The Thinkery ATX

Waco is only a short hour(ish) drive from Austin, and since I lived in the area for almost ten years I jumped at the opportunity to accompany Nonnie there on one of her work trips. Catching up with friends and visit all of the cool and interesting places Austin has specifically for tiny humans, is what got me so excited to go. Our first stop was at the Austin Aquarium (read all about it here,) and on our last day we went to the Thinkery. The Thinkery is a children’s museum spanning 40,000-square-feet in the Mueller community, it is situated across from a playground and grassy area perfect for a picnic in the sun. I first became aware of the Thinkery while volunteering with the Junior League of Austin, which is a women’s organization promoting volunteerism and building leadership skills. 

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Our family membership with the Mayborn Museum got us free entry at the Thinkery through their affiliate program (the membership covers up to four people over the age of three.) The super friendly girl at the front desk asked the babes ages and suggested we start on the top floor and work our way down. After parking the stroller and having a quick snack downstairs, we rode the elevator to the top and started exploring. Betty led the way finding a pretend chicken coop, grocery store, and kitchen. The littles each picked out eggs from the chicken coop and walked them to the grocery store, grabbed baskets and quickly started loading them with faux food. Filling and emptying the baskets had to be the most fun as they did this several times before heading to the kitchen area to show off their chef skills. 

groceries at the Thinkery, ATX

Betty is a dress kinda gal, normally trying to get her into shorts or a pant of any style is like a battle royal and more often than not one of us ends up crying. However, I knew the Thinkery was a very hands on and active environment so although we could make it work it in a dress, I figured it would be way easier for her to maneuver if she agreed to something less formal. After some convincing she put on her new mint bummies, a simple black t-shirt, black sneakers and one of her signature B3 bows (don’t forget you can use her discount code: Betty when shopping their site) this way she would be able to play with less restrictions than a skirt or dress.  To my surprise she was diggin’ the look and feeling very confident in this outfit! Making my Mama heart so happy. 

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On the opposite side of the second floor is an area with a giant water table. This section  was easily Bobby’s favorite of the entire visit, he’d still be there right now splashing away if I’d let him. Barely tall enough to play in the water he gave it his all. Betty loved it too but did not enjoy being wet. She liked splashing and playing but afterward didn’t like actually having damp clothes on. There were all kinds of scoops, bowls, floating toys and even contraptions hanging from the ceiling. These contraptions (I’m sure there is a title for them on a sign somewhere) allow for a steady drip of water to flow from them. I showed the babes that we could fill up one of the bowls or start a beat by placing drums in just the right spot under the drip. They were intrigued for a bit and even re-arranged the items a little, but quickly went back to splashing and throwing things into the water. We were lucky enough that the area had cleared out a little and we were only sharing with 2-3 other kids.

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Bobby’s outfit of the day is our new favorite t-shirt reading straight up mama’s boy (get yours here and be sure to use bobby’s discount code: BB10 to save) comfy grey play shorts, and a pair of vans. this outfit was super easy to move and play in. He was able to toddle around and almost kept up with his big sister. You would think all the action in the splash area would have tired these little guys out but no, not even close. 

We made our way downstairs and found a neat little area full of random stuff, most likely activities above their appropriate age range but we tried our best. In this area we discovered floating balls, magnets, all kinds of cords and supplies for building and engineering. The babes really liked the fan shooting scarfs up into the air. We also played in a designated two and under play box that kept my babes giggling for what felt like hours. Eventually we made our way over to the light and shadow room, Betty had so much fun in there! There is a similar room at one of our favorite play spots in Waco – Little Land, so she knew just what to do. She grabbed pegs that lit up as she slid them into the peg board, and began filling up as many holes as she could. Her entire section was nearly full as Bobby came to “help” by pulling all of her pegs back out.  This room was empty the entire time we were in there, giving a very VIP feel as I was expecting it to be a mad house. 

img_20200306_144127-1693736019964114753.jpgimg_20200306_144133_mp-15906089597823197710.jpgBy this time I started noticing both toddlers were starting to slow their pace. So we headed toward the stroller parking, however Betty found a small area under the stairs that she dubbed the “rainbow room” large pieces of colored plastic caught sun and showered the hallway with a bright rainbow of colors. Betty spent the last ten to fifteen minuets running (mermaid in hand) through the colors with the biggest smile on her face I’ve ever seen. img_20200306_1457184736145642911882119.jpgI usually get anxious taking my littles to big attractions like the Thinkery. I almost expect big kids to run them over, but we hit it mid day and most of the field trips were headed to the park for lunch when we arrived. The bathrooms were clean and the nursing station a dream. Honestly it was a magical way to finish up our mini trip. Betty and Bobby were both asleep before we left the parking garage and didn’t wake up until we arrived safely at home. I definitely recommend a visit to the Thinkery if you find yourself in the area.  

Healthy Eater’s Perspective

Healthy Eater's perspective: ThanksgivingFor many years I have attempted to stop eating foods that contain health risks, such as any processed and canned foods. It’s so hard to know where all your food comes from without doing research. This definitely includes fast food, so now I just avoid and try my very best to stay clear from places who buy cheap food and poorly sourced products.

image-from-rawpixel-id-435669-jpegNow I know that not all people feel the same way I do. For example; my mother in law buys canned food and uses it for dishes served during family functions and in everyday meals. To be polite, I don’t say anything but I also don’t eat those types of foods, so I try my best to make my plate look full without touching the processed food. Last Thanksgiving I made a green bean casserole (I absolutely love GBC!) and I made it from scratch with fresh organic ingredients. My mother in law rudely told me it wouldn’t taste the same. Boy was she wrong! It was a huge hit! Everyone loved it and kept asking who made it.

So, my point is, if you eat healthy don’t sacrifice your beliefs or your dignity… instead, just make it yourself or offer to be the one who does the grocery shopping.

 

Step-by-step cake topper: Stranger Things

Custom cake toppers are one of the most ordered items from Hustle Darling, and are so much fun to do. My most recent client requested a birthday topper for a Stranger Things party. Her only request was that the topper include the birthday girl’s name and new age ( Avery/ 13) My boyfriend and I immediately re-watched season one and started season two for inspiration. This show is awesome! No wonder Avery wanted it as her birthday theme.  After some marathon watching I came up with the design below.

Stranger Things topper

In order to turn this computer version into reality you will need the following:

SUPPLY LIST:

Feel free to use similar items, supplies do not need to be exact.

First thing I like to do before cutting anything out is to double check my Design Space image and make sure it is welded. This welds all the pieces of our topper into one large image and will ensure that it is cut out in one piece, instead of several little ones that will need to be glue together later.

Second step: Duplicate the image four times. The first three duplicates will become the center of your topper. You may want to add or remove a layer or two depending on the desired thickness. I like three layers because it ensures the topper will stand firm without being too heavy. The last duplicate will need to be flipped (this is a design space feature) horizontally so it is a mirror of the main image. This mirrored cut will be the back of our topper.  I like to keep the center cuts a different color than the front and back, so there is no confusion when assembling. Once duplicates are created, flipped, and color coded you may begin cutting with your machine.  You can see my results in the in the photos below.

Final step: Assemble your topper! I have two beautiful babies at home who love to get into stuff so anything having to do with spray adhesive (or paint, epoxy, ect…) gets done outside. Even if you don’t have babies or pets in the house you should probably do this outside because FUMES and spray adhesive could get all over your space and that could get real gross real quick. Grab a glove, the center cut outs (the white ones shown above) an empty diaper box, and head outside. My favorite spray adhesive is Easy-Tack, IMG_0238I prefer it to regular glue purely out of convenience. I do not want to brush on glue and wait for it to dry in between each layer. That’s just a personal preference, at times I’m inpatient. The glove goes on my left hand, this way I can sit the cut outs on the glove and spray with my right hand. If you are left handed I recommend wearing the glove on your right hand. Doing this inside the empty box helps keep spray adhesive off of my patio rug and plants. Once all of the core pieces have been attached to each other remove the glove and use both hands to ensure the pieces line up correctly. The Easy-Tack takes a few seconds to sit before it becomes too sticky to move, so if you’re quick you can slide the pieces a bit until everything is lined up accurately at the edges.

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I like to wait about 10 min before attaching the front and back pieces. This ten minuets should give you enough time to grab the remaining cut outs and let the center section dry enough to support the front and back pieces. When adding the last two sections back piece should go on first, the mirrored/ flipped image. I choose to do the back side first because the glove is usually sticky from previous spraying and if we start with the front there is a risk of getting sticky-ish smears, when holding it against the glove to add the back. No one wants glue on their topper near the food, so be delicate with the last two pieces.  Hold the center section in the gloved hand, spray the back side with adhesive, and add the flipped cut out. Then slide it to line up the edges, letters, and images. Let it sit for a min or two before doing the same to the front side. When finished, I like to sit the topper under a heavy object like a thick book for an hour or two so that it dries flat. The pressure from the weight of your object will help smooth out any awkward sections of the topper. Be sure the edges of your topper are free of glue or it could get stuck to your object. My results are below.

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I made sure a little of the center section showed through on this one to cause a shadow. Stranger Things is a little spooky, so I thought this would be a cool touch.

What you maybe asking yourself is where is the stick? I recently switched from wooden skewer sticks to clear card forks. This choice came after a client mentioned preferring a clear option for ascetic reasons, and another said the skewer wasn’t long enough for her cake. Which led me to the card forks, they allow the cake topper to slide into the fork and be removed easily.  Prior to switching I was hot gluing the skewer stick to the middle of the center cut outs then  assembling the rest as described above. The new clear forks offer my clients the option of cutting it to fit their cake size. They also create an option to easily reuse the topper in the future.

Cake toppers are a Hustle Darling favorite. Really fun to make, and even more fun to customize for our clients. Have a party coming up? Feel free to reach out to us for custom cake toppers and party decor.