Choo Choo Mekai is Two!

Birthday parties for children are always so magical. However, they can be bittersweet because that means your baby is growing up. My “baby” turns 19 in September and is just finishing up his first year in college. Please tell me where time went. I feel like it was just yesterday we were having his 2nd birthday party and now he is all grown up. Oh how I long for those days when he would sit on my lap and watch Thomas the Train. Sigh…

Well now I get to celebrate this little one’s birthday instead. This train themed party could not have been any cuter. My niece is talented. No, make that incredibly talented. Not only is she an amazing photographer, but she is also a fabulous graphic design artist who works for Minute Man Press. 

Check out all of the adorable ideas below. 

Isn’t this idea sweet? My niece took a snapshot of all of Mekai’s favorites and other facts about him then created this fun display. 

“Two Two” Mekai is Two! These themed napkins were purchased on Amazon.

“Baggage Claim” This is where guests dropped off Mekai’s gifts and also picked up a thank- you treat bag. “Chugga Chugga Thank Choo” These themed conductor hats and Thomas the Train whistles were purchased on Amazon as well. 

Mekai’s mom, Lindsey, made this train out of cardboard boxes. 

The “Water Tower” and “Diesel Fuel” area were where guests picked up drinks. 

A simple Chick-fil-A tray was turned into a plate of “Coal.” 

These peppers where hollowed out to form “Produce Carts” that sat on a real plastic track. The wheels are made out of cucumber slices and held on by toothpicks. 

The traffic lights are pretzel rods dipped in chocolate and topped with M&M candies. 

The cupcakes were purchased at Wegman’s and my niece made the cupcake toppers. Similar toppers can be purchased off of Amazon here!

I think these two pictures speak for themselves. Mekai has to be one of the most precious babies I have ever seen! Carley designed the shirt, but similar ones can be purchased off of Amazon here!

Children are made great readers in the laps of their parents. Can you tell I am a teacher? I just love books and Scholastic has some great books. 

A Totally Awesome Gift!

About this time last year one of my colleagues told me that she was moving. Her husband was getting transferred to North Carolina. She contemplated letting him go by himself and commuting back and forth to see him on the weekends, but after doing that a few times she quickly realized by his side is where she was meant to be. I was crushed. Who would make me laugh each day? Who would listen to me when I needed to vent? Who would always be there with a Bai drink and homemade Chicken Gnocchi soup? Who would eat Lay’s potato chips with me at 8 AM? (Don’t judge)  Who would sit with me at recess? All these questions and more were running through my mind. Don’t get me wrong the other teachers on my team are fabulous and equally as special to me, but Pam understood me like nobody else. She had also become a dear friend and someone I knew I would stay in touch with forever.

Fast forward to August 24th and the start of a new school year. My principal said I would be mentoring the “new girl” on the team. Well let me tell you y’all it just took me 2 minutes to realize Adrienne was something special. She is one of those people who always has a smile on her face and something positive to say. We instantly hit it off and I knew the year was going to be fine.

Adrienne recently gave me this thank you gift for being her mentor. It was just so darn cute and clever that I just had to share it with you. Let’s just say it made my heart smile. She started with the tote bag, which she left by my classroom door, and then throughout the day she had her students bring me a surprise and place it in the tote. I just love the play on words and Target is one of my favorite stores. Oh Adrienne, you know me so well!

This gift could easily be adapted to fit any occasion. Have any of you ever received or given a similar gift? If so, I would love for you to share it with us below!

A Little Bit of Sweet and a Little Bit of Salty

Several years back my friend Terry and I would go to Slippery Rock, PA twice a year to scrapbook. We would scrapbook the entire weekend from about noon on Friday to about noon on Sunday. Yes, we would have 48 hours of uninterrupted time… no children, no husbands, just a room filled with happy women scrapbooking. Terry and her sister Chris were the masterminds behind these fun weekends. We stayed at various church camps in facilities set up similar to a college dorm. During these weekends we scrapbooked our family memories, made new friends, sang out of tune to various CDs and we snacked. Oh my did we snack. My favorite snack was the kettle corn that Chris would make. This yummy popcorn was the perfect combination of sweet and salty. I found myself eating way too much of this tasty treat but seriously y’all, I tried to limit myself to just two scoops… but I think you know THAT-DID-NOT-HAPPEN!  Finally, last Christmas at Terry’s annual cookie exchange, I asked for this recipe. Much to my surprise it was very easy to make, but it did require a “Whirley Pop” popper. However, it was worth making and I can just about guarantee your taste buds would agree. I made it for our family bingo night and it was a hit. What is so wonderful is this treat can be made to match any given holiday or theme. For example, I made a batch of red and a batch of pink since the theme was Valentine’s Day.

P.S. Soak your popper in warm water after you use it because trust me or shall I say trust my husband (bless his sweet soul for cleaning it for me… wink wink) it is not fun to clean with hard sugar stuck to the sides!

Ingredients :

2 tablespoons of vegetable oil (I used Trader Joe’s sunflower seed oil)
1/2 cup of  white cane sugar
1/2 cup of popcorn (white corn works best…I purchased my popcorn in bulk at a local Amish market)
Food coloring (6 – 8 drops)
Sea salt (I used all natural sea salt by Alessi purchased at Target)

Note: Instead of using cane sugar and food coloring, I used colored sugar (1/2 cup) purchased at the local Amish market. 

Put oil, sugar, food coloring and popcorn in bottom of popper. Cook on medium heat, stirring constantly, until you hear it start to pop. Continue to stir until it is too hard to stir and popping has stopped.

Dump onto a clean counter or cookie sheet.

Sprinkle with sea salt while it is still hot.

Let cool and enjoy.