Google Dollops of Diane

Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween from our family to yours!

Isabelle the Witch

Henry the Ninja Turtle

Daniel the "Super Spy Army Guy"

You can also check out their costumes from last year HERE and find out why Halloween always makes me think of my mom HERE.

Hope everyone has a great day/night!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Parched Painter: Review and Giveaway!

When I went to a paint night over the summer at The Parched Painter in Walpole, MA I knew right away that it would be the perfect spot to have Isabelle's 7th birthday party. Although she can jump the day away with the best of them at a bouncy house party, it's not really who she is. She is a crafter. She is a drawer. She is a painter.

So I knew (well, anticipated) the party would be a slam dunk - and it was! The party was easy peasy to plan with the studio. They suggested several paintings based on the age of the guests and Isabelle got to pick the final painting. She picked a snowman which I think will be great for years to come. I then sent in a deposit and showed up day of with cupcakes/water and they did the rest. They provide invitations (although I did Evite instead), tablecloths, plates/napkins, balloons, and all the painting supplies.

Rich, one of the co-owners, led the girls (and one specially invited boy) step by step through the painting process. The kids were great and totally into it. They also had fun, party/age appropriate music playing for me (oh, I mean the kids) to sing along to.

So the kids painted for about an hour and a half and then we headed over to a separate table for some party fun. At the end of the party, everyone got to bring home their masterpiece. No need for cheap goody bag prizes when you get to bring these treasures home!

I honestly think it was the PERFECT place to have her party. Everyone had such a great time and it was something different to do. You can check out more about their kids parties HERE but standard pricing is $250 for 10 kids (or less) and $25 per additional child.

The Parched Painter isn't just for kids though. As I mentioned, I had gone there originally for a girls' night out around when they first opened. Here is me working on my masterpiece (wine in hand, of course)...

One of my favorite parts about the studio is that it is BYOB! You can bring in whatever food or drink that you like to enjoy while painting. They even have tables set up on the side so you can bring in chips and dip or larger items. You could also bring in a veggie platter, I suppose, if that's your thing (gag).

You can check out their calendar ahead of time (HERE!) and it shows what they are painting each night. You find a painting you like, sign up online, grab your friends, and you are set to go. It's low key, it's casual, it's fun! Oh, and yes, YOU can paint the picture. I have no painting history and no real artistic ability but my painting came out totally fine. This type of night is perfect for beginners up through experienced painters. The instructor walks you through step by step but everyone can put their own spin on their painting if they choose! Oh, and if you really mess it up, they'll totally help you fix it.

Okay, so in case it's not clear, I really dig The Parched Painter. My guess is if you go, you'll love it, too. Need an extra nudge to get there? How about 2 complimentary tickets to an adult class (value: $35 per ticket). Free tickets exclude fundraisers, private parties, and Paint your Pet nights. Enter for your chance via the Rafflecopter form below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
 **We personally paid for both the birthday party and my night out. I simply loved my experience and am sharing it with you. The owners were gracious enough to offer free tickets to a Dollops reader. As always, all opinions are my own.**

Monday, October 27, 2014

Isabelle turns SEVEN!


Somehow in the blink of an eye, my first baby turns seven today. SEVEN! That's total, official big kid territory. It's pretty crazy!

We had an awesome, paint party (more to come on that later!) for Isabelle yesterday with her friends. She loved every minute of it. Tonight we'll celebrate with some family, pizza, and ice cream cake. Who could ask for anything more?

Continuing with tradition, here are the keepsake questions for this year.

Isabelle's 7th Birthday: October 27, 2014

Favorite Color: Pink
Favorite Show: Barbie Life in the Dreamhouse
Favorite Thing To Do Inside: Crafts and Art
Favorite Thing To Do Outside: Tricks on the rings and swim in a pool
Favorite Snack: Cookies, Cheez-Its, and Baby Goldfish
Favorite Meal: Tacos and Pizza
Favorite Song: Let It Go
Favroite Thing To Do With Dadda: Play Monopoly
Favorite Thing To Do With Mamma: Go to Great Wolf Lodge
When I Grow Up I Want To Be: A baker, a teacher, or a waitress
If I Had Lots Of Money I Would Buy: An American Girl Doll

We had fun checking out her answers from last year (which you can check out HERE!). I can't wait to keep seeing how the answers change as she gets older.

Happy Birthday, Isabelle. We love you so much!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Passing Along My Dollhouse

Isabelle will turn 7 (yes, SEVEN!) on Monday and for a while now I've been thinking of passing along my old dollhouse to her. When I had outgrown it, my mother had lovingly packed it up and put it in her garage for me. When she passed away, I grabbed the boxes and threw them in my basement. I actually never even opened them. She was so much more sentimental than I was! But, I've known that they've been down there and I've been waiting for the right moment to open up the boxes.

I have no doubt that Isabelle will take fabulous care of my precious childhood keepsakes. Her brothers on the other hand? Not so much. So I went back and forth on if I should bring them up or not. Really I don't want to miss my window with Isabelle. She's never been super into dolls except for her one favorite doll, Kendra. What if I waited until the boys were older and presented her with my dollhouses and she was all, "Umm...Mom. These are lame!"? So I decided that with her birthday coming up that today I would take a look at them while all the kids were at school.

 OMG - the memories!!!
It was like time had frozen still in those houses. Little trinkets were still in drawers right where I had left them.

Film, anyone?
I had forgotten just how into all things dollhouses that I was. I can remember going to this little dollhouse store with my mom and ooohhing and aaahhhing over everything in the store. 

The tile in the bottom bathroom of the dollhouse? That was the tile from my own bathroom in the house I grew up in. I nearly died when I saw it. Sooooo many memories. Once those memories escaped from those boxes there was no way that I could put the lid back on. So I decided to put away a lot of the small pieces that I knew for sure would get lost or broken. I figured I'd start with the basics and then I could slowly take more pieces out as I learned to trust the kids with it (or maybe never?!).

These pieces for example?

I'll never let them get their grubby hands on them!
Oh, and does anyone need to brush up on any Girl Scout laws?

Can you even handle the teeny tininess?!
Seriously, I can't even stand it. I'm so glad I took them out. Isabelle has been playing with them all afternoon. I conveniently put a movie on for the boys when I secretly presented her with the new addition to her room. Mamma didn't raise no fool!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Red Jacket Mountain View Resort Giveaway!

My friend, Sharon, of Viola Cay recently took her adorable family to the Red Jacket Mountain View Resort in North Conway, NH. The resort is also home to Kahuna Laguna, a 40,000 square foot water park. Sharon is now hosting a giveaway for a two night stay for a family of four (including water park passes) and I'm lucky enough to be a part of the action!
Photo Credit: Viola Cay
Don't know much about the resort? Well let me tell you...

The resort is located on 25 acres overlooking the Moat Mountain Range and Saco River Valley, this favorite New Hampshire resort is perfect for enjoying breathtaking scenery, deluxe accommodations, outstanding cuisine and fantastic service. 

For the ultimate vacation, choose from spacious family accommodations, townhouses, Jacuzzi rooms or pet-friendly rooms and enjoy spectacular mountain views from your own private balcony or patio.
The Red Jacket is well-known for its festive events, live entertainment and outstanding dining. Champney's Restaurant serves signature New England cuisine with a continental flair. For more casual dining, Palmer's Red Ridge Grille offers a mix of lighter fare and award-winning specialties.  

Minutes away from the resort are more than 100 tax-free outlets and specialty shops, as well as hiking, biking, horseback riding and whitewater rafting for the outdoor adventurer. And the Mountain View is home to Kahuna Laguna, a 40,000 square-foot indoor water park. Dive into a tropical adventure with the entire family for splash-tacular fun!

Sounds amazing, right? Well enter for your chance to win via the Rafflecopter form below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Giveaway includes a two night stay for a family of four at Red Jacket Mountain View Resort in North Conway, NH and passes to Kahuna Laguna indoor water park. Restrictions: Not available on holidays, holiday weekends or school vacation weeks. Valid through October 2015. Other terms may apply. 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Splitsville and Howl At The Moon (Foxboro) Review

Last night, Tim and I joined up with another couple for a double date at Splitsville/Howl at The Moon. Splitsville opened up at Patriot Place in Foxboro, MA just within the last couple of months so it was our first time there. We arrived at 7:55pm just in time to beat the 8pm cover charge of $5. I know, a cover charge? I can't even think of the last time I payed a cover charge. I'm not hip enough to go to cover charge type places. Oh, and it's also 21+ after 7:30pm on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights.

I had called earlier in the week and found out that they don't take reservations for bowling (except for large parties) so it's first come first serve. Note: Someone who calls days ahead of time about bowling reservations is not the type of person who pays cover charges. Anyway, the hostess on the phone said that for Saturday nights starting around 6pm they generally have a 30 minute wait for bowling and the time increases the later you go. Well when we got there just shy of 8pm there was a 2.5 hour wait for bowling. Cray cray, right? So we grabbed a buzzer from them and headed to the bar for a drink. We figured we'd check the place out and most likely just turn the buzzer back in later because who waits 2.5 hours for bowling? Well it turns out that we are indeed the people who wait that long.

We grabbed a spot by the bar and enjoyed drinks and appetizers. The seating is seat yourself and we were lucky to find a spot at the bar since it was crowded. The time really went by fast. They had live music the whole time thanks to the Howl at the Moon part of the bar. I was expecting dueling pianos but it really wasn't like that at all. It really was more just live band music that was really good. They played ALL kinds of music - current, old school, country, rock, and the list went on. They take requests and play lots of crowd pleasers. I felt like I could easily sing along to basically all the songs and there were people tearing up the dance floor. Along with live music, also comes loud music though which was fine for us but definitely not what you'd be looking for if you wanted an intimate night out with lots of conversation. I felt like I was reliving my youth by shouting at friends over loud music. 

Around 10:30pm, our bowling lane was ready. It was $18/person to bowl (weekend rate) and for a party of 4 we were able to have the lane for 1.5 hours. There is also full bar/food service with a waitress at the lanes.

The crowd was mixed - both young and old. It was also REALLY busy the whole time we were there. The later it got the more crowded it was. For most of the night, there was a long, line outside the building with people waiting to get in. We left shortly before midnight and there was STILL a small line to get in (they close at 1am). So if you decide to go, definitely shoot to get there early. 

For me, the music was my favorite part. I think it would be great for a girls night out - I envision lots of singing along and dancing. It's definitely a party atmosphere. I probably wouldn't bowl again just because it's an added cost and I'm not a big bowler. I'm glad we checked out that part though - always fun to do something different! So that's the recap of our fun night out. I will definitely be heading back.

Photo Credit: Splitsville
*We went to Splitsville for a night out using our own money. I'm simply sharing my experience with you. As always, all opinions are my own.*

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Rush

The Rush. The morning rush. The can't be late for soccer rush. The can't be late for piano rush. The can't get the kids ready for bed fast enough rush. All of it - it's doing a number on me lately. The main reason it's bothering me is because I can't seem to fix it. I'm Type A. I like structure and organization and to solve problems. After almost seven years as a mom, I'm starting to feel pretty defeated. I think The Rush is winning.

It doesn't matter what I do to be prepared for it, something unexpected comes up that throws it for a loop. Last night for soccer was THE NIGHT that we were going to arrive on time, skipping, and holding hands as a family with smiles and there was going to be no yelling and no rushing. I had planned it that way. I prepared for it. It was happening - until it didn't. There was an unexpected nap and an unexpected potty accident that went over the allotted "emergency" time I had factored in. I was frazzled and annoyed but we were still close to at least making it on time. That was until I realized on the drive there that, amongst the chaos of the departure, I had forgot my purse at home and we had to turn around and go back. It made me so mad.

It's always something. The mornings are the worst. I don't get how so many small things can go wrong each morning that "ruin" the whole thing. The boys are up hours ahead of time and we're still rushing. I pick out outfits the night before. I make sure lunches and backpacks are ready. Shoes are put away on the mat each night before bed (one of Isabelle's chores) and ready for the morning. I feel like we do so much to make sure the mornings are smooth and I don't need to get frustrated or yell but more often than not it's exactly what I do. I don't want the big kids last memory of me each morning to be yelling to get to the bus stop but alas, alas, it generally is. The part that really frustrates me is that I try so hard not to make that the case. Why can't I control it more? GDammit, why can't it run smoothly? Really, I know that I just need to accept that I can't fix it and go with the flow. People say the world won't end if we're a little late for things but I'm not sure I believe that. It's just not who I am. I am controlling and neurotic and might just end up in the looney bin over all of this. I sure hope they serve peanut butter cups there.

You're (almost) late

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