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Posts tagged “Holidays

Did your Little Leprechan Leave You a Pot of Gold?

Of course all my life I’ve laughed and celebrated the saying “Erin Go Baugh!” Mostly because Erin is my name, which means Ireland. And yes, of course, that is why my dad named me Erin.  The phrase means Ireland Forever!  My parents have always been immersed in Irish culture and I grew up hearing stories of our time in England and their travels around Great Britain.

I am happy to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with my kids now. They always look forward to holidays in this house. It is probably because we use it as a learning opportunity and a way to celebrate with each other.

I’ve been going out to dinner with friends for St. Patty’s day for the last few years, and so Tim and I will celebrate with our kids on the weekend. But my kids couldn’t wait. They been eagerly awaiting wearing their hair bows (well the girls!!) and will wear them to school on the holiday. 

Game Suggestion

Last friday, when they had a snow day, Emma decided to play her St. Patrick’s day game early that she came up with for the other siblings. She hand-drew a bunch of little leprechauns. Then she put M&Ms in baggies. She hide the leprechauns around the house with the baggies. She drew one little pot of gold, which she hid with $2. It was really cute seeing the kids scavenger for the leprechauns. Her 11-year-old brother probably thought he was a little too old, but they both had fun watching their 3-year-old sister hunt for the little guys and she in fact found the pot ‘o gold too! Our 7-year-old, who organized the game, has been drawing leprechauns for over a month. Each night someone gets a picture of a cute leprechaun.

Cooking for St. Patty’s Day

We’ll have maybe some kind of cabbage or mashed potatoes usually, and this year we are having Irish Chicken and Vegetable Stew, and either Lime Pie or Leprechaun Pie.

Simple Irish Stew

  • 4 cups cooked, cubed chicken breast meat
  • 2/3 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1 cup chopped onion, sautéed in butter
  • 1-1/2 cups chopped carrots
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil leaves
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1 (10 ounce) package frozen mixed vegetables, thawed
  • 3 cups cooked, diced red potatoes
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1/8 cup all-purpose flour

Combine chicken, mushrooms, onion, carrots and stock in a large saucepan over medium heat. Simmer until carrots are tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in sage, basil, garlic salt, parsley, mixed vegetables, potatoes and celery and cook until heated through. Stir in flour to thicken sauce, then you can serve. I prefer to throw it in the crock pot and let it cook all day.

History of St. Patrick’s Day

Whatever you decide to do to celebrate, don’t forget to teach your kids why we celebrate the holiday and why it is so important to the people of Ireland. Of course, there are about 34 million Americans who have Irish heritage also, which is why it is a common holiday here as well (in fact, Ireland’s population is just 4 million). St. Patrick’s day is celebrated on March 17, because that is the day that it is believed that St. Patrick died in 461 A.D.  At a young age, St. Patrick was sold into slavery to a sheep farmer. He finally escaped in his twenties and spent quite a bit of time in the monastery.  In his thirties, he returned to Ireland as a Christian missionary and is revered for his work by the Irish people. If you’d like to read more info on St. Patrick’s day, check out this link: http://holidays.kaboose.com/patrick-history.html

So, as the weather breaks, get outside and find a four-leaf clover. Each leaf means something, one for hope, one for faith, one for love, and one for luck. May the luck of the Irish be with you as you observe the Wearing ‘O the Green!!

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Love is Universal!

“The only thing we never get enough of is love; and the only thing we never give enough of is love.” ~Henry Miller

The day for LOVE, more commonly known as Valentine’s day, is upon us. I try to not look at this day as “only for lovers” but make it about sharing love with many of the people in your life that your value and hold dear.  Of course, we should do this everyday, but planning it in is always a nice way to make sure we really are showing the ones we love that we care.

Below are some images that exude romance for the one that you truly love in your life….your spouse, significant other, boyfriend/girlfriend. Let them allow you to meditate on that person and be reminded of your inner most love for them.

Possibly, you might just think of your parents, or your dear friends while taking a moment with the photos. And that’s ok too. There are many other people who we love in our lives. Love is universal and can be a language we all speak.

Love is intertwined emotion,
balanced by the sands of time,
ever increasing in meaning,
forever grasping life and soul.

Love is the reality for living,
it guides us like ebb and flow,
it is the only thing to save us
when the whole world seems to
leave us alone.

Love is the ageless friend,
always churning newness and hope,
our best assest for peace and giving,
our only real reason for living.
~by Erin Al-Mehairi, 02/11/11

 

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Crafting Valentine Cards, Gifts Made from Socks and Whoopie Pies on Martin Luther King Jr. Day!

Cover of "Whoopie Pies (Cookery)"

Cover of Whoopie Pies (Cookery)

Read about talking about MLK day with kids, making curly designed Valentines, and the recipe for Whoopie Pies below!

The kid’s had off school today for Martin Luther King, Jr. day. I love these days where we can spend more time together doing activities or baking. I explained to the kids today how although King was obviously dealing with men being equal due to the white and black issues of the day, he really was a light for all races, genders, and in essence people to see each other as all deserving of respect, love, support and he truly believed in the fact that community building is so important. MLK day serves people around the US as a way to promote community service to others. When you serve others, you truly do show that you are treating them as someone who deserves your respect and that they are your equal. We talked about this while my son baked some whoopie pies he found a recipe for (chocolate pies with pink cream in the middle–yummy) and the girls and I sat at the table doing activity crafts/art as I will detail below.

Emma, my seven-year old, had recently obtained the February issue of the American Girl magazine and it is full of ideas for crafts and projects. It had a feature on Valentine cards and making them with “curly” art. This really took me back to my childhood. I remembered my mom purchasing supplies to make artwork and cards by twirling up little pieces of paper into shapes. I loved the look of this…colorful, abstract, modern, and unique. The magazine suggested curling the paper into circles then forming a heart out of those and also curling up hearts. I took it a step further with the circles from memory, and made cute little flowers with the circles.

Valentine Curling Cards

*Card Stock
*straw
*scissors
*glue
*ruler
*any other decorations you want

We took the card stock and I folded it in half for Emma for her to make grandparent cards, but for the rest I folded it in half, then again, then cut the 4 sections it made. Then I folded each of the 4 sections into little mini cards. These were the perfect size for Addie, my 3-year-old, or for school Valentine boxes and bags.

Then I used the ruler to draw lines on other card stock colors so I could cut it into long strips.

Curling

To curl, take the straw and cut a 1″ slits across from each other on the straw hole.  Then feed a strip you cut into the slits in the straw.  Next, start winding the strip around itself. Going all the way down the strip will make a circle.  To make hearts, curl halfway down the strip, then pinch the strip where you stopped into a “v.”  Then take the strip out and feed the other end of the strip into the straw to curl.  Then curl that end up to the “v.” You can make the hearts different shapes, with one side rolled more than the other. It is fun to make them unique!

The girls took the hearts and circles and just glued them to the pieces of paper. You can have them do this very neatly, also using a Cricut for the cards, or other heart cut-outs, but my girls like to do things themselves so they just used  a heart cookie cutter to trace hearts and color and glued on the curling shapes. Addie was a Valentine’s machine busting out card after card!! Emma took more time making big sized cards for her grandparents and a cute small one for her best friend Baylee.  After baking, Nassem came over and did a few cards himself with curly hearts. Since Addie made so many, she decided we are giving many of hers to lonely residents at The Good Shepherd Home in Ashland, Ohio. We hope this cheers up their Valentine’s Day, and at the same time they are relating to the MLK community building community service talk we had at the start of  our project. Nassem’s Valentines he will also give to the home. All three decided that since there is time, they will have plenty of days to make more cards for residents.  If your younger children tend to do lots of coloring and “artwork” consider taking these periodically to local homes instead filling the landfill!

To make the flowers, I showed them how to glue on the circle curl on the card, then taking one of the green strips and cutting off some of the strip to make a stem and glue it down from the circle. Two really small pieces of the green strip glued on either side of the stem make leaves!  You can even do these in bunches to make a floral arrangement!

This is a very simple project that you can do with your kids or get them set-up to do on their own. Of course, you can embellish them even more in all the crafty ways you know, especially if you are a stamper, card maker, or scrapbooker.

Supply Holders from Socks

After making the cards, Emma and I also decided to take a cue from another section in the magazine that detailed how to make holders for your pencils, pens, scissors, etc. from old jars by putting socks over them!  Emma found some of her socks to use to make these. Regular socks, not ankle socks, work best we found out! 

With regular socks, you just put the jar into the sock with the top of the sock resting at the top of the jar. Draw a line at the bottom of the jar right underneath the bottom so you can cut that off. Take the sock off and cut around the line, which should be the foot part of the sock.  Put the top part of the sock back on the jar and arrange it as you’d like it! Adorable!

For Emma, she wanted to use ankle socks. The above doesn’t work so well with ankle socks. So, we pulled the entire sock up onto the jar and the foot rested nicely as the bottom. In this case, I needed to cut off the top of the sock. This made for a cute rocker feel to the sock (Emma loves those rocker type gloves). She made 3 for her room and they are cute.

There was also an idea to make little hats and scarfs for your American Girl and we are going to also do that next, as well as head to the dollar store to find cute socks in bright, fun colors to make supply holders for family and friends.

And if your mouth is still watering over the Whoopie Pies, with frosting tinted pink for Valentine’s Day, here is the recipe for that!

Whoopie Pies

Ingredients

For the cakes:
2 cups flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup softened butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg

For the filling:
1/2 cup softened butter
11/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 cup marshmallow creme
1 tsp vanilla
Red food coloring

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. In a glass measuring cup or small bowl, stir together the milk and vanilla extract.

In a large bowl with a hand mixer set at medium speed, beat the butter and sugar until evenly blended.  Add the egg and beat on high until smooth and creamy.  Pour half the flour mixture into the butter-sugar mixture and beat until combined.  Add the milk mixture and continue beating until just blended. Add the remaining flour mixture and beat again.

Use a cookie scoop or spoon to place a heaping tablespoon of batter on to prepared sheet.  Line them up maybe 9 on each sheet. Slightly flatten each mound with a spoon. Bake the cakes one sheet at a time for 10 minutes (don’t overcook they should be moist and spongy).  Let them cool on the sheet for about 2 minutes then carefully transfer them to a rack to cool. Reline the sheets and do all the above again.

Using an electric mixer, beat all the filling ingredients together except the coloring. If you don’t have marshmallow creme (we didn’t), adapt the recipe to add more powdered sugar and a little milk to get a frosting consistency).  Fold in drops of red food coloring last to get the desired color you’d like.

To make each pie, smooth and spread a heaping tablespoon of the filling onto the bottom of a cake and top with another.

They were SUPER yummy, you know I taste tested right away!! 🙂

If you’d like to make to give as a gift, use a plastic, clear crafting bag. Put one in the bag, then tie with a pretty pink or red ribbon, and attach a heart with a cherished message to your loved one or friend.


Don’t Shop on Black Friday? Do your Christmas Cards!

November is one of my favorite months.  It’s a special time to remember our blessings and focus on what matters most to us before all the hustle of the holiday season descends upon us. Unfortunately, it is the middle of November and many people already have their Christmas decorations up. I won’t do that. I like to observe the changing tones of Autumn and think of squirrels, acorns, and colored leaves on the ground. I want to smell like cloves and cinnamon a little while longer.

Thanksgiving vacation is a great time to get up your Christmas tree though and get a head start on the month. How many of you also spend time addressing your Christmas cards? Doing some shopping and signing your greeting cards are great tasks to check off your to-do lists so you can enjoy all the many holiday events packed into December.

My online art and photography store, Breathe Beauty Art and Photography, offers several choices of quality heavy stock Christmas cards featuring my fine art photography. Most feature something in nature or something architecturally vintage. I hope you enjoy the cards as I put them up. Check back often. I also can do the flat photo cards with either one of my photos, or your family candid, and set-up your greeting and signature for you even for free. This is a very lovely keepsake that won’t cost you a ton either.

Please e-mail me at breathebeautyartandphotography@hotmail.com or go to my www.facebook.com/breathebeautyartandphotography (must like my page) for my “Deal-a-Day” promotions.  Or go ahead to my store and view my cards and prints and choose to pay on the site by paypal or contact me for specific ideas or ordering through the e-mail above.

I am extremely thankful to God for giving me my creative gifts and I hope that you’ll put your continued trust in me for all your very special fine art photo desires. Thank you for your support!


My Recipe for Pumpkin Carving with Kids

Pumpkins are just about one of the most beautiful gourds that nature produces. They make for beautiful photos from awaiting a home while in the pumpkin patch to family photos to traditional snapshots from festive fun.  Wonderfully vibrant for Fall decorating they are also used for the  family fun tradition of carving Jack-o-lanterns. This escapade in carving scary faces or happy darlings first probably came about in 1866 in North America, citing folklore about frightening away demons on All Hallow’s Eve.   At our house we love our beautiful pumpkins so much that we wait to carve them on Halloween day or evening (well, Mom could just not get around to it too) and light them on Halloween night to scare away the ghosts. 

My Recipe for Carving Pumpkins with Children

Ingredients:

1 cup of Wow, Mom, you’re strong with a knife
1/2 cup of Ewwww, it is kinda yucky inside
1/2 cup of laughing at my fiance for not even coming near touching the stringy goop
2 cups of “but I was doing it first!” in relation to trying to scoop the guts out
1/4 cup of patience (for Mom)
A dash of excitement as we carve in the face
A smidge of brute strength to get through the rind
1 t. of smiles as the kids watch their progress in delight
1 T. of wonderment over what the seeds might taste like
1/2 t. of fun spending time with your children
3 cups of pure delight over putting candles inside after dark and watching them glow

Directions:
Carve out the top of your pumpkin and put seeds in one bowl (for roasting later) and the goop in the next.  Let the children feel the consistency of the pumpkin innards, the seeds, wonder why some have more pulp than others, and talk about pumpkins.  After they are cleaned out inside, cut out the faces (parents should do this) and let the kids offer suggestions.  Get out the paint and let them paint faces and works of art on the smaller pumpkins.  Allow them time to be creative.  Let the painted pumpkins dry.  Throw away the “yucky” stuff and wash the seeds.  Prepare the seeds for roasting (see below).  Once dry, place a candle in the pumpkin and light (easier inside than out due to wind), put on the tops, and carry to the porch. Have fun watching your kids gleam with excitement at the lighted Jack-O-Lanterns.  Take lots of photos.

 This year we carved a kitty face into our large pumpkin and in one of the smaller ones, we did hearts for eyes and Emma painted it and a third smaller one Addie painted (she did not want the insides taken out).  The kids were so excited watching them glow in the dark.  They felt so proud of themselves.  The joy of doing these small priceless activities and traditions with your children is something that is so pure and so meaningful.

Roasting Pumpkin Seeds

Spread butter on a cookie sheet. Place washed pumpkin seeds on the tray and  sprinkle with salt.  Sometimes we put on garlic powder or Tastefully Simple’s Fiesta Dip Spice.  Place in a 400 degree oven for 20 to 30 minutes. Yum!  The best thing about this tasty Fall snack is how good they are for you offering protein, zinc, magnesium, and they help lower cholesterol!