Monday, April 21, 2014

Post-Easter Snacks and Crafts

Easter--to me-- is so much more than bunnies and jelly beans, but we do include some dyed eggs and candy as part of our family Easter traditions. If you're anything like us, you might have a few boiled eggs and peeps left still. Here's a couple things we did with ours, in case you're trying to use them up. 

I made the boys a food scene, inspired by this one (if you like these you should check out some of Jill's other food scenes here, and here). I used chives and thyme from the garden, dill seeds and carrot pieces for the faces, and some chia seeds as chick feed. 



Edible play dough is always a hit with my kids (see peanut butter play dough, here.) I found a recipe for edible peeps play dough on Kids Activities Blog. It's basically marshmallow fondant, made with peeps! Here's what you do:

Peeps Play Dough
  • Microwave 3 peeps and 1 Tbsp. coconut oil for 10-15 seconds (until peeps begin to puff). 
  • Stir and add in 3 Tbsp. powdered sugar. After the second tablespoon of sugar you really have to just work it in with your hands. 
  • Kneed until smooth and pliable adding more sugar if too sticky. 


It worked great! The kids could roll it out just like play dough,


and they loved making edible snakes : )


There won't be any stale peeps here this year. I hope your week is off to a good start. It's starting to feel like spring!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Whimsy and Fairy Friends

Whimsy is a funny word, and a fun idea. In his book  Love Does, Bob Goff encourages more whimsy in everyday life. Whimsy needn't be expensive or extravagant, it's just a fanciful, playful take on life. I want our kids to experience some whimsy, so last summer when we had to cut down a small maple tree that had died, I asked my husband to leave the stump. Then I told the kids that I had heard that garden fairies love to make their homes in stumps like this one, and I hoped that a little fairy family would find ours. Wouldn't it be fun to have fairies living in the backyard?


We let a couple of weeks go by and then one night, a fairy family moved in!


It looks like they used a small potpie tin for the roof, with one side cut so they could wrap it around the stump snuggly.  They tapped small finishing nails around the bottom to attach it. The door is a small piece of wood with a tiny screw for the handle, and from another small nail hangs a little porch lantern. They may have purchased the fence from Hobby Lobby and painted it red to match ours behind. : )


As they got settled in more of their stuff appeared, some tiny pots with flowers or greens for their porch,  and a bench in their "garden". The boys loved discovering everything, and would always look for changes, and clue as to what the fairies had been up to. We are look forward to seeing what they are up to this summer as well. If your kids want to set up a fairy house themselves you might be interested in this past post.

I hope your week has some whimsy in it, or at least that you can put some in someone else's! I think butterflies, and northern lights, and so many vibrant flowers are proof that God too likes whimsy. You are loved!

-Haley


Thursday, April 3, 2014

A Sunny Baby Shower

It's snowy here again so I thought I'd pull out some pictures of a happy, sunny baby shower we had for my friend a little while ago. The theme was yellow and grey and elephants. Six of us worked together to throw her this brunch, so we each just did a couple of things. One friend made this paper banner with her Silhouette.


Another brought all the stuff to set up a headband and hair clip making station. That sweet baby's head will never be naked! Guests had such a fun time making these. 


We had a diaper cake,



and a drink table with milk and frappuccinos. 



Since it was a brunch, we decided to do mini breakfast foods and a yogurt bar. For the yogurt bar I just wrapped the yogurt containers in scrapbook paper and used washi tape to tape labels to them: strawberry and vanilla. They looked cute, plus less dishes! Then we had chopped mango, pineapple, and strawberries and homemade granola as toppings. A few rolls of washi tape really brought a lot together for this party. We used washi on little bamboo spoons, to label food and drinks, and to make little flag toothpics for the waffle bites and the mini sausage sandwiches. By the way, I thought the waffle bites were so cute: two mini waffles (just the frozen kind that you toast four-at-a-time and pull apart), strawberry frosting between them, and a slice of banana with more frosting piped on top; hold it all together with a toothpick. These would be fun for a little girls' tea.


We had scones and french toast sticks over a little cup of syrup. What I loved about the food for this is that it was all good, and it was mostly stuff we warmed up--as in hooray Costco freezer section : ) You don't have to kill yourself to throw a shower! Work with friends and be practical about the amount of time you have to make things. We also didn't break the bank. Most of the decorations were paper, washi tape and simple vases of flowers. I'd rather spend time enjoying the company of friends (and my kids) than stressing about food and details, so that's what we did.


One friend made a super mimosa bar with all kinds of combos. Vigin, traditional, different flavors..it was so fun! 



The baby's initials are MM so as guest favors, we set up an M&M bar with six different flavors. We had some little glassine bags, a scoop for everyone to help themselves, and a stack of washi tape to seal the bags.


It was a fun celebration with good friends. I'm so lucky to know so many creative and crafty people,  and we are all so happy to have baby MM with us now : )

Hope you are having a great day!

- Haley


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Book Review: Fearless Hope

For the most part, I read non-fiction. My shelf is stacked with books about non-profits, or autobiographies or stories to give me some perspective on life. Sometimes though, you need a break, and a good fiction read is just the thing. It's spring break here this week, which always makes me feel that summer is right around the corner. Now is the time to start building your pool-side reading list. Here's a title to start your list: Fearless Hope, by Serena Miller.


This is the first "Amish romance" that I've read, and it was a great read. Here's a little teaser:

When Hope Yoder loses her husband, she is left trying to support her two small children—and one on the way— in her Amish community however she can. She takes a job as a part-time housekeeper for the Englisch man (Logan Parker) who has just bought the farm that once belonged to her parents. 

Logan Parker is a bestselling crime fiction writer from New York City who buys an Amish farmhouse to use as a writing retreat. Something about the peacefulness of the house frees him from the crippling writer’s block that's threatening to ruin his career. Meanwhile, something about the quiet Amish woman who comes to clean his home makes him less and less excited about returning to New York and the woman he is supposed to marry. 

Slowly, Logan and Hope are drawn together, and when they discover that they share a strange past, they must decide how that affects their future. 

I liked the creative combination of the New York City writer and the young Amish widow. Two very different walks of life--to be sure. I honestly didn't know the difference between Amish and Mennonite communities, which the book discusses a bit. Miller throws in an interesting twist at the end of the story, which changes things just as the differences between the main characters seem too great to overcome. This is a great, light, quick summer read. Pick up a copy after its release on April 8, 2014 at Simon & Schuster, Amazon, or Barnes & Noble.

Just so you know...
**I received a copy of Fearless Hope from Howard Books, for my honest review. The opinions expressed here are mine, because it's my blog! : ) **

Thanks for reading!
-Haley

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Greenhouse Boxes: Part II

Hi! I wanted to show you a little update on how the clear storage boxes are working as greenhouses. Like I said before, this is the first time we've tried using them, and I wasn't sure how well they would work. But I have to show you guys how awesome these are. First, I think I said last time that we could keep the lids on when it wasn't sunny. That's not really true. You really have to have the lids cracked all the time for ventilation or your boxes will get too hot. You can still stack them, just offset the lids a little, like this:  


Here's what our greenboxes looked like just one week after we planted the seeds.



This is the best start we've ever had! Here's what I think is working this year:

  • Presoaking - I think that soaking the seeds made a big difference. We had some things sprout just two days after we planted these little guys! 
  • Even, gentle moisture - The boxes work great for keeping everything evenly moist, which I also think helped them grow faster. I also only used a spray bottle to water the seeds for the first week. I think this also helped. Sometimes I think pouring water on the soil can actually push the seeds too deep. 
  • Even Sunlight - What I love about the boxes is that they are easy to maneuver. In the past we were trying to rotate flimsy trays so that plants would grow straight (since they bend toward the window side), and rotating things from bottom shelves to top ones.  This gets especially hard when the plants are a little bigger and get easily tangled with each other. With the boxes; I just unstack them, water everything, and then rotate the other side to the window, switching the bottom and top box. The plants are totally undisturbed--no tangling, no spilled dirt. 
Once all the seeds have sprouted, you can remove the lid permanently. A week before planting you put the boxes outside during the day to harden them off and make the transition smoother.


This method definitely works for us. I took these pictures two days ago and most of the plants have already doubled in size just since then. With the fast growing rate, the boys have loved getting to watch the seeds sprout and grow. Since you can see the condensation on the lid and sides of the boxes we've been able to throw in a little pre-school science as well about water cycle and air flow. Bonus! Hope you are having a great week! You are loved!

-Haley