Monday, 20 October 2014

Lola's Ice Cream Party

This weekend we celebrated Lola's 4th birthday with an ice cream party.

Saturday morning we gathered with a group of Lola's little friends on our building's roof top for some ice cream themed fun. We had ice cream shaped popcorn treats, a popsicle pinata, an ice cream shaped birthday cake, ice cream cone party hats, and we made our own ice cream! So much fun.

We were so lucky to have the most gorgeous day for Lola's party. Look at that view over the bay! There was a football game on at Cal so we even had a blimp flying around the campus and overhead too. I like to think it was really there for Lola's birthday!

As always, the pinata was a huge hit with the kids. Pun intended! The kids all had a few turns at hitting it before Ava knocked it to the ground. It didn't break open at that point though so the kids continued hitting it on the ground until it was sufficiently ripped open. Then it was held up high by one of the parents and the goodies inside were tipped over the kids. I love the look of anticipation (and a little fear!) on their faces!

Making ice cream was even more popular than the pinata. Ice cream is always good, but it's even better when you get to make it yourself. The kids were each given a sandwich size ziplock bag containing half a cup of Half & Half (half milk, half cream for my friends in Australia), a tablespoon of sugar and half a tea spoon of vanilla essence. The bags were then put into a larger ziplock bag filled with ice and salt. The kids worked in pairs to shake the bag for about five minutes - or until they got tired of shaking and passed it over to an adult! After all that shaking the ingredients had frozen and "churned" into delicious vanilla ice cream. All that was needed was some chocolate topping and sprinkles. Yum!

The highlight of any birthday party is always the cake. No matter how much fun everything else is, the cake is always eagerly awaited. In keeping with the ice cream theme Lola's cake was a scoop of delicious strawberry ice cream in a vanilla waffle cone. Or, maybe a strawberry and vanilla cake shaped like an ice cream cone...

At the end of the party Lola gave her guests special ice cream themed party favors: cones topped with meringue and filled with jellybeans. More sugar!

Lola and her friends had so much fun at her ice cream party.

Big thanks to everyone who helped make Lola's day special.

P.S. I'll have some ice cream themed DIYs from the party coming soon. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Ice Cream Party Invites

I can not believe that my little Lola is going to be four tomorrow!

We'll be celebrating her birthday this coming weekend with an ice cream party. Lola chose the theme for this year's party quite some time ago. In fact, I believe it may have been right after her last birthday party finished!

Lola has been super excited about having an ice cream party, and I've got to say that it's a pretty fun theme to get creative with. I've got all sorts of ice cream and popsicle themed activities and accessories lined up for the party and I can't wait to share them all with you.

So let's start by having a look at the invitations...

An ice cream party needs tasty invitations, right? These little chocolate covered popsicle invitations do the trick. I made them three dimensional complete with popsicle sticks, a bite taken out the top and a wrapper. Don't they look delicious?

I'm really happy with how these invitations turned out. Lola loves them too. She walks around the apartment pretending to eat one of them!

More ice cream party fun coming soon...

Sunday, 12 October 2014

31 Days of ABCs: K is for Kangaroo

This year I'm once again taking part in a wonderful series called 31 Days of ABCs. Each day throughout October a different blogger shares a project or activity related to a letter of the alphabet. 

Today it's my turn to share and we're up to the letter K. K for koala, king, kite, key and kangaroo.

I'm so excited to share this activity with you. Lola has been learning to recognize and write her letters (both at home and preschool) and one thing that I've noticed is that she gets a little stuck when it comes to matching upper case and lower case letters. Some letters are easy and don't change much between the cases while others look completely different and catch Lola (and many other young children) out. Upper case letters are generally pretty easy, but some of those lower case letters can be a little tricky. Especially when they don't look anything like their big counterpart. I'm looking at you g, r and d!

I decided to make Lola a fun card game to help her match up her upper and lower case letters. This is where the kangaroo comes in. I made up cards featuring a mother kangaroo with an upper case letter marked on her pouch. I then made joeys holding a card with the corresponding lower case letter. The pouches on the mother kangaroo are a little pocket that the joey fits into. I printed the upper case and lower case letters on each card to help Lola match up the corresponding joey. 

After hours of cutting and gluing, the card game was ready for Lola to play with. I'm not going to lie; cutting out all of those joeys wasn't easy work. My hands are still sore! But it was worth it as Lola loves her new card game and has been playing it several times a day.

To play, Lola starts with a stack of kangaroo cards in alphabetical order. I mix up the little joeys and spread them out on the table making sure they're all face up. Lola then sets about finding the joeys to match the kangaroos.

Lola is pretty proud of herself when she matches up the letters correctly. 

Sometimes the matching letter takes a little while to find.

And sometimes a similar looking letter proves to be a little confusing. Oops!

All better!

Using the letters at the bottom of the card helps Lola to make sure that she has matched them up correctly before putting the joey in the pouch.

Playing this game also helps Lola with her letter recognition in general. She's usually pretty good with her letters but sometimes gets a little stuck. Playing with the cards in alphabetical order helps her out when she can't remember the name of a letter. She just sings her alphabet song and stops once she has gone through all of the letters that she has already matched up. Laying the cards out in front in alphabetical order once they'be been matched up helps too.

Lola loves her new kangaroo card game so much that once she has matched them all up she pulls the joeys out of the pouches and starts all over again.

I'm really happy with how the kangaroo card game turned out. I haven't drawn anything in such a long time and feel like I haven't had a chance to be creative in ages so it was fun to get back to it. It's so satisfying to complete something that your kids love to play with.

Big thanks to Leanna of All Done Monkey for organizing 31 Days of ABCs again. 
Make sure you check out the other posts in the series. You can find them all hereYou can also find all the featured posts plus more ABC related ideas on the 31 Days of ABCs Pinterest board.

Have an ABC post that you like to share? Make sure to link it up below... 

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Capay Valley Open Farm Day

Last weekend we attended the Hoes Down Harvest Festival at Fully Belly Farm. The main festival took place on the Saturday and we camped out over night. On the Sunday there were a host of workshops available as part of the festival however we decided not to take part in any this year (the Kid's Day Camp is on our list for next year though).

Instead we decided to visit a few other farms in the area as part of the Capay Valley Open Farm Day.

So after breakfast we packed up our tent and hit the road. The day was hot and we were all pretty tired from the festival on Saturday so a quiet day visiting just a few farms was in order.

We started with a visit to Cache Creek Lavender, checked out the orchard at Gettleshtetl and picked pumpkins, cherry tomatoes and chilies at Capay Organic.



With the brown rolling hills and similar vegetation this part of California (like much of the state) feels so much like Australia. The gum trees everywhere, drought conditions and heat certainly add to the feel. If it weren't for the fact that we were driving on the opposite side of the road (and that the car was left had drive) we could've been back home. I'm always amazed at just how similar California and South Australia are at times.  

It was nice to be out of the city for the weekend and the girls enjoyed visiting the farms but oh man, that heat really was a killer. Here's hoping that California gets some good rain soon and this drought comes to an end. It would be so nice to see this area green when we visit again next year.