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Artsy Kids: Coloring Easter Eggs

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We always color Easter Eggs the day before Easter at our house, and we always buy the kits at the local store to do so.  This year, however, I decided to make my own dye at home using a method I found on Pinterest (yes, I am a Pinterest addict!).  It was so easy to make, and the eggs turned such bright, bold colors!

Here are the directions:

1.  Pour 1/2 cup of water into plastic or glass cups.

2.  Add 20 drops of food coloring (40 for yellow).  Stir.

3.  Add 1 tablespoon white vinegar.  Stir.

4.  Add boiled eggs and color to desired brightness.  The longer you leave them in, the bolder the color!

Lessons in patience…

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We used glue dots and rubber bands to get some neat effects on our eggs.

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And here are lots of pictures of our beautiful eggs…I did warn you ahead of time that there are lots of pictures, right?

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We even mixed our colors at the end.  Red and yellow make orange, green and blue make turquoise.  Pretty fun!

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This is what you get when you mix all the colors!

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Be sure to protect all surfaces and clothing…and hands!  The food coloring will stain!  Example…

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My silly kiddos being Easter Bunnies!

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Oh, and here’s our newest addition!  Happy Easter from the whole family!!!

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Artsy Kids: Traditional Puebloan Pottery

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My children have been learning about Native Americans in History this year.  Our approach to History is very hands-on.  I feel, especially at this age, that exploration, discussion, and hands-on activities are much more important to learning to love History than fact memorization.  For our study of the Puebloan people, I found pottery craft kits sold on Amazon by Wildwood Craft Kits (these are also available at Mesa Verde National Park if you happen to be in the area).  These kits were so much fun, and really gave my kids an understanding of how the puebloan people make their pottery.  Here’s what comes in the kit…

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First, the kids had to work the clay…

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Then, they rolled it into a ball…

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They made a hole in the center of the ball of clay…

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And began forming the clay into pots.

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Once the pots were finished, they had to give them a few days to air dry.

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When the pots were dry, they polished them with a smooth stone.

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Then, they got ready to paint puebloan designs on the pots.  First, the kids had to chew the ends of the yucca stems to make paintbrushes.  They didn’t love this part.  The yucca stems tasted bad.

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Then, they mixed the paints and picked out designs…

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And drew the designs on the pots…

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And painted them.

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And here are the finished pots…pretty cool if you ask me!

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Kids In The Kitchen: No Bake Granola Bars

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My kids and I love Quaker Chewy Granola Bars, but it has recently come to my attention that these are probably one of the most unhealthy granola bars on the grocery shelf…no wonder they taste so good.  So, I decided to try to make my own granola bars at home and found a great no bake recipe to try.  The kids were able to make them with almost no help from me, and they taste unbelievable.  No more store-bought granola bars for me and my family!

Here’s the step-by-step recipe with cute pics of my kiddos in the kitchen.  Enjoy!

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No Bake Granola Bars

Ingredients:

2 cups quick cooking oats

1 cup crispy rice cereal

1/4 cup shredded coconut

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup honey

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. vanilla

Choice of mix-ins

Directions:

1.  In a large bowl, mix together the oats…

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the rice cereal…

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and the coconut.  Set aside.

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2.  In a small sauce over medium high heat, melt the butter.

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Add the honey…

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brown sugar…

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and salt.

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Stir together and allow to come to a boil.  When the boil has reached the edges of the pan, begin timing for 2 minutes and 15 seconds.

3.  Remove from heat and add the vanilla.

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4.  Pour this mixture over the oat mix and stir everything together until oats are completely coated.

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Allow to cool.

5.  Add your choice of mix-ins.  We did cranberry white chocolate chip.  Add 1/2 cup of each ingredient you choose.  So for ours, we added 1/2 cup of white chocolate chips…

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and 1/2 cup of Craisins.

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You could add nuts, pretzels, chocolate chips, dried fruit, or candy…anything you think you might like in a granola bar.  Don’t you just love the freedom!?!

6.  Press the mix into a 9×13 pan…

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and stick in the fridge for 20 minutes.

7.  When cool, turn out onto a cutting board.  (I had to tap the bottom of my pan gently with a knife to release the granola.)  Cut the granola in 16 bars…

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and enjoy!

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I also did my own batch with salted peanuts, peanut butter chips, and chocolate chips.  It turned out very yummy!

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Hope you have as much fun making your granola bars as my kids and I did.

A Mardi Gras Feast

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Wow!  Blog posts have been few and far between, but here are a couple of fun recipes for your Mardi Gras celebrations…don’t forget that it’s tomorrow, March 4th!

Mardi Gras is French for Fat Tuesday, referring to the practice of the last night of eating richer, fatty foods before Lent, which begins on Ash Wednesday.  And what could be richer than Shrimp Etouffee?!  Etouffee literally means “smothered”.  You start this dish with a roux which will create a nice, thick, yummy sauce.  I always serve mine over rice.  Perfection!  And for dessert, nothing speaks New Orleans like a nice fluffy Beignet drowned in powdered sugar.  Oh, my!  Talk about decadent!  Hope you enjoy!

Shrimp Etouffee

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Ingredients:

6 Tbsp. butter

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 medium onion, chopped

1/2 green pepper, chopped

3 medium stalks celery, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 tsp. black pepper

1 tsp. Cajun seasoning

1 tsp. Parsley

Cayenne Pepper, to taste (depends on how hot you want it)

2-3 dashes Tabasco Sauce

One 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes, with juice

Salt, to taste

1 pound small shrimp, cooked, peeled, and deveined

Directions:

1.  Melt butter in large skillet over med-low heat.  Whisk in flour to make a paste.  Continue cooking, whisking frequently, until mix turns caramel color, 10-15 minutes.

2.  Add onion, green pepper, celery, and garlic and cook about 5 minutes or until vegetables are slightly softened.

3.  Add pepper, Cajun seasoning, Parsley, Tabasco, and Cayenne.

4.  Add 1 cup water and stir to blend.  Pour in the tomatoes and their juice, and season with salt to taste.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to med-low for 10-15 minutes.  Add in shrimp to heat the last 5 minutes.

5.  Serve over rice and enjoy!

 

French Quarter Beignets

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Ingredients:

1/4 cup sugar

1 envelope active dry yeast

3/4 tsp. salt

1 large egg, beaten

1/2 cup evaporated milk

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/8 cup vegetable oil, plus extra for deep frying

Powdered sugar, for dusting

Directions:

1.  In a large bowl, mix sugar and yeast with 3/4 cup lukewarm water.  Let sit for 10 minutes until mix is foamy.

2.  Whisk in salt, egg, and milk.  Add 1 1/2 cup flour and whisk until smooth.  Add the veg. oil and whisk.  Add the rest of the flour (2 cups) 1/2 cup at a time and stir with a spoon.

3.  Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth.

4.  Rub a small amount of veg. oil on dough ball and return to bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and put in fridge for at least 2 hours.

5.  Roll dough on a floured surface to form about a 15 by 20 inch rectangle.  Using a pizza cutter, cut dough into enough small rectangles to make 30 beignets.

6.  Pour oil into an electric skillet, or a regular skillet, and heat to 350F.  The oil should be about 3 inches deep.

7.  Drop the rectangles into the hot oil being careful not to overcrowd…they need room to grow…literally.  Brown on both sides, about 1 minute per side.  Lift out with tongs and drain on paper towel lined plate.  Immediately sift the powdered sugar (as much or as little as you want…personally, I like a lot!) on top of the beignets.

8.  Serve immediately.  They are best when they are still nice and warm.  Each bite will make you think you’ve died and gone to heaven!

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HAPPY MARDI GRAS!

 

For The Birds #2

I absolutely love bird watching.  I’ve created quite the bird habitat in my front yard and am able to enjoy several different bird species every day.  I love seeing my old friends who come and go with the change of the seasons, like the White Throated Sparrow, Pine Siskin, and the Dark Eyed Junco, but my favorite birds are those who never leave me.  I know every day of the year, no matter the season, I can step on my front porch and see a cute little Tufted Titmouse or a beautiful Cardinal.  They are always there sharing their lovely song and lively activity with me.  This post is for those faithful friends.

I recently got a DSLR camera, and I must say I can’t believe it took me so long to make the switch!  I am obsessed with it!  I may never use my point and shoot again!  Some of the first pictures I took with my new camera were of my beautiful birds (after taking pictures of my cute kiddos first, of course).  I was amazed by the change in picture quality.  I guess those extra megapixels really do make a huge difference.  And it doesn’t hurt that I have a nice zoom lens now, also.  So, without further ado, here are my first birding pics with my new camera…aren’t these guys lovely…see why I like bird watching so much?!?

 

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The lovely, blazing red, male Cardinal.  Perched on a pine in the middle of a snow storm.

 

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My very favorite bird of all!  The Tufted Titmouse…cute as a button.  You should see these crazy guys peck at a sunflower seed.  Hours of enjoyment!

Hope everyone has a wonderful day.  Try to get out and enjoy the birds for a minute…you’ll be glad you did!

Snow Cream

With all the snow on the ground here in my little town, and a fresh one to two inches already today, I thought this might be the perfect recipe to post.  My kiddos got to enjoy this treat just a few days ago, and I think I’ll be taking a big bowl out to get some more snow right after this post.  We just can’t seem to get enough snow cream around here.  

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I remember eating snow cream in the winter when I was a kid, and am so glad I’ve been able to share the fun with my kids.  Snow cream is so different from any other ice cream.  It’s got its own flavor and texture that make it special…even magical!  I hope you are able to get out and play in the snow…and while you are at it…make some snow cream!

Apologies to all of you who don’t have any snow to play in and/or eat!  Make a trip to WV…we are absolutely covered up right now!  And I’m loving it!!!

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Snow Cream

Ingredients:

1 cup milk

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 tsp. vanilla

Large bowl full of FRESH snow

Directions:

In a large bowl, mix together the milk, sugar, and vanilla.  Add the snow and mix.  Keep adding snow until you reach desired thickness.  Scoop into a bowl and enjoy this simple, yummy, winter treat!

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Cherry Scones

Happy (belated) New Year to all you lovely bloggers out there.  I hope you had wonderful Christmas and New Year’s celebrations with your loved ones. I thoroughly enjoyed our holidays this year…and, yes, I’ll be posting some Christmas pictures soon!  Our family was treated to an extended vacation due to the recent snow storms, and I have enjoyed every minute relaxing and playing with my sweet little kiddos and hubby.  Now, the snow has been replaced by lots of rain, but I’m not complaining…our state could really use the rain today!

So, today is a dark and rainy morning, and I decided to make some warm scones for breakfast.  I love scones for breakfast, my husband swears it’s his very favorite breakfast food, and even my kids devour them.  These scones are really not hard to make, and you can even replace the cherries with other dried fruit or nuts if cherries aren’t your thing.  I hope you and your family enjoy these warm, delicious, flaky scones as much as my family and I do.

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Cherry Scones

Ingredients:

3 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup sugar

5 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into small slices

1/4 to 1/2 cup dried cherries (or other dried fruit, or nuts, or both!)

1 egg

3/4 cup heavy cream

Directions:

1.  Preheat the oven to 350F.

2.  Stir the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together in a large mixing bowl.

3. Cut the butter into the flour mix until it looks like crumbs.  I use two knives to cut in, but if you have a dough blender or pastry cutter, use it!

4.  Add your dried fruit, or nuts, or both, and stir into the mix.

5.  Mix the egg and heavy cream together in a separate bowl, then add to flour mix.  Stir just until combined.

6.  Pour mix onto a cutting board and work the mix into a large round.  Don’t knead the dough!  Use a rolling pin to gently roll the round out to about 10 inches and about 1 inch thick.  I use my hands around the edges to make sure the round keeps its shape and the edges don’t go flaking off.  If you do lose some pieces, just stick them back on there, and keep rolling.

7.  Slice the round into 8 wedges.  Transfer wedges to a baking sheet sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.

8.  Bake the scones for about 22 minutes or until they barely start to brown.  You want these guys light and flaky.  Don’t over-bake!

9.  Scoop a hot scone onto a plate and devour…forks are useful, but not mandatory.  And for Pete’s sake, have a cup of hot tea with that scone!

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