Crafting is something I love. I enjoy being totally immersed in a project, zoning out as I focus on painting, or mixing, or gluing, or whatever. So although crafting and baking with my kids was something I always looked forward to, right now, it’s challenging. Because toddlers don’t let you focus on anything (but them). And I’m a bit of a control freak. You’ll find out just how OCD you are when 1.5 and 3.5 year-olds want to “help” with projects! Whether it’s pouring glue all over the place or dumping flour everywhere. Or getting ink on your (inexplicably) white kitchen table. It. will. test. you.
But you know what? That’s a good thing for me. Doing projects with my little guys is not my idea of a productive craft session where I can get in the “flow,” but I need to adjust my own expectations and make it about their experience. I’m working on it! And while I build up my patience to a saint-like level, I’ve gathered eight easy(ish) and fun craft tutorials to try and listed them all right here on SheKnows.com. No need to scour Pinterest! I already found the best ones. These crafts will bring maximum cuteness for minimal effort, and they’re perfect for spring.
(Our version of a fairy/leprechaun house)
But it does help to prep a bit. One thing that’s reduced my kids + crafting anxiety is organization. I got one of those drawer cart thingies from Michael’s (with a coupon, of course) and sorted all of the kids’ craft supplies. I wish the chrome frame were rose gold-toned or white (I considered spray painting it because I’m crazy) and it would be so much better with cuter knobs, but I enjoy the rainbow drawers. It rolls around and I keep it in my daughter’s closet. We just scoot it out to the kitchen table when we’re ready to work on something. All the crayons have a home, all the stickers are in one spot, and there’s a place for every marker. It’s so calming! So when you work up the nerve to start a messy project with the kiddos, consider organizing first. Get your cart, your materials, your precious little children, and your big ol’ glass of wine. And then start making a mess.
This weekend we held a taco-themed first birthday party for Gus. It reminded me that birthday parties are so. much. work. But it was so fun, and we’re so glad friends and family came out to celebrate! Everyone ate tacos and cookies and had a blast.
What went well: The amazing local taco cart from Luis Maravilla. This was pretty much the cornerstone of the party so it’s really good this worked out! Nothing got broken (that I know of). That’s good! We didn’t run out of anything, and I think everyone had fun. I know I did. The kids were wrecked after the party, and they had a great time. A huge plus about having a party is that you’re forced to clean your house and get little things done, like hanging things up, fixing up the yard, etc.
What did not go well: I labored over these cookies, y’all. I love making decorated sugar cookies a la Alison’s Cookie Party so overall I’m very happy with how these turned out. BUT I almost cried when I realized I forgot the ‘R’ in “Happy Birthday” after I had baked four batches of cookies and washed and put away all the baking stuff. I was ready to move on with my limited time. Then it got worse. I gave in and made a tiny cookie batch just for the ‘R,’ but the kids distracted me while it was in the oven and it burned. I used it anyway. After all that, I forgot to put the HAPPY BIRTHDAY GUS cookies out at the party! They’re still in a Pyrex on my counter. Ughhhhh. Anyway. The ones that did make it to the desert table were great. I also wish I would have decorated more, and that the Balloon Time helium tank I got would have worked! Taking that sucker back to Michael’s. I forgot to turn on the bubble machine I got nearly three years ago for Ruby’s party. I was finally going to use it at a party. I also just realized we forgot to play music. Oh well.
Without further ado, here are some select pictures from the party:
Yeah these didn’t make it out. On the plus side, I get to eat them all myself now. Except the burnt ‘R’. (Don’t look at it!)
Favors: Gus straw cups and maracas.
I don’t care if the tablecloth is wrinkled; I will never iron a tablecloth.
I borrowed these! Thanks, Jenny.
Ru and her beloved cousin Isa
Love these guys! Somehow we coordinated outfits. Ru and I wore vintage dresses and Gus wore a taco shirt from Target. I know at least three little boys with this shirt; it’s great. Nate is wearing… I don’t know.
Mom/Nana at the drink and side table. The margaritas were very popular… with me.
The real star of the show: the vintage Corona cooler that Nate’s parents brought us. It was full of Modelo, Corona, Mexican Cokes and Jarritos sodas.
I didn’t get any pictures of the tacos!! But they were delicious. Thanks, guys!
Obligatory monthly-photos-with-clothespins setup.
Showing Gus his cake! Pineapple cake from Ruby Bakery in Eagle Rock.
Ladies! My aunt, mom, and Nana.
Cousin Ella, Mom & Sam
Papa’s side of the family photo!
No, we’re not at Coachella, but baby parties are cool too, right?
Allyce and sister-in-law Julia.
Grandpa and Gus Gus
Waiting patiently for cake.
It’s Poukhan! (And Ryan and Ellis.)
Adorable fiesta invites from Etsy shop CherryBerryDesign.
I feel sort of bad; this gray mess is what I fed my children for dinner tonight. (Well, part of it, they also got chicken burgers, avocado, and tomatoes so it wasn’t TOTALLY disgusting.) As I was just putting away the leftovers — AKA nearly all of it — I laughed loudly to myself because this mushy blob looked so, so gross. No Pinterest-worthy spreads, here, guys! Also the picture makes it look much more appetizing than it is. So if you’re wondering, don’t add the Trader Joe’s Mushroom Medley to the Corn & Black Bean Quinoa Blend. It just doesn’t work. Plus, I got the added surprise treat of a PINEAPPLE bite amongst my savory, soggy mushrooms. No bueno. Generally I love everything at TJ’s; I pretty much shop there exclusively. Because I’m lazy and it’s a much more manageable grocery experience, but also because I think they have delicious offerings. Plus they give out stickers. And “scamples,” as Ruby calls them.
Here are my top TJ’s picks:
1) Frozen Indian food. Duh, everyone knows this one. Oldie but a goodie.
2) Bruchetta sauce mixed with steamed lentils and feta — delicious dip. This is definitely a go-to, and sometimes Nate and I eat this as a meal. It’s great to bring to parties, or to serve. Shout out to Mommy2Mommy, the Facebook group where I learned about this! (And OMG more on mom Facebook groups later.) Here’s the “recipe.”
3) Arugula pizza. A dinner fave! Makes me feel like I’m back in Brooklyn, living life as a young, childless hipster. Not a disheveled mom bribing her two year-old with gummy probiotics and trying to find out why the kitchen smells like pee.
4) Mochi ice cream. Yum.
5) Spanish Cheese Tapas Sampler. Great for snacking, or for having for dinner with a large glass of wine.
6) Frozen Hashbrowns. These patties are just like McDonald’s! Which in this case is a compliment. They feature frequently in our morning routine.
7) Creamy tomato soup. Make some grilled cheese sandwiches!
8) Chocolate-covered marshmallows. SO GOOD. Marshmallows are just the best. I like to bring these camping with graham crackers – easier s’mores!
9) Frozen fettuccine with shrimp, artichoke hearts, & spinach. Solid meal. Makes me feel like I cooked. I love this because it features many of my favorite foods.
10) Creamy Spinach & Artichoke Dip. With some bread or chips! Apparently the serving size is 2 tbsp, not 8.8 oz. But I still had the whole container, plus half a baguette, for dinner the other night.
Also good: milk, fruit leather, Spanakopita, sesame cashews, Two Buck Chuck, taquitos, Gyoza potstickers, peanut butter mini sandwich crackers, chicken broth, Tandori Naan, Inside Out Carrot Cake Cookies, turkey stuffed peppers, turkey deli meat, cranberry almond cereal, all the pre-made salads.
Things I avoid at TJ’s:
1) Mandarin Orange Chicken. It just doesn’t taste good! What’s wrong with me? I’ve tried this a few times, thinking I might have just gotten a bad bag. No, every time it’s just as bad. Like a dried-out, sour taste. Just me?
2) Speculoos Cookie Butter. I don’t get it. And I LOVE cookies. I mean, what is a Speculoos? What is this? I tasted it and it was not delicious.
3) Organic ketchup. This does not taste like ketchup. Don’t do it.
4) Curry Chicken Tenders. So gross. These come raw in curry sauce. I thought I would be fancy and “cook” these. Bad idea.
5) Corn & Black Bean Quinoa Blend with pineapple. See above. This is the Devil’s handiwork.
6) Mac & Cheese Bites. These aren’t terrible, they’re just not good.
7) Hummus. I don’t care for it. I’m more of a Sabra girl. But I get it for my kids because … I’m already at TJ’s.
8) Apple pie. Just because I ate multiple pieces for lunch today doesn’t mean I think this is good. Because it’s not good. OK?
9) Saucy Scallops with Mushrooms in Emmental Cheese Sauce. Does this sound delicious to you? Well it actually did sound good to me, so, my bad.
10) Organic Mayo. Just stick to Best Foods.
P.S. After we put the kids to bed I fed Amos my Mushroom Medley and Corn & Black Bean Quinoa Blend and ate an ice cream sandwich. From Trader Joe’s.
My little Trader Joe’s buddy, before she had to give up the front seat to her chunky little brother and start riding in the basket with the food.
I sacrificed basically an entire day and close to a hundred bucks for this cheesy, terrible-quality mall Easter bunny photo. Was it worth it? The husband says Easter bunny photos are not a “thing” – I think they are. Plus I’m a sucker for holidays, malls, dressing up, and fodder for embarrassing future teenagers. So obviously I was going to get mall bunny photos. First I registered for my “photo session” at the Glendale Galleria online to “hold my spot” at what I was sure would be a mall clusterf*ck. (I learned my lesson after waiting five hours for the Americana Santa pictures!) I dressed my nuggets in their vintage Easter finery and loaded them into the Jeep. We actually got there a little early! Because, you know, I expected a crazy scene. We were the only ones there. Like, anywhere in the vicinity of the pink plastic-y Easter backdrop. The teenage girl working there did not understand how to look up my reservation. I ended up having to do it myself using her iPad. Gus did not want to sit on the lap of a giant, creepy, bespectacled man-bunny. Ruby, of course, loved it. Gave the bunny a big hug. In the end, I got this one photo. Even though the package advertised that ALL my photos would be available for download, and the teenager confirmed. Let’s investigate the true price of this image, shall we?
Photo package: $30 at the Glendale Galleria mall
Vintage dress: $18, The Green Bean in Eagle Rock
Saltwater sandals: $3, thrifted (score!)
Vintage suit: $5? Thrifted; ”from” my IG shop, @amostownshop
Tiny Toms: You know, I don’t know where these came from. Hand-me-downs?
Flower crown: $10?, H&M
Baby Mum Mums to pacify Gus: $1
Gummy penguins to bribe Ruby: $3
Food Court sushi for mama: $10
Food Court pizza for Ruby: $5 (for one slice!)
And then we had the Zara impulse buys, and the accompanying Zara stroller meltdown (Ruby). Both kids napped briefly in the car on the way home, and then would not transfer to their beds. Sooooo the rest of the day was shot. At 5pm I gave up, put Finding Nemo on, and served leftover mac n’ cheese for dinner. Was my bunny photo worth it? I like to think so.
I’m gonna punch 2016 in the face! Oh wait, we’re already three months in…
As Poukhan and I start this blog, I’m in the middle of many, many “projects.” My crazed, manic energy could be fueled by caffeine, some warped version of PPD, or …. who knows. But I’m going with it! I’m selling children’s clothing on Instagram, making and selling jewelry on Etsy, writing (hopefully), and you know, taking care of two tiny humans. And then there’s the crafting, the momming it up with other moms, the projects around the house, etc. Things that have slipped off the to-do list? Exercise, for one. Cleaning up (right now there are approximately 32 dolls strewn around the living room). I have so much on my plate right now, but I’m really excited about it! Hormones? Maybe. High on that baby life? Perhaps. Have I had a 9.4% alcohol IPA this evening? Possibly. Or maybe 2016 is just going to be my year.