Ring Master MomOctober 14, 2015Leave a comment

Halloween treats

My children still only want to trick or treat at a few houses on Halloween so I don’t mind making a few treats with them during October for some special fun!  Here are a few of my favorites.

Nothing screams fall treat like a caramel apple.  I love to slice up apples first and then set aside caramel sauce and toppings.


For a silly breakfast treat, take powdered donut holes and add eye sprinkles!


Brownies cut with cookie cutters and Reese’s pieces make for a great looking dessert.


We also played a Halloween touch and feel game.  (Don’t worry, we didn’t have this food to go waste!  It was immediately snacked upon after finishing!)  We had some family over for this game and I blindfolded everyone and told them I had just come back from the cemetery.  Tortilla pieces were handed to everyone and I described that as pieces of skin, banana chips were witches’ fingernails, baby carrots were fingers I had sliced off, pretzels were petrified rat tails, and room temperature olives were eyeballs.  It’s great to see how people (even grown ups!) squirm and make hilarious faces when they’re holding these items.


And finally, we love to “Boo” our neighbors.  We’ve been doing it for years, and this is what we included in our bags this year.


Below are affiliate links to a few items pictured above.  Thanks for your support, and Happy Halloween!


Ring Master MomFebruary 26, 20144 Comments

St. Patrick’s day snack ideas

Holidays are a fun distraction for kids to try new things or make something slightly different. They’re not necessarily Irish, but they are a fun way to celebrate and don’t worry, we all eat our corned beef and cabbage on the 17th. I love these snack & meal ideas for St. Patrick’s Day and hope you do too!

First up is my rainbow pot of gold fruit plate. I’ve seen this everywhere with marshmallows for clouds. I wanted this plate to be as healthy as possible, so I changed up the clouds and made gold coins with the banana slices.

These totally rock because they’re easy and kids love em! I use a shamrock shaped cookie cutter with spinach wraps and arranged them on a cookie sheet. You can spread olive oil on for crispier “chips” or sprinkle sea salt as well.

Bake at 375 for about 4 minutes and serve with hummus or spinach dip!

Rainbow shamrocks made from Jell-o take a bit more time and patience. You’ll need as many flavors as you’d like – I used 6 for my rainbow. Follow the directions on the side of the box for making your Jell-O and pour each layer into the mold. You’ll have to do this many times, so be careful as you’re spooning the liquid in each mold. You’ll have leftovers unless you use several molds at once, and you can always place that into a large bowl to make a super huge pile of rainbow Jell-O! Here’s a side view of what 6 different flavors of Jell-O looks like!

I also used the same mold above to make shamrock cakes. This is super easy – follow instructions on whichever cake mix you buy or use. Food color and decorations optional and endless! I go for the obvious best choice of cake mix – Funfetti!

I had some extra mix leftover, so I made cookies!

It’s fun to spice up a milkshake with decorations! I used mint chocolate chip ice cream with a few splashes of milk topped with whipped cream and decorations! I made this last year, and think I’ll use vanilla ice cream with Thin Mints this year.

Kiwi shamrocks are a healthy and fun snack for little ones! I sliced a kiwi several times, and cut out several shamrock shapes.

Pot of Gold treats were for my former co-workers. I bought cauldrons at my local party store (located in their Halloween section) and filled them with Rolo candies and Twizzlers.

As you may know by now, we are big into holiday pasta! Cost Plus World Market is where I go to get holiday pasta with natural colors. I’ve linked below to where you can buy this online. This is lots of fun because you can always witch up veggies, chicken, fish, or sauces for lots of variety. I took this pic when Alice was one and a half. Barely a tooth, but loved little veggies! This year I’m excited to add things like broccoli or zucchini so that way I can share and it seems a bit more grown up!

Shamrock spinach pizza is a fun way to get kiddos to eat spinach with some cute decorations! I buy dough at Whole Foods along with any toppings that tickle my fancy that day along with spinach. Use shamrock cookie cutters to cut the shapes in the spinach and place on your pizza before you bake!

This snack idea was a surprise find when I was shopping. I just so happened to be without children at Safeway which meant I was in the ice cream aisle buying my favorite pint of Ben & Jerry’s! After I snagged that, I looked up to see green and white animal cookies! This happened last March and I’ve not seen these cookies again. I don’t know if it was a St. Patrick’s Day decoration, but I thought the colors were perfect for a special treat.

The last snack I have to share are my “I’m so lucky to have you as my friend” treat jars. I had a few pickle jars saved and wanted to do something with them. I also had some extra cupcake liners, so I taped those to the lids. I filled the jars with leftover Rolos and Skittles for an extra sweet treat.

Below are affiliate links to help you create your own St. Patrick’s Day snacking fun!


Ring Master MomFebruary 3, 20142 Comments

Olympic Ring Center

Can you tell I’m getting slightly excited that the Winter Olympics are almost here? I was able to attend the games in Barcelona in 1992 with my family and watched everything from gymnastics to synchronized swimming to pretty much every track and field event. As a child, I loved paying attention to the medal count, looking up information about other countries, and learning the history behind flags. Now that Patrick and Alice are showing interest in different flags, I thought it would be great to set up an Olympic Ring Center in our home.

Patrick helped create a sign made with a flag banner, markers, and colored rings. We’ll soon add a medal count and we also have a great book on Flags of the World – see link below. We also use this book when we learn about different cultures and cook dinners from other countries. It’s a great resource for toddlers because of the big pictures of each flag and not too detailed description of each country.

Affiliate links below to the items we used for this craft


Ring Master MomFebruary 3, 2014Leave a comment

Olympic sorting game

I want to share a great sorting game to get little ones excited for the upcoming Olympics. Two years ago Patrick was Alice’s age, and he loved doing this game over and over again for the summer games.

PJ Sorting

I placed a bowl full of pom poms on the table along with a child’s set of chopsticks and paper ring set I bought at a local party store. I placed the rings on the table and told Patrick to grab the chopsticks and place a pom pom in the ring. Once he got the hang of the chopsticks, we decided to play again by placing the corresponding color pom pom with the ring. Obviously there are many ways to “play” this game, and you can make it as easy or hard as you want. I love it because it keeps little hands busy and little minds thinking about new versions to play once they feel they’ve mastered the level they’re on.

You can also teach what the Olympic rings represent, what the games mean, etc while they are playing. It’s a really easy set up and clean up which is always a plus in my book.

Affiliate links below to the items I used.


Ring Master MomFebruary 2, 2014Leave a comment

Olympic torch craft

In preparation for the Summer Olympic games a few years ago, I had Patrick create an Olympic torch. He was just 2 at the time, and loved hearing about Olympic traditions and was obsessed with the torch run. I thought since he loved it so much, we should create an Olympic torch of our own. Now that the Winter Games are here, I thought I’d share our creation. This craft is incredibly easy to make and the only part that requires patience is the paint drying.

We started with brown cardstock and rolled it to the size we wanted to create and secured it with tape. Then I had Patrick paint “lots of fire” on a few large pieces of white paper.

pj torch painting

After that dried, I cut them into flame shapes and we taped those to the torch. We had leftover yellow tissue paper from a previous craft, and Patrick very slowly cut long strips and rolled them with a pencil to give them a little dimension. Finally, we crinkled red tissue paper and placed that in the middle of our flames. Then he ran around outside screaming with joy! I love a craft that also lets little ones release some energy!

pj torch

Affiliate links are below to the items I used for the craft.


Ring Master MomJanuary 6, 2014Leave a comment

Nature activity

I have to admit that I’m enjoying this drought weather we’re having a little too much. I always plan for rainy day activities and rain dances with galoshes, but I’ve really enjoyed the lack of cabin fever in our house. We’ve made use of going on nature walks which to Patrick and Alice just mean a walk where we pick up a few things we haven’t seen or felt before. We are lucky that we live near very thoughtful neighbors who always share their bounty may it be hydrangeas, oranges, squash – whatever they’re growing. So they love when we walk around taking notes and asking questions about what flowers are growing in their yards.

Today we kept it simple and found things in our yard during our nature walk. It was a very slow day for exploring. One of those “let’s turn over every rock to see if we can find a worm” on it kinda days. I had Patrick and Alice locate things that had different textures and were from nature. We also have buckets, baseballs, etc in the backyard so we kept it all about what was natural.

After that, I put Alice down for a nap and had Patrick ready with a quiet time activity while I set up some afternoon art.

We had crayons, makers, and colored pencils and I had the kids draw our nature objects I laid out. It was an incredibly relaxing time and not much was said while creating. It was as slow and thoughtful during our backyard discovery earlier that morning and a great way for kids to learn about texture, nature, and art all together.


Ring Master MomDecember 19, 2013Leave a comment

Disneyland 2013 – Day 3

Again, I have to say that one of the reasons to stay at the Grand Californian is early entrance to the park. It’s great to grab a fast pass for a ride you could never normally get on during normal hours (ahem, Cars) or enjoy a little quiet time with kids, get a fast pass for World of Color later that night.

The kids were excited to be at Disneyland again, but today we were at California Adventure. We started with the Little Mermaid ride which Alice declared her favorite. I loved watching her face in this ride since the Little Mermaid has always been my favorite movie. One of the best parts about being a parent is getting to relive your childhood but getting to see the wonder and their face light up as it happens.

We then visited Cars land and enjoyed several rounds of rides when James got that look in his eye. The one that lets me know he’s up to no good. Yesterday Patrick did not enjoy Splash Mountain, but did go on it and no tears were shed. James asked Patrick if he wanted to go on the Tower of Terror (yet another ride that the minimum height is 40” and Patrick is that exact height) to which PJ actually said yes. People, I do not let my parents go on this ride for fear they will have a heart attack. We explained that it’s pretty scary and he still said he wanted to go on with Daddy.

I knew it wouldn’t end well, so while the boys went off to scare the crap out of themselves, I went with Alice to get an iced coffee and special treat for later. Horray for Starbucks in California Adventure and the cute cups they have there.

I got a cookie also because I had this horrible feeling that Patrick would never go on another ride again after the ToT. We met up with the boys after coffee, and sure enough, poor Patrick did not enjoy himself. I think his exact words were that he didn’t love it and he wanted to sit for a while. He and Alice split a cookie while we walked around and found cute things we’ve never seen before inside California Adventure.

We found a spot serving beer and had lunch there since there was a place for the kids to run around.

And one has to have a Mickey pretzel for traditional purposes.

After lunch was a minute walk back to the hotel and then back for more fun. We’ve never really explored California Adventure before so it was nice to walk at our own pace and decide what we wanted to go on again or try for the first time. I know there are many more rides and places to explore, too! This jellyfish one was a first time for our family

And then we wandered back to Bugs Land and Cars Land to round up the day

Oh, and I guess we did stop to take a picture with a character. No real wait for this, so it kinda seems like it doesn’t count. Alice wanted to take a picture but got scared at the last moment. Thank goodness for Daddy cuddles.

We had dinner reservations at a new restaurant for me, and I wasn’t totally impressed. It’s hard when you’ve had the Napa Rose two nights before, but it seemed pretty basic. They did serve wine (always a plus) and this was a nice salad, so it wasn’t a total bust. Just have to be in the lookout for another place to eat next time.

The evening ended with us getting bundled up

and lots of bubbles with glowing bubble guns in the dark. The kids decided it was time for bed (ha, I finally wore them out!!) so we skipped the World of Color for jammies and bed. Walking through the lobby, we got a chance to hear the Christmas carolers in full costume. I love the little touches at the Grand Californian.

And the best part of the day was once we were in our room and I had finished getting jammies on Patrick and Alice, I heard fireworks off in the distance. I then noticed a flash of light against our window and low and behold, we had a perfect view of the Disneyland fireworks so we cuddled up on our balcony to watch together. What a special treat and perfect way to end our trip together.

Of course the last morning calls for beignets before we check out

And if you’ve been paying attention, yes I had my kids wear matching shirts the last 3 days! Well, the first day was Mickey and Minnie, but I am obnoxious and got matching Buzz Lightyear ones too. Alice is Patrick’s little shadow so whatever he does, she does. It’s cute that she’s into the stuff he likes right now, too.

On our drive back, James and I started talking at the same time about how great this vacation was together. Despite a long car drive there and back, being with a 2 & 4 year old non-stop, we really didn’t feel exhausted. You know that saying that when you’re a parent you need a vacation after your vacation? James and I decided that this was the first time that wasn’t the case. And we are all talking about when our next trip will be.


Ring Master MomDecember 17, 2013Leave a comment

Disneyland 2013 – Day 2

We are really lucky that several years ago, we received a code in the mail for a huge discount at the Grand Californian despite us having never stayed there before. James and I stayed at many cheap hotels nearby but now that we had kids, it was nice to find someplace quiet and extremely close. Proximity is a huge thing when I have napping kids, too. I love to get them into bed before they nap – something hard to do leaving Disneyland as any parent knows! Staying here gives us an early entrance to the park along with tons of perks like finding a fast place to grab food. Mickey waffles are a great hit with toddlers, and we hit up White Water Snacks in the hotel because there’s never a line and it’s a great quiet place to relax before we hit the park.

Also, the kids don’t really know about taking dining or pictures with characters and Alice isn’t into the whole princess thing (yet!) so it’s nice that we can walk around and enjoy rides together. I know that can change the next time we go, so I’m thankful for the amount we were able to go on.

We hit up Fantasy Land first since there are so many original rides here with horrible lines once the park actually opens. Of course the first ride I drag the kids on is Snow White’s Scary Adventure. Alice was a little clingy after that, but loved the carousel and Patrick of course was begging to go on the teacups.

And Alice would not go on Dumbo because her beloved horsies were in close proximity, so Patrick and I got to fly high up in the air

We hit up lots more rounds of fun nearby, and then went on Pirates a ton and the Disneyland Railroad cause the kids love trains.

Lunch was our usual spot – the Blue Bayou. I’ve been coming here since I was a little girl, and I love how quiet and relaxed a meal can be while inside Disneyland. It’s incredible to sit and enjoy the quiet bayou noises and recharge. They’ve upped their menu this year, which is always a plus in my book.

And brought out a special dessert for James. His birthday is the day after Christmas which makes it hard to celebrate because not many places are open and if they are, they’re packed. We always do a birthday “day” here for him.

I was thrilled that after lunch, I was able to talk Patrick on going on Splash Mountain with me. He is my cautious guy and while he did not cry on the ride, he said it wasn’t his favorite after the big drop. Fair enough, and I was so proud that he went on with me. He is 40” tall, and that’s the minimum height.

After that, we hit our hotel for a nice nap and then back to play! We had never been on the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh before, and the kids asked to go on that one again and again and again. It was perfect because it had no line, nothing scary to freak Alice out, and didn’t get old for James and I. And, there was a great little place to grab some sweet treats. I get a caramel apple every time I go, and it’s always different. This year it was a hunny pot complete with bee. Hee hee!!

Lots more rides and then dinner at Rancho del Zocalo for my fave – fish tacos! It’s another relaxing place that I never feel rushed and can catch my second wind for rides at night! It was great to end on this one since it was Patrick’s first ride as a baby

And then time for some beautiful lights

and fireworks!

We always grab some popcorn before they start and enjoy the magic together.

One reason I love going to the park during December is how beautifully decorated everything is.

The planner in me wants to know when they start decorating, where they store everything, how it’s kept for next year, what they do to improve decorations, etc. My brain never shuts up about this stuff – but I kinda love that I don’t have to do it. :)

I know there are a thousand more things we could have done: rides, character pictures, parades, etc, but it is just so nice to have kids at this age who want to relax and go on rides. It makes for a great day together.


Ring Master MomDecember 15, 2013Leave a comment

Disneyland 2013 – Day 1 – Arrival

I will never forget how different it was when I started dating James. His world seemed fast and he was confident and ready for an adventure. A few months into dating, we were grabbing breakfast at a Google cafe when a friend asked what plans we had that weekend. James shrugged and said, “I dunno, Disneyland?” and we both sort of laughed. But with the whole weekend to ourselves before kids, we thought, “Why not?” James had a great time, and loved it much more than he thought he would. I had only been twice as a child, but we started going twice a year until we had Alice. The last 5 years we’ve gone in December and stayed at the Grand Californian which I believe makes all the difference.

Just the top half of the lobby tree. I think they added juuuust a few more lights from last year’s tree.

We had been going with my parents the last few years which really made the trip magical. They would switch taking kids on rides, I’d nurse, then I could go on a few with James, and they’d spoil the grandkids rotten! We also had a tradition of dining at the Napa Rose for dinner but not all together. They’d eat first, then come back to the hotel and tuck the kiddos in bed while James and I had a nice quiet meal to ourselves. Since my Mom’s still in isolation, she and my Dad couldn’t make it this year.

James and I have never not taken Alice and Patrick to a restaurant because it hasn’t been deemed “kid-friendly.” This is something I tell all my Mommy friends who want to know what to feed their kids just learning how to eat, or when to take them to a restaurant. Kids eat whatever you’re eating, so give them everything. And we took Patrick out to eat the first night out of the hospital (hello, Mommy wanted sushi!!) and checked out early with Alice to go grab a dinner at a steakhouse. There’s no such thing as kid-only restaurants. I say that any place that serves food is a place I take my family. We do not do phones or electronic distractions as meal time is a chance to hang out, catch up, and enjoy food. Of course I would never take my kids places if they got up and down, screamed, or threw things. I’m really glad that they’re well behaved and enjoy their food.

The Napa Rose is a restaurant James and I enjoy dining at for their long meals, great wine list, and seasonal menu. We arrived at our hotel on Monday and walked around, unpacked, relaxed, then it was time for dinner. We arrived a few minutes early and got a table in front of the fireplace and James ordered a glass of wine while I started with my fave there – their Napa Rose cocktail.

My Mom bought Alice this dress last year at Disneyland since they didn’t have one in her size at the time. She was finally able to fit in it, so I thought it would be a perfect night to wear it for my Mom. Alice could not stop adjusting her skirt to make sure everything looked perfect.

We started our meal with a few salads to share with the kiddos. This was the baby field greens with marinated cucumbers. Alice is on a huge cucumber kick so she pretty much devoured all cucumbers in sight.

And we also had the tempura fried lobster with asian greens. The kids did not enjoy the lobster (horray, more for me) but I love that they tried it.

Alice ate one of my favorite sides, the truffle mac & cheese served in the cutest baby copper pot.

I had the grilled Black Angus beef tenderloin, hazelnut potato gnoochi, and brussel sprouts. Patrick also wanted to order the beef tenderloin, but I was able to talk him into sharing with me. Boy did he love this dish! James had the sauteed venison, hunter sausage, pork roast, and bortolli beans. James loved his so much that now I have get to cook him venison. I doubt I will get anywhere close to the Napa Rose, so if you have a recipe, send it my way!

The chef suggested the ice cream sundae for Patrick and Alice, and this is what showed up so they were pretty much in heaven.

James ordered the chocolate mousse and Patrick requested the gold flake. He cracks me up.

I had the salted caramel cake but in true Jeannette fashion, ate around the chocolate. I like ordering desserts like this for James cause I know he’ll eat it up. :)

It was an incredibly relaxing evening with a few of my favorite people and I think we should do long dinners more often.


Ring Master MomDecember 1, 20131 Comment

Beautiful calligraphy

I had the opportunity to take a calligraphy class recently and needless to say, I am obsessed with writing and doodling now!

I attended with my friend Katelyn who blogs at Love, Luck, Kisses, and Cake.

The class was held at The Makery which still has the best tagline

It also included snacks

and champagne

so let’s not kid ourselves – it was 3 hours of relaxation and creation.

We received a started kit in addition to other calligraphy goodies

and I have to mention that I was quite nervous when we started as all of the other ladies had done calligraphy before and I had no idea how to even hold the pen! After lots of practice, I felt more confident and started creating tags for Christmas presents

If you’ve never done calligraphy before it’s hard to explain how hard it is to actually get your letters to look normal, let alone pretty. Our teacher, Diva Pyari, made every stroke and flourish look effortless as she taught. But, she also went incredibly slow and every movement was deliberate. Three hours went by quickly as we got lots of practice writing and doodling

I love the style that Diva has, and she sells these at Anthropologie, so she’s pretty legit.

Three hours was not enough time to learn everything so I get to practice practice practice at home. And, hopefully I can get a little creative on my Christmas cards this year!