Valentine’s Day – COVID style

LET'S CELEBRATE! Unfortunately, we’re becoming experts practicing “social distance celebrations”. I think Valentine’s Day marks the last holiday we celebrated in person last year. And since we have been social distancing on the extreme, and we love a good party in our little corner of the world, we’ve been making a big deal, even out of little celebrations. and Valentine’s Day is a fun one to celebrate.  breakfast that is all hearts: BITE-SIZE HEART-SHAPED FRUITI love using these mini heart-shaped food cutters from Amazon – They are perfect for making fruit and veggies more fun (and tasty-looking) in everyday lunches PINK-FROSTED CINNAMON ROLLSGrab a pack of store-bought cinnamon rolls and unpack. To create the heart-shaped rolls, carefully unroll each slice, then roll back both edges towards each other and pinch the middle meeting point. the tighter the roll and the pinch, the more likely they will keep their shape. Add a drop of food coloring to the frosting and you’re good to go!  HEART-SHAPED BACON:Heat the oven to 400, line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and shape your bacon into hearts (pinch the middle point, then fold both sides up and towards each other. Bake for roughly 20 minute. I hope your valentine’s day is super! We LOVE making valentines for our friends. Every year they are different, and we love coming up with something fun that can be used long after Valentine’s Day.  This year, the kids chose color-your-own super hero masks and capes (these capes came with masks and stickers. We saved the masks for another event, and used the stickers to decorate the back of the valentine package). I designed the tag, my oldest (1st grader) colored it in and signed it, we scanned it and then printed enough copies for all the tags.  Everything fit perfectly into these red favor bags. Click here to access the valentine’s superhero tags. And of course, we couldn’t forget our teachers and school staff! Even though we’re home, they’re working on campus, and we wanted them to enjoy a sweet break and know how much they’re loved and appreciated.   Have you opted to adjust any of your Valentine’s Day plans? How are you adjusting? What do you miss the most? Drop me a line, I’d love to hear from you!  ’till next time – cheers! s.

MY TOP SUBSCRIPTION BOXES FOR KIDS

My Top Subscription boxes for Kids - @shirful

KIDS I’m big on experiences, especially with kids – going to hands-on museums, the childrens’ theatre, farms, anywhere they can learn through touch and play, and engage all their senses. I really miss taking the kids to these various places (pandemic and all) and was eager to fill this void and keep us busy at home.  Here are my top picks: Kiwi Crate and Koala Crate  photo credit: Kiwi Crate Co. Deciding to subscribe to this box was easy for me because I knew one of the co-founders and trusted her. But I have become a big fan of the brand independently of that relationship. We’ve been subscribing to the Kiwi Co. boxes for 2.5 years and absolutely LOVE them. The boxes come with plenty of activities that could easily entertain you all month long. My 6.5yr old daughter loves the Kiwi Crates (ages 5-8). They blend art and science in a super fun and colorful way. Each box is themed and comes with a science experiment and art project. These past couple of months featured mirror illusions, coral reefs, and treasure hunts. My 4yr old has been receiving the Koala Crates (ages 2-4, but will work great up to age 5), and loves the craft, pretend play element and story that comes with each themed box. Some of his recent favorites include the farm (he walked around with the farm “crate” he built for over a week!), glowing nature, rainbows, rainforest, music…  We’ve designated our own crate as the “Kiwi Crate” where he keeps all the pretend-play pieces that come with every box (great quality, has lasted over a year). I even surprised my husband with a 6-month subscription to the EUREKA Crate (ages 14-104) which he loved (and actually enjoyed doing on his own without the kids). The website is super easy to navigate. Crates range in ages and interests from baby-to-adult, and the website also offers many free DIY tutorials (for free) for various projects to do at home.  Crates start at $20/month. MOM TIP: This is a GREAT gift for grandparents to gift to grandchildren. They can decide on the length of subscription (one month – one year and ongoing), and will definitely enjoy receiving pictures of all the creations! GIFTING TIP: Looking for a creative gift for an ADULT in your life? The EUREKA CRATE is perfect for those with an engineering mind, and the MAKER CRATE is the right fix for the crafter in your life. You can set up a subscription (as few as 3 months), or buy individual projects. Curious to try? Use this link and get 50% off your first month (*full discloser: I’ll get $10 off a future month, so thanks 🙂 Play On! Kits / The Bay Area Children’s Theatre Photo Credit: Bay Area Childrens Theatre This is a brand new subscription that launched this winter.  We are HUGE FANS of the Bay Area Childrens’ Theatre. As members, we’ve attended all their performances for the past 3 years. One of the things my kids miss most during the pandemic is going to the theater and musicals produced by the Bay Area Childrens’ Theatre. These are low-tech productions, intimate shows, and SUPER creative and imaginative. LOVE. LOVE. LOVE. Enter the PlayOn! kits. We just received our 2nd kits, and we love them! They are marketed as “an audio musical adventure for the whole family”. Personally, I’ve never come across something like this. The audio element (which you access using a passcode) brings the story in the box to life and transforms you into an actor in the adventure.  If you’ve been to their live musical performances – these boxes bring the sound effects and creative lyrics into your home. The box itself delivers fun props and art projects to use during the experience. AND you can sign up for live (zoom) drama classes with some of the theatre actors. Best of all – these kits (and any other donations you make) help sustain the theatre during the pandemic. We can’t wait to be back there in person! Click here to subscribe and to support the theatre. The Preschool Box Photo Credit: The Preschool Box Our little guy is 4 and REALLY misses preschool this year. Since we chose to keep the kids home during the pandemic, and he’s super jealous of his sister zooming through first grade, I’ve been trying to come up with some special activities for him. I did well for a while but kept falling short. So I did some research and discovered the Preschool Box. We’re only on our 3rd box, but so far, I’m super impressed.  The box is filled with enough activities to keep you busy all month long, and they are just right for his ability and attention span. It’s packed up well so you can find all your materials and instructions, and I really (REALLY) appreciate that it doesn’t include any of the “empty” fillers – you really do use everything in the box. MOM TIP: We’re excited to go back to school in September, but in the meantime (and probably after), our little guy is really enjoying learning his numbers, letters, colors, sorting and doing it all through engaging art and activities. We will definitely keep this subscription going even when we’re back at school in person! Boxes start at $32.95. Click here to subscribe. Days United Photo Credit: Day United In our family, daddy (my husband) grew up celebrating Christmas, and mommy (I) grew up celebrating Jewish holidays, so our family has chosen to celebrate the best of both worlds. I was introduced to the Days box many years ago (maybe as one of their very early customers, not sure… ) long before the boxes were appropriate for my kids, but I’ve LOVED them, since the very first box, and have been holding on to all the different parts. These boxes are such a unique and creative way to introduce the holiday to kids and friends, incorporating arts and crafts,

MY KIDS’ BATHROOM

A CORNER OF MY HOME I love how bright, airy, and calm our kids’ bathroom is. The double vanity and mirror were there when we moved in. The color palette is cool, with muted shades of green and grey (the quartz counter is white dusted with light grey. Since we are such huge fans of bath bombs and use them regularly, I store them in a large glass container on the counter for an added splash of color. BTW – these are my favorite organic bath bombs for everyday use for kids. They are also great as party favors! My own little escape includes these jasmine bath bombs and these gardenia bath bombs from Spa Pure Spa Girl. They smell divine. I have them stocked in a glass apothecary jar in my master bathroom. Designer/Mom Tip: If you have young kids and want to empower independence, you can set them up for success without compromising style.  When you have a double vanity, invest in a stylish step-stool, and designate one of the sinks as a kids’ sink. I love this 3-in-1 adjustable stepstool from Little Partners. It comes in a variety of colors to complement any bathroom. Pick a color that blends in rather than stands out for a calmer effect.  As kids grow older, and need less of a boost, you can also transition to the Wildkins two-step wooden stool (also available in some great colors.) For now, it makes me happy. What do you think? ’till next time – cheers! s

It’s National Pancake Day!

LET'S CELEBRATE! In case you missed the memo, today, February 16th, is National Pancake Day. Turns out it’s a holy day for my kids. I’m assuming yours too. And considering this past year we’ve all been through, our household has decided to celebrate AS MANY holidays and events as we possibly can (Our Every Day is a Holiday calendar has been super helpful in making that happen), So, back to pancakes – my kids grew up on my made-up version of a super simple toddler banana pancake. And though daddy makes some AMAZING fancy pancakes (lemon, sourdough, chocolate chips, and nuts to name a few..), sometimes we just want to go old school. These little guys are super slim, light, and melt in your mouth (scroll down to the bottom of this post for a full recipe). The caramelized bananas make them super sweet. you can actually skip the syrup, or just sprinkle them with a tad of powdered sugar. Either way, finger-linckin’ good. Scroll down for the recipe! … and for those of us adulting in the room, here are some fancy-pants pancakes you might want to whip up for yourself! Extra Thick and Fluffy Japanese Style Pancakes Lemon Mascarpone Pancake (with Fruit Compote) HOT CHOCOLATE PANCAKES​ Pancake Charcuterie Board Super Simple Toddler Banana Pancakes Shiri Weinstein 4.5 These pancakes aren’t just for toddlers. My kiddos are no longer toddlers and still ask for them regularly. They are super simple and quick to whip up – even on a school day. Prep Time 5 Minutes Cook Time 10 Minutes Total Time 15 Minutes Serves 2-3 People Ingredients 1 Egg 1 Soft banana 3 Tbsp Creme Fraiche 3 Tbsp Milk 2/3 Cup Flour 1 Tbsp Brown Sugar Butter (for frying) Instructions Using a fork, smash the banana into a smooth texture, then mix in the egg. Add the milk, Creme Fraiche, and sugar and mix well. Whisk in the flour until all the lumps are gone, and the batter is smooth. Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat. Spoon the batter into the pan, and let the pancake sit until bubbles start appearing around the edges. Flip the pancake and let it cook on the other side. Serve right away (syrup and fresh fruit optional) Notes SUBSTITUTIONS: If you don’t have Creme Fraiche on hand, you can substitute any full-fat yogurt (flavors are a great addition too).These pancakes tend to be thinner than traditional pancakes (leaning towards the thickness of a French crepe. Therefore, adding mixings into the pancakes (such as nuts or chocolate chips) might not work as well as with traditional pancakes, but you can always serve them on the side!  Ready to hop into the kitchen and fire up your griddle? I don’t blame ya! Have a delicious time!  One more fun thought – another way to make today special – consider surprising your little humans with breakfast for dinner, or fun-shaped pancakes. ’till next time – cheers!s.

CHEERS to 2021!

LET'S CELEBRATE! Finally! 2021 couldn’t get here fast enough. Not that anything has changed, but it’s another reason to celebrate, and one of my resolutions for 2021 is to continue being intentional and finding ways to celebrate big and small moments as a family, and to keep this tradition alive even when life shifts into a “new normal” (whenever that might be). So how did we kick off 2021? We definitely didn’t wait until midnight. We kicked off our little shindig at 12 noon. A Treat – cupcake…. surprise! Post lunch dessert included cupcakes – SURPRISE! (vanilla cupcakes with vanilla frosting (yup, I cheated! I totally used cake mix and store-bought frosting!). When you bite into them, sprinkles galore pour out (this handy gadget helps!). Fun to see the kids get excited (and lick their plates clean, ha!) A Craft – We made our own fireworks craft. All you need is a splash of liquid watercolor paint, a few pipettes, and paper towels (Viva Signature Cloth are my go-to in the kitchen, and are bright white and thick, perfect for such craft projects). Just squeeze, and release – perfect for little busy fingers. A Cultural Exchange – We’ve been lucky to host a super sweet Colombian Au Pair this year that has made a real effort to introduce us to some Colombian traditions (one of my favorite aspects of the Au Pair program is the cultural exchange). Next time we host a Colombian Au Pair we will know to surprise her with these traditions! (feel free to steal these ideas!) We kicked off our morning running outside and around the house with an empty suitcase in our hand (they normally would run down the street). Hopefully, this will lead to some fun adventures and travel this coming year (AMEN!). Then, lunch included 12 grapes. “The twelve grapes of luck” is a Spanish tradition that consists of eating a grape with each clock bell striking at midnight of December 31 to welcome the New Year. … According to the tradition, eating the twelve grapes leads to a year of good luck and prosperity. (we could all use some of that!) Finally, we surprised everyone with a fresh pair of yellow underwear. This led to lots of giggles and is also a symbol of prosperity. A MEANINGFUL RESOLUTION – We love reading. And we love books with mindful, kind messages. Squirrel’s New Year’s Resolution is exactly that. Starting the year by discussing kindness, what it means to be a good friend, and what can we do this year to support our friends felt especially meaningful since we’ve been missing our friends so so much. AND A FUN NEW TRADITION – Finally, I came across this awesome calendar that is now hanging on our fridge. The kids LOVE checking it every morning (a great way to practice days of the week and dates of the month!) and planning for the week ahead. We won’t celebrate every day, but we’re excited about some really fun highlights. So cheers to 2021! Here’s wishing us all big and small moments of joy, lots of health, happiness, and togetherness.   ’till next time – big virtual hugs!s. Join the CelebrATION! I’ve handpicked a list of fun days to celebrate in 2021. Download your free list and join the party! Come back for ideas and recipes to try out with your family. CLICK TO DOWNLOAD