#Valentine’s Day Tea

As you can probably tell by my posts, I love parties. There is nothing better than spending time with loved ones. Add in some delicious food & beautiful decorations and you have a perfect day! A very close family friend hosted an absolute gorgeous garden Valentine’s tea party this past weekend for the littles in our circle. Nothing like seeing our sweet kiddos all dressed up & sipping their pink lemonade out of fancy tea cups. Of course I think some of the beautiful, sophisticated decor was lost on them since all of the kiddos ended up playing in the ditch (so funny how things like that always make them happiest), but as parents we can appreciate the pretty event & enjoy sharing “grown-up” things with them. Anyways, on to the pictures…

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Each table was beautifully decorated and had its own tea pot & selection of kid-approved lunch snacks.

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There was a table set up for the kids to decorate their own bags for the Valentines exchange. *Side note: We had this party right after Valentine’s Day so everything was at least half off! Score!

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Arts & crafts are a good idea for every party!

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Destiny made heart crayons for her valentines. Click here for a link to that idea.

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Photo booths are the perfect way to get a great shot to remember the event.  A nice back drop & a few simple props are all you need. Kids are more likely to do a photo shoot when they get to play dress-up! Who wouldn’t be?

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Destiny & I ❤

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Such a cutie!

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L O V E this!

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Dessert table… cause isn’t this the best part of any party? lol

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Notice those little chocolate pinwheels… cut up a few Little Debbie’s for a quick & easy dessert!

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Rice crispy treats are always an easy crowd-pleaser & they can easily be transformed to fit any theme. A heart shaped cookie cutter, melted chocolate, & pink frosting gave these a sophisticated look.

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Marshmallow pops are super easy to make. Grab some paper straws from your local Target & sprinkles to match your theme, and you have an easy yet beautiful dessert to brighten any table. I talked about these before here.

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Getting a group shot is always a challenge, but as you can tell these kiddos had a blast!

Hoped you enjoyed this party idea as much as I did, and I hope you & your loved ones had a wonderful Valentine’s Day!! ❤

 

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#CITO 2015

Hello, guys! Don’t know what CITO is? Don’t worry, most muggles don’t. Us geocachers, however, take it very seriously. Not only is it a practice that we live by when we are out searching for caches, we have events every year around this time dedicated exclusively to it. Ok first things first, I might need to explain exactly what geocaching is. Have you ever seen a group of people with smartphones or GPSes crawling through bushes, looking at stop signs, or turning over rocks? I might have been one of those crazy people, but this is quite normal for us geocachers. What exactly is geocaching you ask? I guess the official Geocaching website puts it best… “Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location.” Ok it might sound weird or even boring, but it is sooo much fun. Geocaching appeals to such a wide demographic of people. It doesn’t matter where you live or how old you are… all you need is a smartphone or GPS & a mode of transportation & you are good to go! “Geocaching is the real-world treasure hunt that’s happening right now, all around you. There are 2,607,694 active geocaches and over 6 million geocachers worldwide.” Being a part of the geocaching community is more than just looking for caches, there are always events where you can meet others who share your passion, share stories, &, back to the original subject of this post, work together to make the world a better place. So what is CITO? It stands for Cache In Trash Out! Geocachers everywhere enjoy this beautiful world while we are out caching. As we search for caches we try to keep it beautiful for those like us, sometimes this means picking up after others who don’t share our philosophies. So this weekend all over the world, geocachers gathered at their local CITO events to do park clean-ups & plant trees. Think I’m exaggerating about the “all over the world”, search #cito on Instagram to see pictures from Germany, Sweden, New Zealand, & so many other countries. Our oldest daughter is on her 8th grade trip to Tennessee & my guy had to work, but my bestie, Liz (Got Cache), myself, & my daughter, Destiny, took part in two CITO events this year. We’ve participated for several years & are always blown away by the amount of trash that people leave to pollute our parks. Some of our CITOing companions did as many as 7 events today! Kudos to all their hard work in this Florida heat!! We might have to add a few more events next year! It is a way to give back & teach our kids the importance of keeping our world clean. Often the cachers hosting the events bring snacks & drinks for those helping out! Fellowship & green living rolled into one big, fun community service event… what could be a better use of our Sunday?

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IMG_3092[1]I’ll be sharing more about geocaching soon, but if this has peaked your interest, check out the website, grab your smartphone, load your friends and/or family in the car, & join the biggest treasure hunt of all time! Spend this summer enjoying this beautiful world working on your tan, getting fresh air & exercise, & making memories with those you love! Have any questions? Feel free to ask me! Already a geocacher? I’d love to hear your experiences! Hope to see you out & about & maybe even at a CITO event next year! By the way, my geocaching handle is destinedforu if you’d like to check me out. 🙂

#Tie-dyed Easter Eggs #Easter 2015

 

I’m still getting over being sick & just haven’t had the energy to do half of the things I wanted to do, make, or bake for Easter, but my kids weren’t going to let us skip dyeing eggs this year. It ended up being a blast (other than having to use a ton of bleach to get rid of all the dye that ended up on everyone’s hands and my counters lol) so I’m glad they didn’t let me be lazy. We tried a new way this year which resulted in the same “have I been doing everything the wrong way all my life” epiphany that I described in my Oven-Baked Bacon post. We’ve tried a couple ways of dying eggs throughout the years usually resulting in less than spectacular results. We’ve tried wrapping them with string or rubberbands to make stripes or adding stickers for a stenciled effect before dipping them but it usually resulted in the bands coming off mid dip or the stickers refusing to stick to our eggs, basically more frustration than fun. We’ve bought different egg dyeing kits some we’ve liked like & others were just a waste of money. Last year’s eggs turned out ok, kinda 50/50, liked some but on some of the eggs others the dye adhere well & came off in weird patches. The kids still enjoy it, but after this year experience, I think dipping our eggs is a thing of the past.

2014 easter eggs

2014 Easter Eggs

So after a little Pinterest-ing, I ran across this pin for Tie Dyed Easter eggs & was instantly intrigued. It is super easy & the results were so cool!

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Here are some of this year’s Easter eggs… there are a few traditionally dipped ones in the mix & a few that my youngest did by just setting her eggs in a strainer in the sink, dumping the food coloring on them, & spinning them around (those also turned out pretty cool lol) but we are going to focus on the Tie Dyed ones.

Ok so on to how you make these beauties…

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Here is a quick overview of our process before we get into detail…

Tie-Dyed Easter eggs

Supplies:

  • paper towels
  • ziploc bags
  • boiled eggs
  • vinegar
  • food coloring
  • plates (we used our regular dinner plates though plastic disposable plates would have been nice for easier clean up)

 Steps:

  • Dip your paper towel in vinegar & wring out excess.
  • Lay your paper towel out on your plate.
  • Add drops of food coloring until the colors pretty much cover the whole area *This is something where I told the kids not to put too much, but the ones that I believed were too “colorful” & would turn out looking black actually turned out better. Obviously their overzealous food coloring was perfectly fine. lol
  • Sit your boiled egg in the middle of your colored paper towel & wrap it completely.
  • Squish the paper towel around your egg & put the whole bundle into a plastic bag.
  • Let the eggs sit for about 30 minutes *The longer they are in there the brighter the colors got we did about 30 minutes, but some probably could have used longer. The original directions says anywhere from 5 minutes to a couple hours. Might just have to play with it at first to see what works best for your eggs.
  • Remove from bag & paper towel & sit your eggs out to dry.

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Here are some of our completed Tie-Dyed Easter eggs. Unfortuantely the pictures really don’t do them justice, such beautiful colors & intricate designs that you’d have to see in person to truly enjoy!

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Got a basket all ready to decorate our dinner table when we go over to Mema’s later 🙂

I hope you enjoyed this Easter egg decorating idea! Need some last minute ideas? Check out my Easter Pinterest board for inspiration! 🙂

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Hope the Easter bunny brought you a bounty of goodies & that you have a blessed Easter with those you love!

 

 

#Fun with Butterflies #Insect Lore Experience

With spring right around the corner, I thought I’d take a few minutes to share one of my family’s favorite yearly activities! A couple years ago I ran across a cool company called Insect Lore! I love animals so after checking the website out, I thought how cool would it be to raise our won butterflies! Cool doesn’t began to describe it! It’s a neat, learning experience for all ages that encourages kids to put down the remotes, phones, & video game controllers for a bit & get back in touch with nature! Insect Lore has all you need to get started! Sound like something your family or classroom kids might be interested, all you need to get started is a Live Butterfly Garden which includes a pop-up, reusable 11.5-inch tall mesh habitat perfect for butterfly viewing, feeding pipette, instruction booklet, & a cup with 5 caterpillars & food for them to eat until they turn into chrysalises. They also make a larger version perfect for a classroom setting called the Live Butterfly Pavilion. The cool thing about this is you can reuse this over & over again by ordering Cup of Caterpillar refills or even add a milkweed plant to your garden or flower bed to encourage caterpillars to come to you free of charge (lol). We have found that the caterpillars we have purchased almost always turn to butterflies while with the “wild” caterpillars it has been hit or miss. After years of just sprinkling sugar water on fresh flowers to feed our newly hatched butterflies, we did purchase a Butterfly Feeder this year, but honestly they didn’t seem too interested in it so I’d just got for the cheaper option. Ok so having said all that, on to our butterfly experiences over the years…

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Here is a shot of a butterfly that came out while we are sleeping next to his unhatched brothers & sister chrysalises. Don’t worry that’s not blood just extra dye from his brightly colored wings that is left behind as they dry.

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I took this shot right after this butterfly emerged. His wings are still wet & crumpled, but soon he’ll look normal.

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Here’s a better shot of the butterfly habitat. This butterfly is opening & closing his wings to help dry & strengthen them so he’ll be able to fly.

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This butterfly is drinking sugar-water off a fresh carnation.

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After studying & enjoying your butterflies, it’s time to release them. They need to be set free within a week, but we only keep them a few days since they have a very short lifespan & we want them to enjoy the time they have in the wild! You can either open the top & patiently wait for them to fly away or, as we prefer, carefully let them crawl onto your finger or hand and visit with them close up before they go on their adventures.

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Some of the butterflies like hanging with you a while before flying off while others make a bee-line for the nearest flower buffet.

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Some even give you the chance to pose for a picture or two.

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This is one of the “wild” caterpillars we raised, such gorgeous wings! I believe it is a Black Swallowtail.

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One year we brought our batch of butterflies to release at the Holland Family Blueberry Farm (owned by family friends) & got a little help letting them go from the youngest farmer there. (P.S. If you live in Central Florida, definitely check out them out! They have the best blueberries I have ever eaten, seriously!!)

Interested in butterfly-raising, check out Insect Lore! They also have ladybug habitats, ant farms, & praying mantis egg cases (I think seeing these born would be soooo cool! Each egg case releases 75 to 200 baby mantises. It also might be something to consider getting if you’d like a chemical free pest solution for your vegetable garden!). Anyway I hope you enjoyed this family activity idea as much as we did experiencing it! If you have raised butterflies or are going to, I’d love to here about it! My youngest is interested in the ladybugs; has anyone raised those? Looking forward to hearing from my readers!!

This post was not sponsored or compensated by the above mentioned company. I’m just only sharing a fun family activity idea & my own experiences.  🙂

#Valentine’s Day 2015

Happy-Valentines-Day

from my family to yours!

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We woke up this morning to find that the Valentine fairy (aka me) had delivered some goodies to her favorite valentines!

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Then I made a very simple breakfast. I planned on getting a little more creative, but it was a late night for me & my hubby being date night & all. A few drops of red food coloring & some sprinkles added a bit of Valentine’s Day flair to a can of Pillsbury cinnamon buns, festive & easy, perfect for a tired mommy. And no Valentine’s Day breakfast is complete without some strawberry milk.

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I made a special dinner for my brother, dad, bestfriend, Liz, grandma, & the girls! My mom & hubby had to work so we had to party without them. The stuffed chicken breasts (I’ll be sharing that recipe soon), baked ziti, garlic knots, & fresh green beans were a big hit! Add some hard apple ciders, cherry cheesecake, a heart chocolate chip cookie cake, & dessert kabobs (click here for that recipe on Liz’s blog Got Cache) and you have the perfect family Valentine’s Day dinner party covered!

So that was our Valentine’s Day… I hope you had a wonderful day with your loved ones!!

 

 

#Happy Thanksgiving 2014 #Turkey Day Fruit Tray

Happy Thanksgiving from my family to yours!! I hope everyone has a wonderful day of friends, family, food, football, & fun! May your turkey be moist & your pumpkin pie be plentiful & topped with mounds of cool whip! This year our holiday had to be a little flexible due to work schedules so we are having our Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow. We started off our day instead with a family brunch & watching the Christmas parade & some football @ my parents’ house before my mom had to go to work. I found the cutest Turkey Fruit Tray (aka Vegan Turkey lol) on Pinterest & thought that couldn’t be more perfect for a Thanksgiving Day brunch!

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Turned out so adorable.. moist & tasty too! 😉

While Thanksgiving is the day everyone celebrates what they are thankful for, please remember to take the time to count your many blessings all year long! We tend to focus on the bad or what we don’t have when we have lots to be thankful for! My family & friends are on the top of my list… what are you thankful for?

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My mom & my girls… a few of the people I am most thankful for!