Monday, June 28, 2010

Homemade Robots

Real-life conversation:

Me: what should the theme of Ben's birthday party be?
Bri: what do you mean?
Me: you know, like cars or trains or monkeys? but we did monkeys last year and everyone does cars and trains. so we need, like, a theme. something unique.
Bri: why?
Me: for the invite and the cake and decorations?!
Bri: what about, "I'm turning two?"

If you are a mom, or person who loves parties, you're also rolling your eyes right now.

So... when Ben shouted "Robot!" out of the blue one day, I went with it. (It sounded more like "wo-bot!" which, of course made it even cuter.)

I scoured the internet for robot cakes, but didn't find one I liked, so I decided to make little robots to decorate the cake with.

Here's how to make your very own edible, robot army.

Supplies you'll need:

  • Big marshmallows
  • Brownie bites (I made my own by mixing up a box brownie mix and filling mini muffin tins about a third of the way full.)
  • Skewers
  • Decorations (mini M&Ms, twizzlers, pretzel sticks, etc.)
  • Chocolate for melting (don't buy the store brand like I did... name brands melts WAY better)

First, make little robot bodies:

Try to envision how to make little robot apendages with your decorations.

Melt your chocolate (I needed an entire bag of chips... and I used the microwave. Just 30 seconds, stir, 30 more seconds, repeat until melty.)

Dip and decorate.


Cool on lined baking sheet.

And eat!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Cheap, fast, flat and easy wall art

So... in prep for the robot birthday party, we did lots of painting and decorating.

I had picked up some very ugly art that was in a cool rod iron fram from Big Lots for about $19.99 a while ago. I had big plans for it and the empty spot on my dining room wall.

There were two issues with the wall that made finding art tricky:

1) the thermostat is in an oddball spot (Thankfully, Brian installed a programmable one after we moved in that makes it sit flush with the wall, though.)
2) the art couldn't stick out too far from the wall because guests at the table would hit their heads

So, I needed something flat and cute and cheap and... well, as you see, I get a little picky.

Burlap and some fabric paint were all I needed though to solve this problem. I ended up with this:

First, I took the ugly art out, flipped it over and covered it with burlap.

Then, I cut out the letters that I had printed out. (This always takes way longer than you expect. Do it while catching up on Top Chef or anything on HGTV.) I taped them on and painted them with fabric paint. (I should also note here that I don't ever measure. I just eye-balled the centering and spacing.)

I let everything dry, peeled the paper off...
and popped it back in the rod iron frame.

Ta da! And the best thing? It actually hangs over the thermostat. The loopy rod iron has just enough room for me to reach it. Mission accomplished.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Take that, airlines.

This is our carry on luggage from vacation. Ha.

Ok... crafty posts and birthday posts coming soon!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Ben's first trip to the beach

So... the Florida vacation (the one with the doomed travel plans) was Ben's first trip to the beach.

He LOVED it.

Loved the sun. Loved the sand. Loved the pool. Loved the ocean.

The most uttered word that week was, quite possibly: water!

(Usually preceded by "my," of course. At the age of two the pool was "my pool water" and the ocean was "my ocean water"... but Ben was kind enough to let the rest of us use the water as well.)

It was a magical week. With sandy bottoms...

And cool shades...

And chasing lizards by the pool...

Oh, and watching Pablo on the portable DVD player.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Vacation Lessons Part 2

So... we had a great week at the beach saw TONS of family and really enjoyed ourselves.

I promise a photo montage as soon as humanly possible. The pics are way better than my attempt to explain.

But... the trip home was not so wonderful. Bad weather in Indy delayed our flight out of Fort Lauderdale and our connecting flight to Columbus wouldn't wait for us, so after 4 hours in the airport (with an energetic 2 year old) we went BACK to the condo and had to fly out the following day.

This travel disaster coupled with the previous one taught me many lessons... here they are:

  • Give your kid a bag of his own. Pack it with dollar spot goodies that are individually wrap. BUT be sure those items don't have many small pieces. Froot Loops went EVERYWHERE. Crayons were tossed. I could go on. The best options: a wind up alligator toy, a coloring book with ONE marker, a book, etc.
  • Do NOT put the travel DVD play in the overhead bin. It's like and ETERNITY until the captain turns off the fasten seat belt light.
  • If you remember, bring goodies for the people who are sitting near you on the plane. I should have baked individually wrapped cookies or bought a few $5 star bucks cards to give to the kind souls that had toys and food bouncing of their heads before we got the DVD player up and running.
  • If you have time to kill, try and find an empty gate. Ben LOVED running up and down the aisles and climbing on the chairs.
  • And finally, GATE CHECK your car seat. DO NOT check it with your bags. We asked to do this on our trip home and even though we couldn't get on our plane, it still took off and took a few passengers that weren't connecting to Columbus. And our stuff was on that plane. I don't know what we would have done if the car seat was on that plane as well and we had to go back to the condo for another night. Yikes!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Vacation Lessons

Hi All!

I've been totally MIA recently because of a super-de-duper busy May/June.

Since May 27, we've had two weddings (I was in one of them), a rehearsal dinner, our first family vacay, Ben's first (and second) flight, our first garage sale and a totally awesome robot-themed 2nd birthday party.

Phew! I am tired just typing all of it.

I have lots to share, so, my goal is to do it in chronological order.

First topic: how we almost didn't make it to Florida. (yikes!)

Admission: I am a planner.
Reality: Sometimes, things don't go as planned.

This was the case with our trip from Columbus to Fort Lauderdale. Despite my page-long itinerary (which was updated and sent daily via e-mail the week before vacation) we still woke up late, the cab still arrived nearly 10 mins late AND we arrived at the airport JUST IN TIME to check baggage.

Then, we were charged extra for our checked bag because it was too big. So, the bag that we fly with EVERY vacation, that we've never had a problem with, that weighed LESS than 50 pounds, cost us $65! To fly a HUMAN to Fort Lauderdale cost only about $75. Needless to say, Brian was NOT happy.

After forking over the credit card we all got in line for security. ("We all" is me, Brian, Ben, my sister, my mom and my dad. We were quite an entourage.) Just as I'm thinking to myself: This stinks. I'm not even going to have time to get my traditional airport Starbucks.... Brian (still fuming from the bag fee) realizes the you-know-what of a ticket agent didn't print his boarding pass. So he heads back to the moves-like-molasses line to get his boarding pass as we tackle the security screening.

As we approach our gate (sans Brian, mind you) passengers are boarding. Yikes! Then.... my phone rings.

It's Brian.

And he says he's not getting on the plane.

But, he says I should get on anyway.

Wait. What?

Panic begins to set in...I tell him I'm not leaving without him. He tells me that missing my flight would be stupid because clearly there's a glitch with his ticket, but if I purposely miss my flight, we're going to have to pay an arm and a leg to get to Florida.

We still don't know why, but the airline was telling him that he owed the airline $400 for his ticket. (How you can book a ticket and still owe money is beyond me, but that is what they told him.)

He spent TWO hours on the phone with Priceline and Air Tran and by the time we landed in Atlanta, he'd been re-booked on another airline arriving in Fort Lauderdale at 7 p.m.

While he was on the phone with customer service, we were in the air. With a two-year-old lap child. Who was NOT happy with sitting on the runway. The time between boarding and taking off seemed like an ETERNITY. Ben was not happy... and my well-thought-out book bag full of goodies that had been carefully, individually wrapped by my mom turned into a book bag full of missiles.

I think my most uttered phrase that day was "I'm sorry." And it was nearly always spoken right before we took off. But once we took off and we powered up the portable DVD player, Ben was fine. My little sister was a savior on these flights because she was able to entertain Ben, fish things out of carry on bags and just generally make me smile. If you're traveling with lap child, you should try and get my sister to fly with you. She's great.

My aunt and her friend met us in Fort Lauderdale -- coolers full of food -- and helped up find and get comfy our Miami condo/home for the week.

... and about 5 hours later (about 14 hours after we woke up), my dad and I went BACK to Fort Lauderdale to get Brian.

When all was said and done, it took about 16 hours to get the entire family to our vacation destination. We were tired -- but we all slept GREAT that night.