Cowboy Party Invitation

Baby Boy was turning one, and my husband and I wanted to throw him a special birthday party.  We decided on a cowboy themed bash (mainly because of our recent trip to Nashville and a $4 cowboy hat bought at a souvenir shop.)

I will be writing several blogs about this party, but for now I wanted to show the invitation we sent out for our hoe-down.
We wanted the invites to feature our little cowboy.  And we thought it would be neat if the front looked more like a photo than an invitation.  That way people would have something cute to hang up on their fridge before the event.  And they could even keep it as a memento after the party.
My husband (a Sugar Uncle???) came up with this absolutely ADORABLE family portrait.  Baby Boy looks so gosh darn cute in just his cowboy boots, hat, and cloth diaper.  (We use Gdiapers on Baby Boy, and their cuteness has lent themselves to many a half-naked picture.)  I also love how Daddy and I (along with our cowboy boots) are present in the photo without taking 
the attention away from Baby Boy.  
What might be the most impressive thing about this photo is that my husband and I pulled this off without any assistance.  We used up a tripod, camera, and the self-timer feature to get our shot.  
How-To Hint: Play an Elmo video on a laptop and set the laptop riiiight next to the camera.  Baby Boy loved watching Elmo sing and dance and gave us a cute smile.
My hubby, once again, hit it out of the park with the back of the invitation.  He put his graphic design skills to work and created this western inspired card.  I love the fonts he used and the sunburst and stars. To make it extra fun, we used as much cowboy lingo as we thought our guests could stomach.

To make the cards, we printed each side on regular printer paper.  We used spray glue to bond the two pieces together.  Being a graphic designer, he insisted on it being “full-bleed with crop marks.” I don’t know much about his process, but the end result was perfect.

-Erin

Cute Halloween Treats

Happy Halloween!
Tomorrow is Halloween…I procrastinated a bit in making some treats for my little girl’s preschool class.  I was a little last minute making these treats, but maybe you could use this idea for next year!
 
 They were so easy to make, just melt some white chocolate chips, spread the melted chocolate on the top of the marshmallow, dip in Halloween sprinkles. Then I added a dot of melted chocolate for the eyes and mouth and added M&M’s.
I had a little helper (taste-tester) finding all the green, brown, and orange M&M’s..this was a fun task!
Boo!

I added a tangerine jack-o-lantern for a little healthy snack.

The cute little treats could be altered it a bit for Christmas! I am thinking red/green sprinkles…poking a few broken pretzels in as antlers and giving it a red M&M nose!
~Leanne


Process vs Product Focused Play

Recently, I went to a continuing education course at Little Guy’s preschool.  It was offered up to parents, teachers, child care workers…all about Education Through Play.  
One tip for educational play was the concept of process play vs. product play.  Product Focused Play is working toward a specific end (“here, copy this cute little brown owl that is sitting on a branch, using this paper plate and those cupcake liners”).
Process Focused Play, the instructor outlined, is creative, open ended, and works on the child’s thought processes. The child is provided with materials and given an open-ended opportunity to create.  Imagine.  Explore materials.  There is no specific end product with process play.  Only, the opportunity to express themselves through language, creativity, open-ended motor development.  As an OT, this is great! …Provide the fine motor dexterity tasks, sensory opportunities, and age-appropriate tools (scissors, pencils, crayons, paint brushes), and assess and observe the child’s abilities in order to develop goals to meet functional levels!

Of course, Product Focused Play (making that specific art project) is SO important for a child’s development too…direction following, cutting a strait/curved/angled line, sequencing, specific media use, and much more…all are needed to succeed in the school setting.  
We did a little Process Focused art this week, bringing out all kinds of materials and a big old piece of cardboard.  The kids went to it, learning throughout the process of creating!
The only thing I told them was “make something”.  (I didn’t say this and then go off to change out laundry or put away dishwasher dishes…I sat there with them, engaged in their process, and we talked. About the stuff they were using, about what they were making, about why they were using what they were, and about what’s for lunch…hey, we were hungry!) Language development at its finest!
As they created (and we talked lunch), they had no clue about the number of skills they were refining!
Scissor skills while cutting yarn…

Fine pincer grasp to pick up the yarn, Bilateral coordination to work both hands together…

Letter formation, Tripod grasp and Separating the two sides of the hand to sprinkle glitter, Gross hand grasp to squeeze the glue bottle, Sensory exploration…

Tripod grasp to hold the yarn, Eye-hand coordination to cut along the length of yarn, Controlled use of scissors…
No wonder they were hungry!
Little guy made a fire with red yarn.  He then decided to add logs all around it and played with this allll day! He used his Lincoln logs to make a house to go with it and the little cowboy and Indian guys to play out all kinds of stories.
Big Sister made made spaghetti and meatballs.  She drew in a fork, spoon, and salad.  She had her baby dolls eating from this little scene.  
Imagination, Creativity, Exploration
We had a lot of FUN with our Process Play! 
~Colleen

S’more Bites

These lil cuties were something I threw together for my nephew’s 1st birthday.  I was in charge of making a bite sized s’more to fit a Cowboy Birthday Party theme.  These were really quick and easy to put together.  I experimented with the ingredients and baking time, and want to share with you just how simple it is to have mini s’mores any old time (now that could be dangerous)! 
Seriously, they are so tiny and cute, how can they be bad for you???!!! 😉

Start out with the basics for S’mores.  These Honey Maid Lil’ Squares are so cute! Baby Girl loves them (and so does Big Sister and Little Guy).  They are really little…one inch squares. Perfect for little one’s snack time too!
Chop the chocolate bars into little squares. I broke each bar up along the lines then cut those into thirds.
Spread out the mini-grahams on your cookie sheet.  I put a layer of aluminum foil down first because I was experimenting and wasn’t sure if the chocolate would spread over the graham.  It didn’t. No need to use the foil.
Bake the grahams and chocolate in oven at 350 for 2-3 min…Keep a close eye on this and pull them out when the chocolate starts to get shiny.  I tried another batch for a halloween party this weekend and totally baked them too long. the chocolate burned and the whole batch went into the garbage 🙁

Press a mini marshmallow into each chocolate square.

Pop the cookie sheet back into the oven for a minute or two.  Keep an eye on them, again…You want the marshmallow to puff up a bit.

Pull them out of the oven and turn on the broiler. When the oven has heated up, stick them back into the oven for just a minute.  Watch closely…You can keep the oven door slightly opened to make sure they don’t burn.  Out comes perfect mini-s’more bites!
(This picture is terrible, I know)
These were so good and I got so many compliments on them!  Even a request to make these every time we have a pot luck dinner!  That says something!!
~Colleen

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star Party FOOD!

We were seeing stars at this party!
This is just a quick post overflowing with party food pics!  Here are some things we had at the party…also had stuffed shells & salad mmmm…

My star sugar cookies

Pretzel rods dipped in pink chocolate melts with my icing candy stars…see the post here

Aldi’s Sassy Apple Salsa (Go out now and buy this! It is SO good!)
with…

Star shaped dippers! These were so simple to make: Use a cookie cutter to cut store-bought tortillas. Toss them on a cookie sheet with a little olive oil.  Bake at 350 for 20 min. Stir them up every once in a while with the spatula. Think of the shaped possibilities using cookie cutters…

Calzones made by one of the Sugar Aunts.  I stuck toppers into them.  (Used a star punch and glued to toothpicks.  Others were navy blue circles that I swiped with a glue stick, and then dipped into silver star confetti. Wait until dry then sandwich a toothpick between the circles). Fun and Easy!

Cherry Pie using this recipe.  I love the star top!

Star shaped brownies.  Use a mix, pour into a jelly roll pan to bake. They are so thin and perfect for cutting with a cookie cutter.  Sprinkle with confectioners sugar once you pull them out of the oven.  Eat all of the brownie scraps before the party 🙂

((Not food!  But a shot of my star garland.  Stars were were taped to thread.))

Buffalo Chicken Dip Cups and Barbecue Chicken Dip Cups, posted about here.
Not star shaped, these chocolate covered Oreos were sprinkled with silver sugar…from the baking aisle at the grocery store.  So good!  They were actually Aldi brand Oreos and had chocolate filling. Very yummy!
Maybe some of these star shaped foods could go along with a 4th of July Party?? 
~Colleen

Halloween Sensory Table

When the Babies woke up from their naps today, I had a surprise waiting for them…a Halloween sensory table! 

They had so much fun checking out all of the things on the table…picking them up…moving them around…
smacking pumpkins off of the table…

They loved carrying the pumpkins around, bringing them to each other.  

We headed outside after a while. Couldn’t resist being outside on this beautiful fall day!
The smell of and sound of crunchy leaves…there is nothing like the senses experienced during the fall.




Enjoy today!

~Colleen

Linked at:

Tuesday Tots

Living Room Spider Web

One day last week, we decided to build a spider web in the living room.  Little Guy had a blast with this one! 
He decided to put on his Spiderman costume. 
There was some great motor planning needed to go through this web!
Motor planning is the ability to think of, organize, and carry out actions needed for a task.
Kids with motor planning problems appear clumsy, disorganized, or inattentive.  They may have problems with clothing management, shoe tying, handwriting, or any fine/gross motor task.  

  Big Sister had to make one too, with pink yarn of course.

Even teddy bears can pretend to be Halloween spiders.
~Colleen
Linked at:

Tuesday Tots

Simple Spaghetti Carbonara

Simple Spaghetti Carbonara
Tonight for dinner I made a dinner my hubby requested…Spaghetti Carbonara.  This is a simple recipe that kids love!


The best part is, I usually have all of these on hand which makes it even easier to whip up!
 Ingredients:
1 lb spaghetti
3 tbsp sea salt
6 oz thick cut bacon
4 egg yolks
5 oz shredded Italian Cheeses (Parm, Asiago,Romano)
1 tsp black pepper
Bring water to a boil with 3 tbsp sea salt.  While waiting for the water to boil, slice the bacon into thin slices and cook over medium heat, stirring often until crisp.  
Cook the spaghetti until al dente.  

In a separate bowl, whisk the 4 egg yolks with 2 tbsp of the cheese and 1 tsp of pepper. 

When the Spaghetti is done, scoop it out of the water and add directly to a large bowl with the egg mixture.  Stir this up quick as you don’t want the eggs to scramble.  You can add a little of the pasta water to your liking. 

Add 2 more tbsp of the cheese and continue to stir.  Add in the bacon and slowly add the rest of the cheese, reserve some of the cheese and bacon for the topping. 

Delicious!
You can also add some fresh spinach to stir in at the last minute…I am thinking peas would be good in this also…maybe add in some fresh diced tomatoes…the possibilities are endless.
Hope you enjoy!
~Leanne