Napa, Kid-wise

Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I'd go to Napa without wine tasting as the goal of my trip. But times have changed and kid-centered activities are now my life. The girls and I packed up the car a few weeks ago and headed up to visit my cousin, who just happens to live in one of the most beautiful parts of California, Napa.

With a three and five year old, wine tasting is off the menu (until my next adult-only Napa trip). It's forced me, and my cousin, to think of all the other things that her fair city has to offer other than wine, and there's a lot!

Our first inspiration for kid-friendly things to do came from the book Maggie and Maddy: Adventures in Napa Valley, by Kyle and Amy Goleno. I found it at the Oxbow Market a few years ago, while on a girls' trip. It's the cutest story about two little sisters who explore the Napa Valley. The sisters go through Downtown Napa, snack on pink donuts at the Buttercream Bakery, and more. Pink donuts from Buttercream have now become a tradition in our family, whenever we see my cousin we have to indulge in them!

This trip, we made it a point to not only get pink donuts, but to actually eat breakfast at the Buttercream Bakery, too. Delicious! It has your typical diner food, but the pastries and donuts are off the hook! It's no surprise I put healthy eating on hold for a few days.

Strolling around Downtown Napa is such a treat. There are fun art installations that the kids can interact with, watch the kayaks on the river, marvel at the Wine Train slowly driving by, and running around the Veterans Memorial Park, to start. During the summer, the city sponsors a concert series in the park, which we've gone to and love! Put out a blanket, bring a picnic, sip wine by the river and watch the kids dance to the music. Fabulous memories!

Since we've done the Oxbow Public Market almost every time we've been to Napa, we decided to change it up and check out the Culinary Institute of America at Copia, just next door. It's only been open a few months, and the great thing is, they have cooking classes for kids on Sundays! The age minimum is 4, so we had to skip it this time (M is only 3), but as soon as January rolls around, we're coming back!

They have an on-site restaurant, too, The Restaurant at CIA Copia. We weren't able to eat there (make a reservation ahead of time!), but the atmosphere is great and the staff was super friendly. The girls decided to blow out all the candles in the bar area and no one asked us to leave, they even laughed - amazing! Definitely on my short-list of restaurants to try in the future.

There's a grassy amphitheater behind the building, which the girls loved running around. The views of the Napa River through the olive trees were beyond relaxing. Miss G even got some good tree climbing in. 

I had grand plans to visit at least one restaurant in Yountville (I always love to stop at the Bouchon Bakery, line out the door and all), but after setting up a picnic in the Yountville Park, the girls decided they couldn't leave and had to play for over 2 hours. The sacrifices I make as a mom ;-) The play structures are on the newer side and there are separate structures for the tiny kids and bigger kids. A lot more than I was expecting from a wine-town. And apparently they even have evening movies in the park! We are so hitting that up on our next visit this summer.

I did have to drag the girls to one of the most quaint, and fancy, chocolate shoppes ever! Woodhouse Chocolate, in St. Helena, is a sight to be seen. The window display was phenomenal - the giant chocolate Easter eggs, bunnies, ducks... It was a struggle to keep the girls from touching it all. I picked up some chocolate bunnies for the girls and salted chocolate caramels for my husband. All I can say is that they were worth every penny - delicious!

We even stopped by the Napa Welcome Center. The volunteers are so friendly and really know of what they speak - they've actually been to the wineries and give excellent recommendations. And you may even run into my cousin, she volunteers there! Make sure to say hi for me when you stop by.

Have I convinced you that Napa isn't only for adults? Taking the kids will open up a whole world of things that you most likely would have missed had you stuck to the Silverado Trail.

Enjoy your next weekend away in Napa!

Even more fun things to do with kids:

***I wasn't compensated by any of the promoted places in this post, they didn't even know I'd be writing about them!

Super Hero Extravaganza

The holidays are always a crazy time, but in our house it is beyond. Both girls have their birthdays within the first two weeks of January, so before Christmas has even happened I’ve already moved on and started birthday planning. This year’s theme, Super Hero.

With the girls still little, they’re more than happy to share a birthday party, thank goodness! And because I only get to do it once a year I go all sorts of crazy. I was so excited when the girls decided they wanted the party at home instead of a jumpy house or trampoline park. Now I could have fun, too! I love party planning; from cake baking, to games, to decorating. I was Pinning up a storm and found too many fun ideas.

On Party Day almost 40 people crammed into our tiny California abode. Thank goodness the rain held out for a few days so we could overflow into the backyard. My Super Hero games-plan could have easily been dashed with all the storms that were blowing through.

Another perk of having the party at home is that Batgirl came and did a magic show for all the kids. One Batgirl = less $ than a jumpy house party. Her visit was a HUGE success! G is still telling everyone that Batgirl come to her party. So worth it.

In the endless search to get more bang for the buck, I found the greatest party supply site – Oriental Trading (hopefully I’m not the only one who hadn’t heard of it before!). That, along with the Dollar Store, Amazon and Target, made the party a great success for so much cheaper than it could have been. If you’re planning anything , definitely check it out and shop around. Prices vary so much for the exact same thing, and Amazon surprisingly wasn’t the cheapest.

Take a peek at my party-planning craziness, I had so much fun!!

The Food

I love to bake. If you've seen my Instagram account this won't be a big surprise. I've made the girls' birthday cakes every year (except one). This year was chocolate for G and a traditional yellow cake (dyed red inside) for M. And I couldn't let an event go by without getting a new cookie cutter, Batgirl cookies had to make an appearance.

The Games

Super Hero games are the best! I had The Flash Dash, Hulk Smash, Spider Web Practice and Super Breath. I found the best set of Hulk glove-hands to punch down empty boxes that we stacked like buildings. My husband was so happy to help me re-wrap all the empty Christmas boxes in black wrapping paper for the party. When I asked him I thought he was going to strangle me, ha! But he's an amazing dad and husband and relented.

The Dollar Store had silly string that we used to spray on black poster board with a face of the Joker for Spider Web Practice. I know, I know, mixing super hero villains, but it worked. We were cleaning up chunks of silly string from the grass for two weeks! The Dollar Store also had Avenger's bottles of bubbles for Super Breath. The littler kids loved this one. A great way to make the party work for ages 2-7.

Decorations

There is no end to the decorating possibilities! I always have too many ideas and have to reign myself back in. I replaced almost every framed picture in the house with a Super Hero themed one, finally hung my gallery wall to put up even more pictures, and generally went decorating-bonkers. All the pictures were free printables I found online, as well as the emblems for the party bags. My scissor-cutting skills were put to the test. Even our sea grass Sven got a mask!

The party was so much fun and tear-free! At this age there's always someone that inevitably breaks down from stimulus overload, but not this time. I'd call that a success.

I hope you enjoy checking out my party-craziness!

Ready For School - Fabric Cork Boards

The second half of summer has been a whirlwind! I can't believe that school starts for BOTH girls in a week and a half. Two preschoolers in one house, life is going to be different.

To get ready for school and the impending amount of artwork that will be coming home, I wanted to get a bulletin board or two ready. The fridge was so overloaded with art after summer camp that I could barely open the door without something falling off! I saw fabric covered bulletin boards on Pinterest and decided I had to try to make one.

I started out at Walmart to find a super cheap bulletin board and walked out with one of those, plus a set of 4 cork square tiles. Then off to Joann's for fabric selection. This was by far the most time consuming part of the whole project (thank goodness I did it while the girls were in camp or it never would have happened). I had planned on the boards being in the kitchen, where I have a blue theme, so I settled on the fabrics below.

I used this tutorial to make the boards, following it for the larger brass thumbtack board and modifying it for the small cork tiles. Before starting I was a little apprehensive about using the spray adhesive, but it was so easy! I can't believe it scared me. A little fabric cutting, spray adhesive to keep the fabric in place, thumbtack pressing, and voila! Five cork boards complete and ready for art instillation.

The brass thumbtack board is now the home to the house Rules and the girls' Chore Charts. Two and four years seem old enough for them start pulling their own weight at home (some times). Plus, they're so excited to do most of the chores, it would be a shame to not have them help.

To hold up the charts and art, I hot glued Dollar Store gems to the left over thumbtacks to make them a little fancier. I also glued on mini-clothes pins that I had leftover from another project for those art pieces that I didn't want to poke holes in. 

I have to admit, I absolutely adore the cork boards! Don't mind the slight imperfections, but all in all they add a little something to an otherwise blank space. I probably love them so much because of what is hanging on them.

And if you don't have kids artwork to hang, the cork board squares are great as wall art on their own. Add a little pattern to your space in an incredibly cheap and easy way!

I Lava You (and Frozen)

The girls have been addicted to watching Inside Out, the cutest movie I've seen since Frozen. But only in the last week did we discover the Bonus movie, Lava. It is the PERFECT pre-Valentine's Day video. Only 5 1/2 minutes, but such a great volcano love story. Watch it here. I hope it brings a smile to your face :-)


It's been about a month since the girls' Frozen birthday party, how did that happen?! I've been meaning to share my pictures of the party, but life gets in the way. I have to admit, I went a bit crazy with all the little details, I went Pinterest happy. Oh, and thank you to my sister for taking the pictures. Of course on party day I was bustling around trying to get things ready and didn't have time to take them, so THANKS K.M.!

I started two weeks ahead of time, as soon as I de-Christmas-ed the house. I found hanging lanterns and snowflakes for a great deal on Zulily, and we were living with those hanging from the ceiling for over a week. I always forget to check out Zulily's Home section, but got lucky the day I did. And other than a handful of other items, I was able to grab most everything from the Dollar Store - thank you, girls, for wanting a birthday theme that's no longer the it theme and perfectly timed with their Winter/Christmas decor!

My little experiment with Royal Icing at Christmas was so fun that I had to make cookies for the party. I was ridiculously impressed with myself - thanks to my husband's help! The sugar cookie recipe is here. And I had to make Rice Krispie Snow Balls (minus the coconut and powdered sugar), delicious!

I also got into the cake-making business. The 5 layer snowflake cake was by far my favorite. I dyed the cake mix blue, then frosted it with a very simple butter cream frosting and piped the top snowflake with a ziplock baggie, one corner cut off. Great things can come from the unexpected! The big cake was supposed to be blue ombre, but didn't quite make it. Oh well, it wasn't a complete disaster. Oh! My mother, who can do absolutely everything, made the great blue and purple cake pops. She is amazing!

It was such a fun party! I had a Snowflake Necklace station, Decorating Snowflakes station, Pin-the-Nose on Olaf (free hand turned out pretty good!), Frozen bowling and a Snowball Toss, and the party favorite Color Frozen Scenes. There are so many free Frozen printables on Pinterest, all you need is a good color printer. Check out my Pinterest board for all the different ones I used/looked into.

I definitely got Frozen Fever, it was just too much fun! Looking back, I think I had more fun than the girls. Yes, I've gone insane :-)

If there are any little girls in your world, hopefully this can give you some fun birthday ideas.

Halloween Crafts for the Kids

I wanted to get this post out last week, but I just wasn't able to. We had our first ever garage sale last weekend and prepping for it was a little daunting. I definitely worried way too much than I needed to. What can I say, I'm a perfectionist. That, along with binge-watching one of the best shows on TV, The Blacklist, I just couldn't get it together. Better luck this week...

Toddler G has been loving the fact that I'm crafting so much lately. She always wants to help, wants to use my glue gun (nope), and adds her two cents at every turn. I decided it was time to get out the Halloween Kids' Crafts and share them with all the other families out there.

For the Glue Fanatic:

For the Mini-Crafter:

For the Small Scientist:

For the Budding Chef:

Happy Halloween crafting with the kids! I'd love to hear what your favorites are.

Check out my Pinterest board for even more Halloween fun for the kids.

Valentine's For the Kids

After my last post, I Heart You, that was all about Valentine crafts that I'm conquering one by one, I was asked about crafts that would be easy for kids and toddlers.

You are in luck! I have found so many great kids' crafts, and most can be tweaked for any holiday or rainy day stuck at home.

For the Itsy-Bitsy Toddler:

For the Scientist:

For the Glue-fanatic:

For the Little Cook:

For the Mini-Crafter:

I hope you try one, some, all of them! Let me know how they go and if you have any suggestions that might have improved the process for your little ones.

Check out my Pinterest board for even more Kids' Crafts that I found and thought would be fun.

Happy Valentine's Crafting!

Birthday Princess

To celebrate Toddler G's 3 year and Baby M's 1 year birthdays, I had to do it up right. Toddler G has been obsessed with princesses for what seems like forever, and Baby M is such a happy-go-lucky baby that she'll go along with almost anything. So when G said she wanted a Princess Party, I jumped in with both feet.

I can't tell you how long I spent searching Pinterest for all things Princess. I was very ambitious with my ideas since it was for both of my littles. I don't think I've been so stressed about getting things done for a party in a long time!

I started getting things together a mere week ahead. First came the princess silhouettes - I replaced a number of my pictures with Toddler G's favorite princesses and the Sleeping Beauty castle, of course!

There are endless amounts of images of princess silhouettes online, a simple Google search and you'll see. I ended up downloading some images and my husband was able to blow them up to the size I wanted. Then I simply printed them out and put my scissors to work! I stuck some to construction paper and the others to patterned scrapbook paper. I really like how they turned out!

A few balloons and a little tulle swag later, I had a fun fireplace wall. Side note, our fireplace doesn't have a mantel, instead it has 3 brick ledges that don't have enough room for much, other than placing frames on them. I try to do the best I can with what I've got!

I made a fancy "chandelier" by using our Xmas tree garland and draping it over the arms of our kitchen light fixture.

I "princess-ified" the moss wreath on our front door by wrapping it in pink and white tulle and adding a glitter tulle pom pom that I got at Michaels. The giant glass vase that I change from season to season (or party to party as it seems lately) got to wear a Dollar Store tiara and was filled with a ball garland that I used for a prior birthday celebration. I decorated our living room window with streamers, pink balloons and paper pom poms, and hung giant purple pom poms from the ceiling. 

I baked cupcakes with rings and sugar cookies in the shapes of tiaras, glass slippers, and castles. It was a lot of work, but so much fun! Especially when Toddler G had a huge smile on her face the whole day.

The piece that I'm most proud of (and took the most time) is the table tutu. This took me almost 3 hours, but was so worth it! Here's the tutorial I used. I scrapped the trim, but only because I didn't have a ton of extra time and the trim I would have used cost way more than I was planning on spending. Oh well, it looks pretty good without it!

The kids got to Decorate the Crown/Sword and Find the Jewels in the tub. Lots of fun for both the boys and girls!

I loved having the house decorated so much that I kept it all up for a week! My husband was ready to get rid of it, but I just couldn't - it took too long to put it all together!

How princess decorations get retired - fun bedroom ceiling decor! I think I'll keep it up until the girls get sick of it.


I wanted to apologize for unexpectedly missing my post last week. We had some cat drama that included the pet emergency room, surgery, and a lot of recovery time. All is now well, but my head wasn't in design at all. Hopefully I won't have to miss another post unannounced!