Thursday, February 23, 2017

Snowflake Celebration!

Not much snow here this winter. That's good, I suppose, if you're grandpa-in-charge-of-driveway-shoveling. Not so much if you're grandma-in-charge-of-winter-exploring. I'd looked forward to company for tracking freshly pressed deer, squirrel, rabbit, and raccoon prints in our back yard woods. The kids and I would photograph them on sleepover Saturday mornings, examining their size and shape, speculating stride. Back inside, we'd page through nature volumes until we found the perfect match. We'd know who'd ventured out there late last night, while we snugly slept inside!

But no sumptuous banks of outdoor wintry white awaited our curiosity this year. If we desired a Celebration of Snowflakes, it was up to us to stage it for ourselves. We met that challenge with a Christmas break afternoon of indoor fun, allowing grandma to supply people built of snow and the dizzying cascade of flakes that Mother Nature denied us!

Brielle's pillow (shown above) melted only the hearts of her parents when she brought home this happy little snow lady! Starting with a 10" x 15" rectangle of white fabric sketched with a simple body shape, kids painted features (and GIANT hearts!) in acrylic. Finishing work is always done in grandma's workshop. That's where a sandwich of batting and backing allows for light outline quilting, and button eye and applique nose accents. Eyelet trim gave this gal an extra boost of feminine fluffiness. Then she was stuffed, dated, be-ribboned, and delivered!

Our Celebration included lunch, hot chocolate, sugar cookie baking, and a session of paper snowflake cutting as well. My little guests strung a garland of one-of-a-kind shapes to take home for festive draping, spreading a blizzard of fun for all of us!

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Handy Little Love Bugs!

They say that grandchildren leave a trail of footprints across the heart. True. But I also like them painted, printed, framed, and hanging on my wall! Turkeys, snowmen, bats, and ghosts - busy fingers, tiny toes!

Reasons abound for making this happy art. The primary one, I think, is that one year will eventually be the last a Valentine's Day "love bug" is small enough to fit within a frame. It's smart to seize each moment while one can, freezing it to last. The craft is easy, too - basically a paint and plop project - that's it! Also appreciated is a selection of inexpensive frames at the three major craft chains, some for as little as three dollars. Trace and cut your own festive mat from scrapbook paper to yield one-of-a-kind gourmet results - and don't forget to date your print before framing!

My infestation of love bugs will be "handed out :)" to parents this year. They'll unwrap these flighty little critters sporting glittery foam heart wings and paper punched eyes. A few simple fine point pen strokes add enough "insect-ery" to induce itching with excitement over how much fun it will be to enjoy them again and again in the years ahead!

I borrowed the little hands of grandkids to make these gifts, but came across a variation of this craft that delighted me. Lisa, at Grandma's Briefs, used a clever slight of hand to flip this idea, making it suitable as a gift from grandma and grandpa to a grandchild! Here's where you'll find a touch of heartfelt loving that you may want to try yourself. Thanks, Lisa!

And one more thing!

Classroom Valentine's Day parties are standard in every elementary school. All three of my daughters are room mothers, planning treats, crafts, and games for these events. I've discovered a way for grandma to share in the fun (without re-experiencing the "been-there-done-that" crowded, noisy chaos of my own years of service!) I'll be sending a trio of "estimating jars," filled with candy and a few small toys, to challenge classmates. They'll try to win them by guessing the correct amount of goodies tucked inside. There's a fourth jar in each set, too, but those recipients won't need to worry their cute little heads over the winning number, because, well....."grandchildren!" :)

If you decide to use this idea, (favored by teachers!):
  • fill plastic jars only (I used 32 oz. ones from Just Artifacts, an online party supply source)
  • check for classmate food allergies
  • use wrapped candy
  • visit Dollar Tree for cute small toys (bracelets, whistles, paddle ball sets)
  • make the amount of items age appropriate - for example, jars offered to first graders should total 30 - 50 items at most (even then, you're likely to get guesses in the "TEN MILLION!" range! :) - sure wish I could conjure up that amount of enthusiasm!)

And, finally......if you'd like to include some corny-cute kids' Valentine jokes with your card sending/gift giving, you'll find 28 of them here, also at Grandma's Briefs, the source of this little closing gem:

Knock knock!
Who's there?
Sherwood, who?
Sherwood love to be your valentine!


Friday, January 27, 2017

Little Love Bites!

This one's about Valentine's Day. And fellow grandmothers. And the way those two heartwarming topics recently wove themselves together into one tidy little celebration of the season of love!

No matter how vintage, the most endearing portraits of grandmother and child capture moments of sharing. Reading, cooking, gardening, sewing, crafting.....For those of us given to entertaining our grandchildren in this fashion, every day is Valentine's Day!

The kids and I often cook together. Sometimes we stock inventory for our family bake sales, where mommies and daddies and aunties and uncles line up to gobble the cookies and muffins we make together. Most often, though, we create for ourselves, warming a winter's kitchen with the alluring scent of well browned banana bread - one loaf for nibbling now, one for taking home.

Now, I'm betting that you've done the same yourself - numerous times, testing many recipes. And, that you might also be pondering the perfect Valentine gift for your little cooking companion. Just the right thing: a reminder of how precious those grandma-and-me moments are for both of you.

I never would have considered Kaylee's personalized apron and chef hat had I not been a reader of Leslie and Kay's GrandparentsLink blog. I was the lucky give-away winner of this adorable set - a product of Growing Cooks, designed by Alice Meoni and available in a range of sizes for both girls and boys! Would this gift solution work for you? Packaged, perhaps, with a kid's cookbook and an invitation to pick out something yummy and come bake it with grandma very, very soon? I hope so! Expect beautiful craftsmanship, prompt and efficient service, gift-worthy packaging - and lots of memory making fun for yourself and your little sidekick-in-the-kitchen!

My friend, Teresa, is a grandmother. And a blogger, blueberry farmer, dog lover, and entrepreneur. All of the above! Roxie and I followed our noses to her Bellview Blueberry Bones site, drooling in unison over home baked specialty dog treats. We were soooo gonna try these! They're healthy, you know. Not a speck of artificial junk. Wholesome goodness only! Door step delivered!

Clicking to submit my order, I was firmly nudged at the elbow. "What about Mickey?" Roxie urged. (She's in long-distance-love with yet another grandma blogger's handsome pet!)  So, two bags it was, both of them "large!"

"So, who's this Roxie who thinks I'm a hottie?"
"When might I expect another treat delivery?"

Without a whimper, our treats were promptly whisked to us, states away in two directions. What a hit! Mickey's mama, (Lisa, of Grandma's Briefs) reported "four paws up!" Roxie offered "five stars" and a giant "slurp!" of satisfaction!

Maybe these "little love bites" will gift a furry snuggle-bug in your life, too!

This is not a sponsored post. I just enjoy sharing good things that come into my life! 


Friday, January 20, 2017

Born Yesterday

If this little guy tries to tell you that he "wasn't born yesterday," don't be fooled! Channing is my ninth grandchild and fifth grandson, so I know for a fact that he did, indeed, show up for the first time one day ago, on January 19, 2017 at 10:57 A.M., weighing in at a very healthy eight pounds, ten ounces. He's little brother to Brielle and Austin, and he's got lots of fun ahead of him at grandma's. Hmm, let's see.....digging for dinosaur eggs, building robots, hiking through the woods, and printing those perfectly cute little hands and feet in every color of the rainbow for every holiday on the calendar!

You came to the right place, little guy. Grandma's waiting for you! xxooxx

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Family Dictionary: Pyders, Tonkings, and Tickers!

Around here, there's no need to ask for translation. We get it. All of it: "Where you wented? The quirlows were drinky so we thought it was o-tay to serve chalk-it koo koo ka doo! Then we ate cheesy balls and bingoed til we were done-done!"

We also fully understand that Tanta fills tonkings on Kitmutt. That a few of grandma's cats "talk" when they're cornered. And while pyders and monstas are best disposed of by daddy, mommy is the one who locates pajas, brings home ticker books, and makes sure no buggedies enter the house!

The Family Dictionary. Every home has one. Most often, though, its pages are stored "upstairs." But ours? Well, it's time to preserve them within a fluid volume that I hope will become a generational treasure.

Not only will our dictionary list and define alphabetically, I'll also illustrate entries with photos and anecdotes because some of our best have an unfortunately short shelf life. Like, "I'm drinky," for example. Brielle invented that one when she was three. "Thirsty?" What a weird word! What does it even mean? We like "drinky" and we're sticking with it, even though Bree, now six, has moved on!

And "koo koo ka doo?" That invisible gourmet concoction, stirred to perfection inside a play kitchen coffee cup, was described by two year old Kaylee as something to enjoy in a down moment because "it makes you happy." It's not unusual to hear any one of us sigh deeply, after a rough day, that a nice steaming cup of koo koo ka doo would sure hit the spot right now!

Austin was eighteen months old when he entered a phase that found him checking for "monstas" around every corner. When the coast was clear, he signaled with a hearty, "o-tay!" I like that word. It makes me feel safe!

Grandma Camp for our three year old little ladies this past summer was a gold mine of material for my dictionary. Ava, especially, kept me on task with reminders. I didn't dare promise cookie baking or a squirrel peanut feeding session unless I was prepared to promptly deliver. "What about those 'quirlows' you said we were going to feed?" Ha! "Q" is for quirlow! I wonder how many other family dictionaries have an entry for "Q!"?

Some descriptions were initially difficult to decipher. "Doo dah, whee!" for example. Angeline was two when she declared that her favorite destination. The rest of us scratched our heads until a light bulb went off over mommy's head. Swings and slides! Of course! Get it? You slide and you shout "WHEE!" Now, the "doo dah" part has never fully been defined. Perhaps some day, though. I look forward to paging through my dictionary with the kids long after they've forgotten the delight we found in their unique expressions and pronunciations. And who knows? They might even satisfy some long held curiosities for me. At that point, I will close the cover of this volume and sigh wistfully, "done-done!"*

*Done-done (dun-dun), adj. 1. completed 2. sufficiently filled with food and ready to be removed from high chair (Kaylee, 2014) 3. blog post written and ready for publishing (Grandma, 2017)

P.S. This is a good scrap-booking type project for those of us who enter a post "Kitmutt" slump like I do every year. Nonetheless, there are others who always have it worse. My grand-kitty, Marshall, for example. Imagine a full month of blissful snoozing beneath the softly lit, comforting branches of your very own toy-laden indoor tree - abruptly, and rudely interrupted, leaving you forlorn, unsheltered, dazed, and confused!

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Christmas Flakes, Pops, and Cookies!

This year, occupants of the kids' table at Grandma's Annual Christmas Cookie Baking Party will nestle beneath a magical indoor blizzard, munch up a storm, and snap with a bang!

"Whaaaaat?" you wonder. "Sure it's not grandma who's finally 'snapped' amidst a flurry of seasonal frenzy?"

Well, fortunately, there are several ways to accomplish what I've just described. And for the record, I'm still a tiny bit sane - at least for the moment!

A 24" diameter round table will seat three children, aged two to six, for the occasion. I love candle lit ambiance, kiddie-sized servings, and party favors galore! I also insist upon a "ring for immediate service" bell so no mini-need goes unmet. Yes, I enjoy sipping my Mistletoe Martini at the nearby adult table, but my heart is really with the munchkins - an arm's reach away!

That small table I described was just begging to be surrounded with yards and yards of filmy red netting cascading from a hula hoop suspended from the ceiling, hung from a stick-on hook that I hope grandpa never notices! (Not a fan of deliberately inflicted wall/ceiling holes and/or stickiness, is he!)

Here's what the kiddies will experience when they sit down to dinner, kicking off an evening of family holiday fun. I've written step-by-step instructions for making the simple table tent here. It wasn't that expensive either. Those pretty, delicate snowflakes are from Dollar Tree, and that beckoning gold bell emerged from an ages old box of Christmas craft goodies. But quite frankly, it's the party crackers you see in the bowl here that I'm most excited about!

A dozen years ago, I passed out "authentic" British crackers at Christmas dinner, instructing family to have a "bang up" time. I'd purchased those the year before, on clearance, after the holidays. (They're kind of expensive.) But what a success! Everyone teamed up to firmly grasp one end of a snapper and pull. With a distinctive POP! the cracker "exploded" with a rush of fun - a party crown, a small prize, and a cute joke to share, setting a festive tone for the evening. We're a lively bunch, so our family doesn't really need "ice breakers," but if any of you do.......!

I've been thinking about crackers ever since then. Dying to make my own. But the best part - the snapper - was something I couldn't find, at least not locally. Yet here I am today - loaded with an explosion of fun in the form of a dozen customized, home made crackers! Olde English Crackers supplies not only finished delights, but the ingredients we creative spirits need to make our own.

And wait! There's more!

The site has an engaging tutorial that sees you through every step of the making process. From there, you'll construct with confidence - or launch your own version. My favors increase the size to 2.5" - extra room for a doting grandma to cram in more cute toys and candy! And I customized what the adults will find too - cash and an instant lottery ticket.

But there's still more! I'll include cute Christmas jokes from a charming set (29 of them!) I've found here on Lisa's Grandma's Briefs blog. That list includes: "What falls a lot at the North Pole and never gets hurt?" Hmmmm.....snow? Each cracker will also be stuffed with gold foil chocolate coins - and confetti stars that should keep six family cats busy for days! Something for everybody in these tidy little packages!

Once we've munched and snapped, we'll visit crafty stations I'll set up - tables for printing Christmas tree and snowman feet, reindeer and Santa face hands. These will enjoy a quick turn around as gifts for paternal grand (and great-grand) parents. I have a stash of frames and hand cut craft paper mats ready to go. In a matter of seconds, they'll be personalized and wrapped for delivery!

While Mrs. Grandma-Claus busies herself with that task, and before we get into frosting trays and trays of sugary stars and bells and good ole Santa himself, the kids will play a game or two with parents, cousins, aunts and uncles - Christmas bingo, like this one maybe, from One Creative Mommy, or an easy card game. Lots of laughs, lots of fun.....lots of smiles beneath a blizzard of snowflakes that never seem to melt despite the warming joy that family brings home to me every year when it's Christmas cookie baking time at grandma's!

This is not a sponsored post. I'm just a happy, satisfied customer of Olde English Crackers and want to share the fun!

Christmas Snowflake Tent Instructions

Nestle your Christmas kids' table beneath a flurry of snowflakes twirling inside a tent of red netting for the ultimate in cozy holiday ambiance! Here's how to construct the lightweight, easy to make project featured in this post: "Christmas Flakes, Pops, and Cookies!"

Here's what you'll need:

Approximately 10 yards of 72" wide red netting fabric*
One 26" diameter hula hoop spray painted red
Red thread and needle
Ceiling hook
Plastic snowflakes, ribbon lengths, small ornaments, bell, etc to decorate
Red and white Baker's twine or fish line to hang decorations

*Four panels of fabric are draped from the hoop. For an 8' foot ceiling, 4 x 8' = 32' divided by 3 = approximately 10 yards. The length will be adjusted by the distance the hoop is suspended from the ceiling. Current regular price per yard of netting at Hobby Lobby is $1.39.

Here's what you'll do:

1) Cut the fabric into 4 equal lengths after reserving a 6" x 72" piece for hanging strips.
2) Cut the hanging strip fabric into two 3" x 72" strips.

3) Tie one end of a 3" strip around the hoop, pull tightly across diameter and knot at opposite side. Repeat with remaining strip to divide hoop into 4 equal sections. Reserve extra strip fabric for use as hanging loop.

4) Working with one panel length at a time, staying within one quarter section, fold the edge of the 72" side over the hoop and hand sew together to enclose it in a sleeve, as shown.

One panel complete, hand sewn to hoop, inside a quarter section.

5) When all 4 sections are complete, use the scrap netting to tightly knot the crossed hanging strips together at center point and make a loop for hanging.

6) Hang the hoop and decorate tent with lightweight ornaments tied to hanging strips with twine or fish line.

You can, of course, use any color netting, but red is suitable for Valentine's Day, too. Invite your little sweeties over to enjoy tea and cookies beneath a swirl of dancing paper hearts amid twinkling battery operated lights! xxxoooxxx

This original design, like all blog content, is intended for personal use only. Copyright 2016. All rights reserved. Thank you!