Friday, March 29, 2013

Grown-up Easter Baskets

I know it's getting pretty close to Easter to be sharing ideas, but if you're waiting until the last minute, here's a couple of grown-up Easter baskets I put together this year. I already told you how I feel about Easter. I like to keep the focus on Jesus and His gift to us, but I also enjoying giving gifts and I feel like if you keep things simple you can enjoy the Easter baskets and spring chicks and bunnies without ruining the Holiday. So, for the first basket I did a simple citrus theme.

 It had a microplane (or zester) and a citrus spritzer.  Have you seen these? You just plug the spray top right into the lemon or lime and spritz fresh juice right out. Pretty cool huh? (I hope it works!) Then instead of eggs or candy I filled the basket with lemons, limes and cutie oranges.

The second basket I made for someone who's planning a trip to Europe, so I filled it with a few city guide books, a mug and some Euros.

I hope that you have a wonderful weekend, celebrating the worst and best thing that ever happened.
 You are loved, and there's no lengths God wouldn't go to, to prove that to you. I hope you know that.
- Haley

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Travel Tins

Our kids are still too young for "spring break," but we are thinking ahead to summer travel, and some fun ways to keep them busy in the car or even just while we are out running errands. I've seen several ideas of travel toys to make out of mint tins, but thought I'd try one of my own. These mini dioramas are perfect for Thing One and Thing Two is just thrilled to open it and find something inside.

Since Thing One loves to do crafts I let him paint, glue and add sand to his, and I made Thing Two's  habitat for him, sans sand. 

After the sand dried he painted on the top: a tree, a leaf and two water rocks : ) Then we introduced the creatures to their new home. 

Here's Thing Two's. I added a foam tree that folds down and pops up. I tore the sticker backing off only where it sticks agains the tin and left the rest on there so it wouldn't be sticky.

We painted the outside with acrylic paint (and I did a quick wipe around the rim to give it a clean edge). Then we let them dry and finally added a foam dino sticker.

They are small and easy to keep in the car or even a purse. Yay for instant, tiny entertainment! If I had a girl I would probably use some of the fairy garden supplies to make a tiny fairy garden box. Can't you picture that? A mossy floor with some little flowers in there and a fairy instead of a lizard. So cute.

Looking for other good in-the-car entertainment? How about

I-Spy Bottle or Book
Monster Crayon Roll
Car Caddy

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Easter Crafts

Happy first day of spring! Now that it's officially spring I am thinking Easter. If you are looking for a meaningful Easter craft, I'm thinking of trying a resurrection garden, like Kristen did here. We are doing some other fun crafts too. Here's a few Eastery ideas:

Thing One made this bunny garden at museum craft time last year. So cute and easy to do. You can probably tell just by looking at it, but if you have any questions just ask in the comments.

I found this recipe last year for peanut butter chocolate truffles from Six Sisters. They can easily be rolled into egg shapes. I like them best with sprinkles, then they really look like Easter eggs.

And if you are in need of a little Easter basket, but don't want to buy one, try making one. You can use a pretty kleenex box and raffia for a handle,

or use my paper gift bag method that I shared here.

The last couple of weeks it has really been starting to feel like spring. I'm dreaming of gardens, and colors and new life. I love that in the garden we get to experience death, and new life every year, as such a powerful reminder that without death and new life we can not bloom anew. I'm so thankful that each of us is given a fresh start. Aren't you? Here's my mini Easter message to you all, dear friends:

2 Corinthians 5:14-20 (from The Message version)

Our firm decision is to work from this focused center: One man died for everyone. That puts everyone in the same boat. He included everyone in his death so that everyone could also be included in his life, a resurrection life, a far better life than people ever lived on their own.
Because of this decision we don’t evaluate people by what they have or how they look. We looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong, as you know. We certainly don’t look at him that way anymore. Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other. God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins. God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. We’re Christ’s representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them. We’re speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you.
Happy Easter! He is risen!
- Haley

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Dinosaur Day

Some days it's hard to be the only girl in the house. This is about as girly as it gets sometimes.  

Anyway, we recently did an indoor dinosaur day. I say indoor, because I have been saving up a bunch of fun activities to do an outdoor dino day as well when the weather is nicer. It's amazing how you can make something feel more special just by making it a theme. These are all things we have done before, but when we do them all on the same day, it's so much cooler to the kids. Weird, I know, but I'll take it. 

We read Danny and the Dinosaur and played with dinosaurs.

Thing One did some dino art.

We ate like herbivores: spinach, agave, blueberries, strawberries, and vanilla soy milk. You can use almond milk, or whatever kind you like. No offense, dairy, we drink you all the time, it's just that the non-dairy milks give spinach smoothies more flavor and sweetness, plus more calcium, and variety is the spice of life! I don't use a recipe, but if I did it would be something like:

1 1/2 cups frozen berries
1 1/2 cups soy milk or almond milk
1/2 cup juice or water
2 cups spinach
1 Tbsp of agave or honey -optional
(I always put the spinach on top, so it gets puréed last). I usually have to stir it once. Add more liquid if it doesn't combine after the stir. I love that I can get my kids to eat this much spinach and fruit at once.

I don't know if they look more like lava or mud, but either way, the boys liked them. 

We finished with a special dinosaur Elmo movie, and that was our dinosaur day! Hope you are having a fun and creative day today!
- Haley

Monday, March 11, 2013

Creamy Beet Spread

Hi there! How about starting your week with something unique and delicious? First, let's talk beets. I used to think beets were disgusting. I guess I had only tried pickled beets, and I don't really care for pickled anything, except the occasional pickle. A couple of years ago when we went to the farm to pick veggies in the fall, we picked some beets. I didn't really know what to do with them, but once I dig something out of the ground I'm determined to at least try to eat it. Once I figured out how to boil and roast them, it turns out I do like beets! I like them Sam-I-am! We have a restaurant in CO called Mad Greens that serves a salad with chopped beets, goat cheese, pepitas, croutons, and steak (or chicken). It is my favorite salad recipe! I make it at home now, especially since I also discovered you can buy canned shoestring beets at King Soopers! I love how the goat cheese (sometimes I use Feta) tastes with the beets and it got me thinking. So I did a little experimenting and came up with something a little different and a lot yummy.

It's simple but deliciously different and I offer it up as a suggestion for your next potluck or appetizer party. For a small batch at home, I combine 1/2 can strained shoestring beets with 1/2 block of cream cheese. If you are making a bigger batch for a party, use 1:1. Pulse in the food processor until smooth and combined, then salt to taste.

Set out crackers, or sliced veggies with the dip for an easy and different appetizer.

Wouldn't this be pretty for a girly baby shower or an Easter appetizer?

It also dresses up lunch. I spread some of the beet cheese in a pita shell and stuffed with mesclun, sliced apples, pomegranate arils, and sliced avacados. I felt like I was out to lunch at a cute patio cafe. It was so delicious, I gave myself a big tip and said I would definitely be back. ; )

Maybe you already knew that beets can be yummy, but if not I hope that you too will give beets a chance. Have a wonderful day!
Thanks for reading!
- Haley

**P.S. For you Colorado friends, here's a special deal from Mad Greens for St. Patrick's Day week. 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Stone Soup

Hello Friends! It is supposed to snow again here this weekend. I never mind being snowed in with good comfort food, and good company. We made a special soup here recently and in light of the snowy  weather I thought I'd share it today. I like to let Thing One help with cooking whenever possible; he loves to cook. This is a perfect recipe for kids, because the ingredients are more than just ingredients, they are part of a magical story...

It started when we got this book, in a super cache of hand-me-down books. I thought it would be so fun to read it and then make stone soup for dinner.

We didn't use exactly what they used in the book, but as long as you use the stone and lots of other stuff, it magically turns into soup. : )

First have your kiddo pick out the perfect soup stone, then wash it really well. Put it in your soup pot and add your ingredients. We used veggie broth, chopped potatoes, carrots, lentils, sausage, dried sage, dried parsley, salt and pepper.

While your soup simmers, you can listen to this fun Stone Soup song. It used to be on YouTube, but now you have to spend $1. It's probably worth it. But you'll have to be prepared to explain "nincompoop" since it rhymes with soup. : )  Happy soup making! 
- Haley

Monday, March 4, 2013

Up! Party

So, we had a party. An Up! party. Thing One loves the movie, and luckily so do I. Here's what we did:

I had a calendar a few years ago and I always liked the pictures, so I saved them and they were perfect for this. We pulled out a couple of globes, a jar for saving for "Paradise Falls," the mailbox, and lots of little foam planes.  

We turned the cozy Christmas cottage into the flying house.

I made some paper plate paddles for balloon tennis. I trimmed off the outer 1/2 inch and hot glued on some large craft sticks. Balloon tennis is pretty great by itself. Thing One was happy to play for a long time, while I did other set up stuff. We will be using these post-party for sure.

The foam planes were a late summer clearance score. Hobby Lobby has the best deals at the end of VBS season. These crafts are perfect for parties because they are sets for a whole class and they usually run them 70-90% off, eventually.

It was an afternoon party, so there were munchies and fruit and desserts included cupcakes, mini cupcakes, chocolate and sprinkle-dipped marshmallow pops, Oreos and m&ms.

We planned a house craft for all the kids. I cut the bottoms off of lots of milk cartons, and then put out glue, papers, fabric pieces and craft sticks.

Everyone chose a "house" and decorated it however they wanted. I think the kids really liked making the houses.

When they were done, each house got it's own balloon. We taped the ribbon to a half a drinking straw, and slipped it in through the pour spout. Then the straw turns sideways and holds the balloon in place.

For favors we printed out mini versions of the Adventure Book which you can download for free at this Disney website. It's a great book of family and individual activities for kids to do to earn badges, which you cut out and glue on once they earn them. The favor bags also had a chocolate bar, a tennis ball, a kazoo and some feathers.

We had a great time, and I think mostly everyone else did too. Except probably the sweet girl that threw up all over her mom and our kitchen half-way through the party. Just keepin' it real here, lest you think things always turn out the way I plan them : ) 
Adventure is out there! Thanks for reading!
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