Glimpses of our weekend

Easter egg hunt at the community center on a warm, sunny Saturday morning

 Dyeing eggs and loving the mess

Spending all of Sunday cooking and preparing Easter dinner with friends
Washing and drying eggs to fill for our own egg hunt
Watching the kids hunt for eggs

 Ending our weekend with a warm bath and some pretend play

It was a truly wonderful weekend around here. It was busy, and we found ourselves foregoing usual "musts" to enjoy the gorgeous sunshine we had on Saturday. We also squeezed in lots of friends time, a (very crowded!) zoo visit, and a lot of park time. It was a full, happy, busy weekend. Hope yours was a happy one, too. And now, back to work!


Getting ready for Easter

Earlier this week, the table in the guest room (which doubles as my craft space, but these days hasn't seen much use) looked like this:

Now, I would love to say that whenever I make a mess and start a project, it has a happy resolution and something totally cool is created. But, as anyone who knows me will tell you, I LOVE to start projects and have the best intentions to finish them... but often don't. I've got half-finished Valentine's day cards and St. Patrick's day cards to prove it. This year, I decided to force myself to focus and get some cuteness made up from this little mess I'd made.

I made a few Easter cards with some forgotten stamps and some much neglected pretty pastel scrapbooking paper that otherwise would continue to be stored under my craft table forever. (I do have a boy, after all).

I made some super-simple but very cute gift cards for M to give to his friends. They're 3"x3" and super simple to make.

And, finally, I got some Easter treats together for some special kids in our lives. I usually keep items that I think will make good packaging for gifts later down the road. I had saved the clear boxes that Papertrey Ink's stamp sets come in, but wasn't sure what I would use them for. Then I remembered seeing this idea for turning the boxes to gift bags -- and I knew how I would package up the goodies. I finished off the goodie packs with some left over stamped Easter images.

We are not big on candy at our house, and I know that the kids that these are going to also don't eat much candy. So I stayed away from the typical candy baskets and chocolate bunnies, and instead filled the treat bags with things I know my toddler loves: stickers, fruit tape, raisins, a new tiny pad of paper and new markers, and a new movie. There were a bunch of toddler-friendly dvd's on sale for $3.99 at Target last week, so I snatched up a few that I think the kids will like. One of the girls who is getting one  is really into crafts and art projects, so instead of a movie, she's getting a washable ink pad (pink, of course!) and a fun bunny stamp. 

All in all, the treat bags were simple and inexpensive to put together, and I'm glad to be giving them some fun little treats rather than candy. I can't wait to give them to our little friends!


Monday Morning Gratitudes

This past weekend, our little guy came down with a cold. which left him whiny, fussy, and challenging, to say the least. Between that and a few other sources of stress this past week, I had mentally labeled this past week as "one of those weeks". But I just took a look at the pictures I took this week, and I'm finding that, yes, there was much to be frustrated over... but there was so much more to be grateful for. So, as I look back on last week, here are a few things I am grateful for today:

Bread dough in my fridge, making it possible to have a pizza dinner on the table in 20 mins

The return of the salad dinner, and a little boy who wants to join in

Longer (and slightly dryer) days means outdoor play after dinner

Flowers and a sweet note after an extra long day at work

A family walk to the grocery store for M's favorite treat: popsicles

It's the little things. Happy Monday!


Journeying towards greener eating

For some time now, my husband has been wanting us to move away from eating meat and closer towards vegetarianism. I wouldn't say that we're heavy meat eaters now, eating meatless meals at least 3-4 times a week, so I didn't think it would be hard to increase our "meat-free" days. I was surprised to find that I was having two problems: 1.) I kept going back to the same 5-6 recipes over and over again (and thus, getting thoroughly bored of having the same food) and 2.) I had to make different things to please my husband and my toddler. Both of these problems were making dinner time less than enjoyable for me, which defeats the purpose of preparing healthful dinners shared as a family.

And so, I decided to hit my old cookbooks and a few new additions from Amazon, to mix things up and make dinner prep more enjoyable. I was pleased to find interesting and tasty meatless recipes on old favorite cookbooks, such as Mario Batali's Molto Italiano or Cooking Light's Cookbook. I also consistently find delicious meatless recipes in Cynthia Lair's Feeding the Whole Family. But the new stars in my cookbook collection are Vegetarian Classics by Jeanne Lemlin, A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen by Jack Bishop, and Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison. From these we've made various dips, noodle dishes, risotto, and egg dishes with interesting ingredients that I may not have thought to combine (like beet risotto -- which was truly delicious!).

And if you're looking for an online alternative, I can't recommend Heidi Swanson's 101cookbooks blog enough (she's the author of Super Natural Cooking and Super Natural Every Day, both on my wish list). It's a fantastic resource with recipes, stories, and beautiful photographs. I recently made her Oat Soda Bread and her Vegetable Korma (minus the tofu), both of which have been added to our "favorites" list. Totally awesome website worth checking out.

Are you adopting new eating habits this year? If so, what are your favorite cookbooks, websites, or meal idea resources? I'd love to know!


For the couch

Lately, M has been climbing on to our couch with a book, and promptly asking for a blanket. "My toes are cold!" he'll say, even if we've got a fire going and the room is toasty warm. Who can blame him? Reading while cuddling under a blanket is hard to top. But now that warmer weather is on its way, the thick fleece blankets on our couch will need to be put away. And so, I've decided it's time to make the largest quilt I've made to date: a reading quilt for the couch.

I've always been drawn to beachy, fresh colors, though  you wouldn't know it from the furniture and colors present in our home. I've always loved the idea of white covers for couches, white washed furniture, and fun punches of aqua and greens. Instead, my house is full of brown, dark furniture, partly a result of holding on to our furniture from our student days, and partly a result of wanting something that hides spills and stains well. After all, I do have a toddler.

And then I saw these awesome spreads in the latest Living. LOVE. I have been returning to these layouts again and again to admire the blues, greens, yellows, and touches of orange. Seriously, LOVE.

When I saw the Kumari Garden fabric line, I knew that paired with a healthy dose of white, it would make the perfect summer quilt for our couch. I want to keep it simple, since this is one quilt I actually want to finish sooner rather than later, so we can put it to good use. I'm not following a pattern, and am cutting as I go, which I know is not the fastest way to do this. I'm thinking that if I keep at it, slow and steady, it'll be ready by the time we've got the sun shining through our windows consistently. I'm so ready!

I'm making lots of squares without much of a plan, and I'm thinking that at some point, I'm going to have to start laying them out to see if they look good together. But, for now, I'm just enjoying the cutting, stitching, pressing rhythm of putting a quilt top together.

Stay tuned for the finished quilt. My goal: the first day of Summer!