Valentine's Day Snack Mix

Just a quick post as we get ready for a Valentine's-themed playdate tomorrow morning.  I wandered the aisles of Target yesterday (it's a hard job, but somebody's got to do it) looking for things to combine into a Valentine's Day snack mix as our contribution to the festivities. I thought it would be an easy thing to throw together if anyone is looking for a way to add more Valentine's fun to their weekend!

Kashi Heart to Heart cereal (because: hearts, duh), chocolate covered pretzels, Craisins, strawberry-flavored wafer cookies (only used about half the package, chopped each wafer into four pieces), Valentine's Day M&Ms, and mini marshmallows, which I found in the cabinet after I took the above photo.

It's a bit more sugary than our normal snacks around here (replace "a bit" with "a LOT"), but I don't mind making exceptions for holidays.  Gotta love a snack mix: open packages, dump in a bowl, and mix!  (Especially great if, say, you happen to be almost 38-weeks pregnant and don't have the energy for baking or anything much more elaborate.  Just a hypothetical situation there.)  Super simple, a bit festive, and I think a bunch of toddlers (and their mamas!) are going to enjoy it tomorrow morning!  

Projects: Valentine's Day Canvas

The Christmas decorations are put away.  Even the toys are organized and structured back into some semblance of "tidy", instead of the post-Christmas chaos of new-toys-meet-old-toys-meet-where-did-we-even-get-you-from-toys?

I enjoyed the cleanliness, the openness (doesn't your living room feel so much more spacious once the Christmas tree is down?!?), the neat and tidy and uncluttered look, free from any and all holiday decor.

Then I got the itch.  Maybe it was too mundane and uncluttered.  We don't really have any Valentine's Day decorations.  Neither Tyson or I are very big on V-Day itself, but I AM big on all things holiday and festive, so immediately began thinking of ways to remedy that situation.  By enlisting the help of:


Super easy, a little messy, and they LOVED it.

Supplies: 8x8 canvases, acrylic paint, foam brushes, felt heart stickers, scrapbook paper (not shown above).

Let's do this.

(Please excuse the long photo montage of twin toddlers painting, but they were all just too cute not to.)

(I love foam brushes for toddlers because they are easy for them to hold and control.  Also it's pretty difficult to pick up too much paint with one, unlike a traditional paintbrush, which can be more awkward and "gloopy".  Foam brushes are also easy-peasy to rinse out, or cheap enough to toss if that doesn't happen!)

(Don't forget to rinse out your toddler(s) as well.)

(Maybe I should back up to say that step one is to cover your floor with a sheet.  Caden accidentally flipped his paper plate of paint onto the floor, where it landed upside down (of course), within the first 20 seconds of painting.  #oops)

(The above is an example of how most of the photos of Caden painting turned out.)

I added the letters after the paint had dried, cut out of scrapbook paper that I already had. Print out your words in the size and font of your choice, trace, and cut.  Or trace very carefully directly off of your computer screen, if you moved approximately three months ago and have yet to set up the printer.  Your choice.

Caden and Brooklyn then went to town with the felt heart stickers.  No pictures, because somebody had to carefully remove each tiny, annoyingly stuck-on paper backer from each individual heart sticker before they could be used, and I couldn't move at a speed that was acceptable even for one toddler, much less two.

They were pretty proud of their creations.  They love all things paint and stickers, so this was super age-appropriate and fun for them, AND held their attention for awhile (major WIN for any toddler mom!)  So easy for me, too.  Besides peeling all the backs off those darn heart stickers.

Operation Valentine's Decor complete.  For now...

(Obviously this could be adapted for any holiday or for no holiday at all, with different word choices.  These would also make fun gifts for dad or grandparents!)

Post (Valentine's Day) Weekend

Facial expressions when I take photos with my fancy camera:

Facial expressions when I take photos with my phone:

(Fun with filters!)

Thanks, guys.  Glad to know that DSLR was such a great investment to capture your trepidation towards actual photos.  (Which-spoiler alert!-seemed to be a theme this weekend.  Read on!)

Bonus!  Brooklyn's facial expression anytime the camera is pointed towards her on the phone. She's getting pretty good at these here selfies the kids are so fond of these days.


It was Valentine's Day!  I got to celebrate with these two cuties


(Proof that Caden does indeed have hair.)

(Also, this was their LAST "first" holiday *sob*  I actually realized when I was drooling over some adorable "first" St. Patrick's Day and Easter outfits at the store, that...oh.  Yeah.  I guess you guys were around for those last year.  Nvm.)

...and this guy.

We hung out at home most of the day.  I made a nice dinner (steak with cauliflower puree and crispy quinoa, and lest that sound too fancy for y'all...brownies.  From a BOX.  Because they are Tyson's favorite.  I am just that romantic.).  We also made a trip to the library.

(Brooklyn is skeptical that the dragon is actaully reading a book of "Fairy Tales", and not a book of "How to Cook and Eat Eleven-Month Olds".)

Dude, we might move into the library.  It was AWESOME.  I think we could go there every day of the week and spend it in a different part of the kids section and not get bored, it was just that ginormous.


I mean, there's a freaking CASTLE right in the middle of it all!

Plus Caden was impressed with all of the books just WAITING to be pulled off their shelves. Like, can you believe that everyone else has just LEFT them here?!?

So, in conclusion: Saturday was a very good day.  Sunday...well...

On Sunday, we had their one-year photos taken.

They...did not go well, to put it mildly.  I think the cake smash ones went pretty okay, (Cake! It's distracting!), and that's good, since that's why we went to the photographer's house in the first place, (easy access to white paper to help with the cake carnage), but man...those were not my babies.  They were clingy, refused to smile, and fussy...especially Brooklyn, which is almost unheard of.  They had a perfect nap and a good lunch before we went, and all systems seemed to be go for a smooth photo session...but...I don't know.  Babies!  They're unpredictable!  Who'da thunk?

(Disclaimer: I did not make their cakes.  I tried to make their cakes.  I made 234 practice cakes.  I...have no future as a cake decorator.  In my defense I tried to make them all healthy-like with bananas, little to no sugar, frosting made with yogurt and cream cheese instead of 349 cups of powdered sugar...they all tasted pretty good but were a bitch to try to decorate.  Surprise!  Yogurt frosting is runny (though delicious).  In the end I gave up, since for the photos they REALLY needed to look good more than anything (sorry for the diabetes, kids!). I gave in and called the grocery store, which charged way less than I thought for two little cakes, they turned out perfect, and I didn't have to spend all day Saturday making cakes that would have been failures.  Boom.  Done.  Best $18 I spent all week.  And in the end Caden and Brooklyn only took a few tentative licks of frosting, anyway.)

(So I got diabetes instead.  The end.)

We recovered from the disasterous photo experience by playing under tables, and giving the EXACT TYPE OF FACIAL EXPRESSIONS THE PHOTOGRAPHER THAT I PAID* WAS TRYING TO CAPTURE.


*(Will be paying.  We've tentatively planned for her to come to our place sometime next week to see if that goes any better, though maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised by the proofs she sends me this week.  I'm not holding out any real hope, though.)

We also snuggled up and watched some Peg + Cat, which we (ahem, "we" meaning Tyson and I) kind of love.

And now it's (dum dum dum) BIRTHDAY WEEK.  Which means I should go.  I should probably be cleaning something.

Valentine's Weekend

First of all, let us have a moment of silence for Matthew Crawley.








Even though I predicted his death a few episodes ago, I was really hoping that I was wrong.  I was lucky enough to have avoided the blogs and spoilers from the UK, but there was enough foreshadowing that I wasn't entirely surprised.  I felt like I should have been dressed in crepe and mourning all day today...

In happier news, it was Valentine's Day.  I do love holidays.  Sure, maybe they commercialize the heck out of them, but because they are a fun way to break up routine.

I made Tyson I <3 U brownies on Wednesday night.  Served on a heart plate.

Speaking of hearts, I also rocked my new heart blouse on V-Day.  I am nothing if not festive.

I even ate heart (and kiss)-shaped chocolates.  Growing up, my dad would hide these chocolate candies all over the house...under my pillow, in my backpack, in my shoes, my coat pockets...they could be so well hidden that I would find them well into March.  Living away from home means it's much simpler; I receive a package with the candies bundled inside, though it's admittedly much less fun.

Pictured: Day-After-Valentine's-Day-Flowers.  I think that Tyson has learned to never make that mistake again.  

Friday night we got to take in the Minnesota-Wisconsin hockey game here in Mad-town.  It was a fantastic game, the teams played excellent hockey, and Minnesota won 3-2.  So basically it was everything you could want in a hockey game.  Besides the crazy Wisconsinites yelling "SIEVE" at every.  single.  player.  Listen UW-Madison, I get that it's somehow a tradition and all, but it only makes sense if you're yelling it at the goalie.  And only when he makes a mistake.  And besides all that, it's totally annoying.

Sunday night I hosted a Downton party for the season finale.  Drink of the evening was the Pimm's Cup.  I had to *sacrifice* on Saturday and test a couple of concoctions to make sure I had the proportions right.  Someone had to do it.  I finally settled on my own version of the recipe (below), since every recipe I seemed to find was slightly different from all the others.

I also made these stuffed mushrooms, which people go absolutely crazy for.  I love these little guys.

(shannon's version of the) pimm's cup

Some versions only used ginger ale.  Others only used lemonade.  Others used a combination plus a bunch of other things.  This is like the lazy-person's Pimm's Cup.  It's the best of both worlds with the least amount of work.  

1.5 oz.

Pimm's No. 1

4 oz. ginger ale

2 oz. sparkling lemonade (like Limonata)

lemon and/or lime wedges

Add Pimm's, ginger ale, and lemonade to glass, stir.  Add ice.  Garnish with lemon and/or lime wedge.

Now that's the kind of cocktail I can get into making.