Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter 2013

I hope that you have all had a lovely Easter weekend!  We started celebrating Friday night with our annual easter egg decorating dinner, continued on last night by the making of the Easter Story Cookies and celebrated all day today from breakfast, church, egg hunt to dinner!  We sort of squeezed in all of our Easter activities into one weekend, so I'll be doing several Easter posts this week but here are some snapshots of our weekend...

Grace drew this picture on Good Friday after Bryce told the children the story of Jesus' death.  I will never get used to hearing this story.

This sight made me happy, men guarding the "tomb".  This was the finishing touch to the Easter Story Cookies that we make every year.

They were (mostly) hollow this morning!

This year Grace's Easter basket was themed around gardening.

Harris's basket was themed around fun and games.

For breakfast we had bunny bottoms!

While I made lunch (that turned into dinner, it took so long), Grace and Harris tried out one of the items in Harris' basket.  It is appropriately named HOP! 

These ranunculus were so happy and the perfect Easter colors!  

These are probably my favorite place card holders ever!  Grace made them from Sculpy clay and they were adorable.  The idea is from here.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Tips We've Learned About Blowing Out Eggs

Hello, there!  I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for the kind and thoughtful comments that many of you left for me.  The encouragement that you sent my way is amazing and appreciated.  Thank you.

Tonight, we had our annual Easter Egg painting party!  I'll post pictures soon, but I thought I would share a few tips that we have learned over the years about how to easily blow out eggs.  This year, I think that we have finally gotten it down pat!

In order to get all of the insides on the outside, you must first put a hole on either end of the egg.  In years past, we have always used a fairly long needle to do this because it also serves the purpose of breaking up the yolk on the inside.  The needle usually works fine but can tend to put little hairline cracks in the egg.  This year, we used a drill with a very small bit to drill into the end of the egg!  It seems crazy to use a big, heavy power tool with such a fragile thing as an egg, but it worked perfectly.

I've heard of using a baby nasal aspirator to blow out the insides of your egg, but we got rid of ours years ago.  However, once we got thinking along those lines, Bryce realized we could use the bulb portion of our turkey baster!  It worked beautifully... most of the time (this really was the only one that broke in this manner!).

After the eggs are all rinsed out and have dried a bit, I always put them in a 200 degree oven for about 45 minutes.  This helps to dry them out all the way and I swear it makes them stronger (but I have absolutely no evidence supporting that claim!).

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

On Blogging

The other day someone left a very unkind comment on a post and it really got me thinking about blogging and why I do it.  I began blogging almost five years ago at the suggestion of my friend Kelly and quickly discovered that I really loved it.  It was an outlet for me and a way to record the many facets of our lives.  Before blogging, my Mom and I used to scrapbook and that was very gratifying and fun to do together but it took up vast amounts of time and it was difficult to keep up.  It was really appealing to me that a blog post can take as little as five minutes to put together!  Blogging was also a (sadly, most often one sided) way to keep up with family and a few friends.

Through the past couple of years, I've discovered that I really love to document the details that make up our life.  I want to have pictures of what our house looked like at a certain moment in time, what some of our favorite things were at various stages, favorite recipes and things that we did together as a family.  And I believe that my children will too.  Finding the beauty and joy in our every day and our special days is an important part of this blog.  Blogging has allowed me to keep a record of those things, even if they only represent a very small part of our day, in a way that I never would have been able to do otherwise.

What I also love about blogging is that one must choose to visit, and because of that choice I think that most of us only visit those blogs that are of interest to us, those that we might have a connection with or those that we might learn something from.  If it were just my best friend and my Mom reading the blog that would be ok too, but blogging has opened up new friendships that I never would have been able to make and for that I'm so grateful.  I'm continually struck with what genuinely nice people visit this space and it's honestly like the icing on the cake.

As the children have gotten older, this blog has naturally changed and morphed.  I'm not sure where the blog will head in the future, or even if it will head into the future, but I do know that I'm proud of this space.  I appreciate those connections that I've made and those memories that I've recorded, no matter how small, big or even a bit silly they might be.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Lavender Hot Cocoa + A Bubble Bath= Perfection

Even though we officially celebrated spring last week, Mother Nature has apparently not gotten the memo!  This morning it started snowing and it hasn't stopped yet. This morning I indulged in the rather luxurious daytime activity of taking a bubble bath and watching the snow fall!  I even went a step further and made myself a mug of Lavender Hot Cocoa.  I've been wanting to try this hot cocoa for ages and today seemed like a perfect time to do it.  Lavender feels springy to me and cocoa is certainly a snowy weather treat so I figured I couldn't go wrong combining the two!  It was delicious, and I'm so glad that I took the time to enjoy the beauty of the morning.

Lavender Hot Cocoa
recipe from a la mode (adapted to one serving)

1 cup milk
1 1/2 ounces dark chocolate (70% cacao)
1/2 ounce milk chocolate
1/8 generous teaspoon lavender buds (or to preference)

 Heat milk and lavender over medium heat, whisking occasionally until the milk begins to simmer.  Remove from heat and let lavender steep for 5 minutes.  Strain lavender and return milk to saucepan.  Over medium heat, add chocolate and mix until chocolate is melted and incorporated.  Whisk milk mixture for 20 seconds until frothy.  Pour into mugs and add whipped cream!

P.S.  I was recently given  this bubble bath and it is perfection.  It creates fluffy, voluminous, and lasting bubbles without drying out your skin.

Friday, March 22, 2013

A New Light for the Desk Nook

Last fall, while Al and Marilyn were here, Al put in a new light fixture for me.  Our kitchen desk nook had been looking rather crowded and when I spotted this sconce for $15 I knew that it would be perfect for that area.  Al even put in a new switch on the bottom of the sconce since we wouldn't have a light switch!  I love having it there, it clears up the area and takes away one more cord that was contributing to the cluttered look.

In my effort to clean out every area in the house I also tackled the drawer, cabinets and file folder.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Happy Spring

Happy Spring!  It doesn't exactly feel like spring around here.  In fact, a glance at the weather forecast still shows some snow in our future!  We are gearing up for an exciting, fun filled, but unusually busy, season ahead of us.  Here's what's on my radar...

*I picked these sunflowers up at the grocery store several weeks ago for only $7!  They are now on their third week of looking beautiful.  Seriously, the best $7 ever spent.
*dresses and cute shoes!  I can't wait to lighten up.  I just bought this dress- not sure how it will look on my body type but it just looks comfy and cute!  I'll let you know.
* I'm anxiously awaiting my peonies to start stretching toward the sky.  I'm still wondering if they are going to come back.  Here's to hoping...
*Bryce turns 40 this spring.  He his going on an adventure with a dear friend and has been training like crazy for it.  It's reminded me that I need to exercise more.  I've been trying out Ballet Beautiful and I like it, but I'm having trouble being consistant (or motivated).
*We have just purchased a special something that I'm super excited about and have had fun shopping for.  I can't wait to share!
*Grace really wants to grow a garden this year, so we are starting to think/plan that out.  I really want chickens!  However, I'm not sure if we can have them in our town so I need to investigate.  And of course, I would need a darling coop.
*What?  How did Easter sneak up on me?  We haven't done a single thing to get ready.  Today, we are going to pull out the Egg Tree!
*Tickets go on sale today for the Outstanding in the Field dinners.  I know the tickets are crazy expensive, but I really want to go.  Anyone interested?
*I really, really love the color pink.  This lip balm was in my stocking this year and it's really a lovely color, I must see these lakes someday and what a pretty springtime drink.

What's on your radar?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A Hobbit House Cake

Over the weekend Harris had the end of year meeting for his Cub Scout pack.  This meeting is where belt loops, awards and graduations are celebrated.  One of the traditions of the meeting is for the boys to make cakes, based on a theme, for dessert.  At the end of the meeting everyone votes on their favorite cakes from each den.  An award is handed out for best cake in each den and best cake overall.

As Harris had just finished reading the Hobbit with Bryce he wanted to make a Hobbit house for his cake.  Harris and I made the cake together and then he and Bryce decorated it.  It was actually a great cake for them to do together because Harris was easily able to pipe on the grass by himself.   I think they both really enjoyed making the colored rocks out of fondant!

Harris' cake won best overall!  He was beyond thrilled!

Monday, March 18, 2013

St. Patrick's Day

I hope you had a spirited St. Patrick's Day!  We didn't have any leprechauns this year since neither of the children made traps!  However, we did wear green, read about Saint Patrick and celebrate with an "irish" dinner!

For dinner I made an "irish" stew in the slow cooker and a loaf of soda bread.  It should have been a delicious meal, but I'm sorry to say that neither one was very tasty!  Next year, I'll definitely have to look for new recipes (both of these were ones I had never made before!).

Dessert helped to make up for the lackluster meal.  It was pretty and tasty!  I made a Jello rainbow by layering different Jello flavors in a glass.  It was very easy for such a lovely impact, but be warned that it literally takes all day to finish up since each layer has to firm up before adding the next one!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Harry Potter

If you know me in person or have been reading this blog for any amount of time, you know that I love and adore the Harry Potter series.  I had the great fortune of starting the series way back when they were first being published and therefore also had the privilege of waiting, discussing and anticipating each new book that came out.  I, along with Kathleen, was at every single midnight release of a new book starting with Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

All of that being said, I have made the children wait to start reading the series.  Not because I didn't think the first few books were appropriate for young children but rather because I wanted them to be able to appreciate the nuances of the storyline and characters and also the amazing writing*.  Plus, I think there is something to the anticipation of a thing.  Anyway, the time has come and Grace and I have begun to read the series together.  Every night we snuggle in and I read a chapter to her.  She could easily read all of the books in a fraction of the time that it will take for us to read together, but there is something special about sharing it together.

Reading together is a gift.  For her.  For me.  And reading Harry Potter has been exactly as wonderful as I thought it would be.  I'm thrilled to be able to share something I love with someone who clearly will love it as I do (if the first two books are any indicator!).

Also, I can't believe I didn't know lego was retiring the Harry Potter sets- I completely missed out on all of it.  Grace's devastation on learning that fact was complete and total.

*I never had a set timeframe in mind and Grace read Lord of the Rings last year, so clearly she would have been just fine.  But she wasn't begging to read the book and I didn't push it.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Show Way (Bringing books to life)

A couple of weeks ago, Grace and I went with friends to see a play that was based on the children's book, Show Way by Jacqueline Woods.

We had not read the book, but of course purchased it to read before the play.  The illustrations and the story are absolutely beautiful!  The story follows generations of women from the same family through slavery, emancipation, civil rights and to present time.  The thread throughout the story is quilt making; first to guide slaves to freedom and then as a family tradition.  I simply love how this book hits lots of important topics (traditions, family roots, passage of time) and does so in a beautiful, lyrical sort of way.    I'm a firm believer that even older children should read picture books and this book is a perfect example of one that is appropriate, engaging and thought provoking for older readers.

We certainly enjoyed watching the book come to life on the stage!  Many thanks to Kristin for taking us with her!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Favorite Things #31

I love my little closet in our bathroom.  It's tiny but mighty!  For such a small space it really gets the job done.  Plus, it's a pretty little spot.  One of the things I love about it are these pink clips that I purchased for my skirts.  They look way better than the clothespins that I had been using and I love the soft, ballet pink.  They are made for specific hangers but have worked just fine for the clothes hangers I get at Target.

P.S. I also love my pink mirror that's tucked into the closet.

Monday, March 11, 2013

A Bench + A Lace Pillow

Last summer, we got a new bench to go at the end of the bed and while I was a little afraid that it would become a catchall (it sometimes has) I'm so glad we have it.  When Kathleen was visiting she told me a story about friends of theirs who have adult sons and whom also have a bench at the end of their bed.  As teenagers, their children would come home after a night out and sit on the bench and chat with their parents about their evening.  I love that and can only hope the same might be true for our children and our bench!

Since we have a tight space on one side of the bed it was perfect to get a bench that narrows towards the end as this one does.

Also, I recently got this old french lace pillowcase and I love it! I feel like it finishes off the bed.

Have I ever mentioned that my father-in-law, Al, made our bedroom furniture?   From scratch.

I put the peony from my birthday cake on my side table!

Harris loves nothing more than to mess up a newly made bed!

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