Thursday, March 31, 2011

Small Successes :: Getting Ready for Easter!

"It’s important for moms to recognize that all the small successes in our days can add up to one big triumph. So on Thursday of each week, we do exactly that."

~ 1 ~ 

The other day my mom (I love that she reads a few blogs now, including mine!) wanted to know why I didn't include a picture of the new Easter Baskets, which I had been telling her about,  when I posted some Catholic Easter Basket Ideas.

Yes, I am very excited about our Easter Baskets this year!   Every year when the Spring Pottery Barn Kids Catalog shows up in our mailbox I fall in love with the Easter Baskets.   Every year they are way out of our budget!  So this year, knowing that I needed to get at least a few new Easter Baskets (some of the "affordable" baskets I have purchased in the past need to be replaced), I decided to try and improvise.

I was so excited when found very similar white wicker baskets 50% off at Michaels - only $8.49 each!  I then was able to find a couple of the liners I wanted at a great price on ebay, ordering the remaining liners directly from Pottery Barn (the prices for monogramming have actually increased since I purchased mine, and most of the small liners have sold out).   They are perfect!     I just need to find a few brown wicker baskets for the boys...  It will be so nice to have baskets that my children will be able to use year after year!

Here is a picture of the back of Twinkle Toes and Chiquita's new baskets.   They have their names embroidered on the front in Bright Pink (TT) and Purple (C) thread.

After the fact, I was thinking how neat it would be to sew your own basket liners and mail them to Catholic Embroidery for personalization - perhaps with the child's patron saint symbol, or a catholic quote!  

Rose's basket has cute little fabric flowers and her name is embroidered in Green on the front.  I think, for her, I want to start a tradition that I read about in a sweet little book that was illustrated by my Godmother:

"If you have a young daughter, consider this heirloom idea.  Each year on Easter, tie a different pastel ribbon in your daughter's hair.  After Easter is over, tie the ribbon on her basket.  When she gets older she will have a basket full of beauty and memories." 

~ 2 ~ 

The kids and I nearly ruined made our family Paschal Candle for Easter yesterday!   Despite all my mistakes, it turned out beautiful.   I can't wait to share some pictures once I get them uploaded!  

~ 3 ~ 

I also found beautiful Easter Dresses on sale for my older girls with matching headbands.   (They will make perfect dresses for their Little Flowers Tea Party later this year as well!)   It's so hard to find pretty spring/summer dresses with sleeves lately, but these will work great with a little white top underneath and a cardigan if it is cold.  Now I just need to figure out Easter outfits for the other four children and myself. . .   Here is a sneak peak at the colors.  

Well, I have to run. . . It is gorgeous outside and we are off to the library and to drop off four boxes (a big success!) to Goodwill.  Hope you are all having a great day! 

Stop by Faith and Family Live to read more of this week's Small Successes.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Little Flowers Girls' Club ~ Self-Control

The Friday before last, the day after St. Patrick's Day and the day before our trip to the ocean, I hosted our 5th Little Flowers Girls' Club meeting for Wreath III. It was a busy week! Originally I tried re-scheduling it for earlier that week, since two of the sweet little girls in my group were suppose to be headed to their new home.   However, thanks to a change of plans and a later flight, they were able to make it to the meeting after all!

Here is the overview of our meeting:

~ Coloring Pages ~

Self-Control Memory Verse Copywork (created with Startwrite)

~ Notebook Pages ~

For this month's Virtue Notebook/Scrapbook Page, I used the memory verse for Self-Control, a quote from St. Felicity (found here), a quote from the bible, an image of St. Felicity and her Seven Sons, and a few amaryllis flowers. You can download my document here.

Here is a picture of the sample page I created:

(Note:  The pink paper scanned in much darker than it actually was. . . The photos are much more accurate.)

Here are the girl's completed pages for "Self-Control":

~ Lesson on Self-Control ~

“Look towards heaven, where Jesus Christ is waiting for you with His Saints! Be faithful in His love, and fight courageously for your souls.”

Don't you just love that quote?!?   I teared up during the meeting when I was trying to explain to the girls how St. Felicity is such an amazing example of self-control. . .  Encouraging her children to look towards heaven, as they were all about to be martyred for our faith!

We read and discussed a story about St. Felicity, along with a couple stories from The Book of Virtues. We also talked about Self-Control goes hand in hand with offering sacrifices.

"Self-control is holding oneself within due limits in pleasures and duties, as in all things else; self-denial, the giving up of pleasures for the sake of duty."

With Charlotte's post on her Crown of Thorns in my mind, I explained to the girls that when we make a sacrifice, "we hope in some small way that our sacrifice will help make amends for the sins that caused the suffering Our Precious Lord endured."

~ Craft :: St. Therese Sacrifice Beads ~

"When St. Therese was a child, her older sister Marie gave her a string of beads to help her count the gifts she did to offer to God.  In this way she was able to advance in perfection daily.

Sacrifice Beads or Good Deed Beads are a string of ten beads, which can be pulled and remain in place. They are used to count the acts of love or sacrifices a person makes in a day for God. The string of beads helps a person to grow in virtue by challenging them to be faithful in making acts of love each day. Sacrifice Beads also have a fixed Our Father bead on the end of them and can double up as a rosary."  ~ The Little Ways

Supplies for each Set of Sacrifice Beads:
25" Piece of Cord
11 Pony Beads
1 Miraculous Medal
1 Crucifix

(Note:  I  purchased the medals from Autom, and included the direct links above.  Watch their Facebook page for Free Shipping offers!) 

~ Additional Craft :: Adding to our Wreath III Virtues Apron ~

"NO LICKING SPOON" :: Self-Control - the ability to control one's emotions, behaviour and desires.

Originally we planned to have the girls iron on a "No Licking the Spoon" image to their  aprons, but at the last minute we decided to have them paint the handle of a wooden spoon to either attach to their apron (with a little loop) or keep in their pocket.  Next time I am going to be sure to put down some newspaper first!

~ Snack Time ~

Pink Amaryllis Cupcakes

Using this Lily Mold with Pink and Yellow Candy Melts, I made some Pink (the color for this virtue) Amaryllis Flowers (the flower for this virtue).  Have I mentioned how much I love candy molds! ;)

Pink Cupcakes using a Strawberry Cake Mix. . .
I kept it quick and simple since we had overnight company and I didn't want to spend all morning in the kitchen.

The girls always enjoy decorating their cupcakes during Little Flowers!

I completely forgot about a suggestion from a friend to place a bowl of M&M's in the middle of the table during the meeting - and having the girls practice self-control in not touching the M&M's during the meeting and then only taking a few afterwards. . . Next time!

~ Group Photo ~

It was so nice to have all the girls at the meeting.
We are sure going to miss you, "Branch" and "Blossom!"

St. Felicity and her seven sons, help us to be prudent in all that we know and to practice self-control.

St. Therese, the Little Flower, pray for us! 

Monday, March 28, 2011

Catholic Easter Basket Ideas

UPDATE: You can find a new post with 100+ Easter Basket Stuffers & Catholic Gift Ideas here

Over the weekend, I planned out our children's Easter Baskets for this year. While I was at it, I decided to share the following list of ideas - some for this year and others that we have used in the past - tying in our beautiful Catholic faith and the true meaning of Easter. 

.: Picture Books :.

Just like on the feast of St. Nicholas, when we give our children each an Advent/Christmas themed book, we have always given our children a new book on Easter.   Over the years we have built a wonderful collection of Picture Books for Easter!

Here are the new picture books I have ordered for this year's Easter Baskets:

Also, now that my boys are getting a little older (and since the UPS man didn't arrive until 8pm on Rascal's Birthday) I decided to give them each a new chapter books, Lost in Peter's Tomb and Break-In at the Basilica.  This looks like such a great series, and I am excited to give them to the boys.

.: Coloring Books and/or Art Supplies :.

I think Easter Baskets are a great place to include a few new coloring books and art supplies!  There are so many wonderful Catholic Coloring Books to choose from, and you could even make your own with coloring pages that are available online.  Here are a few of our favorite printed coloring books:

The Holy Imitation Series :: Life of Jesus, Mother of GodHoly Name of Jesus, Eucharistic Adoration, and The Rosary.

Catholic Story Coloring Books :: All these coloring books include beautiful stories by Mary Fabyan Windeatt.

Catholic Mosaic Coloring Book :: I am sure most of you already own a copy of Fenestrae Fidei: A Coloring Companion for Catholic Mosaic, but if not, you really should consider adding it to your collection.  I love that the illustrator and publisher gives permission for copies to be made for family use!

Easter Egg Coloring Books :: Artful Eggs from Around the World Stained Glass Coloring Book and Intricate Eggs both look like lots of fun!  (My boys also love the Cathedral Stained Glass Coloring Book.)

Art Supplies ::  I have been slowly adding to our supply of quality art supplies.   The Stockmar Modeling Beeswax that I purchased for the Alphabet Path was expensive, but it has inspired so much creativity in our children!   They still use it on a weekly basis.

This year I ordered a cute little set of Crayon Rocks in a Cotton Muslin Bag for Snuggles.  I think he is going to love them! 

.: Catholic and/or Easter Stickers :.

Another question I receive often, is where do I purchase our Catholic Stickers...   I don't think I have ever answered that here, so this is the perfect opportunity!  Here are some great sources online:

Trademark Stationary :: These traditional and inspiring stickers are my favorite!

RosaryCard.Net ::  Here you will also find a great assortment of Catholic Stickers, in addition to free shipping!

Autom ::  Although you have to puchase these in bulk, Autom has a great variety to choose from.  Including all the stickers that can also be found (occasionally) at the Dollar Store.  It wouldn't be hard to find a few friends to split an order with!

Amazon ::  I love so many of the little Dover  Sticker Book, and so do my children.   I ordered a number of the religious themed sticker books to put in this year's Easter Baskets including Angels in Art, Shiny Crosses, Celtic Crosses, and Littlest Angel Stickers.  All of these qualify for Amazon's 4-for-3 promotion!

I also ordered (and LOVE) some of the old-fashioned Easter Stickers including Old-Time Bunny Rabbit StickersGlitter Old-Time Easter StickersOld-Time Easter Stickers, and Old-Time Easter Animals Stickers.

.: Easter Candy :.

We don't generally put a whole lot of candy in our children's Easter Baskets - they usually end up with plenty from their Easter Egg Hunt.  I do like putting in a Chocolate Cross each year and sometimes (when I can find them) the little Lindt Chocolate Lambs.

This year I am planning on making my own candy to include in the baskets.   I already have the mold to make Easter Lily Lollipops and I also decided to order a larger cross mold (I currently only have this small cross and bible molds).  Amazon has quite a few Cross Candy Molds to choose from, but I ended up choosing this one and this one.  I am also thinking about ordering a lamb mold as well, although the nativity mold I already have would work just fine, if I am not able to find the Lindt Lambs this year.

.: Patron Saints :.

To tie in each of my Children's Patron Saints, I have decided to include a Hand-Painted Wooden Saint for each of them.   Inspired, back in 2008, by the Wee Felt Saints used in the Alphabet Path, I decided to paint our own Alphabet of Saints.   My children just love these little dolls and really enjoy playing with them!   Along the way I have added a few others to our collection and this past year I painted a couple larger saints for Rose's first birthday.  I have purchased/been given a few saints that I will put in the baskets this year, in addition to painting a couple more myself.   I have found Woodworks LTD to be a great place to purchase the little wood people and wooden toy parts.

I am often asked whether or not I would be willing to sell any of my little saints.   You all are so sweet, but, to be honest, I think you'd be much happier with the darling dolls from Catholic Folk Toys, St. Luke's Brush, or St. Anne's Pixies - these (real) artists are able to add so much lovely detail to their dolls, unlike myself.   If I ever find the time to paint some (very plain and simple) extras, I will let you know!

Another option would be to make your children darling Saint Dolls using Amy's Crochet Saint Patterns or Charlotte's Saints 'N Stiches.   Or you could always order the cute little Saint Softies from Saintly Silver.

.: Religious Medals, Scapulars and Rosaries :.

Often I will tuck in a new medal, rosary, or scapular into a little easter egg.   I've been noticing that all of my children's scaplars have pretty much fallen apart this past year, so we will be including a new brown scapular in each of their baskets.

.: Holy Cards and Games :.

Various Holy Cards, Holy Traders, Vessels & Vestments, and other Small Catholic games would be great additions to Easter Baskets.   I am thinking of making each a couple new card games for my children, like our Saint Joseph Memory Match Playing Cards.  

.: Toys :.

We usually include one small toy in each of the baskets.   This year, for the girls, I picked up the Calico Critter Lambrook Sheep Family and the matching baby twins.    (Any of the Rabbit families would be cute too!)  I am still trying to decide on something for the boys.  :)

I hope you are all having a blessed and fruitful Lent!