Welcome spring with beautiful pressed flower bookmarks

by

Laura Falin

posted in Life & Home

We’re always in need of bookmarks around here. Everyone loves to read…but everywhere you look there are books in that sad, splayed out position that keeps your place but also breaks their spines. So many weak-spined books in my house right now.

So we’re working on getting the kids to use a bookmark already…and part of that is, y’know, actually having bookmarks for them to use. I love these flower ones because they’re so cheery and ready for spring. They’d make a great Mother’s Day present, or party activity.

You can use dried or fresh flowers for these — the fresh flowers will smudge a little when you press contact paper on them, but I think it actually gives the bookmarks a nice watercolored look. I really liked it. Besides, if you use fresh flowers, you can buy yourself a whole bouquet, use one or two flowers for bookmarks, and pop the rest in a vase for you. You deserve it.

pressed flower bookmarks

 

Supplies:

  • flowers (dried or fresh — flat, small petals like daisies or alstroemeria work best, though you can trim around any petals that are too big for your paper)
  • cardstock
  • clear contact paper
  • scissors
  • hole punch
  • ribbon

pressed flower bookmarks

Instructions:

Cut your cardstock to 1 1/2 inches wide by 5 inches long. Place your flower petals on top of your cardstock, leaving a little room at the top.

pressed flower bookmarks

When you have your petals arranged the way you want, cover with contact paper. Use a ruler or other firm edge to press the contact paper totally down over the flowers. Trim excess contact paper from around the bookmarks.

pressed flower bookmarks

Using the hole punch, make a hole in the top of each bookmark. Thread ribbon through and tie.

Now, find a good book and put your bookmark to use!

Are you as ready for spring as I am? It can’t come soon enough!

For more kids’ activities and easy recipes, you can find Laura at Peace but not Quiet, and on facebook and Pinterest.

 

 

These pressed flower bookmarks are a great craft to do with kids and a great way to welcome spring!

 

My 10 best meals to bring new moms

by

Lindsay Weiss

posted in Life & Home

I did a post about this a few years ago and it still gets a bazillion hits. That post was focused on freezer meals — My 10 best freezer meals for new moms — but I wanted to broaden the scope a bit because sometimes there’s nothing better than getting a hot, fresh, ready-to-eat meal on your doorstep. Forget the freezer, sometimes the best gift is one you can eat stat.

These are all meals I have brought to someone and they’ve taken the time to call me and ask for the recipe. So I know they turn out well and, frankly, these are all things I make for my family on a regular basis too.

I know people get nervous about bringing food to new moms. Will it be too spicy? Will the veggies give her baby gas if she’s nursing? I’m not a big believer in bland meals for anyone, so these are all full of flavor and include protein and veggies. None of them are spicy, however. You can make the call if you want to eliminate anything, but at the end of the day all I ever wanted after I had my babies was hot food that tasted good.

If you have a favorite recipe that someone brought you, or that you bring to others, would you post it in the comments? I’d love to try them and I know all our readers would too!

Looking for more Sweets and Eats for the Whole Family? Find Lindsay at Sugar Mama.

10 Best Meals To Bring New Moms
(Click on each picture to be taken to recipe.)


Baked Sweet ‘n Sour Chicken – this dish is colorful, healthy and delicious! And you can drop it off ready to bake so all they have to do is throw it in the oven. I usually make the rice ahead of time and bring it over ready to go.


Creamy Chicken, Bacon & Broccoli Pasta – this is honestly one of my favorite dinners of all time. I make it once per week for my family. It’s a one-and-done meal, meaning I don’t have to do side dishes if I’m rushed, because it has a starch, protein and veggie all in one dish. When I bring this to a friend, I prepare the whole thing at my house, put it in a disposable tin, and write instructions to warm in the oven just before eating.


Easy Crock Pot Potato Soup – I know I really craved hearty, filling things after having my kids. I. Was. HUNGRY. This is a perfect stick-to-your ribs soup you can bring with a salad and crusty bread. I will often go grab the recipient’s crock pot ahead of time and make it in hers, so she doesn’t have to worry about returning mine. Then I just bring it to her warm, in her own crock pot.


Creamy Chicken Enchiladas – this is a recipe someone brought to me after I had baby #2 and I’ve been making it ever since. It came on a particularly rough day for me and I’ll never forget how good this warm meal tasted. It’s just a bonus that the recipe is ridiculously easy.


Honey Balsamic Pulled Pork – this was one of my favorite recipes of 2014. It is SO flavorful. It makes a lot too, so this is a perfect one to eat now and let them freeze some too.


Six-Ingredient Chicken Pesto Pasta – this dish is perfect for when you want to bring something, but you’re not sure if they want to eat it right away. This one can go in the fridge for a couple of days and tastes just as good chilled as it does warm (even better, I think). Also, it’s super fast and easy to make — so if you remember last minute that you want to bring a meal to someone — this one comes together in about 15 min!


Baked Honey Sesame Chicken – tastes like it came right from a takeout joint, but so much healthier. This also happens to be one of my kids’ favorite meals!


Summer Thai Salad – I have one friend who REALLY craved hearty salads after having her babies. So I’ve taken this to her several times. It is so pretty to look at, but is filled with great nutritional stuff for weary moms. And don’t be scared off by the Thai part — it’s not spicy. Just filled with thai flavors — peanut, soy sauce, lime that really perk up your palate.


Chicken Avocado Burritos – another one to bring if you’re not sure they want food for today or a future date. These burritos were made to go in the freezer and be popped out on demand. (I actually eat them for lunch all the time.) You could even wrap them up and have them ready for the freezer and just include a little note on how to prepare them (see recipe).


Easiest Chicken Noodle Soup – this is what I always bring when I don’t know the person very well! It’s a nice neutral dish but not bland at all. I make it in a crock pot at home, but you could just as easily do it over your stove.

DIY paper carrots (fill ’em up for Easter!)

by

Kami Bigler

posted in Life & Home

Can you believe how quick Easter is coming up?! Not to skip over St. Patty’s Day…but if I had to play favorites, Easter would win for sure. They’re only a few weeks apart this year! If you like to make ahead, here’s a simple paper craft that would be fun to fill with treats and give to a friend for Easter or for spring: make paper carrots that have the look of a sour cream packet.

Click through the slideshow below for the simple how-to.

Here’s what they look like all finished!


A few of the tools I used for this are definitely not necessary to make these, you could easily make them with regular scissors and a stapler. I’m a paper crafter, so I think all these tools make it fun.

That’s it! If you’re looking for more carrot crafts, you can find 10 more carrot crafts here!

Tell me…do you like to make simple gifts like this for friends and family? Do you have fun plans this weekend?

*For more craft tutorials, great recipes, free printables, fun giveaways, and real life you can follow Kami at NoBiggie.net, or find her on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.

Crafty kids: Making vegetable stamps

by

Laura Falin

posted in Life & Home

Do you remember making potato stamps as a kid? I remember doing it once or twice, and I thought my kids would have a good time with them, too. They’re surprisingly easy to make…and the kids loved investigating all the vegetables we used.

Any sturdy root vegetable will do — potatoes or beets or turnips are all great ones. Fun fact: we actually stamped with the beets for a while using just their natural veggie juices. They make this lovely red color. But they do stain. My hands were pink for a few days after, and I wouldn’t wear clothes you care about.

The simplest way to explain how to make vegetable stamps is probably to show you. So I made a video:

So fun and simple. Obviously you’ll need to do the cutting part yourself. But you can have the kids pick out the veggies and shapes, and help put the cookie cutter in the potato. And of course they can stamp with them when you’re finished.

Vegetable stamps are a fun simple craft for kids!

What you’ll need:

  • sturdy vegetables like potatoes, beets, or turnips
  • small cookie cutters (metal are probably best — they need to hold up when pushed into a raw potato!)
  • a sharp kitchen knife (for parents to use!)
  • tempera paints and paper

Vegetable stamps are a fun simple craft for kids!

Instructions:

Cut your vegetable in half. Press the cookie cutter into the middle of the vegetable.

Vegetable stamps are a fun simple craft for kids!

Using the kitchen knife, cut around the cookie cutter. Slide the ring you have sliced off.

Potato stamps are a fun simple craft for kids!

 

Dip the vegetable into tempera paint and stamp away!

Potato stamps are a fun simple craft for kids!

You could change up cookie cutters and make stamps for different holidays. You could get some butcher paper and have the kids make their own wrapping paper. They could make cards for people. Or they could just have a good time stamping all over a piece of paper and laughing hysterically (that’s what mine did. I can’t explain them sometimes.)

And (in case you can’t tell I’m getting a little antsy) — this is a great way to welcome spring! A lot of these vegetables can be grown in gardens this summer, and I just added beets to our list of vegetables to plant for this year so we can do more of this. It’s good to have something to look forward to.

Do you have a favorite craft you do with your kids?

For more kids’ activities and easy recipes, you can find Laura at Peace but not Quiet, and on facebook and Pinterest.

 

 

Vegetable stamps are a fun simple craft for kids!

These rosemary lemon potatoes are the perfect spring side dish

by

Laura Falin

posted in Life & Home

There’s something about lemons that just yells “spring” at me. In a good way.

I grew up in California, and I had no idea how I took lemons for granted until I moved away. I remember a friend from the East Coast standing in our backyard, gaping at our lemon tree and saying, “Wow. I’ve never seen them just grow like that before.” But it still didn’t sink in. We used to put wheelbarrows full of lemons on our sidewalk for passersby because we couldn’t get rid of them.

And then I moved to Colorado. And while it has many wonderful qualities and I love it, it has no lemon trees. I have to pay money for lemons. My kids sit around and ask for stories about them. “Tell us about how you used to walk in your backyard and pick a lemon for your drink,” they’ll say. Like I’m about to start a fairytale. Sigh.

So each spring, I splurge and buy lemons lemons lemons. And I put them in everything I can — desserts. Dinners. Side dishes. Potatoes.

This recipe for rosemary lemon potatoes makes a perfect spring side dish!

 

This is the perfect side dish for Easter dinners and Mother’s Day brunches and any sort of spring occasion.

I’d say use fresh rosemary — I used to grow mine in a pot, but I set it outside and forgot about it last fall and it got snowed on because this is what happens when you grow up in a place with no snow. Even ten years later, I accidentally kill my plants every fall. But you can usually get fresh herbs in the grocery store, in the refrigerated produce section. It really is worth it — when you chop up the rosemary, the smell invades your house and it’s all kinds of goodness.

The butter makes it not the healthiest thing in the whole world, but it’s way better for you than my Thanksgiving mashed potatoes with butter, whipping cream, and cream cheese. So you can feel good about that anyway.

This recipe for rosemary lemon potatoes makes a perfect spring side dish!

Ingredients:

  • 5 red potatoes, cut into large cubes
  • 1/4 c butter
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped

Instructions:

Fill a medium saucepan approximately 2/3 full of water and bring to a boil. Add potatoes and boil for about 10 minutes, or until potatoes are beginning to soften. Drain potatoes. Return to saucepan and add butter, salt, lemon, and most of the rosemary (saving a little bit for garnish) and stir. Transfer to serving bowl, top with the last sprinkle of rosemary, and serve.

Are you ready for spring? What traditions do you have?

For more kids’ activities and easy recipes, you can find Laura at Peace but not Quiet, and on facebook and Pinterest.

For more ideas for side dishes, try one of these!


This recipe for rosemary lemon potatoes makes a perfect spring side dish!

 

 

Fun family activity: Peanut butter bear cookies

by

Kami Bigler

posted in Life & Home

Here’s a fun cookie your whole family will love. It’s the perfect cookie to get the kids involved in the kitchen. They’ll have a blast shaping and decorating their own bears and you’ll have fun eating the results!

Here’s what you’ll need:

Peanut Butter Bear Cookies:

Ingredients:
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup margarine or butter
1/4 cup shortening
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup finely crushed graham crackers
– a few chocolate chips for decorating

Directions:

Cream peanut butter, margarine or butter, and shortening in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add granulated sugar, brown sugar, and baking soda; beat until combined. Beat in the one egg and vanilla. Beat in as much of the flour and graham cracker crumbs as you can with the mixer on medium speed, scraping sides of bowl as you go. Stir in any remaining flour and crumbs with a wooden spoon.

peanut butter bear cookie recipe

To make the bear shapes for each bear cookie, shape some of the dough into on 1 1/4 inch ball (for body), one 3/4 inch ball (for head), three balls slightly smaller than 1/4 inch (for nose and ears), two 1 1/2 x 1/2 inch logs (for arms), and two 1 1/4 x 3/4 inch logs (for legs). Decorate bears before baking by pressing in chocolate chips for the eyes, paws and belly button. Bake in a 325 for 15 to 18 minutes or till edges are slightly brown. *The quantity of cookies for this recipe depends on the size of the cookies you make.

peanut butter bear cookies

Looking for more great cookie recipes? You will definitely find one to love here:

Do you love to bake with your kids?

*For more craft tutorials, great recipes, free printables, fun giveaways, and real life you can follow Kami at NoBiggie.net, or find her on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.


Copycat: Olive Garden Pasta e Fagioli soup

by

Lindsay Weiss

posted in Life & Home

We are not big chain restaurant people. Nothing against them at all, but we live on the outskirts of a city with amazing local restaurants. We are always dragging our kids to the latest hole-in-the wall Vietnamese or Thai restaurant, or trying something that just opened in a new and different neighborhood. That said, if our kids are given free reign to choose a restaurant the will choose Olive Garden every time and, truth be told, Jeff and I always get a little excited when they do.

We rarely go because the wait is So. Freaking. Long. But on the rare occasion we can slip in at 4:30 pm on a Monday, we so look forward to stuffing our faces with unlimited soup, salad and breadsticks. The Pasta e Fagioli soup is a family favorite and, years ago, I did a crock pot version which was delish. But the other day I went to a luncheon where the host made this stove-top version and it was so good. Like even a little better than the original. I know. Impossible, right?

I made it again last night just to be sure it wasn’t my I-forgot-to-eat-breakfast tummy responding to any kind of actual food, but everyone agreed. This is good stuff. And it’s pretty much a dump and stir recipe, so it’s realllllly hard to mess it up.

Looking for more Sweets and Eats for the Whole Family? Find Lindsay at Sugar Mama

crock pot pasta fagioli soup 2_small

Olive Garden Copycat Pasta e Fagioli

Full disclosure: this picture is from my crock pot version. My camera ate the pics of this version, but they were nearly identical so I hope you don’t mind. Btw, this soup freezes well!

1 lb ground beef
1 cup diced onion
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped celery
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 (14 1/2 ounce) cans diced tomatoes
1 (15 ounce) can red kidney beans (with liquid)
1 (15 ounce) can great northern beans (with liquid)
1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
2 (12 ounce) cans V8 vegetable juice
2 cups low-sodium beef broth
1 teaspoon vinegar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire
1 1⁄2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon basil
1⁄2 teaspoon pepper
1⁄2 teaspoon thyme
1⁄2 lb macaroni pasta (Olive Garden uses ditali pasta — small tubes — if you can find it)

Brown beef in a large stock pot over medium heat-drain off fat. Add onion, carrot, celery and garlic and saute for 10 minutes. Add remaining ingredients, except pasta, and simmer for 1 hour.

Just before serving, boil pasta to al dente. Drain well and stir in to soup.

Serves 6-8.

Just how much wax is on your kid’s apple? Watch this video

by

Sara McGinnis

posted in Life & Home

Apples have long been touted as the picture of healthy eating, but have you ever stopped to consider just how much wax your child might be ingesting along with their fruit?

Brooke Rose of Wildfire Health decided to do a little experiment to find out, and the resulting video is making its way across the web like wildfire.

Take a peek at the clip that is closing in on having been viewed 3 million times:

In response to the thousands of comments she’s received on the video, Brooke added this note:

“Side note from feedback: I think perhaps my message is coming across as different things to different people. I’m not saying anywhere that apples are poisonous nor to stop feeding them to your kids.

The hot water was used for visualisation purpose. When you pick up an apple from the supermarket and give it straight to your child to eat, I’m expressing to you that perhaps we aren’t aware what’s ON our apples. It’s not just its ‘natural wax’, which I am aware there is a natural wax on some apples.

Our fruit and veg is bombarded with many chemicals, which are still there when it hits the shelves. That’s all I’m saying, not scare mongering.”

DSCN7555

Some still aren’t convinced Brooke’s video is coming across in the way she says she intended, but I appreciate seeing it because I agree with her that many don’t take the time to really think about what’s in our food.

You may recall last summer my kids and I even did a little experiment to shed light on how much sugar kids are drinking by replacing the liquid in various beverages with the equivalent amount of candy. I never expected parents to give their child only water forevermore, but maybe we could rethink if that sports beverage is really necessary at every game and practice? I think Brooke is aiming for the same idea.

That being said, we’ve made the decision to switch to “ugly” apples for our family. We have a local store that brings in the best Honeycrisps for a phenomenal price, with the catch they aren’t too pretty. After a week or two of cutting the bad bits out though, your expectations tend to reset. Now I don’t look at a dull or marred apple and wrinkle my nose, I recognize it’s going to be great with a little help from the knife!

Does the apple wax video bother you?

Photos: Morguefile

 

Did you know the expiration date on food has little to do with food safety? Next time you’re watching your budget, don’t rule out these products past their printed date:

Kids in the kitchen: Cinnamon sugar piecrust cookies

by

Laura Falin

posted in Life & Home

So I was making a pie crust from scratch last night…I should just stop there. Because right now you probably think I’m some kind of domestic goddess who smiles angelically at her children and sings and bakes pie crusts from scratch on days that aren’t even Thanksgiving.

And the actual truth is this: it was almost dinnertime and we had nothing to eat except eggs and I’d rather make twelve pie crusts than take my cranky preschooler to the grocery store at 4:30pm. So I made a quiche. And it was a miserable failure that looked weird and tasted worse.

BUT…I did have a little extra pie crust dough that we made into cookies so even if no one got a good meal, we all had some tasty cookies to snack on. Silver linings.

cinnamon sugar piecrust cookies

I use the basic Betty Crocker pie crust recipe when I do make them from scratch. And really, they are done in less than 10 minutes. Pie crusts are one of those things that sound fancier and harder to make than they are…and the kids have a great time rolling out the dough and fitting it into the pie plate. I say try it once or twice, just to see. These cookies would work just as well with a refrigerated crust from the store, though.

cinnamon sugar piecrust cookies

(affiliate link: You can find a hedgehog cookie cutter here on Amazon)

suppose they’d taste just as good if they didn’t look like little hedgehogs…but anytime you have a chance to make tiny hedgehog cookies, I say do it.

Ingredients:

  • leftover pie crust dough (approximately 1/4 -1/2 of a refrigerated pie crust. For homemade, a ball slightly larger than your hand)
  • 1/4 c melted butter
  • 2 Tb sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

cinnamon sugar piecrust cookies

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375° . In a small bowl, combine cinnamon and sugar and set aside. Roll out your leftover pie crust. Brush on a thin layer of melted butter. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture over the top.

cinnamon sugar piecrust cookies

Cut out shapes with your cookie cutter (or just cut dough into squares) and transfer dough to a cookie sheet or baking stone. Bake at 375° for 15-20 minutes or until the dough is slightly puffy and beginning to brown. Remove from the oven, cool and serve.

cinnamon sugar piecrust cookies

 

Maybe next time we’ll skip the quiche and just have these.

Do you have any good hacks for using up leftover food?

For more delicious cookie recipes, try one of these:

For more kids’ activities and easy recipes, you can find Laura at Peace but not Quiet, and on facebook and Pinterest.

What’s for breakfast? Cherry streusel muffins

by

Lindsay Weiss

posted in Life & Home

Irony (n): When you make these delicious muffins for breakfast tomorrow and your family eats them all for dinner.

I walked in the door from at meeting at 5:30 yesterday and had to snatch these muffins off dinner plates so I could get a photo of them.

Well they smelled so good!

They were just sitting there?

What else were we supposed to eat?

My husband was an accomplice as he cooked up some scrambled eggs to go with them. So, at 7am this morning I was back in my breakfast rut because, again, all the breakfast was gone. Grrr.

Hopefully, you’ll be luckier than I. Ahem. Or you’ll hide your muffins more carefully.

Looking for more Sweets and Eats for the Whole Family? Find Lindsay at Sugar Mama.

cherry streusel muffins 2_small

Cherry Streusel Muffins
Since fresh cherries are non-existent in my neck of the woods, I used frozen. These work perfectly but you can’t thaw them first. Add them to the batter frozen so they don’t streak it all up and turn it pink. If your frozen cherries are huge like mine were, split them with a sharp knife.

3 large eggs
1 1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 cups all purpose flour
1 cup granulated white sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt
pinch teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
2 cups pitted fresh or frozen cherries (if using frozen, do not thaw)
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a standard 12-cup muffin tin; or line the tin with papers, and grease the papers.

In a medium sized bowl whisk the eggs with the milk and vanilla extract.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk the flour with the sugar, baking powder, salt, and ground cinnamon. Cut the butter into the flour mixture with a pastry blender or your fingertips. (The mixture should look like coarse crumbs.) Remove one cup of the mixture and set aside in a separate bowl to make the streusel topping. Gently fold cherries and lemon zest in the remaining muffin batter.

Add the milk and egg mixture to the flour mixture. Stir just until combined. Fill each muffin cup about ¾ full with the batter, using two spoons or an ice cream scoop.

For the streusel topping, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and stir into the reserved one cup of flour mixture until it is crumbly and looks like coarse meal. Sprinkle about 1 tablespoon of the streusel on top of each muffin.

Bake the muffins for about 20-25 minutes, until they’re light golden brown on top, and a toothpick inserted into the middle of one of the center muffins comes out clean.
Remove the muffins from the oven, loosen their edges from the pan, and after about 5 minutes transfer them to a rack to cool.

Yield: 12-14 muffins.