Monday, March 26, 2012

Blooming Crocus Cupcakes

Last week was so unseasonably warm here in Maine that my garden started waking up! But even before the snow melted away and it started to feel like spring, I was ready for blossoms. I decided to plant some in my kitchen!

These cupcake toppers are shaped like crocuses (or is that "croci"?) in the purple, lavender, and yellow that appear in my garden. I created them in a size that can be punched out with a circle or other shape craft punch (around 2 inches would work well), or you can cut around them as I have to make them really look like flowers.

You'll need card stock to print on, scissors or craft punches, tape, and some lollipop sticks for "stems." I used 8-inch lollipop sticks (available at craft stores) and then cut each one into two pieces varying from 3 to 5 inches. Once you've printed out the PDF file and cut (or punched) out your flowers, use a small piece of tape to attach each flower to a stem. Then "plant" one in each cupcake. 
Next time I think I'll paint each stick with green food coloring to make them look more like stems. These would also look pretty "planted" in a garden sheet cake or layer cake. 

Click here to download a PDF of these crocus printables. (For personal use only, please.) 

Find more spring projects at our Printables and Projects page.

Happy Spring!

Friday, March 23, 2012

"May the odds be ever in your favor" favors

If you don't have tween or teenaged kids, you may not have heard about The Hunger Games until just recently. Of course the movie opens today and everyone seems to be talking about it. We're pretty excited about it in my family; even my husband raves about this Suzanne Collins book and the other two in the series. (If you haven't read them, they are surprisingly dark for "kids" books which feels to me like they are aimed at a more mature reader.)

My daughter was invited to a friend's birthday party today and they're seeing this movie. I thought it would be fun to make some favors to match the theme. (I jokingly called these "May the odds be ever in your favor" favors.) 

I made a sketch of the mockingjay pin design on the cover and went from there. My daughter liked the idea of making the pin in silver and black instead of gold, but we kept the gold in the lip balm caps and the metallic gold bows. 

We chose Hot Chocolate flavor because of the treat Katniss and Peeta shared on the train. I found this free Hunger Games font that looks pretty close to the one used on the book jacket. 

I couldn't resist making a gold pin, just to see what it looked like. I'm kinda in love with these black jars, too.

The rest of us will be seeing The Hunger Games soon, and I'll be interested to see how close it is to the book. It's sometimes hard to see a book that you love turned into a movie (especially when famous actors are playing the characters you've seen in your head!). 

Did you read The Hunger Games? Are you seeing the film today? Let me know what you think!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Share what you know

At the beginning of the year I made a plan to simplify, including a personal reminder to make more time for my family. I really enjoyed taking snow days in January and visiting the spring lambs at a local farm earlier this month.

Yesterday I wrapped up a marathon crafty girls weekend with my daughter, Bronwyn. She's 13 and really wanted to make a gift for her friend's birthday. They are avid collectors of American Girl dolls and accessories, and Bronwyn thought it would be fun to make some clothes for her friend's doll.

I was about Bronwyn's age when my dad (yes, you read that correctly) taught me how to sew. I had taken a class at school, but when my parents gave me my own sewing machine, I really needed help to learn how to use it. I remember how patient my dad was when helping me to cut out the pattern pieces and assemble my first project. I'm sure I wasn't as patient with Bronwyn, but we had a great time picking out the fabric, choosing the lace and ribbons, and listening to hours of '80s tunes!

Bronwyn discovered some patterns for Josefina available online (if you're familiar with American Girl dolls, you'll know Josefina as the New Mexican girl from 1824). We downloaded the patterns to make a skirt and camisa, a dress, and a night shift. Bronwyn even created her own pattern to make Josefina's doll!

I'm including a few pictures of some of the projects we finished. I helped with some of the pressing and assembly, but she did a lot of the sewing and she made all of the design decisions! I think she did a great job. (What do you think?)

When I'm learning something new I rarely think ahead to the number of years I'll be using that skill. I don't consider whether it will become a hobby, or figure how much enjoyment I'll get from it. But when I was teaching Bronwyn about sewing this weekend, I thought about all of those things. I hope that she'll enjoy sewing as much as I have. (And in case I never thanked you properly: thanks, Dad.)

 Are you crafty? Who were your best teachers? Do you pass along what you know? 

Friday, March 16, 2012

Greentini for St. Patrick's Day

Do you have your St. Patrick's Day menu planned? Along with that corned beef and cabbage, you need the perfect drink. And if you're not a Guinness fan, perhaps this sweet green cocktail is just the treat.

To make your own Greentini, combine 2 ounces vodka and 1 1/2 ounces melon liqueur (like Midori), shake with ice, and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with lime and enjoy. 

What's your favorite St. Patrick's Day beverage? 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Kiva 31

Yesterday I made my 31st loan at Kiva! (Well, my 29th, 30th and 31st!)

This time I participated in loans to women in Kenya, Ecuador, and Colombia. All of them have retail businesses, with one selling paper and another offering cloth and dressmaking supplies.

If you haven't heard of them, you can learn more about Kiva here. I've also blogged about Kiva a couple of times. Oh, and here's another. What is amazing about this (I know, I've said it before) is that as the loans are repaid, you can lend that money over and over again. I get to help people through micro loans in countries all over the world. And then help some more.

According to Kiva, I've lent (and re-lent) a total of $800 in the past few years. Even my tiny business and modest donations add up! Do you want to get involved? For a limited time, Kiva is giving away free trials. Click here to get started. And then come back and leave a comment so we can all find out who you helped!

Monday, March 05, 2012

Featured in Parenting New Hampshire

I was really excited to see some of our St. Patrick's Day goodies featured in this month's issue of Parenting New Hampshire! If you can't pick up a copy in person, check out the digital version online. We're on page 10— the Hot Mama feature compiled by Shannon Spiliotis!

(Bonus: look at the top right of that page to see Flopagrams! We recently featured their better-than-a-gift-basket pampering gifts right here. So excited to see their unique gifts featured, too!)

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Spring Lambs

Today our CSA farm had an Open House for members and we got to meet their 101 new lambs. (We even got to hold one...squee!) I had to share some of these photos with you because they were simply adorable. It makes me think spring and that makes me happy! Enjoy!

Maybe I can take one home?

Thursday, March 01, 2012

This is not a Recipe for Taco Salad

This is not a recipe.

It takes five minutes to prepare and doesn't need to be cooked, so it doesn't count as a recipe, right?

This is my favorite thing to eat, probably because it takes five minutes to prepare and doesn't need to be cooked. Ooh, and possibly also because it's an everyday alternative to the nachos I would love to be eating if I could handle that big plate of chips with loads of greasy cheese and sour cream on a daily basis.

Here's what goes into my favorite non-recipe:

Start with a handful of tortilla chips. This is a great way to use up the little bits that no one wants to make nachos with.

Cover with about 1/4 cup of black beans or vegetarian refried beans.

Add a sprinkle of cheese. We're not talking about loading it here, think of the cheese as a condiment. Use Monterey Jack or whatever you like best. You can microwave at this point if you want, but you don't have to. (See how that works? No cooking unless you want to!)

Next you want a HUGE handful (or two, or three) of greens. I use the mixed greens with baby spinach included. This is what the word "salad" is referring to, so be generous with the greens!

Follow that with salsa. Again, be generous! This is tomatoes, onions, garlic, peppers, chilies...more veggies! Didn't your mom tell you to eat your vegetables??

Next I slice on a couple of black olives because YUM. And also, they're a good source of monounsaturated fat as well as vitamin E (who knew?).

Finish up with a dollop of low fat or fat free plain yogurt. Stir it all around and enjoy.

Optional: guacamole is awesome with this. I also like adding quinoa with spices.

What do you like eating in your taco salad?


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