Sunday, November 24, 2013

Custom T-Shirt from The Bellingham Baby Company Giveaway!!

Have you guys heard of The Bellingham Baby Company?
In 2005 Shelly and Jeremy Allen started a Mom and Pop online shop of fresh fun gifts and gear for babies, toddlers and parents.  They carefully selected each item they offered with safety, functionality and uniqueness in mind.  One thing they tried to make sure of was that their stock comprised mostly of products that are handmade by a mom, invented by a mom, or come from a mom-run company.
In 2008 they opened their first brick and mortar store in Bellingham, Washington. Doing this allowed them to expand their inventory and sell even more awesome products, always keeping in mind that customer service and satisfaction was key. 
And trust me when I say this, you will not get better customer service than with this company. Or a better selection of reasonably priced unique and customizable baby products.
When I first started talking to Shelly she reminded me of the kind of shop owner that would go around with you explaining all of the products if you needed help- and come on, you can't get service like that from a big box store.  They sell everything from shopping cart covers, teething bling,  handmade baby booties, diaper bags that are gorgeous and oh so much more.

One of the best sellers in the store are the personalized t-shirts, onsies and bibs that they offer in store and online. They offer tons of different pre-made designs and they even give you the option to work with them to upload your own custom design if there is something you have in mind at no extra cost. They really do want to help you to create your own special gift for someone, and if they cant create something you love you are not obligated to buy it.  All designs ship within 48 hours of order placement and the quality can not be beat.
 I immediately fell in love with this design, and when it arrived on my door step a few days later I could not have been happier with it.  The shirt is nice and thick, and its super soft. Even where it has been printed the design doesn't make the shirt stiff or wonky.  It washes beautifully-  just turn it inside out before tossing it in the wash. I have purchased these as gifts for friends before, and I can tell you that even after standing up to the roughness of a toddler and multiple washings they look as good as when they arrive.

Lovelies, seriously? This is like everything I love about Christmas in one shirt. A tree, lights, AND Rudolph? PLUS its personalized? Uh, sign me up!
Mr. Man will be sporting this next weekend when we go cut down our own Christmas tree, and if I could get one big enough to fit the hubs and me- well we would all match.
Maybe I need to give Shelly a call back on that one...hmm.

But here's the best part- the amazing Shelly has graciously offered not one but TWO of you lovelies your own awesome shirt!!  She's giving you the option to choose either a short or long sleeved bodysuit or t-shirt in one of their custom designs, or she can work with you to create one of your own, from size 0-3 months up to size 6!

So what are you waiting for, enter now!!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

****DISCLAIMER- I was gifted a product to review and two to giveaway, but all opinions and thoughts are, as always, my own****


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Thomas the Train Birthday Party- The Details!

Choo Choo- Grayson turned Two! On a super rainy day in September (cue me doing a happy dance I decided to have the party indoors this year) we headed off to transform the workout room of the YMCA into Grayson's train-tastic fantasy.  Seriously, this was the easiest party ever.  We arrived an hour early and we set up in 30 minutes. The kids swam for an hour and then we had an hour and a half in the party room for food and cake. Clean up took 20 minutes and we were done.  Whomever thought to have children's birthday parties somewhere other than your house was brilliant and needs a statue in their honor.
If you remember back in August I shared my party planning post with my inspiration board for Grayson's big two year old birthday. I ordered the invite above from SplashBox Printables via Etsy along with the water bottle labels you'll see a bit later on.
D├ęcor: I reused the Happy Birthday Banner I made last year as the backdrop over the food table.  To cover up the off white cinder block walls I picked up a Thomas party back drop from Party City for a few dollars as the back drop to the cake and present table.  I ordered some train track table runners to set up my veggie and cake pop trains.  On the food table I took metal bread loaf pans and attached paper wheels.  I simply filled them with cut up veggies and used a train case that Grayson had as the engine.  On the other table I ordered two dozen Thomas Cake Pops from The Cake Pop Shop and to display them I covered floral foam with burlap and popped them into the blocks.  I lined them up with a train engine as treats for the kiddos (and adults).
The hubs took some scrap wood and created two wooden sculptures for the food table. The first was a stand for the drink dispenser, which made it look like a water tower.  We put a sign on it saying Iced Tea Water Tower for the adults to know what was inside of the blue igloo cooler. The second was a three foot tall Cranky the Crane that we used to hold up the plate of sandwiches once they were delivered from a local deli.
Like last year's wooden cut outs I continued the tradition with making some Thomas ones to turn the tables into trains for the kids to sit at. I used the same technique as last year, made a transparency and used a projector to get the image on the board.  Then a little paint and time and you have choo choo tables, that were a big hit with the kids.
Then we filled the space with balloons and some hanging Thomas banners to make the room look less like a workout space and more festive. The plates, cups, and napkins all came from the party store for a serious discount.
As for food we had a local deli deliver chicken tenders, meatball sliders and chips at the time the kids were to get out of the pool. It was hot, delicious and perfect because I didn't have to worry about a  thing. Then we had iced tea, water bottles with custom labels and diesel fuel juice boxes for the kids.
The cake I ordered from a local bakery and while it was scrumptious and beautiful, it wasn't exactly what I was going for.  I took in various pictures of cartoon-y kiddy cakes and what I got when I picked it up was much more wedding-y.  Was it still good? Oh yes. Was it a kids birthday cake? No. Did anyone care? Not at all.  It did provide a good chuckle to everyone who saw it, especially when I threw the train in front of it.

Overall it was a wonderful party and I couldn't have asked for better day!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Choo Choo- Grayson Turned Two!!

The kid said he wanted Thomas- and Thomas he got.

The party started out in the pool- so of course Daddys mostly got swim duty.

After they got all dry, the food was delivered and it was time to eat.

Grayson decided that he would eat a chicken finger, carrots and cheese curls. At least he chose a veggie?

Then it was time for cake- and for us to find out that Grayson did not like being sung to, at ALL.

Telling me to make them "top!"

Lucky, once he realized he got to eat cake and had a new train all was right with the world.

We couldn't have asked for a better day, or more generous people to spend the day with. Since I literally had over 100 pictures thanks to my sweet friend Jackie who took them for me, I'll be sharing the details and projects in tomorrows post!  

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Parmesean Crusted Chicken Tenders

Some nights call for comfort food- like nights where it gets dark at five fifteen and the cold of winter starts to set in.  One of my favorite semi quick comfort foods to make are definitely chicken tenders. Easy and versatile, once you get the recipe down you can make it a bunch of different ways.

Tonight- it was quick chicken parmesan.
1 lb boneless skinless chicken tenders
1 cup bread crumbs
1 cup parmesan cheese
two sprigs of fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon of Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon of thyme (if you have fresh, use that- I just didn't)
garlic powder
1 egg beaten with water
vegetable oil
1. Salt and pepper the chicken tenders and trim off any nasty bits.
2. Set up an assembly line that consists of a scoop of flour seasoned with salt and pepper, the egg beaten with a bit of water. In the third pan mix the breadcrumbs, cheese, spices, and chopped up fresh herbs together.

3. Now comes the time to bread the chicken- use one hand for the wet and keep one dry. It prevents gummy fingers. First dip the chicken in the flour, then the egg, then roll it in the bread crumbs and pat them on to coat the chicken.  Once they are coated let them sit for a few minutes to allow everything to stick.  I just leave them on the cutting board until the oil gets hot.
4. Put about an inch to an inch and a half of oil in a pan and heat it over medium heat.  Once the oil ripples, it should be hot enough. You can test it by dropping a little piece of the bread crumb mix in and see if it starts to bubble.  Put about three chicken tenders in the pan at a time, allowing them to cook for five to six minutes turning if needed.  If they get very brown very fast, your oil is too hot.
5. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Place a cooling rack over a foil lined cookie sheet and after the tenders cook for five to six minutes remove them and place them on the cooling rack and place them in the oven.  It keeps them warm while you're cooking the other batches and makes sure if they need a minute or two more to cook through you're good to go. As you finish more batches, add them to the batch already in the oven.
Once they have all cooked through you're good to go.  I usually serve them with tomato sauce, cheese and a side of pasta for a quick chicken parmesan. You can also serve them with roasted potatoes and veggies- just coat the potatoes with time and rosemary so the flavors carry through.  
I love this recipe because from start to finish it takes maybe thirty minutes, and if you use paper plates for the flour/egg/breadcrumb mix and line the pans with foil it makes for a quick clean up. Its also fun to play with different herbs in the bread crumbs, like crushed red pepper and garlic for spicy tenders or really any combo of flavors you'd like.  

Try them- you wont be disappointed!


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Halloween 2013

This year Grayson wanted to be one thing, Thomas the Train.
After seeing the fact that the costume was nothing more than a flap of fabric that he could trip over, I quickly put the kibosh on that. I asked him if he wanted to be Curious George- but he said no. So I asked him what he wanted to be, and he brought me his Minion doll.
A Minion, it was.
If you haven't seen Despicable Me, then you have no idea what I am talking about. If you have, you know that the Minions are yellow henchmen who have existed since the beginning of time, evolving from yellow single celled organisms into beings who have only one purpose: to serve history's most ambitious villains. You also know they are adorable, so I was totally on board with my little guy being a Minion.
The cutest part happened a few days later when I asked him again if he wanted to be a Minion and he said YES! Then he said Mama, please? And I asked him if he wanted me to be a Minion with him. I got a resounding "yes, peas! peas! peas!" So it was official, Mommy was going to be a Minion, too.

I did get him a Thomas treat bucket, which he was thrilled with.  He was so excited, he didn't want to stop for pictures.

Of course it had to rain for trick or treat- so umbrellas were a necessity. So was Nana, otherwise known as the ONLY person Grayson trusted with his treat bucket after he caught Daddy taking a peek.

 We trick or treated at the Firehouse- and Grayson wanted the truck. Smart kid.

Why does a kid always weigh 10 pounds more when you have to carry an umbrella as well?

Momma was a minion as well. For a party the week prior Daddy dressed up as Dr. Gru, but he didn't want to put the costume on to trick or treat. Stick in the mud, much?

After about an hour the wind started to pick up and it got cold, so we headed for home. Much to the dismay of my normally shy child who was RUNNING up onto peoples porches saying please and thank you as people gave him treats. He would have kept going, but his bucket was full and I was wet and cold. Sorry kid, your Momma just can't hang.  We did manage to convince him to head home by saying he could have a sucker- which explains the blue mouth in the photo above.

Overall it was a great Trick or Treat- especially when Nana let him have any treat he wanted while they watched the Great Pumpkin. Too bad Nana wouldn't take him home after sugaring him up, he was on a sugar high for a good two hours. But I suppose that's what Halloween is all about, well that an invoking the candy tax once your child goes to bed.
Those Reese's Cups didn't stand a chance.
Happy Halloween, All!