My Surfer’s 7!

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Now that my little J is actually surfing, we decided to have his 7th birthday party at the beach!

Since he’s not a fan of cake, and he is a huge fan of donuts, we made him this “cake”—>

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Here’s the snack shack we set up for our guests:

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We painted a couple of old surfboards then used Mod Podge to decorate them with favorite pictures of the birthday boy.  We also added some of the adorable clip art we got from Pink Pickle Studios.

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The fun surfer theme clip art package also included the tags we used for the food baskets!

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For favors, we purchased white shovels in bulk at mnpartystore.com and gummy sharks on www.amazon.com.  They were a big hit!

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For entertainment?  All the kids needed were some beach balls, shovels and buckets…. they took care of the rest!

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It was pretty much the perfect day!

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Kid Cooking Class #3: Pizza!

What kid doesn’t love pizza?!  Well, as I learned when we made pizzas with my son’s first grade class… that would be a little girl named Violet.

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I thought I had a sure-fire winner when I told the class we’d be making pizzas.  I bought dough from Whole Foods and made sure I let it sit out for a little while before the kids started rolling it out.  I had half the group start on their dough.  It was really helpful to have precut individual parchment paper for each student.

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The other half of the group chopped carrots, red bell peppers and fresh basil we gathered from the school garden.  It was at this point that half the kids said they wanted pepperoni.  Or they hated vegetables.  And that little girl Violet told me she didn’t eat pizza.  I reminded them that things taste lots better when you make them all by yourself.  And for the real tough customers like Violet, I explained that cooking is often an act of giving, so they were welcome to share whatever they made with special someone.

The groups switched then they all added sauce and cheese.  A lot of them decided to make faces out of the veggies —>

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While the pizzas cooked,  the kiddos completed their “recipes” by drawing the ingredients they used and then writing them below, too.

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The pizzas came out great.  And my pal Violet ate her whole pie!  She told me she definitely agreed that things taste better when you make them with your own hands.

#kids #cooking #WholeFoods #pizza

Kid Cooking Class #2

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Who doesn’t love Eric Carle’s “The Very Hungry Caterpillar”?  I’m guessing most parents could read it with their eyes closed in the pitch black, blindfolded.  I decided it was the perfect classic children’s book to use as the theme for the second cooking class I taught to my son’s first grade class.

We started class by reading the book.  And we tasted every fruit the caterpillar ate.  For the record, that’s strawberries, pears, apples, oranges and plums.  I would take out each fruit one at a time as we read along with the book, and slice it up so each child could taste it.  It was really cool to watch some of them try a plum for the first time!  We even ended up having fun conversations about the seeds inside the pears and apples, and about how plums were almost out of season and hard for me to find at the grocery store (this was in November).

Next, we made a caterpillar sandwich!

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Here’s the recipe we worked from, and that I sent home with them:

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The kids each cut out two circles of bread with biscuit cutters I’d bought for a few bucks at the grocery store.

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They spread on jelly and peanut butter (none of the kids had allergies, but if so, substitute sunflower butter!)  And then they punched holes in their sandwiches using straws.

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They worked in pairs to cut cucumber rounds into quarters.  Together, we assembled the sandwiches onto a green pipe cleaner, arranged the cucumber slices along the “body” as the feet, and added a tomato for the head.  With toothpicks, the kids helped me add olive eyes.  I think their favorite part was learning about the “edible marker” we used to add the smile (purchased at Michael’s).

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In the end, they made some pretty adorable sandwiches and tried lots of fruits and some veggies!

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Kid Cooking Class #1

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They call it “Twisted Tuesday” in my son’s first grade class.  And I think my brain might have been slightly twisted when I volunteered to teach the cooking portion of these sessions.  Basically, each Tuesday morning, I get eight students for half an hour.  We make something in the teachers’ lounge kitchen.  And then I repeat with two more groups the next two Tuesdays that month.  It honestly might be easier to herd cats in a weekly rainstorm.  But it’s also turned out to be a heck of a lot of fun.

For the first class, at the advice of the teacher, we kept things very simple.  First, we went over the rules.  This is the sign I keep posted every time we cook:

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And then, we made a snack mix.  I know that sounds kind of lame, but it was actually the perfect project to get to know the kids’ personalities, and for them to get to know me.  To get started, we popped our own popcorn.  This was a big hit.  I think some of them had never seen corn pop before!  They each got to measure one teaspoon of kernels into the machine.

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Then, the kids were able to add on to their popcorn.  I offered pretzels, goldfish, Chex cereal,  raisins and mini M&M’s

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By the way, I made a trip to our local dollar store before our first class and stocked up on plastic bowls (four for 99-cents), plastic spoons and knives and other platters and ingredients.  I also bought several big silver mixing bowls from our local restaurant supply store for less than five dollars a piece.

The kids all ended up loving their first experience “cooking” in the kitchen.  And I ended up gaining a bit more confidence to help them do more than throws some snacks in a Ziploc the next month…

Catch the leprechaun!

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I am not in any way Irish.  Neither is my husband.  Sure, we’ve had our share of Irish car bombs in college.  My OB/GYN even recommended Guiness to help breast feeding, yes please and thank you very much after nine months abstinence.  But that’s as close as I ever got to celebrating St. Patrick’s Day.  Until I had a kid.  And he was in kindergarten.  And his class had this adorable project to build a leprechaun trap.  Michael’s sells these wooden traps (cages? what are they really for, who knows?) and we bought all of the decorations there, too.  May you catch ye own leprechaun, and toast it with Guiness this March 17th!

We heart Valentine’s Day at our house!

We just finished the Valentine’s Day cards in the nick of time for my kiddo’s class party!  I know you’ve probably seen this cute Goldfish idea on Pinterest?

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We got lucky and found fish bowl shaped plastic baggies at Michael’s, and just used clip art we found for free online and little heart stickers to complete the project!  Word of warning: we used Whole Grain Goldfish and they started to leave a kinda gross oily stain on the paper.  Yikes.  Makes you think twice about what our little guys are putting in their tummies, right?

Anyway, here’s the Pinterest idea we did last year… everyone loved it!

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And here was the project we made for his kindergarten class party:

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Pretty self explanatory!  The “love bugs” were made of pom poms, google eyes and heart stickers.  The “hugs” were paper hearts, goggly eyes and folded pink paper strips.

And finally, for the adults in our family, we have a really fantastic tradition.

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My husband and I are both wine lovers.  So awhile back, I decided to do this: each Valentine’s Day I buy a really nice bottle (usually about $75-$100).  For the first couple years, we just saved the bottles.  Then on the 3rd year, we opened the 1st bottle I’d given him to celebrate Valentine’s Day.  On the 4th year, we opened the 2nd bottle.  On the 5th year, the 3rd.  You get the idea!  Now we always have a really fantastic bottle of wine to look forward to.

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! #valentine #valentinesday

DIY Travel Collage

My mom trained me from a very young age to take as many teensy shampoo bottles and soaps from hotels as I could hide in my luggage.  I’ve honed this travel skill through the years and now hoard every drink coaster, ticket stub and restaurant business card I can get my hands on, too.  But then it all just sits in a plastic bin in my garage.  Until now.  Behold, the Travel Collage!

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I recently gathered my favorite “souvenirs” from our recent trip to Spain.  Then I took a quick trip to Michael’s for a bottle of the magical Mod Podge my son’s kindergarten teacher introduced me to (40 percent off with my weekly coupon, of course). Matte, by the way.  Plus a square canvas and a foam brush.

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Just follow the instructions on the bottle and… Voila!  A cool way to display my favorite memories of our trip on the new “Travel Wall” I’m planning for our family room.  Now if only I could figure out a cool way to display all of those cute little soaps and shampoo bottles.

San Diego Explained

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One of the best parts of my job at NBC 7 is working on the San Diego Explained series with the Voice of San Diego.  We try to break down the big issues that are affecting our region in a TV friendly, easily digestible way.   The stories always air Wednesday nights in the 6pm newscast.  Here is the latest sample of my San Diego Explained series. We used 8×10 photos and Sharpies and imagined ourselves on the set of one of my fav shows… Scandal!