It’s Christmas In July With Tipsy Elves!


Christmas In July With Tipsy Elves!

I was seriously excited to get my first Tipsy Elves products this Summer!  As an avid Shark Tank fan, one of my very favorite episodes is the one featuring this cool start-up.  I especially loved following their journey with Robert Herjavec on an episode of Beyond The Tank.  Definitely check those episodes out!

I had seen their great sweaters on so many of my friends at Christmastime and was thrilled to try out a couple.  Critters And Crayons readers know that we are huge dinosaur-crocodilian aficionados thanks to our six-year old son!  So, this Tipsy Elves sweater was the easy choice!

Tipsy Elves Christmas In July  Dino Sweater

We were headed to Jacksonville Beach in Florida this Summer, which was almost like celebrating #ChristmasInJuly for us!   The vacation feels like such a gift.  We have been thankful for every day and every amazing experience!

From the colorful sunsets….

Jacksonville Beach Florida

To the gorgeous water and waves….

Jacksonville Beach

To the many visits to St. Augustine Alligator Farm where we finally saw Maximo, the huge saltwater crocodile and star of the park!

Maximo Saint Augustine Alligator Park

Our son definitely felt like it was a lot like Christmas In July!  He even wore his favorite T-Rex Santa shirt on one of our visits!

Christmas T-Rex Tshirt

I was actually very thankful on several occasions that I had a good sweater with us on our beach vacation.  The only one I brought with me was my Tipsy Elves sweater, and I found the hotel awesomely cold after a day in the sun on the beach.  It was perfect.  And, I have to say that the quality and fit of the sweater is fantastic!  I even love the surprising shoulder cut-outs!

Tipsy Elves Dinosaur Santa Sweater

My hubby has the funny Gingerbread Man sweater...

Tipsy Elves Gingerbread Man Sweater

And I think it looks pretty darn good on him!

Christmas In July With Tipsy Elves

That’s us!  Celebrating #ChristmasInJuly with #TipsyElves in the most Christmassy Place on the planet in the HOT summer month of July on the beach!  We’re at Hobby Lobby, of course.

I think the sweaters go beautifully with our sundress & khaki short ensembles.  Actually, I’m loving the shoulder cut-outs here.

Ornaments At Hobby Lobby

Hobby Lobby was so full of decor and photo ops that we drew the attention of the manager and workers as we snapped away.

We told them we were getting ahead on our Christmas Card.

They offered to take some photos for us.

Christmas Spirit!  It’s already here!

I credit the sweaters!

Tipsy Elves Sweaters

Merry #ChristmasInJuly with #TipsyElves!

Have a great Summer!

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Just Between Friends Eastern Fairfax Spring Sale!

This is a sponsored post on behalf of Just Between Friends Eastern Fairfax.  Critters And Crayons is receiving a $50 shop credit to experience Just Between Friends consignments.  All opinions and writing are, as always, my own.


Just Between Friends Eastern Fairfax Logo


Just Between Friends is now in Eastern Fairfax, Virginia!  I had never heard of the consignment chain until I was invited to learn more about it, and once I did, I was shocked at what a smart concept it is!  It is a fantastic opportunity to resell used (but in good condition) children’s clothing, toys and other items, as well as maternity gear!


As our children grow, every parent has the problem of how to rid the clutter to make room for more.  Our normal solution is to consolidate and donate items in bulk to non-profits who can use the items.  But, this time, I’m going to give Just Between Friends a try, because it seems like a fantastic idea, and also because the weekend of sales sounds like a lot of fun!


Here is the schedule of events for the upcoming event between May 1st and May 3rd at Embassy Suites Springfield!


6PM-8PM:  Consignor drop-off (see below for links on how you can upload your items, and print off your bar codes to pre-tag your items before drop-off)


10AM-2PM   Consignor drop-off
3PM                Presale for 12-hour volunteers (learn about the benefits of volunteering at the link below)
4PM                Presale for 8-hour volunteers
5PM                Presale for 4-hour volunteers
6PM                Presale for consignors and media
6:30PM-        Baby Shower for Expectant Moms and Parents of Newborns.  A brand new Thule Jogging Stroller will be given away!!!
7-9PM-           Prime Time Shopping $10 Admission   (No passes accepted)


10AM-Noon    Hometown Heroes Event (Presale for teachers, nurses, foster parents, military, first responders, and their spouses!)
Noon-8PM      Open to the public, $5 admission (Passes Accepted.  Print yours below!)


9:30AM-10AM  Grandparents and seniors 55+ can enter as part of the Early Bird Special
10AM-2PM     Open to the public.  Many items will be 50% off.  Free admission
6:30-7:30PM  Consignors with last names between A-L pick-up items
7:30-8:30 PM Consignors with last names between M-Z pick up items


Just between friends fairfax tags


Check out the important links and information below to learn about how you can consign items, volunteer at the event for additional benefits, or attend to find amazing deals on children’s and maternity items!












Just Between Friends Fairfax

Download and Print the Just Between Friends Eastern Fairfax Free Admission Pass!


I know where I’m going to be that weekend!   I’ve already started going through the kids’ outgrown winter wardrobe!  Getting to tagging!




Hope to see you at Embassy Suites Springfield for the #JBFfairfax Spring Sale!




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Bunnyville At Fair Oaks Mall!

Critters And Crayons was thrilled to be offered the opportunity to take photos with the Easter Bunny at Fair Oaks Mall and to receive a gift card to help spread the word about the awesome #Bunnyville Event at #FairOaksMall that is coming next week in this sponsored post!

Be sure to bring your little ones for FREE face painting, balloon creations, spring crafts, and more! March 28 & 29 from 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 the Grand Court West. Hop into Bunnyville at Fair Oaks Mall and get your photo taken with the Easter Bunny.

Fair Oaks Mall Bunnyville


Our family thoroughly enjoyed the experience of getting Easter Bunny photos at Fair Oaks Mall this past weekend.  The staff was very helpful when trying to help our family get the best picture possible.  Receipt of our printed photos was swift and professional.  The entire set-up was fantastically bright and happy and the Easter Bunny was patient, friendly, and very adorable!


If you are planning to visit the Easter Bunny, you can find him in Grand Court West through April 4th, Monday through Saturday between 10 AM and 8:30 PM and Sunday from 11 AM to 6 PM.  If you have small children, they’ll be able to play with some of the activities in and around the village (check out the collage above to see some of them) while they wait their turn with The Bunny!

If you want the kids to have a blast while they wait for their photo opportunity, definitely bring them to #Bunnyville this weekend!  It’s free and will be so much fun!

Enjoy the event!  We’ll be back for it, too!



Have A Wonderful Easter!



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Multicultural Children’s Book Day!

Critters And Crayons is thrilled to participate in Multicultural Children’s Book Day to celebrate diversity in literature this year!  In addition to many fellow bloggers who are supporting the event this year, MCCBD has been made possible because of the following great sponsors!

MCCBD’s  2015 Sponsors include Platinum Sponsors: Wisdom Tales Press, Daybreak Press Global Bookshop, Gold SponsorsSatya House,,   Author Stephen Hodges and the Magic Poof, Silver Sponsors: Junior Library GuildCapstone Publishing, Lee and Low Books,  The Omnibus Publishing. Bronze Sponsors:Double Dutch Dolls, Bliss Group Books, Snuggle with Picture Books Publishing,  Rainbow Books,   Author FeliciaCapers,  Chronicle Books   Muslim Writers Publishing ,East West Discovery Press.

Our family was thrilled to receive the book, The Rainbow Files Book #1:  The Day I Was The Only Kid In School , a very fun book that sparked meaningful conversation and great laughs.

The Rainbow Files The Day I Was The Only Kid In School

We sat down on a rainy day to read the book together.  Our second grade daughter started the reading by exclaiming that she knew it would be a fun book because she had already done a “Picture Walk”!

Before reading the story, we read the prologue about the authors, Maria T. and April E. Kelly.  They are a mother-daughter team who worked together on the story.  Maria’s young daughter, April, collaborated on the story as she and her mom made up bedtime stories during Maria’s active cancer treatment.

The Day I Was The Only Kid In School

The main theme of this book (without giving away too many spoilers) centers on the loneliness (or the even more accurate term used by Maria to describe what her daughter felt during that cancer treatment process, “aloneness”) that a child can feel.

There were many points of laughter for the kids as we wandered through the odd-awful-turned-very-memorable day of the third grade narrator who winds up being the only child at school one day.  The perspective was child-relatable, and the storytelling was full of unexpected turns and details that delighted the kids.

When I asked them what their favorite parts of the story were, they loved hearing about how a student became the teacher, and taught all of the teachers how to finally do their hair and make-up.  They also loved all of the fun sounds in the book, which aided enthusiastic storytelling through onomatopoetic literary devices throughout the story.

The Day I Was The Only Kid In School


This has been a fantastic experience.  When I asked the kids if they were glad to participate in the event and to read The Day I Was The Only Kid In School, they agreed that it was awesome.  My Kindergartener and Second Grader definitely recommend this book for other kids!




If you want to learn more about Multicultural Children’s Book Day (MCCBD), and have a chance to win some great book packages, please take a look at the information below!


To find more information via social media, be sure to use hashtag:  #ReadYourWorld



Join the Multicultural Children’s Book Day Twitter Party on Jan 27th 9:00pm and use hashtag: #ReadYourWorld to win 10 book packages!



Find Author interviews and more on the MCCBD blog here:



Platinum Sponsor Wisdom Tales Press is hosting a book giveaway on their website that anyone can enter. Winner will receive 6 Wisdom Tales Books of their choice. Book #giveaway at Wisdom Tales Press! Winner will receive 6 Wisdom Tales Books of their choice. #ReadYourWorld



-MCCBD now has it’s own! A is a free online newspaper that aggregates information on the topic of multicultural books for kids from all over the Internet. Please feel free subscribe and stay up-to-date with this topic.



#ReadYour World




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The Bull Run Festival Of Lights!

Just a quick post to say that if you’re in the Northern Virginia area, you should definitely stop by Centreville, Virginia one evening to experience The Bull Run Festival Of Lights!

There was a bit of  a line on the Eve of Christmas Eve, when we went because of the popularity of the event, but it went quickly!

Bull Run Festival Of Lights Line

The traffic flows pretty smoothly once you get to the window to pay for entry.  Entrance Fee was just $15 per vehicle, and we felt it was well worth it for the length of the drive, and the sights we saw.

Bull Run Festival Of Lights
There’s a carnival at the very end that we didn’t experience because it was raining on the night we went.  But, we plan to go back another day before the event closes.

The Festival Of Lights is an inexpensive, screen-free activity that families can enjoy during the holiday season in Northern Virginia.  AND, it was perfect for the rainy night we decided to go!

I think, next time, we’ll bring along a nice thermos of cocoa with mugs for each of us.

I hope you visit the attraction if you’re in the area!

For More Information About The Bull Run Festival Of Lights, check out the official website, and be sure to turn your volume settings up to enjoy the fun music!

Happy Holidays From Critters And Crayons!

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Duck Tape Pumpkins!



Duck Tape Pumpkins Critters And Crayons-3


Making Duck Tape Pumpkins Is An Easy & Fun Fall Family Activity!


Duck Tape Pumpkins By Critters And Crayons-1


This activity was perfect for our kindergarten son.
He enjoyed applying and smoothing strips of tape in a color he chose to the outside of the pumpkin.


Duck Tape Pumpkins By Critters And Crayons


The children spotted pumpkin decorating kits of their favorite animals at the store.
They applied the foam pieces using bits of duck tape and the adhesives in the kits to the covered pumpkins (great for fine motor skills and little hands!)


Duck Tape By Pumpkins Critters And Crayons 4


Our 5-year old son was delighted with the T-Rex pumpkin that he created by himself!


Duck Tape By Pumpkins By Critters And Crayons


Our daughter chose to apply black glitter paint to the outside of the Duck Tape in places.


Easy Duck Tape Pumpkins By Critters And Crayons


This activity actually stretched over two nights for our family.


 The first night, the children selected their decorating items and applied the duck tape to the pumpkins.


On the second night, they finished them up.


Both children were simply thrilled with the results after doing so much of the work themselves!





Family Night No-Carve Jack-O-Lantern Bar!



   Glow Stick Bath, Jack-O-Lantern Canvases, & Corn Counting!



Maple Leaf Ghost Bouquet


Indian Corn Rubbing!


Autumn Crafts & Treats!




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A Nature Explorer Bedroom For Kids!

A Nature Explorer Bedroom For Kids

For The Little Ones Who Love Nature & Adventure…


We recently moved into a new home and left our son’s bunk bed in Texas.

In the midst of packing and unpacking, we still haven’t had time to go out and find a new one, but after looking around, we figured out that we had everything we needed to give our son a room he’d love!

Our little boy wants to be Paleontologist, loves Indiana Jones, Dinosaurs, Crocodiles, and Nature, so it made sense to turn his room into a Nature Explorer-Adventurer’s Campsite using our family’s camping and outdoor gear.


A Nature Explorer Bedroom For Kids!

Our Nature Explorer’s Bedroom!






First, we set-up the 4-Person Tent in the middle of the room.  We laid down the area rug to help the mattress stay in place, to protect the tent floor, and to give our son something soft to walk around on inside his new bedroom tent.

Once we blew up the mattress and positioned it in the center of the tent, we put on our son’s bedding.

(Mom Confession! I was tempted to purchase new dino-themed bedding, but stopped myself.  The goal was to make use of what we had on hand to make this bedroom!)

Once the bed was set-up, we “sandbagged” the edges of the tent with rolled blankets and quilts to aid stability.  This actually was a help for Mom since I was running out of places to store the extra linen!

We placed a small bedside table next to the mattress with a T-rex nightlite, a flashlight, and his favorite animal stories.

His yellow lawn chair fit the theme perfectly so we positioned outside of the tent for reading, and for holding his safari vest and adventure hat.

We reserved a space in the room (not pictured) for him to display his favorite dinosaurs and crocodiles, and to store his habitat-building kit, books, and a small bin of kinetic sand.


This was a simple and inexpensive kid’s bedroom solution and our children absolutely love it!

The best thing about it is that we can keep the tent up as long as he still loves it, and then pack it away for family camping trips!





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Trying New Flavors With Kids: Dragon Fruit

We recently watched the movie, How To Train Your Dragon 2, and have a little boy how says he wants to grow up to become an archaeologist to find dinosaur bones, OR a Dragon Scientist.

SO, when we walked past this cool looking fruit today in HEB Plus, we had to pick it up and put it into our cart!

It was named “DRAGON FRUIT” and we had no idea what to expect!


How To Cut A Dragon Fruit Critters And Crayons

Trying New Flavors With Kids: Dragon Fruit


When we got home, we looked up a few facts about it, and learned that a Dragon Fruit is actually a member of the Cactus Family!

They are found in Southeast Asia, Central and South America, and Israel. We found ours at HEB Plus in Laredo, Texas!

The most  interesting thing that we learned tonight is that the cool multi-purpose tool we use to help us in our Guacamole preparation to slice and pit avocados, The Avocado Shark, actually is the PERFECT Dragonfruit Slicing And Scooping Tool!  




You can see the process we used to slice and eat the dragon fruit below.


How To Cut A Dragon Fruit Critters And Crayons-1

Step 1: Try New Flavors….Buy The Dragonfruit When You Find It!


How To Eat A Dragon Fruit Critters And Crayons-2

Step 2: Slice The Dragonfruit Down The Center Lengthwise.


How To Eat A Dragon Fruit Critters And Crayons-4

Step 3: Open The Dragonfruit To Reveal The White & Black Inside!


How To Eat A Dragon Fruit Critters And Crayons-6

Step 4: Prepare To Scoop Out The Dragon Fruit. A Multi-Purpose Avocado Slicing/Pitting Tool Like The Avocado Shark Is Awesome For This Step!


How To Eat A Dragon Fruit Critters And Crayons-8

Step 5: Scoop Out The Dragon Fruit After Cutting Around The Edges Of The Peel!


How To Eat A Dragon Fruit Critters And Crayons-9

Step 6: Slice The Fruit Like You Would Slice An Apple


How To Eat A Dragon Fruit Critters And Crayons-10

Step 7: Cut The Dragon Fruit Into Bite-Sized Pieces.


How To Eat A Dragon Fruit Critters And Crayons-12

Step 8: Eat The Dragon Fruit!


I’ll admit, the inside of the dragon fruit took everyone in the family by surprise!

It was entirely new and unexpected, and so was the flavor!

The Flavor, by the way, was very much like a mild kiwi!


We’re going to keep trying new flavors, particularly for exotic fruits and vegetables we find at markets.

Our Family Night Dragon Fruit Adventure Was A Hit With The Kids!


It’s Got The Kindergartener’s Seal Of Approval….

And That Is A Hefty Endorsement!


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Paid Focus Group For Laredo Ladies

This is a sponsored post written on behalf of Think Group Austin.

All opinions are always 100% my own.




Think Group Austin


A Paid Focus Group For Laredo Ladies!


Selected Laredo Ladies Will Be Paid $125 (Value Includes Gift Card)

To Participate In A  2-Hour Focus Group Study.

No Sales Pitches ~ Just Your Opinions On….SHOPPING!


I was contacted recently by Think Group Austin about an interesting opportunity for women in Laredo to participate in a PAID Focus Group Study to discuss shopping habits!

Selected ladies will be paid $125 to provide their opinions and did I mention that the Focus Group Study lasts JUST 2 Hours?
To Learn More, Check Out The Info Provided Directly From Think Group Austin Below & Please Share The Survey With Other Ladies In Laredo!



“Think Group Austin (a market research firm) has an upcoming paid focus group study in Laredo, TX, for females ages 21-54 years old.

The study pays $125 for two hours on Tuesday, July 8th, during business hours. The study concerns shopping habits.

If you are interested in this study, please click on the link below to take a survey.

Based on your responses, one of our recruiters will contact you with more information and questions.

This is a great opportunity to share your opinions and get paid for it; in absolutely no way will we try to sell you something.

Feel free to pass the survey on to anyone who you think might be interested!”



Sponsored Post Disclaimer:    I only endorse products that I have experienced and/or tested, and often receive a product or service as compensation for conducting a sponsored post or giveaway.  The focus group sponsored by Think Group Austin is an event that I would attend, myself.  In return for my labor and provision of this giveaway, I received monetary compensation.  All opinions are always 100% my own, honest, and written in the style of the Critters And Crayons Blog. 


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Dandelion Seed Bottles & Haiku Gift ~ Teacher Appreciation Week


This year we wanted to do something fun and nature-oriented for Teacher Appreciation Week!

You might remember the kids’ School Supply Cake last year?   That was a fun project, too!


To Make The Dandelion Seed Bottles & Haiku Gifts You See Here, You Will Need:

  • 1 Small glass bottle with cork
  • Dandelion(s), preferably with seeds still attached to wispy parts
  • 3 Feet of thin leather cording, ribbon, or other cording for each glass jar
  • Scissors
  • Scrapbook Paper or Card For Haiku
  • Pen or Marker


We found some pretty little glass bottles at a craft store and our daughter wanted to place dandelion wisps inside for her teachers.

The children picked the last dandelion we could find in our backyard for this project!

Surprisingly, one dandelion was plenty to fill 9 little glass jars!


Teacher Appreciation Week Gift Idea, Dandelion Seed Bottles And Haiku From Critters And Crayons, LLC


The kids placed one to two dandelion seeds into each glass jar.

Handling the seeds and getting them into the small openings was a fantastic fine motor skills activity!

We tried to keep the wispy parts of the flower attached to the seed because we just love the way they look inside the bottles!


Some Quick Tips:

  • If you have a knitting needle, or something similar like a rubber band loom needle, you can use it to help move the dandelion seeds into position inside the bottles.
  • I recommend placing your dandelion in a small container to protect the wisps from flying off!
  • I don’t recommend gluing the cork onto the bottle so the recipient can change contents later if he/she would like to.


Teacher Appreciation Week Gift Idea, Dandelion Seed Bottles And Haiku From Critters And Crayons, LLC


We had more seeds and wisps to add, but we loved the simple, beautiful look  of each bottle with one to two seeds.


Teacher Appreciation Week Gift Idea, Dandelion Seed Bottles And Haiku From Critters And Crayons, LLC


The remaining seeds DO look quite pretty in the extra bottles…


Teacher Appreciation Week Gift Idea, Dandelion Seed Bottles And Haiku From Critters And Crayons, LLC


Teacher Appreciation Week Gift Idea, Dandelion Seed Bottles And Haiku From Critters And Crayons, LLC


I helped the kids with the last part of the gift by cutting 36″ lengths of thin, tan leather cord for each of the bottles the kids had prepared.

I tied the knots around the neck of each bottle and then knotted the very ends of the cord so that the teachers could use the bottles as a necklace or lanyard.


The very last thing we did to complete the gift was to develop a short poem called a Haiku to give with the gift.



  • Haiku refers to a traditional Japanese Poem consisting of 17 syllables broken into three lines following  a rhythm of 5-7-5 for on/off syllables.
  • That may sound very technical but it was easiest to explain to our kids by clapping as we practiced saying possible stanzas as we built the poem.
  • Haiku also usually contains a “nature” element, and a clear break between two ideas.
  • Haiku are often witty.


I realized after we settled on our finished poem for the teachers, that we had mixed up the number of syllables.

Instead of 5-7-5, our poem was set to a  7-5-7 rhythm.


Apparently, English-Contemporary Haiku has been breaking the rules for some time now, so I’m going with “It’s an English-Contemporary Haiku Pattern”.

Haha!  🙂

Here is our English-Contemporary Haiku the kids helped to develop for their teachers!

   “You taught me to ride the wind.

I landed safely

by MYSELF.  Thank You.”

                                                                   ~Tricia,  Critters And Crayons

Teacher Appreciation Week Gift Idea, Dandelion Seed Bottles And Haiku From Critters And Crayons, LLC











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