custom brew…

beer.  yum.

in an effort to engage parents at our school in our IB curriculum this past winter, our IB PYP coordinator created a parent class: Parent Unit of Inquiry on Beer.  yup, beer.

during one of our classes we took a tour of the 5 seasons brewery and was guided through their basement by brewmaster and co-owner, crawford.  a great conversation developed about brewing, hops, etc. and one thing lead to another.  one of our parents coincidentally has family that grows hops in belgium and crawford agreed to let us brew our own beer!!! i’m not kidding.

so belgian hops were fedexed to the brewery and one day in december, we spent 9 hours breweing our beer.  what an experience!

6 weeks later the beer was ready and celebrated the brew over a chinese new year celebration fundraiser for the PTA (our school teaches mandarin chinese so this is a big holiday for the school).

our PTA annual auction was just a couple of weeks ago and the 5 seasons generously provided us 5 bottles to auction off.

i won 2 of the bottles during the live auction and think it’s worth every penny of the $125 i paid for it.  great memories, and a great cause.

>RANDOM MONDAY re-usable party favors

>home-sewn house slippers

party favors. hm…what to give what to give.
when we throw the kids their birthday parties, thinking about the party favors is our, um, my favorite part. i always like to make something the kids can use so that it is personal and functional. this approach is mostly driven by my dislike for the overabundance of disposable plastic toys and candy i don’t even let my kids eat. it’s also driven by my need to do something creative with my children. i think by taking the time to make their favors, they are learning how to do something special and thoughtful for their friends and express gratitude for celebrating their birthdays.
here is a list of some of the favors we’ve made:
(pictures will be forthcoming)
(1) flower pots:
zoe’s 3rd birthday- i purchased small flower pots from a crafts store. she used craft paint and painted each pot. at that age, she had fun just mixing colors and painting these wild swirly strokes on the pot. then i put each friend’s first initials on each pot. inside each pot we placed a flower bulb in a coin envelope, ziplock baggie of dirt, and potting instructions. we potted ours but after surviving a good number of years outside on our deck, her pot has cracked and crumbled.
(2) library bags:
zoe’s 4th birthday- i purchased cotton twill fabric and sewed small tote bags. i know i could have just purchased them but cost-wise this was a more affordable route and the twill was super soft and not stiff like the canvas bags you buy at the craft stores. at the party, each child guest decorated their own library book bag using permanent and fabric markers. our own tote bag got lots of use carrying the smaller board books we would borrow from the library. we often walk to the library and so when they were younger, they each had the opportunity to carry their own library books to and from the library. made them feel very grown up!
(3) cloth lunchbags:
silas’ 4th birthday- i purchased organic cotton drawstring bags, 7″x9″. i made a screen print out of a drawing he did of superheroes using my gocco printer. (an amazing DIY printer for the home crafter from japan). i helped silas screen each bag then put a handmade hangtag stating how the bags can be used for lunch, snacks, toys, art supplies, basically any goodie they want to tote around. we’ve used silas’ baggie for his lunches on field trips since i don’t like using disposable bags. they are great.
(3) team hoodies:
silas’ 6th birthday- i purchased matching hoodies for his friends. he had a wii fit themed slumber party so i made a screen print, again using my gocco, of a handmade logo “wii fit 2010”. i helped silas screen the logo on the front of each hoodie. then he designated a number to his friends and we printed those on the backs. we did these individual numbers by cutting out the numbers in freezer paper, ironed the stencil into place, placed a blank screen on top and used a squeegee to print the number on the hoodie. (check out www.instructables.com to learn more about printing using freezer paper stencils). the kids really like their hoodies and we will see his friends around town wearing them.
(4) house slippers:
zoe’s 8th slumber birthday party- i purchased a pattern on etsy from sewingwithme1, pattern number 77, for cute mary jane-styled house slippers. together we selected a variety of cotton fabrics and purchased the necessary batting from the fabric shop. to save time, i got all the girls’ shoe sizes and pre-cut all the necessary pieces before the party. at the party, each friend got an opportunity to sew parts of their own slippers. i only had 2 sewing machines set up and there wasn’t enough time for them to sew everything but luckily they were off playing with each other anyway. a friend helped me sew through the night to assemble and complete most of the slippers. they took more time than anticipated and i had to ‘deliver’ the rest after the party was over. zoe has worn out her beloved pair of slippers and they have holes now on the bottoms.
making our party favors are fun and knowing that they are getting good use just makes it all worth it.
what ideas do you have?

what i’m in love with…

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