August 28, 2023

A Toy Garden {Giveaway}

You may have seen a cute little Bolga basket appearing in many of my gardening photos.
What was once an Easter basket for my son has now become a handy container for gathering produce in our small backyard garden. I think it would also make an adorable lunch basket for a child, don't you?
I bought this sweet little basket (yes, bloggers actually BUY things) back in April from A Toy Garden, a wonderful retailer of children's toys and other educational items. According to their website, A Toy Garden...
offers a broad selection of open ended, natural, creative & fun toys for children & their families. Great selection of Fair Trade & Made in the USA toys, too. Waldorf & Montessori families and anyone who appreciates quality toys at reasonable prices will enjoy our family run webstore.
A Toy Garden is the perfect place for back-to-school items, not just for traditional settings, but for homeschooling and Montessori and Waldorf schools. I'm quite smitten with their kits and art supplies, like the needle felting kits, including this Rainbow Felted Acorn Set
and this adorable table-top loom, which is made in the USA.
And I must get a set of these colored twig pencils, if only for decoration in a hand-made container. :). A Toy Garden really inspires that crunchy side of me.
A Toy Garden is such a great resource for unique and inspirational children's toys. Won't you go on over and take a look?

Sonya, the owner/founder of A Toy Garden is very kindly offering to give away to one lucky K&K reader
Here's a brief description of this pretty and colorful basket: The top half is a mix of the blue and green, the bottom half is a mix of blue and natural. The blue has a hint of purple in it but is really very gender neutral. The rim alternates with natural and blue. The parts that go to the leather handle also alternate with blue and natural. It's roughly 8" wide in diameter, perfect for a child's lunch.
To Enter
Visit A Toy Garden and leave a comment here naming your favorite item.
Extra Entries (leave a separate comment for each one):
  • Blog about this contest (2 entries--leave 2 comments)
  • Subscribe to my updates
  • If you're a Fan of Katydid and Kid on Facebook leave a comment letting me know
  • Follow my blog via Google Friend Connect
  • Follow @katydidandkid and tweet this giveaway, leaving a link to your tweet in the comments. You can tweet once per day (leave a comment each day). You can copy and paste my tweet if you'd like: Win a child sized Bolga Basket from A Toy Garden. Perfect basket for a child's lunch @katydidandkid
US Postal addresses only.You must do the first entry in order to enter ("I want to win, thanks!" comments will NOT be considered). You will have until Sunday September 12th at 11:59pm EST to enter. The winner will be chosen via random number generator the next day and notified by email. I'll also post the winners on my blog HERE. If I don't hear back from the winner within 72 hours, I'll pick another.
Disclosure: I was not compensated for this review. All opinions are my own.

August 26, 2023

Around My House

This is a hodge-podge sort of post, filled with random stuff that's going on in our busy house. First off, the garden and the usual end-of-summer bounty laid at our feet, or in this case, on our kitchen sideboard.
The tomatoes are literally falling off the vine, they're so heavy and good. I made a nice pomodoro sauce for dinner last night with them and basil and a dash of balsamic vinegar (though I totally forgot we're out of Parmesan cheese). So yummy and so summery; it's really a dish that allows you to savor the waning summer garden grub.

Onto another random thought: my house is a wreck, and to add something else to the mix, I decided it was finally time to paint the living room.
It's been this hideous but oddly coordinating yellow that I'm just so sick of looking at. I got depressed thinking about sitting here all winter, staring at pissy walls.
This is just a test, but I really like this color, a pale, teal, bluish-greenish something or other that doesn't translate to photos very well. I need to head to the hardware store to get a few gallons, now that I'm set on the color. Then on to the tediousness of taping off the trim work.
I'm not a huge fan of the wall-painting process, but I just love the results. If I could stand it, I'd probably paint the rooms in my house bi-yearly--I adore changing colors, but not all the prep work. Plus the moldings will definitely need to be painted too, since I haven't touched them since we moved in 4 years ago. Sigh.

But with new walls comes new artwork, and therefore I'm working on a piece for the living room. I collaged pages of an old book (yes, THAT book and THIS book) onto canvas
and will be adding some cut paper poppies onto it. This artwork is inspired by this post that I came across at Jones Design Company. I just can't get enough of crafts made with recycled books. Oh, and you might not have noticed, but I am trying to incorporate some of the bazillion paint chip rejects into the art work. I cut them into little shapes, however they're not sticking so well with the Mod Podge, as you can see. But they won't get away with that....get out the Gorilla Glue!

Any projects you're working on before the colder weather kicks in?

A Trip to the Moon, Sort Of

Around here, we try to do some kind of art every day, I mean, I was an art teacher after all (regular readers are probably sick to death of hearing this--sorry!). Sometimes we color with crayons, sometimes we paint with watercolors, but the thing we play with nearly every day is dough. Mostly the familiar stuff that comes in plastic cans, but sometimes homemade stuff that might taste good to a toddler.

So imagine my excitement when we were sent a Moon Dough Barnyard Playset, via Team Mom.
I had seen Moon Dough in stores before, but figured it was just another dough. But I was wrong! Moon Dough has a weird, crumbly texture but at the same time it sticks together easily. It never dries out, unlike other doughs when left out in the air, and is hypo-allergenic and wheat-free. Moon Dough is kind of like those marshmallow Circus Peanuts, but drier and more powdery.
Of course S loves it, especially the crumbling part. He could sit for minutes just squeezing it in his hands and making little bits. As a 2 year old, he was more interested in the properties of the Moon Dough rather than the farm, unless of course I was helping him load the dough into the farm molds. To explain, the farm has molds of animals that you crank out of the barn after filling them with Moon Dough.
There are also other free-standing pieces, like a hay bale and fence.
I brought the Barnyard Playset on our front porch for both Soren and our neighbor kids (ages 3 and 5) to play with, and the neighbor kids loved it, especially the 3 year old girl. She spent an entire hour busily making animals for the farm. If we had more dough, she would have probably played for another hour.
The drawbacks that I've found with Moon Dough is that it's messier than other doughs. Because it crumbles so much and is pretty dry, not sticky, it seems to get all over the place. It's easy to sweep up, however, and can be reused again and again. It was a bit frustrating for the kids when the colors mixed together, especially because it's hard to keep them separated. Though one would experience this problem with other doughs too.

There are a few other Moon Dough playsets to choose from, including a Moon Dough Diner, Pizza Shop, Doghouse, and individual color refills. You can find it at Toys R Us, Target, Walmart,, and other stores. We'll definitely be picking up some more dough to play with during our art making time.
Disclosure: As a member of Team Mom, I received a Moon Dough Play Set for review purposes.

August 25, 2023

Marry Me, IKEA?

Here is reason #53 of the 1000 reasons that I love IKEA.

August 24, 2023

Dwindling Summer

Though I'm elated to bid farewell to the awful heat, it's somewhat bittersweet that summer is winding down.

We've been enjoying summertime outings to the Delaware Seashore, and this past weekend SoJo and I met some friends there for swimming and exploring the boardwalk in Ocean City, Maryland.
It's such an amazing boardwalk, with family-friendly activities (this is no Seaside Heights, Jersey Shore fans) and a really wide beach. I like that the sand just rolls up to the boardwalk, no trekking up steps and over the dunes.
There's even a wooden play castle to explore on the beach, where you land in the endless sandbox rather than on concrete.
And of course there's simply the sand and sea to play in.
At night, the boardwalk twinkles with lights and carnival rides, and despite the look of trepidation on his face, SoJo had such fun riding these.
But not before the race to finish a dripping ice cream cone (sorry, no shots of that--too busy licking!).

So how's your summer winding down? Are you looking forward to fall? I sure am! Jubilantly!

Crafty KidsUSA Model Playhouses {Giveaway}

A few months back, we got to try out the amazing cardboard Shuttle Imagination Playhouse from Crafty Kids USA, and we loved not just that it was a full-sized playhouse, but that it could be customized by painting and decorating. Naturally I loved this, being an art teacher, but I also was impressed that the cardboard house if eco-friendly too.

In addition to life-sized playhouses, Crafty Kids USA has just introduced mini versions of their Creation Cottage and Shuttle Imagination playhouses. We chose the Creation Cottage Craft model to review.
It is such a cool little house that SoJo likes to put his cars in. Plus since it's made of sturdy cardboard, it's very lightweight and he can move it from room to room depending on where he wants to play. The door and windows are his favorite features, and he spends time moving cars in and out of them.
But that white was looking pretty boring, so we got out our natural paints from Clementine Art (which incidentally, Crafty Kids also sells), and got down to the messy business of painting. The decorating was definitely the icing on the cake of this playhouse.
This was so fun, for both SoJo and myself.
He liked blending the colors on the roof
and then on the side of the house.
Not exactly a masterpiece, but he enjoyed the physicality of the experience. And of course one can paint over this as many times as you want, at least as much as the cardboard can handle. The model playhouses come with 6 jumbo markers to get you started.

This is a wonderful way to occupy your children and to allow them to customize one of their toys. I think being able to do so will give them a sense of pride about their creation and inspire many hours of creative play.

WIN IT! Crafty Kids USA is generously giving away one of their new craft models, either the Shuttle Imagination model ($24.95) or the Creation Cottage model ($22.95)
To Enter
Visit Crafty Kids USA and leave a comment naming something else the Crafty Kids sells and which model playhouse you'd choose if you won.
Extra Entries (leave a separate comment for each one):
  • Blog about this contest (2 entries--leave 2 comments)
  • Subscribe to my updates
  • If you're a Fan of Crafty Kids USA on Facebook, leave a comment letting me know
  • If you're a Fan of Katydid and Kid on Facebook leave a comment letting me know
  • Follow my blog via Google Friend Connect
  • Follow @CraftyKidsUSA on Twitter
  • Follow @katydidandkid and tweet this giveaway, leaving a link to your tweet in the comments. You can tweet once per day (leave a comment each day). You can copy and paste my tweet if you'd like: Win a cardboard model playhouse from @CraftyKidsUSA. Lightweight, eco-friendly, and you can decorate and customize it!
US Postal addresses only.You must do the first entry in order to enter ("I want to win, thanks!" comments will NOT be considered). You will have until Sunday September 5th at 11:59pm EST to enter. The winner will be chosen via random number generator the next day and notified by email. I'll also post the winners on my blog HERE. If I don't hear back from the winner within 72 hours, I'll pick another.
Disclosure: I received a Creation Cottage Craft model playhouse for review purposes.

There's Still Time to #BagItForward

Elmer's has extended the #BagItForward program until September 10th. What is Bag It Forward, you might ask? It's a campaign to donate $10 per blog post or Facebook note to Adopt-A-Classroom. As an Elmer's Ambassador, I implore you to participate, since Elmer's is donating up to $10,000 via the postings and we still have yet to reach the goal.
It's so simple to join in. Just copy the rules below into a blog post or Facebook note and leave the link at the Bag It Forward website. You don't actually have to buy anything, just post this "virtual bag" on your blog or Facebook page (aka, copy and paste the info below).

This Back to School season, Elmer’s is celebrating it’s every day low pricing on back to school supplies at Walmart by partnering with Adopt-A-Classroom to help make a difference in classrooms across the country.

Elmer’s will donate up to $10,000 to Adopt-A-Classroom with your participation. Join now!

The Elmer’s Virtual Bag It Forward is charity blog meme, bloggers are able to raise $10 per blog post for Adopt-A-Classroom by writing a blog post or Facebook note and donating a virtual bag of school supplies . Elmer’s will donate $10 per each post written for Adopt-A-Classroom, up to $10,000.

HOW CAN YOU JOIN? It’s easy.

  • Participate in the Elmer’s Virtual Bag It Forward by giving away a virtual bag of school supplies and creating a blog post or Facebook note with specific rules described below.
  • Elmer’s will donate up to $10,000 to Adopt-A-Classroom.
  • You can give as many virtual bags as you want.
  • The Elmer’s Virtual Bag It Forward will officially begin at 12 AM EST on July 22, 2023 and end at 11:59 PM EST on September 10, 2010. Blog posts submitted to us before or after that time period will not be counted.
  • The blog post link has to be submitted in the comment section below for your participation to be counted.
  • In addition copy and paste the following text into your blog post:


  • Copy and paste these rules into your blog post or Facebook note.
  • Create a post giving a “virtual bag of school supplies” to other bloggers or write about your Back to School shopping trip at Walmart.
  • Link back to the person who gave you a bag of school supplies.
  • Let each person you are giving a virtual bag of school supplies know you have given them a bag.
  • Leave your link in the Elmer’s Virtual Bag It Forward comment section. You can also find the official rules of this virtual #bagitforward program there.
  • Elmer’s is donating $10 for each blog participating in the Virtual Bag It Forward Donation to Adopt-A-Classroom (up to total of $10,000 for blog posts written by September 10,2023).
  • Please note that only one blog post per blog url will count towards the donation.
Thanks so much for helping out!

August 19, 2023

Zucchini Cake With Cream Cheese Frosting

Way back last week I decided to make a small dent in our zucchini surplus by baking Mr. Geek a birthday cake. His sights were set on his favorite, carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, however there was no way I was going to shred carrots when there were 2 huge zukes sitting on the kitchen counter {sadly, our zucchini plant has since succumbed to pesky cucumber beetles}.
Back to the cake. I dug out my copy of the Old Farmer's Almanac Everyday Cookbook, which has some really great, old-fashioned recipes in it, and found The Best Carrot Cake Ever. Since I believe everything I read in books (smirk), I knew I had to make this recipe. With my sous chef in place,
I began to shred the zucchini and prepare the ingredients.

The Best Zucchini Cake Ever (adapted from The Old Farmer's Almanac Everyday Cookbook)
For the Cake:
  • 1-3/4 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups lightly packed shredded zucchini
  • 1 can (8 ounces) pineapple tidbits, drained
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional--I omitted them)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 2 9" round cake pans. In a bowl, beat together the sugar, oil, and vanilla just until combined. At medium speed, beat in the eggs one at a time. Stir in the flour, nutmeg, cinnamon, baking powder, and baking soda. Add the zucchini, pineapple, and nuts. Stir just until combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Remove from the oven, place onto a rack, and let cool.
For the Cream Cheese frosting:
  • 6 ounces (2 small packages) softened cream cheese
  • 6 tablespoons softened butter
  • 1 teaspoon minced orange peel
  • 2 to 2-1/4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
Combine all the ingredients and blend until smooth. Frost onto the top of one of the cakes, then place the other on top and frost all the way around the sides and on the top.
Devour and enjoy!

August 14, 2023


If I were to sum up this year's conference in one word, it would be "overwhelming." Granted, I did attend the Chicago conference last year and loved it, however this year it was a bit too much. From scheduling with parties and events to the 2400 attendees to the frenetic atmosphere of New York itself, I was feeling burnt out even before the conference began. Hence why it's taken a week to revisit the conference and write this post.
Thankfully I had Naomi to be my roomie and shoulder to whine on (it was damn hot in the city!). The thing I most loved about the conference was getting to feel like pre-motherhood Kathleen again, and just hanging out with friends is the easiest way for that to happen.
Got to meet Jennifer too!

The conference itself was pretty ho-hum. Not to be sour grapes, especially since many of you weren't able to attend the conference, but I was expecting more from the sessions. I enjoyed listening to Gabrielle Blair, aka Design Mom at one of the sessions (apologies for the terrible photo--I didn't want to be that annoying person using flash photography in a session).
For the most part, the sessions I went to were vague and poorly organized. Presenters were typically just speaking off the cuff without any power point slideshows or organizational tools. Often they'd rely on the audience to ask questions (sometimes tedious ones) and then the panel would fumble around amongst each other to try and answer. The one on monetization was insanely crowded, and I ended up leaving early for fear of getting stepped on while sitting on the floor. Clearly the session was not interesting enough to risk a broken ankle.

And since I'm complaining, BlogHer folks, PLEASE discourage presenters from singing during the Voices of the Year segment. That was just flat-out awful and not humorous at all.
It was fun trolling the Expo Hall, not just for the free stuff, but to bump into other bloggers and see the creativity behind some of the booths. I liked the Hershey suite, which was not in the Expo Hall but in a hotel room.
They totally transformed the room into a S'Mores campfire space.
You could even make S'mores over a little sterno-type thing. I have a soft-spot for Hershey though, since the town is close-by and I loved visiting Hersheypark as a kid.
The non BlogHer parties were fun too. I was shockingly invited to the Getting Gorgeous Event, hosted by Vera Sweeney and Audrey McClelland, which was really well done. Lots of great sponsors like Lia Sophia, Sketchers, Hanes, and Pier 1.
With lots of opportunities for pampering, this was a well-thought-out event.
I was also invited to the Stride Rite party. I love their shoes, and need to get another pair for Soren for the fall. Thankfully they gave out 15% off coupons and really nice swag bags--the one I chose was a purple Lillebaby Stockholm bag, which is a perfect downsized diaper bag. Inside were some cute Robeez moose boots, socks and other goodies, most of which went to my very pregnant friend. Go enter their Facebook Contest to design the next Robeez shoe! We colored some designs at the party.

By far I was most impressed with the Hallmark party I attended on Friday night. They really went all out with the decor, food and presentation.
The theme was "Christmas in August" and the hosts from Hallmark did such an amazing job of banishing the hazy summer air (at least indoors anyway).
The peppermint martinis were delicious, and they had a cookie decorating table. Oh, and hot guys serving it all up and one Aussie dressed up as Santa in front of the Christmas tree.
The event was in the penthouse of our hotel, and its patio was amazing. The view of Central Park made me melt want to melt along with the heat of the evening.Now that I've been home a week, the conference seems so far away. I do regret not meeting up with Lisa, Kayla, Laura and Nicole (!!). I really tried, but in a conference of thousands, a city of millions, and a hotel room beckoning for a rest on its plushy couch, my BlogHer10 ended early on Saturday night. It was great to connect with so many people (my favorite times were breakfast and lunch, meeting new people) and to just hang out with my pal Naomi in the city that never sleeps. San Diego, you seem like a much manageable locale for next year...we'll see if I make it to BlogHer '11!
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