A few weeks before leaving San Francisco, we celebrated our sweet oldest’s 5th birthday. The inspiration for the party came from some of her beloved San Francisco books, and was a great way to say farewell to our favorite city. In addition to setting the mood for the party, the books also doubled as both party decorations and entertainment during the party.
I’ve said it before, but if you haven’t read any of Miroslav Sasek’s books, you are seriously missing out. I am of course partial to This is San Francisco, but we have almost all of the titles in our collection. The beautiful vintage illustrations in this book set the color scheme for the party.

San Francisco 123 was perfect for the littlest SF loving tots at the party, and matched both the colors and the Golden Gate bridge theme.

For an simple no-sew bunting, we used a round punch to cut circles out of paint chips in the colors of the party, then glued a string between two circles (with the right sides of the circles facing out). Quick and easy.

This San Francisco 3-D puzzle was a sweet gift and made a nice decoration for the party.



We kept it simple (and economical) by using plain white plates, napkins, notecards and paper bags. Then we used a an alphabet stamp and a Golden Gate Bridge stamp to decorate. Coral and Seaglass ink pads coordinated perfectly with the color scheme.






A few other notes about the party, and how we kept things simple and inexpensive:

  • Everything had to be quick and easy, since the party was happening so close to our move.
  • Food consisted of a fruit and veggie platter plus cheese and crackers. Good for both kids and adults, and minimal prep time.
  • Dessert was homemade (from a box) cupcakes.
  • Party favors were the stamped bags filled with piñata goodies. Because after living in Honduras, no birthday party is complete without a piñata!
  • The party was held at Julius Kahn Park, one of our favorite neighborhood spots, which also happens to have an amazing view of the Golden Gate bridge. Parks are my favorite venue for birthday parties (especially in the city). There is free entertainment for the kids, beautiful and natural scenery, and you don’t need to worry about limiting the number of people. Plus, a permit for a party is very reasonable and cleanup is a breeze.

All Natural Easter Eggs straight from the farmer
I’ve claimed to have made natural Easter eggs before. Every year, we try out different vegetables and herbs to naturally dye eggs. We’ve used red cabbage to make blue ombre eggs. And last year, we went super simple and doodled on brown eggs with white pen.

But this is even easier. And more natural.

Here’s what you do:

  1. Go to your local farmer’s market.
  2. Pick out the most gorgeous eggs you can find, preferably in soft hues of sea-foam green, blush beige, caramel brown, misty aqua blue, or any other naturally stunning color.
  3. Marvel at their natural beauty.

Kind of simple. But sometimes simple is best!

All Natural Easter Eggs straight from the farmer
All Natural Easter Eggs straight from the farmer
All Natural Easter Eggs straight from the farmer

More Easter egg decorating ideas:

Natural Brown Easter Eggs

A few days ago we decided we were ready to dye some

Naturally Dyed Eggs Go Ombre

Remember these colorful beauties from last year? We

dye Easter eggs naturally

Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs

Who knew that Easter egg dye kits are only an American

The Best Doctor

Before putting together our DIY Doctor Kit, I spent a bit of time looking to see what was available. And I was completely impressed by the beautiful, well made, eco friendly doctor’s kits out there!  I have rounded a few of the very best options, as well as some books, apps, puzzles and games that will excite any aspiring doctor.

Be sure to see our favorites in each category down at the bottom!

 

DOCTOR’S KITS

row 1:   HABA Doctor’s Suitcase   |   Le Grande Famille Doctor’s Medical Kit   |    Strawberry Doctor Trunk

row 2:   Doc HABA   |   Is There A Doctor in the House   |   Wooden Pretend Play Doctor’s Kit

row 3:   My First Doctor Kit   |   Soopsori Doctor Play Set   |   Honeybake Doctor’s Set

 

APPS

The Human Body

Toca Doctor

This is my Body

My Incredible Body

 

BOOKS

Inside Your Outside: All About the Human Body

The Magic School Bus Inside The Human Body

First Human Body Encyclopedia

See Inside Your Body

The Human Body: Lift the Flap and Learn

 

PUZZLES & GAMES

Skeleton Floor Puzzle

Magnetic Human Body Play Set

Your Body 5-Layer Wooden Puzzle

Body Magnets and Anatomy Cards

Operation Game

Squishy Human Body

 

Our Favorites:

DOCTOR KIT | Is There A Doctor in the House: Although I am of course partial to our DIY Doctor Kit, it has a lot of little pieces and isn’t suitable for the littlest doctors. This wooden version from Land of Nod is super cute, durable, and comes in a fun carrying case. My 18 month old has this and she loves it!

APP | The Human Body App: This is a beautiful app that allows kids (and adults) to discover how each of the body’s systems works. It also comes with a PDF guide that explains how to use the app and gives many other activity suggestions. I appreciate that this app allows open-ended exploration as opposed to simply playing a game or following instructions.

BOOK | The Magic School Bus Inside The Human Body: We love all of the Magic School Bus books around here, and this one is no different. Ms. Frizzle takes the class through the human body and kids learn tons of fun facts along the way.

PUZZLE | Body Magnets and Anatomy Cards: This puzzle not only teaches kids the different parts of the muscular system, skeleton, organs or skin, it does it in 9 different languages. Perfect for bilingual kids, and those of us who move around the world every few years. You never know when you might need to know how to say gallbladder in German!

GAME | Operation: The original game we all played and loved when we were kids. You really can’t improve on a classic! (Just make sure it is the original, and not the updated version, which is such a disappointment)

Kids Doctor Costume - mini scrubs are the cutest!
Dr. costume for kids
Dr. costume for kids
Dr. costume for kids
Dr. costume for kids
Dr. costume for kids
Dr. costume for kids
Dr. costume for kids
A Halloween costume that gets played with daily for over a year is definitely a success in my book!

These photos are from Halloween 2013. I had to dig waaayyyy back in the archives to find them. But since this is one of the things that gets played with nearly every single day, I thought it was worth sharing.

When she started talking about being a doctor for Halloween, it seemed like it would be pretty easy, which was key because I had a newborn at the time. I found some sweet mini scrubs and a pink stethoscope and thought we were set. For the weeks leading up to Halloween she was playing with the stethoscope non-stop, and wearing the scrubs every chance she got. I got the bright idea to make a doctor’s bag to double as her trick-or-treat bag, which then turned into building a whole doctor’s kit.

DIY Doctor

And this may have been one of the best ideas I have ever had. It gets played with more than any other toy we have, and took minimal effort to make.

If you want to make your own, here are some ideas to get you started…

DIY Doctor

To Find:

I started my search for things to include by collecting random things around the house. If you aren’t looking to spend any money, you could make a pretty great doctor’s bag by using only these things that you most likely have on hand.

(clockwise from top right)

  • various medicine droppers and medicine cups. We have apparently never thrown away any of the medicine droppers or cups that have come with any of the baby tylenol or other medicines we have gone through in the last 5+ years, so we had quite a few that I could include. These get used as medicine, shots, and even food for her “patients”.
  • A measuring tape.  For measuring height, head circumference, and boo-boo size.
  • Band-Aids. Obviously. I found a cute tin then just refill it with colored bandaids from Target. Because she can go through an entire tin full of these in under an hour.
  • A mini pen. A must if it is going to fit in her little front pocket. Plus, then we know that this is the pen that belongs in the med kit and we can keep it where it belongs.
  • A tongue depressor. Or popsicle stick. I have a bunch of these because they are always being stuck in someone’s mouth.
  • An empty pill container. I just cleaned the label off of an old advil bottle and left it empty.
  • An elastic bandage and an adhesive bandage.
  • An old elbow brace. This is the perfect size because it can be used on little kid arms, legs, ankles, feet, etc.

DIY Doctor

To Buy:

I supplemented what I found around the house with a few other tools that would make the doctor’s kit a little more realistic. I found everything online for super cheap.

(clockwise from right)

  • A stethoscope. This is by far the number one used item in her bag. It was only a few dollars and it actually works.
  • An orthoscope.
  • A hammer.
  • Mini scrubs. These are what started this whole kit. When she started talking about wanting to be a doctor for Halloween, I quickly googled kids scrubs and found these. I ordered them, not expecting much for how inexpensive they were. When they arrived I fell in love. They are so cute and really make the entire set. (we especially love the personalization!)
  • A blood pressure cuff. We don’t have this yet, but it is on her wish list.

DIY Doctor

To DIY:

And of course I had to make a few things to go along with her kit. I made all of these things within a few hours and used only things we already had laying around.

(clockwise from top right)

  • A mini notebook / prescription pad. I started with a little notebook and just covered it with plain white paper. I cut a small red cross out of red paper and glued it on, then covered the whole thing in clear contact paper to finish it off.
  • A mask. We have a few paper masks from the hospital but they are so big and scratchy, so I made a simple kid sized mask out of white cotton fabric and a simple elastic cord.
  • A doctor’s bag. To hold everything together. (It also doubled as her trick or treating bag) Since I was trying to only use things we already had, I sewed the bag from white cotton canvas, then used a freezer paper stencil and red fabric paint to decorate it. But you could just as easily start with a pre-made canvas bag. (For more details and photos on using freezer paper stencils, check out the little heart onesie tutorial.)

DIY Doctor

And if you aren’t keen on putting together your own bag, click here for some cute store bought versions that any aspiring doctor would love!

Mini Notebooks for each month of the year

Happy New Year! I know a lot of people started back after the holidays on Monday, but here in Austria, the holidays last through January 6th, so today is the first day back for us.

I have so many fun and exciting things in the works for the new year, but before all of that, I wanted to share the culmination of my little challenge from 2014. A different mini notebook for each month of the year.

Don’t they look so fun and festive all lined up together?

After I admired them I packaged them up in a simple craft pillow box and tied it with a piece of natural cotton twill tape.

Now what to do with them…

Any ideas?

simple packaging for small gifts

To see all of the mini notebooks in this collection, click here.