Friday, July 31, 2009

Family Night: Team!

One of my goals over this summer was to put together and implement some kind of chore system around here! I've spent a lot of time thinking and praying through this and my Mom suggested presenting it as a family night, this is what we did!

First, I set up the table - I'll share what I did to set up as we go, I think it will make more sense!

Then, I rang the dinner bell indicating dinner was ready and it was time to come to the table. However, when everyone got to the table, they found that dinner was unusual! I planned to make pizza - but put one ingredient at each plate. Daddy got the dough for the crust, I had the sauce, etc...

This was a perfect opportunity to begin our evening by explaining that we each had part of what we needed for dinner - but we needed to work together to make it happen and each use our ingredient!

While we made the pizza together, we talked about what team is. I simplified it very much by just saying it is a group of people who work together on something. Our family is a team. We talked about other kinds of teams - baseball, Emily's ballet class, etc...

Next, we popped the pizza in the oven and proceeded while it was baking. I said something like this, "There is a Bible story about working together - do you want to hear it?"

There was a man named Nehemiah. He had heard that the walls of Jerusalem were all broken down. See? Just like this city on our table.

Walls were very important around a city in those days because they helped keep the people who lived there safe.

Nehemiah asked the king if he could go to Jerusalem and help fix the walls and the king said yes.

It was very hard work, because some people didn't want them to fix the wall. But, they asked God for help and they worked together.

And, do you know what? They finished fixing the wall - because they asked God for help and then worked together as a team!

Let's rebuild this wall right here! Daddy reminded us that each person repaired the part right in front of them, so that is what we did.

Next, we rebuilt the "walls" of our city! And, then put some puzzles together. I passed out a few pieces to each person and said again that each of us does not have all the pieces, we have to work together to complete it.

We worked puzzles until our food was ready. If you have older children - you could do a three-legged race, obstacle course or other kind of game to demonstrate working together.

Next, I introduced our new chore charts. I had seen this idea in an organizing magazine at my Mom's house and I liked how child-friendly it was in terms of using it for non-readers.

So, I made charts for each girl (Samuel's will come later!) and mounted them on the wall in the kitchen. I made a set of photos of the chores and glued them to popsicle sticks. They were so excited, they wanted me to assign chores that night! So, we did and got a lot done!

Each day when they are finished with their chores, they get a happy face in their chart and this has been motivational to them to achieve the happy face on their chart.

I'll post next week about how to make the charts and what chores I included.

Of course, the first team we want to be on is God's - and after that family is our next team! How do you work together as a family?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Peach Butter

As I mentioned yesterday, we were given some wonderful peaches! I froze about half and decided to try peach butter with the other half. I used my apple butter recipe with a couple of modifications - yum!

Peel, remove pits and dice about 8-10 lbs. peaches (about 8 cups). Place the diced peaches in a bowl of water (maybe 3 or 4 cups).

Remove water and bring to a boil in a dutch oven.

Add peaches and simmer/boil for 40 minutes. Peaches will cook down and get juicier.

Remove 2 c. liquid from pot - I did this because the peaches seemed like there was way too much juice in them. It proved to be a very good choice to remove all this extra liquid. But, don't throw it out!

Puree remaining peaches/juice until smooth. I used a food processor.

Return to pan and add 2 tsp. cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. cloves, 1 c. white sugar and 1 c. brown sugar.

Let the peaches simmer a bit on a low temp - use the plate test to determine if it has cooked long enough. The plate test is where you take a cold or room temp plate. Spoon out a small amount of hot peach butter onto the middle of the plate. Hold plate at an angle and if you can see juice separate as shown here - you need to cook it longer. When it is ready - the juice will not separate.
Spoon into canning jars and process in a water bath canner for ten minutes. Mine made six half-pint jars of peach butter and I also canned the juice I'd removed earlier which made two half-pint jars. I'll use this in a future recipe!

So far, I've enjoyed this on biscuits and spread on my waffles with some toasted walnuts! Yummy!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Peach Milkshakes!

We were given half of a bushel of yummy peaches recently and I decided to make milkshakes one night. David said this reminded him of a famous peach shake he used to get in college, except this one was better! (how sweet)

Here's what I did:

In blender - scoop about 2 cups of vanilla ice cream. Pour in 1/3-1/2 c. milk. Add one peach: peeled, pit removed and diced. Next add about 3 Tbsp. sugar. Blend until smooth!


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Make your own paper food trays!

As promised, here are the directions for the paper food trays I made for Rachel's Ellie party. What started this is I wanted to serve dinner in these to make it seem more carnival-like and I found that I only had two.

So, I took one apart and used it as a template to make more. Now, you can too!

Cut a rectangle that measures 6" x 8" from scrapbook paper.

Cut the corners at an angle. Your cut should measure 1 1/2 inches.

Now, make slits at the corners, these cuts should be 1 3/4 inches long.
Cut on the short edge as shown.

Crease the sides to create a "boat" effect - as shown.

Fold at each slit you made to create a flap - as shown.

Flatten creases and lay your paper flat again.

Cut a piece of contact paper to fit over both sides of your paper and peel off paper backing.

Press one side of your paper smoothly onto contact paper. Fold over and repeat for the other side, now both sides are "laminated."

Trim edges of contact paper to match the scrapbook cut out. Cut slits through contact paper in the same places you originally cut them.

Re-fold on all creased lines.

Seal flaps with a dab of hot glue. Use a clothespin to hold in place until cool if necessary.


Monday, July 27, 2009

Rooting Hydrangeas

Hydrangeas are one of my very favorite flowers! And, I love how well they grow in my yard! And, about a year ago - a neighbor showed me how to root my own from plants I already have to grow more!

I did exactly as she said and all of my hydrangea starts have new growth, so I hope that means they are going to produce happy and healthy new plants!

First, cut a section from your existing plant that does not have a bloom on it. Choose a stem with three pairs of leaves:

Strip the lowest pair of leaves off:

Now, cut the lowest remaining pair of leaves in half:

Dip the stem in water:

Dip the stem in rooting hormone:


Water! Hydrangeas love water - so plant these somewhere handy so you will remember to water them frequently! Based on where you live, you will decide whether to plant them in sun or shade. Lots of things I have read or seen say to plant hydrangeas in full sun - but where I live, they do best in the shade.

Here are my plants after two weeks:

Enjoy all those lovely hydrangeas!

Shop Update

Shop Update scheduled for tomorrow morning at 9 am!
It is not as full as usual - but I wanted to do a mini update rather than nothing!
And, you will notice this batch has a vintage feel! Enjoy!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Ellie Party: the breakdown

Angie requested that I share how much creating the Ellie party was. It is amazing how much birthday you can do for a little bit!

I know that I am in the dark completely about how much people spend on birthdays - let's see how I did this time around:

* Invitations: scrapbook paper and elephant tags/cutouts: $4.00
* Crepe paper to create circus tent: $2
* Paper lanterns: $2
* Skirts: 3 yards fabric at $5/yard minus $10 coupon = $5; I also bought some elastic for less than $2 so we'll go with $7 on this for all five skirts. I already had the popcorn boxes that I gave these in and they were a gift - so we'll call that free.
* Gift: denim skirt: $1/Wal-Mart clearance and tank: $1/Wal-Mart clearance; play cash register: $4 from Goodwill (still in Target packaging); Emily made a pillowcase from leftover fabric listed above - no additional costs
* Paper Trays: $1 (scrapbook paper)
* Cotton Candy: $1.50 each x 6 = $9
* Food for dinner: corndogs, peanuts for game, etc... about $5
* Table decor: all free
* Music: free
* Felt and craft foam for games: $3 (or less)
* Cake: one box cake mix - less than $1, homemade icing: $1 or so

Total spent: $41.00

Not bad considering it included special favors of skirts and cotton candy and the gifts for the birthday girl! What do you think - is that high or did I do ok?

Oh, and she asked about when I started planning this party. On our road trip to my Dad's marathon - my aunt took a driving shift and I sat down with my notebook and just started brainstorming. So, I guess it has been about four or five weeks that I've been working on pulling this together.

Do you have a set birthday budget? How do you decide what theme to go with? Thanks so much for all the sweet comments yesterday! Have a great weekend!

Family Night: Camping In

The little ladies have been talking quite a bit about camping lately and when David suggested a camping theme for Family Night - it was fun to run with it and come up with this fun evening!

We made a big tent in the living room out of a sheet and blanket over all our dining room chairs. We toasted hotdogs over a fire which the girls helped collect the wood for!

Dinner was yummy and then we toasted marshmallows and made s'mores! We sang songs and told stories as in around the campfire. Then, we moved the tent into the ladies room and let them camp out over night!

It was such a fun evening!

PS: Check out my friend, Megan's, great indoor camping night as well!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Ellie the Elephant Party

Rachel's favorite thing is her pink elephant named Ellie! She has been talking about having an Ellie party for her birthday for over six months. So, I've been thinking creatively about making this a special party for her honoring her love of one special pink elephant!

The invitations were made out of pink scrapbook paper. I cut out a circus tent from plain white printer paper and used a glue stick to attach. The little pink elephant tags and cut outs were inexpensive finds on Etsy.

Inside, I wrote a little poem:

And, included a ticket to the birthday circus!

I made little skirts for each of the girls using this tutorial (the measurements I used for Emily and another girl her age are: 11 x 30 and 7 x 36) for their favors. But, we passed them out in advance so they could wear them to the party!

Favors are always a challenge, because I don't want to add to junk ending up in the bottom of the toybox! My little ladies love to wear skirts and these were inexpensive to make (with a coupon code from plus will be practical and hopefully fun for the girls.

Packed in a little popcorn box, to fit the theme!

I contacted one of our local grocery stores about ordering some cotton candy - they were able to do so and this was such a fun addition to our party!

We started our party by taking each guest's picture with the Birthday girl - this will be for our craft later in the party! Here are the cutie girls in their "Ellie" skirts!

Next, it was time for dinner! Corn dogs and french fries served in homemade paper trays were perfect for a circus theme! Details on the paper trays will follow soon!

We played pin the tail on the elephant, had a peanut relay and tried to push the peanuts with our "trunks" - sorry, not many pictures of this - it was a circus here! :)

Next, we made felt elephant picture frame magnets! I got this idea from a Martha Stewart craft kit I saw at Wal-Mart. I didn't buy it, but studied it and made up this craft as an adaptation. We glued on an eye, the ear and painted toes on with nail polish! I glued magnets to the back before the girls came:

ate yummy pink elephant cake:

and opened gifts (love the pink elephant paper I found at our local CVS!):

She got some adorable elephant gifts including this, this, this and this, plus some adorable Ellie jammies (yes, they fit!) Emily also helped me make a pillowcase from leftover circus fabric which she gave her - it was fun to do together and a meaningful gift! I loved seeing her handwriting on the package:

We also had fun swimming during the morning at a friends house and I took Rachel out for lunch of her choice: Chick-Fil-A!

Let's see - other details ... oh, David found some circus music on line that he put on a cd and we played during the party! Decorations were simple streamers to look like a circus tent and two paper lanterns made into pink elephants ($1/Michael's):

On the table, I used a piece of circus fabric (free! rescued from the back of a baby blanket - thanks, Aunt Carrie!), Ellie herself and several white ivory elephants from Africa. David's aunt and uncle used to live there and graciously loaned these!

Cute elephant straws!
Do you remember a favorite birthday party from your childhood? I'd love to hear about it! And, I hope my girls will remember their birthdays as being special and memorable!