Nanobug Party!

Though my oldest daughter’s birthday was a few weeks ago, I didn’t manage to pull together a school friend birthday party until this weekend. Thankfully my daughter is happy with having just her 3 closest friends as guests, and those friends were all free! She requested a hexbug party, so I gathered a 5-pack of bugs and materials for DIY bug  mazes.  

 It was an excuse to go to my favorite art store Artist and Craftsman, and buy one of my favorite open-ended craft supplies- a Casey’s Wood Products bag of odds and ends.  

 These things are THE BEST for just chucking in the middle of the table with some glue, string, wire, pipe cleaners, etc. and seeing what the kids come up with. I also got a six-pack of wood frames to act as the base for the mazes, and poster tack for sticking the wood pieces down 

 As all the bugs were different colors, I made a blind grab box to avoid fighting over who got what.  

  

 They all ended up trading but at least it was fair!

Everyone had fun sticking different pieces in the frames and seeing how the bugs interacted with their environments 

  

  
 I had fun buildings a little maze too! 

I also made mini cheesecake bites that were so much easier than a big cheesecake and totally delicious. More on that tomorrow…

Dude Date: Cookies

  
My two oldest children are capable, outspoken girls, and I grew up going to all-girls’ school, in a home with a strong mother and sister. As a result, we had a sad few months around our house recently in which my son proclaimed, “I want to be a girl! Girls are better than boys.” Mind you, if he was genuinely gender dysmorphic at age 3 of course I’d support that, but given his general disposition and interests, it was pretty clear we had just been overdoing the girl power message in our house! 

Dude dates to the rescue- my son’s preschool is closed on Mondays, so we’ve developed a routine of having between 1-3 other little dudes come and play while the big girls are at school. The little fella gets to run around and yell and enjoy doing dude stuff with other little dudes that is just right for him(though I almost started crying when I encountered the mess in our living room today- the girls never seem to do quite so much in the way of wanton distruction…)

I also adore his friends’ mothers, so it is a big win for me too. Usually we just let the little fellows wreak havoc while we chat, but today we set up an activity in honor of Valentine’s Day- decorating sugar cookies!   

  My favorite sugar cookie recipe is a bit fiddly, but always turns out both decoratable and eminently edible.
Sugar Cookies

  1. 1&1/4 stick butter, soft
  2. 1/2 cup sugar
  3. 1 egg
  4. 1/4 tsp salt
  5. 2 cups flour 

Heat oven to 350. Put butter and sugar in bowl of a food processor and blitz until combined. Add egg and process until smooth. Add flour and salt all at once and pulse until it comes together in clumps. Dump out on some wax or parchment paper, gather into a ball, split in half and press halves into discs. Wrap in plastic and chill at least 30 minutes if you can. If you are in a hurry, generously flour your work surface and roll out the dough between two sheets of wax or parchment paper(this helps even with the chilled dough!). Roll out as thin as you can(1/4 inch is nice), and cut with floured cookie cutters. Bake 10 minutes. 

I made white icing and my friend did some serious food coloring mixing magic to turn it the lovliest colors. It actually did harden and get glossy on the cookies that managed to hang around long enough!

  
  
Of course we saved enough of everything so that the girls could make some after school. My oldest daughter blew us all out of the water with her bird cookie!

 

Sugar Cookie Icing- not for lovers of precision

  1. 1cupish of confectioners sugar
  2. Splash of milk
  3. Corn syrup
  4. 1/2 tsp Vanilla extract

Stir together sugar,  vanilla, and a splash(3 teaspoonish) milk. Add corn syrup until it is the consistency you like. Ours was thin enough to drizzle from a skewer onto a cookie, but thick enough not to just run off the edges entirely once it was on there. Play around adding sugar and corn syrup until you get there.

The Best Banana Bread

 Is actually mini banana muffins with chocolate chips in them! We host an informal playgroup on Mondays and purely by coincidence i had overripe bananas and made these two weeks in a row. Now one of the little dudes requests them every time he comes to our house!

  
Banana mini muffins

  1. 2-3 ripe bananas, mashed
  2. 1/2 cup sugar
  3. 1 egg
  4. 1/4 cup melted butter
  5. 1 1/2 cups flour
  6. 1 tsp baking soda
  7. 1/2 tsp salt
  8. Lots of chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350. Mixed mashed bananas with sugar, then add egg and melted butter. Whisk flour, baking powder and salt together, then add dry ingredients to wet and stir until combined. Stir in chocolate chips, then scoop into mini muffin tins lined with paper muffin cups(or very generously greased-these are sticky muffins!). Bake for 15-20 minutes, until brown and a skewer comes out clean!