Saturday, February 6, 2016

Valentine's Gift Kits for the Stay-At-Home Types

Valentine's Day is just a week away! Alice keeps reminding me and updating me on the countdown. For some reason, she is super excited and has some kind of big plans in the works, involving me taking a nap. Sold.

A few weeks ago, I was contacted by someone from a company I'd never heard of, asking if I'd be interested in promoting their product for Valentine's day. I was interested, I thought their product was a fun gift for guys. They wanted me to write about some ideas for kits to help guys give their lady dates a great Valentine's Day. I immediately had some great ideas for us "stuck at home with little kids" types, to have a fun date at home after the kids are in bed. Some of my mom friends also chimed in with some awesome ideas. Unfortunately, this company did not actually offer any such date kits, and they weren't able (or interested?) in partnering to create any kits from my ideas that would actually be available to purchase for Valentine's Day. So it seemed silly to give them free publicity by sharing ideas for gifts that someone would have to buy from another company anyway and then assemble themselves. So I said "no thanks," and am going to share my ideas with you anyway!!

If you and your Valentine have kids that keep you stuck at home more often than not, here are some ideas for gift kits that can help you have a special evening without having to pay a sitter - especially if you can stay awake long enough after your kids are asleep! It would be so fun to get a gift box with all of these things inside all ready to go, but if you want to put one together yourself, I've included links below for almost everything (including many affiliate links from my little Amazon store)! Lots of this stuff is available on Amazon Prime, so you can still get it in time for the big day!

The Kit: Sweet Paris - French dessert kit

Includes: creme brûlée mix, set of four ramekins in a water bath baking dish, kitchen torch with butane, ceramic pots of microwave-ready chocolate fondue (just heat & serve!) with fondue forks (not pictured!) marshmallows, pound cake, and wafer cookies for dipping, my very favorite romantic French movie, some French bubbly, and a sampler of macarons.

Just add: cream for creme brûlée, and any other treats you want to dip in chocolate - like fresh strawberries and pineapple!

The Kit: That's Amore - Italian meal kit including supplies to make your own fresh mozzarella! Make the mozzarella with your date, and then eat it for dinner!

Includes: Fresh mozzarella-making kit, delicious dry salami, pizza dough mix, marinara sauce, olive oil, Italian herb mix, pizza peel, himalayan salt votive candle holder, Italian wine, and a classic romantic comedy set in Italy (or, for a more recent option, Only You - one of my very favs!).

Just add: Whole milk (not ultra pasteurized) for making mozzarella, and maybe some fresh veggies and basil for your pizza.

The Kit: Light My Fire - backyard bonfire kit

Includes: portable fire bowl, cedar puck fire starter, matches, ghost stories book, retro lantern, shadow puppets, planisphere stargazing chart, naughty hot dog and marshmallow roasters, roasting sticks, s'mores roasting basket, graham crackers and biscoff cookies, marshmallows, caramel sauce, Theo chocolate bars and peanut butter cups, and Jiffy Pop. Rend Collective is a Northern Irish experimental folk rock worship band; their Campfire album was recorded live around a campfire. If hymns aren't your thing, Peter, Paul, and Mary bring all the standards on their "Around the Campfire" album.

Just add: small logs to burn, hot dogs & fixings, cozy blanket, campfire chairs

The Kit: Instant Romance - for your own private boudoir photo shoot.

Includes: French bubbly and flutes, silk rose petals to scatter and set the scene, Voluspa Prosecco Rose candle, rose water bubble bath, black half mask and mask on a stick, Instax Mini instant camera and film.

Just add: you! and any fun and fancy props or outfits you might already have around the house (or bedroom!)...

This might be my personal favorite idea, just because I've been wanting my own Instax mini for a while now. So much fun for a boudoir shoot - and no digital files of your naughty bits to accidentally get out and about.

The Kit: Couples Massage

Learn to give each other great massages. Fractionated coconut oil will flow easily, but won't stain or get things all greasy. The candle will set the mood. Add in some relaxing essential oils to take it to the next level - use lavender, or any of your favorites!

The Kit: Adult Coloring

Includes: Crayola Super Tips markers, a saucy sex positions coloring book, and a hilarious "adult" coloring book with fun activities like a "Dodge the Debt Collector maze." 

Just add: Any of your favorite coloring accouterments! 

Get in on the coloring craze with some books that will help you giggle, relax, and get in the mood together!

The Kit: Beer Tasting

Just add: Some new brews to try, and maybe some snacks palate cleansers!

We used to play this board game at our old neighborhood pub. Our favorite part was making up fun and punny names for our brews - this was actually not part of the game play, but we loved it!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

6 months

Elliott is six months old today. We should probably start letting him play with real food, but I'm dragging my feet because there's just no going back to that sweet baby breath. When Ivy started eating real food, she smelled like garlic pretty much instantly and exclusively. He's ready though, and I can't keep time from marching along.

I've been shouting my happiness all over social media that Elliott is basically nailing sleep training. He's been sleeping in a swaddle, and though it seemed like he still needed it, he had started rolling over onto his face once he woke up, which the baby owner's manuals do not recommend. I'd tried leaving an arm out of the swaddle or both arms, or ditching the swaddle all together, but he wasn't really going for it.

Another exhausted mom recommended a Facebook group dedicated to sleep training support, so I joined it, read some stuff, took a deep breath and ripped off the band aid. And it worked. He's learning to self-soothe, with only a few minutes of minimal "protest" cries and fussing. But basically, he's putting himself right to sleep for naps and bedtime, and has slept for nine straight hours - without waking to nurse - for a few nights in a row. I knew I was tired, but had no idea how exhausted I really was until I got five straight hours of sleep two nights in a row. Whoa. I think some of the fog is finally lifting, some of the rage is subsiding, and some of my brain cells are growing back.
I finally managed to get some photos of my sweet little guy in front of the Christmas tree, right before we dragged it out to the street. He even sat up unsupported for three whole minutes, without keeling over sideways or backwards.

He is really the sweetest little buddy, such a delicious bundle of butter ball. He loves to watch his sisters, and loves it when they hold him and tickle him and say "guh" at him. He loves to watch the kitties and get fistfuls of their fur. He loves to play penguin by laying on his tummy with his legs and arms off the ground and kick his legs and flap his arms; he looks just like a penguin sliding on the snow. He loves the Glow Baby and Violet toys, especially when they are playing songs for him.

And we love watching him do all these things. I love to make him laugh. I love to kiss his cheeks and his neck and his belly and munch on his arms and legs like corn on the cob. I love to breathe his baby breath. I love to see him in his star suit (aka the Zipadeezip), and love when he pats me with his little star hands while I nurse him in the wee hours of the morning. I even love his very sad sad face. It's the saddest face ever. Basically, we love everything about him. 

In his Zipadeezip star suit

Patting his sister's face with his star hands.

 Reading a book about Biscuit to my little biscuit.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

And Bugsy is 3.

On New Year's Eve, we introduced the kids to one of my favorite traditions and showed them Little Shop of Horrors for the first time. Alice and Ivy both loved it, they wanted to watch it again immediately. Ivy actually said "I love the plant. I like that it eats blood." 

I put Ivy to bed and she wanted her Glow Baby "to play her lullabies," and I took this photo of her last bedtime as a two-year-old. 
I kept asking Ivy what kind of cake she wanted (I meant which flavor) and she kept telling me she wanted a Sadness cake. I haven't had a lot of time to think about or plan for her birthday, but I'd narrowed in on a good idea to make her a Sadness cake. So I whipped up a non-dairy (so I could eat it!), chocolate mayo cake with buttercream frosting and put Ivy's favorite character on it. I love how it turned out, and so did Ivy.

I'd also managed to whip up Ivy's birthday dress in the few days before New Year's Eve, while my parents were here to occupy the kids. I thought the coral corduroy needed some of the accent fabric on the bodice to break up all that pink, so I decided to make a flower. As I was researching flower tutorials, I realized that the circle cut out of the waist of this skirt would make a perfect yo-yo flower.
 Ivy thought so, too!

The girls love these dresses with their spinny circle skirts. 

Alice didn't want Ivy to get all the attention (even on her birthday) so she snuck into the photos wearing the first dress I ever made from this pattern probably two years ago. This is the Georgia Twirl Dress, if you're needing one of your own!

 Ivy opened her gifts and Alice was on clean-up duty. Except Alice kept ripping the paper right out of Ivy's hand, or worse, right off the present itself.

 And then we ate that delicious Sadness cake!
I'm 3!

 She blew out all the candles in one go and was so pleased with herself.

Happy Birthday to my favorite Ivy Bug. You are a hilarious handful. 
Ivy, on her birthday.
Ivy, age 1.
Ivy, age 2.