Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Baby Showers: Help is Here!

Hooray, one of your best girls just told you she is pregnant!  After the celebration dance, the next words that fly out of your mouth are "I want to throw you a baby shower."

Then, you start working to plan the perfect shower and there is just so much to do.  Just in case you needed a few ideas for baby shower decorations and gifts, check out these great gifts from HappyLittleMonkey:

Monogrammed Gifts Clothesline:

We have all seen the themed invitations with a clothesline of baby items.  A customer contacted me to help create a clothesline of monogrammed items, and I love to help someone put their ideas into action.  It turned out SO VERY CUTE, if I do say so myself, that it is now listed at the shop.

Ordering is easy. Pick five (5) monogrammable items- bibs, burp cloths, or bloomers.  Then decide on monograms and colors.  Your set will ship complete with 9 feet of coordinating ribbon and 10 wooden clothespins.  Your set can be further customized by swapping out one of these items with a newborn sleeping gown, onesie, or swaddling blanket (additional charges for these items of $3-5/each).

The monogrammed items clothesline will look adorable over a dessert table, food table, gift table, and more.  Where would you put one? 

Mom can even take the clothesline home to decorate the nursery until baby arrives.   All of the items are super-functional and sure to become some of mom's favorites!

Diaper and Blanket Cakes: 

These make the perfect centerpieces for a luncheon, food or gift table.  Each one is custom made and can fit your party theme.  The Mom-to-be will be sure to remember this great gift and you will be proud that the centerpieces were not only amazing but also practical.  

Cakes are fully customizable and can vary in detail, items, size, theme, colors, and therefore, price.  The cake pictured below features three layers of disposable diapers, a swaddling blanket, a knit hat, a sock monkey, and ribbon.  

Diaper and Blanket Cakes can even be shipped.  A great gift to send in lieu of flowers.  For example, a blanket cake with a swaddling blanket, two burp cloths, and a rubber ducky topper is typically about $32, and since that is cheaper than most flower bouquets, it will not only say "Congratulations on the new baby!" it is also something mom can use over and over again.  

We can even talk through your shower theme and create a totally custom item.  These items are only available by custom order, so just contact me when the time is right.  

Every baby is special, and therefore every baby shower should be too.  If I can be of assistance in helping you create the perfect decorations or gifts for a baby shower, please contact me and I will be happy to help!

Links to other other gift idea posts:  

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Winner! Winner!

Thank you to everyone who shared the new web site and entered the contest!

The winners get their choice of monogrammed item:



Burp Cloth

Tooth Fairy Pillow

Market Bag

Or, they can apply a store credit towards the purchase of a 

Floppy Hat

Market Tote

Gift Set

Or more!

The three winners are: Morgan, Kelly, and Christine!  Congratulations!  I will send you an email.

Don't forget to check out and keep me in mind for your summer monogramming and gift-giving needs!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

NEW Web Site: HappyLittleMonkey Shop (Giveaway too!)

Over the past couple of months, I have been working on designing my very own stand alone web site. This has been an adventure in trying new things, learning new programs, some frustrations, and overall having a little courage.  You can only imagine how excited I am to finally share my new site with you!

is my new, stand-alone web site featuring some of your favorite monogrammed and personalized items in a much easier ordering format! These items include bloomers, bibs, burp cloths, newborn gowns, blankets and more!

The new store also includes an new line of items that I am SOOO excited about- Market Totes! Market Totes are wonderful for everyday activites like errands and shopping, as well as fun for picnics and pool trips. These are items I cannot sell at my HappyLittleMonkey or MonkeySeeMonkeyDoHLM Etsy sites, as they don't technically meet their definitions of handmade (and I'm kindof a rule-follower). I just know you will love their quality and function. You will receive these personalized items within approximately one week of ordering them, which makes them even better. They are sure to become a product you will love to have around and to give as a gift.

Within the coming months, my Etsy shops will start to focus on the one of a kind type of gifts and I plan to add more items to the store as I find new items that meet my standards for function, quality, and style.

For those of you who also sew, I have listed some of my favorite and hard to find blanks too.

As part of the announcement, I need your help to spread the news about my new site! From today through Friday, May 25th, you can get one entry into a drawing for each time you share a link to my site on your
 - Facebook Page, 
- Twitter Page, 
- Pinterest Board, and/or 
- Personal Blog. 

After you share, send an email to me with links to your post(s). Enter each day! You can receive up to four contest entries every day.

What could you win? A personalized bib, burp cloth, pair of bloomers, tooth fairy pillow, or a gift certificate for $12 to the shop (the value of these items). Prizes also include free standard shipping! Three lucky fans will win one of these items. Winners will be announced on Facebook and notified by email.

Please, go and visit and let me know what you think. All personalized items are on sale through Friday too!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Home-made Parties: Angry Birds

We grow people and we celebrate them, with parties!

We enjoy planning our kids' birthday parties and work to keep them home-made.   When it came time to pick a theme for our youngest third birthday, it didn't take long to land on Angry Birds.  He was, and still is, pretty obsessed with this game and I am just sure that it is teaching him something valuable like physics!  So, this past October, we threw an Angry Birds party for a three year old! We didn't expect it to be so hard to find supplies for an Angry Birds, so it was a good thing we do home-made.  Unlike today, a few short months later, it was impossible to find almost anything that was Angry Birds, let alone for kids.

Here are the details of what we did and I hope it helps inspire your own Angry Birds Party:

1.  Theme:
Angry Birds: Jack's Party Edition

2. Color scheme:
Bird and Pig Colors- Red, Lime Green, Yellow, Blue.  I found dotted wrapping paper at Target and used that as the base for paper items.

3. Invitations:
I sent a picture of the wrapping paper to my Photoshop whiz brother, and he created a graphic complete with balloons and flying present boxes (this will be part of the wall later) for me.  I emailed out the invitations.  (Generally, I am anti the electronic invitation for birthday parties, but it just didn't seem right to send a snail mail invite to a party inspired by an app.)

4. Pig Wall!
I'm not sure how to have an Angry Birds Party without a wall the kids can knock down. We secured boxes of various sizes and wrapped them up. (We may have "borrowed" a few boxes from a shipping company that I intend to use later for mailing!) The traditional Angry Birds game walls are wooden boards and ice, with the occassional TNT box.  We mimicked those using "woodgrain" contact paper and the backside of wrapping paper (white).  Several of the boxes were wrapped as gifts in the polka dot paper to match the invitations and then some in red, Jack's favorite color.
I made four red birds, 1 from fleece and 3 from giant red bouncing balls from Target that I painted the face onto.  The kids threw these at the wall.  Since they were mostly 2, 3, and 4 year olds, we didn't think a slingshot was appropriate.
We had four pigs, two from fleece and two green bouncing balls I got from a dollar store.
I wanted the backdrop of the wall to look more like the game, so I used a sheet and painted grass across the bottom.  We used PVC to make the framed to hold it up.

Pig Wall
The components of this wall have all been put to later uses too.  The woodgrain contact paper boxes are stacked in our playroom and are regularly used for walls, bridges, and wedding ceremonies.  The pigs and birds  make random cameos.  That PVC frame has since been turned into pieces for the water park.

5. The Pig-nata

Instead of a traditional pinata, we had a Pig-nata!  This home-made beauty was made from paper mache and streamers, and it only took about two days to make.  I'm hoping to eventually blog a how-to on how I made it, but in the meantime, you can find tutorials all over the web.  My only caution is that 5 layers is too thick!  The kids couldn't break him so we had to tear into him.
I also made the eye mask and knowing that three year olds weren't going to be so psyched about being blindfolded (nor was it really going to impact their ability to bust the thing open), I made a mask to look like the Angry Bird eyes.  (The picture if of me sportin' the mask!)

6. Menu:
Pigs in a Blanket: Mini and Full-sized hot dogs wrapped in crescent rolls
Pork and Beans: Baked Beans
Slop: Mac n Cheese
Bird Seed: Sunflower seeds
Cake!  I found an Angry Birds board game and used it to set up a scene around the cake.  Of course, the kids rearranged it every time I turned around, so I can't take all the credit!   The birds were trying to get the cake from the pigs who were clearly holding the present-shaped cake hostage.

7.  Decorations:
These were the easiest part!  I looked for the more quintessential party decorations I could find featuring balloons and primary colors, as well as balloons.  A last minute decoration idea was to include more of the Angry Bird Seasons, and I set up the picnic in the front yard.  I wished I had thought that up earlier and had more time to add more seasonal items and party decor.  Many of these were found at a local dollar store.

8. Favors:
Favors included punching balloons, so the kids could continue knocking things out at home as well as bouncing balls and other traditional birthday trinkets from the Pig-nata.

9. Outfits:
At the time of the party, Angry Birds shirts were only available for adults, and were limited in availability.  So, I picked up four red shirts and appliqued the face right on.  Seriously easy and now Target has kids shirt that looks almost exactly like the ones I made for us.  (I plan to do a post on applique too and you don't even have to be able to sew, although it will extend the life of your applique.  If you haven't tried this yet, you will love the flexibility and how easy it can be to create simple designs.)

Overall, my youngest had a ball.  We were so thankful for so many sweet friends who came to help us celebrate and we really enjoyed being able to work together to create this party for our little one.

(We got that cupcake for his First Birthday and take pictures by it each year.  I shared our Cupcake First Birthday Party here)

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Monday, May 14, 2012

Colored Shaving Cream: Pinned It and Did It

Well, time is escaping me again! In my post Pinned It and Did It: Vertical Clothes I had promised to follow up on other pins, namely Painting with Colored Shaving Cream. Instead, I shared about our Fun with Pipes, which I am happy to report is still fun to play with and entertaining!

Artists at work
Back to the task at hand...How was our experiment with actually doing the the colored shaving cream Pins?  Not so good.

In case you haven't seen the Pins, they typically feature a muffin tin filled with brightly colored shaving cream, or a rainbow mural on the bathtub wall supposedly painted by a small kid. Well, I was hooked and in my determination to not just pin things but to also do them, I finally made it to the store for the supplies.

Have you heard the rule "keep it simple, stupid (KISS)?" Well, the colored shaving cream idea breaks this rule on so many levels and while I am sure that the original pinners meant to provide a really fun activity for their kids.  However, I think they ended up with a really cute blog post and just making a huge unnecessary mess for themselves.

The Pins showed the shaving cream all colored like this.
Here is why I think it didn't go as great as expected:

1. The kids were happier squirting the shaving cream from the can than they were using it out of containers with paint brushes.

2. Food coloring= staining. Unless you are going to be "super serial" about mixing your food coloring and shaving cream, you will have bits of dye that you will have to work to remove later. I have also heard reports of stained tile grout from people who used the idea indoors.

3. We make more work for ourselves by coloring the shaving cream. I dragged out containers, paint brushes, shaving cream, sticks, and food coloring so that the kids could smear shaving cream all over the outside plastic toys. In the end, the kids were playing with the cans of shaving cream and using their hands. I easily could have left out the containers and dye and they would have been just as happy.

Cleaning his car wheels.  The car got a thorough detailing
So, why did I drag out extra stuff and do more work than I needed to? Because I forgot to Keep It Simple, Stupid!! I saw the pin of rainbow shaving cream and imagined the artwork they would create and the hours longer they would play with the shaving cream if it was colored instead of plain ole white. And I dreamed of how they would purposefully try to blend the red and the yellow together to see that it makes orange.

Instead, they just acted like kids with shaving cream. They played. They made a mess. They smelled great!

Having fun!
Yes, and that is my kid sliding across the table to smear the shaving cream. I told you they were just as happy using themselves!

So, add a couple of cans of old school Barbasol type shaving cream to your Dollar Store Shopping list and break them out next time you need your kids to be entertained for a good 30 minutes or so. It will be one of the easiest activities you do with them.

Another note.  If this was a Mythbusters post, the reason they are smearing the shaving cream onto all of the outside plastic toys is that I had heard it helps to get plastic cleaner. Each spring I have to clean everything that hasn't been used during the brutal winter months we have here in Florida (ha, yes, I'm kidding). So, I thought I would get them involved and combine the fun pin with this fun cleaning trick. The plastic stuff got cleaned, but I am not sure I can attribute that to the shaving cream.

I will only share the original Pinspiration when its an idea I like/love, but not when its something we aren't successful with doing. For this idea, I do think the thought was very creative and a super cute idea, which is why we did it.  We did, however, end up with little flecks of food coloring on the plastic outside toys, and on the kids.  Besides, they had just as much fun with plain ole shaving cream, so why do the extra work?!?

Happy Pinning and Playing!

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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Cookie Confession (And We Made It!)

For many, many years, I have harbored prejudice toward the slice and bake sugar cookie.  Anytime I can remember having them from someone's house, they were gross.  I mean, really, how hard is it to make sugar cookie dough?  And I'm no cook, but if time and my waist permitted, I would bake all the time.  It is also important to note that the other types of cookies were spared this judgement and it was solely directed at the sugar cookie.

Last week, I bought my first package of pre-made sugar cookie dough after my irresistibly adorable three-year old son spotted Lightning McQueen cookie dough at the store.  Apparently the geniuses at Pillsbury decided that featuring my son's idol would be a good idea for Easter.  He said "Puhhhweeeze" and I realized there was no way I was going to be able to make them otherwise.  So, home they went.

The kids helped me to diligently place them 2 inches apart from each other while the oven obliged my command to preheat.  We then carefully placed the two dozen preformed cookies into the oven.

Could it really be this easy?  Nope, not in my world!  I whipped up some homemade frosting while we waited.  

After the cookies cooled, and believe me, waiting for this was THE hardest part of this baking experience, we put some frosting between two cookies, rolled them in sprinkles, and viola- the not so ordinary, yet still easy enough to not be frustrating to make with two small kids- Sugar Cookie Sandwiches!

Step 1- Roll the edges of the frosting in sprinkles.
Step 2- Keep rolling
Step 3- Done!
Here is what they looked like...And, they tasted good!

I understand that leaving my preconceived notions about how using store-bought cookie dough as a form of selling out may not have been the most earth shattering revelation. However, my life just got so much easier!  Afterall, it combines a few of my favorite things- frosting, sprinkles, and happy kids- and made it easier.

We went back to the store and picked up two more packs of the limited edition Lightning McQueen cookie dough to keep in the freezer until we need more.  I may never be able to buy the roll of cookie dough, but these "break and bake" packs are officially on the shopping list!

Next up, the Immaculate Baking Company sugar cookie dough!

Does anyone have any fun ideas for other ways to make these types of cookies fun?

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