Garden with Petites: Part 1

Gardening has always been a passion of mine, since I was very small.  Some of my earliest memories are gardening with my gram, planting seeds and watching them grow.  So now that I have my own petites who just so happen to love gardening (thank goodness) every spring becomes this incredibly magical time where we talk more and more about the seeds, garden planning, the science, healthy food, ecosystems and so much more.  So we’ve been reading an absolute ton of books about gardens both fiction as well as non-fiction in preparation for spring and our planting.

The Children's Garden

For this first installment of Gardening with Petites, we are sharing The Children’s Garden: Growing Food in the City by Carole Lexa Schaefer illustrated by Pierr Morgan (Little Bigfoot, 2017) which is hitting shelves on Tuesday!  This is a story that is very much a homegrown story all about a children’s garden that is an actual garden here in Seattle.  If you don’t happen to live in a larger city a community garden may be a new concept, I know that I was unaware of just what a pea patch or community garden was until I moved to Seattle.  The premise is that community members come together to grow food and then can share or donate the extra food that they grow.

The Children's Garden Inside 1

This is a story all about the joy, learning, respect, community, responsibility and teamwork.  This book tells the story of children from the neighborhood who ride their bikes, pull their wagons and walk with their friends in tow to their community garden.  This is their garden, they are allowed to listen, see, smell, touch and taste – because it is all theirs.

The Children's Garden 2

This story teaches all about what the children learn from the garden, the important role that worms play in this important ecosystem that allows their seeds to grow.  The illustrations are fantastic in that they depict the diversity of the children coming to their community garden.  The vibrant illustrations are chock-full of birds, insects, and the lush colors of summer.  This book depicts exactly what you would envision a community garden would look like; with raised beds using mixed materials and assorted pots and children everywhere planting and harvesting all that their hard work has produced.

The Children's Garden 4

There are so many elements of this book that I, as a mom, teacher and gardener find valuable – the lessons that are taught are so important (they are also taught in a very subtle way), your petite will be inspired to get out and grow things, maybe even try some new foods they have been reticent to try before, they will learn new responsibilities and that through hard work and patience that there is a reward.

The Children's Garden 3

What my petites loved about reading this book is that we are currently planting seeds and planning our garden and they loved seeing other kids planting their gardens.  The illustrations are absolutely gorgeous, you will have to read it a few times to catch all of the tiny details that Pierr Morgan has included, the tiny snails or quail chicks.  This book inspires, empowers, excites, and fosters pride! Reading The Children’s Garden along with a trip to your local garden center will ensure that your petite has a summer filled with gardening fun.

Bloggers Note: This book was given to me by Little Bigfoot in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions shared in this post are my own.  Thank you to Little Bigfoot for permission to use images from The Children’s Garden in this post.

 

 

 

 

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Friday Five and a Personal Note

Hello all, this is a little bit more of a personal post than I normally do.  I usually mention my girls, but don’t give away too many details about their little lives.  However, this week, I am going to share about my oldest and some big stuff that is coming up.  So here are the five reasons I am making it through this week without losing my mind.

 Five Reasons I am Making it Through this week

  1.  My husband is literally the most amazing person I know, he keeps me laughing as well as sane
  2.  My girls bring insane amounts of joy and love into my life
  3.  I have an amazing support system in my friends and family
  4.  I try really hard to make lists, even if sometimes I add things I’ve already done, just so I can cross them off
  5.  Not going to sugar coat this one, caffeine, lots of caffeine

Alright here goes…I have shared in the past that my 5 year old has epilepsy.  She was diagnosed when she was 4 years old.  She has had many different tests and one hospital stay in the past year.   She has been on a few different meds and we found one that was working, in fact so much so that we hadn’t seen a single seizure in 8 months.  However, that all changed as we were boarding a plane to Disneyland in December and she had a seizure.  Her seizures, started happening again on a more regular basis and started to really impact her.

Having a petite that has a medical condition like epilepsy can be completely devastating, and maybe not for the reasons you might think.  Of course, the obvious, it isn’t fair, but because sometimes it can rob her of experiences or change her experiences and that is a tough pill to swallow.  Sometimes it is hard, because you want to keep your petites safe and you can’t, you can only do your best, and sometimes that isn’t good enough.  Other times, it is that you see everyone else with their perfectly healthy children and you get a little jealous.  But, that’s not helpful.  Sometimes it is the guilt you feel that somehow you caused it, maybe it was the coffee you drank or the stress when you were pregnant or just faulty genetics – again not helpful.  At times it is when people say I don’t know how you do it, or when I have a bad day I just think about you and I feel better, not realizing that what they are really saying is you’re my it could be worse person.  Sometimes it is just that you feel helpless. Sometimes, the hardest times, are when the worrying and fears of it all get to you and you feel like crying.

With all that said, there are some things that I have learned over the past year.  As parent’s we do the best we can.  My husband is my strongest support and I am lucky to be in the foxhole with him.  We fight and advocate and rally around our petites fiercely.  We sometimes need to vent and finding someone who will listen and not try to solve the problem is invaluable.  Having a support system is critical, whether it’s a group on a Facebook page or a circle of friends.  Sometimes it is just trying to let it go and know that tomorrow will be another day that you made it through this one.  The most important thing that I have learned through all of this is that my daughter is an amazing little girl, who is incredibly brave, compassionate, empathetic and smart; that epilepsy is something she has, but is not who she is.

Our petite is going into the hospital for a seven night admission.  I am trying desperately to get everything organized and ready so that it is as smooth as possible.  I will write more about the planning for such a long hospital stay soon.

Petite Knights and Princesses

The girls received some really fabulous books for Christmas one in particular from their Aunt and Uncle – is a counting book, but not what you might expect.

Over at the Castle

Over at the Castle by Boni Ashburn with illustrations by Kelly Murphy is a story all about patience and counting.  This is a story that is so much fun to read, it has a very lyrical property based on the folk song ‘Over the Meadow’ and the counting that takes place is almost like a scavenger hunt for the petites.  It all starts out as an a mother dragon and her little one are sitting in the sun.  The counting continues and is a fun look at castle life.  It continues through their day and ends with a very unexpected ending.  I love the smooth illustrations, how the little dragon is clearly excited for something to happen all day and has to patiently wait while watching all that is happening at the castle below.  My petite commented on how it would be hard to wait all day for something fun to happen.

The next book I wanted to share with you is also a counting book about a more an urban dragon.

Have You Seen My Dragon
In Have You Seen My Dragon? by Steve Light you will find a charming protagonist as he searches the city for his missing and quite mischievous dragon.  The illustrations in this book, especially of the dragon have a Celtic feel to them.  The city scape that Steve Light has created is so detailed and intricate, you cannot possibly see all that there is to see in one reading.

Another aspect that my girls enjoyed is the items that you are counting, the dragon and protagonist are the only items that are in color in the book.  Making finding the busses or hot dogs all the more easy for tinnier petites.  I love this story, I think it’s brilliantly illustrated.

Perfectly Paired

These books would be perfectly paired with any of these amazing building block sets.

Fairy Tale Block set

Fairy Tale Blocks: 35 pieces, two horses, carriage that rolls, prince & princes

Plan Toys Fairy Tale Blocks A few years ago the petite received this really fun building block set from her Auntie, this building set is from Plan Toys, if you haven’t heard about these toys here is why they are fabulous:

PlanToys® is not only well-known for the first company in the world to manufacture wooden toys from preservative-free rubberwood, it is one of the leading company to create new material and process to minimize waste up to zero.

I love a toy company that has a mission like this, that is making really great toys, that last, kids love and are good for the environment.  The girls love these blocks and have had hours of time building and playing with them.  There are tons of really special block sets to suit your petites building needs. Plan Toys Fantasy Blocks or Plan Toys Castle Blocks

Fantasy Blocks

Fantasy Blocks: 60 pieces, functional catapult, king & queen, knight, two horses and dragon

Castle Blocks

Castle Blocks: 35 pieces, knights, horse

The girls do a lot of building and we have looked into adding to their current collection of blocks.  One of the sets that we found that we wanted to get on the floor and play with are from TreeHaus. Treehaus Wood Castle Blocks

TreeHause Castle Blocks

Castle Blocks: 74 pieces

I love it when a new book is introduced to the petites and they immediately want to go and embark on an activity, whether it is drawing or building with blocks.  These two books are inspiring and will surely inspire your petites to create something grand.

Buzzy Tales & Toys for Petites

This summer my petite family spent some time in Savannah and it was amazing.  We loved Savannah, more specifically I feel deeply in love with the Savannah Bee Company, their honey, products and mission.  This sparked a huge interest in bees from my daughter.  Ah Honey Honey

If you’re new to my blog check out my post about our favorite shop The Savannah Bee Company.  After going there my petite had a renewed interest in bees.  Since we spend a lot of time in the summer gardening we had previously had a lot of conversations about bees.  In Savannah we got to sample tons of honey which was awesome.

When we returned I wanted to keep the interest in bees buzzing.  So we pulled out some of our favorite bee books and toys.  I figure it can’t hurt to start placing emphasis on the importance of bees when it comes to our food.

Bee & Me

Bee & Me – by Elle J. Mcguinnes is a huge favorite of my 16 month old, she loves watching the bee move and squeals with delight when she turns the pages on her own.  However, there is a message that is important for older petites as well, that even if we are scared of getting stung that bees do really important work.

These Bees Count!

These Bees Count! by Allison Formento with illustrations by Sarah Snow is a great book part of a series of counting books.  This particular book has petites going on a field trip to a farm, not just any farm, but the Busy Bee Farm.  There are so many things about this book that I love, the farmer is a woman.  Formento uses words like apiaries and pollination.  The illustrations show a diverse class of kids.  My 5 year old loved hearing about how honey is made from inside the bees stomachs and that they spit it into the honeycomb.  There is also an opportunity for counting  which is always engaging for young readers.

I think that this is a great book to be used in classrooms where students are learning about ecosystems, gardens and communities.  This book is a great addition to the home library as well.

Hide and Seek Bees

Hide and Seek Beehive Toy is from Lakeshore learning and has been a favorite of my youngest petite for a while.  When she was 8 months old she received this as a gift and has loved playing with the bees and hive ever since.  The idea is that it teaches object permanence when you put the bees in they are still in there.  What I like best about this is that each bee does something different.  Some rattle, crinkle, squeak etc.  There are five adorable bees that at 17 months she still loves taking in and out of the hive.

Anyone else out there reading books about bees with their petites, I’m always looking for new titles to share with my girls.

Happy Reading,
Erin

 

 

Fostering the love of cooking in the petites

 

When I was small I used to spend a lot of time having sleepovers with my Gram and Papa.  We would spend time watching public television and specifically we would watch three shows that I remember vividly.  The Frugal Gourmet, Cooking with Julia Child and Victory Garden.  I remember these times so vividly that recently I was watching Downton Abbey and heard the beginning intro and welled up because I so fondly remember watching these shows with my Gram.  Gram was a great baker, I remember making cookies and cakes sometimes pies and breads.  I remember the rituals that would go into each of these recipes, how we would wash our hands and lay out the ingredients, these are rituals that thirty years later I am working to create with my petites.  Since Z was little I have put her on the counter in her bumbo chair and have her watch while I explained step by step the items I was preparing.  Now, it is something that she chooses as a choice activity – cooking projects.  She loves them.  z

I, strongly believe in the importance of spending time cooking together in the kitchen with the petites. I think that it helps them to understand what goes into eating healthy food, it promotes conversations that I don’t believe would happen otherwise and it spurs creativity.  Since Z was big enough to hold a spoon, she has been helping me stir.

My petite likes to try new foods, since she was small we’ve had a rule that she has to try everything and we call it an adventure bite, usually this is said louder in a sort of Mighty Mouse tone and I like to throw in a festive right arm air pump.  This little gem has worked, she has never, seriously NEVER refused to take an adventure bite, we might have to be persuasive or loud about the ADVENTURE BITE, but she does try everything.

Now I try to make sure that we do cooking projects at least weekly if not more.  This week we are making a German Chocolate Cake.  This is by far one of the most delicious cakes I have ever made, if you like German Chocolate, you have to make this…you will not regret it.

I’ve been looking at the different sites and pins on Pinterest about cooking with kids, and the specific recipes, but honestly, in my opinion I think that if you’re up for it then you should cook any recipe you want.  I’ve given my daughter cooking magazines and had her look at the pictures and then we’ve made the recipe together.

Benefits of cooking with the petites:

  • working on basic math skills
  • fine motor skills benefit heavily benefit from cutting skills
  • working on sequencing – following directions and steps
  • talking about food and how it’s made promotes healthy eating habits
  • making food give children a sense of purpose and accomplishment
  • promotes healthy discussion about food
  • this is life long skill you’re promoting
  • kids are more likely to eat the foods that they’ve helped to make
  • promotes healthy eating habits
  • creates memories
  • creates other interests: finding out where food comes from, growing your own food and general excitement

Cons of cooking with petites:

  • It’s a little more messy
  • It takes a little more time

As you can clearly see the benefits outweigh the cons

When you think about all of the benefits and how enjoyable cooking can be this is really something I feel strongly about promoting in my girls.  I think that by showing them how to make healthy meals they will have a better relationship with food as they grow older.  Not to mention being able to make an amazing birthday cake that tastes better than a store-bought cake….well yes please, now that is a skill I want to foster in the girls.

What are your favorite things to cook with your petites?

Perfect Presents for Petite Engineers

Perfect Presents for Petite EngineersIggy Peck Architect

I have been very intrigued by these really unique books for young girls and boys that are written by Andrea Beaty with illustrations by David Roberts.
Iggy Peck, Architect was published in 2007, this book is intended for 4 to 8 year olds, however, after having read this story, this would be a great read aloud for the classroom, up through 8th grade, possibly an art class if students were designing structures.  Iggy Peck is a curious young boy who builds structures out of just about anything, diapers, fruit, he is quite resourceful.  This book is ideal for young ones who like to build and create.  The illustrations are colorful and inspiring, I imagine they look like the images that would flow through an architects mind.  I guarantee you’ll be pulling out graph paper and colored pencils to help your young Iggy Peck’s draft their creations.

In 2013, Andrea Beaty created another stunning picture book featuring a cleaver young girl Rosie Revere, Engineer.  Rosie  is a shy young girl who builds amazing things but hides them away afraid of failure.  Until her great-great-aunt Rose comes for a visit and helps her to see just how amazing her engineering is, even if at first, it’s a flop.  She helps Rosie to understand that even a flop is a good thing and that trying again is no failure.  The lyrical patterning to these stories makes them very fun and engaging to read.  My daughter loves this book, she loves looking at the designs Rosie creates.

These are books that you want your kids to connect with, to feel inspired by.  These are stories that might help the young dreamers and tinkers believe that anything is possible.  I love that it is a great story with characters you can connect with and a resounding message that anything you put your mind to is possible.

Let’s get to it, I love reading a story with my petite and having her jump up to get working on her inspirations.  These engineering toys would be perfect to support your petites in their own engineering pursuits.

Goldie Blox and The Spinning Machine Goldie Blox and the Parade Float Goldie Blox and the Dunk Tank

Goldie Blox and The Spinning Machine | Goldie Blox and the Parade Float |  Goldie Blox and the Dunk Tank

 

Engino Structures and Bridgerpulleys
Engino Structures And Bridges  | Engino Mechanical Science: Pulleys

I am so excited about these Goldie Blox sets, they feature a book and lots of pieces to complete the task, whether it is skill building or an engineering concept.  They are designed for young girls ages 4-9.  In thinking about girls, we unfortunately have many young girls who lose interest in science and math at a very young age, the goal of these Goldie Blox activities are to inspire girls to become engineers and builders in a predominately male dominated field.  Another great resource for engineering toys for kids is Engino, they have created kits for building structures, cams & cranks, gears, wheels, pulleys, simple machines and levers.  The Engino kits are geared toward a slightly older age set 6-14.

I am always looking for our next favorite book, are there other books out there like Rosie Revere and Iggy Peck that you and your petites love?  Tell me about them in the comments, I would love to check them out.

Happy Monday!
Erin

 

 

 

Boiled Peanuts and Sweet Tea

Ocean

We just returned from a trip to South Carolina.  We used to live there many years ago for a very short period of time before we got incredibly homesick for family, foggy mornings and mountains.  However, both my husband and I have started to look back on our time in SC in a very romantic way.  We talk about the huge moon rises we would watch on the Isle of Palms connector, the sound of cicadas and of course our love affair with the food.

Now that almost a decade has passed we made a return to our beloved South Carolina.  It was an amazing trip, we learned some very important things in the first few hours of it.  Number one: babies don’t like to sleep on the red-eye.  Number two: when your baby doesn’t sleep on the red-eye, people around you get moody.  Whoopsies…lesson learned.  Number three: spending time with family and loved ones is really what it is all about.

We stayed with family on Pawley’s Island and loved every minute of it.  I had nightly cooking lessons by my husbands great-aunt, and surprisingly enough neither of us needed to diet when we returned…even though many sticks of butter, pounds of side pork and fat back were used in the making of our suppers.

Another thing that we learned or I suppose confirmed is that the ocean does really have a restorative power to it.  We were able to walk across the street to the beach daily and enjoyed building sand castles and playing in the surf.  Even when the petite encountered a jellyfish and got a pretty substantial sting on her leg – she still rallied and wanted to go for swim in the waves the following day.  We had such a fun time exploring places we used to go to all the time and ones we thought the petites would like the best.

We stayed in Pawley’s Island which is a slice of heaven, there is no place that I have seen that has such deep blues and such stunning greens, the sunsets that can literally take you breath away.  In the afternoon storms roll in and just for a moment it becomes so dark it would appear to be night, but then the sun shines through and blue skies prevail.  It is one of my  favorite places.  Of course like most places it is the people who you are with that make it so incredibly special.

toes in the sand

For our small day trips we drove south to Sullivan’s Island.  We used to go there all the time to different bars and restaurants.  This time we stopped in at Poe’s Tavern.  It is a super cute little restaurant and bar, themed with fun Edgar Allan Poe things, after all Poe was stationed at Fort Moultrie where he spent 14 months, it is said that during this time he came up with the idea for The Gold Bug about a mystical beetle who leads people to treasure.  They have some really fun swag and when we lived there I never ended up buying anything, so our trip was mainly to get me a Poe’s shirt…mission accomplished.  The beach at Sullivan’s Island is also really gorgeous, same goes for the beaches at Isle of Palms.  All very close to fun bars and food.  Yum.

We also of course wanted to drive by our old neighborhood and check everything out, I couldn’t believe how much things had changed in 10 years, at numerous times I had to ask where we were, and was totally lost and confused.

In Charleston there are just so many incredibly fun places, we only spent a little bit of time there, but we did go to some pretty fun places that you might want to check out if you happen to find yourself in Charleston.

Battery and White Point Gardens – this is a great place to walk along nad see the water, check out the ships and just explore a little bit.  If you are a history buff this is a great place to start, there are civil war cannons along this defensive seawall.  You are able to see Fort Sumter in the distance, if you walk along the promenade you will have views of some spectacular mansions.  In White Point Gardens you can rest under the shade of gorgeous oaks and even sit in a lovely gazebo.  It is a fabulous place to start your Charleston adventure.

IMG_8009

 

From there we drove to the City Market, we were in search of a few things.  My husbands great aunt had been referencing this cook book called Charleston receipts that was put together by the Charleston Junior League in 1950, it has 750 recipes in it and is one of those southern staples.  I just had to get my hands on one of these, so we headed to the market in search of the book.  (I will say you can buy one on amazon for a little bit less than the market, but you don’t get to say that you bought this awesome cookbook at the oldest city market in the south).  This market is amazing, they have so many fun things, you can buy sweet grass baskets here (although if you are driving north up 17 you would most likely find a better deal on the side of the road at one of the little basket stands.  If you are heading south, I got a great basket at Carolina Cider Company in Yemassee on the way to Savannah.  The market is also a place where you can haggle a bit, I’m not talking flea market haggle, but if you feel comfortable you can try to get a “deal”.  We also found that there was a vendor who was selling maps, old newspapers and Harper’s Weekly’s.  This is a really fun place to stop in and browse.  We ended up purchasing a reproduction of a Charleston map.  Read more about my map fiasco here.  This is a very busy place, you could easily spend hours here checking everything out.  They have something for just about everyone, it is a must stop.  The market is open everyday of the year except Christmas.  Monday-Sunday 9:30-5:30 and Friday – Saturday 6:30-10:30.

If you’re not going south to Savannah, you need to stop in at the Savannah Bee Company at the Charleston location – 216 King Street.  I am a bit obsessed with the Savannah Bee Company.  This store, brand and mission are phenomenal.  When I was first reading about the things we could do, I read a trip advisor review about honey tastings and I thought that would be really fun for our daughters, 5 years old and 1-year-old.  Who doesn’t love honey and our little hardworking buzzing friends?  So we checked it out, there were samples of all of their honeys that they sell.  It was delicious, I have never tasted so many different types of honey.  It was also a really neat place for us to show our daughter all of the hard work that bees do and why they are so important.  So this store, has an incredibly cute logo too, did I mentioned I am a bit obsessed?  They have all sorts of fun things, check out their website and you will want to order stuff right now.  You must taste the Tupelo Honey, it was my favorite and all the more special because the Tupelo tree has a short blooming period 3-10 days, so it is a rather special honey if you ask me.  Yum.  If you end up going let me know what you think?  Oh and what you ended up buying.  Also, if you are going to Savannah too, go to the shop there instead it is bigger and has more to offer, a play area for little ones so you can shop and taste in peace.

Charleston Museum – 360 Meeting Street.  This museum is great.  We took our girl there although they were not really interested in the main museum there is a part called Kids Story, where they get to try things out.  There is a little house they can play in with costumes (mainly for older kids 6-9 I would guess, they were pretty big on our petite 5-year-old), a ship where you can change and raise the flag, a lighthouse where you can push buttons and turn the light on.  It was great, they loved to play in the house with the tea set and had a fantastic time.  The museum is a great look at Charleston through the ages, they have one exhibit of guns that I found to be really interesting.  I was a little disappointed with the lack of exhibits and artifacts from the days of slavery, there were just a few things.  I am not sure if this is because there is The Old Slave Mart Museum or not.  We weren’t able to go to The Old Slave Mart Museum this time around, but I would love to go on our next visit.

Kids Story

Kids Story

raising the flagCharleston Museum 1

There are so many amazing places, you could easily spend a week touring through Charleston and not eat it all or see it all.  I think part of the fun is in just walking around and taking in all of the incredibly history in this city, from the churches, gorgeous old homes, vendors in the market.

Main places we didn’t get to this time but would like to go:

The Old Slave Mart Museum – an incredibly important museum, this building was actually used as a slave auction building.

IMG_8057

Fort Sumter – a delight for any civil war buff.

Philadelphia Alley – rumors are that this area is haunted…that there were many duels and that sometimes ghosts can be seen.  So fun!

Philadelphia Alley

Middleton Place – gorgeous rice plantations with grounds that are stunning, just check out the reviews from other travelers, sounds amazing right?

I am sure I am missing a ton of places…I realize I didn’t even mention all of the shopping…too many fun places and we only went to a very small fraction of them.  This is really just a half day in Charleston, like I said before, you could spend a week there and still not touch all of it.

If you’ve been to Charleston, what’s your favorite place to visit?   Please tell me all about it in the comments.  I’d love to hear all about it.

Erin

 

 

A Tangerine Dress and a Fabulous Story

photo 1

A few months ago we were at our local independent bookstore.  This bookstore is awesome…the type of place you could lose track of time.  My husband found this book on the shelves and we were sold.  Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress, by Christine Baldacchino with illustrations by Isabelle Malenfant is a touching story.  It is about a young boy named Morris, his favorite activity at school is the dress up center, he loves the tangerine dress.  His classmates tease him and exclude him from playing their games because they don’t understand.  Morris retreats into his imagination and what a great one it is.

photo 2photo 3

This story brought a tear to my eye, because I have known so many little kids who have loved to do things that are not “typically” in their gender role.  In my opinion there is nothing wrong with this, and I love that this story gives trying new things and doing what you love a spot center stage.  I want my girls to know that being different, or liking different things is okay.  That doing what you love is okay.  That doing the things that make you happy and make you smile is okay.  Above all I want them to know that I love them for who they are.  I love Morris Micklewhite and hope you will too.  This book is a fabulous book that, in my opinion, should be in every school library and in the hands of all of our petites.

Happy Reading,
Erin

Under the Sea Theme Birthday

IMG_6133My smallest just had her first birthday just a few days ago and over the last few weeks I’ve been prepping for her under the sea themed party.  For me party planning is incredibly enjoyable, I love all of the details that can make a party special.  I love the little touches and trying something new.  Since having baby #1 I have realized that a lot of things don’t happen the same way they did with #1, and it’s usually just logistics, the baby book for example, I filled it out for her first month of life.  Now, I have 11 months to catch up on.  I don’t know the date when her first tooth came in; or for that matter the other four.  It’s things like this that have slipped by.  Her first birthday party was not going to be one of those “things” that didn’t get the attention it deserved.

Her nursery theme was maps, globes and whales, so it only seemed fitting to use whales as a major part of the theme for her party.  The first thing I started to pour over was these incredibly cute little felt hats I have been seeing all over pinterest, most of Hat 1them are from Etsy and are about $18-$35, of course they are super cute, but for that amount of money you could get a ton of felt.  I think putting mine together with felt and ribbon cost about $1.50.  It did take some time to put it together, but the finished party hat was so worth it.  Normally, she cannot stand to wear hats or hoods, but she wore this hat, so cute.

The other fun little detail I saw, and fell in love with, were these amazing little felt animals, they were so incredibly cute, so I thought it would be fun felt animalsto try to make little animals and then use them later as some sort of mobile in her room.  Again the entire project was probably under $4, it just took a lot of time to cut and then sew, I am still learning how to sew and made quite a few mistakes.   I attempted little black button eyes, but they were creepy, so I took them off.  In the end I love how these turned out.  I used them to decorate the cupcake display during the party…so cute!    IMG_5790

There are so many inexpensive and cute ways to have a really fun, under the sea, mermaid or beach themed party.  Dollar store buckets were my bowls for the salads and chips.  They were also favors for the kids that came to the party.  It was also rather funny to watch people try to scoop out the food with the shovels, they made it work though.  The favors were different depending on the age of the petite, for the older kids it was bubbles, goldfish crackers and bathtub ocean animal water squirters.  For the babies, it was yogurt melts , bubbles and water squirters.

photo 2The food got lots of rave reviews, from the seashell caprese pasta salad, to the turtle shaped bread bowl of spinach dip but one of the crowd favorites was the crab croissant sandwiches.  I seriously have no idea how people threw themed parties before pinterest existed, so many amazing ideas that make it all so much fun.

Enjoy!

E

 

 

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Petite Stag Gumbo & The Princess and the Frog

IMG_5769Like most four-year olds, my petite is in love with all things Disney’s.  These days it is The Princess and the Frog.  At first we were a little worried about it since there is a creepy voodoo doctor and scary shadow creatures.  For good reason, we had a major problem with pesky shadows a few months ago that made our night-time routine more like a cardio workout (running up and down the stairs) than a relaxing time of night.  What I realize now, after watching Tiana quite a few time,s is that she is awesome!  She has goals, ambition and best of all brains!  My favorite line of the movie is when she is wishing on the evening star and her daddy tells her she needs to do more than wish on the star, that she can do anything she sets her mind to, and most importantly never ever lose sight of what is really important.  What a great message to send out to petites.

If you’ve read some of my other posts you will know that my petite loves to cook.  After watching Tiana for the first time she wanted to make gumbo.  Lucky for her, I have an amazing recipe that is one of my favorites.  So today, we declare is Gumbo & The Princess and the Frog day!  Hip Hip Hooray!

When we lived in the south I would go to the library all the time and check out cookbooks, my favorites were the ones that were from churches, you know those little ones with the plastic bindings that church ladies would put their prized family recipes into.  Love them.  I put together a recipe that has all of our favorite things in it…you can make it more Cajun with crab meat and oysters; or more Creole depending on if you prefer sausage or poultry.  I prefer them all so here is my version:

Petite Stag Gumbo

1/4 cup olive oil

6 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 sweet onion, Walla Walla or Vidalia, chopped

1 cup red bell pepper chopped

1 cup green pepper chopped

1 cup celery chopped

3 garlic cloves chopped

1 bag of frozen okra

4 cups chicken stock

1 tablespoon chicken base or bullion cube

1 14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes

3 cups of water

2 bay leavesphoto 1

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1/3 cup dried parsley

1 teaspoon lemon pepper

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

2 chicken breast cut into cubes

1 Smoked Turkey Kielbasa (you can use beef, or Andouille if you prefer), cut into 1/4 inch slices

1 pound of shrimp, cleaned and deveined

Rice

  1. Mix oil and flour in a large cast iron pot or stock pot.  On medium heat, stirring constantly, you are looking for a light brown color, a caramel shade.  Don’t just leave it, once it starts to brown it goes quickly and can burn.  [If it burns or gets too dark, throw it out and clean the pot and start over, it will ruin the gumbo if you don’t]
  2. Add the onion, peppers, celery and garlic to the roux and cook stirring constantly for 3 minutes.
  3. Slowly add in the chicken stock while stirring, it will begin to thicken nicely.
  4. Add in the chicken base, water, can of tomatoes, bay leaves, thyme, parsley, lemon pepper, Worcestershire, frozen okra, chicken and sausage.
  5. Simmer on low for 1 hour 30 minutes.photo 2
  6. Add shrimp just before you plan to serve it to get them cooked through adding in the last ten minutes.

Serve over rice

I’m not going to lie, it is even better the second day, the spices do some amazing thing and meld together making it even more delicious.

Enjoy!