Monday, February 28, 2011

101 Dalmatians and Treats

 Now what to do with all of those leftover fireman party treats....

Dalmatian Spots (aka: Raisinets)

 I sent the dalmatian spots to my son's preschool with the books 101 Dalmatians and Firehouse Sal. I also sent our leftover fireman napkins.

I figured they might enjoy fitting in an extra story while munching on some treats to go with it. For those of you that may not know, dalmatians are born with a plain white coat. Their spots usually appear about a week after birth. Oh, the wonderful things you learn from the Disney animation 101 Dalmatians! (I really did not know about the spots before that movie. Lol!)

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Fireman Party Games

We used some very traditional games for our party because they were most age appropriate and a lot of fun. I found a pin the helmet on the dalmation at Party City. It is also available online at

If you can't get a hold of this one you could just use a picture of a dalmatian and cut some fire helmets out of red construction paper. This classic game seems to always be a kid pleaser!

We also made a fireman obstacle course. Cade received a fire pole from Santa for Christmas so that was an extra special touch. The course involved going down a slide, crossing a plank, stepping through tires, crawling under a table, sliding down the pole,

and then grabbing an old fire hose to put out the fire. We gave each of the kids fire helmets as party favors and they wore them on the course. (I found very nice fire hats at the dollar store near Halloween) We also had about 6 fire coats that I bought on sale afer Halloween for the kids to dress up in.

Oh, and I almost forgot...we rang a bell to signal the fire alarm and the kids raced off. The children ranged from 2-10 years of age and they all loved it!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Fireman Party Table Back Drop and Cupcake Stand

I love jazzing up a party table for effect. The bigger and bolder the better! I took a piece of plywood 4x4 and wrapped it in brick paper. (This can often be found at a teaching supply store) Next I painted a board black and screwed it into the backdrop. Another small scrap board painted black served as my sign on top (Fire Chief Cade). A few nails, jackets, and helmets later...

I used the rest of the brick paper to wrap three different sizes of boxes to create a cupcake stand and centerpiece. A toy firetruck added some extra attention with a fireman climbing to the top of the cupcake stand. I am surprised one of the kids did not pull it off in the middle of the party to play with!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Fireman Party Chocolate Helmets

I just couldn't stop on the fireman treats. I found some precious fireman helmet candy molds on eBay. I bought some red chocolate from Michael's and some lollipop sticks.

My candy molds were not designed to make suckers but they worked just fine. I melted the chocolate into the helmets and let them partially set. Then I carefully put in the lollipop sticks.

I used an old piece of Styrofoam and painted it. Next I adorned some tissue paper and some yellow strips of paper for effect and....

My husband said this was one of his favorite things and go was the easiest. Ha!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Fireman Birthday Party Treats

After making the fireman pretzel matchsticks and books I decided we needed some more fun treats for the party. My next ideas included red hot fire extinguishers, dalmatian dots, and hot tamales (an old favorite).
Again, I was able to find all the free graphics I needed online to design the little bag toppers. First the red hot fire extinguishers...

And then the dalmatian dots (dark chocolate raisinets)...

We put a few cute stuffed dalmatians around as decoration.

And then our hot tamales...

And then our popcorn bags...

Here is an up close view of the little bags and toppers.

Have fun...these take some time...but are worth it!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Fireman Birthday Party Matchsticks

I decided to go with all fireman themed food for the party. Less cooking for me (ha!) and it went with the theme. My mom was really excited about all the crafting so she helped search for graphics online to design a matchbook cover. We printed these on cardstock.

I folded them and left a little ledge on the bottom to tuck in the top cover like a real matchbook and staple in the treats.

For the matches I melted red chocolate (from Michael's) in a bowl. I dipped the tips of the pretzels in and laid them on wax paper to set. I found little "jewelry" bags at Michael's as well and placed 5-6 "matches" in each. I stapled the bag at the bottom to keep them in.

I wrapped a box in brick paper and added a few pieces of tissues paper and ....

They were cute and delicious. I am not sure if the kids or the adults enjoyed them more! 

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Fireman Birthday Party Idea Week

Sound the alarm! My oldest son is turning 3! We are planning his party around the fireman theme because he is "obsessed." He can often be found around the house wearing a fireman helmet, jacket, and carrying a mini fire extinguisher or a hose.

We started out as the above picture for his party invitations and I bought a design off of ebay for the rest of the invite. I used

The invitations with the fireman picture above turned out adorable. My favorite part is little prints sends you the designed invitation for around $15 and you may print them anywhere you like. (This really helped when we had to send a whopping 30 plus invites out. Our family is huge!!!) I received great customer service and they promise a 12-24 turnaround.

Stay tuned. I will be posting our party ideas, decorations, and games all week!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Personalized placemat

I found these adorable penguin placemats on sale after Christmas at Target for 50 cents each. What a deal! I came home and took a sharpie marker to them and put the boys names on them. My three year old was thrilled to have a placemat with his name on it. What a wonderful gift idea as well!

The dollar store often offers a variety of placemats that could be easily personalized. Find something perfect for your own little one.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Child Valentine Food and Fun

Here is this weeks reading suggestion. Today my son and I read the book...

It is a precious book about a dog that is sad because it is Valentine's Day and he doesn't think anyone loves him. Then he realizes everything loves him and he finds hearts in the natural beauty around him.

Heart Rocks

We began looking around our house for hearts and we found a funny one...

Potato Heart
 Since we are in the Valentine's spirit I made him a Valentine inspired lunch. I first cooked a sweet potato and sliced off circular pieces. Next I used a valentine cookie cutter to cut our hearts. Apparently sweet potatoes taste better this way because he ate them all!

Then I used that same heart cookie cutter and set it gently on top of the applesauce. I used red sprinkles to fill it in...

Just remember you can use almost anything and cut out hearts. Some other suggestions are cheese, cucumbers, peanut butter sandwiches, pudding cups...the possibilities are endless. Enjoy a special Valentine celebration with your children!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Girl Scout Cookie Valentine

My mom works with a very clever teacher named Karen that came up with this creative Girl Scout cookie Valentine. She was trying to help her daughter sell more cookies. I loved it and am using it for some of my son's teachers for Valentine's Day.

Here's a SHOUT OUT from us to you
With a great big THANKS for all you do!
So eat a cookie. Make it two!
And with each bite, know that WE LOVE YOU!
Happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Valentine Lace Up

You will quickly learn that I just hate throwing things away when you can use them for something else. No...I am not one of the hoarders you see on TV. However, I have to admit when I finally bought a storage shed a few months ago it was more exciting then Christmas. Ha!

I bought some lace ups at the dollar store the other day and my three year old son has really been enjoying them. I love them because they are great for coordination and fine motor skills.

After tiring of the same lion and crocodile I decided we could make some of our own. I took the top of a Valentine box and punched holes all the way around it and....

This same concept could be used to cut characters off of cardboard cereal boxes and more. All you need is a hole punch and a spare shoe string to lace with.

Monday, February 7, 2011

XOXO Valentine Tic-Tac-Toe

On my wish list for Christmas was a jigsaw because I kept thinking of all the things I could create out of leftover plywood. My husband was more then willing to buy one because it was almost like self gifting. It is February and I am finally using it! I decided my first craft would be a Valentine Tic-Tac-Toe game.

XOXO Tic-Tac-Toe

I traced a heart from an old chocolate box on the wood (plywood or bead board). Cut your heart at least 1/4" smaller. (I drew an interior cut line) You can always find a heart template if you are not comfortable with free hand drawing. Craft stores often have wood heart cut outs near Valentine's Day.

The next step was to spray paint the heart red and let it dry.

 I used painters tape once it was dry to leave outlines for the horizontal and vertical lines of tic-tac-toe. I carefully spray painted the black lines and removed the tape.  (Black electrical tape would work for the lines instead if you did not want to paint)

Now for the XOXO...
You could easily use your classic XOXO for the board but I elected to personalize mine. I found clear gems at the dollar store. I printed out pictures of my husband, myself, and my oldest son on computer paper. I cut them in circles to fit the gems and then decoupaged them on. I glued felt circles on the back to give them a finished appearance.

I soon realized the old chocolate box provided the perfect storage case for my new Tic-Tac-Toe game. Now sit down, play, and enjoy!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Unique Firetruck Valentine...You set my heart on fire

My son is obsessed with firetrucks and fireman right now. We were unable to find any cute themed Valentines at the store so we created our own. We made red chocolate fire trucks from candy molds and attached them in little bags on the back. (You can buy 100 bags for $1.99 at Michaels)

Here is the link if you want to make some for your own little firefighter! (I left a text box available at the bottom so you can easily add your child's name)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Snow Cookies

We are still loving the snow in Texas. I can't remember ever having this much! It is starting to finally melt away today and my son was a little sad we could not build a snowman. We thought of a better idea...

We made snow cookies. I gathered up a bunch of cookie cutters, some plastic plates, and a spatula.

These were some of the best cookies we have ever created because we did not have a mess to clean up!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Valentine...You STIR up the sweetest emotions in me!

Day four of being snowed in the house... in Texas....!

Valentine...You STIR up the sweetest emotions in me!

I was trying to coming up with some more unique Valentines for adults and this popped in my head. I first used a wood burning tool I received as a wonderful gift from my mom (Available at Hobby Lobby) to burn two small hearts on the back of a wooden spoon. (Not necessary but just an added touch)

I used a clear party sack to place the spoon in. I would have loved to use cute confetti...but again I am snowed in. I decided to cut a half of a piece of red tissue paper into squares for the filling. I attached a cute circle tag with a ribbon and my gift was ready to go!
 I have seen some really cute chocolate coated spoons (plastic) on several blog sites. Those could easily be placed in cellophane and tagged with the same clever saying.

Dazzle Fast Cards

I know some of you may be very into creating paper cards. You likely have a room full of supplies, already perfected the art, and you may strive with each card to top the creativity of the last one. For other individuals it can often be a daunting task to create your own ideas, gather supplies, and find the time to actually make the cards.

I am very into shortcuts for simple but unique cards. I was at Michael's this week browsing their dollar section...because I can never resist. I found these cute cards with shoes on them and a pack of felt jeweled flowers. An idea was born.

I used a tape runner (glue would obviously work too) and attached the flowers to the shoes. I found some stickers with useful sayings and added them as well. For $2 I created these cuties.

I know you may not be able to find the exact same cards and flowers but I hope you can learn from the concept. Just adding a little three dimensional aspect to pre-made cards can make the world of difference!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Valentine for a Pop-POP-Popular Teacher

Day #2...Still snowed in! We worked on some valentine gifts for my son's preschool teachers. I had some cute popcorn containers leftover from a birthday party. You can find them at most party stores. We printed out our little saying...

Happy Valentine's Day
to a Pop-POP-Popular Teacher!

We backed it on red cardstock and attached it to the popcorn container. Next, we filled it with some red tissue paper and then placed a bag of microwave popcorn inside. This Valentine idea could also be for a "Popular" Grandma, Grandpa, etc.

We are actually going to be ready for Valentine's Day ahead of schedule this year!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Encourage Your Child to Read!

I recently read an article in the March 2010 issue of Parenting magazine that caught my undivided attention. The article was The Early Literacy Crisis by Lisa Moran. It discussed a 2009 report from Jumpstart, a national early education organization dedicated to advancing school readiness in low-income communities. “By second grade, we can predict with reasonable accuracy who will go on to higher education and who will not, based on their literacy skills,” says Jumpstart board member Laura Berk, Ph.D., professor of psychology at Illinois State University.

The article intrigued me so much that I found the initial report. It is not as boring as you might think. See link below if you are interested.

My two year old loves to read and even though I knew it was important to his development I did not realize the true impact. We probably read a minimum of ten books a day and he is already enjoying kindergarten level stories. However, we have not abandoned board books yet because I think all books have something to offer. I realize all children enjoy different types of books, levels of books, and have different attention spans. I do believe that snuggling up with good books is a wonderful way to spend quality time together with your child no matter their age. Even when children develop the skills to read on their own research shows that reading to them is beneficial. I hope we move on to chapter books when he is in school and can read a chapter or two every night.

My son and I have a little system to keep track of how many books we have read to make it even more fun. You may be as creative or as simple as you like in designing this system. Right now I have a barn I made from my paper supplies. I plan on laminating the next one to keep it a little more intact. I purchased farm animal stickers at the dollar store and we put an animal sticker in the barn for every book we read.

 For older children you can have them even create their own bookmark that they can add stickers to as they complete books or even chapters. Most children are proud of their accomplishments so we try to keep up with one a month and then date it on the back. I even enjoy looking back in amazement at all the books we have read.

 I challenge and encourage you to read to your child every day if you can. It has become one of the highlights of our evening bedtime rituals.

All it took was a snowy day in Texas...

My husband, two boys and I are snowed in for the day. This is quite the unusual situation for Texas in February. Normally, this would not make headlines, but this is Super Bowl week. My theory is we are just trying to make the football players feel more at home. I decided since both of my boys are actually napping at the same time (a small miracle)...I would finally start my own blog. I love crafting, activities with my kids, baking, and experimenting. One of my favorite things to do is surf the web for ideas so I am going to finally return the favor of all those other crafters and share some of mine. My ideas and crafts are not usually very complex because between being a wife, mom, and nurse my time is limited.
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