gallamore west: June 2011

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Best lunch date ever!

Today I feel like 
the luckiest Mama in the world.

I did something I've never done before.
I went on an impromptu lunch date
with my three little men.

I mean, I do feed my boys daily and occasionally we do eat out, but this was different.  In between Target and Old Navy shopping, we were starving.  We contemplated our choices.

The usual suspects...
Taco Bell

I decided to do something different and 
this sounded sooo good, plus it was right there...

I avoid restaurants for so many reasons... 

the wait
the prices
the patience it requires with three little boys
oh, and getting them all in and out of the car

But something about today was different.  

I had such a happy Mama day as my boys 
sat quietly 
said their please & thank yous 
and ate all of their food politely.  

No scenes, no burping, no crying, no plate licking, no arguing... just happy, hungry boys who filled our pleasant little lunch with things like this:

"This restaurant is FANCY!"

"You can't eat this kind of food in the car!"

"Oops, they gave me two forks.  
Here Sam, this one's for you."

"This place is like China!  
They have dumplings and noodles here."

 Ahhh, one of those great Mama moments.  I think we'll try to eat at fancy Chinese restaurants more often :)

Monday, June 27, 2011

Summer Lovin'!

My postings have been few and far between lately as I'm on a great, never-ending quest to find balance as a Momma, 
Personal Shopper, 
Swim Instructor, 
Banker and 
Packing/Moving/Driving back-and-forth Extraordinare.  
Oh, and I'm also Cinderella {but just the cleaning part, no glass slipper here!} 

Although I don't think I'm getting my balancing act down very well....

First we hung out at the zoo...

Then we hung out with fun friends 
{and this kind of scary looking penguin!} at Sea World...

Plus there's been a little of this... 
Slip 'N Sliding {also known as Muddy 'N Messy!}
and a whole lot of this!
But if there is one part that we're getting right, it's this...
After many months of having to wake him up mid-nap to drop off and/or pick up his big brothers from school, 
Luke is finally getting 
uninterrupted naps  
at home in his own crib.

Oh, and there's also a TON of this going on...

I'm working on my new "Craft Corner" and I'm loving it!  Clearly that's a "before" picture... I'll share more pictures as soon as it's done :)
Horray for Summertime... we love you!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day!

Small boys become big men through the influence of big men who care about small boys {author unknown}
I adore the man who has given me the three greatest joys of my life.  Happy Father's Day Ben!  
And Happy Father's Day to my own wonderful Dad {Papa} and all of the Fathers out there, today and everyday.  And to my single mama friends, who fill the shoes of Mom and Dad.  You girls are amazing.

Friday, June 17, 2011

4th of July Burlap Wreath tutorial

I dressed up my plain burlap wreath for Jake's Vintage Red Scooter Party {I'm still in shock that his party was featured on Hostess with the Mostess AND Kara's Party Ideas... wahoo!!} I love how this wreath turned out, in fact it's still on the front door even though Jake's party was over a month ago.  Here I am spending a fun Friday night on a date with Pinterest and I just saw my wreath pinned under July 4th decorating ideas... what a great idea!  I'm just going to switch up the "welcome" and put "Happy 4th" and I get to leave it up!

Here's the original post with a tutorial on how to make your own burlap wreath {I just pinned on the red and blue ribbon later and used stamps and cardstock strung on jute for the mini pennant across it}...

I've had my eye on gorgeous burlap wreaths for weeks now and now I have one too!  Here's how I made mine...

I used a 12 inch straw wreath.  I wasn't sure if I would use the green floral kind or straw until I saw the prices.  Green one was $7.99, straw one was $2.49.  So, cut some loooooong pieces of burlap {a yard long or so} and it doesn't matter if they're pretty, straight pieces.  Then grab your straw wreath {with the plastic ON}, some sewing pins and start wrapping the burlap tightly around the wreath.  Pin as needed to make it nice and tight.

Once you have strips of burlap tightly pinned on all the way around the wreath, cut squares of burlap.  Lots and lots of little squares {about 2 x2 inches or so}... and again they do NOT have to be perfect.  Wow, this is my kind of project!
I had no idea how many squares I'd need so I cut about 30 or so at a time, pinned them on, then stopped to cut more squares as I went so I wouldn't waste any burlap.  So, just cut a little pile of squares to get you going, grab one and twist it in the center a little like this:
Then start pinning!  I used one sewing pin per square and just started filling in the wreath.
And then just keep going and going...

Once you're about halfway, it's time to stop and take pictures of your adorable kids running around in their underwear...

Now back to this burlap beauty... and before you know it, you'll be done!

When it's done, boys say, "Wow, that's cool Mom!  Looks like a lion..."

So they'll take turn wearing the new "lion" wreath...

Then tie a big pretty ribbon on it {I used brown grosgrain because I wanted a blank "slate"... I'll be dressing it up in red and blue for Jake's birthday soon!}  

Then just hang, admire, and love your burlap wreath!  And the fact that it only took about 45 minutes tops... and that included the times I stopped to attend to my three little "lions" hanging around!

I'm linking up to...

Tickled Pink at 504 Main

Tip Junkie handmade projects

Peanut Butter Crunch Brownies

My husband signed himself up to bring a dessert to a luncheon at work today.  Then he told his co-workers that his wife is a 
good cook
who loves to bake
and who specializes in desserts.

No pressure, right?  Thanks, Babe :)

So I searched through my "sugar, sugar" board on Pinterest and immediately was drawn to these brownies called  
When I told my husband what I was making, 
our 6 year old overheard and said, 
"Mommy, what is crack?"

So I decided to stick with "Peanut Butter Crunch Brownies" to avoid having a conversation about illegal drugs with our sweet boy.  Whatever you call them, they are fabulous!! 

Brownie base recipe {great brownies on their own} 
2-3 squares baking chocolate {I used 3 squares unsweetened Baker's chocolate}
1/2 lb butter
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350.
Melt butter and baking squares in a microwave safe bowl {or on the stove top}. In the mixing bowl {or pour it into your Kitchen Aid}, cream melted butter and chocolate mixture. Add in sugar and vanilla and beat until fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add in eggs, beating one at a time. Add flour and stir just until combined.
Pour into greased 9 x 13 baking dish and bake for 20 minutes.

While baking, start working on the middle layer:
1/2 cup chopped salted peanuts
1 cup chopped Reese's peanut butter cups

Pull your brownies out after 20ish minutes of baking, sprinkle chopped nuts and chopped PB cups evenly on top and bake for another 5 minutes.

While your middle layer is baking, work on the top layer {did I mention these are kind of time-consuming?!  But totally worth it}  In a medium saucepan, melt together:
1 1/2 cup chocolate chips
1 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 tablespoon butter

Once melted, add 1 1/2 cup Rice Krispies and stir to combine.  Take your brownies out of the oven and evenly spread your crunchy top layer on them.  Refrigerate for 2 hours, until firm.  Slice with a plastic knife... they are great chilled or room temperature {and delicious for breakfast too... oops!}

I sent the hubs to work with this cake stand full of these delicious bars... nothing like pressure to create something awesome, but I'm positive these will do the trick :)

Linking up here!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Featured on Kara's Party Ideas!

Happy Monday morning!!  I'm soooo excited to wake up this morning and see that Jake's Vintage Red Scooter Party {featured recently on Hostess with the Mostess} is being featured today on the fabulous party site, Kara's Party Ideas!  I loooove Kara's Party Ideas!  Whenever I'm looking for pretty party eye candy, it's one of my to-go sources!  

Thank you for the feature, Kara!

Scoot on over to Kara's Party Ideas 

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Looking back: Sam's Buzz Lightyear Birthday Party

When Sam turned 5, he was soooo into Buzz Lightyear and had to have a Buzz Lightyear/Space party!  It was before Toy Story 3 was coming out so the stores weren't exploding with Toy Story stuff.  In fact, I couldn't find a single thing, but that's okay because I like to stay away from character parties anyway.  

Here's a look back at the original post from 
Sam's 5th Birthday Party...

I picked up the party pictures from our party photographer, Marjorie Williams today! She did a great job capturing the details of Sam's Space Party. He really wanted a Buzz Lightyear party and I wanted to avoid a character party, so we did a blend of rockets and space with some Buzz/Toy Story details. We were both happy with the end result... he loved his party and I loved being able to get creative without being "cartoony." Here are some of the party details...

I made rocket ships for centerpieces from Pringles containers {which were the party favors for the older siblings!} The adorable stickers are from maxandbella on etsy.

I chose blue and green space themed scrapbooking paper to use throughout the party for water bottles, signs for the food, game station signs, and more. The little rocket tags were so adorable and affordable, from jackandizzy on etsy.

I loved the look of these hanging inflatable planets I bought from Oriental Trading. They looked awesome hanging above the dining room table {and now hang in the boys' new rocket room}!

On the menu we had Pizza Planet {from Toy Story}, Rings of Saturn salad, space sticks {carrot sticks with ranch dip}, crunchy comets {Cheeto Puffs}, intergalactic grapes, lunar lemonade, and martian marshmallows.

The cupcakes were triple chocolate with chocolate buttercream and vanilla almond with white buttercream, all topped with a little green alien {from Toy Story}.

Sam had his own little rocket cake with candles coming out the back like fire on a real rocket. I had envisioned a standing rocket made from stacked ding dongs wrapped in fondant, but the new fondant recipe I tried was a mess so this was plan 2, but Sam thought it was perfect!

And everyone had fun trying out the astronaut ice cream!

One of the activities was "Put Space Ranger Sam on the Rocket"- I made the rocket from poster board and card stock,and used a cute paper punch with a picture of Sam in his Buzz Lightyear costume. The kids loved this game and so do I because it's easy, fun, and makes a great decoration at the party too!

Another activity was this Rocket Bean Bag toss game, which turned into juggling and other games, but that's okay... it was a bright decoration and the kids had fun making up their own games with the beanbags!

Sam LOVES art projects, so we had an art station full of markers, crayons, foam stickers, stencils and stamps for the kids to create their own solar system art.

Party favors for the kids were these venti Starbucks cups transformed into rockets! They held glow in the dark sticks, pop rocks, a little rocket toy, and some Toy Story gummies. The babies took home a container of baby puff crackers, also transformed into rockets. The best part about all of these favors is that they were all used as party decorations and centerpieces during the party, then given to the guests the end!

And there were rocket sugar cookies for all the party guests too.

Sam had a great time celebrating his fifth birthday with his closest friends and family {while wearing this cool shirt I bought from jonahbonah on etsy} and he's already busy planning his sixth birthday party. Happy 5th Birthday to my Sweet Sam!

I'm linking Sam's Party here!


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Class of 2023!

I can't believe it... my little guy isn't so little anymore!  Seriously, when Sam was 2 years old I thought he had a health problem because he wasn't growing at all.  The girls at his preschool carried him around on the playground like a baby.  And now he's so big I can't pick him up :( and he graduated Kindergarten last night.  Ugh! Put me in the old folk home already.  Okay, maybe I'm being a little dramatic here, but time is flying by.  

I had the pleasure of coordinating the reception after the Graduation Ceremony for the 2 Kindergarten classes and their families.  It was a Milk & Cookies theme... 

One Smart Cookie!  

And the best part was that a Milk & Cookies bar is a fabulous theme for recruiting help!  My friend Jenn made the banners, three other sweet moms made some of the delicious cookies, and another friend got all the milk.  I was in charge of the paper goods, platters/stands for the set-up, 


sugar cookies

and these cute diploma cookies
{which were the easiest thing ever because I just bought 
Pepperidge Farm Pirouettes and tied little ribbons on them}

Happy Graduation Samuel and friends, Class of 2023!  
Is it me or are years getting shorter and shorter?  
Pleeeease, slow down!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Jake's Red Scooter Birthday Party!

When I think of Jake, I think of him zooming around on his little red scooter.  So when it came time to plan his 4th Birthday Party last month, I knew that a "Little Red Scooter" party was perfect for him.  And I love parties with a "vintage" feel and his little hand-me-down scooter looks practically vintage from so much use.  I was thrilled with the pictures that our photographer {Marjorie Deacon} took, and patiently kept them to myself while only sharing them with one source as I dreamed about something I've always dreamed about as a party loving mama... a feature on Hostess With the Mostess!  

Last week, my party mama dream came true and Jake's Vintage Style Red Scooter Party was featured on HWTM!!  

Here are some of the pictures from Jake's fun party...


Painted "aged" JAKE on the mantel 

with pictures of him on his little red scooter 
on the wall above the mantel

Vintage style suitcases throughout the party...

Jake's "Little Red Scooter" that provides him hours upon hours of scooter fun {a well-loved hand-me-down Radio Flyer from big brother Samuel}

 I made the little scooter in Microsoft Word and used the font Veteran Typewriter for a vintage look...

Dressed up this burlap wreath for the front door...

{food... scooter style}
fresh fruit

and handle bars, of course!

plus lemonade, water bottles with my own labels, and juice boxes

All of Jake's friends brought their wheels 
{scooters, bikes, wagons...} 

and they decorated them for a Birthday Parade around the lake {we have these beautiful walking trails right behind our house... oh, how I looove that Willow tree whose branches are flirting with the water} 

Baby ducklings spotted on the lake 
during the Birthday Parade!

I love this old-fashioned game and seem to work it into every party theme.  I made it with part of a cardboard box, painted on a scooter, then added the polka dot ribbon as a border to hide the ragged edges. 

I'd like to eat a scooter now... don't you?  Made from Vienna Fingers, pretzel rods, and mini Oreos... all "glued" together with royal icing.

 {desserts... scooter style}
Jake wanted a "vanilla cake with vanilla frosting"... this Martha Stewart recipe adapted from her cupcake book's vanilla cupcake recipe was delicious, along with Martha Stewart's red velvet cupcake recipe I used for the dessert table too.

These sugar cookie "speed bumps" are like Oreo truffles but with sugar cookies... want to make them?  Click here for recipe and instructions :)

My boys had The Dangerous Book for Boys on their bookshelf and I love how it looks stacked with the suitcase and my favorite cake stand {from Target on clearance after Easter a few years back}

When I found that little vintage scooter on Amazon months before Jake's party, I squealed out loud... it was perfect! 

more scooter wheels

The devastation in Japan was so heartbreaking to see and hear about.   We had a Bake Sale just weeks before Jake's party and donated the money to to help the kids in Japan.  When it came time for Jake's party, I was stuck.  I like to do "theme" favors and there just aren't many scooter favors out there and I didn't want to spend money on junk that I knew would get thrown out or on candy {his party was the day before Easter so I tried to avoid a sugar overload}.  

So I talked to Jake and we came up with this idea instead...  

I used Living Locurto's Halloween Cookie Mix recipe, and changed the name to Jake's Scooter-rific Cookie Mix.  I really wanted to do red and blue M&Ms only, but seriously WHY are those solid color M&M's soooo expensive?  They turned out great with regular M&M's and I saved about a million bucks by not going with red & blue only.

After the party, we were so happy with this idea that we've decided that we will be choosing a charity to donate to instead of favor bags every time one of our boys has a birthday.   And guess what?  Not one party guest asked about a goodie bag.  I love family traditions, and I'm so excited to collaborate with my boys and hear them decide which charity they want to support when it's their birthday each year!

{love this boy!}  
Happy 4th Birthday Jakers!!  
You are the funniest, sweetest boy in the world... 
love you to the moon and back, 
plus a whole lot more :)

This adorable shirt from piccadilly circus on etsy... great quality, definitely order a size up as recommended by Suzanne.  This is a size 6!

I'm linking Jake's Party here!


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