Friday, December 8, 2017

One more House Party


Last weekend I hosted another House Party.  I've been doing House Parties for about 7 years and it had been awhile since my last event.  I love House Party because I get *free* goodies to share with my friends.  What's not to like about that?



This time it was the most expensive Prize Pack yet.  I was hosting a Clarisonic Mia 2 party and the company sent me 3 Clarisonic Mia 2s and a bunch of brush heads.  The Mia 2 costs around $169 and the brushes are $27-35 each so that alone was amazing!

The event said that I would get to keep one Mia 2 and to wait for instructions after the party of what to do with the other two.  I figured I would have to send them back but they ended up telling me to gift them!  Since I already had my own Mia 2 (two years and going strong) I was able to gift all 3 to ladies that came to my party.  Best. Party. Prize Pack. Ever. :)




So very fun!  It will be hard to top this House Party.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Advent Activities and Calendar

Back in 2014 I bought a Starbucks advent calendar with magnetic tins filled with goodies.  The next year I filled the tins with fun Christmas activities/ideas on pieces of paper.  The year after that I was overwhelmed and although I did some of the same activities (make cookies, look at lights, etc) we didn't do the advent calendar.



This year I'm *sort* of on the ball.  I'm doing the tins with activities/ideas and also added a beautiful paper advent calendar by Coley Kuyper.  It has gorgeous designs on one side and verses about the Christmas story on the other.  Love it!



Here are the Advent ideas that I'm using this year with my 6 and 10 year old:

1. Set up paper advent together.
2. Set up the wood nativity.
3. Do a Christmas craft together (foam tree).
4. Take a walk around the neighborhood to see lights.
5. Read a Christmas book together. 
6. Illumination tonight! (local light show)
7. Treat 
8. Make Lego Ornaments.
9. Family Service Project. 
10. Nutcracker!
11. Hot Chocolate & Christmas books.
12. Read a Christmas book together.
13. Do a Christmas craft together (snow globe).
14. Drive around to look at lights.
15. Christmas shopping for family (sister & parents)
16. Draw a picture/write a letter to a family member.
17. Bake Cookies
18. Family game night.
19. Read a Christmas book together.
20. Do a Christmas craft together (bead ornaments).
21. Christmas activity books.
22. Christmas movie night. 
23. Take a walk and look at lights.
24. Set up luminaries. 
25. Christmas!

The beauty of this system is that I can trade out papers if plans change.  I can also sub in items like:

  • Wrap presents.
  • Decorate gingerbread house.
  • Bike rides to look at decorations.

And in a pinch I could put in a "treat" of some sort like a little chocolate. 

I love that we are incorporating the Christmas Bible Verses as well as other fun activities.  I want my kids to grow up having sweet memories of our family holidays together. :)


Friday, December 1, 2017

Christmas Sneak Peak (Fisher Price)



It's beginning to look like Christmas around here!  We've got all five trees up and lights decorating outside.  The kids are making wish-lists and I'm hiding away purchases to wrap for them later. :)

I wanted to give you a sneak peak of the Vintage Fisher Price that will be under the tree this year!  This year I'm giving my youngest (age six) yet another My Friend Doll.  This is the *last* one though as 4 is plenty!  She's been getting one doll the last couple years on her Birthday and Christmas, so it's bittersweet for me that this is the last one.  She is pretty sure she doesn't want the boy My Friend Doll by the way, which is why it won't be 5!

I have been able to purchase all 4 of the My Friend Dolls new in box, which I think is pretty amazing since they are 30-40+ years old!  This last one I found months ago and have been hiding it up in the closet.


 

She is My Friend Becky #218 made between 1980-1984.  She has beautiful ginger hair and freckles.  Cutest! She comes with a white hat, aqua dress and white shoes. 



I've also been looking for more My Friend Doll clothes.  Mostly used but I've found a few new in package too.  A-mazing.  Since she has 4 of these cuties to dress now I have duplicates of some outfits so that they can match. I accidentally bought too many of the "Winter Wear" outfits so if you need one check out my Etsy shop, I'll have one there soon. 



I'm most excited about this nightgown/robe/slippers set.  I found two new in package for her!

I can't wait to wrap these up and put them under the tree.  I know she'll be super excited on our Christmas Present opening day (never the 25th....always a few days before). 

For more on our Fisher Price Dolls:

#209 My Friend Jenny
#204 Baby Ann (a soft doll) 


Tuesday, November 28, 2017

First Days with an Italian Greyhound Puppy Take 2!

Five years ago I wrote about our first few days/weeks with our latest puppy at the time, Bella.  Well it's been five years and we have another puppy now, Button.

Our first days with Button were similar to the other two Italian Greyhounds, but we tweaked a few things, learning from our past mistakes.  Also the products are constantly changing for pet care, and we used some of the latest and greatest.

This time around we really wanted potty training to go well.  This breed is known for being more difficult to train, and once bad habits are set it can be challenging to fix them.  Mission accomplished (so far), at 4 months old she is accident free and doing great!

The big difference this time is that my husband slept with her at night and when she needed to go out he took her.  Puppies are a bit like babies, they have small bladders and initially can't hold it very long.  At first he stayed in the living room with her at night, and then eventually moved to our room.  At 4 months she is pretty much sleeping through the night and there have been no accidents in the bed. :)

Here's what we bought to prepare for the puppy.  Some are similar to what we used for our last puppy.


Midwest Black Exercise Pen 24" 

We made the puppy her own space and put it in a central area of our home since we wanted her to be socialized. This pen was the perfect size as it's not too big and not too small. Also easy enough to reach over or walk over but high enough that she couldn't climb out. It also folds down easily and was pretty inexpensive. We put it on top of a folded over tarp (from Home Depot). Inside the pen we made a little puppy land for her complete with a sleeping area, potty area, toys and water. 


Most of the time the door was open so that she could go out (and go in to potty), we rarely had her in there by herself for long.  She would go into her crate when she needed to rest.  We did not have her sleep in her crate area overnight like our last puppy.  We took down the pen when she was about 3 months old.  

Dog Crate  

A dog crate is important for a variety of reasons. First your puppy needs a safe place to sleep or be alone. Second, you'll eventually need them to be in the crate when you leave the house. Lastly you may need a crate for traveling and transporting. You don't want one too big (so they don't have space to use it as a potty) or too small. It's tricky with a puppy since they'll be growing. 

This time around we bought a full size crate rather than a smaller temporary one.  It is big enough to use as an adult but small enough to work for overnight trips. We started putting her in there for a few minutes at a time (20 or so) when we were in the same room.  We also put her in there during our meals.

We slowly worked up to longer periods of time, trying not to keep her in there more than 1-2 hours for the first couple of months.  Now at 4 months we will leave her up to 2 hours, but no more than 3.

 

Dog Bed

A dog bed is a must, and you may need more than one. We have dog beds in our office, bedroom and living spaces.  Puppies (and dogs) sleep a lot and a comfortable space is needed. 

Dog Toys

Puppies need toys to chew on and play with.  While they are getting and losing baby teeth chewing toys are helpful, otherwise they may go looking for your shoes!  Our puppy also likes toys that squeak and that can be used as a tug of war.  

I suggest getting a variety and seeing what they like best.  Our daughter's Sophie giraffes have been the most popular around here. :)  Get a basket and put the toys in it, bring the basket out during the day and put it away at night.  Our puppy loves it!



Fresh Patch

With our first dog we used paper/box training.  With the second a reusable Potty Patch made of plastic that looked like grass.  With our recent puppy we upgraded to the latest and greatest, a Fresh Patch.  

Every other week a box of *real* grass arrived at our door.  It was the perfect way to train our puppy to go on grass, since it is real grass.  After 2 weeks we had another box arrive and threw out the first one.  

A little pricey but worth it, since she was able to easily transition to our real grass outside.  We only needed 3 deliveries of Fresh Patch before she was going outside 100%.  There are many codes out there to get discounts on Fresh Patch, google around to find one.  

Other items: water/food bowls, harness/leash, extra blankets.

We're making an effort to socialize Button more than we did Bella.  With Dante (our first and currently 13 year old Italian Greyhound) he joined us before kids, so he was our fur-baby.  We took him with us to restaurants, on vacations, on planes, in cars, etc.  He got used to lots of ages, places and faces.  

With Bella (5 years ago) I had a one year old baby and let's just say taking a dog, baby and a preschooler out was *not* in the cards.  So this time around with Button we're taking her out and letting her experience more places and spaces.  


Her first big non-vet outing was a doggie play-date with our fantastic pet-sitter and then to Starbucks.  Button was freaked but a lot of reassurance a little puppuccino (Starbucks whipped cream) and lots of love and she survived. 

A well fitting dog harness is a must for outings.  A plain collar leash isn't as safe for this breed and especially puppies as they can slip out of them.  The kind that goes around their middle (harness) is much safer and more comfortable.  We have the kind that she steps into, so it's relatively easy to put on.


It's been a bit of an adjustment having three Italian Greyhounds but three really doesn't seem much more than two. :)  And thankfully my husband has done most of the training so having Button in our family has been a fun addition. Yay puppies! 

Other Italian Greyhound Posts:



Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!  I've made Little People Thanksgiving pictures for 5 years now and I ran out of ideas!  Good thing this is the last year of the blog!  But seriously I've done the First Thanksgiving with Indigenous People and Pilgrims (a few times), Family Flag Football games and even a modern family dinner.  What else is there people?  Hmm, maybe a parade?  Shoot, that would have been cute.  Oh well.  Instead I have more Pilgrims and Indigenous People.  You're welcome.


I hope your Thanksgiving was pie-tastic!


For more Little People Turkey-day fun check out:

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

6 Flying Tips for Traveling with School Aged Kids


Ah flying, one of the most fun activities in life, especially with kids.  Not!  Unfortunately it is still a necessary way to get from Point A to Point B.  The good news is there are ways to make it more pleasant for everyone.  Well except for that one grouchy guy sitting near you that refuses to smile and will complain about EVERYTHING.  That guy is on all flights, just try not to sit near him if you can. 

6 Flying Tips

1. Sit near the restroom and behind/around other families.  They most likely won't complain about seat-kicking as much as the grumpy man in front of you!  Being near the restroom you can have an eye on your child without having to actually try to squeeze yourself into the itty-bitty bathroom!  And if you have more than one child then you can stay with one while watching the other.

2. Pack headphones for everyone and at least 2 different electronic devices (kindle, iPad, etc).  You never know if your plane will have programming or if it's age appropriate.

3. Bring a bag to put trash in.  You would not believe how much trash your little people can make in a flight, even a short one!

4. Pick airlines that allow children/families to board early.  This is super helpful in these days of not being able to reserve seats together ahead.  I prefer Southwest because their policy allows families to board between A and B as long as one child is 6 or younger.

5. Bring layers.  Even if it is hot where you are planes get cold.  Make sure to have a sweater or jacket for each child and consider a light blanket as well.  Also socks!  Tiny feet get cold in sandals on planes. 

6. Bring wipes.  Yes, your kids are diaper free now that they're school age but wipes are a must!  Use them to wipe down the table seats (b/c on the flight before you a diaper might have been changed on it......), sticky hands after snacks or spills, etc.  Trust me, wipes are still important. 

So there you go, 6 last travel tips.  I have to say that traveling is MUCH MUCH easier now with my older girls.  There was a time (babies, toddlers, cough cough) that I swore we'd never fly again.  I remember one trip where I actually threatened to stay in Hawaii because I refused to fly back home with my crazy toddler.  Ah, those were the days. (ha!)  But now my kids are great travelers both in the car and on a plane.

So if you have younger kids my advice is to hang in there, it will get better!  But here are some links to my travel tips for younger kids.

Road Trips with Babies & Pre-Schoolers
Traveling with a Toddler - Airplane Activity Kits
Drugging Your Kids and Other Ways to Survive a Red Eye Flight
Disneyland with Small Children - Tips and Tricks

And more for older kids


Road Trip Bags for School Aged Kids

Disneyland with School Aged Kids

Monday, November 13, 2017

(Mostly) Horrible yet entertaining Christmas Movie Rundown

I realize that it's the week before Thanksgiving but it's already that time of year again, Holiday music playing in your car and Christmas movies on your television.  The girls and I started watching holiday films on Netflix this weekend did you?

I've done some research the last couple years and watched oh-so-many Xmas films.  Here are a few short summaries/rundowns so you can decide what to watch and what to skip.  Call it one of my last Christmas Presents for my blog readers.  You're welcome!


Holiday in Handcuffs - Avoid this one at all costs.  Way too cheesy with an impossibly horrendous story line that I couldn't get past.  Well that and the makeup on Mario Lopez.

The 12 Dates of Christmas (2011) - Cheesy but actually entertaining.  It is a take on Groundhog day where the main character relives the same Christmas Eve (with another Saved By the Bell actor) over and over for 12 days.

A Princess for Christmas (2011) - Family movie, definitely made-for-TV but not too painful to watch.  Basic plot is a young aunt raising her daughter's 2 kids after their mother-father died (the year before).  Cue rich/titled foreign and estranged (b/c his son married a commoner) Grandfather to invite them to visit his castle for Christmas.  Enter young handsome uncle who happens to be a Prince and I bet you can figure out what happens next.

Bridget Jones Diary (2001) - A classic.  I love all of the dreamy snow swirling around at night scenes.

Four Christmases (2008) - A Major Motion film, no made-for-TV here.  This one had Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaughn.  A bit crass, not at all appropriate for the family (the first scene includes having sex in a bar bathroom) but it made a good date-night show for my husband and me.

Bridget Jones The Edge of Reason (2004) - Ah, another relatively painful movie to watch due to her bumbling antics.  This movie is much less of a Christmas-y film as only the first and last scenes take place at Christmas-time.  Not exactly a Christmas classic but entertaining none-the-less.

Love Actually (2003) - A feel good Christmas-time movie.  If this one doesn't make you laugh and then cry at the end you probably are the Grinch.  This one will make you want to hug everyone around you during the final scene.  I will point out that it is another non-family movie as there is nudity and adult elements (sex, porn and swearing to name a few).

Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer (1964) - The classic of all classic children's Christmas films.  This movie was made with claymation in the 60's.  It's a surprisingly long (in-my-opinion) movie about Rudolph and the elf that wanted to be a dentist.  They didn't fit in but found each other and saved Christmas by being themselves.

Holiday Engagement (2011) - Another made for TV movie, this one has Shellie Long in it.  I'm not going to lie, it was Cheesy with a capital C.  However, it was a step up from Holiday in Handcuffs so it wasn't the worst on the list.  Let's just say the ending (obvious green screen and all) will make you laugh and that's something!  The family could watch this one but I think kids would be pretty bored, it has a more grown-up storyline.

Sleepless in Seattle (1993) - I think this one is reaching a little as a "Christmas" movie.  If anything I'd say it's a Valentine's Movie since the last scene takes place on Feb 14th but it was on a Christmas list so I watched it.  I love this film as it brings back memories of watching it in my college dorm on a regular basis.  Ha!  I went to school in Seattle so it was fitting I guess.  Anyway it's a sweet film and mostly family appropriate (there are a few swear words here and there as well as the theme of death/loss).

White Christmas (1954) - A must see Christmas Musical from the 1950s with Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney crooning and freaky-small waisted Vera-Ellen dancing (seriously, it was only 17 inches around in this film!!!).  Complete with snow and ending with "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas".  Love this one!

Christmas Lodge (2011) - This was a made-for-TV movie with a religious theme.  It's what you would expect (no swear words or improper scenes here and NO Santa) and although it's family-friendly (of course) I don't think my daughter would have been interested.  I'd say it's better for the 11 and up crowd.  Not my favorite but it still beats Holiday in Handcuffs.

The Radio City Christmas Spectacular (2007) - Not bad, but a little long and cheesy.  Lots of dancers kicking and costume changes.  Kids enjoyed most of it, but got bored part way through.

Nutcracker: The Motion Picture (1986) This is my favorite version of the Nutcracker.  We have a VHS version but no longer have a VHS player.  Sigh.  For a few years it was on Netflix around Christmastime.  If you can find it watch it!  It is a lovely full stage presentation from the 1980s (Pacific Northwest Ballet).  You may be able to find it other places online as well.  And if anyone wants to buy or borrow my VHS copy just let me know. :)

12 Dog Days Till Christmas (2014) Troubled foster teenager has to do community service at Christmastime.  He's assigned to find homes for 12 unwanted dogs.  Add awkward acting, some teen angst and a little romance and you've got a family-friendly holiday film that may be more interesting to your tweens/teens than younger kids. There are a couple familiar C list actors in this film but the real draw are the dogs.  My dog loving kids enjoyed all the dog scenes and tolerated the rest. :)

Happy Christmas (2014) I'm a big Anna Kendrick fan so she's the main reason I watched this film.  It's story about a 20-something woman (Kendrick) who after a breakup moves in with her brother and his wife/baby.  She's irresponsible (drinking/partying) and her sister-in-law is a bored SAHM.  The film is low budget and although it has Christmas in the title it's a stretch to call it a Christmas film (or Happy for that matter!).  This is an adult film, not so much family friendly. 


Christmas Belle (2013) Belle (Haylie Duff) is sent to handle the sale of an estate and it's contents the week before Christmas. Add a suitor back home and a grumpy/Grinch (often shirtless Nicholas Gonzales) estate owner and you've got a Holiday Love triangle!  I won't give the (somewhat drawn out) ending away but this movie although expectedly cheesy is worth a view.  

Friday, November 10, 2017

Unicorn Birthday Party Part II


I'm back with Part II of my daughter's 10th Unicorn Birthday Party!  Today I'll go over our activities, games and favors.


Unicorn Name Game

This was our only game and lasted during the whole party.  When the girls first arrived they looked up their unicorn names using our chart and wrote them on a name tag.  For the rest of the party the girls referred to each other by their unicorn names.  If they slipped and accidentally used their real names they got a line on their name tag.  Whoever had the least amount of lines at the end of the party was the winner!

My unicorn name was Perky Happy Feet by the way. Ha!

Note: Adults were exempt from the game!



Unicorn Photo Booth

Another fun activity appropriate for the tween set was a photo booth.  I ordered a (cheap) background and also Photo Props from Amazon and set them up in one of the rooms.  I had each girl take photos alone, with the birthday girl and in any other combinations they wanted.  So fun!


The grownups enjoyed the photos too. ;)



Unicorn Poop Eraser

Our first craft was creating "Unicorn Poop".  I'm telling you, this was a hit!  We used eraser clay and had the girls roll out colors, combine them and make a poop pile shape.  Ha!  Added a little glitter, baked them in the oven and voila - a poop eraser!

Eraser clay was a first for me, but it's pretty easy to use!  I ordered our clay from Amazon and found directions on YouTube for making the poop shape.  I had the girls watch the YouTube video first and then they were off (easier than explaining it myself).




Unicorn Pumpkin Decorating

We saw a few versions of pumpkin decorating on Pinterest and adapted them to fit our needs.  I bought little white pumpkins ($1 each!) rather than painting orange ones.  This project was appropriate for the party and the time of year, since my daughter's birthday is right before Halloween. 

For decorating we used:
-Crayola Model Magic to form the horns 
-Flowers from Hobby Lobby, separated so each girl could use some (about 4-5 each)
-Curling Ribbons for hair and tails.
-Sharpie pen to draw on faces 
-Pink and white foam sheets to cut out ear shapes

We attached their chosen items with hot glue and patience.  



Unicorn Pinata

The Unicorn Pinata from Target was a big hit (haha).  At only $15.49 and free shipping it was a great deal too! We filled it with tween goodies including:

-Tiny nail polish bottles (wrapped in bubble wrap so they wouldn't break)
-Pop Rocks
-Unicorn stretch toys
-Rainbow Skittles
-Rainbow Hair Ties



Favors

We used the homemade Unicorn Goodie Bags for the girls to place their pinata goodies inside.  

They also received:

-unicorn cookies
-unicorn headbands
-unicorn Poop eraser
-unicorn Pumpkin

A grand haul!

For more information on the cookies, snacks and decorations check out: Unicorn Birthday Party Part I

Here are some links for the products that I used for the party:

  



Thursday, November 9, 2017

Another (unconventional) first

I'm one of those moms that document as many of my kid's firsts as possible.  First teeth, first steps, first airplane trip, first day of school, etc.  However, we also keep track of other firsts like first time getting out of the crib, first public tantrum and first blowout. ;)


Yesterday's first was my youngest's first ER visit!  Also first cut requiring medical attention.  Fortunately she didn't need stitches, just some glue.  Also she was lucky enough to have the cut right at her eyebrow so scarring will be less likely. 

She was a trooper, enjoying all the attention from the nurses and staff.  She was reluctant to have the purple glue attached but only fussed a little. A popsicle and toy helped cheer her up.

Here's hoping we don't have anymore medical firsts this year such as first broken bone or stitches! 

Note: The cut happened at school when some kids tripped her and she fell on the playground steps. 

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Unicorn Birthday Party! Part I


My big beautiful girl turned 10 last month and we celebrated with a Unicorn Birthday Party.  Now that she's older we had a fun time planning this party together. It was a small party but full of lots of Unicorns!

Today I'm going to show our decorations and food, then I'll be back for the games, activities and favors.



First up were the invitations.  We found these beauties at an Etsy shop called Visual6Graphics. They were a steal at only $.65 each (plus shipping) and the quality was fantastic too!


Next up were decorations.  We bought Unicorn Balloons from Party City and regular mylars from the Dollar Tree.







Those beautiful cookies were made by Kim's Cookie Cottage here in Phoenix.  She is an amazing cookie artist who can make anything!  We used the cookies as decorations and each girl got to take a unicorn cookie home. The gold charger was from Dollar Tree. 



See those adorable unicorn bags?  We made those to use as decorations and also treat bags.  It was an easy and fun project we just cut out ear and horn shapes (from foam sheets) and colored them with pink or gold markers.  Simple sharpe drawn eyes and that's all we needed!










The girls and I matched the theme by wearing Unicorn leggings!  The girls's leggings are from Target and mine are from Lularoe. The birthday girl had a matching Unicorn t-shirt from Target and see those Unicorn headbands?  Those were from Target too, only $3 each ($2 if you do store p/u)!  The biggest steal was the pink "Full time Unicorn" tank tops that I found for me and my BFF.  They were on clearance at Charming Charlie and ended up only costing $2 each!  



Most of the other decorations were from Target including the tablecloth, plates, napkins and rainbow Unicorn straws! The rainbow tray is from Ikea.

Those pretty rainbow floats were made out of rainbow sorbet and sprite.  Our other snacks included popcorn and of course cupcakes!



Thankfully here in Phoenix late October is still nice and warm so the girls enjoyed cupcakes on the back patio.  In fact my daughter was almost too hot in her long-sleeved T. :)

I'll be back later with the games, activities and favors. 

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Happy Halloween from My Friends :)


My friends wanted to wish you a Happy Halloween!  Ha, sorry couldn't resist.  These Fisher Price My Friend Dolls do have costumes though and are ready to Trick-or-Treat.

And one more from our Vintage Fisher Price Little People. 



For past Halloween Fun check out:

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Lost and Found

I've got a little story to share with you today.

Once upon a time there was a woman who loved to hike (when it wasn't over 100 degrees!) and went as often as she could.  One lovely (and sort of warm) morning she hiked up her favorite trail keeping a good pace and working up a nice "glow" (ha!).  


When she arrived back home she realized with much distress that her Driver's License was missing out of her oh-so-fashionable CamelBak hiking fanny pack.  It must have slipped out one of them times she switched the music on her phone.  Sigh.


She immediately but somewhat reluctantly returned to the preserve to re-trace her steps.  Back up the steep trail she hiked, much slower this time since she was both tired and scanning all over for the ID.  She also asked every single hiker/biker that she passed if they'd seen her license.

Despite hiking the entire trail her license was not recovered.  So she returned back home even more tired, hot and downright smelly than before. She reported the license as lost to the police and drove very very carefully to pick up her kids from school.  Sigh.

Later that afternoon the most amazing thing happened.  

The doorbell rang and it was a family returning her license!  This family had seen the license on the neighborhood entry box and brought it to the house.  That means that there was another kind person that found her license on the trail and brought it as far as the neighborhood gate.

Kind people are still out there! Happy endings all around. 

The End.


Friday, October 13, 2017

Fisher Price Friday - Chatter Telephone Wireless Speaker


Does this look familiar?  The Chatter Telephone #747 you say?  

Look closer. 


What's that switch on the back?  Why yes, it's an On and Off switch!  This isn't just any Chatter Phone, it's a Wireless Speaker (bluetooth) Phone.  



It looks so much like the original phone (on the right) but is a little more boxy, larger and doesn't move or make clicking sounds.  Instead it plays the music of your choice via your Smartphone or other bluetooth playing device.  So cool.


I pair it with my iPhone to play music in the playroom when I'm hanging out with my girls.  Doesn't it fit right in on the top of our shelving? :)  

They also make a Record Player version but I thought the Chatter Phone was cuter (and smaller).  These players are not that easy to find unfortunately, and as of yet have not been carried widely.  I found my Chatter Phone with a Groupon.  I have seen them on other daily deal sites as well as Cracker Barrel stores.  They run about $30.

It's a super fun addition to our little Fisher Price collection and Christmas is coming so keep a look out to get one of your own!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Digital Into Physical - Blog2Print Books

I shared the news a week ago that I will be closing down my blog at the end of this year.  One of my big concerns when I thought about ending Anne's Odd and Ends was the loss of all my content!  All those photos/stories of my girls growing up as well as recipes.  I use my own blog as a recipe resource almost every week, ha!  So I started researching ways to turn my digital words into a physical book.


My research lead me to select the company Blog2Print to make my memories a reality.  I had 5 (almost 6) years of blog entries so I had to make more than one volume. What I discovered is that the book size is limited by the amount of photos more than the amount of entries.  They could not put more than 2000 in one volume (and 430 pages).  That may sound like a lot but I quickly found that I had too many photos!  They have three photos options (small, medium, large) and I went with the medium choice.  


I ended up making three volumes and will do my last book after I finish out 2017.  Volume I is the biggest at 356 pages, Volume II: 269 and Volume III: 273.  I think that volume IV will be around the same range.  Remember my pages were limited by the number of photos I had which is why I never made it to 430!

So what did I think?

I was very pleased with the book outcome.  It is a big (8x11) hard bound book with professional looking pages, photos and printing.  It included a Contents section (needed to find all those different recipes!) and of course page numbers.  The books can be customized quite a bit, with font, color, cover colors, etc.  I was also able to make a different dedication page for each volume.  


Shipping/Creating took awhile, about 2 weeks from when I ordered the book till I received it.  The books all came VERY well packed, wrapped in bubble sleeves, surrounded by paper in a big box.  No damage there!


These books are definitely not cheap although the cost can be offset with coupons codes and by selecting a softbound cover instead of hard.  Another super budget option is to just buy the PDF version of your book.  Those only cost $8.95!  That way you would have a permanent copy that you could copy later.  My books cost about $120 each (that's with coupon codes).  Worth every penny!

Tips for making your own book cheaper and easier:
  1. Go through your blog ahead and remove all unneeded entries.  Fluff like product sales, promotions, etc.
  2. Go through each blog entry (tedious but worth it!) and remove extra photos.  For example, I didn't really need 5 photos of a soup recipe.  Removing them made my book smaller and easier to read.  I kept all the kid photos though!!
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