Thursday, August 31, 2017

Look who finished Phase 1 Braces!

My big girl has a new smile thanks to 15 months of braces. :)  Here's hoping her teeth grow in straight now that there is LOTS of space.  Otherwise she'll be back to Phase 2 in High School.

Here's her before and after photo!  Not only did my beauty get straighter teeth but she grew quite a bit too.  Ah, my baby is growing too fast!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Solar Eclipse

We didn't catch the Eclipse excitement around here until a week before the event.  Mostly because in the Phoenix area we are far from totality, so it didn't become exciting until the kid's began learning about it at school.

Fortunately our girls attend a school that did not lock the kids in during the eclipse, but rather everyone got glasses thanks to a go-fund-me campaign.  The school made it a big event and all the kids participated.

I hadn't planned on attending but at the last minute was able to volunteer in my daughter's 1st grade class. I am so very glad that I did because it was pretty cool seeing the excitement in all the kids as the (partial) eclipse unfolded.

Our eclipse was even more partial due to a cloudy morning.  Go figure our desert that rarely shows any clouds had a cloudy morning on this day!  It worked out fine though because it help the kids from overheating (it was 98 degrees outside) and built up the excitement every time the sun peaked through the clouds.  

Hopefully it's a day both my girls remember for a long time, I know I will.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Rubber Ducky Party Part 2: Food and Games

We're into the school year but not so long ago (last month) we celebrated two special 6 year olds with a Ducky Themed birthday party.  I already shared our invitations and decorations and now I'm back to show off our food and games.  All with a rubber ducky theme of course!

First up the refreshments.  We had beverages just for the adults, a must have at a hot hot and humid outdoor kid's party. 😉  

  • Cold Brew - Made by my Toddy maker.  I used IKEA organic ground coffee.  I also made simple syrup and provided half and half.
  • Mimosa/Bellini - My BFF had orange juice and champagne.  Very refreshing!  And I added a bottle of Bellini from Trader Joe's.

For kids we had a bucket of bottled waters on ice.  We figured they had enough sugar from the rest of the party so they didn't need more.

For food we had a spread of:
  • Popcorn: An easy crowd favorite.  We served it in cups.
  • Strawberry: Cut up for easy serving.
  • Hard Boiled Eggs: This may seem like an unusual choice but kids love them and hey, they matched our Duck theme.  
  • Frozen Yogurt: Tubes of yogurt were crowd favorites and perfect for a hot morning.

Naturally we also served cupcakes, ours were decorated with blue sprinkles (to look like water) and had rubber duckies on top.  If you're not afraid of a little more food dye you could ask for blue frosting.


Now onto games; the party was a pool party so games weren't required, but we had to have a couple!  
  • Relay Races: We split the kids into two teams and had them go back and forth with plastic eggs on spoons.  A party classic and the kids had a hoot.  You could add more challenges but our kids were content with just that.
  • Pin the beak on the duck.  You can't have a birthday party without a pin-the-something-on-the-something!  In this case my daughter thought up the beak on the duck version, although a wing could work too.  My sweet girl actually created her own duck weeks before the party, but we made a bigger one the night before instead.
  • Last but not least, a beautiful pinata!  Another classic game that doubles as a decoration!  Our kids had the best time whacking at it and it took a few rounds before it finally busted open.  The pinata was filled with (natural) candy and quarters stuffed into eggs.  Eggs! Get it? Duck eggs!  That was my friend's idea, she's brilliant!  She provided gift bags for each child to keep their pinata treasures and also party favors at the end.
The handmade pinata was from an Etsy shop called TheKidCorner.  It was perfect!

The party was a success and a good time was had by all!  Rubber Ducky might be an unusual theme for a 6 year old party but it worked swimmingly for us. 

Note about the party favors.  We let each child pick a big (normal size) rubber duck, duck key chain and a few tiny ducks to take home.  Prizes for the games were other duck toys.

Rubber Ducky Birthday Part 1 (decorations & invitations)

Monday, August 14, 2017

First Week of School

My girls (and I) survived their first week of school!  Unlike last year there were no tears, just happy smiles and lots of excitement.

Now it wasn't a perfect week, there were a few bumps and challenges but we made it through and the kids are ready for week two.

We started the night before school with a special dinner.  Then we packed lunches (ahead!! what?) and picked out their first day clothes.  The first day of school they were up and ready so early that we had time to stop at Starbucks for a first day of school treat for them and me.

I managed to find ways to fill my time while they were in school. 😉  I eased into it by hanging by the pool (with a friend) and meeting friends for boba and coffee.  Add a few errands and some housework and the days flew by.

Here's to another great year of school!

For past 1st days of school:

Kindergarten (my oldest)
Kindergarten (my youngest)

Friday, August 11, 2017

Fisher Price Friday - NEW Hallmark Ornaments for 2017!

It may still be summer but I'm already thinking about Christmas!  I'm in the mood after discovering these adorable little Vintage Fisher Price toy ornaments.

I was surprised to learn that Hallmark is once again making Fisher Price ornaments.  They previously made a total of 14 Fisher Price ornaments between 2007-2012 but then abruptly stopped.  So what a surprise to see them reappear again after 5 years.   

Other Fisher Price themed ornaments have been made by companies like Dept 56 and Basic Fun.  However these versions (especially Dept 56) pale in comparison.  The main difference being that Dept 56 ornaments are clunky, heavy and made of non-moving resin.  Hallmark on the other hand made intricate, delicate plastic ornaments often with moving or musical parts (many battery operated).

The Hallmark ornaments quickly became collectible, with some versions costing over $100 on reselling sites.

Now back to this year.  Hallmark introduced two FP toys, the Pull a Tune Xylophone and the Chatter Phone.  Interestingly Hallmark previously made a Chatter Telephone, and it is one of the more expensive ornaments on the resale market.

The new version is called the Tiny Chatter Telephone.  This is very accurate as this dear little ornament is TINY.  It is by far the smallest chatter telephone I've ever seen!  Much smaller than the World's Smallest Fisher Price version.  It is so small in fact that it is a perfect size for a Fisher Price Little People figure to play with.  

It may be tiny but it is intricate and a fantastic replica and retails for only $7.95.

Now lets compare it to the original 2009 version.  As you can see the original version (on the left) is MUCH bigger.  The 2009 chatter phone has movement features including a dial that turns and wheels that roll.  They both have cords and tiny replica lithographs.

And for fun, here all all of my Chatter Phone ornaments as well as the World's Smallest Fisher Price Chatter Phone.  Which is your favorite?

Next up is the 2017 Pull a Tune Xylophone which retails for $15.95.  Hallmark did not make an xylophone ornament before, so this is a first.  The only other company that also made an xylophone is Dept 56 so I'll compare it to those.

First the Hallmark version (top photo).  It is made of plastic and has a mallet attached to a golden string.  The mallet snaps into one end of the ornament.  The keys are made of metal and make the smallest of sounds when struck just so.  

The Dept 56 xylophones on the other had are made of resin and have no movement.  However, the latest version (from 2016) does have the cute addition of looking like a sled.  All three versions have mallets connected by string, ribbon or plastic cord.

Of the two released this year my favorite is the oh-so-tiny chatter telephone.  It is just too cute!  I look forward to seeing if more Fisher Price ornaments come out next summer.

To purchase your own ornaments:

For more information on past 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, August 6, 2017

School Starts Tomorrow - Summer Highlights :)

Yes it's true, today is my family's last day of summer vacation. The kids start school tomorrow and it will be a bittersweet day for sure!  We had a fun filled summer break with a few trips, lots of play dates and many days just spent at home.  Heaven!

Here are the highlights:

Flower Girls for my Niece Kathryn's Wedding 

Trip to WA to visit family (and get out of the desert oven!!!)

Fishing Trip to Alaska (just my husband and our oldest)

Rubber Ducky Birthday Party to celebrate our 6 year old!!

Swim Lessons (super fun this year)

Pool Play Dates - With Juice Otter Pops!

Vacation Bible School (youngest) and Church Camp in the mountains (oldest)

Summer Facts

  • 3 = Teeth Lost (2 for big sister, 1 for little with another super loose right now!)
  • 3 = States Visited
  • 10.5 = Weeks of Vacation
  • 4 Doctor Visits 
  • 2 Dentist Visits
  • 5 = Modes of unusual transport (National Park Bus, kayak, ferry, UTV, float plane) 
  • 6 = Times watched the movie Moana
  • 12 = Pool Play Dates
  • 14 = Coffee Dates 
Whew, that was a fun summer.  The kids are ready to go back to school and I am hoping that this year is a smooth transition, especially for me!  It was quite an adjustment for me last fall getting used to having all my kids out of the house for full days.  Let's see if this year is better. :)  

Friday, August 4, 2017

Fisher Price Friday - My Friend Jenny

My youngest turned 6 last month (sigh) and desperately wanted another My Friend Doll.  She already has 2 and was hopeful to add the last 2 (girls) to her collection.  I did some eBay stalking and found the last two (Jenny and Becky) over the summer.  I packaged up Jenny for her birthday and stashed Becky away for Christmas. 

My daughter had the biggest grin when she opened up her birthday present, which makes it all worth it!!  Now about this 30+ year old doll. :)  My Friend Jenny #209 made between 1984-1985.  She is decked out in aerobics clothes which followed the fitness craze of the 1980s  At least she isn't wearing a high cut leotard! 👀

This version of Jenny is the 4th (and last) one produced.  First up was #201 Jenny 1974-76 which was pre-"My Friend".  The main difference with that first doll is that she had (thicker) cloth arms/legs while the rest of the Jenny's (including this one) have plastic arms/legs and a cloth torso.  #212 My Friend Jenny had a brown dress and a brown straw hat and was made between 1979-1981.  Next up was #217 My Friend Jenny from 1982-1983 wearing a yellow dress and a white hat.  Finally our version #209, who is quite the departure wearing workout clothing and no hat!

The My Friend Jenny box shows adorable photos of a lovely little girl playing with, washing and caring for her doll.  I am not sure if Jenny is meant to look Asian, but she does resemble the little girl!  All of the boxes and inserts for the My Friend dolls advertise that the dolls are machine washable and easy care.  I still have not braved washing any of our dolls in the machine....that seems risky to me. 

Jenny has a plastic head, arms, legs and feet.  Her torso is cloth and like the other dolls has a white flowered material on it.  Jenny has brown eyes and long dark brown hair with bangs. Her outfit includes a sweatshirt type top, skirt, tights, leg warmers, headband (removable), purse (removable) and sneakers.

A closer look at her tights shows that they are stirrups!  Oh how I remember stirrups from the 80s.  Good times.  The leg warmers (purple) are removable and knit.  The pink and white tennis shoes have molded laces and are marked R or L.  There was also an all pink tennis shoe version.  All of these pieces were exclusives to this set.

The cross body purse opens and you could place something tiny inside (like a dime).  My version is gold purse/gold strap but they also had a gold purse/silver strap, silver purse/silver strap and a silver purse/silver strap versions.  The headband is teal and purple fabric woven together.

Let's just say these sweet My Friend Dolls are well loved by my little girl.  I adore that she (on her own!) is so interested in these vintage dolls.  I had at least one doll as a child and it brings me joy to see her love them too.

For more information on her Fisher Price Dolls

#204 Baby Ann (a soft doll) 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Instant Pot Roast Chicken (and Broth) Recipe

I did something that felt brave with my IP this week; I cooked an ENTIRE chicken at once.  My chicken was only 5 lbs but I was afraid that it wouldn't fit in my IP but miraculously not only did the chicken fit in there but a bunch of vegetables, water and even the IP rack.  A-mazing.

Now, about this chicken.  It turned out moist, delicious and perfectly cooked.  It required little preparation and a huge bonus was that it made 4 cups of chicken broth to use another time.  Woot woot!

I separated the chicken from the bones and kept 1/2 to use now froze the other 1/2.  The next day I cut up chicken into small pieces and added walnuts, mayo and dried cranberries.  My big girl and I had it for lunch on toast - Yummy!!

So if you have an IP and have been reluctant to cook a chicken wait no more!  Use this recipe, you won't be disappointed.

IP Roast Chicken

4-6 lb whole organic chicken
3 celery stalks - chopped
2 carrots - chopped
1 onion - chopped
2-3 cups of water
Seasoning Salt
Garlic Salt
Salt & Pepper


1. Place celery, carrots and onion in the bottom of the IP.  Put the rack on top and add 2-3 cups of water.
2. Season chicken with seasoning salt, garlic salt and any other preferred dried herbs (ie: rosemary, thyme, etc).  Place the chicken on top of the rack and add salt and pepper.
3. Place the IP on the MEAT setting and adjust the time down to 25 minutes.
4. Once the 25 minutes are up let the pressure naturally release for another 25 minutes.  (*If you cut it short and open the valve early the meat will be less moist!).
5. Remove the chicken and take off the meat from the bones.  Strain the broth into a mason jar to use later!  Enjoy!
*Those chicken bones could then be added back to the IP to make Bone Broth, but I'm not *that* brave yet so I don't have a recipe for you.  Ha!