Sunday, October 23, 2016

Crazy Bones Cafe!

No rattlin' bones about it! We're Halloween-crazy over here and mighty proud of it! Every year brings a new creative challenge: What are we going to do to top last year's extravaganza? 

The grandkids and I love to play act when we're together. One moment we're magicians. The next, we're operating a family library. We publish our own family newspaper and have gone digging deep in the woods for dino eggs. Seriously, what was left to do besides assemble a wait staff, cook up some googly-eyed goodies and open our own cafe to celebrate this year's spooky season?

My "Halloween Snack" pin board bursts at the seams, but for this event each selection needed to be kid-friendly for cooking and eating, plus freezable or easy to store. My crew assembled a week in advance for a top secret workshop that yielded an impressive display of "Boo-Nanas," "Swamp Monsters,"* tasty little "Cockroaches," and a perky half dozen popcorn "Monster Munchies."**

BOO! We were in business!

I filled out the repast with some "grandma-made" choices and produced a set of menus. The scary thing about them was the lack of proper info! "Moldy Monster Mash?" Huh? "What on earth is that?" The only wise thing to do was circle everything!.....

Secret Decoder!
Adult Menu:
Baby Mummies = jalapeno poppers wrapped in Crescent dough
Little Devils = deviled eggs
*Swamp Monster = dinner roll blob with raisin eyes and almond slice hair perched in hummus
Swamp Juice = orange punch
Boneyard Platter = ribs, mashed potatoes, broccoli
Moldy Monster Mash = mac and cheese tinted green

Munchkin Menu:
Bowl of Bugs = mixed fruit
Mini Mummy = tiny pizza with string cheese strips and olive slice eyes
Goofy Juice = orange punch

Made by the kids as linked above. My first, and favorite place to go for seasonally unique recipes is Hungry Happenings. That's where our chirpy orange popcorn monsters** and dozens and dozens more easy-to-make, very creative treats for every season of the year come from!

There was some behind-the-scenes work to be done before the Crazy Bones Cafe opened for business. I set a self-serve drink bar at table-center for the adults ("mummies" and daddies!)....

"Drunk and Disorderly!"

Whoa! What's this?

Rubbery cocktail-umbrella-toting skellies wobbled precariously from the plastic Dollar Tree martini glasses I glued 'em to!

Had I not amply sampled the "Purple People Eater" cocktail, I might have reasoned that if you're too early putting out bowls of candy corn for post dinner Halloween Bingo you should expect to attract rats!

Oh, and ghosts, too!

At last! 6 P.M. Dinner hour! My staff arrived, quickly donned Crazy Bones Cafe signature apparel and received menus and final instructions: "greet, seat, and eat!"

Dollar Tree - always grandma's friend! Wire a generous bow to their cute pumpkin headbands! "Done-Done!" as Kaylee (at left) would exclaim!

"We've been waiting for you!"

The food was great, the company better, the wait service outstanding! - and guest diners tipped accordingly! With everyone stuffed and immobile, bingo cards came out - we played eagerly with what candy corn was left!

Here's youngest daughter, Karen, in full Halloween glow, smiling over her first win!

It's heartwarming to see grandchildren playing games alongside their parents. I try to include an activity like this at each family event. Sometimes it's as simple as printing out grandma blogger Lisa's holiday jokes, like the Halloween version on this post at Grandma's Briefs. Cut the answers from the questions and give a scrambled set to each guest for matching. And who knows? Maybe one of them will "deserve" to get a prank set that has zero matches! :)

Our bingo game was purchased, but there's a really cute one here at One Creative Mommy that you can print out and enjoy for free right now!

Need more Halloween ideas for kids? Spiders don't fall far from the web! My daughter, Mary Jo, has great suggestions for you at Mrs. Party Planner. Scurry on over to see them!

And finally! Here, at Honey Good, is another grandma's collection of cute Halloween treats you will enjoy making and serving to the little munchkins in your life!

Crazy Bones Cafe will return next year, there's no doubt about it. In the meantime, this grandma is beginning to noodle about a Christmas version! Hmmm....."Santa's Snack Stop?" Elf capped wait staff? "Reindeer feed" salad? Mac and cheese "snowballs?" Meatball "mice before Christmas?"....??

Happy Halloween every-bone-y!

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Mega Monster Mania!

Over here, we fancy our monsters! They've been part of our lives since the two oldest grandsons took a liking to their crookedly odd looks when they were a team of pint size monster hunters at the tender age of three. Since then, we've added younger sisters and a pair of girl cousins to the mix. Under normal circumstances, you'd expect little ladies to flinch at the fearsome fury created by these greedily grasping crazily creeping creatures.....

But not over here!

We recently sat down together at "Grandma's Mega Monster Mania" to paint some scary looking dudes destined to return in the form of embellished pillows that promise to forever haunt the scariest month of the year! I took hold of those freshly painted bodies, turned 'em inside out, stitched 'em up, buttoned 'em, dated 'em and sent 'em right back into the delighted little hands of their original creators!

The only thing we're scared of over here is missing out on Grandma's annual Halloween Workshop Events....the place where cousins gather to paint, decorate, bake and create! We wrap things up like a mummy with sleepovers preceded by backyard-after-dark fire pit s'mores-munching and (age appropriate!) ghost story telling sessions. Moms and dads sometimes join us for Glow Stick Hide and Seek, or a super fun "Vampires at Dark" game you can print out for free right here at "Prepared Not Scared." Be sure to check out Trish's entire treasure trove of exceptionally cute games and graphics that will give you a great start on the path to your own series of grandma-sponsored Halloween workshops!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

We're Four! We're Six! We're Eight!

There's a bundle-o-birthdays for us this time of year. The oldest twins were eight on the 29th of August. They share that date with six year old cousin, Brielle. Close behind, in mid September, are twins Ava and Angeline. They're four this year. Whew! That's five/ninths of the total number of grandkids all bunched up into a busy two week period. We've got ourselves some celebrating to do!

Summer birthdays allow the major part of entertaining to be done in the backyard pool, so nobody's surprised when the guests of honor show up dripping wet!

What's lured the boys inside is a promise of cake, two of them - individualized to reflect their current obsession - Minecraft!

Mommy had them custom made locally. She's a pretty amazing party planner - as you shall soon see! - but cake decorating at this skill level is not a family talent!

Now that I'm accustomed to the interests of boys, I know that blowing things up and setting off bursts of fire will always bring a smile to their faces. This "number 8" sparkler certainly did the trick!

Little sisters celebrated next with family and a pair of close friends at an event that acknowledged their own special interest - animals! Ones to admire and pet and cuddle and feed and share with everybody - in their own backyard! 

Just another of mommy's amazing feats! This group of delightful critters is available for hire to visit parties. Goats! Bunnies! Piglets! Ducks! Chicks! Oh, and how about a curious llama to top everything off? These animals are expertly cared for, humanely transported, and sheltered at a rescue farm that hosts occasional open houses for the purpose of acquainting children with the joy of interacting respectfully with living creatures. Prompt and efficient, the service provides portable fencing, food, water, and tips on gently handling the animals!

Ava is a fan of feeding goats!

And grooming them!

I love this cute little chick! Oh, and the one in the pink dress, too!

Okay, Brielle, you're up next! This crafty little kid chose an art party with school classmates for her celebration -
and mommy really delivered!

Outdoor tables greeted ten little ladies. Each place setting was graced with a blank canvas, a colorful apron, paint brush, and palette.

It was my job to fill those palettes with acrylic paint - all the primary and secondary colors. I've seen what happens when black is an option for kids, so that one's noticeably absent today!

Total concentrated silence prevailed as the girls painted! Canvases sang with shining suns, fuzzy cats, brilliant rainbows, and charming self portraits!

With a final flourish of cake and ice cream, a handful of games, and a gift opening ceremony, Brielle officially became six years old!

On the way out, guests helped themselves to little paint buckets stuffed with cute candy and party favors!

Now, I'm not going to say that creating dream birthdays is an effortless experience. Each one is a creative challenge. What I am saying, however, is that "some people" who barely lifted a paw in the process didn't mind plopping down for a mid-party nap right next to the pile of gifts we thought he was guarding!

Oldest daughter, Mary Jo, found the darling sundresses for her twins, so I had to hurry up and copy from her in time for Bree's sixth birthday! Check out Tee With Sugar (Facebook page) for the cutest in custom design and the best in customer service! (Not a sponsored post.)

And, see what Mary Jo is up to right here, in her own blog full of cute parties and activities that keep two sets of twins entertained and happy every day of the year!

Monday, September 5, 2016


"We made rain sticks at grandma's!"

Summer tumbles in and out of the maze of months that comprise a lifetime. It rolls along merrily in the sun, spreading carefree joy until the bite of autumn snaps it up and tosses it aside. Now, many moons will pass until I see it again: a time when grandma isn't required to compete with school days and soccer balls. I recall an impish riddle from my own days in the classroom: "What are a teacher's three favorite things?" "June, July, and August!!" Today, those months remain a trio of grandma's favorite things! Wide open hours present rested, happy little faces on my doorstep. "Well, tumble right in, you chirpy little cherubs! We have lots and lots to do together beneath these sunny skies!"

"Grandma Camp" is summer's top priority, so I carefully negotiate the week with my three daughters. Once you're three, you're in! I've got a cozy tent waiting for you, a stack of puzzle books to keep you busy during "quiet time," and an agenda of fun that goes on and on, back-to-back, from morning light til sleepy night!

This year, our Dino Egg Hunt and double feature Magic! and Puppets! shows stole the spotlight during that week. But in between, the time was filled with crafty things to make and do.....

Air dry clay is lots of fun. One day our tray of curious critters stand pale as ghosts......

...and the next, they knock you out with personality plus!

Younger kiddoes enjoy a session of basic shape animal building. If you're a manic paper punch collector like I am, this project is a simple matter of punch, glue, and go!

For one Dollar Tree dollar - just one! - you can sink your elbows into the satisfying sensation of shaving cream! (No, this activity doesn't "make" anything - except a moment's well deserved rest for grandma in between adventures!)

We "tumbleweeders" nature-walked for palm sized rocks to paint. After dark, our "Ladybug Launch" secretly re-homed them into neighborhood flower beds and Press boxes!

I don't blame parents for not relishing the sport of "night hiking," but it's a must-do at grandma's sleepovers! We grab our lanterns and follow our noses into the dark, just to see whatever we see!

My recent discovery of step-by-step cooking lessons for kids at "Grandma Honey's House" blog has inspired me to add kitchen skills to the list of things I want my grandchildren to experience with me. Here, Angeline lines a tin in preparation for one of "Grandma Honey's" breakfast recipes.

I want to teach my grandchildren to sew, as well, but had no idea where to begin. Then I stumbled upon the same quality content and style of guidance that Grandma Honey provides in her area of expertise! How nice to have everything all laid out for those of us who are eager to instruct, but need lesson plans that organize skills into sessions that produce appealing, easy-to-make end products that entice kids to return for more. Check out Ana's complete and masterfully written tutorial for offering a (machine) sewing camp of your own: it's here, at "The Lost Apron" blog.

Thank you, Pamela and Ana, for adding muffin tins and spools of thread to this grandma's inventory of grandchild enrichment experience ingredients!

You people have six cats in there? SIX??!"
I drew the tumbleweed metaphor from personal observation and the cooperation of my six (6!) cats. A recent, pleasant wine-sipping evening found me enraptured with a busy, hard working little hairball that resembled every feature but size of the menacing monsters that roll the American west. All it needed was open space, the gentle twirl of an overhead fan, and a worthy supply of cat hair to keep it growing and growing and growing......I sipped and I pondered: "How large could this carefree little spirit actually get if left alone to thrive?" But then, as abruptly as the aforementioned "bite of autumn," came grandpa, trusty portable vac in tow. With his cry of, "What?! Not another one of these?!" both summer 2016, and the seed of my tumbleweed reverie faded to a nostalgic end.

I hope it was less traumatic for you!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Something GRAND For You!

I have a personal reason for enthusiastically promoting the current issue of online grandparent lifestyle magazine, GRAND. I'm included in its energetic pages - several times! Honored? Humbled? Grateful? Excited? Anxious to share?

YES! All of the above!

Each year, GRAND editorial director, Christine Crosby, acknowledges the success of this publication by selecting a number of "best websites/blogs for grandparents." This time around, in honor of one dozen years, there are twelve of us! I think you'll enjoy browsing the list and visiting those that capture your interest! Find them all on pages 10 - 11.

In addition, I've had the honor of being invited to write about the crafty fun I have with my own grandchildren. My feature, on page 28, joins informative articles of interest to grandparents that cover topics of health, technology, finance, travel, relationships, pet ownership, fashion, science, and FUN! Articles are succinct and accented with engaging pictures. No tedious droning here! I don't have time for that* - and neither do you!

*I only have time for making rain sticks with Kaylee and Brielle!

Want to take a look?

In honor of upcoming National Grandparents Day, September 11, 2016, I'm authorized to offer my readers a free, one year online subscription to GRAND Lifestyle Magazine. It's a $12 value that expires on October 31, 2016. Click on this link, type in your first name and email address, and watch your inbox for bimonthly issues (the current one will pop up immediately!). That's all! No credit cards, SSNs, passwords that never work, "username-already-takens" or other annoying stuff that most sites plague us with! I promise!

Welcome, GRAND grandparents!

This is not a sponsored post. I receive no compensation for promoting subscriptions to GRAND Lifestyle Magazine.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Ladybug Camp!

Grandma Camp was served up in two parts this year. I was delighted that a trio of little girl cousins, all age three, were anxious to take a turn with me. Ava, one of the twins involved, took special care to emphasize to her brothers that they would not be present during "Ladybug Camp." Only girls this time! Only Ava, sister Angeline, and cousin Kaylee! "No boyz allowed!"

And so it happened! Ladybugs enjoyed a two day, overnight camp that specialized in things little girls like to do. We baked and we crafted, but our biggest excitement was preparing for the puppet show that would follow a display of magic demonstrated by the "big kids" - older twin brothers and cousin Brielle. That entertainment package wrapped up a solid week of Grandma Camping for two groups of three each!

Puppet Making Workshop ingredients: a generous supply of yarn and pom poms and wiggle eyes and glue - and a colorful sock for everybody! At this age, the girls chose colors and I attached yarn hair with a few hand stitches. But gluing was a job for the ladies - one they relish!

We practiced a little skit once each sock developed a personality of its own. Accompanied by a pre-school song, our show was stage-ready!

While I flipped the header on our home made stage during a brief intermission that followed the magic show, parents, aunties and uncles, cousins, and siblings engaged in the energetic sale of tickets that precedes all of our talent productions!

Introductions before stepping behind the stage for a vigorous performance......

Tee hee hee! Giggles galore accompanied a charming showcase of three year old talent; an adoring audience rewarded the effort with wild applause!

And grandma's review? So proud! Just very, very, very proud of them all!