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Friday, March 27, 2015

Too-Cute Egg, Chick, and Bunny Desserts ~ Get creative with these fun ideas for easy Easter snacks, including cakes, cupcakes, tarts, and other sweets in festive Easter shapes!

Crispy Easter Eggs
3 tablespoon(s) unsalted butter
1 package(s) (10 1/2-ounce) mini marshmallows
Assorted food coloring (optional)
6 cup(s) crisp rice cereal (such as Rice Krispies)
Assorted pastel M&M’s (preferably Minis), frozen (optional)
Directions: Melt butter in a large saucepan over low heat. Stir in marshmallows and cook until marshmallows are completely melted and blended into butter. Remove from heat. Tint mixture with food coloring, if you wish. (You can also make recipe in two or more separate batches to make different colors.)
Stir in cereal until it is completely coated with marshmallow mixture. Mist hands generously with cooking spray. Shape cereal mixture into 15 to 20 ovals (work quickly while mixture is still warm and soft). If you like, press M&M’s into eggs to make stripes or polka dots. Cool completely. Wrap in cellophane or store in an airtight container.

Nesting Baby-Bluebird Cupcakes
1 1/2 cup(s) (5 ounces) shredded coconut
Vanilla Cupcakes
Chocolate Buttercream
Yellow and light-blue food coloring
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread coconut on a rimmed baking sheet; bake until light brown, 8 to 10 minutes, rotating pan once. Set aside to cool.
Lightly frost cupcakes with 1 cup Chocolate Buttercream; set aside. Tint 2 tablespoons reserved buttercream pale yellow; place in a pastry bag fitted with a #349 Ateco leaf tip; set aside. Tint remaining buttercream light blue; place in a pastry bag fitted with a #11 Ateco plain round tip, and pipe three bluebird heads, 3/4 inch in diameter, onto each cupcake. Using leaf tip, pipe yellow beaks. With a toothpick, add melted-chocolate eyes. Form each nest with 2 tablespoons toasted coconut.

 Baby Bird Cookies
1/2 cup(s) slivered almonds
2 1/2 cup(s) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 stick(s) (3/4 cup) butter, cut in pieces
1/2 cup(s) firmly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoon(s) almond extract
3 cup(s) confectioners’ sugar
Assorted paste, gel or liquid food colors
White sanding (fine crystal) sugar
Directions: You'll need baking sheets and a 6-in. bird cookie cutter. Pulse almonds in food processor until finely chopped. Add flour; process until almonds are finely ground. Add butter; pulse until crumbs form. Add sugar, egg and 1 1/2 tsp extract. Process just until dough forms. Pat dough into a ball; divide in half. Place one half between 2 sheets of wax paper on a dampened work surface; roll out to 1/4 in. thick. Repeat with other half. Slide onto a baking sheet; place in freezer about 10 minutes.
Heat oven to 350ºF. Remove top sheet of wax paper. With floured cutter, cut out as many birds as possible. With metal spatula, remove birds; place 1 in. apart on ungreased baking sheet. Bake 10 to 12 minutes, just until golden. Cool on baking sheet on wire rack 2 minutes, then remove to rack to cool completely. Reroll scraps; cut more birds. Stir 2 cups confectioners' sugar, remaining 1/2 tsp extract and 2 to 3 Tbsp water until smooth. Divide among smaller bowls; tint each to desired color. Spread icing over each cookie. Stir 1 cup confectioners' sugar with about 4 tsp water until thick enough to pipe. Spoon into small ziptop bag; snip off a tiny corner of bag. Pipe designs on a cookie, then immediately sprinkle with sanding sugar. Repeat with other cookies. Let dry at least 12 hours. Tap off excess sugar.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

My 2015 Easter pick from Crate and Barrel for crafting, decorating and of course hunting!

Aluminum Bunny Bowl and Server
Gracious bunny makes a generous offering of jellybeans, sweet treats and nuts in this adorable server made of shiny aluminum. Pairs well with matching server. $24.95 - $39.95
Food safe
Dishwasher-safe; hand washing recommended
Do not use with acidic foods
Made in India

Hand Painted Easter Eggs
Handmade Easter egg is crafted of karo wood that is turned on a lathe and painted with a cheerful striped design. Eco-friendly eggs are made for us exclusively by Indian artisans and income derived from their sale helps fund a local hospital, providing much-needed healthcare to the region. $3.95 - $21.95
100% karo wood and paint
Avoid exposure to moisture
Made in India

Ceramic Mini Bunnies
Distilled down to its essential cuteness, mini bunny is hand cast of earthenware that's fired twice to create a smooth surface and glazed a lustrous shade of yellow or blue. $9.95
Wipe clean with damp cloth
Made in China

Monday, March 23, 2015

6 Easter Basket Ideas That Are Easy, Fun, and Creative For Any Age ~ Young Kiddos, Adults, Teachers, etc

Turn an Egg Carton into an Easter Basket
The Crafting Chicks offer an ingenious way to recycle egg cartons in this Easter basket idea. Pour candies straight into carton cups (opened plastic eggs contain smaller sweets) and close the lid. Kids will love opening it up to find their surprise.

Convert a Mason Jar into an Easter Basket
Do like Nest of Posies and fill a mason jar with chocolate eggs, or small toys and candy. Add some fun trim and enjoy.

Turn a Wooden Box into an Easter Basket

Friday, March 20, 2015

Testimony Begins with “Test”

"Consider it wholly joyful, my brethren, whenever you are enveloped in or encounter trials of any sort or fall into various temptations." James 1:2

I’m sure you know people with amazing stories of the way God has worked in their lives ~ I do and I have a few of my own! I always love to hear a great testimony, but I also know that behind every extraordinary account of someone’s life lies some kind of challenge or difficulty, just as mine is. No one ever has a testimony without a test.

We must pass all kinds of tests as we go through our lives, and passing them is part of never giving up. It’s vital for us to understand the important role that tests and trials play in our lives, because understanding them helps us endure them and actually be strengthened by them. Everything God permits us to go through will ultimately be good for us ~ no matter how much it hurts, how unfair it is, or how difficult it is.
When we encounter tests and trials, if we will embrace them and refuse to run from them, we will learn some lessons that will help us in the future and make us stronger. One reason we must go through trials is to test our quality (1 Pet. 4:12). Often, we find ourselves wishing we had the faith of Sister so-and- so or Brother so-and-so. I can assure you, if they have a strong and vibrant faith, they did not develop it easily. Just as muscles are strengthened through exercise, firm faith comes from the furnace of affliction.

Some people say, “Oh, I wish I had what you have.” Well, we don't get what they have by wishing AND we don't see what these people went through to get it! We don’t know the tests and trials they’ve faced along the way.  Everyone's journey is different and no one who does anything worthwhile for God has traveled an easy road. Doing great things for God requires character, and character is developed by passing life’s tests and staying faithful to Him through the trials.

Father God, I put my trust in you and know that you have a unique plan for my life. I trust that when I go through tests, you are using them to strengthen and prepare me for the great things you have planned specifically for me. In your Holy name I pray, Amen.

My 2015 Easter picks from Williams Sonoma for crafting, decorating and of course hunting!

Peter Rabbit Easter Egg Hunt Kit
Peter Rabbit and his storybook friends are the perfect companions for a backyard Easter egg hunt, giving kids the expert guidance they need to find every egg, toy and treat. Inspired by Beatrix Potter's classic illustrations, our playful laminated signs offer helpful hints on which way to go. $19.75
Created by an award-winning paper designer.
Laminated paperboard signs are double-sided, so they can work in any direction.
Durable plastic stakes have self-adhesive tape for attaching signs.
Includes 8 reusable stakes, 9 signs and 8 arrows to mount or hang with brads or twine (included).one "spin the arrow"
hanging sign and twine for hanging.
Packaged in a presentation box that's great for gift giving.

Bunny 12 Egg Platter
The Easter Bunny is celebrating his favorite holiday by lending his likeness to our classic white ceramic platter. Count on this durable serving piece to provide the perfect presentation for deviled eggs, or use it to display decorated Easter eggs. $34.95
Made of glazed earthenware.
Holds up to a dozen eggs or deviled egg halves.

Easter Bunny And Chick Cookie Nylon Spatula
When it comes to mixing, blending, folding, scraping and spreading, this flexible spatula is an indispensable helper for cooks young and old. Our Easter bunny design makes it a charming addition to springtime pancake breakfasts and cookie-baking sessions. $12.95 each
Flexible nylon head with cutouts.
Handle is stainless steel with nylon grip.
Dishwasher safe.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Nothing Says Easter Like a Peep ~ Check Out These Peeps Treat Recipes...Yummmm!!!

PEEPS S'mores Shake ~ Enjoy a s'more in shake form with this unique creation. Adding chocolate and graham crackers to the bottom of your glass and on the rim takes this sweet drink over the top.

Go Cart Peep ~ Ready, Set, Go! These peeps are riding in little vehicles with Twinkie seats and marshmallow wheels and tiny pretzel steering wheeeeeeeeels!

Spring Fruit Bouquet ~ Much like a flower arrangement BUT oh so much sweeter!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

My 2015 Easter picks from Pottery Barn for crafting, decorating and of course hunting!

Vine Bunny Door Sign
The cutest way to greet guests at the door, our handmade bunny holds a welcome plaque that can be personalized with your family’s name or a special sentiment. $119.00
21" wide x 6.5" deep x 37" high
Handmade of natural wicker.

Graphic Bunny Plate, Set of 4
Italian-style glazing and baroque graphics give this bunny royal treatment in Easter plates designed by our own Pottery Barn studio artists. $42
8" diameter
Made of glazed stoneware.
Set of 4.
Microwave- and dishwasher-safe.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

St. Patrick's Day Treats ~ YUMMY!

Shamrock Straw Toppers
Let your kids create their own luck with four-leaf-clovers fashioned from green card stock.

Chocolate-Mint Creams
Pastel Kisses milk chocolates with mint (available seasonally) are the perfect St. Patrick's Day topping for these crinkly chocolate cookies.
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
6 tablespoons butter
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon water
1 6 ounce package (1 cup) semisweet chocolate pieces
1 egg, lightly beaten
Pastel cream mint kisses
In a small bowl, stir together flour and baking soda; set aside. In a medium saucepan, combine butter, brown sugar, and water. Cook and stir over low heat until butter is melted. Add chocolate pieces; cook and stir until chocolate is melted. Pour mixture into a large bowl; cool for 10 minutes. Using a wooden spoon, stir egg into chocolate mixture. Stir in flour mixture until combined. Cover and chill for 1 to 2 hours or until dough is easy to handle. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 8 minutes. Immediately place a mint kiss on top of each cookie. Bake about 2 minutes more or until edges are set. If desired, gently swirl the melted mints with a table knife. Transfer cookies to a wire rack; cool until melted mints are firm. Makes about 48 cookies.

Sweet Shamrock Pretzels
A tasty new twist on the St. Pat's Day shamrock.What you'll need:
Canned refrigerated bread stick dough (we used Pillsbury Original Breadsticks)
Colored sugar
Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and lightly coat it with cooking spray. To create the clover shape, mold 3 sections of bread sticks into hearts and press them together as shown. Attach a small stem, decorate, bake according to the package directions, and serve them up to your lucky guests.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

How Does Your Family Celebrate St. Patrick's Day ~ Start a New Tradition?

It's an alarming trend that shows no sign of abating: every year, more and more people fall victim to leprechaun-related mischief around St. Patrick's Day. You too can join in the fun with your kiddos by "playing" leprechaun ~ give your kids something to talk about for weeks in advance, wondering what things the leprechaun will do when he visits your house.

Can't you just imagine what the St. Patrick's Day home invasion could bring ~ Green milk? Green toilet water? Green footprints? Trails of shamrock confetti? Heck you can even plant kisses.....what will the kids think when wake up with green kiss marks on their foreheads?

Is it any surprise, then, that your kids may decide to fight back ~ maybe they will want to try to capture that little leprechaun whose creating havoc in their home (could be tons of fun, huh). Get creative with your kiddos ~ use some pretty powerful bait such as Lucky Charms cereal ;), create and set traps that have caught only chocolate gold coins and candy bars, accompanied by notes taunting them with "Good try," or "Can't catch me!" As everyone knows, leprechauns hoard pots of gold, and if caught, must reveal the treasure's location to their captor.

Here are some ideas and crafts to get you on your way to have a fun time with your kiddos:

Monday, March 9, 2015

St Patrick's Day Recipes that will make you Leap like a Leprechaun!

Irish Beef and Stout Stew ~ This comforting stew is made festive by a pop of green and a generous "glug" of stout. Make a double batch and freeze for a rainy spring day.
4 pounds beef chuck, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cans (6 ounces each) tomato paste
2 1/2 pounds new potatoes, scrubbed
2 medium onions, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 cans (14 1/2 ounces each) reduced-sodium beef broth
1 can (14.9 ounces) Irish stout beer
10 garlic cloves, sliced
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2 boxes (10 ounces each) frozen baby peas, thawed
Directions: Preheat oven to 350. In a 5-quart Dutch oven or heavy pot, toss beef with flour; stir in tomato paste. Add potatoes, onions, broth, beer, and garlic; season with salt and pepper. Cover, and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
Transfer pot to oven, and cook, covered, until meat is fork-tender, 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Stir in peas, and season with salt and pepper.

Chocolate Stout Shake ~ Mix Ice Cream, Stout, Dash of Luck this Saint Patrick's Day because the only soda we want is the baking variety in the bread! =P This rich, robust stout is the fizzy base for this grown-up take on the fountain favorite.
1/4 cup chocolate stout beer or stout beer
1/2 cup prepared chocolate fudge ice cream topping
1/2 gallon vanilla bean ice cream
1 cup milk
6 purchased chocolate-and-nut-covered pretzel rods (optional)
Directions: In a small saucepan heat beer and chocolate topping until warm and combined. Cool slightly. Meanwhile, in a blender combine ice cream and milk, half at a time. Cover and blend until combined. Divide ice cream mixture among 8 glasses. Drizzle with chocolate sauce and, if desired, serve with chocolate-covered pretzel rods. Makes 8 servings.

Rainbow Cake Mason Jar Leprechaun Trap ~ Put yourself into the tiny shoes of a leprechaun: You’re minding your own business, looking for gold in a family’s home when you see a huge, vibrant cake behind glass on the kitchen table. You’ve seen and followed rainbows to get to your pot of gold, but never have you been tempted by a mouthwatering edible rainbow like this. You would do anything to get a taste. Luckily, there’s a chocolate-covered pretzel ladder to help you reach the top.
You smell the sweet, lemony buttercream and vanilla cake and hop right in. No one (not even a cunning leprechaun like yourself) can take just one bite, so you eat your way through a few layers before realizing that you’ve sunk a few inches too deep into the glass tube to escape. The fluffy cake makes for a great bed until your captors wake on St. Patrick’s Day morning, and you can negotiate your release in exchange for a few gold coins.

Friday, March 6, 2015

With SPRING around the corner, try these Budget-Friendly DIY projects to get a jump start on the season!

Welcome Mat ~ Make a colorful statement at your front door with a DIY doormat. Cut 1x2 medium-density fiberboard (MDF) into fifteen 24-inch-long pieces. Spray-paint the pieces with exterior spray paint, let dry. Cut coordinating fabric strips to size, and affix to the slats with spray adhesive. Once dry, apply three coats of clear exterior varnish. To assemble, drill holes through each plank 1 inch from each end and at the center. Thread a small nut onto one end of each of the three threaded rods; insert the rods through the holes in one MDF plank. Slide a larger nut onto each rod. Continue alternating planks and nuts. Secure the slats with a nut threaded onto the end of each rod.

Budget Art ~ Turn ordinary items into gilded art. Arrange gold seal stickers intended for envelopes and official documents in rows on solid-colored paper to create easy modern art. Or group house numbers -- both old and new -- inside a picture frame.

Poster Board ~ Take an afternoon to add a creative focal point above your headboard. Poster board, a small mirror, and a hot glue gun are all you need for this simple sunburst mirror.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

"Must Do" March Projects

Spring will be here soon enough. It's the perfect time to tidy up—both indoors and out—and take stock of your home. Whether you're planning your garden, growing a picture-perfect lawn, or would rather relax in a lounger on the back patio, there's plenty to do. Here are the top must do projects for March.

Build Your Own Planter ~ Consider building a window box or adding a planter for your front porch. Whether you start from scratch or repurpose an old item, making a planter is a great family-friendly activity for spring. Take the simple route by painting a trio of terra cotta planters with chalkboard paint and planting them with herbs for a kitchen windowsill garden.

In the Right Place ~ Spring is the perfect time to reorganize your closets. Donate or sell any winter clothing you didn't wear this year, then pack clean off-season clothes into bags, bins, or boxes—right after you double-check your forecast. (Don't want any surprises.) If your closets need an additional dose of organization, buy or build new shelves, dividers, or install an extra tension rod to double your usable space.

Stage Your Home ~ With weather warming up, March is a prime season for home-buying and moving. Listing your home? Know that properly staging your home can help you sell the place at a higher price. If your style is too modern or eclectic to appeal broadly to buyers, try stowing your furniture in storage, then borrow neutral pieces from a professional stager until you can close the deal.