showcase demo picture

Articles from: December 2011

Update to the Best Toys Guide

Happy Holidays!  I hope you all had a loving holiday filled with family and friends.

So, Santa brought us a Guess Who by Hasbro.  What fun!  Turns out Grandma and Grandpa bought one for the house, my aunt bought one for her house for the grandkids.  Cousins bought the game.  The list goes on.  We bought the version that comes with two sheets – one people and one animals.  We can then go online and download more sheets to print ourselves.  How fun is that?

We have played this game way too many times to count since Christmas day.  We play it almost every day.  This of course got me thinking of numerous other versions that currently only exist in my head.  I am working on a template where you can download your own clip art, photos or whatever you want so the “characters” would be endless!  The only thing holding you back is your imagination and your printer!  I will post as soon as we get it worked out.

We have been having so much fun with our Crayola Crayon Maker!

pouring the melted crayons into the molds

We made custom crayons for all the kids in the family as a present to them.  How cool is that?  I cannot stress how much fun this thing is and fairly easy.  The worst part is cleaning out the metal tray.  I have a wooden stick I used for my cuticles that works like a charm because of the flat end.  I get the dried, melted wax off with that and it’s on to the next color combination.  We advise using numerous smaller pieces of contrasting colors, rather than longer pieces.  Doing so will lend you a more marbled, tie dye look.  Tres Chic!

crayons starting to melt

Here are pics of each part of the process.

Start to finish takes about 20 minutes if I remember correctly.  The longest time is the cooling period, in which you cannot open the lid to remove your newly formed crayons.  This is obviously for safety reasons so that nobody burns themselves and then whines that they managed to burn themselves on a toy.

Crayons cooling in their molds

Holiday Time Savers

I think I speak for most everyone when I say, Christmas cards are adorable.  I love getting them in the mail.  It makes it seem more like the holiday season has arrived when I open my mailbox and there are bright, festive cards from loved ones inside, right?  Years ago, I was really on top of things and even managed to hand deliver my cards on Thanksgiving to my family.

This both impressed them (Kelly, I don’t know how you do it!) and delighted me as I saved a small fortune only having to mail to friends.  As the years passed, and apparently so did my focus, I found cards to be such a hassle!  I had long since given up on getting the kids’ pictures taken professionally as this generally ended in tears and frustration.  I would snap pictures through out the year and generally took a great picture of them that I would send as our Christmas card.  Pretty brilliant, right?

Well, yes.  IF they get out in time to be delivered before the holidays.  The last couple of years I decided that if they get it by the 24th, I am doing good.  But I always longed for the more organized, timely me of years past.  Reminiscent of the Ghost of Christmas past, I was doomed to repeat my current, lame ways unless I put forth some effort.

Years back, I was organized.  I mean really organized.  I had a packing checklist that I developed after countless trips home where I forgot something, or sometimes numerous things.  Along these lines, I typed everyone’s addresses into a label document so all I had to do was print them out, slap them on the cards and voila! my cards were ready to be sent out in no time flat.

I even had adorable clipart that I aligned so it would print on the labels.  First, you printed the sheet with the clip art; next you printed the formatted addresses on the same sheet.  I even had my own Christmas labels for return address labels.  I tried to take the stress out of a nice holiday tradition.

I panicked this year, when I realized all of my addresses were gone!  I looked everywhere in the computer and sure enough, I still had my address labels and the clip art, but none of my friends or family’s addresses.  I buckled down and retyped them, saving them for next year.

I suggest you do the same to save yourself some hassle in the coming year.  Now that I have them saved, as I get new addresses, or someone moves, I simply go into my document and either edit or add the address, save and I’m good to go!  As I receive new cards I quickly add those addresses into my document.  Here are customizable christmas labels for the clip art if you are interested.  I know it’s a lot in the beginning, but it saves so much time in the future!  It really is worth its weight in time.  This also lets you know exactly how many cards you need so you don’t have to guesstimate and inadvertently leave someone out!

Let me know if you have any holiday time savers.  Goodness knows we can all use some!

My Best Toys Gift Guide

In honor of the holiday season, I am sharing some of the best presents we have experienced in our household.  These are our experience or opinions, as my daughter’s birthday is in November.  I hope this list gives you some good ideas in case you are having a difficult time deciding this year.

My kids are art fiends, so when we saw the Crayola Crayon Maker at the store, we knew it was a must have.  I also thought this would probably be one of those hard to find gifts, so I got this in early November.  My daughter got this for her birthday, so we have already played with it.  How awesome!  You put in your bits and pieces of crayons and presto, change-o you get brand new swirly crayons.  Coolest present ever!  Seriously though, this is a must have for the art lover on your list!

Another winner is the Lego Master’s Builder Academy.  We recently went to a Lego KidsFest, where the kids got to go to a session with a Lego Master Builder.  While at this session, we learned more about this cool set that .  It comes with a detailed design book with diagrams and building tips to build a model.  It also has an exclusive Minifig, which is sought after by collectors.  Kits 2-6 are available for purchase to build upon the skills learned in the last kit.

We have a lot of techies in our household.  One of the games I was impressed with is Scribblenauts.  This really innovative game is a unique puzzle/action-platforming game for Nintendo DS/DSi in which solutions to challenges faced in-game literally take shape out of the words and phrases that the player spells out.

Another game we love in our house is Little Big Planet 2.  This game allows the gamer to create scenarios that can be shared with friends and rated.  More importantly is the creativity of this game.  The adorable sackboy is the main character that can be individualized and saved.  This game is an adventure, a creative joy and won the Game of the Year for the original Little Big Planet.

A classic game that is hours of fun is Guess Who by Hasbro.  At Thanksgiving this year, we re-discovered this classic and had some amazing family memories.  I highly recommend this classic.  They have the original version, electronic versions, and even travel versions.  This game is sure to make game night a hit in your house too!

Please let me know what toys made your nice list this year.