Friday, September 23, 2016

New Fisher Price Classic Toys - Baby Rattles

I recently discovered the cutest little baby rattles that look like the oh-so-familiar classic Fisher Price toys of my youth.  I am so sad that I no longer have a baby of my own to give them to. They would have been so cute connected to rings on car seats and strollers.  Sigh.  Those days are long gone but I still bought a couple and I think they'd be the best little baby shower gifts.

I bought two of the baby rattles, they are much smaller than the original toys and a bit larger than the Christmas ornament versions.  They were $3.99 and $2.98 each.

The Rock a Stack Clacker makes clacking sounds when you shake it. It looks a little like the #740 Giant Rock a Stack but mostly like the #1050 or #627 newer versions.

Next up the Roly-Poly Chime Ball that is a tiny little version of the #165 Roly Poly Chime Ball.  It chimes a bit but mostly rattles when you shake it.

It doesn't have lithographs inside like the original, but it has the same colors.

There are three other toys too including a My First Farm, Puppy Pal Clacker, Happy Apple and a Corn Popper Rattle.  I bought mine on Amazon and I've seen them at Target too.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Vegetable Beef Soup in the Crockpot

I've got a fabulous easy-peasy crockpot recipe for this first day of Fall.  Of course it's still in the 90s here in Phoenix but we won't let that stop us from bringing out soups, jeans and long sleeves.  Well at least inside where we can turn up the A/C. :)

This recipe is a mishmash of 3 other recipes that I found online, with a bunch of changes to suit my family's preferences and what I had on hand.  Feel free to adapt it yourself too.

Vegetable Beef Soup Recipe

1 lb ground beef
4 cup beef broth
4 cup water
1 can (14 oz) diced tomatoes
2 stalk celery, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1-2 shallots, chopped
4-6 small red potatoes
1 package (12 oz) frozen mixed vegetables
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp seasoning salt
1 tsp salt (and more to taste)

1.Brown ground beef in a skillet over medium heat. Drain off most of the fat and place into the crockpot.  Add the rest of the ingredients.
2. Set to 3-4 hrs on high or 6-7 hrs on low.
3. Add more salt and pepper to taste.

This recipe made so much soup!  Plenty for my family and a little to share with my BFF. :)

Happy First Day of Fall!

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The thrill of the hunt....

I was raised in a family of hunters.  Not animal hunters but bargain hunters.  My parents were big on garage sales, thrift stores, swap meets, church bazaars, antique stores, etc.  I spent hours and hours as a kid looking around for treasures with my parents.

The thrill of finding a bargain has not left me; although I now prefer to hunt more in Nordstrom and less in garage sales. :)

Which brings me to why I am writing today.  I have discovered a store called DownEast Home.  There is a store up in North Phoenix that carries furniture (their line), clothing and hundreds of personalized Pottery Barn Kids items at incredibly rock bottom prices (ie - PBK lunch box/bag for $5.99!).    

I spent over an hour digging through piles and stacks and baskets full of personalized backpacks, pencil bags, towels, suitcases, etc looking for my little girl's names as well as the names of friends.  If your child has a trendy or classic name you have to check this place out.  There were so many to look through and I was able to find a few items that had our names or initials.  They have grown up brands too so I found one goodie for myself.

I ended up with a PBK lunch bag ($5.99), PBK pencil pouch ($5.99), PBK pillow case ($1.99), PBK canvas tote and a personalized leather zip bag (not sure of the brand) for only $23 total!

So if you live in my area or have a DownEast Home near you check them out.  

You're welcome.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Fisher Price Friday - 2016 Dept 56 Christmas Ornaments

For the last few years I have shared on my blog the current Fisher Price ornaments available.  In 2015 and 2014 they were created by Department 56.  Before that it was Hallmark and a couple other places.

This year Department 56 released ten more ornaments this summer but....I'm not impressed.  Except for a couple they're not very innovative, rather repeats with slight variations of past ornaments.

Department 56 ornaments already pale in comparison to the ornaments previously produced by Hallmark and Basic Fun. They are made of heavy resin and have limited detail and no movement.  However, they are better than nothing since no one else has produced vintage Fisher Price toy ornaments since Hallmark stopped in 2012.

Here is a closer look of the 2016 Department 56 ornaments.  I usually take photographs of them next to the original toys or similar ornaments but as I said before I'm not super excited about them and haven't decided whether I want to spend $15-$20 (each) on them.  

First up the "Chatter Phone".  This is very similar to their 2013 version except this one has a bow on top.  Since I already have 4 other Chatter Phone ornaments I'm not convinced that I need this one too. :)

L to R - Basic Fun, Dept 56 (2013), Hallmark and Fisher Price


Next up is the "Baby Blocks 2016".  This one is a unlike prior ornaments and is double sided.  It doesn't shout out vintage Fisher Price but it is cute.  I'm considering adding this one to my collection.

This one is called the "Toy Chest Personal Ornament".  Personally I think it looks like a copy of Basic Fun's 2006 Toy Chest.  Except this version is polyreisin (Basic Fun is made of plastic) and has Baby's First Christmas written on the outside.  I'm going to pass.  It is the most expensive of the 10, costing $20.

Three ornaments using the Rock a Stack were introduced this year (four if you count the rock a stack in the toy chest ornament).  This version has the familiar Rock a Stack with tinsel around it and a star on top.  It is very similar to their unadorned 2013 Dept 56 version.  The other two will be shown below, they are accompanied by elves. :)

This years Xylophone ornament may make it onto my tree since it is fashioned cleverly like a sled.  This is a more intersting version than their original 2013 Xylophone.

This years Corn Popper is also different enough that I may consider paying the $15.  It looks like it is made of candy cane pieces, which is similar to the Basic Fun Candy Cane Popper, but a little different. I wonder if it has any moving pieces like the Hallmark and Basic Fun versions?  I will make sure to update if I purchase it, but if it is anything like previous Dept 56 ornaments then the answer will be no.

Now last and possibly least are the final 4 Fisher Price ornaments made in 2016. 

Except for the "Little People Cake Topper" ornament the other three do not look very vintage to me.  They are also more variations of the same toys produced before (Rock a Stack & Chatter Phone).  At this point I don't think I'll be paying the $15 each.  The ornament names listed on the Dept 56 website are: Little People Ornament, Chatter Phone Elf Ornament, Little People Cake Topper and Rock a Stack Elf Ornament.  

So there you go.  The 2016 Department 56 Fisher Price ornaments.  Will you be adding them to your tree this year?

To see more Fisher Price themed ornaments check out these prior posts:

For Hallmark Fisher Price Ornaments: 

2007 - See 'N Say 
2008 - Play Family Farm 
2008 - View-Master 
2009 - School Bus 
2009 - Chatter Telephone 
2010 - Play Family Fun Jet 
2010 - Zookeeper Says 
2010 - Play Family School 
2011 - Music Box Teaching Clock 
2011 - Play Family House 
2011 - Little People Lil' Movers Fire Truck (not a vintage toy) 
2011 - Snoop 'N Sniff - Limited quantity 
2012 - Corn Popper 
2012 - Two Tune TV

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Observations of a Part Time Stay-At-Home-Mom

My job changed quite a bit when school started this month.  I went from a full-time Stay At Home Mom (SAHM) to a part-time not quite sure what to do with the rest of her day SAHM.  It feels a little like I was laid off from my job...and I miss it.  

I'm still figuring out what to do long term as I have options, you know, with my Master's Degree and all that. :)

Here are some of my observations as my day-to-day has dramatically changed.

1. I still cry (sometimes) at carpool drop off.  We're only 3 weeks in and I am getting stronger, but it is still hard walking back to my van from the Kindergarten room all alone.  I notice other parents with this reaction, so I know I'm not alone.  I never cried in prior years with my older child by the way, not because I missed her any less, but because my life was full with her little sister.

2. Carpool lane is a no-go.  This one has taken a little effort to remember, I'm so used to flying by in the left hand lane until 9am and after 3pm.  Not. Any. More.  Those were the days.

3. At the grocery store I can use the small non-child seat cart.  I can also get through MUCH quicker.  And.....I talk to myself out loud.  Does anyone else do this?  I am literally narrating my shopping TO MYSELF.  Sigh.

4. I also have an overwhelming urge to tell moms out in public with adorable cooing babies, crying/tantruming toddlers and precociously verbal pre-schoolers to enjoy these moments, because they go so so fast.  But don't worry, I hold my tongue because I remember those days and how super annoying it was when a put together (ie clean clothes and had clearly showered) woman was telling me the same thing. 

5. I can fill an entire day between carpool drop off and pickup doing errands and random things around my house. Who knew?

6. I can listen to grown-up music in the car.  You know, the ones with bad words that you don't want to explain to your rather inquisitive and perceptive child(ren).

7. I don't feel the same struggle between deciding whether to go to bed or stay up to have "me-time" since I have me-time during the day.  Therefore I'm more rested....which makes....

8. Getting up in the morning not as challenging.  I don't find myself pressing snooze as much.  More time getting us all ready in the morning means we aren't rushing out the door and I'm not having to yell at everyone!  Amazing.

9. And last but not least I am finally getting to those items on my really long to-do list that I never had the time or energy to get to before.  Items like backing up photos on an external hard drive (umm, I have just a few, ha!), making photo books for the girls (I do one every year but am about 2 years behind) and a bunch of other items.   

But to be completely honest I am also sad, because as much as I craved some time to myself I still loved my job as a full time SAHM.  I know that their growing up and becoming independent is basically the goal and inevitable, and that I can't keep having babies just to keep my full-time status (although I get why some moms do!!), but it is still a transition and I was unprepared for how different my days would be.

How much longer until summer break? ;)