Cocktails & Crafts Spin-off!

Woo hoo!  Finally, someone else created a Cocktails & Crafts group of her very own!

Not surprising to me, Hayley of see.hay.fly was the first to take the idea of Cocktails & Crafts and make it her own.  What I love about Hayley is that she doesn’t have any kids, just a great group of girlfriends, and she is making C & C a monthly get-together for her and her crafty friends.  This is how she celebrated her birthday, actually.  Wouldn’t you love to have been there?

So who else is going to use Cocktails & Crafts as an excuse to have fun with friends and be creative?  Every time one of you does it, I’ll promote it here and link it up in the C & C tab above.  Can’t wait to see who’s next!

Thanks, Hayley!  Love it!

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Cocktails & Crafts, August

Timing is everything.  I am so grateful that we took the opportunity to have Cocktails & Crafts at my good friend Heather’s house before Hurricane Irene came and turned her backyard into a waterpark.  Because there is nothing like starting an afternoon get-together like searching a garden for caterpillar eggs, which hold the promise of not only caterpillars, but also butterflies!

Look at my friend’s gorgeous yard.  And look at my friends making an adventure out of a golden afternoon.  Reflecting back on this day makes me ever-so-grateful that I somehow fell into this unbelievable group of women, each with so much to bring to our relationship and to the life of my children.  It certainly would never occur to me to look for caterpillar eggs!  I am so lucky to be surrounded by people who make me a better parent.

And make me cocktails.  Even better.

Do you see my son’s fingers sneaking over the top of the table?  I promise I only let him have one.

Back to outside and more summer fun.

When everyone had arrived and the kids were getting antsy, it was time to head inside and do one of C & C’s cutest crafts yet.

Adorable clothespin magnets, perfect for hanging art on the refrigerator!

Heather, being a fellow teacher-on-hiatus and smart mama, had all the felt cut up for us when we arrived.  She knew that having 7 toddlers and 2 babies on hand could make cutting a wee bit difficult.  Hallelujah!

Materials:

clothespins

magnets that will fit on the clothespins

googly eyes

appropriate color felt for sheep, turtle, and duck (yellow, orange, brown, black, white, green)

teeny pom poms for decorating

tacky glue

 

Directions:

1.  Wrangle your children

The tarp was purely precautionary, but it was nice to tell them that they couldn’t get up out of the river.  Intrigue increases stillness.

2.  Choose which animal you would like to make and then cut the appropriate felt colors into the appropriate shapes.

Then attach your magnet, and glue the felt on to make your animal!

My kids lost interest before we could make a turtle, but here’s a picture for you to examine closely:

Then comes the fun part.  Lay them out to dry and it’s time to eat!

And then the even more fun part: take your margarita outside and let the kids run around until they’re exhausted enough for bed.

Cheers to great friends, a great craft, great food and drink, and great times!  Here’s to Cocktails & Crafts, one of my favorite days of the month.

I’m waiting for the first C & C spin-off!  Who will be the first to be featured here at Rub Some Dirt On It for starting this wonderful monthly get-together with her friends?  Maybe it’ll be you!  Can’t wait for the C & C love to spread far and wide, but I need your help!

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Masquerade

 Welcome to Cocktails & Crafts, July edition!  Yes, I’m a little late getting this up, but it’ll make you appreciate it more, having to wait for it.  And with adorable kiddos like these, completely fired up for this craft, it was definitely an afternoon to remember!

Kati, our gracious hostess, whipped up a simple yet completely captivating craft for the 9 toddlers and 2 babies present.  She went to our local JoAnn Fabrics, bought a bunch of light, wooden masks for $1 each, and supplied us with ample decorations to intrigue and delight our kids.

With bowls of regular and glitter glue laid out and decorations galore, the kids were able to choose a mask they liked from several options…

…and decorate to their heart’s content.

It was messy, but really fun.  I found the more we let the kids be the ones in charge rather than imposing our ideas upon them, the fewer tantrums we had.  If you could just go with it and let them be messy, everyone had fun.  And created beautiful masks!  Well, maybe slightly freaky, but beautiful to the kids.

 And then, once the crafts were finished, it was time for everyone to relax, stay cool as the warm summer’s day came to an end, and enjoy delicious food and a refreshing drink of our choice.

 I brought my new favorite summer snack, my watermelon cut-outs.

And since it was unbelievably warm that week, we didn’t do much else after that but keep cool and watch the kids have a great time!  Oh, and have a cocktail, of course.

Some of us enjoyed cool white wine, while others savored a classic summer favorite.  Vodka tonic with a splash of cran.

Recipe:

2 oz. vodka

2-5 oz. of tonic or soda water

a splash of cranberry juice

lime wedge

Mix and pour over ice.  Enjoy!  By the way, you can skip the soda or tonic water and just have a vodka cran; just figure out what proportions you like best.

So, back to the kiddos. 

The kids frolicked in a pool, pouring water down the slide, abusing watering cans and dumping buckets of water over each others’ heads.  Basically, having an unbelievable time.

There won’t be many photos of my Jax, since this was day 3 of potty training, so he opted to be naked the entire time.  But he was there, rocking his birthday suit and slide burn.

 The kids had fun, in various levels of dress, in various degrees of dryness.  I love the freedom of being with friends and summer.  There is hardly anything better.

The kids agree.

 

Especially Em.  This was only her second C & C appearance and it was definitely an easier venue for her to be comfortable.  I feel like she’s flourishing, on so many levels.

And as an additional bonus, it was my friend Sara’s birthday, so there was the extra treat of cake and ice cream cones!  My kids’ first ones they have been allowed to eat on their own. 

The kids were so sweet and happy.  I wonder why I don’t keep ice cream cones in the house to diffuse all difficult and/or grumpy situations?

And one last group shot, showing off their creations, before we left.

Content kids, hours of fun outside keeping cool, good food and drinks and great company.  Why haven’t you started a Cocktails & Crafts group near you yet?  I’m still waiting for the first group to spin off, and I promise to highlight you and your group right here at Rub Some Dirt On It!  Come on, it could be you!

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Mojitos & Glue

 

Sorry for the delay in this post, but there were a lot of photos from this night and it was hard to choose which ones to share with you all!   I may have gone overboard a bit, but I wanted to give you a real taste for the evening and convince one of you to start your own Cocktails & Crafts group in your neck of the woods!  I’m still waiting for the first spin-off to happen, and I promise that whoever does it will get a big post here at Rub Some Dirt On It as a reward!  Shameless self-promotion, a date with friends, and a cocktail!  What’s better than that?

In case you’re new here, let me back up and explain quickly that Cocktails & Crafts is a monthly get-together with my girlfriends to embrace our creative sides, engage our kids, have a cocktail and a good time, all in the name of camaraderie and an excuse to be together.  You can click the link or the Cocktails and Crafts tab above to go back and review the C & Cs from months prior and get some drink ideas and/or a few brilliant crafts!

We take turns hosting C & C and the host provides the craft and everyone else is supposed to bring some food.  This month was hosted by my friend Sara, who I think loves nothing better than hosting parties, so of course she went above and beyond what was required of her, providing a great craft, delicious food, and a cocktail.

I usually bring the drinks, so instead I just brought a bottle of wine and some Pirate’s Booty.

It says right here: a dessert wine.”  Name that movie.  Can you tell it’s getting late?

Anyhow, before I go any further, I have to share that my friend Michelle, whose quick maternity photo shoot you may remember,  had her baby girl last week and so there are a few photos of baby Elizabeth.  She was one week old and I was lucky enough to hold her!

I wish I could have captured the look of betrayal and horror on Em’s face when she saw me holding another baby.  She dramatically paused, her face crumpled, and she threw herself against the back of the sofa, her head resting on her forearm as she wept and wailed.  It was priceless, and a little off-putting; maybe JDubbs will get his way and there will be no more babies in this house!  Em may not be able to stand it!  What a diva.

Besides Elizabeth, there were two new friends (old friends but new to C & C) who played with us: Iris and Levi.

I love sharing this C & C tradition with new families; it is why I started it in the first place.  Drop in, have a drink, make something pretty, have a snack.

Again I ask, what could be better?

So there were 8 moms, 9 toddlers/preschoolers, and 5 babies.  What a busy afternoon!  The kids had their fair share of squabbles, but overall they really do love each other.  It’s kind of a like a free preschool where everybody looks out for each other’s kids, knows each other well enough that we’re comfortable giving a little gentle discipline if need be, keeps tabs on siblings and knows who is allowed to scale the spiral staircase and who shouldn’t be allowed outside unsupervised.  Basically, it’s one big extended family.

I have mentioned that I’m pretty lucky, haven’t I?  Well, in case I haven’t, I sure am.  On so many levels.

Once the kids were happily occupied, it was time to serve up Sara’s cocktail: a delightful summer mojito with mint fresh from her garden.  Perfect.

I don’t have Sara’s personal recipe, but here’s the version that Hemingway used to enjoy, and I’m a sucker for eccentric writers, being one myself.

Add mint leaves into a long mojito glass (often called a “collins” glass) and squeeze the juice from a cut lime over it.  You’ll want about 2 oz. of lime juice.  Add 1 tsp powdered sugar, then gently smash the mint into the lime juice and sugar with a muddler.  Add ice (preferably crushed) then add 2 oz. of rum and stir.  Top off with 2 oz. club soda (you can also stir the club soda in as per your taste). Garnish with a mint sprig.

Remember that although it is called Cocktails & Crafts, you may imbibe any sort of refreshing drink you’d like; lemonade would be a great substitute!

Okay, now everyone is feeling refreshed, drinks and babies in hand, so it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty.  Craft time!

Jax is fully craft-savvy now.  He gets really excited to craft at home or at a friends’ house.  He proudly displays his art around our home and gives it to family members as gifts.  If nothing else, C & C sure does help boost his self-esteem!

So tonight’s craft is Glue Art.  The only materials you need are large pieces of construction paper, glue, and various materials to stick to the glue, such as glitter, feathers, pom poms, sequins, etc.

Basically, you let the kids dribble glue all over the construction paper, then you dump the materials on top of the glue, shake the paper off  to see what sticks, and then decorate to your heart’s content.  Very open-ended!  You can be as simple or as ornate as you’d like!

The best part, by far, was the dumping and shaking.  Jax would dump the entire contents of his cup of sequins or glitter all over his paper in one giant reflective mountain, then I’d have to pick up the paper, somewhat fold it in half so all the excess would slide back into the cup, all without making a ridiculous mess.  I mostly succeeded.  It was challenging, especially with Em pulling on my leg while trying to take photographs.

I love the crafting part of C & C.  I love watching my friends juggle multiple babies, helping their and other people’s kids, keeping an eye out for the one kid who always goes against the grain and either eats something they shouldn’t, runs away, or just flat-out refuses to participate.  I love the clamour and the chaos.  Again, it’s the big family vibe.  I feel right at home.

This craft was a quick one: ten minutes, tops.  There was too much room for potential diaster if they got bored or were left unattended.  We got in, we crafted, and we got out of there.

Then we put the finishing touches on and called it a day.

Then the fun resumed, inside and out.  Yes, Sara has horses on her property.  A big hit with the little ones.  And a big hill, which Harper and Stella were “a-tending to sled” down.  June is prime sledding weather up here in Vermont.  Don’t laugh.  It could happen.

My baby girl sure loves animals.  Everything is either a duck or a dog, but either way, they make her happy.

I stole another quick moment with the new baby…

…before putting my kids in their pjs and heading home, just a little past our bedtime.  Life is good when the afternoon is spent like this.

Thank you again, dear friends.  More great memories and beautiful creations to add to the growing pile.

I hope one of you will pick up the torch and get creative with your friends, with your kids or without.  You could always have Cocktails & Crafts, adult version!  Think scrapbooking, knitting, book club, etc.  Who wouldn’t like an excuse to have fun or throw a party?  I can’t wait for someone to join me!

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C & C, Take Three!

Last night was the third edition of my monthly get-together with my girlfriends and our kids to craft and enjoy a beverage or two: Cocktails and Crafts!
In case you’re not familiar with how Cocktails and Crafts goes, it’s very simple.  You find a group of friends who like to be creative and make a monthly date to get together!  Depending on your situation, you may want your crafts to be an activity for your kids, or you may just want an excuse for girl time.  You don’t need to have kids to participate in C & C–it’s for anyone who has a creative side!
Speaking of creative, it was my friend Katie’s turn to host and provide the craft, and she is always my crafty wingman.  I knew her craft would be a simple and fun way to entertain our kids without causing too much chaos.  I also knew that she wouldn’t screw her craft up, as I so often do, and so was glad to head to her house with just Jax in tow.  And of course, I was right.  Her craft was great fun and super easy!
The perennial favorite, Pine Cone Bird Feeders!
Supplies:
pine cone
peanut butter
popsicle sticks
bird seed
yarn/twine/string
And don’t forget your tasty beverage, alcholic or not!
Instructions
This craft has only three steps to crafty happiness.
Step 1: spread peanut butter on the pine cone using a popsicle stick
Step 2:  roll your peanut-butter-smeared pine cone in bird seed, dumping some on top for good measure, like sprinkles on an ice cream cone
Step 3:  hang your bird-seed-coated pine cone SECURELY with string/yarn/twine.  If you know me, I don’t have to tell you that I did a haphazard job on this and that my pine cone slipped off within moments
Finally, you will have a bird feeder worthy of kings, made with love by your kiddos.
There were definitely some birdseed-dumping incidents, but we can all laugh off a good mess and enjoy our two-year-olds’ obession with sweeping as form of entertainment.
Once the craft is done, hang out with your friends and revel in the fact that your kids are growing up and don’t need you to play right next to them anymore.  They have fun on their own.
Then it was time to put these kids to bed.  They are such great buddies; there was many a hug before we could go.
 My favorite photo of the night is of Jax and Andrew.  For two great friends, they just weren’t in the mood to hug goodbye.  Hence the hands by their side/chest bump/lean.  Hilariously obedient and aloof.
Thank you to all my great friends for getting together once a month for an excuse to have a drink–I mean, get crafty (wink *).  And just so you won’t worry about us, of the five of us there, I was the only one neither pregnant nor breastfeeding.  There was a lot of caffeine-free soda going on.  And although I brought most of the ingredients for sangria, I did forget the triple sec so we’ll just save that cocktail for next month!
Cheers to another memorable night, a successful craft, and great friends young and old(er)!
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Cocktails & Crafts #2

On St. Patrick’s Day my friends and I got our kids together for our second go-round of Cocktails and Crafts!  And I couldn’t have asked for a better time.
It was my great friend Amy’s turn to host and provide the craft, and she delivered on both counts.  Her home, which is always so inviting, was appropriately green and Guinnessy as well as welcoming and kid-friendly.  Couldn’t have asked for a better locale, especially because it was beautiful outside and they have a great deck for little wanderers.
Her craft was simple and seasonal–we planted flower seeds in adorable pastel buckets with the kids’ names on them.
There’s Amy’s sweet little girl Nia, getting everything ready for her friends.
This craft doesn’t require a whole lot in materials: just buckets, soil, seeds, and water, but the little touches helped make the entire process of entertaining eight toddlers really painless and fun.  Amy is also a teacher-on-hiatus, and I appreciated her teacher-inspired touches that minimized the chaos.  She had all the buckets and materials ready for the kids when they came into the garage, with their names clearly labeled so they knew where to sit.  She also had the instructions written down (with pictures) on several pieces of paper so that it was clear to everyone what to do and when.
Also, in another brilliant teacher move, she had something for them to do when they finished the craft, so the kids could work at their own pace and chaos did not resume while we waited for the next step.  Brilliant.
And they loved it.
First, we poured soil into the buckets.  The kids were so psyched to have permission to get dirty.
Then add the seeds.  We had flower seeds and the kids loved getting to choose which ones they wanted.  Choice is key to toddler cooperation.
Then add some water and another small layer of soil.
Place in the appropriate amount of sun and let the toddlers loose!
The craft took maybe five minutes max, but there was an open garage door and some sunshine with their names on it, so the kids literally frolicked.  It was the greatest to see them all running around outside with no jackets or hats on, blowing bubbles, chasing one another.  It was like the craft was a literal harbinger of spring, and once it was done, they were set free.  I know Jax wasn’t the only toddler who held tightly to his bucket the whole ride home and had to pick the spot that was “just right” for his seeds.  He also asked to see them first thing in the morning the next day.  A simple but still exciting craft for these little ones who just love learning.
What a wonderful day.
This is why Cocktails and Crafts is so great.  It suddenly felt like summer, even though it was only fifty degrees and the middle of March.  We had our drinks, our kids were happy and keeping each other occupied, and we had accomplished something crafty.  They all sound simple enough, but when you get to do all those things at once, surrounded by good friends, it turns into a really great day.
This was my favorite moment of the day.  When two-year-olds discover a grate.  Hilarious.
Wordish Wednesday
They kept yelling, “Hello, water!” to hear their echoes.  It kept them busy for quite a while.  Apparently I need to invest in one of these.
Cocktails and Crafts is just a reason to get together with your friends and have some fun!  I just love having a monthly excuse for some great girl-time and something creative to do with Jax.  And Em loves having some alone time with Daddy, too.  That’s just a bonus.
We had such a great time at Amy’s–thank you so much for hosting it!  Jax and I stayed until bedtime and even then he didn’t want to leave.
Drowning his sorrows in milk.  Don’t worry, buddy.  We’ll see Nia and your other friends again soon!
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