Sunday, April 26, 2015

Yet Another Melon Cake


Over the past year I have made blogged about a couple watermelon cake alternatives for healthier birthday cakes.  I love making clean-eating "cakes" out of fruits and avoiding processed sugars in my children's diets.



For my son's ocean-themed birthday, I made a sea turtle.  At first I tried to use personal watermelons as a base like I had in the earlier two cakes but I made some mistakes while cutting and they were really uneven.  They also were way smaller than the honeydew melon and couldn't support it so I scratched the idea of using any watermelon in this cake and decided instead to put the turtle on a platter an decorate it with fruits.

I started by cutting the melon in half like this:


Next, I removed the seeds and cut the skin off the melon like this:



I then cut a head and legs out of one half of the melon and used the other as the shell.


Next, it was time to decorate.  Using organic berries, kiwis, tangerines and some of the watermelon scraps, I decorated a platter like this:


The Kiwi stuck to the turtle shell without the use of toothpicks except for one spot.

I put 2 seeds from a bell pepper into the blueberries to make eyes:





My son absolutely loved his cake and couldn't wait to eat it.


Here is the rest of the food from the party.
Peanut Butter Jelly Fish with string cheese tentacles for the kids:



Pretzel driftwood, cucumbers as sea cucumbers and broccoli as seaweed:


Melon balls as saltwater pearls.  Pineapple cut into stars with a cookie cutter as starfish:


And for the adults, we had a submarine sandwich station with plenty of organic veggies to choose from:


Check back every Monday for new posts, including more info on green products and DIY toys.
And if you like what you see here, check out my Amazon Author page for my picture books, (including 12 Indian language books for kids, The Booger Fairy and Nishi Goes to India), and The Chosen One, my YA novel.  You can also click here to see my blog posts on The Huffington Post. 
Follow me on Twitter @soups25


Sunday, April 19, 2015

Cardboard Birthday Party Craft



For my kids' two birthday parties at home, we did a small sticker craft.
Using The Honest Company's shipping boxes, which are already blue, and blue and white, 
I cut out the birds for my son's bird-themed party and whales and fish for my other son's ocean-themed party.

Here is how one of the boxes looked when I got it:


And here it is after I opened the box up into a flat piece of cardboard.


I just drew the animals' shapes on there and then cut them out.




I placed them on a table with googly eyes and other stickers and the kids decorated their birds and sea animals.


It was a quick project that was a great way to upcycle a cardboard box into something else.


Check back every Monday for new posts, including more info on green products, DIY toys, and the rest of the birday party and a "cake" made out of honeydew.
And if you like what you see here, check out my Amazon Author page for my picture books and YA novel, and my blog posts on The Huffington Post. 
Follow me on Twitter @soups25


Sunday, April 12, 2015

Bird Bean Bag Toss and Shark Bean Bag Toss

For my kids' birthday parties, which were at home, I took a large cardboard box and made one side into a bird bean bag toss and the other side into a shark bean bag toss, to fit with their respective bird and ocean-themed parties.




For the birds, I drew three baby birds in a nest and cut out the holes in their mouths.  For the shark, I just drew one hungry shark and cut its mouth out as well.  


I painted both sides with Crayola Tempera Paint because it said it wasn't washable and I wanted to ensure it wouldn't rub off on my walls or floor if the box got knocked around.




My mom and crocheted some balls to toss into the birds' and shark's mouths and the bean bag toss was a hit at both parties.  This was a cheap, entertaining toy for the party and it ended up surviving both events so my kids could play with it afterwards as well.

Check back every Monday for new posts, including more info on green products, DIY toys, and the rest of the birday party goody bags and a craft.
And if you like what you see here, check out my Amazon Author page for my picture books and YA novel, and my blog posts on The Huffington Post. 
Follow me on Twitter @soups25

Saturday, April 4, 2015

The Most Annoying Question A Stranger Can Ask Me

To see this post on The Huffington Post, click here.

You know what the most annoying question a stranger can ask me is?
"Is your baby sleeping through the night?"
Sleeping Through the Night. Parents are obsessed with it. And so, apparently, are randos in a grocery store you meet for a fleeting minute.
Sleeping Through the Night is deemed such a milestone, such a marker of amazing, accomplished parenting, that it even has its own acronym online: STTN.
I remember staring at STTN for several minutes when I first saw it, long before I had my first child. I couldn't figure out what it stood for. Saint Tennessee? Statin? Then I realized the moms repeatedly typing it out where freaking out because their newborns weren't sleeping through the night, and the code was cracked for me.
I'm not one of those moms desperately wishing her kid slept through the night. I'm one of those moms who counts the number of times one of her kids has slept through the night after he stopped nursing. Because it is that small of a number.
My oldest slept through the night a few weeks after being born, when he stopped having to poop at night. But he was still a nursling, and when an exclusively breastfed baby sleeps through the night, he can still want to nurse while he sleeps. And boy, did my baby want to nurse while he slept. At 10 months old, he started nursing every 10 minutes to an hour. But I guess I shouldn't complain. After all, he was asleep during it.
And while some had told me he was doing it because he was hungry, they didn't realize that babies nurse partly to satisfy their hunger and partly to build a social bondor to comfort themselves. All the solids in the world were not going to stop this baby from nursing all night. Only time would make a difference, and so, months later, once my son stopped nursing at night, he slept for a good chunk of time. But that soon stopped, and he started having night terrors.
Yeah. That was a fun couple weeks. When we realized what the trigger was and removed it from his environment, though, the night terrors thankfully stopped. Soon after, his sibling was born and my older kid slept fine, strangely enough, even while the newborn was crying.
And then my oldest son's months-long nightmare phase started. (Note: He's not the one having nightmares. It's a nightmare for us). He wants to be held by a specific parent, (generally my husband), who cannot sit down while holding him, or he wants to be fed, or he asks for water, or needs to have his favorite book read to him, or he just talk-cries in his sleep while cutting a tooth, all in the middle of the night.
What about the baby? He also started sleeping through the night a couple months after he was born, nursing every few hours as he slept. But he decided to do the nightly nursing marathon even earlier than his big brother, and from 4 months to 8 months my baby started nursing every couple minutes, all night long, pacifying himself as he slept. He finally stopped doing that just as my older son's nightmare phase started. Lucky me.
Even on those perfect, synced-up nights, where my older son sleeps soundly and my baby nurses every few hours instead of all night, helping himself without disturbing me, I am kept up by the gravelly snoring of my husband. It seems to have gotten even louder post-kids, like we are living on a construction site. And to add to the fun, as of this past summer, my dog also officially snores. I never thought a 10-pound Chihuahua mix could snore as loudly as my husband, but doggone it, she can.
Can you tell this is a touchy subject? I don't mind when my friends ask me about it. In fact, I love their concern for me and wouldn't have gotten through the most frustrating parts of these nightly adventures without their hilarious texts, words of encouragement or just a well timed, "I'm sorry. That sucks."
But I really have no desire to relive my nights with a stranger who knows nothing about us.
So, dear stranger at Trader Joe's who just has to know if my baby is sleeping through the night: yes, my baby is Saint Tennesseeing. My toddler occasionally STTN. My husband usually sleeps through the night. And my dog definitely sleeps through the night.
It's just that I am not sleeping through the night.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Bird-Themed Birthday Party Decor

You've already seen the bird bunting I posted a few weeks ago.
For the rest of the decorations for the bird-themed party, I cut up old cardboard boxes and drew birds that were already brown, to save myself some time painting or coloring them.

But the birds weren't bright enough so I did end up using brown and black crayons to add some features to them.


I also re-used some of the bird decorations from the Are You My Mother Birthday Party last year.

Instead of making the pompons birds this time, I made them eggs, by simply removing the felt eyes and beaks that were placed on the pompons without glue in the last party.


Here they are as just eggs in a nest on some corner tables.


I tied ribbons to some of my cabinet handles and used the mini clothespins I had purchased for the no-sew bird bunting to clip some extra felt birds I had sewed for the goody bags.  (I will post about those in a few days).
And then I wrote the following menu on the chalkboard we made using Lullaby Paints Chalkboard Paint:


Check back every Monday for new posts, including more info on green products, DIY toys, and the rest of the birday party goody bags, a game and a craft.
And if you like what you see here, check out my Amazon Author page for my picture books and YA novel, and my blog posts on The Huffington Post. 
Follow me on Twitter @soups25

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Bird-Themed Birthday Party Food, Including Another Watermelon Cake


For the birday party, I used fruits and vegetables to make an owl and a nest, an apple tree, a watermelon cake with a bird in a nest, and we used some packaging paper to make nests around some snack bowls and served seeds (sunflower seeds) and twigs (pretzels).

Last year I had made this watermelon cake for my other son's birthday:

This year I decided to attempt a bird's nest with a bird.


I cut the two ends off a personal watermelon and then removed the skin to get a cylindrical shape.
I used toothpicks to attack blackberries and pineapples cut into triangles.
I cut a honeydew melon in half, removed the seeds and had a nest.
I just put it on top of the watermelon base without attatching it with a toothpick.  I filled it with some more pineapple slices to get my bird high enough in the nest to be seen.
I then cut a wing out of the pineapple and a bird out of watermelon and attached the wings to it with a toothpick.
Then I took a bit of a blackberry and stuck it on the bird's face for an eye.  Because it was moist it stuck without a toothpick.


For decoration on the food counter, I then cut an owl out of the remaining watermelon and pineapple, giving it blackberry eyes, and used the other half of the honeydew to make its nest.  I balled some watermelon for the owl's eggs and used celery as a branch.


I cut celery and broccoli and used tomatoes to make this apple tree:


And then I taped old packaging paper to serving bowls to make nests and served pumpkin seeds and pretzels as seeds and twigs.





 Check back every Monday for new posts, including more info on green products, DIY toys, and the rest of the birday party, including decor, favors, a game and a craft.
And if you like what you see here, check out my Amazon Author page for my picture books and YA novel, and my blog posts on The Huffington Post. 
Follow me on Twitter @soups25