Magic wand cat toy

My tot woke up today and decided that we should pick up a baby at the store. She spent almost an hour telling me all about how we should go pick out just the right one and that she was ready to have a baby. She also told me she wanted to be a baby when she gets big and that she wasn’t ever a little baby. Nope. We needed to go to the store and get a baby.

I was a little surprised about this new turn. We hadn’t seen any babies lately or had any big discussions about little ones, so wasn’t sure where this was coming from. The hubs and I haven’t even been talking about babies around her. It’s like she picked up on my hormones or something and was freely sharing my hidden desires for popping out another babe.

(We haven’t had much luck and are kinda moving on with the whole “trying-for-a-second-child” thing…)

So, anyway, back to heading to the store to pick up our new baby — I loaded her up and strapped her in as we made our way to the store. Once we arrived she tossed a bit of a fit that I had taken her to the wrong store. We weren’t at the BABY store but the CRAP store (which is how she says “craft” at the moment. Cute but not so cute when said loudly while walking through the store. “Mommmy? Mommmy? I just LOVE this CRAP store. This CRAP is SO cooool. Can I buy this to make a CRAP? Please, mommy, PLEAAASE?!”).

I gathered the stuff I needed for the day and asked her if she’d like to pick out something for herself. She decided we should make a magic wand cat toy, which would be perfect for playing with the cat while simultaneously doing magic tricks.

All you need to make your own unique magic wand cat toy are a wooden dowel, a bit of bright and sparkly ribbon, and a really pretty flower. I cut the dowel to a one foot long length and gave it a gentle sanding before starting.

I cut a few strips of the ribbon, piled them together, and then tapped them into the dowel with a small nail.

Then I cut away the bottom of the red sparkly flower and used my trusty hot glue to stick it in place. I had to remove the middle of the flower to make it flat, so hot glued a purple puff ball to fill the space.

The finished creation was attacked by both tot and cat within minutes of completion.

And there wasn’t any more talk about picking up a baby at the store for the rest of the day.

*And, yeah. Probably not the safest cat toy, so don’t let your kitty cat hang out with it unattended. And not guaranteed to actually successfully do any magic either.

Sunday spectacular: Sometimes you get locked out of the house

You know, stuff happens. This week was full of stuff and then before I knew it the week was over. A couple of things did stand out from the rest and it just so happened that I got pictures of them.

And, yes. We got locked out of the house. But it was okay, really.

The tot continued exploring her tape obsession…

I roasted a whole duck. It took almost four hours, and the picture doesn’t look very tasty, but I think it might have been the best thing I’ve ever made in my kitchen. They were on sale at the store and we went back and bought three more, and then spent almost an hour trying to figure out how to fit them in the freezer (and suffered a head injury from a falling vase from atop the fridge (don’t ask)).

In honor of National Waffle Day, which was on Friday, we whipped up a batch of peanut butter and jelly waffles and my tot ate them all. And they were super easy. I just followed the waffle directions of that big box of mix stuff and then folded in a big spoonful of peanut butter along with a few big dollops of our favorite strawberry jelly.


(I now realize after looking at this picture that my tot wore this dress over several days last week. Oh well.)

We got the tot her first haircut and we ALL SURVIVED. I’ll share more about that over on LilSugar in a couple of days.

After going for a walk the tot and I found ourselves locked out but made the best of it by having a grape picnic in the yard with our happy wine grapes that are weaving their way through our fence. Don’t worry, the husband came home within and hour and things went back to normal (mommy I wanna watch TV!).

And we rounded things off with an awesome visit to the local farmers market.

How was your week? I hope it was lovely!

Leave a comment with a link to your favorite post or picture of the week….

Fine art for kids: Tints and shades

There’s nothing like the moment when your little one picks her favorite color. It’s awesome and so cute and then it becomes obsessive and overwhelming. At first it’s totally adorable when your tot asks for clothes in her favorite color, hair clips in her favorite color… But then when it becomes, “that has to be ____ (insert favorite color)!” or “I want a ____ (insert favorite color) cupcake NOW!” Then you know the favorite color obsession has hit a new level.

So after a bit of drama the other day when I refused to let her only eat the red goldfish from the rainbow multi-color box, I decided it was a good opportunity to introduce how red can be lots of different colors. Yes, I want to continue to encourage her to love the color red, but also expand her horizons to seeing more than just that bright hue.

Tints and shades are variations on a color, or hue. By adding white to a color you create a tint. When black is mixed with a color, a shade is created. I used to tell kids in the classroom, trying to remember which is which, to think of pulling a shade in their bedroom to make it darker — just like when thinking about mixing paint to create a darker shade. It’s never too early to introduce color theory to tots, so gathered a few materials for a tints and shades of red painting.

Select your little one’s favorite color of paint as well as white and black. I also tore a few bits of red tissue paper of different shades for a bit more excitement. If you’ve got a wee tot like me, offer them a sheet of paper and then drop a few drips of the red, white, along with hardly any black on the paper. Older kids can squeeze a bit of each color of paint in three small containers to do the activity.

Now offer your child a paint brush and encourage her to paint the entire paper, watching what happens when her beloved favorite color mixes with the white and black.

Invite your tot to paint and press the tissue paper on her paper to see how the color changes. Keep painting until all the white paper is covered. Add a few drips here and there as needed.

Let the paper dry and then find a special spot to display the tints and shades creation!

Healthy chocolate bundt cake

There’s nothing like chocolate cake. I have been craving something sweet for months but been attempting to eat a bit healthier so haven’t been making as many sweet treats as I used to. I figured I could try my hand at healthying-up an old favorite — delicate and rich chocolate bundt cake. I’m not really sure what the whole point of baking the cake in the bundt cake pan is, I just know it makes it easy to slice and eat without a plate, which is sometimes essential as a mom that might have to steal a sweet snack on the fly.

This recipe uses half the sugar and flour than other chocolate bundt cake recipes call for and has a few secret ingredients that make it super moist. All I know is I baked the lovely cake on Sunday, and even though there is still a good chunk of it left, my husband is still raving about how good it is, my daughter begs for a slice all hours of the day, and a skinny sliver takes care of my chocolate cravings.


3/4 cup cocoa

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon honey

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup plain yogurt

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 eggs

1 ripe banana

1 1/2 cups flour

2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Extra flour and vegetable oil for prepping the bundt pan


Preheat the oven to 350F and prep your bundt pan by giving it a rub down with vegetable oil and then a dusting of flour.

Now add the cocoa, sugar, honey, salt, vanilla, yogurt, and oil in a medium mixing bowl and give a stir until the cocoa is incorporated. Now you can toss in the eggs and banana and use a hand mixer to really create a smooth batter. You don’t really taste the banana or yogurt, but they help make the cake seriously moist.

Slowly add the flour, baking soda and powder, and give another quick blend with the hand mixer.

Pour into the prepared bundt pan and pop in the hot oven for 50 to 60-minutes. You want the center to just be set, which makes the cake seriously moist.

Let the cake rest for 20-minutes and then flip onto a plate. Dust with powdered sugar, drizzle with honey, drench with chocolate syrup, or just eat plain with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.




Great kid art that’s fit for framing

I’m so excited to share another collection of creative art activities with! These projects are perfect for tots and the results are so awesome you might want to pop the finished artwork in a frame. In fact, I have the red sparkly painting that my daughter did for this slideshow hanging in my office.

No joke.

So check it out and hopefully you’ll be inspired to try one of these art activities with your little one!

GapKids Shine on Saturdays (the follow up)

This post is sponsored by GapKids. Check out all the fun Shine On activities at your nearest Gap store. For event dates and locations, visit Gap’s Facebook page and join the conversation on Twitter with hashtag #ShineOn.

Remember how I told you about how GapKids was holding special Shine on Saturdays activities across the country? Well we had an awesome time at the event, which took place at my local mall (The Village at Corte Madera) last weekend. As an art teacher, I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect. The idea of doing any sort of art activity in the middle of a clothing store, where the clothes were for sale, seemed a bit insane — especially if the art activity included paint! So when I walked in and saw a smiling helper in front of a table full of paint, I couldn’t wait to see what happened.

Keep reading to find out….

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Honey ricotta snack muffins

ricotta muffins

The other day the whole family had the sniffles. We didn’t feel sick, just stuffy. Then my ears started ringing, and my husband commented his were too. It’s been warm and windy here and a few trees are enjoying a late bloom, so figured this was the culprit. We have a Mimosa tree, which is seriously beautiful, but it’s in full bloom and dripping pollen.

Thus our stuffiness.

The husband and I can pop pills to ease our sniffles, but I’m not so excited about giving anything to the tot. While at the local farmers market the other day, I ran into mama friend and she suggested picking up some local honey, which might help. See, those bees love the pollen from the trees, head back to the hive and make the delicious honey, and when we eat it, the honey helps build the body’s immunity to allergens.

Something like that.

I love honey and had some ricotta in the fridge that needed to be used, to combined the two with these seriously good snack muffins. I even popped a spoonful of organic strawberry jam in the middle for an extra pop of fresh summer flavor.


3/4 cup ricotta cheese

1 tablespoon honey

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 1/4 cup flour

1/4 cup jam


There’s not much to say — just toss all the ingredients in a mixing bowl, except the jam, and give things a good stir until everything comes together. While things are mixing, preheat your oven to 375F so things are nice and hot when you are ready.

Lightly grease your muffin tin and add a spoonful of the muffin batter to each. Spread to cover the bottom and then drop about 1/4 a teaspoon of your favorite kind of jam on each.

Cover with another dollop of the batter, sprinkle with a bit more sugar — or drizzle with honey (or both like we did), and then pop in your hot oven for 15 to 17-minutes.

ricotta muffins

Let cool for a few minutes, use a knife to help remove your tasty honey ricotta snack muffins, and enjoy!


GapKids Shine On Saturdays

This post is sponsored by GapKids. Check out all the fun Shine On activities at your nearest Gap store. For event dates and locations, visit Gap’s Facebook page and join the conversation on Twitter with hashtag #ShineOn.

I am so excited to participate in this exciting campaign with GapKids! You know I love anything that encourages creativity in kids so I can’t wait to see what GapKids has in store for a fun creative series of activities inspired by Merrilee Liddiard of Mer Mag during the Shine On Saturdays! Designed around the GapKids and babyGap fall collection, this month select stores across the country will host Shine On Saturdays events — and one just happens to be taking place this Saturday in my hood at The Village at Corte Madera from 10 am to 1 pm.

Keep reading for all the details – hopefully I’ll see you there!

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Fine Art for Kids: Letter recognition with Jasper Johns

Jasper Johns art activity for kids

It happened overnight. My tot went to sleep last night totally clueless and today is a letter genius. Well, okay, not a total genius, but she’s pointing at letters everywhere and yelling them out — sometimes correctly (and mostly not). She sees letters on a sign, she yells them out. She sees letters on the TV, she yells them out. Most of the time she’s pretty sure she’s got it right, causing her to become a bit annoyed when I attempt to correct her.

So I’m letting her think a D is whatever she’s calling it at the moment for now.

But all this letter yelling did remind me of a painting that I love by Jasper Johns. Yes, we’ve visiting with Johns in the past, but due to the tot’s letter recognition excitement, we are revisiting. From iconic images to big splashes of color, Jasper Johns has been a respected for years. Johns is an Abstract Expressionist artist that uses things that are totally familiar like colors, shapes, or maps, and transforms them into amazing works of art. His lithograph, False Start 1, 1962tricks the brain with its splashes of color with mismatched color printed  names.

This is a fun art activity to explore with kids that are just starting to notice letters as well as those beginning to read. My tot isn’t at the reading stage yet but she’s definitely ready for building her letter recognition skills. Gather together a sheet of white paper, some scrap paper, paintbrushes, and red, yellow, and blue paint. Take a look at False Start 1 together and notice the big areas of color and the words written around the artwork.

Squeeze a bit of each color of paint onto a piece of scrap paper and invite your child to paint big splashes of color around her paper without blending them too much. Once your child is satisfied with the creation, let it dry while getting out a set of letter stamps.

Waiting for paint to dry is no fun, but use the time to go over the letters with your tot. Sing the ABC’s, practice making and stamping words, or go outside and play or something.

Once the paint is dry, squeeze a small amount of red, yellow, and blue paint onto a piece of folded paper towel. This is your  child’s stamp pad for creating those words on top of the areas of color. Now the tricky part — seeing if your tot can find the right letters to spell a few words!

Pick a color to spell out and see if your child can select the letters needed for stamping it onto the painted paper. Go ahead and help out as needed. Now select a color to use for stamping that is different from the area of color. So, if you picked the word “yellow” to stamp, press the letters into the blue paint and then onto the yellow paint.

Keep stamping words until your child is happy with the artwork and then let dry. Find a spot to display your Jasper Johns inspired creation for the whole family to see.

My tot started out strong and then got caught up with stamping the letter W just about everywhere she could.

Oh well. I think things turned out just fine.


Dinner at Terrapin Crossroads

So this place opened awhile ago and my husband is in love. Phil Lesh and an amazing team of people transformed what once was The Seafood Peddler into the new Terrapin Crossroads. Along with space for concerts, there’s a revamped bar, a new menu, and a nice and bright look in the restaurant. The hubs has been enjoying the shows (and I a few quiet nights to watch the movies that I want to watch) so it’s worked out pretty well. I’ll be honest — I kind of thought the place might be a big ol’ collection of Grateful Dead stuff with a loop of Terrapin Station playing over and over again.


I was wrong.

The husband offered to take the tot and I out for dinner the other night before he went to a show and I was blown away. The interior is just beautiful with a sweeping staircase and funky decor. A sitting area is right at the front with comfy couches and chairs along with a big collection of toys and stuff for the kids to play with. The bar was packed and the sun streamed through the glass back wall. Families were sitting in the oversized booths and others outside on the patio. We had a table overlooking the waterway and watched as boats lazily floated by.


I ordered a glass of wine and we realized it was the first time we had gone out to dinner with the tot (at least that we could remember) and we were prepared for things to go down hill fast. But then we were brought a fun coloring sheet, a small package of crayons, and water in a plastic cup. The servers were totally on top of the kid-freindly thing and we put in her food order first so she would be occupied when ours arrived. The menu isn’t huge, but we picked a couple of things to try…..

The food was out of control. HUGE portions, amazing flavor, homemade and local or organic, and served by an amazing waiter.

We sat and leisurely enjoyed a dinner while the tot ate every last bite of her meal. It was awesome.

Terrapin Crossroads

Terrapin Crossroads

Terrapin Crossroads

Terrapin Crossroads

Terrapin Crossroads

Terrapin Crossroads

Terrapin Crossroads

Terrapin Crossroads

Terrapin Crossroads

*Wondering what we ate? We started with beet salad and stuffed squash blossoms and then had the roasted shrimp and a tasty burger. The tot had homemade cheese sticks and big bites of everything else.