Thursday, March 29, 2012

Easter Lambies

A couple years ago I saw these little lamb pillows on The Purl Bee. Very cute. But instead of pillows I decided to make them even smaller--stuffed animal size. Perfect for little ones to snuggle.  


They are so soft and cute. I've made several and found them to be great additions to a baby gift.


I think they'd also be perfect for a sweet Easter basket.


Quick and easy with a free pattern from Molly. Sweet indeed.


Hope ewe have a great weekend!
Thanks for reading.
- Haley

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Chocolate Centerpiece

Easter is just around the corner, so I thought I'd share the how-to for this chocolate egg bouquet I made. It makes for a cute centerpiece and a yummy dessert or snack while kids are hunting for eggs. 

Chocolate Egg Bouquet


Materials Needed: (Makes one medium sized arrangment)
styrofoam block
bamboo kabob skewers (24)
garden clippers (optional)
hot glue
easter grass
colored tissue paper (2-3 sheets)
foil wrapped chocolate eggs in various sizes
pipe cleaners or flexible wire
basket or container

Start by cutting some of the skewers in half. This will allow you to vary the heights of the eggs. If you don't have garden clippers you can just use full length skewers and push some in further than others, but it is easier if you can cut the skewers.


Fit the styrofoam into your container. Cut your tissue paper sheets into four squares (or rectangles) each. Put a pen or pencil in the middle of each square and gently pull the corners up like you are making a folded umbrella. Squirt a little hot glue on the end and use the pen to poke the tissue paper into the styrofoam. Repeat with all pieces spacing them so that they cover all the foam.


This is like the greenery of your arrangement. If you want you can also use some easter grass to fill in bare spots and around the inside edge of the container.



Pile up a big blob of hot glue on the end of a skewer. Wait just a second to let it cool slightly, and then invert onto the bottom of a chocolate egg.



Be careful not to press the stick into the chocolate; you just want to hold right against the bottom while the glue sets up. Repeat with all the eggs. Let the glue dry and harden completely before arranging them.


Then stick them into the foam among the sheets of tissue paper.


If you want you can make little curly-q's out of bendable wire or pipe-cleaners and stick those in as well. Keep your taller sticks in the middle and use the shorter ones around the bottom and sides. Insert the skewers at different angles to create a round look to the arrangement.


I also tucked extra eggs around the inside of the basket.


It would be cute with a couple large foil wrapped bunnies in the middle too. Fun and easy, like all holiday crafts should be.

Thanks for reading.
- Haley

Monday, March 26, 2012

Starting Seeds

Hi there! How'd you spend your weekend? Ours looked like this:


I started a a bunch of mini zinnias and nasturtium. I love how bright and cheerful zinnias are. Did you know you can eat nasturtium? They would look pretty in a salad. Maybe we will try that this year. I also like to plant a lot of marigolds because they double as a natural bug repellant, but I guess I forgot to buy those seeds. Next weekend...


We have one garden devoted to flowers, one to herbs,


and soon to be four dedicated to veggies! My husband is in the process of building #3 and #4, but they will be done in time to plant or transplant for this spring. Saturday I started seeds for four kinds of peppers, three kinds of tomatoes, tomatillos, three kinds of basil, chives, and a window box full of cilantro. The peas and beans are waiting for their new home to get finished. 


We are doing squash in large pots this year to have more space for the rest of the stuff in garden plots. And I'm still not sure where to put the cucumbers. I grew them on a trellis a couple years ago and I think that's the way to go. 


Then these guys went right into the ground along with carrots and onions.


 I like the onions because it gives us a little green in there while we wait for everything else to pop up.


All the seeds got moved into their short term housing for the spring. They will live in this cozy greenhouse until it's safe to move them into the garden. 


Spring is such a hopeful time. New life. A fresh start. How perfect that Easter is celebrated in the spring. 


Are you planting anything yet?

Thanks for reading.
-Haley

Friday, March 23, 2012

Garden Book - Giveaway

**Update - I had some complaints that people couldn't leave comments over the weekend, so I'm extending the giveaway until Tuesday night at 8 p.m. just in case you wanted to comment and couldn't. I'll announce the winner on Wednesday. Thanks and sorry about the technical difficulties! : ) 


I mentioned earlier that I am getting pretty eager to get the garden going. I am so anxious, a mini herb garden has sprung up on our kitchen table. I can't help it. I love fresh herbs and the feeling of spring that comes with them. We are planning to do some of the early planting this weekend: lettuce, spinach, onions and maybe baby purple potatoes. Plus we will start all our seeds indoors.


As we get ready for growing season I thought I'd share a gardening book that I really enjoy. It's called You Grow Girl by Gayla Trail. You can check out Gayla's gardening blog at YouGrowGirl.com. I actually bought this book at Powell's City of Books in Portland. It's such a cool, huge book store, if you are ever in Portland I highly recommend a stop there. 

You Grow Girl is unlike any garden book you've ever read, in case you've ever read one : ) Gayla describes it as "...a punk rock approach to growing plants that takes the good stuff from tradition and tosses the rest into the composter." This book was not written by someone with acres and acres of land and tons of money to spend on plants and garden supplies. She uses what she has, and makes what she has look awesome. 


I especially like her emphasis on growing things in small spaces like an apartment patio or a small yard because everyone can use those tips. Practically everyone has a small space in which something could be growing. I also love the idea of guerrilla gardening. I have considered doing that and someday I will.  While the book has tons of great growing tips and plant information, it's also chock full of little craft projects for the garden. She'll show you how to make your own twig fences, stepping stones, garden apron or terra cotta pot labels.



I actually started composting after reading this book. We do it three seasons a year and have our own beautiful compost to mix into the gardens every spring. She's pretty thorough. Crafts to composting...


 ...to recipes...


...to DIY body scrubs.


It's pretty fun. You know what else it fun? Giveaways. So today I'm giving away a copy of the book to one of you! Just leave one comment to enter. This giveaway will close at 8 p.m. MST Sunday Mar. 25 and the winner will be chosen by random.org. I will announce the winner Monday. I'm not rich yet, so I'm sorry to say this is open to readers with a U.S. address only. Someday I'd love to send something to Russia or Australia or Canada so international friends, please keep reading!

Have a happy weekend, and thanks for reading!
-Haley

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Froyo Mini Pops

Hi. So I'm loving the chocolate & froyo bites, but guess who isn't...Thing One. He likes them and he wants to eat them, but they are just too cold to put the whole thing in his little mouth, and it's not one of those things you can take a bite of. Don't you love it when you have an idea, and then you have another, better idea : )


Adding a half a straw to the bites...a little bit genius, if I do say so myself. I filled the ice cube spots up all the way this time too so these would be a little bigger than the bites size ones.



 How cute are these?!


Thing One has hardly ever made it through a full size popsicle anyway. So this tiny version is perfect. I'm calling it the froyo mini pop. I think this summer is going to see a lot of these guys.


Thanks for reading!
-Haley

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Chocolate Topped Froyo Bites


I love frozen yogurt, so when I started seeing froyo bites like these all over Pinterest knew I had to try them. I used strawberry yogurt, so mine looked exactly like the ones I saw on Pinterest. I used wax paper though and think I ate a layer of wax with the first batch, so I would use aluminum foil or just squirt them on the pan like she did above. After my first attempt I started thinking of variations on this idea and I think I came up with three ways to make froyo bites less clean up, less trash, and more yummy.


Tips #1 & #2: Use a silicone ice cube tray and put a layer of melted chocolate on top!


This first batch I used Boston cream pie yogurt, which is not my favorite by itself, but was delicious frozen and with chocolate on top. Plus there's no fruit so it's a very creamy treat. I put the yogurt in a sandwich bag and piped it into the tray, only filling each one half way or less.


Then I melted the chocolate chips and spooned a dollop on top of each. Then I gently tipped and tapped the tray so the chocolate would smooth and settle.

Like this.


Then put them into the freezer for about an hour. Turn the tray over and pop them all out.


Just throw these in the freezer for a quick and yummy treat. I'm going to go ahead and label this "healthy dessert" because you can use fat free yogurt and with the little bit of chocolate on top really 2 or 3 is a satisfying after dinner treat, or mid afternoon snack. They are extra tasty if you let them thaw for a minute or two, making them more like ice cream and less like ice cubes. Don't leave them out too long though, because they melt pretty quick!


Now ready for tip #3? I like to eliminate trash from projects when possible, which is why I got the ice cube tray--I don't have to use foil every time or wash a pan (since washing things by hand is among my least favorite things to do).  But I still had to use a sandwich bag to get nice even cubes (you can spoon it in there, but that was messier for me). SO, I tried this little trick.


 Cut a small 1/4" hole in the yogurt top with a knife, turn upside down and squeeze the yogurt into the ice cube tray. I did have to poke the knife in there a couple times because some little peach pieces got stuck, but I think it was still faster than spooning it or piping it from a baggie; and no extra trash! 


Recycle that yogurt container and enjoy these delicious froyo bites while you wear your Captain Planet cape. I like the chocolate peach combination best so far.


I'm giving a shout out here to my cousin Ariana and her Kappa friends who read this blog, because I think this is a perfect midnight study snack, and all you need is a freezer so it's college student kind of cooking : )

** Updated - Try these as mini popsicles! They're good with chocolate 


 ... or without.




Thanks for reading.
-Haley

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Here Comes the Sun

I am so excited for Spring. A couple weeks ago my aunt bought me these new markers for my herb garden and I can not wait to get everyone moved in and marked.


It's so good to see these little guys popping up. It won't be long now. I love our garden and will probably be sharing a fair amount of garden posts for the foreseeable future--not everyday, but often. : )


Growing up some girls picture their dream house or dream car or something. I remember saying I don't care about the house, but I want a big garden. When we moved here there was no garden, but now there's a little more every year. I don't know if you could call me an "avid" gardener. I'm not necessarily great at it, or super knowledgable about plants, but we've been gardening for the last seven years in this yard and every year we are learning and making adjustments for the next year.  I'm not great at weeding I don't like to weed I am going to try to be better about weeding this year.  I don't devote a ton of time to the garden, and I'm more into vegetables than flowers. But to me gardening doesn't have to look perfect to be wonderful. It's so gratifying to clip something from your own garden and bring it in, whether it's a bunch  of flowers, a basket of vegetables, or a handful of fresh herbs.


If you think you don't have a green thumb let me encourage you to give gardening a chance. You might have heard at Chinese New year that this is the Year of the Garden. That's right it is. Don't look it up, just trust me. Even if you live in an apartment with just a small patio you CAN grow delicious foods/herbs. Yes you can. I'll tell you about it. I've got a fun little food project to show you this week too, but come back Friday for more garden info and my first ever giveaway!  Happy first day of spring tomorrow!

Thanks for reading!
-Haley

Friday, March 16, 2012

Irish Potatoes

In honor of St. Patricks day tomorrow I thought I'd share a little potato project. 


I'm sure you've seen or done potato stamping before. You just whittle a potato into the shape you want, keeping it flat on the bottom and dip into paint. It's a great craft for little kids because you can do a nice-sized chunk of potato and that's easier for them to hold on to than some traditional stamps. Plus you can do any shape you want and keep things interesting. This isn't a complicated craft but you can make it even simpler by using fingerling potatoes, which are already the perfect handle size.


I think I made three stamps out of one long fingerling. Just chop into 1 1/2 to 2 inch pieces and then carve a little off to create your shape. We did this in the fall so I did pumpkins and leaves.



If you want to you can use a sharpie to draw on your shape and make cutting even faster. This way your toddler won't destroy the house have to wait long while you prepare the craft. 



Then just set out a paper palate of colors and let the kids go to town. The best part about using fingerling potatoes is that you can keep the skin on. My kids and I have sensitive skin and sometimes handling raw potatoes makes my hands itchy, so keeping the skin on is a must for us.


Here's our leaves and pumpkins, but it would be really easy to make shamrocks or easter eggs.


I told Thing One about getting pinched if you don't wear green and he's been concerned every day since that he will get pinched. So, don't forget to wear green! 

Here's a favorite Irish blessing for your weekend:

May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
May the rains fall soft upon your fields,
And, until we meet again,
May God hold you in the hollow of His hand.



Thanks for reading.
-Haley
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