Gift Guide : Games for Preschoolers

Today we’re sharing some of our favorite games for preschoolers. I’m on a mission to start family or family+friends game nights in our house. It hasn’t happened yet, mainly because I’m (almost) all talk and no game (hah!). I haven’t invited anyone over, and I haven’t opened an adult game box in years. But behind the scenes, I’m cultivating a few young game-lovers and am slowly building my game-night momentum.

With a 4yo and 2yo in the house, we’re still slightly new to the kids’ game section. Fortunately, I think we’ve already found some great ones. Sometimes we play in the evenings as a family, and I love the together time. But the mom in me also loves that playing games can be used to reinforce other skills that they’re learning. Read on to see what I’m talking about.

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This guide contains a few games that we’ve played and liked. If you’re looking for a last-minute gift for a 3-5 yo, I really don’t think you can go wrong with anything on our list. A few are card games, making them perfect stocking stuffers.

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Welcome December

Near the beginning of each month we like to pause and take a look at what’s going on in the world around us. Over time, these posts have transformed into a little op-ed about what’s going on with us each month.

We’re only five days into December, and I feel like it’s been here for ever. It must be the Christmas invasion.

December can create such a mix of emotions in us. There’s the obvious joy and celebration of the holidays, but there’s also the hustle and bustle leading up to Christmas and New Years. There’s the cozy feeling of evenings in front of the fire, but also the pent up energy and angst from short days and not enough time spent outside.

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Just reading that probably gave someone the shivers. Sorry.

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Gift Guide : Play Kitchen

We’re sharing a variety of themed gift guides this year. Check out Dinos in the KitchenHeard You Like Cats, Ice & Drink Pairings, and DIY Edible Gifts.

**Quick note – all of the items below include an additional 15% off coupon on Amazon, but we’re not sure how long it will last.**

Last Christmas the boys received a play kitchen, and it’s become one of the most-used toys in the house.

Kitchens are such a great toy for creative and make-believe play. Sometimes our boys are making us coffee and toast for breakfast. Other times they are serving me ice cream cones for an afternoon treat or acting as waiters and chefs in their own restaurant.
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I love big ticket toys like this kitchen because it’s a themed toy that you can slowly can add to over time. For us, this meant buying a few items to play with Christmas morning, and then letting our family give them additional kitchen elements on Christmas and again at their birthday.

The slow giving method is also a great plan if you’re not sure about how much your kiddos will love the big toy. For us, the kitchen’s a winner, and we’ve been happy to buy them quality items for it.

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Below is a list of the exact items in our play kitchen with info about why we like them. *Notice that our list contains more items than are pictured above. It’s all so good!

  • kitchen (pictured above) : this retro blue kitchen is the exact one we have. We picked it because of looks and also because it seemed to have slightly more storage than others (key for all of the awesome accessories below!). The one downside to this kitchen is that it comes with a million pieces and takes a billion hours to put together. Keep that in mind when on Christmas Eve and pour yourself a big glass of eggnog before starting.
  • broom & mop set (pictured above) : the boys love this set and use it often. Almost never for cleaning, but always for sweeping out the marbles that roll under the couch. Patting myself on the back for encouraging them to be self-reliant.
  • cut-apart fruit (pictured above) : our boys love cutting apart this fruit. We also have this cut-apart food set.
  • espresso machine (pictured above) : if your kids love to help make your morning coffee, then they will love this! And you’ll always be caffeinated.
  • mixer (pictured above) : so cute and comes with a few cake-baking accessories. Our kids are always mixing up mini dinos. #boys
  • toaster (pictured above) : comes with bread and butter. A complete meal!
  • ice cream (not pictured) : BUY THESE! Even if you don’t buy the kitchen, this set is so much fun. They ice cream, spoons, and cones are magnetic, creating a bit of magical fun and driving the kids crazy as the ice cream tumbles when they try to make a four-scoop cone.
  • cookies (not pictured) : so cute and creative. The only bummer is that the tray is too long to fit in the oven (they’re different brands). Our boys don’t seem to mind, but some might.
  • canned food (not pictured) : a great food filler for the fridge, and all of the cardboard cans can be opened again and again, letting them do double duty as little storage containers.
  • tea set (not pictured) : comes with cups, wooden tea bags, kettle, etc.
  • pots & pans (not pictured ) : all metal and awesome
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Gift Guide : Ice Cubes

We’re sharing a variety of themed gift guides this year. Check out Dinos in the Kitchen, Heard You Like Cats, and DIY Edible Gifts.

 

I know, who gives ice? We don’t.

BUT we do like a clever ice cube in our drinks, and so, we have a few ice cube tray + drink pairings that are perfect for that last minute gift or that dad mom that really doesn’t need anything other than a good drink.
ice_cubesice shot glass : perfect for your nephew going off to college. You are the cool uncle after all. Maybe don’t include the alcohol with this gift. Just get some gatorade for the morning after.

buddha : looks wise sitting in a good whisky

gin and titonic : Why don’t I own these yet? Pair it with a good gin, obvs.

polar bear and penguins : pair them with Kahlua because these would look awesome floating on a White Russian.

diamonds : champagne with the suggestion to make OJ ice cubes for a classy mimosa

The awesome thing about many of these molds is that they could easily do double-duty for someone that likes to experiment in the kitchen. Imagine juice-colored jewels for a summer day, chocolate shot glasses filled with a dessert, chocolate buddhas with gold leaf… talking myself into a few trays right now.

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Gift Guide : Cats

This year we’re doing a few gift guides that blur the line between whimsical and practical. See our Dinos in the Kitchen guide for further evidence. But if prefer making over buying, check out our ideas for edible gifts.

Do you know someone who likes cats? We do. (like ’em and know ’em)

You know how when you know that someone likes a “thing” then sometimes whenever you see something with that “thing”, then you have the urge to get it for them? Hold back.

But just a little, because if that “thing” is cats, then we have a few gifts that are totally worth giving this year.

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cat umbrella : because sometimes it’s raining cats and dogs!

candle : this thing burns down to unveil a metal cat skeleton… not sure if you’re supposed to buy it for the cat lovers or haters?

cat ring : subtle bling

mug : perfect for so many reasons.

paperclips : a stocking stuffer that will make them smile when they return to that boring cubicle

I’m proud of this list because we tried to go for some of the more tasteful cat gifts out there. We spared you guys the cat sweaters (for your cat, not you, silly), but can’t make any promises about what’ll happen next year.

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Weekend Lake Essentials

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Happy {almost} weekend! I’m packing up for a friend’s birthday celebration. A bunch of gals are headed to a lake house in Pennsylvania for a few days. Besides Cash the dog, here’s what I’m taking:

Whenever I go on a road trip, I make sure to pack a cooler full of snacks. A couple years ago, I started using ice packs instead of plain old ice and holy sh!t my life is easier. No more soggy snacks or watered down condiments. I know you know what I’m talking about.

Lake hangs must involve a boat or a raft. This year I’ll be lounging on pineapple fruit float while I sip cocktails out of my drink bottle, supplemented by tons of water from the camelbak of course. A friends gifted me the RTIC drink bottle a few months ago and I’m in love. It stays icy all day even during the Carolina summer. The widemouth stainless steel is easy to clean too. I can switch from cold brew coffee to agua fresca without noticing any unwanted leftover flavors. This weekend, I’ll be sippin’ on Pimm’s Cups and my take on a Moscow Mule.

Drinking on a float in the middle of the lake requires some serious sun protection. I just bought these Sunski glasses and here’s the recipe for our mineral-based sunscreen. A hat wouldn’t hurt either.

Even writing about day drinking has me ready for a nap. I love these huge fluffy beach towels. They’re large enough to lay on and curl up with. If you’re down to hang, here’s my exact hammock at the best straps money can buy. Don’t forget a favorite book to pretend to read before dozing off.

Now I’m off to clean my car and buy some groceries. I plan on making a couple different batches of veggie burgers and letting that bowl of goodness inspire my shopping list. Our sister, Kristin, made that creation. Here’s the recipe for the kale and pine nut salad.  Kristin is also the one who turned me onto this veggie burger book, which I’ve used for over five years! She’s always placing something delicious in front of me. Hope you find some chill in your weekend. xo

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Sarah’s Favorite Wilderness Reads

It seems like Kate and her crew have been camping all year long. While I’m sure there’s not much time in her van to open up a good book, that’s all I do when I camp with Ca$h. Here are a few of my favorite woodsy wilderness reads for all your camping outtings this summer. I linked to the paperback versions, so pull out your headlamp and start flippin’ pages.

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Mycophilia: Revalations from the Weird World of Mushrooms – This is the type of book where you read a few pages and then run into the next room to tell someone else all the cool things you just learned. Mycophilia is a beautifull written first person narrative of the fungi world. Author Eugenia Bone meets masters of the mushroom sphere as she discovers and researches all type of uses from scientific to culinary. If you have any interest in mushrooms, I highly recommend this informative read.

John Muir – any of his essays or journals – I actually recommend Muir’s writings as a way to fall asleep and here I’m recommending it as inspiration for your own nature journals and writings. Reading about Muir’s adventures will have you sitting in your cozy camp chair in admiration as he details his romps in the wilderness with nothing more than a heel of bread and an army blanket.

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail – Made famous because of the movie, Wild, is a first person account of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail completely unprepared. These types of accounts encourage me to just do it. Stop the research and prep, go for it and see what happens. I enjoyed both the movie and the book – in that order too.

A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail – Bill Bryson’s account of the Appaliachian trail blends his witty walk in the woods with the history of the wilderness and suggestions for how we can conserve our wild lands. As someone who is itching to walk the AT, I love reading about others’ experiences with the trail.

Into the Wild – You probably know the story, but have you read the book? Into the Wild is one of those stories that has always stayed with me because I see so many similarities between myself and the main character, Chris McCandless. I also noticed the public’s split opinion, some feeling bad for Chris, while other’s did not and were almost angry with him because he was in the wilderness messing around. I find it interesting that any of us, even the most prepared, think that we’re capable of mastering mother nature. He did the best he could. RIP Chris.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values – This book. I need to come clean here.. by the time I finished this book, I absolutely hated it. I was treking at high altitude and ripping out pages and burning them when I was finished. I was so over it. Cut to today and I’ve realized many, many times that Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance has had an enormous impact on how I view quality (a term that pops up at least 3,000 times in this book) and work. Believe it or not, I just ordered it again so I can read it with appreciation this time.

That’s that! My very favorite books to read outdoors. A perfect mix of inspiration and admiration lie within these pages. Don’t have any camping plans coming up? No problem, I’m in the habbit of turning off all my lights, opening the windows (to let the sounds of insects in) and reading by headlamp. At my little hut here in Chapel Hill, I feel like I’m in a tent in the middle of the woods 🙂

 

 

 

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First Bikes for Kids

There’s no doubt about it, we are a biking family. Did you see our recent ride in Rocky Mountain National Park (that was my Mother’s Day treat, and I couldn’t have been happier!)?

Calder’s the intense guy you’ve passed in your car; the one riding up the steepest of mountains and making it look like it’s no effort at all. In my heyday, I biked all of Philly & Boston and was so proud when my car would sit unused for a week at a time.Thanks to the generosity of my mom, we were early adopters of the TAGA. When we moved to Boulder, C added an extra basket so that I could do all of my grocery shopping and errands via the bike. I have such fond memories of getting to know our new city by riding the bike paths with Alex! I would still bike everywhere if I could, but kids and living on the mountain make it a challenge. Continue reading

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Top Five Travel Snacks

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A whole post dedicated to snacks. Silly? NOPE! I’ve done it before besides, I’m the grumpiest grump when I’m hungry, not only that, but I’m pretty much incapable of any sound thinking let alone making a decision so snacks are important. We need to talk about them. I conferred with my buddy Erin, who joined me in Thailand this past March, and we agreed on our favorite travel snacks. Erin showed up in Bangkok with a child’s daypack stuffed with snacks and teabags. I immediately gave her the props she deserved then we talked {snack} shop.

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