Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Santa's Footprints

Christmas morning is always filled with such anticipation. The first thing the kids always want to know is "Has Santa been?". Well, this year it was obvious that Santa had visited as soon as the girls opened the bedroom door. There on the ground, leading from the front door to the lounge room was a set of footprints. White, glittery, snowy footprints made by someone wearing big boots. Who else other than Santa could have left such prints?

Looks like Santa's been!

Much like the Easter Bunny this Easter, Santa left a trail of footprints leading from the emergency stairwell in the hallway straight to our Christmas tree. The girls were excited to see that Santa had left footprints and happily hopped along them all the way out our apartment to see where they started. Of course, the were happiest following the footprints to the Christmas tree to see what else Santa had left!

Wondering how Santa left such glittery footprints? Here's how you can make your own...

Christmas 2012

Well, Christmas is over for another year. I hope you all had a lovely day.

We had a nice Christmas shared with friends who were visiting from Australia. The day was pretty grey and rainy so we spent it inside which, being Australian, we're not really accustomed to. I guess cold Christmases spent indoors are the norm in the Northern Hemisphere but I'm still getting the hang of it! What we certainly are accustomed to however, is the copious amount of food that goes hand in hand with Christmas. Roast turkey, mashed potatoes, cauliflower gratin, sweet potato bake, green beans, sparkling apple cider, Christmas pudding and custard. If it wasn't for the Christmas pudding and custard it pretty much would've been a repeat of Thanksgiving! 

And then of course, there were the copious amount of presents! Both girls were spoiled by Santa, friends and family. Oh, and by us! Ava was super excited that Santa brought her Bouncy, the "electric" dog that she has been going on and on about for months. The damn thing yapped and jumped around in circles all day but Ava didn't seem to mind. She cuddled it all day and even took it to bed with her - where she worked out that turning it off might be a good idea!  Lola had asked Santa for "a present and a ball and a bus". She was pretty excited when the first present she opened was a wooden school bus. Two birds with one stone! The ball was also crossed off her list thanks to a gift from our visiting friends. 
Both Ava and Lola received new wheels for Christmas - a scooter for Ava and a balance bike for Lola. The girls were pretty keen to get out in the courtyard and practise riding but the rain made this a little tricky. An incredibly late lunch followed by Lola's afternoon nap and a bout of vomiting (Lola) then kept us inside for the rest of the day. Luckily Lola was feeling much better by evening. Too many grapes and blueberries for breakfast I think. 

All up we had a nice day - if you don't count the girls going a little stir crazy from being cooped up inside all day or Lola projectile vomiting twice :( 

Here's a look at our Christmas day - minus the vomit...

Christmas family photo

Friday, 21 December 2012

Little Bags of Honey Biscuits

Today was Ava's last day of school for the year. Roll on the start of the two week winter break!

Ava's class celebrated their last day of school before Christmas by making Christmas crafts, watching a movie and, the kids' favourite part, wearing their pyjamas all day! Not a bad day of school.

And if all that doesn't sound good enough there was just one more treat...

Ava took bags of honey biscuits to school to give out to her classmates and teacher.

Bags of honey biscuits


Technically sweet treats like biscuits/cookies aren't actually allowed at school but we got around this by bagging the biscuits up for the kids to take home. Ah, loopholes! To make the bags of biscuits a little more festive I made cards from one of Ava's Christmas drawings and tied them on with red and white baker's twine. Ava personalised each bag of biscuits by writing a message on the back of each card. I was quite impressed that she was able to recognise each of her classmates names on the cards when handing them out. It's good to know that she is learning at school!

Merry Christmas

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Christmas Tradition: Honey Biscuits

Every year in the lead up to Christmas my Mum bakes honey biscuits. They've become one of my family's Christmas traditions, taking the place of gingerbread.

In keeping with tradition, making honey biscuits was one of the Christmas activities in Ava and Lola's advent calendar; the most delicious activity in the advent calendar!


Honey Biscuits

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Christmas Tree Hunting

Yesterday we finally got our Christmas tree!

Ava and Lola had been hanging out all month to get a Christmas tree but knew they had to wait until it appeared in the advent calendar. Well, day 15 was finally the day.

Day 15: Time to choose a Christmas tree!

Washi Tape Christmas Decorations

I love washi tape.

It's the one thing I feel compelled to buy whenever I see it in a store. It's the one thing that you might say I "collect". It's my go-to for decorating presents and one of my favourite crafting materials.

So when I saw a post on Modern Parents Messy Kids about a DIY washi tape christmas tree I knew I had to get out the tape collection and start decorating!

Washi tape Christmas tree, presents and wreath

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Four days in Tuscany

Time for a break from the Christmas posts...

Back in September Lola and I went on a whirlwind trip to Italy to attend the wedding of our friends Amy and Andrew in the stunning Tuscan countryside. I've been meaning to write about it and share some photos since, well... September but I keep getting distracted with other things; Halloween preparations, Thanksgiving preparations, Christmas preparations and of course Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter etc etc etc. Even now I'm being distracted by my blog feed!

Ok, enough procrastinating, let's get these photos up...

Our trip to Italy was short but sweet. Only four full days in total. Along with the bride and groom travelling from London a handful of good friends had travelled from Australia for the wedding. It was lovely to catch up in such an amazing location.

Amy and Andrew's wedding was held in a little Tuscan town called Greve-in-Chianti. Our accommodation was located a short drive away in Rignana which is not really a village but rather a few farm houses, a villa and a restaurant all accessed by narrow and bumpy dirt roads. Lola and I stayed in Fattoria di Rignana, a lovely old farm house converted into a B&B. The bride and groom, along with many other guests, stayed in nearby Villa Rignana about a 10 minute walk away.

Our first evening in Italy was spent doing just what Italy is best for: eating delicious food and drinking great wine with good friends. Then, of course, a big sleep to recover from our fifteen hour flight. Fifteen hours with Lola on my lap - what was I thinking?!

Our first full day in Italy was spent doing the tourist thing in the nearby medieval village San Gimignano. The entire village (or at least the medieval part) is completely enclosed within a stone wall. We ate pizza and gelato, posed for photos, bought souvenirs... all the touristy stuff.

Lola and I outside the walled village of San Gimignano

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Snow Day!

On Sunday we had snow!

That's right, snow. Here in Berkeley.

I know what you're thinking... It doesn't snow in the Bay Area.

Ok, so it didn't actually fall out of the sky. And it was probably made by a snow machine - but that counts as snow in the ski resorts back home in Australia so I'm counting it as snow here!

Sunday was the annual "Snow, in Berkeley?" fun day.

A car park in Berkeley's Gourmet Ghetto district was transformed into a Winter Wonderland for a day of snow ball throwing, snowman building and general snow fun.

Ava had a ball playing in the snow even though it was a little compacted and wet by the time we arrived. She made lots of snow balls - which were mostly thrown at me - and attempted to make a snowman. I say attempted because the snow was not really powdery enough to do much with. She started making the base of the snowman but got a little bored and turned it into a snow ball - which of course was thrown at me!

Lola wasn't too sure about the snow. She was keen to play in it but had refused to wear socks, boots or anything else warm on her feet. She discovered pretty quickly just how cold snow can be when you're wearing Summer shoes. While attempting to make snow angels her little shoes filled up with icy cold sludge. Now we have another thing to add to Lola's list of things she hates getting in her shoes: sand, bark chips and snow! She did however, enjoy throwing snow balls at me too!

Here's a look at the girls and their day of fun in the snow...

Lola with her first snow ball  

Monday, 10 December 2012

Giant Gingerbread House

Just like last year one of the activities on this year's advent calendar was to visit the giant gingerbread house at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco.

And just like last year, the giant gingerbread house did not disappoint. Standing at over 22 feet high and 23 feet wide and made of thousands of gingerbread bricks it is quite a sight to see. The girls were enchanted by the masses of gingerbread with its, wait for it... two thousand pounds of royal icing and candy. My teeth are aching just thinking about that number!

Giant gingerbread house and Christmas tree in the Fairmont Hotel lobby

Friday, 7 December 2012

A new Christmas Tradition...

I just stumbled upon a new Christmas Tradition for our family that I'm quite excited about. Ok, so it's probably not a new tradition for most Americans but it's new to us.

This tradition that I'm talking about is the story of "The Elf on the Shelf". Have you heard of it?

I hadn't heard of it before but kept seeing little elves popping up everywhere in the stores and online. Books, DVDs, figurines, plush dolls and Christmas ornaments everywhere. Even Pinterest boards devoted to Elf on the Shelf crafts! 

I was intrigued so after a little research online I purchased a box set with the book and our very own elf. Both Ava and Lola enjoy the book. They like looking for the elf on every page - not that he is always hiding, mind you! The elf that comes with the book has a cute vintage feel about him. Plastic moulded head and long, floppy felt body. He looks straight out of a 1950's toy store!

Our elf on the shelf  "Elfie Pokie Nokie"

The Little Things: Living Small

As of last week we've been living in our apartment for a year. This got me thinking about how well the girls have transitioned from living in a relatively big house to a relatively small apartment. I had initially been worried about how they (and I!) would cope with the major downgrade in living space but they adapted to it really quickly and without fuss.

In Australia we lived in a 3 bedroom house with a decent sized backyard. Our living room, dining room and kitchen were all distinct separate spaces (although fairly open plan) and the girls had their own bedrooms. Our backyard wasn't huge by Australian standards but had enough space for a large cubby house, fruit trees and vegetable patches, a verandah, a paved area for the outdoor setting and BBQ, a double garage and lots of lawn for running around. Ok, by San Francisco Bay Area standards that sounds huge!

Ava in our old backyard with her cubby house and veggie patches (and very patchy lawn!)

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

A visit to Santaland

Day 3 on our advent calendar was home to the voucher that Ava had most eagerly awaited: Visit Santa at Macy's!

"Visit Santa at Macy's" - the voucher we've been waiting for!


For weeks Ava has been asking if we can go see Santa. For weeks I've been telling her that she has to wait until it comes up in the advent calendar. You can imagine how excited she was when she saw the name Santa on the voucher. She couldn't read the rest of it but she recognised that one word and that was all she needed!

So, last night after Ava's iceskating lesson (and Holiday Ice Spectacular rehearsal) we headed to Macy's to meet the man.

Ava was pretty excited but Lola was a little apprehensive, especially after seeing a particularly seedy looking Santa here in Berkeley last week! The REAL Santa at Macy's however, is friendly and inviting and engages with the kids in a way that really warms them to him. Ava popped up on his lap straight away and started reeling off the list of things that she'd like for Christmas: an electric dog called Bouncy, a scooter, a fortune cookie maker... Lola hung back a little and when asked what she'd like for Christmas she yelled across the room "A present and a ball and a toy truck"!

After a little while Lola felt more comfortable with Santa and was happy to stand in front of him and pose for photos - but only if she could be on the same side as Ava. For the first time ever we ended up with photos of both girls smiling with Santa. Woo hoo!


Here's a look at the girls with Santa.

Our "official" Santa portrait

Sunday, 2 December 2012

My Advent Calendar 2012

Yesterday I shared my friend Daniela's fantastic advent calendar garland. Now it's time for a look at our advent calendar for this year...

Do you remember the advent calendar that we used last year? You can see it here. This advent calendar was purchased from my favourite Swedish stationery store Kikki.K before we left Australia last year. I really wish that Kikki.K would open stores here in America. Anyway, I'm getting side tracked...

I love the simplicity of this advent calendar. The design is minimalistic and modern while still festive with its red and white colour theme. As with last year I have made vouchers for holiday activities to include in the advent calendar. Last year's vouchers were very simple (hand written on card) as my craft supplies, computer, printer etc were still in transit from Australia.

This year I decided to design something a little more stylish for the advent calendar. Keeping with the simplicity of the calendar I went for a simple, modern design: blackboard background, red banner, white text and fine white borders. To help the girls pull each voucher out of the advent calendar I added some red and white baker's twine as a pull string. Nothing fancy but I think it goes quite well with the calendar.

Christmas activity vouchers ready for the advent calendar

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Guest Post: Advent Garland

Today I'm excited to be sharing something special with you. My first guest post!

Usually the craft projects that you see on Little Hiccups have been made by me - or my kids - but today I'll be sharing a fantastic Christmas craft made by my talented friend Daniela. It's an advent calendar and garland all in one. How clever is that? No need to take it down once the countdown to Christmas has finished.

Daniela's Advent Calendar Garland

Thursday, 29 November 2012

It's almost time for the Advent Calendar

It's almost time for the advent calendar again. Just two more days before it needs to be up on the wall. Time to get my butt into gear and get working on it!

In the meantime I thought I'd share an advent calendar I made for Ava back in 2009.

Ava tests out the advent calendar


This advent calendar was really simple to make and I was quite happy with the way it turned out. 

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Christmas Card Photo Shoot

Now that Thanksgiving is over it's time to start working on Christmas preparations. Can you believe that Christmas is only a month away? No? Neither can I.

First up in the Christmas preparation list... Christmas cards.

It was a lovely day here in Berkeley today so we headed to nearby Live Oak Park to take some photos of the girls for our Christmas cards. Towering redwood trees, a stone wall, little bridges crossing a creek... it was the perfect location for our little photo shoot.

Here's a look at some of our photos from today.

Strike a pose

Friday, 23 November 2012

A Thanksgiving Turkey... Costume!

I've mentioned before that Ava had this idea in her head that she must dress up as a turkey for Thanksgiving. I thought this would be a fun idea so I got to work on making costumes for both Ava and Lola.

Lots of felt, coat hanger wire and hours later we had two little turkeys ready to celebrate Thanksgiving!

Here's a look at the costumes I made for the girls. They both happened to have brown onesie tracksuits in their wardrobe (as you do!) which made the perfect base for their costumes. With the addition of tails  (wired to stand up), turkey feet and beaks the girls were good to go. Unfortunately Lola wouldn't wear her costume for a photo so you'll just have to believe me when I say she looked adorable.

Turkey Ava flapping her wings

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Happy Thanksgiving 2012

Thanksgiving is over for another year, leaving us with bellies full of roast turkey, maple glazed sweet potato, cauliflower gratin, roast brussel sprouts and home made pumpkin pie. So completely stuffed!

We had a lovely lunch at our apartment with good friends and (as seems to be tradition) a little too much food. Not that we have huge amounts of food left over mind you; maybe just enough for one more dinner for two. Not too bad.

Here's a look at our Thanksgiving lunch with the Autumn Leaf Turkeys that I made used as place cards.

Leaf turkey place card

Autumn Leaf Turkeys

Happy Thanksgiving!

I had intended for this post to go up last night but a little technical glitch (I reached the limit of Blogger's included photo storage space) threw a spanner in the works. All sorted now.

--

In the lead up to Thanksgiving our apartment seems to be full of Autumn leaves and turkeys. So I thought, why not combine the two in a fun craft project? Why not indeed!

Ava has a five day weekend for Thanksgiving and the weather is pretty grey today so it's the perfect opportunity to work on another fun craft project: Autumn Leaf Turkeys.

Autumn Leaf Turkeys

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Sneak Peak : Turkey Costume

Remember how I mentioned here that Ava wants to dress up as a turkey for Thanksgiving?

Well, her request got the better of me and I started thinking of ideas for a costume. I know there's no need for costumes for Thanksgiving but I just couldn't help myself! Plus it gave me an excuse to get out the new sewing machine and play :)

Ava's costume isn't quite finished yet but I thought I'd share a little sneak peek of some of what I've come up with so far. So here you go, one turkey beak and and two turkey feet!

The rest of Ava's costume will be revealed on Thanksgiving so stay tuned!

Ava in her turkey beak

Ava's turkey feet

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Autumn Leaf Garland

Autumn really is such a beautiful time of year. The trees are so full of colour in various shades of reds, oranges, yellows, browns and green. And as the trees shed their leaves, so too do the gardens and sidewalks become full of colour. While I love seeing the leaves scattered everywhere I'm sure that those of you who have to sweep them up aren't quite so fond of this time of year!

Over the past few weeks the girls and I have been collecting Autumn leaves as we walk to and from school. I wasn't really sure what we were going to do with them but we kept on collecting them anyway. I really wanted to preserve the beauty of Autumn by bringing the colours into our apartment.

I've come up with a few projects for our collection of Autumn leaves and here's the first one: an Autumn Leaf Garland. It's pretty simple to make and I think it looks lovely hanging in a window.

Autumn Leaf Garland

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Turkey Hand Prints for Thanksgiving

In just one week's time it will be Thanksgiving. It feels like only yesterday we were celebrating our very first Thanksgiving here in America. It sounds like such a cliché, but the time really has just flown by. 

Ava is super excited about Thanksgiving - especially the turkey part of the holiday. She can't wait to eat turkey, she wants to dress as a turkey and she's eager to create turkey crafts. Dressing as a turkey may be a little odd but making turkey crafts is right up our alley.

A little search on Pinterest provided a lot of inspiration for turkey themed activities. I've got a few turkey projects planned for the girls but first up here's the messiest (and therefore the most fun!) of the lot: turkey hand prints.

Hand print turkey

This is a really simple project and the kids had a lot of fun with it.  

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Seeing Double

I never thought I'd be one to dress my children in matching outfits.

As a child I absolutely hated it when my mother dressed my younger sister and I in matching outfits. That said, my sister is 8 years younger than me and no 12 year old wants to be dressed the same as their 4 year old sister!

Fast track a couple of decades and here I am dressing my 5 year old and 2 year old daughters in matching outfits. I just can't help myself. With so many cute clothes out there, how do I chose which girl gets to wear my latest find? That's a tough one. When I find an outfit that Ava would like I just know that it's going to look cute on Lola too, and vice versa. I've been finding myself buying two of everything lately; a big one for Ava and a little one for Lola.

Not only do the girls look cute in their matching outfits, they actually want to wear the same clothes as each other. Buying two of everything avoids the inevitable jealousy that comes about when one of the girls gets a new outfit and the other one doesn't, plus they're really easy to spot in the playground when they're dressed alike!

Ok, so the girls don't dress the same everyday but it certainly does make things easier in the morning when trying to pick out clothes for the day.

My favourite brands to dress the girls in? Tea Collection, Mini Boden and American Apparel.

Tea Collection and Mini Boden make the most gorgeous dresses. The simple lines, bold colours, quirky patterns and comfortable fit make their dresses perfect for everyday wear from the school yard and playground to parties and special outings. They're perfect for layering too which is a must for the San Francisco Bay Area where the weather changes at the drop of a hat.

American Apparel is my favourite brand for basics. Both girls have a wardrobe full of American Apparel t-shirts, leggings, cardigans and dresses. The Skater Tank Dress (which you'll see below) is a favourite and we have it in so many colours. I wish they made it in adult sizes!

Enough talk. Pictures speak louder than words so let's see those cute girls in their favourite matching outfits...

Tea Collection Adorable Dots T-Shirt Dress

Laternenfest

Another weekend, another festival...

This weekend we celebrated St Martin's Day with our German friends by attending the Laternenfest at a local German preschool. We drank glühwein, ate würste and, as is the custom on St Martin's Day, the kids joined in a procession with their homemade paper lanterns.

Glowing lanterns - with squished handles!


Lola and I made paper lanterns with her little friends during the week in preparation for the festival. Amid all the paper, paint, glitter, pipe cleaners and dot art markers the kids created a beautiful mess that was turned into lanterns with a few dabs of glue here and a strip of tape there.

Can you believe I forgot to take photos while we were making them?

I did however remember to take photos at the festival on Sunday evening. However, wriggly kids and glowing lanterns at night time don't always make for the best photos so I didn't quite get the shots I would have hoped for but at least you can see how our lanterns turned out.

Ava with our lanterns - waiting for the procession to start

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Sugar Skull Masks for Day of the Dead

This one's a little late, but you know what they say; better late than never...

---

As you know last week we celebrated Halloween. What you may not know is that Halloween wasn't the only celebration of the week. Following right on the heels of Halloween is the Latin American holiday Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead).

Day of the Dead is a day to remember and honour those who have passed away. The holiday is celebrated with candle lit processions and altars dedicated to the deceased. These altars are decorated with (among other things) candles, marigolds and sugar skulls.

In preparation for Day of the Dead, Ava and Lola made sugar skull masks with their friends Rider and Fiona. We used the Sugar Skull Mask Kit from Paper Source which contained pretty much everything we needed. You can find them online here. We added a few glitter pens and stickers (also from Paper Source) to the mix and the kids had a field day decorating their masks.

Ava, Rider and Lola show off their masks 

Mickey Mouse Party Ears

You may have noticed in the photos from Lola's recent Mickey Mouse themed birthday party that many of the children (and a few of the adults) were wearing Mickey Mouse ears. Now it was no coincidence that so many of Lola's guests were decked out like Mickey. We provided ears for them all to wear!

Ta da! Mickey Mouse ears!

I made all of the ears for the birthday party myself. They were quite simple to make and a hit with the kids (both big and little!) so I thought I'd share how I made them.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Time to vote...

It's time to vote!

No, not in the presidential election - or at least not yet.

It's time to vote for Ava and Lola in American Apparel's Halloween Costume Contest.

Both Ava and Lola's costumes for Halloween this year were a combination of pieces from American Apparel and handmade or store bought accessories. Ava's cape, belt, wrist bands and mask were all handmade by me. Lola's Minnie Mouse skirt and tail were made by me while the Minnie Mouse ears were a gift (of Ava's) from Euro Disney. Pretty much everything else came from American Apparel.

Super Ava

Mini Minnie Mouse

Trick or Treat

Halloween is over for another year.

We carved pumpkins, we made costumes, we drew scary pictures, we dressed up, we went in a school parade and, most importantly, we went trick or treating.

Here's a look at our Halloween for 2012.

First up, Ava's school had a parade with all the students and teachers dressed up. Ava was super excited about dressing up in her super hero outfit at school. Lola was super excited to see all the kids in their costumes and was desperate to join in.

Lola joins Ava and her classmates for the parade

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Halloween Cards

This year Ava and I made Halloween cards to send to her friends.

I thought we'd go for a printing technique that I haven't used in a really long time, so rather than printing the cards from our computer I made a linoleum block print from one of Ava's drawing.

We started with Ava's drawing of herself as a vampire from Hotel Transylvania. You can see the original drawing below. I resized it a little in photoshop and then traced over the print out to transfer it onto the linoleum block. Then it was time for the fun part: the carving. Ava was really keen to help out with this part but she had to give it a miss given how sharp the carving tools are and how easy it could be for her to a) cut herself, b) mess up the printing block or c) all of the above.

I hadn't done any linoleum block carving for about 15 years so I was a little concerned that it might take a really long time for me to get through it but in actual fact it was all done within a few hours. Much easier than I had expected and I found it quite a relaxing way to spend an evening.

Carving Pumpkins

It is now officially Halloween!

Ok, so it's 1am and the kids are tucked up fast asleep in bed so there won't be any celebrating Halloween for quite a few hours yet.

I've been meaning to share some of our Halloween preparations here on Little Hiccups but I've been so busy with said preparations that I haven't had the chance. Even as I'm typing this I still have to finish off my costume. Let's hope the sewing machine going in the early hours of the morning doesn't wake the kids in the next room!

So while I take a little break from the sewing machine, let's have a look at the jack-o'lanterns that we carved this year...

One of my jack-o'lanterns

Sunday, 28 October 2012

A Visit to the Fire Station

Earlier this week Lola and her friends went for a little excursion to our local fire station.

As I'm sure most parents will have discovered, the average two year old is absolutely obsessed with fire trucks. It doesn't matter if they're a boy or a girl, they just love fire trucks. There just seems to be something about fire trucks that holds the imagination of most toddlers. Flashing lights and a blaring siren on a big red truck do tend to grab your attention pretty effectively.

Lola and her friends are no exception to this obsession with fire trucks. Every time a one goes past (sirens blaring or not) their little heads turn to watch it go by. Pretty much every day Lola points out a firetruck while exclaiming "Nee naw, nee naw!" with a look of glee on her face. She can spot them coming well before I do. It's as if she's on fire truck alert every time we step out of our apartment!

As you can imagine, the kids were pretty excited to visit the fire station and see the trucks up close. There was a little trepidation at first but they warmed up pretty quickly and had a fun time pretending to drive one of the trucks. I'm so glad that none of the kids accidentally stepped on the siren pedal as they climbed in and out of the driver's seat!

Here's a look at Lola and her friends on their trip to the fire station.

Eden, Lola and Sky: Berkeley's youngest fire fighters!

Thursday, 25 October 2012

One Year in America

Today is the one year anniversary of our arrival in America. I can't believe it's been one whole year already. This time last year the girls and I had just touched down in our new home after 17 odd hours of flying.

It really doesn't feel like we've been here that long especially as there is still something new to experience almost every day. That said, at the same time it kind of feels like we've been here for ever. Isn't it weird how that happens?

To celebrate our first year in America I thought I'd share some photos of our favourite moments, many of which were also firsts: our first Halloween, first Thanksgiving, first wintery Christmas, first Valentine's Day, first trip to Disneyland... Not to mention the milestones like Lola's first steps and Ava starting school. It's amazing how many new things the girls have had the chance to experience since we've been living here.

It was hard to narrow them down, but here are a *few* of my favourite photos from our time in America so far...

Ava loved San Francisco right from the start! Here she is in Union Square when we first arrived.. 

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Fall Harvest Time: Apples

Last Saturday really was a harvest day for us. After spending the morning and early afternoon at Petaluma Pumpkin Patch selecting our Halloween pumpkins we headed a little further north to Twin Hills Ranch, Sebastopol for a little apple picking.  

Ava's bucket of Fujis

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Fall Harvest Time: Pumpkins

Less than 10 days until Halloween so it's time to get cracking with the preparations. The first thing on our list? Carving jack-o'lanterns! But before we can carve said jack-o'lanterns we needed to find the perfect pumpkins for the job.

Last year we arrived in America less than a week before Halloween. By the time we got over our jetlag and were somewhat settled in we had little time to go all out with the Halloween preparations. We made sure to carve jack-o'lanterns, however as we had left it so late we were left with the dregs of the season's pumpkins at our local supermarket. This year I was determined that we wouldn't let that happen again. We decided to get in a little earlier with the pumpkin selection and rather than just walking downstairs to our local Trader Joe's supermarket we hopped in a Zipcar and headed to the countryside. Dotted all around the countryside at this time of year are pumpkin patches. You don't need to travel very far out of an urban area to find them. In fact, there are even pumpkin patches within cities. I thought we'd go for the slightly more authentic option and get out of the city.

So on Saturday we headed to Petaluma, almost an hour north of San Francisco. Here we visited Petaluma Pumpkin Patch for our Fall harvest time fun. We started by selecting our pumpkins: Two medium sized pumpkins, three mini pumpkins and one swan gourd - a gourd that looks like, you guessed it, a swan!

Here's a look at our day of pumpkin fun!

Rolling pumpkins is easier than carrying them when you're little

Friday, 19 October 2012

Mickey Mouse Piñata

For Lola's recent Mickey Mouse themed birthday party I made a piñata - a Mickey Mouse piñata, of course.

Lola has a go at smashing her piñata

I'd made a papier mache piñata in the past but this was my first time making a cardboard piñata. I must say, cardboard piñatas are much easier and less time consuming to make than papier mache piñatas. No worries about balloons popping, no waiting for layers to dry, no layers for that matter! Cardboard piñatas also open up a world of shapes that are just not possible with papier mache and a balloon, for example the traditional donkey shape.

It only took me two evenings to make the cardboard piñata from scratch.

Here's a look at how I made the piñata...

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Lola's 2nd Birthday

It's official... my little baby is no longer a baby. Lola turned 2 yesterday so I guess now she's a fully fledged toddler.

To celebrate Lola's birthday we had a little party on Sunday up on our roof deck. After a foggy, grey start to the morning the sun eventually came out and we ended up with a glorious sunny day. Good friends, lovely weather, lots of sugar... what more could a 2 year old want?

Lola has been a little obsessed with Mickey Mouse since our trip to Disneyland last month so it was pretty easy to pick a theme for her party. Mickey Mouse ears everywhere! On the cake, the cookies, the cheese platter, the piñata, the guests...

Here's a little look at Lola's special day.

Stay tuned for a few detailed posts about some of the Mickey Mouse goodies I prepared for the day...

Mickey Mouse birthday cake. 

My little Mouseketeers!

Saturday, 13 October 2012

It's almost birthday time again...

I can hardly believe that my little baby is going to be 2 years old in just a few days. I know it's a cliche, but the time really has just flown by.

I've spent the last week working on preparations for Lola's birthday party which we'll be having this Sunday. She's been a *little* obsessed with Mickey Mouse since our trip to Disneyland so we're throwing a Mickey Mouse themed party for her. Mickey Mouse cookies, Mickey Mouse piñata, Mickey Mouse party hats, Mickey Mouse cupcakes... All handmade, of course. The list goes on and on. I'll have lots of Mickey Mouse party goodness to share soon but in the meantime I think a look back at Lola's first year is in order.

Throughout Lola's first year I celebrated the milestone of each "month birthday" by taking a photo of her with her age spelled out with foam letters; i.e. "I am 1 month old", "I am 2 months old" etc...
I was originally inspired by this post on the Famille Summerbelle blog. I loved the idea of taking the same photo of Lola each month as she grew. Of course, babies aren't always willing participants in photo shoots - especially as they get older - so the results are quite varied throughout the photos. In the earlier photos Lola was pretty placid and happy to just lay there while I snapped away with the camera. Once she reached 5 months she wouldn't lay down for the photos so she sat for the monthly photo from then on. From 7 months onwards she wouldn't leave the letters and numbers in place. On one occasion this resulted in me putting them back in the wrong order, not noticing my spelling mistake until I'd posted the photo on Facebook! There were months when Lola needed a toy or snack to keep her still. There were months when she just cried during the whole photo shoot. Posing for Mummy can be hard work!

So here they are. A year of monthly photos chronicling Lola's growth (and gradual change from brunette to blonde!) through her first year.



Friday, 5 October 2012

Blog Inc. book launch

Last night I attended the launch party for a book by one of my favourite bloggers. 

Joy Deangdeelert Cho of the blog Oh Joy! has recently released the wonderful book Blog Inc. which I am currently reading. If you're thinking of starting a blog, or currently have a blog and are looking to grow it, I say get your hands on a copy of Blog Inc. right... NOW!


Blog Inc.

The launch party of Blog Inc. was held at one of my favourite home wares stores West Elm in nearby Emeryville. The launch party was just as pretty as Joy's blog. Gorgeous paper creations by the super talented paper artist Chloé Fleury were featured throughout from the book display, to the book signing table and fun photo booth. You really must check out Chloé's website. Her work is just amazing. Anyway, back to the launch party...

Lola is almost 2...

Can you believe it? My little baby is almost 2 years old. In just 10 days it will be her birthday. I guess she's not a baby anymore.

To celebrate Lola's 2nd birthday we will be having a little party with some of her friends.
The theme of Lola's party? Her new obsession: Mickey Mouse.

Here's a look at the invitation for Lola's birthday party...

One happy little Mouseketeer

Lola's invitation 


Thanks to big sister Ava for the beautiful drawing of Lola the Mouseketeer!

Friday, 28 September 2012

Road Trip California

After our recent visit to Disneyland we took a road trip along the beautiful Californian coast back to San Francisco.

Here's a little look at some of the sights along the way.

We started our road trip in Carpinteria, near Santa Barbara. We had driven there the night before to avoid Los Angeles peak hour on a Monday morning. After a delicious bagel breakfast in Carpinteria we headed to the beach at Santa Barbara where we spent a short while splashing about in the waves. The girls, Ava in particular, were super excited to spend some time at the beach. Back home in Australia we would go to the beach quite regularly however here in San Francisco the beaches are just a little cold so we've only been once or twice.

Two excited kids

The Happiest Place on Earth - Day 2

Here it is... day two of our Disneyland adventure.

Now if we thought it was hot on day one we were in for a big surprise. It was even hotter on day two and even though us Aussies should be able to cope with the heat not experiencing any for over a year has messed us around. It probably got to about 34c on day two which we would easily have been able to cope with back home but seeing as our San Francisco Summer weather barely gets above 25c we really struggled. Poor Lola in particular looked like she was about to melt half the time.

To escape a little of the heat (and to get into Disneyland a little faster) we decided to catch the Monorail from Downtown Disney to Tomorrowland. After the eventful ride on Big Thunder Railroad the day before Ava was a little wary about catching the monorail. She was pleasantly surprised to discover that it really was just like a small train and that we hadn't tricked her again!

Once we were inside Disneyland the girls were eager to head straight back to It's a Small World for a second go. Given the heat we were happy to go along with this and buckled ourselves into the boat for another 15 minutes of nauseating (but air-conditioned!) cheesiness!

Pretty excited for round two of It's a Small World

The Happiest Place on Earth - Day 1

Ok, so I've been a little slack with posting lately. So, so much going on over the last month. I think it's about time I catch up with a look at one of the reasons I've gotten behind in the first place.

So prepare for a total onslaught of photos...

Here it is...

Our trip to DISNEYLAND!!!

Ava had been looking forward to visiting Disneyland since well before we made our move to the States. In an effort to help her get excited about our move we'd told her than we'd be living in the same state as Disneyland. Ok, so we're at the other end of the state but compared to Australia San Francisco is pretty close to the home of Mickey Mouse. Knowing that Mickey and his friends were only a half day's drive away, Ava would ask almost on a weekly basis when we'd finally make it to Disneyland. Well, that day finally came a few weekends back when we made the trip down to sunny Anaheim to meet up with my sister, Kylie, who was on holiday in America. Disneyland AND seeing Aunty Kylie? I think all of Ava's dreams came true in one go!


Day 1

Where to start about Disneyland? There's just so much to see and do that it's hard to work out what to do first. Ava had made a short list of "must do" rides that was pretty much all located within Fantasyland so that made for a good place to start. Of course, getting to Fantasyland took an awfully long time as we were greeted with friendly Disney characters and photo opportunities at every turn! Lola had been a little (ok, a LOT) grizzly when we first arrived at Disneyland but that all turned around when she spotted Pluto. In the past she's been very apprehensive about meeting life size characters but she took to Pluto (and every other Disney character she met) straight away. It's amazing the transformation that cuddly pup brought about!

Hooray for Pluto!

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Roadworks Festival 2012

It's been a busy few weeks here at Little Hiccups with a big road trip, visits from family and friends and a quick European vacation. More on all of that later. In the meantime I thought I'd share an event that we attended this weekend here in San Francisco.

Each year the San Francisco Center for the Book holds their annual Roadworks Festival. The major drawcard of this festival is the steam roller produced linoleum block prints. Last year we missed out on attending the Roadworks Festival as it was held a few weeks before our arrival in the states. I was pretty excited that we could make it this year.

One of my favourite prints from the day by Mike Kimball

The kids loved watching the steam roller roll over the lino block, paper and padding. The results were amazing producing some spectacular prints - all of which are available to purchase for $500.00. Now if only I had a spare wall and a spare wad of cash...

Here's a look at the steam roller printing in action.

Setting up the lino block and paper for printing

Ready to roll

Rolling, rolling, rolling

Lifting off the print

Perfect!

Cleaning up one of the lino blocks

As well as the steam roller printing there were plenty of activities to keep us busy. Ava in particular was keen to try out all sorts of printing and book crafts.

Ava's first project (and the one she was most excited about) was making her own little note book. She started by printing an image on the cover using a table top printing press...

Ava prints an image onto the cover of her note book

Cover printed

Then it was time to bind the pages and cover together using a simple stitch technique...

Ava stitches her book together

All bound together

Once Ava's book was bound together she printed a design inside using a lino block.

Ava rolls out the ink

Rolling the ink onto the lino block

Here comes the print

Voila!

Next up Ava made badges for Lola and herself. She chose images from a magazine and squeezed them together with the badge components in the badge press. The lady helping Ava was surprised that she could work the press all on her own. Ava was pretty pleased with herself about this! She's very strong, you know ;)

Ready to squeeze the badge parts together

Use those muscles!

Next up was fruit and vegetable printing courtesy of Whole Foods supermarket. Ava printed with celery, capsicum, apples and lemons to create a brightly coloured lunch bag. Ava was a pro at printing with fruit and vegetables given her previous experience with this crafty project.

Printing with capsicum

Printing with celery

One of a kind printed lunch bag 

The last craft project that Ava worked on was a print on the Vandercook press. This is similar to the press that I used when I did my letterpress workshop earlier in the year.

Crimping the paper in place

Starting to move the roller

It's pretty heavy!

Another successful print

We had a lovely afternoon in the sun watching the printing and taking part in the activities. The festival featured plenty of stalls from local artists and designers and I had to try my very hardest not to buy almost everything I saw. San Francisco boasts so many wonderful, talented artists. I'd love to be able to purchase one of the prints produced on the day. Oh how special that would be!

Mike Kimball's steam roller print features the shipping cranes synonymous with Oakland's waterfront 

Steam roller prints by Anna Branning, Caitlin Mattisson and  Rik Olson


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...