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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Adopt a Puppy Birthday Party!

Why hello there!

Yes, in case you were wondering I am alive and well. Happy (THRILLED) to be back home but trying to get settled is taking longer than expected. I guess that's what happens when you fire your movers the night before you move and end up living out of suitcases! We still have not resolved THAT problem yet! But things could be worse and I hate to complain - especially since I am HOME! :)

I am finally ready to start blogging again. Kailani starts school tomorrow (can you believe it?) so hopefully that will free up some more time. I also look forward to catching up on all of my favorite blogs and checking out those of you that have recently signed on to follow me. Thanks for checking me out, especially during this time of inactivity!

Since I was not able to put my sewing machine, craft supplies or any of my kitchen wares into my suitcases I have nothing to post in the crafting or cooking department! *Sigh* So I thought I'd post something from the archives - Kailani's birthday party from last year. I hope you don't mind!

Each year for Kailani's birthday I let her choose her theme. One year it was Power Rangers, two years ago it was tigers, then last year it was puppies. Who doesn't love puppies? What a fun idea!

One of the first things we did was go to the fabric store and pick out some puppy fabric to make her a birthday dress. Quite honestly I wasn't too thrilled with the fabric she chose but in the end it turned out pretty darn cute! Here she is in her birthday dress on her special day:

She had her heart set on a Build-a-Bear party but the nearest Build-a-Bear was not so near. So we can up with an alternative plan that ended up being just as fun. After an extensive online search I found a website where you can order animals to be stuffed. Ted E. Makers (Teddy Bear in a Box) has over 20 animals and even more clothing, accessories and sounds to choose from! One reason why I chose this company over some others is that their animals come with a zipper and lock to close them up versus having to sew them. Not only that the cost included the animal, stuffing, birth certificates and a little star to make a wish upon and put inside of the animal. Their customer service was awesome and the shipping was FREE (because I ordered "X" amount) and incredibly quick!
I had Kailani draw her own invitation and included a copy of the dogs available for adoption and asked each guest to choose in order their top three dogs (just in case the company was out of stock of a particular pet):

We made some dog houses out of appliance boxes - as you can see they are a little torn up from being played with!

In addition to her cake (which she asked me to make - I dare not show you a picture!) we made individual cakes from mini angel food cakes. We frosted them in Kailani's favorite colors and filled them with Cocoa Puff cereal to look like dog food (huge hit!)

And while I don't have a picture (*hint-hint*) my girlfriend helped me out and made individual cookies in the shape of dog bones, frosted them in pink and purple and put several of them in small metal dog bowls (purchased from the $1.00 store at Target) and wrapped them in cellophane and tied them with a bow. These were used as goodie bags.

We decorated the front of the house with pictures of puppies on stakes. Each one had a different command - such as come, sit, stay, play:

I also posted a welcome sign at the gate with instructions on what to do:

In case you can't see it the sign says,
Adopt your puppy here!
Your puppy has been waiting for you!
Birth Certificate
Dog tag
I set up different stations for each of the steps. When it came time for the kids to stuff their puppies most had a tough time with it and needed parental assistance. I would recommend to anyone thinking of doing a similar party to have at least the arms, legs and head pre-stuffed and have the kids only have to stuff the tummies.

After stuffing their puppies the kids then named their puppy, filled out a birth certificate (with help) and made a dog tag out of Shrinky Dinks. You gotta love some of the names they chose!

While waiting for their dog tags to shrink in the oven the kids then took their puppies to the vet station and grooming station. The vet station had a doctor's kit that I purchased from Walmart while the grooming station had a mirror, brush, blow dryer, stickers, ponytail holders and party hats. I don't know why I forgot to take a picture of the stations!
We then had all the kids gather around to introduce their newly adopted puppy to everyone:

What the kids didn't notice was while they were busy yacking my husband, father and father-in-law were scattering dog biscuits throughout the yard! When they were done we gave each kid a "doggy bag" and had them search for the biscuits!

When it was time to open presents I took a picture of each guest with the birthday girl. I later included the picture with the thank you card that Kailani made:
If all else fails throw the kids on the trampoline, seal it up and let them loose!
Kailani had a blast and I'm pretty sure her friends did too! If you have any questions about what I did please ask as I wasn't quite as thorough as I would have liked to have been in this post. It has literally taken me SEVEN days to publish this post as Momo has been quite demanding of my time!

Wordless Wednesday - Home

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Sunday, July 19, 2009

Asian Food Grocer

As a lot of you know I love my Asian food! But I often find it difficult to find some of my favorite snacks or ingredients to make some of my favorite dishes. There have been countless times that I have looked up the nearest (or furthest for that matter) Asian grocery store only to go and leave disappointed. Thank goodness for friends that were willing to send me an occasional care package filled with my beloved goodies!

While venting to my girlfriend about this exact same issue she asked me if I had heard of the Asian Food Grocer - a website that specializes in Asian foods, seasonings, recipes, supplies, etc. Not only do they carry a lot of my favorites but they also list all of the nutritional information as well as ingredients of the products that they sell. Great for those with any kind of food allergies or nutritional concerns.

I checked out their website and was immediately sent back to my childhood days in Japan! Oh the days of chewing Fusen gum, eating Ramune candy and Choco-Baby chocolates! And then to find the ingredients I need to make a lot of my favorite Japanese dishes all in one place! Remember my recipe for broiled sushi? You can find several of the ingredients there!

The Asian Food Grocer even has a blog (gotta love it!) where they recently posted an article titled, "7 Japanese Snacks that Taste Better Than it Sounds". Number one is, "Couque D'asses" and number two is "Glico's Cream Collon". Sounds horrible, I know! But I have personally had the cream collon and it is good!

So after my trip down memory lane (I literally spent HOURS browsing their website!) I decided to order a few things to take the edge off of my cravings. I was pleasantly surprised at the prices and even more delighted to have the box delivered ever-so-carefully packaged within a few short days!

Wanna know what I got?

Ramune "Lemon Aid"

Ramune is one of Japan's most popular carbonated drinks and tastes like lemon-lime (think Sprite). I recently went to one of those sushi-go-round restaurants and saw a bottle of Ramune come down the belt. My daughter SHRIEKED as it is a favorite of hers and she has been without it for years! What makes this drink so appealing? The BOTTLE!

First time drinkers of Ramune are often left wondering how to even open the bottle! And why is there a MARBLE in there? Follow these simple instructions and you will quickly be on your way to enjoying a refreshing drink!

1) Notice the top of the bottle is sealed. The seal actually has the instructions written on them but those that are impatient or oblivous may not even notice!

2) Remove the seal and you will see a plastic piece. This piece breaks into two. Keep the center piece and discard the other.

(Keep the piece on the left - discard the piece on the right.)

3) Place the plastic piece on top of the bottle. It will actually be resting on top of the marble.

4) Apply pressure. You have to press hard! You can use your hand(s) or thumbs. Some people prefer to bang it.

Listen and look. If you hear the marble fall and see the carbonated fizz your Ramune is ready to drink! Remove the plastic piece and enjoy!

Still confused or want to see this in action? Take a look at this video. YES! There are actually videos out there with instructions on how to open a bottle of Ramune! If found this one to be the simplest yet most informative:

The most important lesson is: DO NOT THROW AWAY THE PLASTIC PIECE!

There are also other flavors of Ramune and Asian Food Grocer carries them! From lychee, peach, pineapple, strawberry, mango, melon, orange and raspberry. There is also a line of Hello Kitty Ramune!

If you like the taste of Ramune and have a sweet tooth you might want to try Ramune flavored candy! There are different kinds to choose from including melt-in-your-mouth candies as well as hard candies. The one in the green bottle is a favorite in our house! Notice it comes in a bottle much like the Ramune drink! Both of these candies are available at Asian Food Grocer:

This bag contains individually wrapped candies. Each of these has a slight fruit flavor to them including strawberry, melon, pineapplo and others:

Another Ramune candy whistles if you position it correctly in your mouth and blow! Parents - not to worry. The whistle isn't terribly loud! My two kids love it! Of course in true Japanese style there is a little toy surprise included:

Believe it or not I did not order only all things Ramune (although there was more Ramune candy to choose from!) I also got some Konpeito sugar candy. It's a lot like rock candy but in much smaller, colorful pieces. Need a little sugar rush? Pop a couple of these into your mouth!

Another idea for the Konpeito candy is to use it in place of granulated sugar or sugar cubes that you use for your coffee or tea. I remember seeing these little candies in clear little bowls on the tables of restaurants in Japan. Now I know why! My curiosity got the best of me and I tried putting a few in my coffee. It didn't dissolve right away but after a few minutes it did! What a fun and decorative way to display some sugar!

Of course I had to buy some chocolate. I couldn't decide which one to choose to I opted for a mini multi pack:

Like with most chocolates these candies are heat sensitive. However, if they melt just put them in a room at room temperature (or in the fridge) and they will cool but stick together. They may not look the way they originally intended but the taste will be the same!

You've probably all had are at least seen "Pocky" sticks? At Asian Food Grocer you can choose between TWENTY differents kinds! There is even a section on their blog called, "Pocky Lovers Corner" where the talk is all about "Pocky!" Upcoming flavors, polls and even recipes! Check out these Pocky cupcakes. The recipe is available on their website!

If you like Pocky sticks then you will probably like the Caplico Assorted Sticks. The makers of Pocky created these frosting dipped waffle biscuits that are in the shape of ice cream cones! They are each individually wrapped and there are three of each flavor - strawberry, vanilla and chocolate!

Finally, the last thing that I had to get was the Nishimura Baby Cookies. These little cookies literally melt in your mouth which makes them a great snack for toddlers without having to worry about them choking on them! Funny thing is I learned of these cookies way before becoming a mom. I remember my Japanese grandmother popping these into her mouth and pressing down on them with the roof of her mouth to allow them to melt. So not only are they great for babies but the elderly and everyone in between as well! I've often bought these in larger quantities and put them out in bowls at playdates. While my intention was for the kids to snack on them the moms usually ended up eating most of it!

So I totally got my fix! If you're a fan of Asian snacks and have a difficult time finding your favorites be sure to check out the Asian Food Grocer! As well as their website they have a blog, Facebook page and Twitter! Tell your friends about it as well!

Now.....what to order next? :) My kids say more Choco Baby....

(Thanks to the Product Review Place for allowing me the opportunity to do this review! )

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Award Time!

Having just moved across the continental USA and the Pacific Ocean I am justified in being a bit behind in blogging, right? :)

Awhile back I was given two different and new awards. Take a look!

Super Comments Award

From Mama King of 4 Crazy Kings I was given this cuuuuuuuuute (as Momo would say) award! She is such an inspiration I can't help myself but leave comments on her - she is constantly leaving me in awe with her projects and ideas! Thanks Mama King!

The Humane Award

From Stephanie of A Pocket Full of Buttons I was given the Humane Award. "The Humane Award honors certain bloggers that I feel are kindhearted individuals. They regularly take part in my blog and always leave the sweetest comments. If it wasn’t for them, my site would just be an ordinary blog. Their blogs are also amazing and are tastefully done on a daily basis. I thank them and look forward to our growing friendships through the blog world. Link back to the person who gifted you with the award and share the love with other bloggers.”

Since I am quite a bit behind on blogging and catching up with everything and everyone I am going to give an honorable mention to some of my favorite blogs. If you are a follower of mine you will notice that this is not the first time I have mentioned some of these ladies! Take a moment to check out their blogs and let them know I sent you!

Stephanie at A Pocket Full of Buttons

Mama King at 4 Crazy Kings

Katie from Katie's Nesting Spot

Sandy at Momisodes

Jennifer at It's a Beauty Filled Life

MaryAnne at Thrifty Craft Mama

Thanks again to Stephanie and Mama King for the awards! And thanks to the other ladies that are constantly inspiring me and/or making me laugh! :)

More catching up to do.....

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Hawaii. Home. Happy.

Alooooooha! We are finally home. You know the phrase, "Home is where the heart is?" THIS is where my heart is. Not only are we back in Hawaii but our family is back together. What more can you ask for? (Besides having the rest of my family and friends move out here?)

The trip from Seattle to Honolulu started off pretty good. We left my sister's house at 4:30 in the morning. The kids (including my 1.5 year old nephew) handled the rude awakening surprisingly well!

Cousins - way too early in the morning!

When we got to the airport Hawaiian Airlines did not have curbside check-in. Here we go again. One large suitcase, three smaller ones, one stroller, three backpacks, one diaper bag, two kids, no curbside and no help?!? Somehow I managed! (See photo at the bottom of this post!)

We checked in and went to our gate. All was well for awhile then it all went spiraling out of control.

Now I gotta tell you. I feel as if I am a seasoned traveler. I have flown from Hawaii to the east coast and back several times by myself with a baby/toddler. On this trip I felt as if I did everything I possibly could to prepare for this trip and the unexpected. Boy was I EVER put to the test!

We were scheduled to board our plane at 7:20 a.m. It was about 7:00 and there was no sign of boarding. Come to find out our plane was delayed by an hour. The problem is my kids were ready to board at the scheduled time and NOT an hour from it!

You know that one kid (as there is always at least one) out in public that is doing the back-arching, ear-shattering, throat-curdling scream? Tomato red face, snot pouring out of their nose, eyeballs just about to pop out of their head? You've seen that kid, right? As a mother whenver I see THAT kid I think, "Thank goodness it's not my turn. That poor mother." Well guess what. It was my turn. Momo was THAT kid and I was THAT mother.

All eyes were on me and screaming Momo. There was NOTHING I could do to calm her down. Thoughts went through my head of the mother that was kicked off of airplane two years ago because her toddler would not stop talking. That kid was TALKING, Momo was hollering! On top of the screaming she began hitting and kicking me - WHAT?!? My kid is not a hitter or a kicker! Even the Hawaiian Airlines attendant asked if I wanted her to watch my bags while I took Momo to the restroom to change her diaper (a random guess - nice try lady). I tried to stay calm and responded with a "thank you but what we really need to do is get on the plane" (Hint-Hint? Yes, please completely make an exception, break all the rules and allow me and my screaming child onto the unattended plane. Please. I'm begging you.)

FINALLY it was time to board and Momo did calm down a bit. At least getting on the plane took the edge off of her tantrum. But I could still see the apprehensive stares as people boarded the plane, glanced at me and my kids and then glanced down at their ticket to make sure they were not sitting anywhere near us. I felt horrible.

But through all the stares and dirty looks there was an angel in the crowd. A woman that I had seen in the terminal stopped at my row, tapped my shoulder and said, "You have beautiful girls."

Not that I disagree but we all know what she was really telling me was, "It's going to be okay." That small gesture that she made meant a lot to me. And while I don't know her name I will never forget her face. I hope to run into her again sometime to tell how much it meant to me for her to stop for just a second and reach out to me in my time of need.

The rest of the flight wasn't easy but it did get better. A couple of people shot comments my way as they were getting off the plane such as, "Looks like the nap helped!" "She seems happy now!" and of course the, "How old is she? Oh. Same age as my niece. I think I'll wait before I fly her out." (I should've asked, "But why?")


We finally were off the plane and headed to baggage claim. I'm sure you can imagine how happy/relieved I was to see my husband waiting for us! It's been 8.5 months since we last saw him. He had leis for all of us (yes, we already got leid!) and was ready to take on the role of daddy and husband. Thank you honey.

A very tired Momo.

A super excited Kailani.

I am woman, hear me roar.

Okay, so my husband actually loaded up all the suitcases when we arrived in Hawaii but this picture gives you an idea of what I was dealing with on my own in Seattle.

So we are finally here. My heart and my soul are happy. Now if only Momo can get over the dreaded jet lag!

More to come as I have a lot of catching up to do!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Hellooooo Washington State!

Hi! Long time no talk to! Thanks to everyone who has been asking about our little journey! Here's a little update.

While everyone else was out celebrating the 4th of July we were Washington bound. Even with all the preplanning and packing I still felt like a basketcase when it was time to go but off we went. Goodbye North Carolina, hello Washington state!

When we arrived at the Charlotte airport all I could think of was, "THANK GOODNESS" my father was traveling with us. With two kids and all the luggage I had I don't know what I would have done. Especially since "curb side check-in" was now being done indoors (What sense does that make?) In addition to all the luggage I decided to take Mo's car seat and stroller with us. I checked the car seat in with our luggage and checked the stroller in at the gate. On Delta both count as "special" luggage so there was no additional fee to bring them with us. Just an FYI for those of you that might be traveling soon!

I had filled the girls' backpacks with things to do. Sticker books, Color Wonder pens and paper (pens went dry within 20 minutes!), magnet activity book (magnets did not stick!) a DVD player (that decided not to work - of course), their MP3 players (which they did not use but they did use the headphones), seek-and-find activity books (left untouched), etc. I guess no matter how well prepared you think you are you never know what your kids are going to want to do!

The first leg of our trip, from Charlotte to Cincinatti went pretty well. Kailani was a bit apprehensive as she has a slight fear of heights. Momo on the other hand yelled, "WHOOOOOOOA" as the plane took off into the skies. I think Momo talked non-stop on the flight. I felt bad for the other passengers on the plane but at least it was happy chatter and not a screaming, short-tempered child!
Our layover in Cincinatti was just long enough for a diaper change and a cup of coffee (both of equal value!) Next thing you know we were on the 2nd leg of our flight. Kailani got over her fear of flying and thought the plane was "SO COOL!" especially since each seat had it's own television, music player, etc. They even had "Kidz Bop 16" as one of the listening choices. Whoo-hoo!

With about an hour and a half left in the flight Momo had had enough. She started yelling, "PAU! PAU!" at the top of her lungs. ("Pau" means done, or finished in Hawaiian.) I was feeling a bit "pau" as well.
We finally arrived at our destination and have been having a wonderful time ever since! We've been spending some quality time with my sister and her family and even managed a visit up to Seattle to visit my uncle and his. There have been a few meltdowns:

But they have been outnumbered by good times:

Washington has been fun. What a fantastic state! Very kid-friendly and quite multi-cultural! I love it.

The day after tomorrow we leave for Hawaii. I can't believe it. It's so surreal! I am excited to be back home and for our family to be reunited (and to have full access to a computer with fast internet speed!) But yet it bittersweet as well. We will miss our family and friends that we have left behind . I hope they come for a visit...or even a stay!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Goodbye North Carolina......

You've been good to us. In a few hours we will be leaving on a jet plane...

Unfortunately our stuff will not be going with us just yet.

Our movers showed last night - the NIGHT BEFORE OUR MOVE. They were FIVE DAYS LATE. Obviously I desperately needed them to haul away our stuff as we are getting on a plane TODAY.

The foreman/driver was rude. He was unprofessional and didn't even take his earphones out of his ears to talk with me. He was impatient and didn't want to give me time to go over the contract but I would not allow him to TOUCH our stuff until I did.

My intuition was telling me something wasn't right. Even my father said some funny stuff was going on. Things seemed a bit sketchy. I told the foreman not to move my stuff until I addressed questions with the contract. He made it sound like it didn't matter because I COULDN'T cancel their service because he was already there. REALLY?!? Watch this smart a$$. You guys are fired. Called their headquarters and they were sent on their way.

Can you say STRESSED?!?

So here I am within hours of leaving for the airport and my father's basement is loaded with our stuff. *Sigh* At least it is out of his way and in a safe place until I find some professional people to take care of it. Going to be a bit difficult doing it from afar but my father is willing to help me out. Anyone have experience with some great movers? Send the info my way!

Wish us luck on our flight and have a happy 4th of July!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Poll Results: Responding to Comments

Thank you so much to those of you that took the time to take my poll about responding to comments. If you missed it here is what was asked and the results:

The best way to respond to comments left on your blog is to:

*Respond on your own blog where the comment originated 24/52%
*Visit and respond on the commentor's blog 11/23%
*Respond via email 6/13%
*Other 5/10%

As you can see of the 46 votes a little more than half respond to comments where the post originated. I think that I will go with the majority and do that as well. I'm sure there will be times that I will do it differently but it's nice to have a routine of sorts! Regardless I am making it my mission to do better at responding to comments left on my blog. If someone took the time to stop by, browse and leave a comment it's only right to respond back! After all, don't you like it when people respond to yours? At least that shows someone is listening! ;)

Thanks again!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Barium Springs Home for Children

Today was the big day. No, not our move date but the day I took all the donated goods to the Barium Spring Home for Children. But let me back up a bit.

I had a yard sale on Saturday. It went okay. More people arrived than I expected and I actually made more money than I predicted. Afterwards I boxed up all the left over items - there was no way I was letting them back into the house! I have to say that I had a moment (or two) when I was folding the clothes and sorting them into boxes. How silly of me to be attached to certain articles of clothing! The cute little Gymboree sweaters. The snow suit. The dresses the girls wore at Christmas. I could tell you where or who we got everything from. But they had to go. So if they are going to go anywhere why not include it with the other donated items to Barium Springs?

Left over items from the garage sale.
Seven large moving boxes filled to the brim!

(I'm almost embarrassed to see how much stuff we have!)

Last night I sat down to do a bit of sewing - to finish up some bibs that I had been neglecting. To my horror my sewing machine WOULD NOT WORK! After my mini-freakout I looked at it as a sign that I had done enough. Did I reach my own personal goal of making 100 bibs? No, I didn't. But that's okay. It really is.

Thank you to Chickpea Sewing Studio for the free and easy bibs tutorial!

All items that were donated were loaded into my van - minus the handmade items. These special items were put into two separate piles. Blankets and hats in one container and bibs and burp cloths in another. On the outside of one of the containers I wrote:

I hope I didn't leave any states/countries out!

There was a total of 105 hand made items! Included were:
  • 12 blankets
  • 79 bibs
  • 7 hats
  • 7 burp cloths
If you include store-bought bibs and blankets we had an additional 11 bibs and 33 blankets. Everything else, clothing, shoes, household goods - TONS. And I mean TONS! Take a look at the Flikr photo show on the right side of this blog to see how much stuff was donate!

As scheduled I met with the donation coordinator of Barium Springs - Barb Carlson. What an awesome lady she is! She is a total breath of fresh air. I thoroughly enjoyed talking with her and wished I could've met her sooner! In accepting all the items she was incredibly gracious and appreciative to say the least! Barium Springs is so lucky to have her working for them and I am blessed to have met her!

Posing for a pic with Barb and all the handmade items.
You didn't want a picture with all the cardboard boxes, did you? ;)

So that's it. It's so strange for this whole thing to be over with. It started off as a project to give back to my community and in turn something was given back to me. You can call it a life lesson of sorts. A few things that I learned are that:
  • People are good.
  • People want to help. Don't be afraid to ask. Not only do people want to help but they appreciate the opportunity to do so! I can't tell you how many people thanked ME for allowing them to be a part of this project. It blows my mind!
  • Sometimes it's the total stranger that comes through for you (again and again and again!)
  • Be prepared for roadblocks because you will have them. And when you do try going with the flow because in the end it could be a blessing in disguise.
As I wrap things up I just want to thank ALL of you that helped me through this project! Those of you that donated items, blogged about it, or simply supported me by commenting on it! I couldn't have done it without you.