Sarah's First Easter

Sarah has lived 32 years and never once celebrated Easter. So when my little sister asked me if she could host Easter at my house, I knew that we should invite Sarah and her family. My sister wouldn't let me make anything (YAY!). I decided to have the girls work on some simple decorations. We also decided to have our big Easter dinner on Saturday to make it more convenient for the travelers. 

I cut out these eggs for Anna and she wrote "Happy Easter." I thought she would be proud to show off her handwriting skills (and she was).

I made these templates for name cards for the table. The girls painted them with water colors. I thought the water colors would go well with our other Easter decorations. Then I cut them out. Here are the ones we made for the kids. Don't they look awesome?

We also dyed eggs using two techniques. One was marbling them (Martha Stewart) and the other was using rubber bands to make stripes. The marbleized eggs we dyed and then rolled in canola oil with food coloring (about three drops).  Anna had a great time doing this, but it was kind of messy.

Luckily, Adelyn wasn't really paying attention (oil and food coloring would have been everywhere) because she was so busy stirring the eggs. I couldn't get a picture of her that wasn't blurry because of the constant stirring. She had so much fun too! Note The Mint in the background. I told you I love that little robot.

Here's the finished product. 

We have a tradition to make Easter Bread. Here is the recipe that my sister used. My mom started this tradition in which the idea is by eating the bread you will have good luck all year. We have been doing it since we were kids. She learned about this tradition when her and my dad lived in Europe. Aren't traditions so fun? What kinds of traditions do your families do for Easter? or Passover? The bread was delicious and tasted a little like Challah. 

My sister-in-law (kinda, not really) Dara Coslett Granza made this cake. Isn't it amazing? It tasted as good as it looks, too. It was a Ricotta Cake with Almond Mascarpone Icing. I'm not sure of the recipe but I found one by Martha Stewart and she never disappoints; here is her version.

More on Easter celebrating in my next post so check back.

Barter System

Doesn't matter how many lists we make, how many times we double check our pantry for ingredients or tell our spouses that the chocolate chips are for a recipe, there is always something we need or have forgotten. Countless times we run to the store with a "can you please grab me some..." list for each other. Well instead of paying each other back in cash we pay each other in goods. Our conversations go something like this:

Mandi: Heading to Trader Joe's, need anything?
Sarah: Can you grab me a gallon of milk and a bag of shredded cheese?
Mandi: Sure!

Sarah: heading to Trader Joe's, need anything?
Mandi: Box of cereal, yogurt, milk and animal crackers. 
Sarah: No prob! 
Mandi: Your last order was about $5 and this is about $8. I'll grab you frozen mangoes when I go next time, that will make us even.

We never seem to have the right amount of cash to pay each other back right away so it just seemed easier to buy something for the other person the following shopping trip, it works well for us!

Bendaroos - Fun on the Run

I'm always looking for something easy (and non messy) to bring to restaurants, friends houses or just to have around the house. Glue is messy, crayons are "run of the mill" and stickers can be used quickly. I came across Bendaroos at a local store and we were hooked. They are pieces of colored yarn covered in wax. They stick onto themselves to create shapes, sculptures and plenty of entertainment! We love bringing these (also playdough) to restaurants because it keeps the kids happy.

This past week we stayed with my parents while my Aunt, Uncle and Cousin were in town so we could visit with them. I invited one of my oldest friends, Jen, and her two girls to come hang out with my family since all the kids are around the same age (and they have all met before!). I pulled out the Bendaroos for the kids and they loved them, they were a hit! They loved pulling them apart, making pictures, sculptures and squishing them together. It worked with all ages, one through five. Unfortunately Jen's youngest napped and missed the fun, she will have to try them next time! There will definitely be a next time. The kids loved them so much I may possibly have purchased about ten boxes of them...

Note: I suggest putting a placemat underneath or working on a craft table as some of the wax residue was left on the surface.

9 Non-Candy Easter Ideas

My husband and I try to feed our kids as healthy as possible. Some holidays it's hard to avoid candy. In our kids' Easter baskets we have a tradition of doing one chocolate bunny and the rest is non-candy items. This can be difficult because the items must be small enough to fit into an Easter Basket. Here are some ideas I came up with this year.

Exercise Ideas for Preschoolers

My husband and I try to limit our children's television time as much as possible. This is so much easier to do in the summer. Don't you think? I struggle to think of ways to get my kids moving inside (and I have a background in Health and Physical Education) so I thought maybe some of you feel the same and would appreciate a little reminder of some fun ways to get your little ones moving. I hope you enjoy these games and please let us know if you have any fun games to add that you play with your little one. We would love to hear from you!

1 Simon Says
My version no one gets out but I do point out if I tricked them into doing something without saying Simon Says.
2. Freeze Dance
My kids love to dance! We play music for them all if the time. One thing we like to do is when we pause the song they have to freeze until we hit play again. You can also play this song. it pauses and plays for you.
3. Head Shoulders Knees and Toes
4. Red light green light.
You can add colors to this like purple light and give it a movement. Examples hop up and down, hop on one foot, skip, gallop, or dance.
5. Modified Red Rover
When we play this we have the kids stand on opposite side of room and we say Red rover red rover let "miss c" come over. (We use first names, middle names, shirt color, eye color, hair color etc.) then they run over to us and give us a hug. Then they go back to the other side of the room. Some things are for one child and some are for both kids. They love this game.
this is a wiggles song that you just follow along with and do all of the movements.
7. Happy and You Know It
8. Wheels On The Bus

My New Favorite Shirt!

As many Moms find, or at least I do, that many of their clothes just don't fit like they used to. Face it, we might not have enough time to work out, want to enjoy decadent late night snacks or just don't want to wear "suck-em-in" undergarments everyday! Well I finally found a great top that seems to mask the fact that I hate situps!

The Victoria's Secret Fleece Cowlneck Tunic seems to be flattering in all the right places and works great with leggings. It might also be my most comfortable outfit! I just need to convince myself that it's not necessary to own one in each color! 

Yesterday, on a trip to NYC with my family visiting from California, I wore this top (in inky fade) with some skinny black cords and some cute hightop sneakers from Target. Not only was I super comfy but I also felt good about myself. Let me be frank here, that's not always the case! My old purple sweatpants with a bathrobe isn't always the most flattering or confidence boosting...

(Update: I did order another one in black, I couldn't help myself!)

Bathtub Paint

I saw this on Pinterest and tried it with my children and they loved it! When we first tried it Adelyn was about one and a half and she tried to eat it a few times. I have to admit it does look like icing. I think she only did it twice and then she got the idea that it wasnt food. So you may want to watch small kids closely. We do this all of the time. All you need is shaving cream (not gel), a muffin tin (I bought a couple of disposable ones to keep in the bathroom), add a few drops of food coloring and stir with the brush. 

Photo By Brina Negin

Check out my friend Shari at Spearmint Baby wrote about this on her blog.

Diaper Cake DIY

Baby time for a friend! This is her second little boy and one of my favorite gifts to give, if you don't know what they need, is a diapers. As you might be able to tell I like to make things fancy...why not make it into a diaper cake!

I've made diaper cakes before but I felt like I finally found a foolproof, easy way to put it together. I always struggle with how to keep it together as I'm building it. I've tried rubber bands (always too small), string (annoying to keep retying) and end up with major frustration. Well on a recent trip to target I came across these:

These bands made my diaper cake making experience a whole lot EASIER!! Below are the steps I took to make the diaper cake for a little boy expected in May.

Bathroom Mini Makeover

When we moved into our house the powder room needed a little help, I decided to give the original vanity and mirror a mini makeover.

Product Review: Evalicious Designs

One of my friends is due in May with a little girl. She has a friend who makes headbands...a perfect match! I saw a facebook post with one of the headbands she created and I purchased two of her Halo headbands with gray felt backing within the hour, one for Maya and one for me!

Edible Art

It's funny how you can set out craft items with something in mind and kids can change it around to make something totally different yet equally as fun! I got the pull apart Twizzlers and Trader Joe's fruit loop cereal and figured that Maya and Z would string the Os and make bracelets and necklaces. They pulled the Twizzlers apart (surprisingly more difficult that I remembered as the strings kept breaking) and then quickly realized that not all the Os would fit on the Twizzlers. I'm wondering if a different brand has bigger openings? Anyway, I digress.

Z stuck the Twizzler ends together and made a long string and decorated the table with it. Maya made sculptures with both ingredients. Shows how quickly kids can take one idea and run off with it, it was fun to watch!

Hi There

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Thanks for checking out our blog! We have been up and running for a little over two weeks but today was our official launch date. Please check back daily for new posts.

Painted Bookshelf

Don't you just love how painting a piece of furniture can give it a brand new life? I do and I love painting. Seriously I do. I can always envision how painting something will make something go from drab to fab.  If I like the shape but not the finish I start thinking what color to paint it.

Packing Peanut Art

Maya had her friend, Z, over for a playdate today. We pulled out the packing peanuts! No, not a packing peanut "snowball fight" or discovery box with things hidden within (although that could be fun too!) but an art project!

Sidewalk Paint

I tried out this recipe for sidewalk paint that I saw on Pinterest. It looked like fun so I thought I would give it a shot. This is so super easy and just the kind of recipe I can memorize (equal parts haha!).

Jungle Cupcakes

I offered to make the cupcakes for my nephews' first birthday. My sister in law decided on a jungle theme and purchased cupcake cups and toothpick toppers. I think she expected frosting with the toothpick in the top but I couldn't...I had to make it fancy!! She wanted both chocolate and vanilla cupcakes with chocolate and vanilla icing. I got to work! Sprinkles for grass, sprinkles for flowers and animals to top.

I used:

First I piped on the icing (it doesn't have to look perfect, the sprinkles hide it!). I then dipped the the icing part of the cupcakes into a bowl of green sprinkles. I placed each flower sprinkle on by hand (with help from the Miss M!) and stuck in the toothpick. Voila!

Thank You

We would like to thank our good friend Shari at Spearmint Baby and the other Spearmint Blogs for helping us get out blog up and running. You are awesome and we really appreciate your help!

Family Tree

You  Need:
white paint
brown card stock
green card stock
My in-laws are truly amazing people. When the holidays come around my husband and I struggle with what to buy them. Sometimes we just pick something even though we know they don't really need or want it.  Recently I figured out that they would much rather have something personal, thoughtful and most importantly involving their beloved grandchildren. Its funny that this took me ten plus years to figure out that they don't want or need more "stuff". Actually I think I always kind of knew but I didn't want to admit it. This year I came up with the idea to make them a family tree. I bought a piece of wood at a craft store for under $10. I watered down white acrylic paint and used a sponge brush to paint it onto the wood. I bought a sheet of brown and green card stock  I used a die cut machine to cut out the tree shape. If you don't have access to one you could find an outline of a tree image that you like online print it on paper and cut it out. I printed the names and birthdays of our family members and cut each one out into a leaf shape. I used all purpose craft glue to the tree and leaves to the board. Last I used mod podge with a matte finish to seal the entire thing.

Dress Up Wardrobe

Where do you keep your kids dress up clothes? We were cramming ours into a toy chest for years. All the little Velcro pieces sticking to everything causing a large clump of messy wrinkled dress up dresses. I pretended that this didn't drive me crazy but the truth is that it did. Then I saw this on Pinterest and thought it was not only adorable but also so practical. The original source for this picture is I love the opportunity to organize something. I also love the opportunity to upgrade something that I am not using and give it a new purpose so this seemed like the perfect project. All of the items I used for this project came from my house.  I actually didn't buy anything. 

You Need:
tall bookshelf
paint sample size
small paint roller
paint brush
piece of wood

The mirror came from our guest room closet (it had tiny plastic brackets holding it into place). I got a screw driver out and took it down. I took it to a hardware store and they cut a few inches off of it for under $5. When we bought our house I noticed a closet rod in the linen closet which I thought was a little weird but I left it up for the time being. Now I knew exactly what to do with it so I took it down. I found a piece of scrap mdf in the garage that I also took to a hardware store and they cut to size. I even found left over purple and pink sample size paint cans that I had left over from another project.  First I took out all of the drawers out of the dresser except for the bottom one. 

Tambourine Cake

My niece and nephews first birthdays are this week. (Not twins but a crazy coincidence!) I offered to make the cupcakes and cakes for both events. I love baking and decorating sweets and love my niece and nephew so it works out well!

My niece is a music lover. My sister had the idea of a tambourine cake with cookies sticking out the side as the cymbals. I pulled out my kids tambourine and brainstormed. Here is my creation!

Blogging tips