Monday, June 15, 2015

Ry Guy's Construction Theme 2nd Birthday Party

What do you do for a little boy who is pretty much obsessed with all things related to wheels and tools? Have a Construction Theme birthday party, of course! Notice our awesome t-shirts. Fit right into the theme!

Last year, we kept it simple and had a small party with mostly adults Ry Guy was comfortable with.  This year, we focused mainly on the kiddos with some simple activities, but still kept the guest list small so he didn't get too overwhelmed.

It came together even better than I had hoped. We had such a fun time and the kids enjoyed themselves too. My little guy was a little shy at the beginning, but after a few minutes he got involved and had a blast.  I loved seeing his smile and hearing him giggle over each new experience.

Ok, here's the details:

We decided to have the party at 3 pm - after Ry's nap so he was well rested.  Since it was middle of the afternoon, we just had snacks, so that was pretty easy. I had fun "re-naming" all the food items after construction or building related things.

  • Honey (glue)
  • Yogurt (plaster)
  • Blueberries and Strawberries (pebbles)
  • Grapes (rocks)
  • Apple slices (couldn't come up with a cute name for that)
  • Sunflower Seed Clusters (gravel)
  • Maple Almond Granola (sawdust)
  • Brownies (asphalt)
  • Apple Juice (varnish)
  • Iced Coffee (diesel) - served with cream and simple syrup
  • And a big jug of water... it was hot outside!

The decorations were fun! Overall, I think it came out pretty cute.
  • Caution tape (Amazon)
  • Orange cones (Amazon)
  • Mylar dump truck balloon (Amazon)
  • Kid size plastic hard hats (Amazon)
  • Orange, yellow and black balloons (Dollar Tree)
  • Tablecloths, napkins, paper plates, etc. (Halloween clearance last year at Walmart) 
  • Yellow cups and spoons (party store) 
  • Blue pop up canopy for shade over the food (from our camping stash)
  • Sawhorses/lumber for the food table (from the garage.  I think it added to the construction feel, but really we just didn't have another table to use.)

I made the invitation myself using Microsoft Word (fancy, I know). I primarily used the Stencil font that comes with the program.  I used some free clipart to make it pretty. I was inspired by this invitation I saw on pinterest, but customized the design to make it work for us (I also made my invitation fit 4 to an 8.5x11 sheet of cardstock (mostly because I get more bang for my buck that way and also because I already had some black notecard size envelopes I wanted to use.)

Also, I designed the food tags and signs myself using Microsoft Word and some more free clip art. I got it all printed at a copy store for about $4. I figure I would have used more than $4 worth of printer ink if I'd printed all the stuff myself.
I would have liked to have had a happy birthday banner somewhere, but ran out of time to put one together. Oh well, if that's my only regret, I guess we're ok.

I wanted to keep the kids' activities simple, unstructured and focused on free play. The kids played with all the toys, but the sandbox seemed to be the favorite.
  • Plastic storage tub filled with play sand (Home Depot) and sand toys, trucks and sand shovels [this is now Ry's sandbox for the summer. I like that I can just snap the lid on when we're done playing to keep the critters out]
  • Ry's kid-size table and a bucket of Duplos legos (M built the table -isn't he handy?- and the duplos were a gift last year)
  • Blanket and Melissa and Doug blocks (gift from last year)
  • Bean bag toss  (both bean bags and sign were homemade) I cut out and painted a piece of cardboard to look like a construction sign, "Men at Work".  The kids had fun tossing the bean bags, but didn't seem to care too much about actually getting the bean bags through the hole. What do you expect from toddlers, right?

Happy Birthday, Little Bear! You're growing up so fast. We're so thankful for the brightness, energy and big ideas you bring to our lives. We love you! - Mom and Dad

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Project Date Night: June

What's Project Date Night all about? Read all about it here.

Happy Anniversary to us! Hard to believe it's been 5 years already.  Time flies when you're having fun, right? Or is it, 'time flies when you're chronically sleep deprived parents'? I don't remember, as I'm falling asleep on my keyboard as I type this ZZZZzzzzzzzz .  Sorry.

We need to have some better pictures taken at some point....

Anyway, typically 5 years would call for a bit of a celebration, a big to-do and all that. Unfortunately, that just wasn't possible for us this year.  [And side note, I wanted to go on a romantic sunset cruise around a lake on an old steam powered paddle boat, but come to find out, they don't run cruises in June anymore. Apparently it's too cold and rainy. Bummer. And there wasn't a whole lot else to do in our area that was "special".]

Check out my sparkles!

Instead, we opted for something simple at home. When we were dating, I got us a gift certificate to a fondue restaurant (I found out after purchasing that it was actually for a restaurant in a different city than where we lived). You know, the kind where you cook your food on sticks at your table? We never ended up using the gift certificate and then we moved out of state. But, if I ever get to Miami, we could have dinner for free. I digress.

My point is that fondue is fun and since we've never done a "fondue restaurant" date, we decided that our fifth anniversary was a great reason to pull out the mini crock pot and get fondue-ing.

Here's the menu:
  • Beef Roast, cubed
  • Grilled Shrimp
  • Smoky BBQ Sauce
  • Horseradish Cocktail Sauce
  • Steamed Broccoli and Carrots
  • Chocolate Fondue
  • Apple Slices
  • Strawberries

Did you know that "fondue" refers to the process, not the substance you're dipping into? So instead of cheese fondue (most common for savory fondue) I went with a hot oil fondue for the beef (bonus! Dairy-free!).

Cooking chunks of beef in hot oil can take quite a while, so to speed up the process, I seared the beef ahead of time and we just warmed it through in the hot oil. Also, we grilled the shrimp and served that separately with the steamed veggies. It was yummy!

For the chocolate fondue, I opted for a room temp chocolate fondue, since I already had hot oil going in my mini crock pot and my actual fondue pot has a tendency to overheat and burn my chocolate. See the end of this post for the recipe.

Chocolate Fondue Dip
by Raye
Keywords: stove top dessert condiment egg-free dairy-free gluten-free gaps grain-free paleo refined sugar free soy-free vegetarian almond
Ingredients (about 2 cups)
  • 1 c. unsweetened almond butter
  • 5-6 Tbsp honey
  • 3/4 c. coconut oil
  • 3/4 c. cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • In a small mixing bowl, combine almond butter, honey, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.
  • Melt the coconut oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Once the coconut oil is melted, turn off the heat and whisk in the cocoa powder a tablespoon at a time. Then, combine the coconut oil/cocoa mixture with the almond butter mixture. Stir well.
  • Serve immediately (warm) or at room temperature (cool) with your favorite dippers, such as fruit, graham crackers, cookies or pretzels. Store any leftovers in a jar at room temperature for up to a week.
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Monday, June 1, 2015

Well, That's Just Dippy

It's that time of year... heat, humidity, summer, and cookouts out the whah-zoo. I think everyone must have a "go-to" cookout recipe. For you, that may be a killer marinade or burger seasoning blend. Or, an easy side salad or sweet dessert to share. You know, that one thing that instantly pops in your head when you hear "cookout".

While I have some yummy side salads in my repertoire, my cookout staple is the veggie tray. That's crudité for all you foodies out there. Growing up, if I would have said "crudité", people would have looked at me like I had 3 heads and just stepped off the Mother Ship. "Croo-dee-what?" Sigh.  So I just save the gourmet for an appreciative audience.

Anyway, the humble veggie tray comes in a whole bunch of forms, using all manner of raw veggies from carrots to celery to bell pepper to broccoli to cucumber.  When you make the veggie tray yourself, you can arrange any type of raw veggie that sounds "dippable" to you (That's a real word. True story.)  Just make sure they're in bite size pieces and you're golden.

Now that we've discussed the finer points of veggie selection, let's move on to the fun part - the dip. You can definitely do Ranch dip (always a winner), but my personal favorite is this Creamy Yogurt Dill Dip recipe.  It's zesty, creamy, herbaceous, and delicious.  And, the bowl is always scraped clean when I serve it at gatherings, so I take that as a good sign.

P.S. If you are a fan of sour cream and onion chips, you might like this dip with a nice crunchy, salty, kettle cooked plain potato chip.  It's pretty fantastic, I might add.  But me? I'm a veggie lovah at heart. Bring on the "croo-dee-what's" and let's get our cookout on.

Ok, COOKOUT. What dish just popped into your head?

Creamy Yogurt Dill Dip
by Raye
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Keywords: no-cook appetizer condiment side egg-free gaps nut-free vegetarian peanut-free sugar-free soy-free July 4th cookout summer
Ingredients (2 cups dip)
  • 1 cup plain, Greek style yogurt
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp snipped fresh dill (or 2 tsp dried dill)
  • 1 tsp granulated onion (or 1/2 tsp onion powder)
  • 1 tsp granulated garlic (or 1/2 tsp garlic powder)
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
Combine ingredients. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours before serving to allow the flavors to meld.
Store any leftovers tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
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