Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Good Shepherd's Garden Party :: Week Three

The Heavens Tell God's Glory!

As spring from winter does succeed, and leaves the naked trees do dress:
The earth, once dead, is clothed in green, in sunshine each their joy express.
My sun's returned with healing wings, my soul and body do rejoice.
My heart exults and praises sings to God who hears my joyous voice.

~ The Garden of the Good Shepherd

There must be something about this third week of Easter... Once again, just like last year, we had crazy weather this past week!  Sunshine, Clouds, Rain, a Rainbow, and an intense storm last Monday that brought strong Winds, Hail, Thunder and Lightning - we had one of those lightning bolts actually strike one of the trees on the mountain behind our home, lighting it on fire!  On Tuesday the kids told me there was a fire helicopter with a bucket flying over our home... I heard it, but didn't look outside, telling them that it wasn't fire season yet, and they are probably just getting ready.  I was wrong!   A neighbor passing by let my husband know about the "big tree on fire" behind our home.  It's too early to be worrying about forest fires!

Speaking of fires, we were very blessed that the fire in our own "backyard" this past Tuesday wasn't serious, but Elizabeth's sister-in-law and her family (another family with seven children) could really use your prayers.   In a matter of minutes, this homeschooling family lost their home and all of their belongings to another fire.   You can read more here.  Please remember them in your prayers!

Today we are back to some nice, mild, sunny, spring weather.  The kids are all playing outside after our yummy meal based on "The Heaven's Tell Gods Glory."  I love finding new ways to change our original menu, and this week we used the rainbow fruit platter from last year, but everything else was new, trying to create a Sunday Brunch.

Twinkle Toes set the table with our "Heavenly" tablecloth, covered with angels and roses, and Chiquita added a few play silks like every year. . . Here are a few pictures from our party:                 

~ The Sun ~

There are lots of ways to tie in the "Sun" to a brunch - Orange Halves, Sunny D, Eggs - sunny side up or down! - and even mini quiches would be great.   I ended up using our favorite Frittata recipe, renaming it Sunshine Frittata!  I layered the veggies - zucchini on the bottom, then the Sweet Potatoes, and topping it with some slices of orange and yellow bell peppers - to create a Sun!   Originally I didn't bake it long enough - trying to do too many things at once - but after I popped it back in the pan for a few more minutes and it was delicious.  

~ The Clouds ~

While I was making the Frittata and Pastries, Hubby made pancakes and turkey bacon, an idea shared by Angie for the Clouds and Lightning. 

~ The Rain ~

For the rain we had some After the Rain Mud Puddles... Hot Cocoa! 

~ The Lightning ~

Since I had an extra sheet of puff pastry from our Pinwheels (see below) I decided to make theseSugar & S pice Pastry Straws, baking some of them as additional Lightning Bolts.

~ The Wind ~

The much-loved Bugles mini Tornadoes from last year really didn't go with the rest of the meal, so I decided to make Windy Day Pinwheels  (aka: Cherry Pinwheel Pastries).   

I used this recipe as a guide, substituting cherry jam for the apricot, and egg wash and icing for the cinnamon and sugar.  These were really fun to make and turned out great.   

~ The Rainbow ~

I love Rainbow Fruit Platters!   I just think they look so pretty.  This year, fresh blueberries were too expensive so I opted for some more grapes.   

~ The Hail ~

Mini Marshmallows worked perfect to represent "Hail" and top the cocoa.  

I was amazed that even with all the Eggs, Veggies, Bacon, Pancakes, Pastries, Fruit and Cocoa, we hardly had any leftovers.   Everyone really enjoyed our Brunch!   

I'm looking forward to seeing everyone else's Garden Parties over at Catholic Cuisine.

Friday, April 27, 2012

{this moment}

{this moment} - A single photo, capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. To see more visit Soule Mama

Thursday, April 26, 2012

{pretty, happy, funny, real}

~ Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life. ~


This was one of my favorite pictures of my pretty girl, taken during her Early American Pioneer Party, on her birthday. 


Our boys were very happy and excited to dress up for their sister's birthday party.   Especially when they got to wear their Daddy's old cowboy hats from his Rodeo Days.  


I know I already posted this picture a couple days ago, but take a closer look at it...  
Notice anything that doesn't belong? 

Now?  If not, don't feel bad, I sure didn't... 
I was focused on the birthday girl, not that mischievous little 2 year old of ours.

It took me a few hours, and quite a few pictures, to finally find that missing nursing pad I had lost that afternoon when feeding the baby!  She refused to give it back, shoving it further down her shirt.

That little one of ours always loves "her" accessories!


Too much fun for this little cowboy, who rarely naps anymore.  
He sure looked cute passed out on the couch! 

Visit Like Mother, Like Daughter for more pictures of contentment

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Happy Birthday To You! {A Dr. Seuss Thing 2 Birthday Party}

My sweet little niece turned 2 on Good Friday, and we had so much fun at her Dr. Seuss Thing 2 themed birthday party on Holy Saturday.   It was perfect timing for us, since the kids were all over being sick and Hubby (who is also godfather to the birthday girl) arrived home just before midnight on Good Friday.

This precious little girl has been blessed with some truly amazing parents.  It's been a hard couple years for them, as they continually deal with surgeries and health challenges for this little cutie.  There is still so much unknown - since there isn't a documented case of the challenges my niece faces - and my niece is still a tiny little Thing 2, but she has made so much progress this past year.    I am so very proud of both my brother and his wife!

My sister-in-law managed to escape my camera, but I did get a picture of my brother Thing Dad.   Apparently he decorated his own shirt for the party.   I was impressed!  Good job Brian!!

My sister-in-law had the cutest decorations for the party. Everything was so pretty... and delish!

One Fish, Two Fish... How about some GOLD FISH?

On the Menu: 

Sneetches Peaches (Peach Tea)
Mulberry Street Frankfruiters (Fruit)
Zi-za-ma-wizzers wizzles (Salad)
Truffela Pie (Pizza)

 I especially loved the pasta and fruit salad in the covered glass jars, to keep the bugs out.  I already purchased a couple to use in the future!  

And check this out!    I've seen where some fences are painted with chalkboard paint, but I really loved that these could be taken down, and they looked so cute hanging from rope.   It makes me want to build a fence, just so I can create a fun collage of chalkboards like this in our yard...  

... and our kids thought that the Giant Chalk Pencil with Eraser was just about the coolest thing ever. 

The Red Velvet Cake was amazingly delicious.  Yes, I had a small piece - along with some more dairy on Easter - and paid for it with a cranky baby for a few days.   (He does seem to be getting a little better though!)  Actually it was the first time I'd ever had Red Velvet Cake!  I'm sure that since our Costco makes this cake, it won't be the last...

As for the Thing Hair... Rose wasn't sure what to think. She just had this dazed and confused look... "Blink, Rose, blink!"

And our silly little Snuggles figured if he couldn't see anyone, they couldn't see him either!

Oh, and the the birthday girl is a pro at pinatas!  She picked the correct ribbon on the very first try!

We all had such a wonderful time.  My kids are so happy that they have one cousin that lives close enough to visit.   It's been years since they have seen (or even met!) their nine other cousins.

Today you are You, that is truer than true.
There is no one alive who is Youer than You.
― Dr. Seuss, Happy Birthday to You!

Wordless Wednesday

(Bud's not the only one that has been enjoying his "new" toy.) 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

An Early American Pioneer Birthday

This past Friday our little Chiquita turned 7 years old!   The day didn't start out as I had hoped, and we ended up spending the first half of the day at doctor's offices, then ran a few errands while we were in town, but we arrived home after lunch and thoroughly enjoyed the rest of the beautiful sunny day!

Chiquita had asked for a Kirsten themed Pioneer Birthday, inspired by their Early American History Lap Books and Unit Studies this year!   I didn't get to all the ideas/plans I had come up with for our little family party (I'll save the others for another time, especially since Twinkle Toes is hoping for a "Little House on the Prairie Party), but despite my lack of organization everything fell into place.

I just love how my children do their best to dress up for some of our various themed parties! The girls found their longest prairie skirts, bonnets, and had me braid their hair (just like Kirsten's for the birthday girl), and the boys put on long sleeved shirts, with vests, and their Daddy's old Rodeo hats!

.: A Friendship Quilt :.

"When they laid them together on the grass, the squares made a lively pattern of blues, reds, greens, browns and white."  Happy Birthday, Kirsten!

Decorating Friendship Quilt Cookies

I wanted to try and find a way to tie in the quilt that Kirsten and her friends made in the book Happy Birthday, Kirsten!  As much as I would love to be able to sew a real quilt, I am not at all talented when it comes to sewing.   Someday I would love to take some more classes...  maybe when my girls are a little older we can do so together.

Instead, I made some square sugar cookies and frosted them white.   I had each of the children decorate their own square with decorator icing and candies. We placed them together on a tray to form a friendship quilt!

The kids enjoyed this so much, they just kept asking to decorate "just one more!"   I removed the quick "sample" Happy Birthday Square I decorated to make room for Captain's 2nd cookie...

Top row:  Tree by Snuggles, Chalkboard by Captain, Embroidered Heart by Twinkle Toes
Middle row: Mountains by Captain, Little House by Twinkle Toes, Snowy Path by Rascal
Bottom row:  Flowers and Butterflies by Chiquita, Daisy by Chiquita, Tree by Rascal

... but the "Quilt Squares" just kept coming so I started making a second quilt.   It looks like I forgot to take a picture of that second quilt completed, but I did get one of the finished cookies on the cookie rack:

From left to right - top row:  Chiquita, Twinkle Toes, Chiquita, Twinkle Toes
Bottom row: Twinkle Toes, Rascal, Rascal, Captain

.: Frontier Fun :.

"Kirsten thought about picking wildflowers and playing games."  Happy Birthday, Kirsten!

Kirsten played games that featured things she saw around her farm every day-baskets, barn cats, and honey pots.  The American Girl's Party Book

We choose a few fun, old-fashioned, game ideas from The American Girl's Party Book.   Puss in the Corner was definitely the favorite.

Puss in the Corner
(This has become a new favorite game around here.  They were having SO much fun!)

To play, you'll need 5 players.  Four people, with one person at each corner.  The fifth person stands in the middle.   She is Puss- she wants a corner too! The object of the game is to change places without letting Puss get a corner.  When Puss yells "Change!" all the players scramble to change corners.  As they change, Puss tries to run to an empty corner.  Whoever is left without a corner becomes Puss.

I Have a Basket

All the players stand in a circle.  The first player begins the game by saying, "I have a basket." The player besides her asks, "What's inside?" The first player names something that starts with the letter A.  the second player then names something that starts with B, and so on.  If a player can't think of an object, she sits down.  The last player standing is the winner. 

Here I Bake, Here I Brew

All the players but one join hands to form a circle. That player is held prisoner in the middle.  She touches a pair of joined hands in the circle and says, "Here I bake." Then she touches another pair of hands and says, "Here I brew." Suddenly she tries to force her way out of the circle at another spot as she says, "Here I mean to break through!" If she succeeds, she picks a new player to be the prisoner. 

An Egg Basket Pinata

I purchased this Pinata for a couple dollars after Easter a few years ago...   We filled it with some old-fashioned candies and peppermints.

.: Daisy Chains :. 

"Pick as many daisies as you can!" Anna told everyone.  "We're going to make daisy chains."  ~ Happy Birthday, Kirsten!

This past week Michaels had all of their American Girl Crafts 50% off!  So, on our way home from taking the baby to see the doctor we picked up this fun little craft kit.   The girls needed a little bit of help, but were mostly able to make their bracelets on their own.  

.: Kirsten's Birthday Cake :. 

"Mama was already coming from the kitchen, carrying a heart-shaped cake." ~ Happy Birthday, Kirsten!

After a yummy dinner of Roasted Chicken, Baked Beans, Potato Salad, Garden Salad, and Lemonade, it was time for cake!

I am pretty sure that this was the easiest birthday cake I have ever made, and it still tied in perfectly with our theme!   It was inspired by Kirsten's party treats and the picture of her birthday cake, in Happy Birthday, Kirsten!

Chiquita choose a Gluten-Free Applesauce Cake Recipe, and I baked it in a 12" Heart Shaped Cake Pan.   After it had cooled we just surrounded it with Strawberries and served it with some Fresh Cream!   For Ice Cream she choose Old Fashioned Vanilla and Rocky (Prairie) Road.

.: Birthday Gifts :.

"Where there's a will, there's always a way." ~ Happy Birthday, Kirsten!

Despite Kirsten being discontinued a couple years ago, I was so excited to win an auction (at a fair price) for a new doll on ebay.    Her other gifts included the darling Kirsten Prairie Dress, a gray cat (purchased at Costco), and Sari (Kirsten's doll, also from ebay).

The birthday girl also used the gift from her grandparents/godparents to purchase her first and very own scooter, and received a doll sized Bonnet from her big sister!

"Happy Birthday, dear."