Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Easter Eggs



Since Kristen at We Are That Family shared her Easter egg tips for today’s Works For Me Wednesday, I thought I’d get in on the act.

This should really go under the category of “I Hope It Works For Me Wednesday” since I haven’t actually tried it yet. I read somewhere the other day (Family Fun? All You? Another blog?) that the secret to deep colored Easter eggs like you always see in magazines is to use brown eggs for dying. Makes sense to me, for some colors at least, so I plan to give it a try with Sport and Spice this weekend. I hope it works! If you’ve ever tried it, I’d love to hear about the results.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Suffering Succotash


Before I came across the recipe several years ago, I didn't have a clue as to what succotash really was. The only reference I had for it was hearing Sylvester the cat exclaim, "Suffering Succotash" on a regular basis while watching Looney Tunes, and the way he said it didn't make it sound all that appealing.
I love Lima beans and nobody could cook them like my Grannie. When she passed away 6 years ago I actually mourned the fact that I would never have such great tasting Lima beans again. I can't cook 'em like her and don't know what her secret was, but once or twice a year I break out this recipe for family holiday feasts so I can at least enjoy Lima beans for a day or two. Balancing Beauty and Bedlam is looking for Easter meal traditions for this week's Tasty Tuesday so here's my contribution:


5 bacon slices
2 green onions, chopped
4 cups corn
3 cups Lima beans
3/4 cup chicken broth
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
2 tsp. chopped, fresh basil or 3/4 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. Tony's (or you can use 1/2 tsp. each of salt and pepper)

Cook bacon in large skillet, drain, & reserve 3 Tbsp. of drippings. Saute onion in drippings for 2 minutes. Stir in veggies and broth. Cook uncovered for 15 minutes. Stir in crumbled bacon, tomatoes, basil, and seasoning. Cook an additional 1-2 minutes. Makes 10 servings.

Disclaimer: I serve this dish every year at Thanksgiving, but have never actually made it for Easter. For Easter, we make...reservations.

This recipe is being linked to these posts:

Blessed with Grace

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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Our Lent Activities


Today we started our Resurrection Eggs. If you're not familiar with Resurrection Eggs, they are basically a fun way to tell the Easter story. This is one of those things I've wanted to do for years, but never could get myself together enough to have them ready. After looking over all the variations at Catholic Icing last week, I started gathering eggs. We have 22 eggs in our set. I originally planned on a dozen, but decided it would be best to have an egg for both Sport and Spice to open each day. It would have made more sense to do two dozen eggs, but I didn't get them put together soon enough to spend 12 days opening eggs. I'll add two more next year!
I numbered each of our eggs and placed them in a pretty basket to make a sort of centerpiece out of them. I figured this is a good way to appease Spice's ongoing need for holiday decorations while still keeping Lent holy! Today's pickings included a palm branch in egg #1 (a leaf from silk flowers trimmed to resemble a palm) and a piece of felt in #2 to represent a donkey's fur. (John 12:12-15)

Here's what's in the rest of our eggs:

-Three dimes for the 30 pieces of silver Judas Iscariot was paid to betray Jesus (Matthew 26:14-16)
-Piece of soap because Jesus washed the feet of his disciples on Holy Thursday (John 13:4-5)
-Small cracker & a chalice made from foil representing the last supper (Mark 14:22-24)
-Feather to represent the cock crowing three times (Matthew 26:33-34)
-Twine with knots showing how Jesus was bound and led away (Matthew 27:1-2)
-Purple fabric signifying the robe Jesus was dressed in and a branch twisted into a crown of thorns (Matthew 27:28-30)
-Wooden cross (John 19:17-18)
-Piece of paper with INRI written on it representing the "King of the Jews" sign that was hung on the cross above Jesus (John 19:19)
-Three nails (Matthew 27:31)
-Dice to show how onlookers cast lots for Jesus' clothes after he was crucified (Matthew 27:35-36)
-Piece of paper towel soaked in vinegar for the sponge soaked in wine that was passed up to Jesus on a spear (John 19:29-30)
-Black fabric split in two representing the sky turning dark and the temple veil ripping apart (Luke 23:44-45)
-Dirt and small pebbles because the earth quaked and rocks split apart after Jesus died (Matthew 27:50, 51 & 54 )
-Lego sword symbolizing the lance that was thrust into Jesus' side (John 19:34)
-White fabric to represent the linen cloth Jesus' body was wrapped in (Matthew 27:58-60)
-Large rock to be the stone rolled in front of Jesus' tomb (Matthew 27:65-66)
-Dried oregano for spices the women brought to anoint Jesus (Mark 16:1-4)
-Empty egg symbolizing the empty tomb. (Matthew 28:5-6)

I admit I was feeling a bit guilty for not setting up some kind of Stations of the Cross display in our home, but I think these eggs will get the Easter message across just as well to younger children. I'll save the stations for when Sport and Spice are a bit older.

If you'd like to make your own set, there's still time! Catholic Icing has a post with lots of links or head to Rainbow Castle where a printout of all of the corresponding Bible verses is available.

Another thing we have been doing throughout Lent is choosing a daily "activity" from our Lenten Journey box.

OK, if you take a good enough look, I'm sure you'll recognize it as an old Kleenex box. I've been looking for an excuse to recycle a tissue box like this for awhile now. I filled the box with about 30 slips of paper containing activities focused on praying, fasting, and giving.

Each morning the kids pick a "sacrifice" from the box to work on for the day, like fasting from all drinks but water, making a donation to our church's Lenten almsgiving program, doing a secret good deed for a family member, making a card for someone special and mailing it, fasting from junk food or TV, saying a special prayer for someone...Spice especially has loved this activity.

Tomorrow will be our last day of school before taking an extended spring break. We will spend a good portion of the school day on this project from Lacy at Catholic Icing. (Can you tell Catholic Icing is my latest addiction?) We will start off discussing this awesome piece of artwork I picked up at the thrift store right after Christmas for only 75 cents.

It was actually priced at $1.50 but I got it half-off because the girl ringing up my purchase assumed since it had Jesus on it, it must be a Christmas decoration. I didn't correct her. : ) We'll follow up with a picture study of da Vinci's real Last Supper painting before creating our own version of the masterpiece.
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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Crawfish Etouffee

We're having guests for dinner Friday night and when I asked if there were any food preferences the only response I got was "Something Cajun." My mind was reeling with ideas...chicken and sausage gumbo, dirty rice, Cajun meatloaf with roasted sweet potatoes...then it hit me. Friday during Lent = no meat for us (and our guests).

Coming up with a meat free Cajun dish shouldn't be hard, but we're picky. Tiger shrimp that are readily available here in Georgia just don't cut it and neither do Chinese crawfish. Call us seafood snobs. Most of my Cajun seafood meals are dependent on the good old Louisiana crawfish my mother-in-law so kindly brings us on each of her visits. We had polished off the last pack of those months ago, or so I thought. On a whim yesterday I decided to clean out my freezer. It was a joyous moment when I found one more pack of crawfish hidden in the far recesses of the freezer. I did a happy dance and announced, "Now we can have crawfish etouffee!" This thrilled Sport to no end and he joined me in the happy dance until he realized he would have to wait four more days until dining on crawfish. If you're lucky enough to get your hands on some real crawfish, give this recipe a try.

1 stick butter
1 large onion
1 small bell pepper
1 lb. crawfish tails (with fat)
4 Tbsp flour
4 cups water
8 chicken bouillon cubes
salt, pepper, and Tabasco Sauce
Hot rice

Melt butter in a large heavy pot. Saute veggies in butter for 20 minutes. Add seasonings and crawfish. Saute for 3 minutes. Stir in flour and saute another 5 minutes. In a separate pot, bring water to a boil and add bouillon cubes. Once fully dissolved, add water to the crawfish pot. Simmer on low for 20 minutes. Serve over hot rice and top with green onions. Add salad and garlic bread and you've got yourself a meal cher!
This recipe is being shared at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam's Tasty Tuesday, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, and Tuesdays at the Table.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Beginner Sewing Project

Spice has been showing a lot of interest in sewing lately so I decided it as time to set her up with a few projects. We started off with a beginner needlepoint kit from JoAnne's, but it has proved to be a bit more complicated than we bargained for so I made up some projects of my own for her.

We started off with a set of mesh coasters from Dollar Tree. This rubbery "material" is also found in the shelf liner section. I originally went in for the shelf liner, then saw the set of 4 coasters and thought they were the perfect size for little hands. I used a Sharpie to draw a simple flower shape on the coaster in red and purple for Spice to embroidery with yarn.


We have a couple of large plastic kid's sewing needles on hand, but if you don't have any, I've seen kiddie needles fashioned out of pipe cleaners. Spice "traced" around each shape with her yarn then I tied it off for her.



She had a great time with this project, completing it over 2 days, and is very proud of her work!


Next up, a rainbow!
Check out Works For Me Wednesday at We Are That Family for more fun ideas.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Love Notes

Since Spice first learned to write I don't think a day has gone by that I haven't received some type of "love note" from her. In fact, love and mom were two of the first words she learned to write, even before her own name. It has become a ritual at bedtime to see which one of us can profess our love the most. I'm not a total fool though, I know this is also a good tactic for prolonging bedtime. The other day she asked to type so I set her up on my laptop then went off to cook supper. I returned later to find this note:

"Mom I LOVE YOU 10000000000000.....00000000 LOVES."

Today I found this message on the whiteboard in our school room:


(Did you know iNFiNUD = infinity?)

I'm keeping a record of all these love notes so I can show them to her when she's a teenager and doesn't want anything to do with me!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Kielbasa with Roasted Potatoes

As promised in yesterday's post, here's a recipe for a quick and simple supper. Add bread and a salad and you're ready to dine.

5 medium red potatoes thinly sliced
1 Tbsp. oil
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 lb. turkey Kielbasa sausage

Heat broiler and line a large baking sheet with foil. Toss potatoes with oil, pepper, & salt. Spread on baking sheet. Cut sausage into quarters and slash each quarter in several places.. Broil potatoes for 10 minutes or until lightly browned and softened. Place sausage on top of potatoes and broil for an additional 4-5 minutes.

Check out Tasty Tuesday at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam for more recipes.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Simple Woman's Daybook

For today, Monday, March 8, 2010

Outside my window...It is a beautiful day! Spring has finally sprung! Not sure how long it will stick around though until the cold makes a return.
I am thinking...of how nice it is to finally be able to send the kids out to play and how glad I am we don't have anything else to do today except enjoy this wonderful weather.
From the learning rooms... We have just finished up and it was a nice day where everyone cooperated. We started a new unit on Abraham Lincoln, Sport sped through long division, Spice had a great time making cloud pictures with white pant on blue construction paper then finding shapes in the clouds, and both of them worked on masterpiece birthday cards for their cousin who turns 15 this week.
From the kitchen...Kielbasa and potatoes tonight. A super simple, super quick dish that's cooked under the broiler. Check back tomorrow for the recipe.
I am wearing...jeans and a thin long-sleeved turquoise top (finally no bulky sweater) with a white tank top underneath and tennis shoes.
I am creating...School plans for the rest of the week. Spice and I are going to study Eric Carle so I'm digging out all kinds of ideas I've saved for a unit on his work.
I am reading... just started The Exact Same Moon by Jeanne Marie Laskas and am working to finish up Bringing Up Boys by James Dobson, a book I started oh about a year ago then got sidetracked.
I am hoping...the weather stays this nice all week.
I am hearing...birds singing, a woodpecker working away at the lovely home he has carved out for himself in our chimney(!) and Sport and Spice playing Frisbee outside. Well...Spice just whacked Sport in the mouth with the Frisbee. Game Over.
A few plans for the rest of the week: A surprisingly laid back week. Basketball season is over for Sport so no more Tuesday practices. We have our homeschool classes tomorrow and tennis and book club later this week. So far we also have a free weekend so I will need to spend it priming and painting the walls in our entryway. Not looking forward to it, but I know it will look so good when it is done!

Visit Peggy for more Simple Woman's Daybook entries.

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Monday, March 1, 2010

Favorite Projects of 2009 Part 3

Well, this favorite projects of 2009 bit is lasting way longer than I intended. I think my all time favorite project of last year was the half-bath redo. Here's what it looked like when we moved in. These pictures were taken when we were looking at the house so the lovely (mismatched) green toilet cover and rug were all part of the seller's brilliant presentation skills.



The walls were papered in an interesting green and burgundy pattern that resembled sponge painting. As you can see, the wallpaper was torn, but it was stuck on good. So good in fact, that most people didn't even realize it was wallpaper. They thought the room was painted. I knew this teeny tiny room would give me fits when I tried to remove the paper so I committed the ultimate remodeling sin... I painted over it. I know every where you look, the experts say DON'T DO IT! But the experts all seem to live in dream homes where wallpaper peels right off in one nice big piece and the wall is in pristine condition underneath and ready to go. Unfortunately, Hubby and I have a penchant for buying houses that seemed to have been previously owned by wallpaper moguls or something so I've dealt with quite a bit of wallpaper in my time and none of it comes off that easily.
Now I'm not recommending you go out and paint over every inch of wallpaper in your house, but there are times when it seems to be the only option. So, if that's the case at your house, here's what to do:

1) Take care of any loose ends by gluing them back down or carefully peeling away.
2) Cover the walls with an oil-based primer, such as Kilz. I know, oil-based paint is a total pain, but using a latex (i.e water-based) primer may cause the wallpaper to bubble up or come loose over time. Not what you want to see after all your hard work.
3) Use drywall compound to repair any flaws from torn wallpaper or to cover any seams. Remember how I told you my wallpaper was really stuck? Well you couldn't even find the seams after one coat of Kilz so I lucked out and got to skip this step.
4) Apply another coat of oil-based primer just to be on the safe side.
5) If you need to apply more primer it is safe to go with a latex-based one at this point.
6) Now for the fun part, cover with at least two coats of your chosen color (latex or oil-based).

Here's my new half-bath. I know the pictures aren't the greatest, but it's a small room. What'd you expect?


Wanna see more makeovers? Head over to Thrifty Decor Chick for a Before and After Party link-up.