Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Go Shorty, It's Your Birthday: Cameron's 4th Birthday Pink Princess Piggy Party

SU-WEEEEEEET!!!! I turned 4 yesterday and we celebrated over the weekend with a super fabulous pink princess piggy party. Now mom generally lets us have whatever kind of themed party we want (within reason -- even she said no to the live pony party), and she likes when we come up with random stuff, so when I told he what I wanted for my 4th birthday, she hit the ground running. It's not entirely clear where my love of piggies comes from -- I generally like all baby animals ("soooo adorable!") and I have a really keen sense of smell, which I explained to mom that pigs also have (hellooooo, truffles). That's as much as mom can figure out. But it sounded good, I guess.

My most favorite meal is breakfast, which I'll eat anytime of the day, so mom knew we'd have brunch. There was LOTS and LOTS of gold glitter and pink and pancakes. All of my favorite things, really. We did a few crafts, ate a lot of sugar, spun a lot of Ke$ha and Frozen (I've also shown an interest in becoming a DJ), and had an absolutely fabulous time. A HUGE thanks to Ms. Liz and Ms. Jenn for really outdoing themselves on my birthday cake -- a gorgeous tower of gilded Italian meringue buttercream hiding delicious pink ombre layers. When mom showed me, I declared "It's gorgeous! It looks like a wedding cake! People are going to pee their pants!" That's high praise right there, no lie. And, as always, a big bunch of hugs and kisses to all my friends and family members who traveled from far and wide to celebrate my birthday with me. It continues to amaze all of us that our family makes such an effort for our birthdays, but they keep coming, so we'll keep throwing parties!

The SU-WEET invite mom made is available in her Etsy shop (so are the glittered envelopes, btw) or the AFL Etsy shop. I LOVED it and have a copy up in my room. The pink and gold stripes really set up the decor for the rest of the party.

The main decor was the absolutely FABULOUS tasseled wall mom and Ms. Suzanne put together -- you wouldn't know it, but mom says it was the easiest focal wall she's ever done. Nothing like the ruffled streamer escapade of last year. The gold number 4 balloon was perfect. Thanks, Ms. Suzanne (and Owen!) for your help! Mom also made a sparkling piggies on parade garland and added pink tassels, too (I actually painted all those little piggies pink first).

Brunch was strawberry and vanilla yogurt parfaits (arranged in pink and white stripes, obvi), prosciutto egg cups (and some sans piggy), berry + donut skewers (also striped), bagels, and sparkling short stacks of pancakes (my fave!). Yum, yum.

To drink we had the usual suspects (beer, juice, fizzy water) and then cotton candy lemonade for the kiddos and potent piggy punch for the adults. Gold striped paper straws for all!

More gold piggies on parade and pink fringe lined the dessert table, which was well stocked with pink + white striped marshmallows, pink saltwater taffy, sour pink pig gummies, and gilded french macarons (another big fave of mine). And THE CAKE, of course. Mom and Ms. Liz might start gilding everything -- edible gold?! I'm in. 

Tasseled pink streamers and twirling pink + gold piggies dangled over the craft table. I personally painted about 60 pig cutouts, which mom fashioned into necklaces for decorating with all kinds of bling. We also had more manly cuffs available to decorate and scratch crowns (it was a PRINCESS party after all).

For favors, Kane and I helped mom make a TON of pink + gold piggy crayons, which we put in a little bag with a pig notepad. I love, love, love, peeling and chopping crayons, so it was a perfect favor. 

Gigantic round and tasseled balloons swayed on the front porch, which mom has been wanting to do for forever. 

And my su-weet brother Kane got all dapper for my party, too. 

Friday, April 25, 2014

Grub It Up: Top 10 Favorite Spots to Eat

It's no secret that we love to eat. We are both big fans of dining out and love spending the week planning out where we'll dine for brunch and dinner on the weekend (not that we actually get to eat out every meal on the weekend, but we like to plan for it just in case). We've hit up a bunch of new spots lately and thought it would be fun to share our top ten favorite meals with you. Mom would like to stress that these are OUR favorites (not hers) -- she never seems to have trouble finding something at each spot, though. We are incapable of ranking them in order of favorites, so we've gone alphabetical by restaurant name.

p.s. don't worry -- mom makes us eat plenty of fruit and veggies at home, too.

1. DGS Delicatessen - we visited for the first time over spring break, but we won't stop talking about it. Our favorites were the gnocchi mac n' cheese, chicken and waffles, and the egg cremes, which according to Kane, were "so yummy, I want a 100 the next time we go."

2. El Centro DF - this was another spring break discovery of ours where we really branched out of our quesedilla safe zone to try a cheese enchilada. Mom's pretty sure that we loved it because the waitress promised to put candles in one for Cam's birthday, but Kane says he found it "very inspiring."

3. IHOP - we are weekend regulars at this breakfast staple, which is within walking distance of our house, and we usually show up in our jammies. Mom tries to make us order the Create a Face pancake (with fruit and yogurt), but we favor the Funny Face pancake (with chocolate chips, whip cream and maraschino cherries). Cam says the chocolate chip pancakes are "out of this world, totally yummy."

4. Nationals Park - we start eating from the moment we get off the metro stop (we get our peanuts outside the park for the walk over) and do not stop until the end of the game. Mom and dad don't mind because it ensures we actually make it through an entire game. You might not say it's a "meal" per se, but peanuts, popcorn, and dip n' dots are tops. "I love it all," says Kane.

5. Panera Bread - also within walking distance of us, we love a little weekend lunch at Panera. Mac n'cheese with a smoothie is our favorite and picking which cookie we'll get is always a big decision. "So delicious," according to Cami.

6. Pete's New Haven Style Apizza - we keep it simple here with slices of Original, but the real pull? "I like the gelato," Cam spills.

7. Pleasant Pops - Cameron brought this one up kind of out of nowhere, but it truly is one of our go to food trucks in the summer time. They also now have a store. According to Cami, she "like[s] all the flavors" of popsicles offered.

8. Potbelly Sandwich Shop - it's your standard turkey sub and chips meal, but as Kane says, "it has cheese."

9. Teds Bulletin - this has long been a favorite spot of ours and our favorite meal makes it clear why: Mr. Breakfast (with a bacon smile), 1/2 a vanilla shake, and whatever homemade pop tart we're feeling that day. Kane dishes that it's the pop tart that seals the deal: "They're outstanding. Different colors for different holidays." Can't go wrong.

10. Zaytinya - this is numerically last, but probably first in our hearts (if we HAD to pick). We love it for both brunch and dinner and even have made mom come up with our own version of the "Zaytinya snack plate" for home (toasted bread/pita, olive oil and balsamic vinegar dipping, hummus, a cheese, and usually a greek yogurt parfait). Kane's most favorite menu item are the meatballs, which he declares are "infinity out of this earth." Jose Andres was actually there on our last visit, but mom couldn't get Kane to go take a picture with him -- Kane said he'd "catch him next time."

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Miscellaneous Madness: A Day in the Life (April 2014)

It seems like mom has entered a little Groundhog Day with the 12-in-12s. Every month she reminds herself the night before that she needs to take pictures the next day. And every darn time she forgets. This month, she completely forgot to shoot on the 12th. Then she remembered for the first few hours of the 13th ... and then she forgot. Fortunately, we had a busy day of activities where she actually took photos throughout. They're not the best, but it's what we've got. We were happy either way because our Grammie B was visiting and we got to show her all kinds of our favorite activities about town.

Hopefully your memory is better than mom's lately. If not, here's a reminder to head over to No Monsters in My Bed and Where the Watermelons Grow after checking out our Saturday!

6.30 am -- we wake mommy up and refuse to leave. it's become a recurring problem -- particularly when daddy travels, which he has been doing a lot of lately.

7.15 am -- since we wouldn't get out of her bed, she does. and heads for a little run. she's slowly but surely getting back to running and is super happy about it (even though it's incredibly irritating to try and get mileage back).

8.00 am -- mom walks Veg and they spy pretty cherry blossoms in the neighborhood.

9.30 am -- Kane builds robots out of shapes while everyone gets ready to head out.

10.30 am -- Cam and Grammie B make a lantern in Yards Park as part of the National Cherry Blossom Festival events. Kane plays ninja tackle with daddy.

11.00 am -- I don't know why mom didn't anticipate it because we'll go in the drink any time we can, but we saw the splash pool and couldn't resist. Then we watched real ninjas do some martial arts, which apparently was so bright Cam had to steal mom's sunglasses to participate.

12.15 pm -- we took Grammie B to our favorite Nando's Peri Peri for lunch and were champs when the promised endless froyo machine was on the fritz. No worries -- we hit up Buzz Bakery for the aptly named Heart of Darkness.

1.45 pm -- while mom did some work and Grammie B sewed buttons back on all our clothes (which we all still save for her visits even though we are fully capable of doing it ourselves), we made a nice early dent in all of the easy "art projects" mom bought to help out on spring break.

2.50 pm -- Cam and mom make a second batch of piggy crayons for Cami's upcoming pink princess piggy party. Cam has scarily good motor skills.

5.30 pm -- we spent almost the entire afternoon driving Grammie B out to Dulles and driving back home. Mom's "shortcut" home actually made it much much worse and we were all a bit delirious at this point. Kane and Cameron spent a good 20 minutes kissing each other's hands and giggling.

6.00 pm -- just as we were starting to see the light at the end of the traffic tunnel, the SLOWEST bike rider in the world rode down the middle of our lane and drew out our ride home to an unbearable length.

7.00 pm -- all of that hot mess plus the fact that daddy had also just left on a second leg of several consecutive long work trips, led mom to tinkering with the caramelized lemonade she made that afternoon. The mocktail became a cocktail. Checkout A Feteful Life tomorrow for the recipe -- word is that it was delicious. 

Friday, April 18, 2014

Keep It Local: Third Floor at the National Portrait Gallery + American Art Museum

I'm not sure how we've been to the National Portrait Gallery and the American Art Museum as many times as we have and missed the wonderful 20th century and contemporary art collections on the third floor, but last week we finally accidentally discovered them. We were actually trying to get over to American Cool, but were detoured by the installation of another exhibit. And thank goodness because the art on the third floor is awesome! It's big, it's loud, it's right up my alley. Cam was on the verge of a meltdown, so we didn't get to spend as much time as we wanted up there, but I'm guessing we'll be making a special trip back soon just for that. Don't miss out!

p.s. don't forget to enter our Thinkfun Giveaway -- it ends Sunday!!!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Miscellaneous Madness: Thinkfun Games Review + GIVEAWAY!!!

This post was sponsored by Thinkfun. We received free versions of the games we played in return for writing an honest review. The opinions in this post are our own.

As many of you know, we had a bit of a rough winter filled with much too much time spent indoors. So by the time "spring" started to show its face, we'd started to grow tired of our go-to games. We were SUPER excited when Thinkfun asked if we'd be interested in reviewing some of their brand new and recently re-released games. We picked out two for the 5+ crowd: Rush Hour, Jr. and Zingo! Word Builder and loved both of them.

Rush Hour, Jr. -- designed for children aged 5 - 15, Rush Hour Jr., is a fabulous logic game with varying levels of difficulty wherein the player solves a puzzle to unblock a traffic jam of cars and get the ice cream truck on its way. Both Kane and I play a similar game on mom's iPhone, so we picked this one up right away (and seemed to like that it was more tactile). It took a little restraint to remember not to lift the brightly-colored vehicles up off the board, but we thought it was fun to "drive" them around and rescue the ice cream truck.

Setting up the puzzles took a bit for me, but is just another part of the problem solving involved. We've been pretty good with taking turns and have made our way through most of the beginner cards so far. Mom likes that the game works for many different skill levels (even she had some trouble with the more difficult cards!) and that it could be portable -- it comes with a nice mesh bag for the pieces and the playing board is pretty compact.

Zingo! Word Builder -- intended for the K-2 grade crowd, this game of fill-in the blank Bingo is just a bit above both of our skill levels. Cam wouldn't sit still for it, but I liked sliding the Zinger forward to get the letter tiles. Each Zingo card is designed to accommodate two different skill levels (beginner on one side and more advanced on another) and each player can pick whatever side best suits them.

I'm not quite to the spelling phase, so mom let me slide the Zinger to get the letters and then she'd tell me the words I could spell with them on my card. I'd then try to find the beginning letter I recognized and finish spelling the word with the tile. Mom loved that the game provided an interactive and fun way to get me to focus on letters and that she could tailor it to my skill set now, while still having room to grow into it.

AND ... Thinkfun is giving away one of their new or recently re-released games to a lucky reader (U.S. readers only) -- your choice! You can pick one of the two games we reviewed, or from these other great games: Move & Groove, Last Letter, Zingo! Timetelling, Hoppers, or Square by Square

Enter by either liking our Facebook Page and following the prompt below OR commenting on this post through the prompt below. Extra chances to win by doing BOTH! 

The contest will run to Sunday, April 20th. Good luck! THE CONTEST IS OVER. CONGRATULATIONS TO CARA H.! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway