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Monday 30 April 2012

The Fantastic Undersea Life of Jacques Cousteau

To coincide with my post about our trip to Monterey Bay Aquarium I thought I'd share a book that I recently found at our local library.

I was drawn to The Fantastic Undersea Life of Jacques Cousteau by Dan Yaccarino by the simple, retro inspired style of the cover illustration. Knowing that Ava loves everything undersea I figured that she'd be interested in learning about one of the oceans' most important ambassadors.

Monterey Bay Aquarium

My list of places to take the kids in the Bay Area has some pretty cool destinations on it: farms, museums, playgrounds, galleries... There is one place on the list however that we anticipated visiting more than anywhere else; Monterey Bay Aquarium.

From a young age Ava has been enthralled by anything to do with life under the sea. When she was two years old we visited Underwater World in Queensland and instantly she was hooked on anything and everything fishy.

During Ava's recent Spring Break we took a trip down south to beautiful seaside Monterey. The big drawcard there being the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Monterey Bay Aquarium from one of the viewing decks

Friday 13 April 2012

Pickle Party Beans

Ava's teacher has a birthday coming up soon.

Ava's teacher loves pickles.

Ava's teacher love Jelly Belly jelly beans.

Hmm... if only Jelly Belly made a pickle flavour!

Seeing as they don't we thought we'd make our own "Pickle Party Beans".

Ava drew a fantastic picture of dancing pickles, as you do, and I tracked down the most "pickly" looking jelly beans I could find. We put them together and voila! One pack of "Teacher Meri's Pickle Party Beans".

Pickle perfect!

Party like a pickle? Just how does a pickle party?

Monday 9 April 2012

Easter Tattoos

"Easter tattoos?" I hear you say.

That's right. Easter tattoos.

And not just any old Easter tattoos. Easter tattoos from the fabulous Tattly, makers of the finest temporary tattoos there are.

Tattly are always releasing new and wonderful contemporary designs. I've raved about them here before. Recently they happened to have released a bunch of bunny tattoos, perfect for Easter. And to make these bunny tattoos even more perfect for Easter, the fine folk at Tattly made their bunny tattoos available in sets of twelve - in a carton of eggs! Perfect.

I couldn't resist purchasing a set of these tattoos for my girls for Easter when I saw them. I'm so glad I did. They went down a treat. The whole family was decked out in bunny tattoos today for Easter.

Ava wears Funny Bunny and Red Kicks on her arms

Lola points out Good Bunny - a little blurry, I know...

Red Kicks out for an egg hunt

Funny Bunny helps carry the egg basket

Is that Funny Bunny I see poking out of Daddy's collar?

Why, yes it is!

All decked out in bunny tatts with Freckles Bunny on her face :)  

Nerdy Bunny helps Lola find eggs

Good Bunny helps Lola carry eggs

Red Kicks hides along my side

Hot Cross Buns

This year there were no store bought hot cross buns in our house. 

Every hot cross bun that we ate at home was made by Ava and I.

Ava pipes on the crosses
Now this wasn't necessarily because our home made hot cross buns are fantastic (which they were, if I do say so myself) but rather due to the fact that we couldn't buy hot cross buns anywhere.

Be very, very quiet... We're hunting Easter Eggs!

It's Easter Sunday! Time to hunt for eggs!

Back home in Australia we always hunt for chocolate eggs. The Easter Bunny hides them in our backyard and we search for them as early as possible before the sun turns them into a runny, chocolatey mess! Here in America where foil covered chocolate eggs just aren't as common kids search for real eggs, albeit brightly coloured ones!

Ava and I coloured eggs ready for our hunt on Saturday afternoon. It was loads of fun and a new creative activity for us to do together. You can read about it here.

Now, as we share our outdoor spaces with lots of other people the Easter Bunny was unable to hide our eggs when he visited over night. He was a little worried that other children in the building might find them first. So instead it was up to me to hide the eggs in our shared courtyard garden after breakfast. Our garden turned out to be perfect for an Easter egg hunt. Enough plants and rocks to hide eggs behind, but not too big or over grown for the eggs to go missing in.

Colourful eggs hide in the garden

Rainbow Eggs

This year Ava and I coloured eggs for an Easter egg hunt on Easter Sunday. Back home we always have an Easter egg hunt with chocolate Easter eggs. As chocolate Easter eggs are scarce around these parts we decided to go the American way and hunt for real eggs - dyed in unreal colours!

Colourful eggs with butterflies from Hello Hanna

Sparkly Easter Bunny Footprints

Every year when the Easter Bunny visits our home he leaves a trail of footprints. Sometimes these footprints are made with kids' finger paints and other times with chalk. This was the first time that the Easter Bunny has visited us in a) a rental property, and b) a house with carpet, so a new footprint method was required. Something non-staining and easy to remove was required. 

A while back on Pinterest I spotted an idea for Santa footprints made from baking soda and glitter. This idea sounded perfect for the Easter Bunny - and it was!  The result was quite effective with just the right amount of magic sparkle. 

Sparkly Easter Bunny footprints lead to the girls' Easter goodies

Here's how the Easter Bunny left his footprints...

Sunday 8 April 2012

Happy Easter 2012!

It's Easter again - our first in America.

This year Easter hasn't felt as much like a big deal. Not because we are away from friends and family, but because Easter just doesn't seem to be that big a deal in America. Quite strange considering how religious much of the country is.

Unlike in Australia, Easter is not a four day weekend for everyone. Some companies choose to give their staff the day off for Good Friday (or Passover) but there's no such thing as Easter Monday. Store trading hours over the weekend pretty much remain as per usual. Some stores are closed on Easter Sunday, or they may have reduced hours for the day but other than that it's just like any other day. One plus of this is that, unlike at home, one can actually buy alcohol on Good Friday. No outdated rules here about that one!

The lead up to Easter has also been much more subdued here in America. In Australia Easter eggs and hot cross buns hit the stores as soon as the Christmas decorations come down. Here the stores wait until early Spring before the Easter goodies hit. I guess this is due to Valentine's Day falling between Christmas and Easter. And even once the Easter goodies and window displays appear it's nothing like the "EGGstravaganza" that we get at home. First of all, Easter eggs as we know them don't really exist in America. There are indeed chocolate eggs but they are mostly the small bite size variety, either solid or filled with caramel or peanut butter. The Easter Bunny was not able to find any hollow foil covered eggs here in Berkeley. I've been assured by a few locals that they do exist but I certainly didn't see any in my travels. The favoured Easter treat here seem to be Peeps - neon coloured marshmallow creatures on a stick. Blergh to that, I say :)

Like Easter eggs, hot cross buns are a rarity here. I've found one bakery selling individual hot cross buns but they just weren't the real thing. The hot cross buns in question were more like a finger bun in disguise. The cross was even made out of icing! Sure they were delicious but not what I want for Easter. Especially not for breakfast! I ended up making my own hot cross buns which were delicious and a fun activity for Ava and I during her Spring break from preschool.

Home made hot cross buns

Friday 6 April 2012

A European Holiday... without leaving Berkeley!

My parents have recently taken off on the trip of a lifetime around Europe and the UK.

While Mamma and Papa, as the girls call them, make their way around Europe we will be playing along at home.

I have made up a special map to trace Mamma and Papa's footsteps around the continent. Like most things I make for the girls, this map has been made in collaboration with Ava. I provide the technical skills (using a computer, laminator and scissors!) and she provides the artistic touches.

Where are Mamma & Papa today? Let's check the map...

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