Saturday, March 31, 2012

Bunny Village Workshop

Decided to hostess a seasonal crafting workshop before each holiday. It will be for the girls and grandkids only. Daddies can stay home to cut the grass or take out the trash and be surprised later when they see what we made at grandma's! Everybody seems pretty happy with this plan, although, to be fair, the daddies were told that if they realllly wanted to come over this time and glue pretty pink M&Ms to a little bunny house all they had to do was speak up! My invitation was met with deafening silence! (Kind of what I expected!)

So, last Wednesday we gathered to make a charming little Bunny Village that will be on display when "every-bunny" comes home for Easter Sunday. Before dinner we will have a "show and tell" so the artists can point out which house is their own and, if in a generous mood, share some secret decorating tips. I think the twins will "eat this up!"

I adapted this idea from both the long ago and very recent past. When the girls were in late elementary school we had a Christmas season tradition. I constructed simple graham cracker houses, bought a ton of cute candy, made a batch of Royal icing and had each of the girls invite a friend to a gingerbread house decorating party. Last December, Mary Jo hosted an afternoon Christmas party for a handful of neighborhood children - all about three or four years old. She used the same idea with the same great success. That made me realize that if kids are old enough to decorate cookies they are also old enough to enjoy this project. With that age though, it helps when parents are an involved part of the party - "helicoptering" strongly encouraged!

My Christmas Cookie Baking Party offered a healthy lunch first. Then it would be "okay" when the kiddies ate sprinkles by the handful for dessert. This time jelly beans by the pound were on the table, so again we opened with something wholesome to eat.

For the ladies, I tried a recipe from a favorite blog - "Hungry Happenings." I have admired this creation for a long time. It was perfect for my occasion and, like all Beth's recipes, is simple to make from clear, step-by-step photographed directions. A wide range of cute, seasonal food treats, many perfect for grandmothers who want to impress the kids, can be found right here:

Anyway, the carrot shaped bread cones are stuffed with egg salad. Next year, for the grandkids, I am going to make Beth's Taco Meat Teddy Bear except I will turn it into a bunny.

I added a skewer of fruit chunks to the carrots, topped off with a pink "Peep".
And this week, my grocery store had GIANT organic parsley. Perfect!

I served the kids' lunches "Hoppy Meal" style. Each handmade bag contained a little egg salad slider, fruit and string cheese. See the chubby little carrots? - eight ounce bottles of spring water wrapped in tissue! But never mind the food! The best part of any "Hoppy Meal" is the toy inside. This time it was a cute little set of mini-markers and an Easter notepad. These kept the kiddies busy while moms and aunties finished their own lunches.

Once the table was cleared, out came a selection of little houses, bowls of pastel icing and the best part - lots and lots and lots of little candies to decorate with - and of course, to nibble away at!

Once upon a time little Goldilocks inspected a large gingerbread house
 but said, "No! Not this one! It is way too big for little me!"

Then she took a closer look at a medium-sized gingerbread house
but declared, "No! This one is way too medium for little me!"

Finally, she found a very, very, teeny tiny, wee little mini-mouse of a house
and exclaimed, "Yay! This one is JUST RIGHT for cute little me!"

And that is the story of how Goldilocks Brielle found the perfect little bunny house to decorate for herself!

She was joined by her cousins:

And Mommy and Aunt "DeeDee" (pictured) 
Aunt Mary Jo was here too, of course!

Every-bunny was busy - not a single "peep" while we worked or, in the case of Bree - "nibbled"!

Outside it was a pretty dreary day, but inside? Oh my! Nothing but sunshine!


Time for finishing touches. Hop right to it!
And if you have frosting on your lips, well, you've probably been eating it too!

Nick's house features a fenced garden where tasty, colorful jelly beans are grown! 

It wasn't long before every individual bunny house was complete and ready to be admired.

Here's a gallery of the finished works of art:

Mary Jo made this one.
Love the jelly bean "stone" roof!

Baby bunnies will live in this teeny tiny little place that "Goldilocks" fashioned just for them!

Aunt "DeeDee" decorated with little chick and bunny shaped candy and large jelly bean accents.

 Below, four of the homes ready for occupancy!

No one but grandma and the new resident bunnies has seen everything assembled into this perfect little village. Every-bunny else will see it for the first time next Sunday at Easter dinner. But for now, the bunnies seem very happy - and that is all that matters!

I think I will repeat this project again in a few years. When the kids are older I will have them make tiny houses, one for each guest at Easter dinner. When it's time for dessert, they can present them on small plates, nestled in a bed of edible Easter grass. We'll probably upgrade too, from "Peeps" to some very nice chocolate bunnies. I suppose we could also use the tiny houses as place cards - lots of possibilities. Except, I should probably warn you to proceed with caution on your construction plans, lest you, too, are unexpectedly visited by the fearsome Bunny Village Building Inspector!


P.S. I think there's something wrong with my computer! Spell Check keeps telling me that "every-bunny" is not a word! What's the matter with those Peeps?

Sunday, March 11, 2012

A Splendid Evening at the Theater!

I don't have to tell you that kids love to perform for an adoring audience of relatives. So, if you are a grandma who is shameless enough to gather in the entire family to SELL tickets, concessions and even "parking permits" to, you can guarantee that the grandkids will rake in a bundle! That's what we did this past Saturday and it was a (profitable) blockbuster!

Our event was a puppet show. I found this little table-top theater a few years ago and hoarded it all this time. When I first showed it to the twins they had fun with the puppets for awhile, and then launched into "boys will be boys" mode, dragging out their toy tool set and "building" the theater from scratch. Who was I to argue about that? It made a perfect opening for the e-vitations I sent out.........

                                                     If you build a Puppet Theater....... can have a Puppet Show!

And if you have a PUPPET SHOW, you can invite mommy, daddy, grandma, grandpa,
Aunt Christy, Uncle Keenon,
Cousin Bree, Aunt DeeDee, Uncle Joe and your cat, Raisin!

And if mommy, daddy, grandma, grandpa, Aunt Christy,
Uncle Keenon, Cousin Bree, Aunt DeeDee, Uncle Joe and your cat, Raisin, all come to the Puppet Show, you can SELL them tickets and refreshments!

Well, we built a PUPPET THEATER and we have a PUPPET SHOW so consider yourself
                                SATURDAY, MARCH 10, 2012
                                                    5:30 PM
                                       "Nick and Sae's house"
                      Free dinner buffet with all paid admissions!
                                                   Tickets $1
                                       Concessions Available!*

In the interest of "full disclosure" this invitation also included the following information - in teeny tiny, very, very small print:
*You MUST purchase concessions in order to purchase a ticket! You MUST purchase a ticket to enter the theater. You MUST purchase a ticket AND concessions in order to qualify for the "free" dinner buffet! ALL parties must be ticketed! NO EXCEPTIONS for babies or pets! Baby Happy Meals available - (for purchase!) CASH ONLY! All decisions made by management FINAL!

Now, who is going to say "no thank you" to these cute little boys who worked so hard to create such a wholesome family event? That's right! No one! Attendance? 100% !

Planning and preparation are basic requirements of a successful business venture. Our puppet show was several weeks in the making. Mommy helped the boys practice their routine. It had to be longer than two minutes and tell some kind of a story. Customers expect that!

Meanwhile, grandma was busy down in the basement creating a concession stand out of a concoction of cardboard boxes, foam sheets and a litter of streamers and paper scraps. Also on the list of "things to do" were visors for the proprietors, pocket aprons for stashing profits, an inventory of snacks to sell and a roll of tickets for customers to buy.

There's no question that the concessions were a bit "pricey!"
Customers smart enough to read the fine print noted that it said "or best offer."
So actually it was only grandma and grandpa who eagerly paid full price for everything!

I decided to make a "Happy Meal" for Brielle's parents to buy for her. String cheese, mini-muffins, a fruit cup and, of course, a little wind-up bear for the prize were stuffed inside this clown-shaped bag.

Homemade "Happy Meals" make everybody happy -
especially me! I get to go shopping for cute prizes to
pack inside!

Is this tip jar large enough for you?
I believe I have already used the term "shameless"
to describe my mission to make big money for the boys!

Popcorn - expected to be our best seller - and it was!

 We set everything up while the boys took naps. Once they were up, everything started to happen!

A practice run before theater patrons began to arrive!
Nick offers you a sports drink and Sae is just happy to see you!

Yes, we did debate over whether a steep fee to park
would drive customers away, but all they really did
was laugh about it (and refuse to pay!)


Uncle Joe and Aunt DeeDee followed closely by Aunt Christy, Uncle Keenon, and Brielle                                       
              And this mini-sized customer was adorable, hungry and had MONEY to SPEND!
              "I'll have the Happy Meal, TWO popcorns and ALL of those candy bars, please!"

                Business was very brisk! The money was rolling in, the tip jar was filling up.........

                                              ....and Sae was very happy about it!

                                       Nick was kept busy arranging dwindling inventory........

                     But all good things come to an end - and this one ended with a near sell out!
                                             Brielle decided to verify this for herself....
               (and some people wonder why the family affectionately refers to her as "Busy Body!")

OKAY! SHOW TIME! Since the boys are really into opening and closing gates, I decided to rope off the foyer from the family room where the puppet show was to be held. After the snack bar closed, the boys removed the rope and requested that customers form two lines so both of them could sell tickets. Here is Sae, fully engaged in "crowd control!"

Nick, at right, takes his job as Co-Puppeteer very seriously!

So, did the puppet show last more than two minutes? Did it tell the audience a story?  Ummm....well, nooooo, "perhaps" not exactly! But it did earn the two co-puppeteer/entrepreneurs a lasting, enthusiastic round of applause and a well-earned final bow!

And then we gathered for the promised "free-with-ticket-purchase" taco buffet. Mary Jo prepared a sumptuous outlay that included a "bottomless" Margarita pitcher for the ladies! More applause!

We saved a most important task for after dinner. Money needed to be counted and profits split between the two little proprietors. Daddy stepped in to help, announcing that a whopping $38 was earned. The boys efficiently stuffed their cash into new wallets (dinosaur design for Sae, tiger for Nick) that grandma purchased for the occasion of their first experience as "businessmen!"

At least for now, plans are to spend earnings on a mighty handsome toy Mack truck. A suitable choice considering that these young men "did all that work!" (wink, wink!) Hey! That's what grandmas are for, right?

And, speaking of grandmas.....well, you don't think this one is going to end the evening without one more blast of crazy family fun, do you? Get a load of these.......


I found them at Oriental Trading and ordered three dozen. The boys passed them out, and grandma had no chance to yell, "SNOWBALL FIGHT! before they started to fly!

I did take pictures - when I wasn't a target - during the ten minute melee that ensued, but alas! - each was a blur of white projectiles and three generations enjoying what Uncle Keenon said was "the best part of the whole evening - very well worth what was over-spent at the concession stand!"

After grandma and grandpa collapsed on the couch, exhausted, we watched the twins roll around on the floor like a cute little pair of drunken monkeys, wrestling with each other, daddy, and two uncles they absolutely adore!

 In the end, it was, indeed, a "splendid evening at the theater!"