30 Gifts and Surprises for 30 Years Old!!

My husband shares his birthday with our oldest daughter, so he often does not get a big celebration. I had to plan something special for this 30th! I decided to give him 30 surprises and gifts throughout the day to celebrate him and it was a hit!! He loved it and was so fun to pull off!

Here are all the 30 items and surprises I had for his special day!

  1. Breakfast! I ordered the Bagel BELT from McDonalds to arrive before my husband left to work along with number 2…
  2. Coffee! A large coffee to go with his breakfast.
  3. 30 Post-it Notes of Affirmations. I wrote out things like “You Rock” “I love you!” “You are a handsome devil” and I spread the sticky notes all over his car. I also had a card that explained he would be receiving 30 surprises and gifts throughout the day with a chart to write them in.
  4. 30 Post-it Notes of Facts with the number 30 in them. I found some facts on this website and then for others I searched things like 30 pound animals, $30 items, 30 year old inventions, etc. These sticky notes were placed all over my husbands work desk when he arrived at work along with balloons of the number 30.
  5. 30 pieces of gum
  6. A framed picture of our family, so that he has a family picture at work. – He said this was his favourite gift of the day!! He appreciated it so much.
  7. 30 Lactaid Pills -my husband is lactose intolerant and enjoys his dairy too much to give it up completely.
  8. A birthday card from our daughter Laurel on his desk at work.
  9. $30 starbucks gift card
  10. THE BIRTHDAY TIMES – I created a made up newspaper front page for his birthday that listed some birthday stats and an article about him.
  11. 30 Hug Coupons.
  12. Toilet Paper Roll -to help him with the “Dirty Thirties”
  13. Surprised him at lunch time at work and brought 30 cookies for him to share with his coworkers.
  14. 30 Radish seeds – He requested that we plant radishes this year.
  15. $30 of lotto tickets – and crazily enough he won $30 from them!!
  16. FitBit – We are trying to get more active and thought it would be a great way to start tracking and be aware of how active he is.
  17. 30 coins of a cheap cryptocurrency. My husband is really into cryptocurrency so I got him to buy 30 coins of one of the cheapest currencies and it only cost about 5 cents.
  18. Homemade T-shirt on my Silhouette. I bought a $10 T-shirt from Walmart and then ironed on this pattern I found off of Etsy. You can find it here.
  19. A 13min video compilation of Birthday messages and memories from friends and family.
  20. 30 beer
  21. 30 min TIMEOUT Coupon that I created. Find the coupon file attached at the end of this post.
  22. Surprise visit from his siblings and my sister after supper!
  23. A game for game night and to play with our siblings.
  24. 30 marbles – for when he starts losing his haha!
  25. Homemade Lemon Meringue Pie for dessert. His favourite.
  26. A special video message from Laurel, our daughter.
  27. Birthday trivia pages that I found and bought off of Etsy. It was fun to do with our siblings and parents! You can find them here.
  28. $30 – just $30 in an envelope.
  29. 30 min Massage coupon. Also can be found in the file at the end of this post.
  30. I crocheted a succulent for his office desk. He LOVES IT! You can find the pattern on Etsy here.

It was so much fun to pull off this day of surprises and gifts! My husband loved it so much. Some other ideas that you could use are:

  • 30 raspberries or blueberries for a snack in the day. (or chips if you want to go a less healthy route haha)
  • 30 cupcakes instead of cookies
  • 30 balloons in his car, room, office, etc.
  • 30 song playlist that you create for him/her.
  • 30 pictures of him/her through the years that you hang up.

Let me know below if you decide to use this idea with your spouse and tag me @the_expert_amateur on instragram.

Here is the file for the coupons I created for him. Please use!

Competitive Egg Hunt

We know kids love a good egg hunt, but eventually they out grow it and it becomes a bit lame, BUT it doesn’t have to!

My sister set up a competitive egg hunt for my husband and I when I was pregnant with my oldest daughter. I was 8 months pregnant running around our kitchen and dining room hunting for all the eggs. But what made it so different? The winner was the first one to find all the letters to the word Easter. I ended up winning haha. It was great!

Materials:

  • Sharpie
  • Plastic Eggs
  • Candy to fill eggs
  • Prize for the winner

Label all of your eggs with the letters of EASTER (or another word of your choice). The key however, is to make only ONE egg with the letter R. That way, there can only be one winner! Also, plan to hide this egg in the trickiest spot.

Fill all your eggs with candy, chocolate, stickers, whatever you choose. That way even those who don’t win will still get some loot in each egg they find.

It is a super simple way to make the egg hunt a little bit more fun!

ADAPTATIONS

If you have an only child, or only one child old enough to read and make the word Easter, you can also make it a competitive solo hunt. Write out letters to several Easter words on your plastic eggs and see if you child can find all the eggs and spell out all the words.

Suggestions: easter, chick, egg, bunny, cross, jesus, risen, spring, pastel

CLASS HUNT

I think you could also make this a fun classroom game if you are a teacher. You could write out your spelling words, or words of the week on eggs and the students have to find them in groups or pairs. You can make it so that every team has to find all their words. If the weather is nice it would be a fun activity outside!

I hope you have fun with this idea! Let me know if you try it below.

Hearty Borscht

This is my favourite year round soup recipe. It was one of the first homemade soup recipes I made when I graduated high school and moved out. My wonderful Auntie made homemade soups whenever I visited and that started my soup love. I also married a Ukrainian and was shown a different style of borscht that had no meat and few veggies but a very rich and creamy broth. Over the years I have adapted my borscht recipe to a very be hearty with meat and veggies but also have a creamier broth and not only do I love it, but so does my husband and toddler.

I find it hard to get my daily intake of vegetables but this soup makes it so easy to eat lots of healthy veggies and beans. I try to keep a stock of it in my freezer at all times, as it is a quick lunch or supper, especially if I have family or friends over.

Please enjoy!

DIY Polaroid Travel Journal

Who has time to journal?? Probably not many of us, but it is so special to read if you do take the time to write stuff down. I rarely journal in my day to day life but I do like to journal during holidays to remember all of the fun things we did!

For our wedding, Logan and I were gifted a polaroid camera and that started the polaroid journals. We went on an Alaskan cruise and I took a picture everyday and journaled about what we did. I made it fun and just wrote down random facts, quotes of the day, interesting excursions and food and lots of doodles and drawings. It was a fun way to reflect on the day and I have looked at the journal many times since, as well as sharing it with our family and friends.

This is the first big vacation since our honeymoon and so I wanted to create a journal of our time and I am so happy I did! The style of polaroid photos is so romantic. I love the way it looks.

So all you need to make your own is:

  • Polaroid Camera and film – I have the mini one like this
  • Pen – I prefer the fancy Uniball pens or coloured fine tip markers
  • Journal paper – I like writing my holiday diary in a journal as I am gone and then when I am home I rip it out and bind it together so that it’s on its own. This way, I don’t have a bunch of loose papers that I would likely lose while I travel.
  • Tape or Corner Stickers to attach your polaroids.

I found this project really fulfilling and now it is a great keepsake for my daughters to look back on when they are older, because, I sure won’t remember all the details in even a couple years haha. #mombrain

Here are a couple other examples of the pages I created!

Hope you make time to create a holiday journal of your own! Whatever it may look like.

Spring Math and Motor Skills Worksheets For Toddlers

My first baby is getting older and is soaking up all the learning and my nerdy, teacher self is here for it! I want to have opportunities for her to learn with no pressure and to have fun! I have created some worksheets that can be used with crayons, playdough, or dry erase markers.

Reason #438 why I love my laminator is for making pages like these! By laminating these pages, it makes it a fun worksheet that can be used with playdough or a dry erase marker. Amazon sells a very affordable laminator. This is the one I own.

My oldest daughter Laurel has been loving using playdough lately so I have laminated most of the pages for her to use with playdough. She currently loves counting and singing the alphabet. I have created lots of alphabet and letters for learning activities but I didn’t have any number or math activities. These worksheets give me a way to work with numbers with my daughter.

Here is a fantastic free resource that I found on Teachers Pay Teachers, created by CaHill’s Creation, that work on numbers 1 – 10. Free Worksheet

The number pages are a bit advanced for my daughter right now but even using them as a mat to play with playdough, she is seeing the numbers and helps in recognition.

My favourite play dough mats to use with Laurel currently are the Butterfly, Flower and Ladybug pages. I love that they are only partial pictures and she can use her playdough to create the flowers or add dots or patterns to the lady bugs or butterflies. You can find these free pages on Itsy Bitsy Fun.

Butterfly, Flower and Ladybug Pages

The other pages Laurel loves to use with playdough right now are the face and body pages. It is a great way for me to ask her the parts of the body and see if they can pick out where they are, as well as placing the playdough on the face. These pages are also fun to use with dry erase markers! Makes it easier to add details. You can find these awesome free printables on picklebum’s website.

Face and Body Printables

Lastly, I created some math pages that could be used with playdough or the dry erase markers. These pages are geared more for PreK-Gr. 1 age group and are designed to be worked through with an adult. Included is also 2 pages of trace the lines, to practice motor skills. These could also be printed out on regular paper and used to have your child practice cutting along the lines.

I hope you can find some use for these worksheets, just as I have. If you do not want to laminate your pages you can also get sleeve protectors and they work decently well for using with playdough or dry erase as well!

If you are looking for more worksheet activites for Toddlers check out these other blogs!

Alphabet and Shape Worksheets

Easter Contraction Worksheets

Enjoy!

Valentine X and O’s

Love week is upon us and I have a soft spot for making sweet, lovely gifts. I have always thoroughly enjoyed making my husband homemade cards and gifts throughout the years. Since I have been into crocheting so much lately, I had another tool to use to make something special.

Now I can’t take full credit for this idea. I originally was making a game of X and O’s to play on the table, but my sister gave me the idea to make it so it could be played on the fridge. I LOVE IT SO MUCH!

I must add, you could easily make this with felt or fabric, if you do not know how to crochet!! Really any other material to substitute the yarn would make an adorable fridge game. So read on to see how to make your own!

MATERIALS

  • Yarn for crocheted version (Felt or Fabric if you want to just cut out hearts and X’s)
  • Magnets – I bought mine off of Amazon
  • Electrical Tape – for grid
  • Hot Glue gun – to glue on magnets

HOW TO MAKE

STEP 1 – Crochet your hearts and X’s

I used the 2 min heart pattern by Crochet World to create my little yarn hearts. I used the Blush coloured yarn from Michaels.

For the X’s I created a pattern myself.

X PATTERN

Ch 10 and turn

starting in 2nd loop from hook SC to end (9 stitches)

Tie off yarn

**Starting on either side of the line you created (right side up) Sl St into the 4th stitch and Ch 5 stitches, then turn.

Starting in 2nd ch from hook SC 4.

When you get back to the main chain, you are going to pull your hook out and insert from behind through the 5th chain of the line you made first. Then pull the loop you just pulled out of, through the 5th chain and sl st to secure it. Fasten off. **

Repeat from ** on the other side of the 9 stitch chain you first made.

(If you do not want to crochet your X ‘s and hearts you can cut out the shapes in felt or other fabric of your choice.)

STEP 2 – Glue the Magnets On

Hot glue your magnets onto the back of your X’s and hearts. I was very impressed by the magnets I bought off of Amazon. They are tiny so they are great for small projects, but they are very magnetically strong. (is that a word?? magnetically?? haha)

STEP 3 – Electrical Tape

Using your electrical tape make a grid on your fridge. I chose electrical because it is easy to apply and remove. You could also use masking tape but it just doesn’t look quite as nice.

STEP 4 – Challenge Someone to a Game!

Enjoy playing against your spouse, child, sibling, friend, whoever you want!

Let me know if you make your own version on your fridge! Tag me on Instagram at @the.expert.amateur so I can share your designs.

Crochet Flower Patterns

The winter blues have me channeling my creativity into bright and summery projects. I started searching up all the free crochet flower patterns and is there ever a lot of amazing ones!! I ended up picking two of them and off I went with my hock and yarn.

HEADBAND – I purchased the nylon headbands off of Amazon and hot glued my flowers to them. I find them to be the most gentle on newborn heads and they stretch to fit any size of head, including adult. Here is the link to the ones I bought.

CROCHET ROSE

I started off with this beautiful rose pattern by Sweet Softies. It was an easy pattern to follow and turned into a beautiful flower that I applied to a headband for my daughters. I used a thicker yarn than it calls for in the pattern so mine turned out a bit bigger but I like the size. Depending on what size you want, use a bigger or smaller yarn and crochet needle.

The yarn I used is: Weighted Medium 4 , Colours were Blush and Sage

Crochet hook size I used: 3.5 mm

You can find the free pattern for this rose on Sweet Softies website below.

Rose Pattern

PUFF FLOWER

The second flower I tried out was the puff flower. There are several people who have steps to complete this flower but I found a YouTube video that made it easy to follow for me. It is in a different language but her visual instructions were very simple to understand and follow. This flower would be so adorable made into a blanket, clothing, scarf or headband.

I made these into headbands because it was very quick to whip one up and produce a finished product. I plan on creating a headband that connects several puff flowers together next. I also think a baby blanket made out of puff flowers would be so adorable but I don’t have anyone to give it to yet, so I am leaving that on my future WIP (Works in Progress) list.

Yarn used was Blush Craft Smart Value and White Craft Smart Value.

Below is the video tutorial on how to make a puff flower.

Let me know below if you have a favourite flower pattern and feel free to share! I love trying new patterns.

Alphabet and Shape Matching Worksheets

My first born is turning into a active, talkative, busy busy toddler! This both excites and terrifies me, as she doesn’t stop moving and I have to constantly watch to make sure she isn’t getting into places she shouldn’t be.

She has been very interested in books the last few months and we read several a day. She also loves having me write down names of her family and friends. I kept thinking I should make flash cards and then I got the idea of making a little busy book for her. The alphabet pages and shapes were two things I definitely wanted to include. I think its good for recognition of letters even if they don’t know them yet. We sing the alphabet everyday and I always point to each letter when we sing it.

You can make the worksheet so that it is reusable or you can also use it as a one time activity. If you have access to a laminator or own one, I would definitely laminate it to last the longest. You could also put the pages in protective sleeves to help preserve them longer.

Materials I Used:

  • Photo Paper – I wanted a thick durable page and I also printed out other pages with family photos. Thick cardstock would also work just fine.
  • Laminator – I bought mine off of Amazon for a decent price and I love it!! The lamination sheets are also very reasonably priced.
  • Velcro strips – Dollarama sells long strips of these and then you can cut them to the size you want. You can also order some off of Amazon. I personally recommend purchasing from Dollarama, as it is cheaper and you don’t need a lot of velcro.

I laminated my worksheet pages and then I used the velcro strips and cut them into small pieces and applied them to the matching alphabet letters and pictures. I left the shapes without the velcro since it was just one page she can place them on the matching shape.

I hope you can find a use for this worksheet page. I know that my daughter is enjoying it so far!

You can download the worksheet below. Enjoy!

Amazon Baby Hand and Foot Print Kit Review

It was my first Mother’s Day last year, as my daughter was born 8 days after it in 2020. I have been excited my whole life to be a mother so this was such a special and wonderful day.

My husband planned an amazing day! He made me a delicious Eggs Benny Breakfast and then we had a wonderful afternoon picnic by the river. He also purchased me the most thoughtful gift. This baby hand and foot clay kit. It was perfect timing as I was able to do the imprints for our daughter’s first birthday only a week later.

This kit was very straight forward and easy to complete. It makes a wonderful keepsake. It would be great to give as a baby gift or to purchase for your own little one.

A simple and easy to follow craft. You can find the link to the kit here.

Cardboard Box Car

Want a way to keep your toddler occupied with an old box and a few odds and ends?? Make a box car! Such an inexpensive and easy way to make something your child can play with for hours. (well maybe not hours all at once, but a solid 20 mins)

This is also a great activity to make with your toddler. They can help with lots of aspects of creating this car.

My mom made some box cars for my brother and myself when we were kids and so I was excited to create my own version for my daughter Laurel. Here is what I used to create Laurel’s car.

Supplies:

  • Box for car (large enough to cut a whole in for your child)
  • Extra box for parts – steering wheel and tires.
  • Paint
  • Felt – for decorations and embellishments
  • Fabric – for straps
  • Hot Glue
  • Scissors
  • Toilet Paper Rolls – for inside of the tires

Steps to Make:

  1. Cut out a hole in the box big enough for your child to easily put it over their body and get in and out of it.
  2. Cut out circles for the tires and steering wheel. I used a coffee container to trace out my circles.
  3. Paint! If your child is old enough and it’s nice outside, have your child use washable paints to paint the car and the parts. It was cold out so I opted to spray paint the car in my garage since I didn’t have a space big enough inside for my child to play around with paints safely haha.
  4. Cut out embellishments with felt or paper. Use whatever you have on hand to add details to your car.
  5. Hot glue the steering wheel and tires to the car to make sure they are more sturdy and don’t fall off during play.
  6. Add straps to the car using hot glue. This is to put around the child’s shoulders so that they don’t just have to carry the car around. Measure the straps first. As you can see in my picture below, I made my straps too long and had to adjust them later to fit my daughter better.

Show me your box car creations!!