Saturday, 31 March 2012

An egg-stra special Easter craft

I recently signed up for Martha Stewart's 'craft of the day' email. So far, the ideas have been far more elaborate than I can manage with my 2 year old. But yesterday's idea (here's the link) was simple, fun, and festive. Just crack an egg near the top, rinse it out, and fill it with some water and your favourite spring blooms. If you're not into flowers, you could fill each egg with some jelly bean treats as a table favour for each of your Easter dinner guests.

I love this craft for a few reasons. First, it's perfect for toddlers (as long as you can get them to be gentle with the egg shells!). Second, it fits well with my table dressing approach. I love a series of small arrangements on my dinner party tables instead of one large one, as they don't obstuct anyone's view. I often do a flight of small flower arrangements in small cups scattered around the table, or down a line in the middle. It's also a great way to get a lot of milage out of a cheap groceria bouquet.

We decided to one-up Martha and dip our eggs in various bowls of water dyed with food colouring. This increases the mess factor, but my daugther loved watching the egg absorb the various colours, and it was a fun way to learn about how mixing different colours create new ones.

Would you believe that the glass egg cups belonged to my Great Grandmother Smith?

Friday, 30 March 2012

Signs of spring

One of my favourite things about spring are all the gorgeous tulips available at the little grocerias.

Last weekend my sister brought a bouquet for my 2.5 year old daughter - it was the first time she officially received flowers. So sweet!

The tulips are about to bite the dust, but I couldn't help but photograph them before I threw them out; they took on a beautiful translucent quality as they died. Once my daughter wakes up from her nap we're going to pop out and buy some new ones for part of an afternoon Easter craft....stay tuned!!

Cake pops!

As I mentioned in this previous post, I am beginning to put together the details for my daugther's third birthday party (though it's the first time we've had a real party for her). I have been trolling other blogs for ideas, and ended up marrying inspiration from Lindsay and Shannon.

I loved Lindsay's idea here of using Tim Bits to make cake pops. We're going to have birthday cake, but I think cake pops are the perfect alternative dessert for little hands. I am going to keep it simple and not even ice them....Tim Bits are so delicious on their own!

Shannon blogged here the other day about Omiyage, a company that sells Japanese paper and tape. I decided to order myself some of the tape, and in keeping with the party's sports theme each of the cake pop sticks is going to have a little 'flag' on it. I just wrapped a piece of tape around each post and then cut it on the angle on either side.

I bought a bag of 35 lollipop sticks at IQ Living on the Danforth for $3.99, and cut them in half so I'll have 70 cake pops for the kids to feast on.


Thursday, 29 March 2012

Easter eggs

The spirit has not yet moved me to do anything homemade for Easter so far, but I've begun my decorating with some Shoppers Drug Mart specials (as an aside my SDM sells their milk extra cheap: $4.29 for 3 bags) (the exception is the eggs in the final photo, which I picked up at Pottery Barn on deep discount years ago).

Is the Easter bunny coming to your house next weekend?

Switch up: muffins made healthy for my baby

I have a 7 month old who is resisting solids and is eat a crazy amount of milk as a result. When I have tried purees (store bought, home made, mashed, blended, and strained, savory and sweet...I've tried it all) he just closes his lips as tight as a baloon knot and turns his head. So I am doing more of the baby led weening approach of just giving him big chunnks of food and letting him feed himself. I don't think he injests much, and it makes a terrible mess, but he seems happy.

Today I made him some mini muffins to try - they seem to be just the right size for little hands and can be frozen and just brought out one by one as your baby wants one. I used the standard Joy of Cooking muffin recipe and just swapped out a couple of key ingredients to make them baby friendly:

Original recipe:
1 and 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp double acting baking powder
2 eggs
2-4 tablespoos of melted butter
3/4 cup milk

My adjustments:
Replaced all purpose flour with spelt flour (thanks Julie for the tip!!!)
Eliminated salt
Replaced sugar with a splash of maple syrup
Replaced eggs with 1 mashed banana (this was an Internet tip I found since babies can't have egg)
Added a dusting of ground flax
Added a dusting of psyllum husks
Added handful of blueberries

Don't over mix!
Cook at 400 degrees until a skewer comes out clean!

They are yummy for babies and adults alike!

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Hosting a birthday party 101

My daughter is turning 3 in June, and I have decided that this year I will finally host a little birthday party for her. I know I am probably getting started a bit early, but I have no idea what is required for kids' parties, so I am trying to make sure I don't miss a step!!

I haven't made many decisions yet, other than that I am going with a sports theme and am going to use a lot of red. I have rented the Clubhouse at Withrow Park, and the folks from Sportball are going to come and do some sporting activities with the kids.

For our invitations, I checked out lots of amazing ideas online (including this one and this one from Jen at Rambling Renovators), but I decided that something this elaborate was just not in the cards this year. Instead I designed the e-invitation below. It was easy - I just used auto shapes in Powerpoint, saved it as a Jpeg, and emailed it out to Izzy's friends (well actually to their parents)

What ideas do you have? What are the cool things to put in 3 year olds' loot bags these days?

Monday, 26 March 2012

Put down the iron!

I spent much of my free time (ie while the kids were napping) this weekend ironing. It wasn't fun, and I'm frankly not very good at it.

Luckily, I have transitioned many of my husband's work shirts to Brooks Brothers iron free shirts. They are 100% iron free. Seriously, they come right out of the dryer without so much as a crease. They also have fantastic women's shirts too. I often order mine to my cousin's house in the US (since it's cheaper), but they often go on deep discount at their Canadian locations (last summer I bought 4 men's shirts for $245 including tax.) Either way they are more than I would normally pay for my husband's shirts, but by the time I factor in the money saved at the dry cleaner, they pay off pretty quickly.

Iron free shirts are also available at Mark's (ie formerly Mark's Work Warehouse and Sears (Land's End brand), but I'm not sure how these brands stand up quality and fit-wise.

These iron free shirts make the thought of wearing work clothes again a bit more paletable!

Sunday, 25 March 2012

My new best friend in the kitchen

I am back from Vancouver and settled back in Toronto. It took us a few days to get back in the swing of things here after getting back at 1am from the airport and dealing with a teething little baby boy...poor thing!

I have missed being away from the Blog, and am excited to get knee deep all over again.

Tonight I was cleaning the kitchen and noticed how gross our sink was. Normally I use vinigar and some elbow grease to clean it, but tonight I tried baking soda. PRESTO! The sink is now sparkling. I have used baking soda in the past on my favourite bone china coffee mugs to get rid of stubborn coffee and tea stains - it works like a charm.

So, along with vinigar (which is use religiously on my floors and counters) baking soda is my new favourite eco friendly cleaner.

Do you have any good cleaning secrets?

***UPDATE: My other cleaning secret is for getting tough spots off my white porcelin topped oven (which came with the house but I would never buy!!). I've tried Vim and other products, but they tend to be quite corrosive. Spray on oven cleaner (like Easy Off) does an AMAZING job...while it's not exactly eco-friendly, it will leave your cooktop spick and span!

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Sally Ann scores

On Friday night after the kids were in bed my Mom and I snuck out to the nearby Salvation Army thrift store. I found two deals. First, at $1.99 each, two white 'lotus' dishes, identical to the turquoise ones I have at home. Second, at $3.99, a ceramic egg carton for the fridge so it's easy to quickly grab eggs one-handed!

Beads beautiful

This morning we went to Granville Island in Vancouver, which is a wonderful place for children. We fed ducks, saw doughnuts being made (of course we had to try one!), and bought beads to make a necklace at the bead store. Beading was one of my childhood passions, so it was fun to introduce my daugther to this creative craft.

Since my daughter is only 2, she doesn't appreciate exquisite beads just yet....and anyone who has been to a bead store knows that costs can quickly add up! So I let her pick three beads at the bead store (the centre ones on the necklace in the photos) and we filled the rest of the necklace with plastic beads from home after my daughter's nap this afternoon. We strung the beads on regular household twine, but I rolled masking tape over the ends to make it stiff to compensate for a toddler's dexterity. The masking tape, combined with big-holed beads - allowed her to string all the beads without needing help. I knotted the beads onto the string here and there so they won't fall off by mistake.

What did you do this afternoon?

Friday, 16 March 2012

Pretty things

One of the things I love about visiting my parents' house is all the pretty (read: breakable) little things they have. All such items have been removed, stored away, or moved to the highest shelf in my home until I no longer have toddlers....but I miss having the things I love near by.

What are your favourite things at your house?

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Wall candy

I am always lusting over expensive art. But I am starting to think that sometimes it's not necessarily about the art you have, but how it's displayed.

After my parents renovated their home, my mom found an 'art consultant' to help her hang art around the house. This sounds pricey, I know, but it really wasn't. ...this 'art consultant' is actually the guy that did all the wire shelving in her closets, and art consultation is how he moonlights. It's really just his passion.

He visits your house and looks at all your art together (ie, not hung). He then goes away for a week, soaks in the art and the open walls in your home, and comes back with his recommendations. Once you agree on placement, he arrives with all the right tricks and tools to expertly get the art up on your walls. Anyone who has hung art with their partner will agree that this service would be a major marriage saver!

As a tangent, I once heard Lynda Reeves say on HGTV that art should be hung 54 inches from the floor to the center of the images. There are of course always exceptions, but this is a good rule of thumb that I have used.

Happy hanging!