Monday, May 30, 2011

I Are Published! Fame and Fortune Await!

Last year I submitted a tip to Parents Magazine's "It Worked For Me" section. Apparently, they printed it in the June 2011 issue! I had a slew of friends on Facebook ask if it was me, or tell me they had seen it. I, of course, had LOST my issue. I tore apart my house looking for it. Was it in the pile of magazines on the railing? No. The pile on the couch? No. In my car in the pile of mail on the passenger seat? No. AAARGH Where is it?!?!?!?
Since we've been cleaning the house in preparation for The Princess' third birthday party, I've been busy blogging and Facebooking sorting through random piles of stuff in the living room. And I found it! In a bag full of my Sunday paper and Red Plum coupon inserts. Go figure.

Parents Magazine, June 2011
image credit
And there we are, on page 100! My home-made ball pit from her birthday party last year! We kept it out and the kids who came to my first Kids Cooking Class played in it too. Big hit.
"Instead of buying a pricey ball pit, I made one for my daughter using an inexpensive inflatable kiddie pool and plastic balls that I found at the toy store. Ours is much bigger, which means all of the kids can play in it at the same time!"

There are some other tips, and informative articles and such in this issue too, but I can't seem to turn the page...

I was sick of seeing all these tiny ball pits for $20-$50, that barely fit one child. And only came with 10-25 balls. Every review complained either how small they were, how few balls they came with, or how they sprung a leak within a month. Toys R Us sells bags of 250 balls for $25, and, during the Summer, a variety of kiddie pools for $5-$10. We opted for a fairly large pool (around 4') for $12, and bought 3 bags of balls. So we ended up paying way more, but not by much, if you consider you'd be buying a ~$30 ball pit plus $25 bag of balls to supplement the few it came with, for around $55. And you'd still only have one child in there comfortably, maaaybe 2, as long as nobody moved.
A slightly smaller pool with only 2 bags of balls would have been around $60, and fit 3-4 kids easily. We had 6 in ours. Worth. Every. Penny. Especially since it was kind of overcast and cool the day of her party last year, so everyone stayed inside. We had another, really tiny $5 pool we started her with, with only 1 bag of balls. It was such a big hit, we went for the bigger one once she started really moving and jumping.

Apparently it was such an awesome tip, I had a random stranger stalk find me on Facebook to tell me they liked it. Flattering, but creeeeeepy!

Muffin Tin Monday - Memorial Day - Red, White and Blue!

I wanted to be sure and make a fancy Muffin Tin Meal this week, since I've kind of been slacking this past while, but I haven't been brainstorming ideas lately, and we've been busy cleaning the house in preparation for her birthday party. As part of my cleaning efforts, I was charged with trying to cram all my bento and "beautiful lunch" gear into my 2 cupboards and rolly drawers. Again. I had bought a bunch of new plastic cookie cutters at a thrift store (around 50 for $2.50.) I just opened the packages and put them away Friday night, and found a flag and America cutters. Score! Perfect for a patriotic holiday... too bad there aren't, oh, like a whole bunch coming up soon...

Memorial Day - Red, White and Blue!
Cherries, marshmallows, sugar sprinkles, Greek yogurt,
carrots, PB-banana-strawberry "Flag," banana and strawberry stars
I used my new flag cutter on a slice of bread, but the flag pole was waaaay too skinny, so I snipped off the part that went below the flag. I then used the top-of-the-pole part of the cutter on a bit of crust to make a darker pole. I spread peanut butter on the open-face sandwich to make everything stick. I sliced a banana and large strawberry into sheets lengthwise, and then used the top of the flag part of the cutter to make "stripes." Blue sugar sprinkles for the blue, since I don't have any blueberries, and then some little banana bits as stars. I used a mini star cutter on the leftover banana and strawberry slices.

I used a teeeeeeny tiny star cutter from a set I found at a craft store over with the FIMO and Sculpey clays on the carrot, and my larger mini star on some of the coins, but it was too big. I can't find my in-between-sized star cutter.

Cherries because they're red, and Cherry Pie is so American, right? Right up there with Apple Pie!
I still had some pink star marshmallows leftover from Christmas (Mmmmm. Just slightly stale! Perfect!)
I put blue and red sugar sprinkles in a mini star bonbon cup I found at Kitchen Collections, and Honey Greek Yogurt in a blue star cup (available in-store only) from World Market (in case she needed to move it closer, or needed to get a better angle to get all the yumminess out.)
This picture looks super cute, but really she's saying that her cherry is
shaped like a butt, and having a juvenile potty humor laugh over it.
Ah well.
After showing me that each cherry looked like a humorous body part,
she went immediately for the sugar sprinkles and yogurt.
She was super excited about her "fyaykk" sandwich with PB and banana. "And spinkles!" She's never had PB Banana before. She also loved the teeeeeny tiny carrot stars. Too bad they were such a PITA to make. (I had to use a little pick to get them out of the cutter. And I could make 3-4 per carrot coin, so I would have been there all DAY if I had done the whole carrot that way! Sheesh!)

Check out the other fun MTMs this week!
Muffin Tin Monday at

Saturday, May 28, 2011

100 (Plus) Followers Celebration and Giveaway! (Ended)

Although I've actually had over 100 followers for a while now, and they kind of snuck up on me all at once, so I didn't even notice until I was over 100, I still want to celebrate!

To make up for being so late on this, I will do this giveaway TWICE! Once now, and again a week before my blogiversary! You may enter both, but the winner of this one won't be eligible for the next one.

The Prizes:
1 set of 4 EasyLunchBoxes (value: $13.95)

1 EasyLunchBox Cooler Bag (you pick the color - Black, Dark Red, Olive Green, Aqua, or Purple.) Please specify in at least one of your comments, or get back to me ASAP once I contact you, since I'll have to order it! And I will wait to order it until after my second giveaway, so it will be a while. If the winner lives in the US, I'd be happy to ship the rest of the stuff off first, then the EasyLunchBoxes after I receive them. (value: $7.95)
4 reusable silicone muffin cups - (you choose - butterfly -or- teddy bear) one in each color (turquoise, orange, hot pink and green.) I'm flexible, so if you wanted 2 bears and 2 butterflies, I could probably go that way too. (value: ~$6.75) [I got them imported from England, so I'm not sure how much exactly I ended up paying with exchange rates and how shipping would be divided over the whole order. This value doesn't include the shipping I paid, which adds another ~$2+]

1 set of 24 POP! dot picks (value $1.50-$3, depending where you buy them)*

1 set of 24 POP! flower picks (value $1.50-$3)*
1 set of 6 graduated bunny and bird plastic cookie cutters (value $1.50-$3)*
V-shaped blade tool for making carrot flowers and other fun stuff! If one of the winners prefers a U-shaped blade (really it's more of a wide C) I can switch it out. (value $1.50-$3)*

Total value per winner: $34.65+!!
*I am happy to substitute out Vegetable fork picks, Fruit picks, Heart Picks, Checkered picks, Music Note picksAnimal head picks, or mini cookie cutter set for any of the $1.50 items above. Really, any of the bento accessories pictured in my flickr stream, as long as I haven't already sold out on eBay! (No longer have the nori punches or bento boxes. I could probably go get more though, if anyone really wanted to buy some. The Daiso store near me sells their stuff for less than their wholesale prices to places like jlist and allthingsforsale!)

Entries will close midnight PST Tuesday, June 7 (Little Z's birthday!) 
[The next one will start June 7th and run through June 14th (my blogiversary!) It will be a new post and require new comments.]

Ways to enter:
Follow my blog via Google Friend Connect (that bit on the right side there.) [Please leave a separate comment stating that you have done so.]
"Like" my blog's Facebook page [Please leave a separate comment on this post stating that you have done so.]
Follow me on Twitter [Please leave a separate comment on this post stating that you have done so.]
(If you have already done any of these, that counts too!)
Feel free to include an email on your comment, to help me notify you better! To prevent spammers, try something like myemail (at) serviceprovider (dot) com

Please donate to Relay For Life. Any amount. Every dollar counts! I think there are gambling laws or something that may prohibit me from offering extra entries for donating, so I can only urge you to support this wonderful cause.
I personally know 4 cancer survivors (luckily, no non-survivors!) plus probably more that I don't know had cancer. My grandmother was one, but she died of a stroke (not cancer) when I was little.
A very good friend of mine has xeroderma pigmentosa, which is a rare hereditary form of skin cancer. For people with this condition, it's a matter of when, not if, they get tumors from UV exposure - from the sun, as well as fluorescent indoor lights at stores, the workplace, you name it! Even exposure through car windows, walking from the car to the store. It's crazy. And radiation therapy actually causes MORE tumors! So no chemo for them!
Another friend is a 2-time breast cancer survivor! And my friend Kristen is a thyroid cancer survivor!
And I know someone who is battling cancer as we speak. I don't want to go into details to protect his privacy, but we give him all our love and all our best wishes.
I have 259 friends of Facebook. Of those, many are people I only met once or twice, through a moms group or through my husband's work. Many are people I haven't seen or heard from in over 10 years (other than FB.) A few are online friends I've met through blogging, but I like them just as much as my "real" friends, so we'll count them. And most of my actual friends and family are friends on Facebook. So even though I have more "acquaintances" on Facebook than real friends who AREN'T on Facebook, if you use this as a sampler of my total circle of friends and family, 1.93% of people I know (including my grandma) have or had cancer. That's almost 2%! And really, if you just count people that I would call friends and family, we're probably looking at closer to 3.5%. That's CRAZY! Plus add in all the cases I just don't know about, or forgot about, if I had known at some point.

Disclaimer - All these prizes are coming out of my own pocket. I am not being reimbursed in any way for providing these items, other than (hopefully) more followers and readers! I love EasyLunchBoxes, and they are by far my favorite and most-used lunch box, so I thought it fitting to choose these to give away. Plus I have a 50% off code, to make it hurt a little less, financially! The other stuff is extras I have duplicates of.

Friday, May 27, 2011

McLittle Clicks

After our sick day at the beach on Tuesday, we stopped at McD's for lunch on our way home. I got the camera out to take pictures of her playing with her little seashells, and she wanted to take some photos of her own.
Sock; close-up
Table rubbish
Seashells and fingers
Mommy and book
Table from an angle
More socks
Self portrait; close-up
Extreme close-up
Check out the other Little Clickers this week!

Writer's Workshop: Sneak-Out Sister

The Writing Prompt I chose this week is : Write about a time you got in BIG trouble as a kid.

So. When I was a teenager... I think 16.. Yeah. I had my driver's license. Anyway. 16. My room was on the ground floor, which made it convenient to pop the screen off my window and climb out. Not that I ever would. Yeah, right.

It must have been the Summer just after I had turned 16, since I remember getting into an accident in the car and calling this boyfriend to come get me. So I was dating him them. It also means I was working at McDonald's. Ick. Working there makes your clothes, hair and skin smell and feel... disgusting. Anyway.

I snuck out of my bedroom window to spend the night with my boyfriend. Now, don't get the wrong idea here. All we did was talk and sleep. He was so terrified of getting a girl pregnant. He was convinced if he was even in the same room as a girl and got too excited, that his stuff would somehow shoot across the room, into her hoo-haw, and knock her up. So there was very little absolutely no hanky-panky. We mostly cuddled.
When I got home, my window wouldn't open, but that had happened before. So I knocked on my sister's window (right next door to mine) and she let me in. She cheerfully agreed to let me do her chores for a week in exchange for her silence. The little rat.
I snuck back into my room at dawn, with my family none-the-wiser. Safe!

Apparently not. Apparently I had shut the cat into my bedroom when I went to bed and he yowled and howled and woke up pretty much everybody. My sister. My mom. My dad. My brother. Possibly even my youngest sister. And they came to free him... and found me mysteriously missing.
O ho ho. But my sneaky mom. She just sat there later that day asking if I had anything to tell her. "Who, me? No. Why? What?" My mom explained how they knew I had been gone all night. D'OH. My slimeball sister danced and cackled like a little imp, delighted in my troubles. Oh. And I still had to do her stinking chores.

I can't even remember how long I was grounded for. And [other than sneaking out] I hadn't even done anything. Well, anything worth getting into trouble for, if you know what I mean.
Ah well. It probably makes up for all the times I hadn't gotten caught!

Oh. And I am totally deleting this post once my child learns how to read.

Mama’s Losin’ It

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Catching Up - CARS Bento

4/27/11 - I don't know how these lunches slipped through the cracks! I was very proud of these ones, and planned them in advance and even brought the tools and foods I'd need to my sister's house!

CARS, Too!
PBJ "lollipops," carrot flowers, cheddar cars, car gummies, strawberry/raspberry/grape medley
(also Pita chips and hummus with carrot cars in the box on the right)
Pilu's Lunch:
I used my car and bus sandwich punches with pretzel sticks in between the bread to make the "sandwich lollipops."
The mini car cheese and carrots were cut using a tiny car-shaped cutter from Daiso.
For the carrot flowers, I used my V-shaped blade (also from Daiso) to cut grooves down the sides of a carrot, then cut it into coins.

Since Pilu is indiscriminate when it comes to cheese, I gave her just one car and all the scraps.

Z's Lunch:
I added garlic hummus and Parmesan, Garlic and Herb Stacy's Pita Chips to Z's meal because I had brought some to snack on for the drive over, and the other girls aren't really into trying new things, so I didn't bother giving them any. Tually tried a chip, and I ended up eating the leftovers. Omnomnom.

For the car carrots, I had to slice the carrot into lengthwise flats to have a large enough surface for the cutter. I only bothered for Z's, since they spruced up the hummus nicely. She also hadn't been eating any of the strawberries lately, so I didn't bother giving her any. And I left her grapes on the stem, since she prefers them that way.

Tually's Lunch:
I got the larger muffin liners from Target's Easter selection, and the smaller ones were from after-Easter clearance at Target years ago. Either before Z was born, or when she was a baby.
The gummy cars are from Ikea.

The sandwich pops were a big hit with Z and Tually. Pilu mostly played with them.

[*Notice my shameless product placement? I love McD's Sweet Tea, and always get a large on my drive over! This cup had actually been refilled with water, since Z had wanted to drink from my cup, and I was saving on dirty dishes by re-using it while I was there.]

Check out the other fun bento lunches!

WFLW - Pic-i-nic Bento

Last time I was over babysitting at my sister's house, the girls wanted a picnic lunch, so I packed it all into a large tupperware-type box and we took it outside!
String cheese, frozen GoGurts, Mott's Apple Cinnamon Pastry, carrots,
PBJ fingers, butter fingers
Tually had wanted her string cheese left whole, for pulling, but the younger two wanted nibblets. To make it easier for Tually, I cross-hatched the end with tic-tac-toe-board-style cuts.
I had frozen the GoGurts, then used a steak knife to cut them in half (I stored the spare half back in the freezer.)
I found these Mott's Apple and Cinnamon Pastry treats on clearance at Rite-Aid, and gave them a shot (at 75% off, I figured it was worth trying!) Z loved them, the other girls, not so much.
(Unka Rop's legs,) Little Z, (Rosie the doll,) Tually, Pilu, (Purple Puppy)
I had filled an empty spaghetti-sauce jar with watered-down cranberry juice, and used it to refill the girls' cups, as needed. I made sure to get a jar with a lid, which was very foresightful of me, since they knocked it over quite a few times!
The picnic was a huge-ish success. Everyone (mostly) got along, and they had loads of fun. I even had to go back and refill the juice jar. But they ate very little, with only Z finishing her GoGurt. I put the rest of the lunch on a chair while they played, and they'd come back to forage periodically, until the dog came and ate it all when I wasn't looking was consoling Z, whose drink had been kicked over. Everything except the carrots.

Check out all the other great bento meals this week!
Bento Lunch

Monday, May 23, 2011

Muffin Tin Monday - Beach Baby Breakfast

Another week with no muffin tin meals! Until I was uploading my pictures and found this one from my birthday last Monday! It's a follow-up to her Zevel Knievel MTM the day before. When I do a dinner MTM, she usually wants a similar one again for breakfast.
Mac 'N Cheese, pepperoni, carrots,
fries, blackberries, ketchup
Since she was still sick, she ate very little of it. She did eat the fries though, and tried the pepperoni. I can't remember if I ate both the carrots or if she ate some. I was sick too. Plus I'm plagued with Mommy Brain.

Since her fever was below 101 F, I took her to the beach that we hadn't been able to go to with her preschool class the day before. Two of the other classes were going that day, but we got there after everyone had left, I guess. She only lasted about 30 minutes on the beach, since she was still sick and it was very windy.
She found loads of shells for me to carry home in the bucket I had brought, but she tucked the smaller ones away in her pockets.
"Nook, Mommy! I found a CAM!" [clam]
On the way home, she asked for McDonalds, and since I can't say no to their Sweet Tea, we went. After she was done eating (2 nuggets, instead of her usual 3 to 4,) she got out her little pocket treasures!
Check out the other fun meals this week!
Muffin Tin Monday at

Friday, May 20, 2011

Little Clicks, Lighting Tricks

While visiting at my sister's house, Z chose to be utterly adorable, and thus photo-worthy. I can't remember what she was saying the ear-muffs were supposed to be, but it was priceless. Hamsters? I wish I could remember.
Then she pretended to sleep. Once she heard me snapping pictures, she just had to see, and then wanted to take photos herself!

Lighting wasn't awesome, since she was shooting from a supine position into a sunny window.
Unka Rop holding Tually, Auntie Kayneen on couch.
Auntie Kayneen, in silhouette
Mommy, reading on couch

Close-up of  self - ear muff, shoulder and pillow

Check out the other budding photographers this week!