Friday, December 25, 2015

Have a Merry Little (people) Christmas!


Merry Christmas from my family to yours.  May you days be merry and bright, and may all your Christmases be white (even if it's just with fake snow). :)




For more info on the Play Family Mini Snow Mobile #705 go here.  I also have one for sale in my Etsy shop right now. And to see the Play Family "A" Frame #990 (pictured in the back) go here.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Cinnamon Christmas Ornaments


This year my girls are once again decorating our main family tree with homemade ornaments.  Most of our ornaments this year (and last) were made from purchased kits that I picked up at Target and Hobby Lobby.  I decided that we should branch out and make something from scratch from the many many pins I had been accumulating on Pinterest over the years. :)  These Cinnamon ornaments looked perfect for making and giving.

However...in the interest of full disclosure I will admit that it was a much more involved and sticky mess than I'd anticipated.  As a result I ended up making them while the children silently watched as I became more and more frustrated with my "dough".  Let's just say the rolling out portion of the project is a bit more difficult than your typical cookie.  They also took longer to "cook" (dry) in the oven than I'd anticipated.  I'd say I cooked them for closer to 2.5 hrs.  And finally, this is both a pro and a con but the house smelled of cinnamon for hours.  Which is nice but after awhile my family was complaining.

They turned out darling though so I'll let you decide if it's worth the effort!


Cinnamon Christmas Ornaments
Found the recipe here 

1 cup of applesauce 
1 1/2 cups cinnamon (I got mine for cheap at Costco.) 
cookie cutters in different sizes (I used a gingerbread man and a moose)
string for hanging 

Directions
Mix 1 cup of applesauce with 1 cup of cinnamon in a large bowl.  Add the additional 1/2 cup of cinnamon and continue to incorporate. If it’s too wet add more cinnamon, too dry add more applesauce.  You'll need to use your hands and keep mixing, mixing, mixing.

Scatter some cinnamon (like if you were rolling out cookies with flour) and roll out applesauce/cinnamon dough to 1/4″ thick. If the dough is too wet it will make a huge mess and stick to your rolling pin. 

Use your cookie cutters to cut out shapes. 

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the shapes on a cookie sheet (I put parchment paper down first). The shapes can be really close together but not touching; they won’t rise in the oven. Using a skewer carefully make a hole through each shape towards the top, but not too close. Stick the ornaments in the oven for an hour or more. The juice from the applesauce needs to evaporate. The range in cooking time depends on your house, humidity and climate. Once they are done cooking leave them in the oven overnight. They should be rock hard. If they’re not, give them some more time in the oven. 

The next day loop a string through each of the holes to hang on the tree.


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Italian Greyhound in a Christmas Sweater (need I say more?)


You can't get much cuter than an Italian Greyhound in a Christmas Sweater.  Our sweet girl Bella (3yrs old) isn't quite as keen on the sweater business but man oh man she's adorable!



She basically stays in one place while wearing "clothes" so I was able to get lots of photos of her.  


And here is our old-man Dante (11 yrs old!) not wearing a sweater (this time) and very happy about it.  

Monday, December 21, 2015

Pinecone Christmas Tree Craft - Nailed It ;)


I saw this cute pine cone Christmas craft on Pinterest and decided to try it at our home group Christmas party this year.  The kids range from toddler - school age and I figured it was a craft they could all do.

Nailed it ;)

I might have underestimated the potential to overuse glitter glue a tad bit, ha!  But seriously the kids had the best time.  I collected pinecones from a friend's yard and brought pompoms, glitter glue, silver paper (for stars) and pieces of ribbon.



Interestingly the youngest kid's pinecones looked the most like the inspiration photo since they didn't use the glitter glue.  Pushing in pom poms kept the little 2 year olds busy for quite a while.  This was a great toddler activity (just don't give them glue)!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Fisher Price Friday - Loving Family


Early in the week I found my girls playing (nicely!!) together with their Fisher Price Loving Family dollhouse.  When I looked closer I saw that they'd decorated for the holidays with a little Christmas tree and a few small decorations.

Love these girls!  Can't wait to show them the vintage Fisher Price toys I've bought for Christmas.  

And look at our main Christmas tree which is once again this year full of ornaments the the girls made (rather than our normal grown-up decorations).  We keep adding more as the weeks go on and they absolutely love moving them around.  


Although lately my youngest has taken to moving the presents around and stacking them in piles instead of the ornaments. ;)

Friday, December 11, 2015

Fisher Price Friday - Decking the Halls


The Christmas decorations are up around the house and naturally we've included some vintage fisher price here and there.


Our little people are dressed for the cold with these adorable little bitty Santa hats that I found online.  Aren't they the cutest?  They stay on their tiny heads with double sided tape and a little patience. 

 
And then of course we have the children's Christmas tree in the playroom covered with vintage Fisher Price toys in ornament form.  There are also a few FPLP that have been turned into ornaments by industrious people (not me).  Notice that my daughter put the mom and dad figures together, they're talking of course. :)



Here is a little sneak peak at the Christmas display I'm still setting up for this year.  I'm using the A Frame and the Mini Snowmobile to make a festive winter scene.

Hope your Holiday Season is bright and little people filled. Remember vintage fisher price toys make great Christmas gifts.  If you need some ideas check out my Etsy shop, I've been adding lots of new listings this week.

To see details on my 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

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Advent Calendar Ideas for Kids

When I was growing up we always had an advent calendar, usually the pretty paper kind where you open a different window each day.  With our own children we've had the chocolate advent calendars (from Trader Joe's mostly), plus the paper kind of my childhood.  Last year I branched out and purchased the Starbucks advent calendar made of 25 different tins full of chocolate graham crackers that stuck to a magnet board.  



This year I decided to get my act together and put family activities and surprises in the tins each day instead of more candy.  Well, they sometimes get candy too (m&m's or Dove chocolates so far) but the big thing is the activity written on a small piece of paper.

We're only 6 days in but the kids are loving it and excitedly open the tins each day (usually after dinner).  Here are the activities I've come up with for the month.  The beauty of this type of advent is that I can change the papers if needed before they open the day, so I'm not locked into anything.  And...we already had fun activities planned (Zoo Lights, Christmas Tea) so I just put those down and will keep our plans secret until they open that day.  

Advent Calendar Ideas:

1. Take down the Christmas Books and read one together.
2. Take out the wooden nativity set and take turns setting it up.
3. New Christmas Socks! (from the $ section at Target).
4. Watch a Christmas movie together.
5. Attend Christmas tea. (this was at church but you could make your own tea party at home)
6. Make a Christmas craft together. 
7. Special NEW Christmas tales book. 
8. Christmas Puzzle (from the $ section at TRU)
9. Make play dough snowmen
10. Zoo lights tonight!
11. Draw a Christmas picture/write a letter to a family member to mail.
12. Make and decorate donuts.
13. Christmas shopping for family (kids pick out for parents and sister).
14. Watch a Christmas movie together.
15. Take a walk around the neighborhood to see lights.
16. Make a Christmas craft together.
17. Read the Christmas Story out of the bible together.
18. Small Group Christmas Party.
19. Make Christmas Cookies.
20. Go see the Nutcracker ballet! :)
21. Go to the Zoo and Ikea.
22. Make hot chocolate and read Christmas books together.
23. Drive around and look at lights and get frozen yogurt treats.
24. Set up luminaries in the neighborhood and our front yard.
25. Christmas! 

Other activities that I may switch out as needed:

  • Wrap gifts 
  • Decorate Gingerbread House
  • Breakfast donuts and then play at the park
  • More neighborhood walks/hot chocolate 
I love this time of year and I have to admit that so far doing these activities is even better than just eating chocolate. :)

My pearl wearing blond beauties at the Christmas Tea yesterday. 

Friday, December 4, 2015

Fisher Price Friday - Boat Rig


Only 3 weeks until Christmas and I'm working on figuring out what presents my girls will get this year.  I always include a few vintage Fisher Price toys of course and this year is no exception.  Today I am sharing one of the smaller sets that my youngest (age 4) will find under the tree.  It's the #345 Boat Rig made from 1981-1984.  This rig set was one of three rig sets produced at the same time, the other two being the #344 Copter Rig and the #347 Indy Racer (which came later 1983-1990).  



The #345 Boat Rig has a total of 6 pieces, two of those being little people.  They include the truck, trailer, snap on boat clip, boat and 2 figures.  Usually the snap on boat clip (grey) stays on the trailer, but it can theoretically be removed.  The only obvious variation to the set was the speed boat, it could be white/blue or blue white.


The grey snap on boat clip helps keep the boat from falling off the truck bed, handy while on the road. ;)



The truck, trailer/boat clip were exclusives to this set although the same truck was found in other sets in different color combinations (green, lime green, yellow).   The white/blue speed boat can also be found in the #985 Play Family Houseboat.



The set came with two Little People figures the Skipper and a Construction worker.  The Skipper is also found with the Houseboat set.  The Construction worker has a dark blue body, orange farmer (not triangle) scarf and a shiny silver hat and was only found with this set.



The Skipper actually has two variations as shown above.  You may have to look close to see the differences as they aren't very obvious.  One has a darker blue hat and also look at the eyebrows and chin/nose.  Both versions of the Skipper were found with the Houseboat and this Boat Rig set.


I'm pretty sure my girls will love this little set, can't wait to put it under the tree!  
*This is our little playroom tree but I wanted to show you that all our vintage Fisher Price ornaments fit on it this year.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Simple Slow Cooker Pot Roast Recipe

In my attempt to simplify cooking for my family I decided to try out a new pot roast recipe that can be used in my crockpot/slow cooker.  I have another pot roast recipe that includes barley and vegetables which is good but I wanted something more simple/clean.



This recipe was simple to make, smelled delicious and was enough all on it's own, no side dishes needed.  My kids thought it was a little bit spicy (the pepper) but otherwise they didn't complain.  My husband raved and it's on our make-again list. :)

Simple Slow Cooker Pot Roast
Ingredients
2-3 lb Beef Roast
1 tbsp Olive Oil
1 tbsp Salt
1 tsp Pepper
1 tsp Thyme
1 lb Carrots
1.5 lb Fingerling Potatoes
1 large Onion
Fresh Mushrooms (I used about 6 but only b/c that's all I had)
32 oz Beef Stock
3 tbsp Cornstarch



Directions 
1. Peel and cut carrots into 1-3″ pieces. Peel and cut onions into 1-3″ pieces. Wash potatoes (if using regular potatoes cut into 1-3″ pieces).  Wash mushrooms and keep whole.
2. Mix together salt, pepper and thyme. Rub roast with olive oil and cover with about 2/3 of spice mix. Heat skillet over medium high heat and brown on all sides. Transfer roast to slow cooker.  Lightly coat vegetables in olive oil and season with remaining spice mix. Transfer vegetables to slow cooker. Add some stock to skillet and stir to break up any remaining bits. Pour liquid into slow cooker. Add remaining stock to slow cooker.
3. Cook on high for 5 hours or low for 10 hours until vegetables are tender and meat pulls apart easily. Transfer meat and vegetables to serving dish.
4. Pour liquid in sauce pan and heat. Mix cornstarch with an equal amount of water and stir until well blended. Add cornstarch mix to sauce and heat, stirring frequently, until sauce thickens. Pour sauce over meat and vegetables.



Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!!


From my little people to yours, have a safe and happy Thanksgiving holiday!  


For more Turkey-day fun check out:

Thanksgiving 2014
Thanksgiving 2013
Thanksgiving 2012

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Broccoli Cheese Potato Chowder Soup

I tried a new recipe last week when we had a cold fall day.  I thought the combination of a chowder/cream based soup and lots of fresh vegetables would be a comforting dinner for my family.

The upside to this recipe is that it's delicious, keeps well (wonderful leftovers the next 2 days) and is kid friendly.  The only downside is that it took quite a bit of prep/cooking in order to prepare all the veggies and to keep the soup going.  I'd say I was on my feet for about 1hr 20 min total.  Sigh.  But....it was worth it and I'll make this recipe again for sure!

I found the original recipe here but that one called for heavy cream, more milk, more butter and more flour.  My version is a bit lighter calorie wise but still tastes very creamy!



Broccoli Cheese Potato Chowder Soup
Ingredients
3 1/2 Tbsp butter, divided
1 1/3 cups chopped carrots (about 3)
1 cup chopped celery (2 stalks)
1 cup chopped onion (1 small)
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups chicken broth, divided
3 1/2 cups peeled and cubed potatoes, cut 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch thick (I used 3 medium red potatoes)
3 cups chopped broccoli (from about 2 heads)
1/4 tsp dried thyme
Salt and black pepper
5 Tbsp all-purpose flour
2 cups milk (preferably 2% or whole)
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (or cheese of your choice)
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese (1 oz)

Directions
In a large pot over medium heat, melt 1 1/2 Tbsp of the butter. Add carrots, celery and onion and saute 3 - 4 minutes. Add garlic and saute 30 seconds longer. Stir in 3 cups chicken broth, potatoes and thyme and season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to medium, cover with lid and cook 15 minutes. Stir in broccoli and cook 5 minutes longer or until veggies are tender (took me closer to 10).

Meanwhile, melt remaining 2 Tbsp butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in flour and cook, whisking constantly 1 minute. While whisking vigorously, slowly pour in milk and 1 cup chicken broth (whisk well until no lumps remain). Cook stirring constantly until mixture begins to gently boil and thicken. Remove from heat and once all veggies are tender pour into the soup and stir. Remove from heat and stir in cheddar and Parmesan cheese until melted. 

Bon Appetite! 



Friday, November 20, 2015

Fisher Price Friday - Dept 56 Ornaments Part III


I'm back with my final installment of this year's 2015 Dept 56 Fisher Price Ornaments.  There were a total of 10 this year so I've had to split them into three parts.  This week we have the: Little People Plane, Barn, School House (Dept 56 names).  We know these toys as Play Family Farm #915, Play Family School #923 and the Play Family Fun Jet #183.



We have had other jets at our house (including the #996 Airport Jet pictured above) but not the Fun Jet that they ornament is miniaturized after.  I put it next to my jet since they are basically the same size, just different colors and lithographs.  The Dept 56 ornament is made out of plaster and has no moving parts.  Because it's all one piece there is a solid white band underneath, not as cute as the original but the sparkly wings are a nice touch.



Although I didn't have the #183 Jet full sized toy I do have the Hallmark version from 2010.  The Hallmark version is by far superior as it has a plane door that opens and shuts.  Also sweet little faces peer out of the plastic windows.  Tons of detail!  It is made of plastic so is nice and light.



The lithographs on each plane are pretty much the same which is adorable considering their size.  This photo also shows two of the little people faces looking out the windows while the Dept 56 ornament has only red painted windows.



Up next the Play Family Farm.  This might be my favorite, it's so cute and full of tiny details.  The school is made of plaster and has no moving parts.  It is a bit heavy so put it on a lower branch of your tree. :)  

The front of the school has the same dog, clock and flowers.  It also appears to have the same brown masonite base.


The sides of the school also look very similar.  The right side has the Fisher Price logo (with happy children) found on earlier versions of the school.  The left side has windows but does not show little school children looking out like the original.  

Dept 56 added tiny drawings of the magnets found with the set.


From far away the Dept 56 ornament looks very much like the 2010 Hallmark version however up close you can see the differences.  The Hallmark ornament is on the left and is made of plastic with moving parts including a bell that rings (in the tower).


The sides look very similar although the Hallmark version has people peeking out from the windows like the full size toy.


The Hallmark ornament opens just like the full size toy and even has little people inside.  Isn't it amazing?


Both ornaments have the same Fisher Price happy-children sticker on the side and red handles (but the Hallmark version's handle moves).


The back of the ornaments have the exact same lithographs but the Dept 56 versions aren't quite as crisp and are a bit close together.


Last but not least the Play Family Farm ornament.  I have the same family farm but please note that the silo is not the correct one.  It's the same size but it came with a much later version.

Like all the other Dept 56 ornaments the barn is made of plaster and has no moving parts.  But doesn't it look so perfectly tiny?


The back has the same circus poster, sleeping dog and striped walls.  And yes, I realize that I forgot to move the silo when setting up this photo, I think I was in a hurry. :)

I am fortunate to have a 2008 Hallmark version of the Play Family Barn. It was the second Fisher Price ornament produced by Hallmark and is usually priced very high ($100+) online.  It is a special little ornament with moving parts and even a barn door that moos!

The Dept 56 ornament doesn't do anything but when you put them side to side I have to admit that it looks more like the original full sized toy than the Hallmark version.  


The Hallmark ornament has doors that open to show a farmer, his wife and a cow inside.  The door also moos thanks to batteries.


The rear of the barns have the same lithographs on both barns, slight differences on the silos.  Note that again the Dept 56 barn looks more like the original with a brown (masonite looking) base and even the slope of the roof is closer.


My final comparison is of the sides where I will again admit that the Dept 56 ornament is a more accurate copy than the Hallmark ornament.  The Dept 56 lithographs have the same long multi paned windows and the flowers in the corner.  

So perhaps this is my favorite Dept 56 ornament of 2015!


They're all adorable and I can't wait to put them on my tree next week!!  Let's just hope all these beauties fit, I may need to buy a bigger tree. :)

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