!??!?!?! 4 Project Life albums, 2 SNAP albums, 50 (!!!) rolls of Washi tape, and a trillion other things.  The worst part? The day that I bought the SNAP albums for $2 the SNAP album I had ordered online for $20 arrived. LOL, so much regret. They were exactly the same except the one I ordered was red and cost $18 more.

Afterwards I went to another Michaels 30 minutes away to buy up their supply too but they didn't have as much variety. The other Michaels was just Halloween supplies so I only bought 4 bags because I already had quite a bit of Halloween decor (not to mention I had shopped Target Clearance a few days before too haha)

So I thought I'd share what came in each individual $2 grab bag-- I bought 15 bags total.  Check it out:

Check out the look on Charlie's face, he's like "holy crap Mom, what did you do?" LOL.  I think the best bag was the last one on the left. It included marquee light up letters (WTF Seriously?!), halloween tassels, 4 Wilton baking supply trays, a skull top, 2 pumpkin carving kits, a roll of burlap, a wooden container, 2 witch masks, a bow, and halloween lace.  All that cost $2. It's unbelievable.

So why am I sharing this??  I had no idea this existed so if you see the grab bags at Michaels grab them all and BUY THEM. It's super important to dig down to the bottom!  And hurry your butt to Michaels in case they still have some, sheesh. 

Anyways on to the giveaway!  I have lots of scrapbooking/decor supplies from these grab bags that I don't necessarily require. If you leave a comment with something entertaining I'll pick one winner to send a big huge fun box of Michaels grab bag goodies PLUS some of my own stash as well!  So leave a comment and I'll pick a winner in a few days :D

Friday, November 13, 2015

Family Vacation in Washington

Hi everyone, I'm still working on some "catch up" posts so this is back from May, when it was still light out at 430 *grumble grumble*. My grandfather had his 95th birthday in May so everyone on his side of the family drove or flew out to eastern Washington state to help him celebrate! My grandpa is an awesome dude! He's a WWII veteran, farmer, and all around great guy. He still lives by himself and is in pretty darn good health for being 95! He says it's because he rides his exercise bike everyday and does Sudoku :)  Robb unfortunately had a wedding that day and couldn't come along so it was just me and Charlie!

BTW I asked Charlie's CF clinic about another option for breathing treatments while we were out there so I didn't have to lug around Charlie's big vest machine in addition to all our luggage in addition to watching Charlie in a crowded airport and they gave us a great little gadget. It's called a PEP; Charlie blows into it and a valve causes his lungs to vibrate. It's very small, especially compared to the vest, and was fairly easy for a 4 year old to use. We were able to do it on the plane, even! It's a bit more hands on because I had to coach Charlie to keep doing deep breaths but man was it nice not to have to lug around that Vest machine!  Any CF parents take note if you've been lugging around the Vest like me :)

Of course first I have to mention that Charlie graduated preschool in May (he's now in kindergarten!! eek!) and his graduation was super duper cute :)  And, bonus, this year he didn't spend the whole performance rolling around on the flow and knocking down curtain rods!  Oh did I forget to tell you about that last year? I think I still might be embarrassed. Annnnnnywayssssssss..

When the time came to go to Washington I was pretty nervous about the trip! It started out at 4 AM when I got Charlie and left to drive to our carpark in Boston. We arrived around 6 and then didn't get to the airport until 630 because of the shuttle taking forever. And our flight left at 715. Whoops. We eventually got through security and onto the airplane but I was pretty anxious for a while there. Thankfully Charlie was SUPER awesome during the 6 hour flight and happily played with his iPad while I took a nap. Then HE took a nap while I read a book. It was totally the opposite of what I expected and thank goodness for that!

We arrived in Seattle at 1115 west coast time and my aunt picked us up.   She brought us to this cute little town called Edmonton for lunch so Charlie could watch the ferries on the water.  Charlie was a little cranky then so we went back to her house, which is totally beautiful BTW, for some relaxing.  My Aunt has an amazing, amazing quilting room that must be every quilt makers dream!  She grilled us some amazing rib eye steaks for dinner and then Charlie and I crashed. 

We were up early the next morning to drive to Othello, WA where my grandfather lives. It's about a 4 hour drive and we were hoping to arrive around 10am, luckily Charlie and I were still on east coast time so we weren't too tired.   The drive from Seattle to Othello is so WEIRD. It's a lush forest with lots of greenery half of the way and then you drive over a big mountain pass and all of a sudden it's a big flat desert. That abrupt change of scenery always throws me for a loop!

We arrived in Othello and had a chance to say hi to everyone! My grandfather was there, my cousin (my aunt's daughter) and her hubby and child (who Charlie had a great time playing with!), my parents who had driven cross country from CT, and my uncle and aunt plus my two cousins on their side. I hadn't seen many of these relatives in years so it was fun to see them again :)

Charlie and his coustin playing in the mini pool! When I was a baby I used to play in the exact same kiddie pool, crazy huh?  Hard to believe it still holds water after 30 years :o

Charlie with Aunt Penny and Great GrandpaDad

Great grandpa, Charlie and his cousin Lauren enjoying rides in the golf cart

fun fun fun!

The kids loved Grandpa's golf cart, since he lives on a golf course he was able to bring them out for lots of rides!

We had a great party at the country club down the road with a barbecue lunch, champagne, and a delicious cake! We all told our favorite stories about Grandpa and it was very silly and fun. 

And then what felt like as soon as we adjusted to the time difference we were on our way back home!  It was a great trip and I am so thankful Charlie is such a laid back dude that behaved well with all the driving and on the planes. The adjustment back to CT was a bitch for me though, I could NOT get over my jetlag because of my work schedule. I usually am up at 530AM to leave the house by 6AM to get to work at 7AM and with a 3 hour time difference it was way too hard to get moving at what felt like 230AM!!  Next time I'll have to remember to give myself a couple days to recover ;) 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Our Summer

Since it has been so long since I updated the blog I thought I'd do a quick re-cap post about our summer. What we've been doing and some fun summer memories- that kinda thing.  I'll have a few more recap posts coming up about some of the more important events from the past 7 months too.  Not sure how interesting that will be for anyone but at least I'll have it for myself to look back on haha.  

Charlie started doing a funny little dance where he just pumps his arms up and down. He randomly did it once at the grocery store as he was dancing along to whatever music they were playing and I died laughing because he looked so silly. Ever since then he is constantly doing this dance to make me laugh. Every. Where. We. Go. Lunch = dancing. Fro Yo = dancing. Haircut = Dancing. Errands = Dancing. Driving = Dancing. He's even been known to peek around doorways and start dancing when you least expect it lol.

We had a great 4th of July filled with beach, family, fun, fireworks and sparklers! I love these photos because you can see exactly what was going through Charlie's head as he held the sparkler-- seriousness, apprehension, worry, and then excitement haha.

My dad painted his stock car with Charlie's favorite cartoon characters and named it the "Charlie Special" - Charlie loves it!

We did many weeks of Swim Camp and had fun swimming in our pool too!  At least until Robb told me that he found a baby spider nest inside of a pool noodle and hundreds of baby spiders drowned in the pool. That was the day the fun stopped and the pool became dead to me.

We visted Grandpa again at his metal shop and they made their very own motorcycle together.

Many trips to events at the library! A complete stranger covertly snapped this picture of the two of us reading and then emailed it to me because she thought I'd like to have it. I'm just now realizing we were sitting under a sign that says "Stop It's a Photo Op" and maybe that's why she took the picture.....*dawning realization*.....ohhhhhhh

Splash pads with our nanny!  Who BTW we no longer have any more- she went off to graduate school right around when Charlie started Kindergarten so it worked out nicely since we didn't need a nanny anymore anyways. It's very weird not having someone at home to help us out with things like cleaning, laundry, and treatments! But since Charlie is now gone at Kindgarten for my 3 days away from work I have time to do more chores so I guess it works out just fine.

We spent a ridiculous amount of time at the beach this summer! Robb and I have every Monday off together but since he was so super busy photographing weddings this summer he requested that Charlie and I give him some time alone to edit every Monday. I'm pretty sure he only edited 50% of the time we were gone and spent the other 50% enjoying having the house to himself haha. Anyways, in order to give Robb some time alone to work Charlie and I went to the beach pretty much every week in addition to going to the beach with his nanny in addition to going to the beach whenever he stayed overnight with my parents because Robb was working on the weekend. So a LOT of beach time.

Robb and Charlie went on their first camping trip! I did not join them, and was very pleased about that. It all started when I saw a tent on a lighting deal on Amazon, which turned into Robb buying it for a camping trip, which turned into Robb buying literally every camping supply known to man for a 2 day camping trip  that was only 10 minutes away from our house at a camping site with electricity. 

The morning of the big camping trip Charlie spiked a small fever and started complaining of a sore neck. After a horrifying Google search told us it could be a deadly meningitis infection we rushed to the pediatrician where they told us he was fine and just slept on his neck funny. Since he gave the boys the clear to go camping off they went and when they got home I went to give Charlie a bath and found two HUGE bullseye rashes on his legs and thought "oh shit, it's Lyme Disease". So back to the pediatrician we went where they said "Oh yes, there's a huge Lyme Disease outbreak right now, this is the 4th kid today we've seen with it" which prompted us to ask "Then why the fuck didn't the pediatrician from 2 days ago think to look for it when we were here, especially considering a sore neck is freaking symptom?!" except we said it politely and she gave us a non committal shrug which did NOT make us feel better. Anyways, we got a new 30 day supply of antibiotics (MORE meds! Wooohooo) and Charlie is now right as rain but man, poor kid! 

Charlie and my mom attended my end of Summer work picnic. They had bounce houses, face painters, and Charlie's favorite- a balloon artist! He made Charlie all sorts of weapons like a sword, holster, bow and arrow, and a helmet. Such a boy...

And as with every year we ended things with Charlie's birthday! His birthday was the 3rd day of Kindergarten so he was gone for most of the day but we tried to make it special for when he got home with balloons and presents :)

OK I think that's a fair recap of the summer! Hope you all had fantastic summers as well, now that daylight savings time has hit I sure do miss summer already.  Gonna be a loooooong winter.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Minecraft Cake Tutorial

Happy Monday folks! I'm finishing up my third and last Minecraft post today (so if you don't know what it is don't worry I'm done after this). You can find my first post about Charlie's party HERE and a Creeper shoe tutorial HERE.

I initially was going to simply buy a cake for Charlie's party like I have done previously but once I started looking for Minecraft party ideas I saw about a million Minecraft Block Cakes that looked SO cool that I had to try it. You can see some other configurations on my Minecraft Pinterest board HERE

I followed instructions for making the cake and blue jello exactly from YoYoMax 12 on YouTube. You can find a VERY helpful and detailed video and recipes HERE

Basically, to start you will bake a 11x18inch chocolate sheet cake which you will make extra stable by adding powdered pudding and egg whites (See video above for exact recipe). After it has been baked let cool for a few minutes and then flip it out onto a wire rack so the top doesn't get too puffy. Then slide off onto a cutting board and trim the edges so it's a crisp rectangle (not shown in picture below)

Use a ruler and chef's knife to cut a zig zag pattern about halfway through the cake. Each cut should be approximately 2 inches long and 2 inches wide. One piece will be the base for your cake and the other piece can be further cut into more blocks to stack on top. Each individual block for my cake is approximately 2x2inches. Once you have your bottom piece transfer to a cake plate to start assembling. To make the top stack cut a  stair case shaped 6 block piece that is 3 blocks by 3 blocks. I had 4 blocks leftover and used them to stack on top in a configuration that I liked. You can get creative here and do whatever you think looks best!  Lastly, place a dowel through any blocks that aren't secured down so they don't fall off the cake.

You will also need to make one batch of rice crispy treats, I used the recipe on the back of the box (6 cups of rice crispies, 1 package mini marshmallows, 3 tbsp butter). Instead of filling up one 9x13 inch pan I only filled it halfway with rice crispy treats because I wanted the blocks to be 2 inches high instead of their normal height of 1 inch when spread out fully in the pan. Cut your treats into 2x2inch blocks and save the remaining strips. Add next to your cake blocks to represent sand.

Use the leftover strips to surround the bare sides of chocolate cake showing. I thought this framed it off nicely but it's an optional step, you might like being able to see the "dirt" on the bottom of the cake.

Use a star or grass tip to pipe green icing onto the cake to represent grass. I used a premade green icing that comes in a bag with a tip already attached because I was being lazy!

Prior to serving you can add your jello (aka water)! The recipe is made using 4 packages of jello (I think the blue Jolly Rancher brand jello makes the prettiest blue personally) and half the amount of water the box recipe requires. I made the jello in a small loaf pan which I then cut into 2x2 inch cubes using a chef's knife. You can see that a lot of my cubes aren't a perfect block shape or identical with each other- I'm ok with that and dont think it really takes away from the cake. However if you want perfect cubes you can try cutting with a piece of dental floss for more clean cuts. Using a ruler and a chefs knife to cut perfect cubes out of slippery jello like I did can be tricky!

Lastly I added our figurines (Stampy, Ballistic Squid, and Lee Bear) and the cake was done!

The kids at the party all loved the cake! I was surprised because they actually ate the jello and crispy treats too, not just cake. It was so cute watching them pick out their favorite part of the cake :)  I figured no one would bother with the jello but so many kids chose that over chocolate! Who knew?!

I hope this was helpful- if you make a Minecraft cake please do send me photos!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Minecraft Creeper Shoe Tutorial

Hey there buddies! I wanted to share a quick and easy tutorial on how I made Charlie's Minecraft Creeper shoes for his birthday (If you missed that post you can find it here). It was seriously one of his favorite gifts on his birthday- and that's saying something because he also got a gigantic police lego set ;).  Check out this video of him opening them, I think it's so funny how he's screaming "It's the Creeper shoes!!"


Here's how I made them- it was super simple! This was my first time so it wasn't perfect but I think they look pretty good anyways and I'll let you know any improvements I thought would have helped.

First get your shoes (these are Circo brand from Target) and some verrrrrry thin masking tape, I got mine from Amazon HERE. Start doing vertical stripes all throughout the top of the shoe.  I did not choose to do the back of the shoes and only did the tops and part of each side. The vertical stripes should be approximately 1/2 inch apart, I eyeballed it but you can measure it out if you're nervous. Press the tape onto the shoe so it's actually contacting the canvas (this can be tricky because the shoes aren't perfectly flat)

And then repeat the process going horizontally.

Next you can start painting! I used basic fabric paint from Michaels that was on sale for less than a dollar each and it worked just fine- so you don't have to spend a lot. First you will want to add the Creeper face as close to the middle of the shoe as possible, again I eyeballed this.  Each Creeper face is made using 4 squares for each eye, 2 squares for the nose, 8 squares for the mouth + one square on the bottom of each side. I hope that makes sense, you can always follow the photo above as a template! I chose to actually paint the squares black even thought I was already using a black shoe because I wanted to be able to see the difference between the black paint and black shoe; I thought it would blend it better with the rest of the shoe. That being said you can just leave it black without painting as well, it's up to you!

Next you will continue painting using all of your different colors, I picked randomly which colors went where but I did try to not have two of the same color next to each other. I chose to do 4 different shades of green plus silver. One thing I would do differently is to paint some of the squares for the lighter greens and silver white first. Because the shoes were so dark I had to paint MANY coats of light green and silver to get it to be as bold as I wanted it to be. If I had painted white first it would have shown up much easier. 

Let dry overnight and then you can peel the tape off. Once the shoes are fully completed you can spray with this fabric protector. How awful would it be to spend all this time painting these shoes just for it to wash away in a rain storm? This protector has worked great for us so far! 

And voila! You're done! Here's Charlie modeling the shoes :)

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Minecraft Birthday Party, Cake, and Decorations

Hi friends! I wanted to share some photos of Charlie's 5th Minecraft Birthday Party today.  I admit, I went a little "Obnoxious Pinterest Mom Crazy" with the decorations but in my defense they don't really sell much Minecraft decor so you HAVE to make it yourself.  I had no choice but to craft my little heart out, it's a hard burden to bear I tell ya.

Anyways if you want some more inspiration I made a Minecraft Party Pinterest board you can check out HERE (ugh, it looks like I am totally the obnoxious Pinterest mom....sorry! But I promise the last 4 years I bought decorations instead of making them so please don't hate me kay?).

Ok so first I found some invitations I liked on Etsy and had them printed at Staples onto postcards. You can find them HERE. The party was held at a Bounce House here in CT which Charlie adores. Plus this way I don't have to clean my house up after a bunch of 5 years olds trash it. Winning.

I also purchased some water bottle wrappers, food labels, and TNT label files (see links for ordering info).  I printed these out on regular printer paper and trimmed using my paper cutter.

I wrapped mini water bottles using the 'minecraft potion' wrappers, Charlie was a wee bit disappointed when none of the potions actually worked lol.

I matted the food labels onto green cardstock and folded into little tents. I set up a candy bar with all of the different candy representing items in Minecraft, I saw this idea on Pinterest and just thought it was too adorable not to do! Little did I know how difficult it would be to obtain the correct candies! This is a list of what I used
  • Potatoes: potato chips
  • Carrots: cheese doodles
  • Sticks: pretzels
  • Diamonds: blue rock candy
  • Fish: gummy sharks
  • Redstone: cinnamon candies and licorice wheels
  • Coal: black Twizzler pieces
  • Apples: red cherry candies
  • Golden apples: lemon candies
  • Silver Ore: Hershey's milk chocolate nuggets
  • Gold Ore: Hershey's dark chocolate nuggets
  • Watermelon: Sour Patch watermelon candies

Robb didn't get a great picture of the whole table (grumble grumble) but hopefully you get the idea.

I taped the TNT labels around these 2 inch mini plastic cube boxes. I bought the boxes off Amazon and then filled them with twizzlers to look like boxes of TNT.  Cute, right?

I made some banners to hang on the candy table and gift table. These were fairly simple to make, I just used regular colored cardstock and then threaded the banner through with black ribbon.

I also made some hanging decorations, specifically a Ghast, Blaze, Creeper face and an Enderman. Both the Enderman and Creeper were made from streamers and square plates that were included in this Minecraft party kit on Amazon.

The Ghast was a simple cardboard box wrapped in white tissue paper with card stock shapes acting as the face. This was easy to make and could be converted into a pinata pretty easily I would imagine.

The Blaze was a cardboard box covered in yellow tissue paper and the blaze rods are toilet paper rolls that I either wrapped in yellow tissue paper or painted gray.

Instead of actual flowers I decided to papercraft pixelated Minecraft flowers, which was somewhat tedious and fun at the same time. I crafted each one on 1 sheet of 8.5x11 white cardstock following THIS template. I then taped them to a dowel and stuck it inside a mason jar filled with florist foam. I covered with fake moss to make it look like it was growing out of the jar. SN: I found these green jars at Michaels on sale for .79 cents each! I tried to paint creeper faces on them but well, let's say freehand painting isn't my forte.

For other decor for the tables I folded lots of Minecraft 3D critters and blocks from this Minecraft papercraft kit. I know there are a lot of free printables out there but I figured it was easier to spend the $9 than to print and hand cut each individual pattern.  I bought 2 grass tablecloths from Amazon as well, although I should have bought 4 since we wound up being short 2 tableclothes so the table the kids sat at didn't really match. Oh well! You can find the plates and other party supplies I used HERE.

We also needed goodie bags of course! The venue supplied goodie bags already so we just put those little plastic bags into my awesome handmade ones. The actual colored bags were bought at iParty and then I paper pieced the designs onto them. StampyCat is Charlie's favorite youtube guy so I made half with his obnoxiously detailed little face and the other half as Creepers which was much easier lol. Only one kid actually knew who Stampy was besides Charlie but that's ok- Charlie liked them and that's what matters!

I also made Charlie a pair of Creeper shoes. I will show a tutorial on this in another blog post and then link back here for those of you interested :)

Lastly, I made Charlie a Minecraft cube cake topped with his three favorite Minecraft YouTube characters- StampyCat, Ballistic Squid, and Lee Bear. I'll have a separate tutorial for this cake as well that I can link back to here. In a nutshell, it is chocolate "dirt" cake with "grass" frosting, rice crispy "sand", and jello "water". Driving over to the venue Robb had to hold the cake on his lap and everytime I made a turn the jello started sliding all over the cake board LOL, it was giving us both a heart attack! It actually wound up being a great idea to have 3 different types of dessert for all the kids to choose from, quite a few kids picked the jello over cake!

OK I think that's all of the projects (phew! Told you I went overboard)!! I hope you liked everything :) The party went really well and everyone had a great time.  Please let me know if you have any questions-- I'd be happy to help anyone else attempting a Minecraft party :)

And of course here's the Birthday Boy in his Creeper shoes!