a visit to the Alabama coast and Easter.

This past week/ weekend we celebrated Easter and the two biggest littles spring break. For the first time since moving back to Missouri, we road tripped down to the shores of Alabama to visit family and enjoy the beautiful weather there this time of year. The gulf waters are still a little chilly but other than that the spring and fall times in southern Alabama are picture perfect (without all of the crowds and chaos of summertime).

Our favorite things this trip . . .

The beach. Of course! There are a few we frequent on our visits to Gulf Shores/ Orange Beach/ Fort Morgan areas, but there are plenty of public and private beaches to choose from. The beach is always a favorite for me, but this visit was especially fun for Tate. The never ending sandbox was like a little piece of his heaven.

The Pier and fishing. Always so full of life, creatures, and learning. Our oldest became fishing obsessed when we lived in the south and if you have the right equipment The Pier is such a wonderful place to do so. From high above the gulf, we often spot small sharks swimming in the waters below.

Bike riding on the trails of Gulf State Park. You could easily ride all day and not pass over the same spot twice. This is such an enjoyable and active way to take in all of the additional beauty (other than the beach) that this part of the southern coast has to offer. We stopped for lunch here. I highly recommend the brussels sprouts and mac n’ cheese 🙂 but everything was really delicious and fresh.

Shopping.

Eating. This visit, we ate at Lulu’s. The kids love it because of the large sandbox/ play area. It can get a little crazy during the summer season but this time of year the wait was nil. And if you like cold (abundantly) sweet treats, The Yard is worth at least one visit.

The road trip. Perhaps my favorite part! Having all of my people together for a long period of time yes, almost too crazy to be bearable at times. But the BEST! Even during that late at night six hour stretch of no civilization in Mississippi.

Easter Sunday. Although not our traditional Easter, we love visiting the church in Foley. And the weather was really breathtakingly beautiful! So much so, that we spent Easter afternoon at the beach.

Early A.M. swims. Throwing on a bathing suit and hitting the pool first thing in the morning.

A few of our other favorite things to do while in the Gulf Shores area are . . .

  • The National Naval Aviation Museum. It’s free admission and parking. If you are able, watch one of the practices of the U.S. Navy Blue Angels!
  • The Fort Morgan historic site. A really beautiful place to explore.
  • USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park. This is in Mobile, but is worth the drive if you have the time.
  • Bon Secour, Alabama. If you are up for a short drive and just want to see some local scenery, this small community is so quaint and cozy. There are also a few places nearby to purchase some fresh seafood!
  • Alligator Alley.
  • Burris Market. We used to stop here on our way to the coast. They have the best pies and pecan cobbler.
  • Scoops Ice Cream.

We returned to Missouri mid week with the dogwoods in full bloom, Easter baskets, and for me, more than the usual amounts of coffee.

(after they had been rummaged through)

It’s so nice to be home. The littlest guy and I went to two estate sales yesterday and one of our purchases was a new chair for the back deck. I am hoping to do some relaxing and refreshing there this weekend. May you find your “spot” and spend as much time there this weekend as possible. Enjoy!

eggs. dipped and dyed.

2019 edition. Natural dyes.

This year, for the first time, I gave naturally dying eggs a try. I read through several tutorials and posts about the “how-tos” and compiled bits from each before beginning. Below are some of “my bits”.

What I used:

  • blueberries, red cabbage, turmeric, avocado pits, onion skins & beets. i also used spinach without much luck. *need to try chlorophyll and black beans soon (on fabric)
  • white vinegar
  • baking soda (in the red cabbage dye)
  • boiling water

The blueberries, red cabbage and turmeric worked best for me. My thoughts are some of the dyes may have worked differently or better if I would have let the foods simmer longer and/ or if I would have added more foods into the water. I’d tell you a more specific recipe, but I really didn’t use one. 🙂

Thoughts:

  • At first I was sure my experimenting had failed, a few eggs didn’t take any of the color at all while others took on shades different than what I expected. However, when I saw the end result and all of the eggs together “perfectly imperfect” came to mind. Each egg was unique – no two were the same color. The muted tones and unusual hues were unexpected but beautiful.

  • Patience. Have some. Don’t expect to dip, dye, and have all of your eggs beautifully displayed together in one afternoon. I got impatient (or I just needed the pots I was using) at about 24 hours and just went with the colors I had at that point. However, some were done after just a few hours.
  • I really enjoyed and appreciated the whole process. It took some effort, but I am already looking forward to using natural dyes again.

  • Experiment with both white and brown eggs.
  • Eggs will appear brighter in color when wet. The tones become more muted as they dry.

  • Use multiple dyes to get one color. For example, a few I let bathe in the blueberry for awhile and then transferred them to the cabbage.
  • I added baking soda to the cabbage to give it a more bluish hue vs. purple.
  • My oldest two, even though they didn’t act interested at first, were intrigued by the fact the foods can be used as dyes. My littlest, can now say the word “egg” with ease.
  • I also dyed a piece of fabric in the cabbage. After washing and drying, it turned out a really light blue. I am really looking forward to dying more fabric.

Happy Easter week! This is perhaps my most favorite week of the year – the weather, the beautiful colors (inside and out), cute baskets everywhere!, Palm Sunday, Holy Week, Easter Sunday, the attire, the sound of birdsong, the smell of fresh cut grass, flower planting, the celebration . . .

(eggs, dipped & dyed – 2016 edition)

bunny hair clip. a sweet & simple diy.

Supplies & Materials:

  • a stiff felt (I used these that I had leftover from another project, but any stiffer felt will work. You don’t need much at all. Also, see note below.)
  • small faux pearl beads (I used these but in an off white/ ecru. You can find these at any craft store in the jewelry making section.)
  • flat alligator clip (2.25 inches or smaller) (A pack of these can be found at your local craft store or on amazon for a couple of dollars and I find all sorts of uses for them.)
  • bunny and ear template – bunnytemplate.pdf
  • hot glue
  • a clear drying craft glue, fabric glue, or an industrial glue (like e6000)
  • scissors
  • a pen or pencil

* Chipboard or a heavyweight cardstock could also be used instead of felt. Leave as is or paint whichever color you prefer before proceeding with the steps below.

Instructions:

  1. Print & cut out bunny and inner ear template.
  2. Trace templates. Trace templates onto your felt or chosen material. Then cut out.
  3. Glue. Glue inner ears to the bunny and then glue beads. I used a fabric glue and completed sections at a time – the head and then the body. Use a substantial amount of glue. You may want to have a tweezers handy to place and move the beads. I just used the tip of my pencil. 🙂 Once all of your beads are in place, go back over the beads with glue filling in the gaps.
  4. Let dry. This is the longest and most important step. Let the bunny dry overnight before moving.
  5. Add clip. Make sure all of your beads are secure, flip the bunny over and then hot glue your alligator clip onto the middle of the underside of your bunny.

The End! You have a really sweet and simple accessory for Easter Day or any day. It took less than fifteen minutes to make and even better, the hardest part was waiting for it to dry. The key to keeping it simple and low cost is to adjust the design according to the supplies you have around the house. This clip would be lovely a variety of ways using a variety of supplies. What about a little brown bunny accented with a patterned fabric instead of the pearls and a little bow on its neck!

Enjoy and Happy Easter!

~xoxo~

paper carrots. a simple easter craft.

Supplies & Materials:

  • Brown packing paper or kraft cardstock (I used both) – or any slightly heavy paper you have on hand (think upcycle)
  • Thread and/ or embroidery floss
  • Scrap fabric (green or any color you have on hand)
  • Scissors
  • Pencil
  • Carrot templates (you really could just easily free hand the carrot as well)
  • Sewing Machine or if you don’t have a sewing machine sew by hand with the embroidery floss
  • Fillers – fun items or candy to fill your carrots with

Instructions:

  1. Make carrots. Print and cut out your carrot templates and trace them onto your packing paper or cardstock.
  2. Sewing carrots. Take two of the same size carrots and layer them on top of each other so that all sides are even with each other. Sew your two long sides together either by hand with the floss or with your machine.
  3. Make carrot leaves. Tear your scrap fabric into narrow strips. The length is your preference. I used about six per carrot. Set aside until after you’ve filled your carrots.
  4. Fill your carrots. Fill your carrots with any sort of small candy, chocolate, handmade items, stickers, accessories, gift cards, etc. I used jelly beans, chocolates, chocolate eggs, tattoos, friendship bracelets, hair ties (just things I had on hand).
  5. Add leaves and sew the top. With one hand hold your leaves in the center of the top of your carrot. Place them far enough into the carrot that you will sew through them. Sew the top of your carrot.
  6. Accessorize. Add names or initials to the carrots or some additional floss. You could even paint the carrot if it’s not quite colorful enough for you.

Now – make a few, leave them separate or tie them together, and place them in your littles’ basket for them to tear open Easter morn.

This little project is so simple and inexpensive. If you don’t have orange thread and green fabric on hand, just use what you have. Using colors not necessarily unique to the typical carrot would be lovely. Same goes for the paper- just make sure it’s a little heavier than your regular printer paper. Even your fillers could be simple handmade items like stickers, friendship bracelets, homemade crayons, etc.

Templates:

largecarrot.pdf

smallcarrot.pdf

P.S. – My most recent favorite store bought sweet treat – Anise flavored pizzelles from Aldi.

recipes. a few of our favorites for the Lenten season.

Lent. The forty days of fasting, prayer and service leading up to Easter, beginning Ash Wednesday. When I was younger, I never really “got it”. I didn’t enjoy nor welcome the solemnity or extra giving of myself these several weeks before Easter were supposed to require. After all, shouldn’t our days always include service, prayer and giving of ourselves. Why were “these” so special? However, the more years I gain the more I understand. It’s kind of like that new start and those resolutions we make at the start of a new year. “Lent comes to reawaken and shake us from our lethargy.” – Pope Francis

Here are some foods we enjoy all year round but also nicely fit into the Lenten season.

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Recipes:

1 – Roasted Cauliflower Soup

This recipe is my “go to” and has it states there are many different variations. Feel free to leave out the cream, add greens or beans, etc. On this particular occasion I left off the hot sauce because I was sharing with the baby (my first photo).

In my second photo, I didn’t use the cream and instead of making it a purée I just used the pulse setting and chopped (and then added a little cheese).

2 – Honey Ginger Shrimp

I found this recipe of Ayesha Curry’s a week and a half ago and have already made it twice. The flavor is just so fantastic! Not to mention, the whole recipe from start to finish takes less than thirty minutes and requires few and simple ingredients.

3 – Wild Rice Soup

I love this soup! And even though it’s called Cozy Autumn Wild Rice Soup it’s perfect for a cool Spring day as well (especially those ones leading up to Easter requiring no meat). It’s packed full of veggies and really so delicious.

Plus, most of the ingredients are common and ones you might already have in your fridge or pantry.

Variation: Add baked and then shredded chicken. I did this a couple of times this past winter.

4 – Southwestern Frittata (minus the meat)

(from Danielle Walker’s Against All Grain – Meals Made Simple Cookbook)

Ingredients:

1/2 pound ground beef (or negate for a meat free Lenten meal)

1/2 cup diced sweet potato, peeled

2 tablespoons diced red onion

2 1/2 teaspoons Taco Seasoning

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

2 cups baby spinach

1/2 cup diced zucchini

10 large eggs, beaten

(salsa, chopped cilantro or sliced avocado for serving)

Preheat oven to 350° F.

In an ovenproof 10 inch skillet over medium heat, sauté the beef, sweet potato, onion, taco seasoning and salt for 6 minutes, until the meat is mostly cooked through.

Add the spinach and zucchini and cook for 4 more minutes.

Pour the eggs into the pan and bake in the oven for 12 minutes, until the eggs have puffed up and are cooked through.

*I have also transferred all to a glass baking dish before adding in the eggs (like the above photo). Which perhaps makes it not as much “frittata-like” but a bit fluffier and just as tasty.

5 – Lime and Thyme Carrots with Salmon

(from John Whaite’s Perfect Plates in 5 Ingredients Cookbook)

*not pictured

Ingredients:

14 ounces baby carrots

4 banana shallots

Juice of 2 limes

4 sprigs of thyme

4 salmon fillets

(sea Salt and coarse black pepper)

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Place the carrots in a large roasting pan or baking dish. Peel the shallots and slice them in half lengthwise, and add them to the pan along with the lime juice, thyme, and 1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Cover with foil and roast for 1 hour.

While the carrots are roasting, season the fillets with a pinch of salt and pepper. After the carrots have cooked for an hour, remove the foil and place the fillets into the roasting pan. Return to the oven for 12 to 15 minutes, until the salmon is cooked through.

All of the meals in this cookbook are simple, yet feel really special!

6 – Breads or Pizza (veggie and cheese)

Breads topped with preserves or butters or paired with baked or grilled veggies is also another favorite.

I’m definitely still working on my bread making skills but these are a couple simple, less time consuming recipes that we like (that have turned out ok enough to eat 🙂 ).

Mark Bittman’s No-Knead Bread

Julia Child’s White Sandwich Bread

And we love this thin crust pizza dough recipe.

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“Fasting makes sense if it really chips away at our security and, as a consequence, benefits someone else, if it helps cultivate the style of the good Samaritan, who bent down to his brother in need and took care of him.” – Pope Francis

diy spring flowers. made with fabric scraps.

Happy Monday!

March happens at the end of this week- yay!!! I love the transformation the earth seems to take on during the days of this “still winter yet start of spring” month. In the home, I’ve been craving more color and vibrance. And for myself, I’m already noticing that little extra energy one seems to get at the start of a new season.

It’s no secret that I love paper and fabric almost as much as the smell of a new bebé! I always seem to have bunches of both lying around. Last week, I saw a beautiful photo of one of these rain soaked and it prompted me to try the below. And even though mine turned out really looking nothing like my inspiration source, I enjoyed the time I spent making them. They were simple enough that my mind could wander and relax. Not to mention, they’ll add a little extra “pretty” to baskets and gifts come Easter!

Since I just made this up as I went along, there really is no right or wrong way to do them. Feel free to put your own twist on them or add your own details. My main goal was to just keep them simple (and inexpensive) by only needing a few supplies and those supplies being things I already had on hand.

Supplies needed:

  • Small foam or paint brush & Scissors
  • Fabric scraps – torn into strips (bigger or smaller depending on what size flower you are wanting to make)
  • Mod Podge or diluted Elmer’s glue (or fabric stiffener) I had the fabric stiffener but I love and prefer the texture that the mod podge gives the fabric once it dries.

Step 1:

Tear your scraps into strips. Mine were about 1 to 1 1/2 inches wide. You don’t want to get too wide because they will be harder to tie and shape. The length can really be any length. I tore my strips and then cut them in half (but because I was using scraps the lengths varied). Just remember the longer your strips the bigger your flowers will be. For solid flowers, I used 10-15 strips of the same color for each flower and then I tore some small strips (1/2 inch wide or so) for the inner part of the flower. I just used one small strip per flower for the center. I also tore one to two wider green strips per each flower (for the leaves).

Step 2:

Cover your workspace with parchment paper or old newspaper and then lay all of your strips out flat. Use your brush to cover each strip with mod podge (or glue substance) so that they are completely covered. Once all tops are dry, turn them all over and cover the bottom of each strip and let that side dry completely as well. If you want flowers with less stiffness, only cover one side or use less mod podge.

*do not mod podge your smaller center strips at this time.

(All of these strips of solid color fabric reminded me of when used to do the winding of the maypole every spring in elementary school 🙂 )

Step 3:

In really no right or wrong way, criss cross the strips you have chosen for your flower over each other. Use a small scrap or strip to tie the strips together (this one does not need to be mod podged or stiffened). Lay it over the flower as shown below.

Step 4:

Use one hand to hold the strips in place while you turn them over to knot the small strip. From here you really can do no wrong. This is when you you pull, rumple, fold, etc. each “petal” of the flower. The more you mess with them the more texture and life you create.

Step 5:

Once the flower is to your liking, find the center and flatten it. Brush a good amount of mod podge onto the center area of your flower. Then take a small center strip and crumple or ruffle it between your fingers. At this time generously coat it in mod podge so that it stays together and then place and press it in the flattened center. See below. Let it dry completely.

*you can also use hot glue to secure the center

Step 6:

If you want some “leaves” thread one or two strips through the knotted strip on the back or bottom of the flower. You can use these or some twine to secure the flower to baskets, wreaths, or anything else you want to add a little “spring” to!

Step 7:

The fun part! Use them to adorn or decorate whatever you please. They’re perfect for Easter baskets or wreaths! Or we are hanging onto our egg cartons, painting them and filling them with goodies to deliver to our neighbors during the Easter season so they will add a little extra “pretty” to them as well!

Yay for March! And Yay for Spring!

– XO!