Monday, June 15, 2015

Lovely Paper Products for a Girly Tea Party

Tonight I'm enjoying dreaming up a fancy tea party for several young nieces. I'm browsing the party goods offerings from the Talking Tables company.

These pretty, fancy-looking paper plates come in packs of 12. They come in three different designs.

The coordinating paper serving plates from Talking Tables come four to a pack, with two different designs in the package. What a lovely way to serve your finger sandwiches or petits fours!

The coordinating cocktail napkins feature pink flowers.

They also make a table cover, but that might be going overboard and making things too matchy-matchy.

If you really want to fancy things up for your nieces, decorate with these doilies. You can serve little cakes directly on them.

The Talking Tables paper 3-tier dessert stand comes in several different pastel flowery styles. I would totally fill these with alternating yellow and pink frosted cupcakes!

Or if you plan to serve cake pops, here's a paper 3-tier cake stand with cake pop holes!

Talking Tables also offers floral cake wraps to make your cupcakes more festive.

Serving a full size cake instead of cupcakes? Here's the Talking Tables paper cake stand.

This darling paper teapot vase is perfect for your centerpiece or mantel, to help decorate your tea party.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

My Favorite Popsicles and Ice Cream Bars to Feed Kids on Hot Summer Days

Outshine bars are really refreshing. I usually stash a box of lemon and one of lime in my garage freezer all summer. They're only 70 calories, too, with 17 grams of sugar (Less sugar than many of the juices from Trader Joe's!)

I've, sadly, never seen the peach bars in a store near me. I'd so love to try them.

Occasionally I'll run into a nephew who doesn't like chocolate (what? What a weirdo). So I serve these lemon cream bars instead. They're really rich and still somehow refreshing.

I don't think of "fudge" and "summer" in the same sentence often, but who doesn't look forward to a nice creamy fudgesicle on a hot day?

For me as a kid growing up, it wasn't summertime until you'd had your first Orange Creamsicle. I wish there was a way to just buy a box of plain orange. Nothing wrong with the raspberry, but it's not my tradition, and I'd rather have more orange creamsicles in the box.

Our family tradition around the Fourth of July is to eat a bunch of Firecracker popsicles. We love the festive colors and the unusual shape!

I do try to provide a little bit "healthier" popsicles throughout the summer. I like Dreyers juice bars (they're called Edy's in other parts of the country). I never can remember which flavor the kids fight over more, or I'd just get a whole box of that one flavor. Sometimes providing them a choice isn't a good idea!

For myself, I keep a box of Ciao Bella's key lime gelato squares in the freezer. The kids don't like them (too sour maybe?) so they leave them alone and I don't have to share!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Bathtime at Auntie's House

You don't want to return grubby kids to your brother or sister after the end of a sleepover visit. If your nieces and nephews stay overnight, you'll want to have a plan in place for getting them to take a bath or shower. Especially if you've had them out for adventures in the park, at the beach, camping or other ways for them to get sandy, muddy and wonderfully dirty. Bathtime is a nice calming transition to bedtime, and a ritual you will want to develop if you have your nieces or nephews overnight fairly often.

Some kids are reluctant to take baths and might try to argue with you. I try to make bathtime really fun so they look forward to it.

It can be difficult to take a bath or shower and relax at someone else's house. Here are some essential elements that will add to the kids' comfort:

  • A clean, well lit bathroom.
  • Plenty of soft, clean, warm fluffy towels.
  • A rug to step out onto when you're done so you don't slip.
  • Privacy (and a lockable door) for older children; constant supervision in the bathtub for younger ones.
  • Kid-friendly soaps, shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, etc.
  • Music playing softly in the bathroom might make the process more attractive to some kids.

Here's a peek at some of the enticements I provide at bathtime:

Make soaping up more fun with these giant Lego minifigure shaped soaps.

Here are Lego brick shaped soaps, too.

Nieces, being girls, are generally easier to convince that it's time for a bath. Still, it doesn't hurt to be able to offer them a Frozen bubble bath. In warm water, of course!

You can always try to sweeten the pot with this Olaf bath bucket.

I keep a set of these Cars shampoos and body washes around - both girls and boys like them!

After her bath, your niece can look forward to wrapping up in this Frozen hooded towel.

Got any little Star Wars fans around? Entice them into the bathtub with promises of this Millennium Falcon soap. The seller also offers a soap shaped like R2-D2.

It wouldn't hurt to keep around some Star Wars bath ttoys too.

Your niece or nephew could then dry off with their own Star Wars towels you keep handy for their visits.

I was excited to discover these bath bombs with a prize inside - how ingenious! I'm certainly not going to let a niece or nephew use up one of my expensive, beloved bath bombs from Lush. But bath bombs are a great way to entertain a kid as you're drawing the bath water.

These robot soaps are so pretty - I might keep a basket with a few of them stashed away in my bathroom cabinet.

I have one silly nephew with a great sense of humor who would just crack up at the sight of this funny chicken nugget and fries shaped soap set. He'd cheerfully hop into the bathtub if presented with these!

But I've saved the biggest weapon in my arsenal for last - here's a color changing showerhead! Kids love it! They will be fighting over who gets to take a shower first. Obviously, this is a more exciting appliance at night time in a darkened bathroom. It doesn't show up very well in daytime.

The other trick I do is turn off the bathroom lights, snap open several glow sticks, in different colors, and throw them in the bath water. They float, and the kids like the eerie way the glow sticks make the bathroom look.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Tempted to Try This Wooden Castle Project

I saw this unpainted wooden castle at Michael's yesterday, and was sorely tempted to get one. It's so adorable!

It opens up and can be used as a dollhouse castle or to re-enact historic castle sieges using Schleich figures or action figures.

What stopped me from picking one up is my doubt of my painting abilities. I don't think I could do this justice.

However, maybe it would be fun to invite some of my kiddos over to help me paint it as a group project - perhaps on a rainy day. (I'm not a fan of sitting inside doing crafts on a beautiful sunny day when you could be outdoors!)

I'm reading over a few "how to paint your dollhouse" webpages for tips on what kind of paint to use. So far I'm enjoying this article and mulling things over. I don't want to waste $25 on a dollhouse I wouldn't actually sit down and paint, or that I'd make look like crap with my poor crafting abilities!

A Summer Ice Cream Party

Meri Meri Ice Cream Centerpiece, on Amazon

My nephews and I have a tradition of eating big bowls of vanilla ice cream together on Saturday nights when they have sleepovers here at my house. We doctor the bowls with hot fudge or butterscotch (or both), whipped cream, and plenty of sprinkles. We don't generally go in for other flavors of ice cream as part of our family ritual and that keeps things easy for me.

However, I was thinking of fancying it up a bit - perhaps inviting the neighbors' grandchildren to join us sometime, adding a few more ice cream flavor options (Cookie Dough seems popular in our circle), decorating and making things festive.

Here are some of the things I've found to make the party extra special!

Meri Meri Ice Cream Van, on Amazon and on Etsy

Meri Meri's paper ice cream van is so cute!

Honeycomb Tissue Decorations, on Amazon

Paper Banana Split Decoration, on Amazon

Meri Meri Paper Ice Cream Garland Decoration, on Amazon

Beistle Tissue Hot Fudge Sundae Centerpiece, on Amazon

Joy Cone Color Cups, on Amazon

I always use color cups for our cones - beige is too boring!

Joy Mini Cups, on Amazon

Mini cups are great when you want to hand out a refreshing little treat but not spoil anybody's dinner or piss off their parents.

Ice Cream Cone Baby Bunting Costume, on Amazon

Would your brother or sister freak out if you dressed their infant up for the party? :)

Adult Ice Cream Cone Costume, on Amazon

Only the most dedicated (or silliest) aunt would volunteer to wear this funny ice cream cone costume.

Your nieces and nephews could join you in Goofyland by wearing their own child sized ice cream costume.

Toddler Cone Costume, on Amazon

Here's a toddler-sized ice cream cone costume too.

Ice Cream Sundae Costume, on Amazon

Perhaps you would prefer to dress up as an ice cream sundae.

Banana Split Dog Costume, on Amazon

Your pet can participate in the silliness too, with this dog banana split costume.

Soda Jerk Costume Hat, on Amazon

Here's a hat that's perfect if you're going for more of a soda fountain theme than an ice cream parlor.

Vintage Ice Cream Parlor Table and Chairs Set, on Etsy

I'm a pretty awesome aunt, but even I would not be very likely to dedicate an entire room in my home to becoming a permanent ice cream parlor. That would be more of a grandparent move. My own grandparents do have a small section of their lake house covered patio set up as a mini ice cream parlor using their vintage 1970s shocking orange leather ice cream parlor seats. You can imagine how much their great-grandkids look forward to visiting each summer!

Who here remembers the ice cream parlor set up for Tony and Tia in the 1970s children's fantasy movie Escape to Witch Mountain?

Ice-Cream-Opoly Board Game, on Amazon

If you're looking for an activity for your ice cream party, I recommend playing Icecreamopoly with your nieces and nephews BEFORE serving them ice cream, not after. (The whole business with sticky hands and the sugar wiggles, you know what I mean?)

This ice cream mixing slab set is going a little over the top. I'd only recommend it if your nephews and nieces are super fans of Coldstone Creamery and the like.

This ice cream cone stand won't be very useful to you if you have little people standing around drooling watching you scoop up ice cream and snatching their cones immediately out of your hands. However, if you're pulling a "come in from the yard, I have a surprise for you!" maneuver, this helps you set up four cones quickly to dispense to joyous children.

Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream and Dessert Book, on Amazon

Adventurous enough to make your own ice cream and let the kids help you?

RELATED LINKS:

The Big Muddy Ice Cream Blog

The Ice Cream Informant

On Second Scoop

Scoop Adventures