A Grandma's spin on crafts, games, recipes & lifestyle

Category: Family Traditions (Page 1 of 3)

Ninja Themed Birthday Party

Birthdays deserve to be a BIG celebration. Deciding on the theme is the starting point to planning the perfect party for your special kiddo!  Max always chooses a theme that makes DIY creating a lot of fun….this year was no exception.  He LOVES karate so a Ninja Themed Birthday Party won for birthday #5 for our little man.  Once the idea was settled upon, his mama’s  creative gears started turning.   After a few sleepless nights (because she CANNOT turn that brain off when she is planning) Neon Ninja came to life!

From the birthday cake…to the fun activities…to the party favors…to the food….every part of the ninja party was planned in detail!  Our family is rather large, so many of these details are planned with both the kiddos AND the adults attending in  mind.  I must take this time to say that Lauren’s parties always have a large turnout because they are always so much fun!

The Cake ~

Lauren orders all of her cakes and cookies from Becky’s Cakes n’ Caboodles.  She sends all of her crazy ideas and Becky ALWAYS rises to the occasion.

Food & Snacks ~

Max requested chicken nuggets and french fries as his main dish.  I know, I know….not very ninja-like, right?  So….Chinese takeout boxes and chopsticks were ordered and the nuggets and fries were cleverly “camouflaged” as part of the ninja food!  Seriously, how clever is that???

The sauces were laid out to look like various Chinese dipping sauces…however, they were BBQ, honey mustard, and buffalo for the chicken nuggets!  Basically, you can take any of your child’s favorite foods and still match the theme of the party!

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Big sister, Addi, created cupcakes with licorice rope belts…

Cheese cubes with ninja swords were easily converted into a fun snack…

Wontons were fried into chips for dipping into a yummy crab dip…

Scrumptious Meatballs and buffalo chicken dip were served up as well!  Suffice it to say, there was plenty of food to go around for both the kids and the adults!

The Party Room ~

Have you been wondering where the neon comes in????   Well, here we gooo…..

They happen to have a room under construction, which was perfect for converting to a party room.  Now, I realize that this won’t always be the case for anyone wanting to host a ninja themed birthday party, but these ideas can be worked into many different rooms.  You must first buy blacklights and MANY rolls of neon tape.  (I apologize in advance that the quality of this picture is not great, but you will get a general idea of the basic layout)

The tape was used to write out Max’s name and birth year of celebration!  Max LOVED seeing his name in such big letters!    Tape was also made into various little decorations on the floor and walls for extra glow effect.  Lights were strung around the walls and placed on the floor.  Glowsticks were hung from the Christmas tree!  Look closely, and you will see a ninja punching/kicking bag in the back left corner.

Kids were told to wear white so they would glow!  White shirts were provided in case they forgot, but more about that later!  The birthday boy had a special karate outfit with his name and birthday number adhered to the back in white.

Once it all came together, it was the perfect party place and backdrop for picture taking!

Craft & “Goody Bag” Table ~

A table was laid out with headbands made in advance with each child’s name.  Children love anything personalized with their own name so this was an immediate success.  In fact, the adults were a tad jealous that they didn’t get one too!  A white t-shirt was placed with their headband for their own artwork to be done when it was time for the craft.  Glowsticks and foam ninja throwing stars were scattered around the table.

Neon fabric markers were placed on the table for the kids to create their own fun t-shirt that would glow in the dark.  Using markers instead of paint makes it perfect for quick drying so the kids can wear their artwork right away.  The headbands and t-shirts also doubled as their goody bag items to take home with them.  So much fun to have a gift that lasts longer than just the night of the party!

Entertainment ~

Max’s karate instructor was invited to the party.  She brought along the boards for kids to attempt to cut in half by doing the “karate chop” or kick of their choice.  She left plenty of boards for others to try at their whim.

Max loved being the first one to demonstrate his talents!  The smile that came from his face after he broke his first board was absolutely priceless!  This was a HUGE hit with the kids AND the adults that lasted throughout the night.  Even the great grandparents got in on the action.  It brought a lot of laughs and fun to the party!

It’s not easy to plan a party that is completely enjoyed by all ages, but Lauren arose to the challenge…and succeeded!  Let me just say that her parties tend to go over the 1 1/2 – 2 hour mark….they are just that much fun!

This is a fun party theme whether your child takes karate classes or not.  There are so many popular movies and kid shows on tv that fascinate kids and make them want to be a ninja.  Boys and girls alike are sure to enjoy this neon ninja themed birthday party!

For other funtastic birthday themes check out Max’s Photoriffic Birthday Party where the whole party was centered around pictures of Max…a true MAX birthday or Addi’s Purr-fect Cat Birthday Party filled with all kinds of kitty fun!

Happy party planning to you ~

Mimi

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gratitude Attitude For Kids

Blogging about fun ideas to do for and with kids all year round is the best! There are not enough days in the year to share all the ideas that bring joy to a child’s face.   Memories still flood my mind of finding creative ways to bring fun to my children’s lives when they were younger.   We have now been blessed with grandchildren to continue the excitement!  It’s hard to resist doing special things for them, whether monetary or not! This helped me to realize that maybe a fun activity for them to give back is a great idea too ~ The Gratitude Attitude for Kids!

First, a Little History ~

Much time has been spent since I started blogging, creating a couple of different “month” long activities to have fun with the grandchildren.  Flat Skelly Skeleton entered the scene in 2021…click here to read more about him!  This is full of Halloween ideas to do randomly through the month of October utilizing “snail mail.”  Some new ideas were brought to life this year…Skelly Skeleton is back with lots of new Halloween fun!

Next came Gizmo the snowflake!  Gizmo comes complete with a starter poem and some fun Christmas ideas to share with kids!  He will be coming back this December….so stay tuned!

Introducing Boone ~

Definition of boon ~ a thing that is helpful or beneficial

Over the years, people have used the definition to create the name Boone, which is symbolic for blessing or lucky.  Is this not perfect for our little Thanksgiving character to help children be thankful throughout the month of November?

Boone is going to help our kiddos bestow acts of kindness upon others….instead of acts of kindness always being done to them.  As I stated earlier, I’m all about doing for kids….all year long.  However, this also helps them to realize how fun it is to give instead of always receiving!

A Little Work Goes a Looonnnggg Way!

Ok, I am not going to lie…it takes a little prep!  However, I promise it is way worth it!  You can even go an extra step and do some laminating which will make the project easier for following years!   You can also have your kids help you cut these leaves out if they are good with their cutting skills!

I posted last year about doing a  Kid’s Gratitude Tree for Thanksgiving.  Believe me, it is another wonderful idea, but a different twist.  You can check it out in the green link to read about it as well.  It does include cutting of leaves too.

The Main Purpose ~

Kids will have all of the printed leaves (and some blank ones) to think about throughout the month of November.  The goal is to pick one daily and do that good deed sometime throughout the day.  Once they have completed the act of kindness, they get to hang that leaf up on the tree.  By the time Thanksgiving rolls around, they will have a beautiful tree of kind things they have done for others.

Follow along for the list of things needed and the detailed steps to prepare for this amazing Thanksgiving project:

First Step of the Project ~

Here is an idea of what the leaves look like:

   

There are a total of seven pages with four leaves per page with an assortment of colors and shapes.  This leaves a few extras.     Every leaf contains a different task that children can do to “earn” that leaf for their tree!  Below are the links needed to print each page.  I suggest you print them on white card stock for more durability, however, this is not a necessity!

Free printables you will need ~

(click on the links below for free printouts)

Page 1 – Gratitude Attitude for Kids   

Page 2 – Gratitude Attitude for Kids   

Page 3 – Gratitude Attitude for Kids   

Page 4 – Gratitude Attitude for Kids   

Page 5 – Gratitude Attitude for Kids   

Page 6 – Gratitude Attitude for Kids   

Page 7 – Gratitude Attitude for Kids   

The last page (page 7) has white blank boxes on it.  This allows for you or your child to fill each leaf in with what you feel is appropriate per their age, your lifestyle or your child’s capabilities.  For example, some people are very close with neighbors or grandparents, therefore you could cater a leaf especially toward something special to be done for them.

Grab a pretty basket or bowl ~

Let’s get those leaves cut out.  If your child has cutting skills, get them to help out.  After all the leaves are cut, read through each one with them so they have an idea of what they are working toward.  Then put them in whatever container you have chosen.  Place the basket in a location that your child can reach them.  Will you be putting the tree in their room?  the kitchen?  a home office?

You have 3 options for your tree, which are discussed below:

*Make a paper tree:

A roll of contact paper was cut into the shape of a tree and taped to a door for this version.  It can be as detailed or as basic as you wish!  Once the leaves adorn the tree it will become a beautiful tree of “good deeds.”  Deeds that the child has contemplated and put their mind to completing.

*Purchase a tree:

24″ lighted tree

18″ lighted tree

These would be cute to place on the child’s desk or dresser in their room, allowing them to think more about ways to show gratitude for others!  Bonus that it has a little extra night light!

*Make a branch tree ~

If you are creative with some small tools, you can create a tree with:

  • a few limbs (you choice of size
  • spray paint
  • a container (pot, jar, covered coffee can, etc.)
  • rocks or other fillers to stabilize your tree in container

This is what I did in the featured image for this post.  Gather a few branches, paint them, place in a glass vase, fill vase with rocks and acorns…voila!  Here is a website that gives you several ideas of how to make other “natural” trees (many times known as a wishing/money tree…How to make a money/wishing tree by Oui Personalize.

Depending on the type of tree you make, you will need one of the following to attach your leaves:

  • tape
  • ornament hanger or paper clip twisted to make a hanger or string to tie them on
  • paper hole punch

Summing it up ~

You’ve printed the leaves, cut them out and made or purchased your tree….you are now ready for this project named “Gratitude Attitude for Kids.”  This is such a fun way for kids to really focus on showing appreciation for others and learning how to return kindness.  Now all you have left to do is print out this cute version of Boone to help present this package to your kids…and then wait for more fun from him throughout the month of November!

  click here for printable version ➡️➡️Boone printout to welcome the Thanksgiving project!

I think Boone and your kids are going to become fast friends….all the while he is helping with The Attitude Gratitude for Kids!  Let him grace the tree as well….or whatever fun thing they want to do with him to help remind them that gratitude is indeed an attitude!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Mimi

 

 

 

How to Make Your Own Ghostly Yard Decor!

‘Tis the season of Halloween hauntings….skeletons, witches, ghosts and ghouls!  Can you feel all the eerie feelings as you walk through your neighborhood on these crisp evenings?  Halloween is so much more fun when there are festive yard decorations all around…don’t you agree?  Have you started decorating yet….it’s not too late to make your own ghostly yard decor!  Follow along for these easy DIY directions.

As I walk through my neighborhood I see amazing store bought decor as well as homemade.  One style is not better than the other as far as I am concerned.  They all fit together nicely to create a fun atmosphere for everyone to enjoy.  I have been making yard ghosts for many years now.  In fact, I have the regulars that stop by each year to take a picture of their kids using the ghosts as their backdrop and I LOVE that!

How to Make Your Own Ghostly Yard Decor ~

These little ghostly guys are so festive and fun and yet so easy to make!!!  What is even better is if you don’t have all of the materials on hand, you can brainstorm to easily come up with some items to substitue and still get a good outcome.  Following is a list of the items you will need:

  • garden stakes
  • twin size white sheets
  • large black sharpie marker (or art paint and paintbrush)
  • twine
  • white spray paint (optional)
  • Scissors
  • 4 or 5 plastic shopping bags (depending on number of ghosts you are making)
  • tons of newspapers, more plastic shopping bags or bubble wrap (only 1 of these items are necessary)

* If you need to get a pack of 6 white flat sheets in a hurry, use this green link.  I ordered mine and got them in one day.  You may have some sheets hanging around for this project and if that is the case, that is even better.  I don’t tend to have twin size these days since my kids are grown!

* I have used string and twine…though both work, twine is my preference.  Twine is just a sturdier medium to use for this project.  Here is a quick link to get   a roll of twine that is perfect for the project.

Making the Ghost Head ~

There are different options when making the head, and I have tried several of them over the years.  This year I worked with a large roll of bubble wrap, which worked great.  However, my favorite method is to stuff a bunch of plastic grocery bags inside one bag.  Obviously, if you are using plastic grocery bags you need to be saving them up for a while because you will need quite a bit.

Here you see how you stuff one bag with whichever medium you have chosen to work with!

Keep stuffing the bag until you get a head of your desired liking.  A good rule to follow is about the size of a basketball.  I actually have started making mine different sizes just for variety.  After all, we all have different size heads right?

Create the “Ghost” Body ~

You will want to get your yard stakes put into the ground first.  Our soil is pretty hard this time of year so I use a mallet to help drive mine down far enough.  It is important to get them in the ground pretty far so they will remain standing on those windy October nights!  Once your stake is stable, tie the head over the top of the stake.

Not looking real ghostly yet huh?  Stick with it!!!!

The next step is easy…drape the sheet over the top.  What I feel is most important here is to pay attention to the way you drape it.  You will want the long part of the sheet to go from from to back in order to cover as much as the garden stake as possible.

Next, you will tie off the head with your twine and create the face to your liking.  *You can create the face ahead of time if you wish, however, I have found I prefer to draw that once my sheet is positioned over the head.  Totally your choice!

Get creative…choose different faces for each ghost!  Here are some fun ideas to get your noggin thinking….

Below are some different faces I have tried:

Final Steps for DIY Yard Ghosts ~

Now you are ready to create the rest of your ghosts.  Obviously, you can create as many as you like.  I tend to stick with 4 to 5 each year.  When placing your next ghost, you will want to leave enough space between each ghost that you can pull out the side of each sheet and tie together to look as if the ghosts are holding hands!

When you are done creating all of your howling ghostly creatures, you can stage other Halloween items around them such as grave markers, zombies, skeletons or witches.  A few years ago, Brad made a small bonfire for our ghosts that help light them up at night.  It creates a fun glow.

Our daughter places them around her tree.  Notice how the one looks like he is peeking out at you ~

Now that you are in the festive Halloween mood….plan some creepy meals like these ➡️➡️Make your own FEET LOAF and BAT SANDWICHES….click here to see how!  Add in some neighborhood fun and go BOO your neighbors.  This is a fun activity for the whole family.  Check out the details here➡️➡️We’ve Been Booed…free printouts and story here!  It’s important to get as much fun into the month of October as possible!

Guys, this seriously is an easy outdoor Halloween decoration that you and your family will love!  Give it a try…and send back pics!  I would love to see how you display yours!  Drop them in the comments once you have completed your own ghostly yard decor!

Happy Halloween my little pretties!

Love~

Mimi

 

 

 

Flat Skelly Skeleton is BACK!

It’s a few days before October and we are getting VERY excited for all the Halloween FUN!  Last year I introduced Flat Skelly Skeleton in an effort to bring Halloween fun to everyone’s mailboxes.  No, not an email mailbox….the snail mail mailbox.  You know, the big thing outside that usually only produces bills and advertisements?!?!  Let’s spuce the inside of that box up with some Halloween fun because Flat Skelly Skeleton is BACK!

What is so wonderful about this project is if a grandparent or other family member lives far away from the littles in their family, they can still be a part of the Halloween fun!  You send the Flat Skelly…they send you pictures all month long!  A link is included above for the original post so you can read more about it, however, I am also including a direct link below as well to get the necessary printouts for this festive project.  I guarantee you that it will bring smiles to the children and you ALL…MONTH….LONG!

Flat Skelly Poem ~

*→Make the introduction to Flat Skelly with this easy to use printout!  You can print it out on your paper type and color of choice.

(pic included for reference…use the green link above for printable version)

*→You will also need this skeleton cutout for Flat Skelly!

(pic included for reference…use the green link above for printable version)

As stated earlier, there is a link above that describes Flat Skelly in detail, but here are the basics.

How Flat Skelly Works ~

  • Print a copy of the poem.  This can be printed on any type and color of paper.  If you are mailing, I suggest you print on regular copy weight of paper for less cost in mailing.
  • Print the skeleton cutout page…you will want to be sure to include a printout of this for each family member receiving the package.  I suggest you print this on card stock to make the skeleton more durable to last through the month.
  • Include 8 brads for each skeleton printed.  (Unless the family you are sending to is a crafty family and already has some of these in stock.    (brad’s are two pronged paper fasteners).  Here is a handy link if you need to order some brads ➡️➡️Brads for crafting.
  • Mail the complete package out to your loved ones!  They will do the cutting and assembling once they receive their fun snail mail.

Now it is up to the grandchildren, nieces/nephews, etc.  As they complete different Halloween crafts, make creepy foods or go to festive activities, they need to take Flat Skelly with them and photograph the memories and send the pics to you!  Voila!  You are not there, BUT it’s the next best thing!!!!

DON’T STOP THERE!!! ~

Please do NOT stop with this one mailing!  You have so many opportunities to send more Halloween fun to those cute little Halloween creatures!  Throughout the month of October, send other small skeleton themed cards, projects, games, treats, etc to keep everyone thinking about Flat Skelly!

Here are some fun ideas for you:

The Skeleton Game ~

The object of this game is to be the first person to assemble the skeleton.

You will need the following:

  • 1 Dice
  • Printout of game rules for reference
  • Printout of skeleton for each person playing

Print out directions for The Skeleton Game Here! ⇐ Use this handy link to print out the game rules.

Print out the quirky skelton here! or if you prefer you can print out more copies of Flat Skelly (link above)  Cut out the pieces (head, 2 complete arms, 2 complete legs and body).

This is an easy game to print out the pieces and send along in the mail.  It usually is safe to assume that the recipients will have a dice to use.

Skeleton Treasure Hunt ~

This game is incredibly easy.  You will need to purchase flat skeleton pieces to send in the mail.  I honestly had a pretty hard time finding flat skeleton faces that would be easy to mail.  I have included a link to one set that I found that would work perfectly, though they are small… Skeleton faces – flat.  You could also find some in party favor sections of different stores.

Print out this simple Skeleton Treasure Hunt instruction page to mail out!  It doesn’t get any easier than that!!!

 (Picture shown for reference!)

Halloween Sticker Face Fun ~

Mail these fun Make A Face sticker sheets to your little ghouls for some craft time.   I know, these do not have a skeleton theme…but it still is a great Halloween project that will be easy to mail out!  This fun set includes 36 pieces of fun ghoulish face making!

These spooky ideas should get you started!  The kids will be so excited that Flat Skelly Skeleton is back!  Remember, this is a fun project for those who live far away OR for those who live in the same town.  Kids LOVE to receive mail….so get moving now to bring some fun to their mailbox!

Happy Haunting!

Mimi (otherwise know as Skelly Shelly during the month of October!)

 

 

 

The ABCs of Gratitude

Here we are…almost to the beginning of yet another new year.  Have you make any resolutions?  Are you still going strong with the current year’s resolutions?  Have you ever considered instead on just being grateful?  Maybe you are saying right now, “I am grateful.”   Well then, I challenge you…how deep does that gratitude go?  Let’s dive into the ABCs of Gratitude!

Like everyone else, I feel I am full of gratitude.  Recently though, I have discovered that I tend to ignore the “small” stuff…you know, take it for granted!  As I sit here typing, I look at my hands (which are not pretty and stylish like so many of my friends and family members), and I realize how blessed I am to have the ability to use my hands in the way I want.  I love to write….and my hands allow me to do that.

Heck, I have a computer!  I am definitely blessed to have a computer.  Have I ever sat and pondered why that is such a blessing?  Of course, it allows me to write….but I have started digging deeper than the obvious.  It allows me to keep in touch with my family and friends, pay my bills, watch videos and movies, research ANY topic my heart desires, create fun graphics for blogging and party planning, research my family geneology, create spreadsheets, and on and on!

What’s Your Point?

My point is, I am learning to focus deeper on the everyday things in my life AND I FEEL GREAT!  Seriously, it has given me such a sense of happiness that I haven’t felt in a long time.  Is this a New Year’s resolution…No!  I just have been reading so many different ideas on finding joy in everyday life, and I believe I have hit the jackpot!

I’m sitting here in awe….seriously everyone….in AWE of just how much this little “project” is making me more grateful and appreciative in my everyday life.  Of course, now I want to share it with you in hopes that you, too, will enjoy it as much as I am.

How Do I “DO” the ABCs of Gratitude?~

The biggest recommendation I have for you is to cut out a little bit of “me” time before you start this project.  Time that you can just sit and focus….for a few minutes, for a half hour or just work on it various times over a period of several days.  That’s the beauty of it….there are no steadfast rules.

Drumroll please……..

Yes, it’s that easy!

If you are like me, you want it to be on some pretty paper, but that’s not necessary.  I am going to provide you with several free downloads if you would like to use those.  However, you can also just write it out on a plain old sheet of paper or in a journal/notebook.

The next part is where it gets a little tricky!   You can’t fill in the blanks with the items/people that you are always thankful for.  You know what I’m talking about…the spouse, the children, the grandchildren and the furry children.  That’s why you need a little quiet time so you can sit and think.

The good part is that nothing….and I mean NOTHING is a stupid answer.  Trust me on this!  You will understand that more once we get to the next step!

Free Downloads ~

I have created some fun printouts for you to use….just click on the green link after each image!

     Greenery Pattern Gratitude Sheet

        Unicorn Pattern Gratitude Sheet

 

          Brown Floral Pattern Gratitude Sheet

 

          Superhero Pattern Gratitude Sheet

Journals & Fun Notebooks ~

You can also use a beautiful journal.  Gorgeous books filled with decorative pages make me happy.  Do you feel that way too?  Stampington & Company has amazing products.

Magical Thinking Journal by Papaya Art     This Magical Thinking Journal is perfect for the project!

Paper House Productions is another favorite online site I love:

        This Batman Mini Notebook could be a fun booklet for kids to use!

           Here is another super cute journal for writing out thoughts!

The Next Step to ABCs of Gratitude ~

Once you print out the form or get your journal, you are ready to get to work.  Think of a word for every letter of the alphabet.  Remember, I told you earlier that there is NO wrong answer.  When I did this, I first thought some of the words seemed somewhat juvenile.  What is interesting is where each word will eventually lead you!  Here is what I came up with:

My very first word was apples.  Shouldn’t it be more substantial like air or authenticity?  Well, those are good answers too, but I went with what my mind first went to.  You may find that as you think of each letter of the alphabet, it is a bit harder to come up with a word you think is “good.”

I chose to write out a word for every letter of the alphabet in one sitting.  You can follow this method or choose to go back and add to it throughout a set amount of time if you wish.  After completing the list, I sat and focused on it.

Being thankful for apples is obvious for the very reason of food and nutrition.  This is where I challenge you to go further.  Why else am I thankful for apples?

  • Wildlife –  Many animals in wildlife love apples, apple peels, etc.  I am so grateful for animals in our world.
  • Compost – Apples are good for compost…they provide a good source of nitrogen.  I love gardening!
  • Songs – There are so many fun songs to sing with your kids about apples….music makes me happy.
  • Dessert – Some very delicious desserts are made with apples…and I love desserts!

Hopefully you are getting the idea here.  Take time to focus on each word and the MANY different reasons you are thankful for it.  You have now gone beyond the obvious and focused on so many things that you may have taken for granted.  Seriously, have you ever even considered being thankful for compost???  I sure haven’t…but I am now!

I have chosen to focus on each word over several days.  It has been very fun to see where each word leads me to!  Give it a try…you may be surprised where it leads you!

Grateful to be sharing this with you…

Mimi

 

Christmas Cookie Party

Can you smell that?  The cozy scent of warm cookies filling the whole house?  One of my favorite holiday activities is making and decorating Christmas cookies.  When my kids were younger, they would each invite a friend over for a day filled with creating Christmas cookie masterpieces as well as playing fun Christmas games.  Fast forward to 2021, these kids are now adults and yet we still get together every year for a Christmas Cookie Party!

Roll Out Cookie Recipe ~

Click Here to Print Recipe of Roll Out Cookies

In the early days I had a fun-filled day planned for all of the kiddos.  Memories of all of the kids rushing in after school all excited about the day’s events are still crystal clear in my mind!  The cookies would already be baked and placed all around the table.  Bowls of brightly colored icing  scattered all around within reach of their little hands.  Next come the paint brushes…you know the ones?  The inexpensive pack of multi-colored kid’s paintbrushes.  These served as the main decorating tool.

The Paintbrush Rule ~

If you ask any of those little bakers today, you will know the golden rule of cookie decorating.  The purple paintbrush goes in the purple icing bowl, the green paintbrush goes in the green icing bowl, the yellow paintbrush goes in the yellow icing bowl….you get the picture!  This keeps our colors fresh.    I guarantee you that when these said kids (now adults) read this they are laughing, as I am a stickler for this rule!

The small multi-colored paint brushes just like these work perfectly!

   

While I have included an easy link for you, I honestly try to gather the paintbrushes whenever I see them at the local Dollar Store or department store.  It is sometimes hard to find all of the colors you need, but collecting them over time usually proves to be successful…as long as you remember where you have stored them! 😉

Small ramekins like these are used for the many icing colors that they insist we have…ok, I insist too! 😉

 

The four primary colors are definitely not enough for this festive day!  You will need a lot of small bowls to make all of the icing colors requested.  It is much more fun if you let them create just the perfect shade of each color.  Once again those memories come rushing in, “Do you think this red is bright enough?”  “Should we do dark purple or light purple…or both?”  “Did someone make black…we need lots of black!”  “Ooooh, what about gray?”

 

The icing recipe itself is simple.  We have tried different recipes but have finally all decided this simple recipe is our favorite.  Printable version of the simple, but oh so good, icing recipe can be reached right here!

Cookie Cutters ~

We all have our favorite cookie cutter.  I continue to add new ones to the mix, but nothing melts my heart more than when I hear, “Wait a minute, did you make any snowglobe cookies?”  “Does anyone have a Christmas tree cookie they can share?” “What was this one??  A penguin, oh yea!”

Yes, sometimes the cookie shape is hard to tell what it is until you bring it to life with some color!  Other times they get broken and still get turned into a major work of art…thanks to Ali!  No, we do not have a Starbucks cookie cutter, but somehow she made the perfect latte cookie!

If I had to choose, I would say the snowglobe is one of everyone’s favorites…

It has been so much fun to watch their artistic ability change over the years.  However, no matter how beautiful they are, the taste is always the same…..delicious!  We are always careful to make an abundance so that everyone has plenty to take home and share….and to sample along the way.

When this tradition first began, the kids would start the afternoon out icing the cookies.  We would then move on to Christmas scavenger hunts and Christmas Bingo.  These activities ended with lots of festive prizes, of course.  I would send the kids home hyped up on sugar but exhausted from a fun-filled day!

The tradition has now moved to evenings as we have to schedule our Christmas Cookie Party around work schedules (that damn adulting thing always interferes!  😜).   We have a Cookie Crew text group that gets busy at the end of November working on the current year’s date.  The phone goes ping, ping, ping and voila…we have a date!  Now they all roll into the house with bottles of wine and fun Christmas gifts to share before we get to decorating!  Oh, did I mention the food?  Yes, we now have lots of savory appetizers as well.  Now instead of me sending them off exhausted and with full bellies the exact opposite happens….oh how the times have changed!

New Decorating Tools ~

*This site contains Amazon affiliate links.  When you buy through any of these links, I will receive a commission at no cost to you.  Thank you for supporting my small business and allowing my blog site to continue to bring you fun & valuable content!

We have recently upped our decorating game.  As Ali put it best, “Oh Shel, this is a game changer!”  The addition of squeeze bottles brought a whole new way of decorating to our Christmas Cookie Party fun!  Wow, these are so much fun and allow for more precise decorating.

A cookie scribe is a pointy tool that is used to redistibute icing and make fun swirls on glazed cookies.  The ones below have cute snowflakes on the top for a Christmas theme.

There are also some super cute decorating scribes on Etsy too!  These festive gingerbread scribes by Equinox Pastry Supply are a definite plus for any cookie decorating party!

Addi demonstrates for us…

As the years go by, we add new little ones to the crew and continue making wonderful memories.  Had I known years ago how special this tradition was going to be, I would have urged others to do the same!

One thing I know for sure is that these girls will continue this tradition and that makes me a very happy Mimi!

Photo Gallery of More Recent Years ~

(Some year I will go back to my old files to add pictures from the younger years!)

   

   

 

Now everyone get out there and get to baking…..enjoy your Christmas season!  And to you, my precious Christmas Cookie Party crew…I love you…thank you for all of the wonderful memories…and cheers to many more!

Much love~

Mimi

 

P.S.  Check out a similar post I wrote about this last year (with less details), however there are some of the fun cookie cutter links included in this one!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advent Snail Mail With Gizmo ❄

Ahhh…December!  The days are filled with kids anxiously counting down every…single…day until Christmas Eve.  Many families make the countdown fun with various advent calendars filled with candies and trinkets.  My kids loved these…as do my grandchildren!!!  Now that I am a Mimi (grandma), I have decided to create my own type of December fun while not interfering with my daughter’s advent calendar that she does with her children.  This is how advent snail mail with Gizmo came to life!

Meet Gizmo~

This fun little guy is Gizmo the fuzzy snowflake.  He will show up in the kids’ mailbox throughout the month of December spreading Christmas cheer.  This little guy will be a bit different as he will not show up daily.  The kids will never know which days he will appear, which will add a bit of suspenseful fun!

Gizmo’s Festive Responsibilities ~

The advent snail mail with Gizmo will begin on December 1 of each year.  Gizmo will introduce himself to the kids with a letter and a gift.

Use this free link to print out as many copies as needed:  Christmas Advent Snail Mail With Gizmo

Fun Gift/Craft Ideas to Include In Advent Snail Mail With Gizmo ~

This being the inaugural year with Gizmo, I have decided to focus mostly on books.  There will be other small items at different times, but this is a great time to carve out some quality time reading to the kids.  Also, books are the gifts that keep on giving!  Of course, my first thought was Christmas books, which I will indeed include on some days.  However, I read a fun article about picture books adapted from famous movies and tv shows…how fun!!!  Justine, from Life In Stepping Stones, includes some great book ideas here…check them out with this link!

Books Adapted from Movies & Shows – (some with Christmas theme and some that are not) ~

These are the books that I decided to start with:

Home Alone

Elf

Back to the Future

Life Is Better With Friends

E.T. The Extraterrestrial

Coloring Activities ~

DIY Bookmarks to Color

Disney Christmas Coloring Book

 

Other Fun Ideas ~

Family Christmas Puzzle – With 3 Different Size Pieces for All Ages to Enjoy

Talking Elf Plush

Christmas Bingo

 

Christmas Tree Craft Kit

How this Works ~

After sending the initial letter to the children, you will randomly send small items of your choosing and add the 2nd Gizmo mail printout (link below)  with each succedding mailing.  I actually hand deliver the items to my grandchildren as they live close enough to me.  However, I always leave them in the mailbox for them to find when they get home from their school or other activity.  (you may be asking, I thought you said this was the inagural Gizmo…it is!  I have adapted this from my earlier post, Flat Skelly Skeleton – Halloween Snail Mail Fun.)  They have so much fun checking the mailbox each day!

Gizmo Mail Printout To Be Included With Each Gift

You decide how often you want Gizmo to visit.  It can be once a week, every other day, or any number of random days you would like to make deliveries.  Print out the above link for each time you make a delivery…and be sure to write in the number of days left until Christmas.

The thought process on the gifts that I am choosing is togetherness!  I am choosing to not include individual candies/gifts/activities for each individual child, but instead sending items for them to do together.  Christmas creates a lot of anxiety in children and I believe trying to do fun things as a group helps promote getting along!  (Does this alway work?  Of course not, but we have to keep trying, right?)

Gizmo Snail Mail Recap ~

Since this is a new type of festive fun to have with kids, I am ending this post with a recap of just the essentials.

    1. Print out one copy of the Introduction from Gizmo Deliver this printout along with your first gift on December 1
    2. Choose how often you want to make Gizmo deliveries throught the month of December
    3. Print out as many of the Gizmo Countdown pages as you choose to make deliveries!  You can print these all at once or come back to this handy link each time you are preparing to make an Advent Snail Mail With Gizmo delivery!
    4. Be sure to write in the number of days left until Christmas on each Gizmo Countdown page.
    5. Mail or hand deliver your festive gifts!
    6. Ask the family members to send you pictures of the kids enjoying their advent gifts so you can be a part of the fun!

Now…get out there and enjoy the holidays!

Much love~

Mimi (& Gizmo)

Christmas Gift Ideas!!🎄

Hello friends~

12-12-21 Update ~ I have added new deals in RED!  Be sure to check back regularly!!!

Christmas is around the corner and I would love to help you out with your shopping needs as best I can.  I have been given promo codes for various items that last for specific amounts of time.  Some specials run longer than others and all are available until the date stated OR until they run out of the product.

This is not my typical type of post, however, I do like to pass along savings to you…my friends and loved ones!  I love sharing good deals!  Yes, I do receive a small commission but this in no way affects your price…it is a win win!  I seriously just LOVE to pass along good things!  Are you looking for something specific?  Let me know and I will keep my out for you!

I will update this page every 1 to 3 days…depending upon when new codes are given to me.  SO CHECK BACK REGULARLY.  I will make sections with labels for each one stating the date that each sale is good for.   Once a date has passed, I will remove all items under that date for ease of reading.

Please note, items will show at the regular price until you go to check out.  The sale price will show before you place your order.  I believe the discount will decrease if you purchase more than one item at a time, so please pay close attention to the prices.

 

Promo Codes Good Through 12-15-21 (or while supplies last!) ~

Computer Folding Desk

Regular Price $82.00

Sale Price With Link Above $41.00

5 Foot Long Tunnel

Regular Price $15.44

Sale Price With Link Above $12.35

Promo Codes Good Through 12-18-21 (or while supplies last!) ~

Learning Tablet for Children-Laugh & Learn 123ABC Electronic Activity Pad with Lights, Music, Content for infants too!

Regular Price $79.99

Sale Price With Link Above $16.00

Promo Codes Good Through 12-21-21 (or while supplies last!) ~

Up to 20% Off

Simple Joys by Carter’s

Up to 20% off Simple Joys by Carter's and Moon and Back by Hanna Andersson Baby Toddler and Kid's Apparel

The Importance of Family Traditions

Family traditions are the glue that holds families together through the years.  As you are reading this, you may recall long-established customs or you may just be thinking about a new tradition you started with your immediate family.  Regardless of the number of years you have celebrated each one, the importance of family traditions is tantamount to strong family bonding.

Small Quiz ~ ✏

Do me a favor.  Take a few minutes to set everything aside…your phone, computer, tv, game, etc.  Sit quietly for a moment and think about what family traditions you celebrate.  Think first of the holidays.  Are there traditions you do with your children that possibly your parents did with you as a child?  Have you started new ones since you have become a parent?  Let’s go a step further….write those down.

Now, let’s think about seasonal traditions.  Activities that may not tie in exactly with a particular holiday.  Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter…write those down too.  What about nightly family rituals, such as reading a book.  There may also be weekly or monthly family traditions, such as family game night, daddy dates, or family service days.  Let’s not forget birthdays!   Are you starting to recall more traditions than you even imagined?  We cling to traditions, sometimes when we don’t even realize it.

These events have been shown to strengthen family bonds and reinforce family values.  It warms my heart when my grandchildren will ask a question pertaining to a specific holiday.  For instance, we love to put on our pajamas, make popcorn and hot cocoa and pile in the car to drive around and look at Christmas lights.  We also always get Chinese takeout on the night we decorate our Christmas tree.  The grandchildren, now at ages 3 & 6, ask each year if we are going to do it again.  They remember and look forward to those special moments.

Holidays ~

There are numerous holidays:  Federal, State, Religious, Observance, and Sports.  There is a list below that includes some of the more known holidays here in the states, but it is certainly not all encompassing.   The important thing to remember about family traditions is quality over quantity.  It is so much fun to create reasons to celebrate, but don’t overwhelm yourself or your family.  There is nothing more depressing than a child that is let down because a parent doesn’t follow through.  So keep old traditions and maybe start a few new ones too!

  • New Year’s Day
  • Valentine’s Day
  • St. Patrick’s Day
  • Easter
  • Mother’s Day
  • Father’s Day
  • Fourth of July
  • Halloween
  • Thanksgiving
  • Christmas
  • New Year’s Eve

Nightly or Weekly ~

Here are some ideas of activities the family can do nightly or once a week:

  • Reading a book together
  • Family game night
  • Pizza night, taco night, Italian night (you get the drift)
  • Evening walk or Sunday walk
  • Sunday special breakfast
  • Movie night
  • Family meals together…a tough one but oh so worth it!
  • Making a story up together…one person start and give a few sentences then another person takes over, etc.
  • Highs & Lows – every morning or evening have everyone tell the best and worst part of their day

Take the read aloud family challenge – such a cool idea! ➡➡Check out this fun Family Read Aloud 100 Book Challenge with journal!

Monthly ~

Here are some ideas of activities the family can do together monthly.  Choose one day of each month and plan your activity.  Whether you do the same activity monthly or change it, start with the day and get it on the calendar!  This gives everyone something to look forward to and also helps with planning.  Stick to it!!!  This is what makes it a tradition!

  • Hiking at different parks each month
  • Zoo/Museum/Sporting Event/Play or Muscial – plan something like this for each month
  • Family service project – Work together on a monthly plan of where you can help out in the community
  • Movie Night – this is also listed in weekly, but maybe you need to spread it out more
  • Cook together as a family
  • Game Night – this is also listed in weekly, but maybe you need to spread it out more
  • Mommy & Daddy date night – let each child have special time with the parents

Random ~

  • Journal – keep a family journal somewhere for everyone to write in when they have something they need to talk about
  • Back to school day – make it special every year
  • Hooky day – everyone gets a day off for crazy fun family time

Check out this fun Family Journal with prompts that make it easy for the whole family to use ➡➡Check out the Creative Family Journal with writing prompts here!!!

This is a very small list of ideas.  Once again, choose what is most important to your family and follow through.  There is no need to have so many traditions that you are overwhelmed.  They are meant to be special times bonding the family together.

They can be simple.  Lauren loves going to the her grandparent’s place at the lake.  The kids know they are going to get on the golf cart and zoom all over.  It is something they look foward to every time.  They then head to the lake shore and take pictures.  How fun it has been to see the kid’s growth over these last few years with the same background.  Similar to using a yardstick to measure children’s annual growth on a wall.

In October, my mother puts out a large light up pumpkin.  It seems like that pumpkin has been around FOREVER!  However, the kids love to have their picture taken with Grandma every year.  Likewise, when our children were small we would take the same picture of all of the grandchildren at Easter around the same tree at their Grandma’s!  It’s a small thing, but it’s tradition!

               

Another fun tradition is to make food to match the color of the current holiday.  You can be as simple or creative as you like.  Believe me, the kids will have a LOT of fun with this.  I will be honest though, sometimes they turn out as a flop…these things happen.  Probably the worst one my kids remember is green oatmeal for St. Patrick’s Day…it looked just like vomit.  We laughed so hard!

     

Birthdays ~

Birthdays are a pretty big deal in our family.  The birthday person wakes up to a decorated bedroom door  (Check out the Birthday door idea by clicking here!), gets to choose what type of cake and dinner and also gets to choose the activity.  Deciding on the activity is the best part for me…yes, we still do it as adults!  I absolutely love to find different things to do as a family each year.  Bowling, paddle boats on the canal or hiking to lunch on the Monon have been some of my favorites.  As long as we are together, I am happy.  Now, for those of you who know Brad, it is a different story.   Nothing makes him happier than all being on the deck and him grilling!  That’s nice and relaxing too!

Schedules are hectic….times are crazy!  However, this is one thing you can make a point to do with your family.  Sometimes we simply forget about the importance of family traditions….but our kids don’t!  I hope you will share some of your family traditions below!

Hugs – Mimi

 

Pita Bread Stuffed Grilled Cheese

Scoop it, dip it, stuff it…yep, I’m talking pita bread here!  What a fun and versatile bread.  My personal favorite is stuffing it with lots of goodies, so what could be better than some hot oozy cheese!  Pita bread stuffed grilled cheese…BLT (actually BST (spinach) and/or Caprese Style.  You have got to read on for this delightful recipe that can be made for breakfast, lunch or dinner!

BLT or Caprese Style? ~

We took it a step further and offered options.  I prepared all of the ingredients ahead of time and displayed on cutting boards and in bowls.  With this method, each person got to personalize their pita bread stuffed grilled cheese.  Of course, you do not have to always do it this way, but it is definitely a fun option.

BLT (BLS for Spinach) ~

Ingredients ~
  • Bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • Cheese – mozzarella, pepper jack, provolone – shredded
  • Spinach – chopped
  • Onions – diced
  • Tomatoes – chopped
  • Seasonings
    • Garlic powder/salt
    • Everything But the Bagel
    • Onion Powder
    • Italian Seasoning
  • Butter or Olive Oil
Directions ~
  1. Brown bacon and crumble once cooled.
  2. Chop spinach
  3. Dice onion
  4. Place all ingredients in separate dish or lay out on cutting board
  5. Have each person choose their ingredients and put in medium size bowl.  Stir until well blended.
  6. Slice pita bread so that it opens to a pocket.  *It is better to have ones that are NOT already split in the middle for easier grilling.
  7. Stuff pita bread filling to the back and moving forward until stuffed plump.
  8. Cover both sides of pita with butter or olive oil. *I buttered one side, added preferred spice and then placed on griddle.  I then buttered the other side while it was on the griddle.
  9. Cook until desired doneness and serve!
*Notice the small bowl to the right.  This is the bowl we used to mix the individual ingredient choices.

You can offer choices of condiments for dipping as well.  Options such as ranch dressing or sour cream pair well with the BLT pita bread stuffed grilled cheese.

Most of the family chose this style but DEFINITELY used different ingredients.  Max had bacon and mozzarella only with no spices. Uncle Eli stuffed his with bacon, onion, spinach, mozzarella balls and pepper jack cheese.  He then seasoned the outside with the Everything But The Bagel seasoning.    Lauren chose bacon, spinach, tomatoes, mozarella and pepper jack cheese and then seasoned with garlic.

As you can see, each person’s individual tastes took a big part in making these a success!

Caprese Style ~

Ingredients ~
  • Spinach – chopped
  • Mozarella balls
  • Mozarella – shredded
  • Fresh Basil – chopped
  • Tomatoes – chopped
  • Balsamic reduction
Directions ~
  1. Chop spinach.
  2. Chop fresh basil.
  3. Chop tomatoes.
  4. Slice pita bread so that it opens to a pocket.  *It is better to have ones that are NOT already split in the middle for easier grilling.
  5. Stuff pita bread filling to the back and moving forward until stuffed plump.
  6. Cover both sides of pita with butter or olive oil. *I buttered one side, added preferred spice and then placed on griddle.  I then buttered the other side while it was on the griddle.
  7. Cook until desired doneness and serve!

As you can see, the steps are the same.  Only the ingredients are different.  I drizzled mine with a balsamic reduction and it was FAB!  *I actually keep the Alessi brand of Balsamic Reduction on hand for many different recipes – delish!

I’m going to be honest here, we made these for dinner just last night!  The funny part is I made one again for brunch this morning!  I kid you not…I am obsessed!  They just add a different element from the traditional grilled cheese.

Now, I’m including links to some of the ingredients I mentioned.  You, of course, can get them at the store.  I am including these more for you to have a visual.

I seriously LOVE this sxxx…Alessi Balsamic Reduction! I have it in the fridge at all times.  In the summer, I love to throw together a quick spinach, mozzarella, tomato and fresh basil salad.  I also use it in a lot of appetizers!

If you have not yet tried Anything But the Bagel Seasoning, do yourself a favor and do so!  Try this test…pull up Pinterest, type in Anything But the Bagel Seasoning and look at the results.  One would think you would get a lot of results with just the seasoning…but NOOO…you get all kinds of recipes using the seasoning.  I’m telling you, this seasoning is awesome for so many things!

Did you love the cutting board in the pics as much as I do? Check out the link here for own charcuterie cutting/serving board!   This board is so versatile and fun!

 

 

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