Gluten Free Blueberry Coffee Cake


I’m psyched to share this recipe because it is so easy, quick and delicious! 

-1 egg

-1 cup sugar

-1 tsp lemon zest

-2/3 cup milk

-2 cups gluten free baking mix (I used King Arthur brand.)

-1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen

Icing:

-juice of one lemon

-about 3/4 cup confectioners sugar

Preheat oven to 350 and grease a 9″ round cake pan. Whisk the egg, sugar, lemon, and milk together. Stir in baking mix just until combined. Fold in blueberries and transfer to prepared pan. Bake for 25 minutes. Prepare icing until thick but pourable. Slice the cake into 8 pieces but keep together on plate. Pour icing over the sliced cake and let settle before serving. Enjoy!

Olympics Party


Our household has caught Rio fever! No, that’s not a terrible Zica joke, we have been watching The Summer Olympics! So far we’ve watched a lot of swimming and volleyball and my kids surprised me with their incredible interest in water polo. With Olympics on the brain, I though the time was appropriate to share my daughter’s Olympics themed birthday party that we hosted back in May.


For decorations I made torches out of paper and tissue, the kids made paper chains with the five Olympic colors, and we hung balloons in the Olympic colors. I created a photo booth with sports equipment and foreign flags for props, and my good friend and neighbor made an awesome white Olympic flag with the rings and the words “Happy Birthday Lucy.” We had everybody sign the flag with fabric markers upon arrival in preparation to carry it during our Opening Ceremony.


Once everybody had arrived and gathered, we had a little parade for our Opening Ceremony. I gave the kids a ton of small flags from around the world that I got at Oriental Trading and they waved those while a few kids in the front carried the flag. My son carried the “torch,” which was a large lighter. They paraded over to our fire pit and using the lighter, lit the fire pit to kick off the games!


For games we had a relay race, a sack race, pool noodle javelin, and capture the flag. The kids had a great time playing the games! I had planned a few other events but time grew short and the kids really enjoyed the ones we did and asked to repeat some of those instead.

 

After games we had a BBQ and enjoyed potluck snacks that everybody had brought. The cake was five layers, one in each of the Olympic colors. I frosted it with white buttercream and made Olympic rings out of M&Ms. For goodie bags I put gold-wrapped candies (Reese’s, Rolos, Werther’s, and Twix) in plastic bags and tied them with gold medals I bought from Oriental Trading.


The kids all had a great time and the theme worked out better than I had expected. It was tricky for me because there were so many ways to go with the theme and so many ways I could have complicated it (teams! representing countries! medals! medal ceremonies!) After thinking it over and over in my head during the weeks leading up to the party I decided it would be best to keep it simple and I am so glad I did!

 

Upcycled Denim Apron


I made the apron on the right two years ago and I’ve been meaning to make more ever since. It is fought over by my children at craft time, contains their wettest paint messes, and ha s clearly stood the test of time! I thought it was high time I made some more. 

First, find some old denim jeans and cut an apron shape (folded in half) out of the leg like this:

I cut both legs to make two aprons


Next, cover the raw edges with bias tape using a sewing machine. These jeans here are pretty light weight but if using a heavy denim you may want to use your heavy duty machine needle.


For the neck, cut out the outer seam of the pant legs. I made mine 16 inches.


The seams are thick and I didn’t want to risk snapping my last needle so I hand-stitched the neck piece on to the back side. For the ties I used two 22″ ribbon pieces and machine stitched them on to the back side of the apron. Finally, for decoration I sewed on a scrap of fabric I had lying around. 

Book Review Monday

by Elise Gravel


I was actually the one to grab this brand-new book off the shelf of our local library because it looked like something my kids would love. Boy, was I right! Something about kids and monsters, I tell you. My youngest asked for the book but before I got to the end of page two the others had gathered. 

The book tells the story of a girl who wants to acquire a pet monster. She begs and pleads with her dad much like a kid would beg for a hamster or a kitten. 

The illustrations are endearing and the tone is silly, but direct, with lots of funny noises, goofy faces, and shenanigans. 


As a parent, the best part of the book was the end. After the story is over, the book implores the reader to design their own monster! In list-style instructions it is recommended that you draw, name, describe, feed, and train your monster. I love a book that inspires kids into action and this one did just that. All three immediately moved to the kitchen table and began scribbling away! 


I have no doubt this will end up a Ladybug Book and you’ll be seeing lots of it around!

Make: Narwhal Cupcakes


My 10 year old’s BFF had a birthday recently and I offered to help out with the party planning by making cupcakes. Before I even said it out loud I knew they would have to be narwhals. She is a little bit obsessed, and who wouldn’t be? Narwhals are the unicorns of the sea, after all. I went into this project pretty blind but they came out pretty cute in the end!


I purchased these specialty cupcake wrappers from Wilton at our local party store. I believe they are supposed to look like flower petals but I thought they would give the effect of the narwhal emerging from the deep.

I dyed white buttercream light gray and mounded the frosting so it was thicker in the middle creating a head. Black dyed frosting was piped into eyes and a smile and pretzel sticks became the signature horn. (The birthday girl got a long, gold candle as her horn.)

For the flippers I used Neco Wafers. The blue gray ones pictured here were hard to find! Each roll of candy had between zero and two of these licorice flavored wafers. For most of the cupcakes I used light purple and they looked great.


For the water spouts coming from the narwhal’s blowhole I cut up these sour candy straws into four pieces and then each piece I cut half of the piece into four strips so it would look frayed.

I am so pleased with how these finished up. They were so cute and the birthday girl was thrilled!

Make: Blueberry Lemonade Popsicles

The kids and I went blueberry picking today at a lovely hidden gem by the bay. Weather was perfect, fruit was abundant, kids were angels! (Save for one epic car side melt-down, a child who insisted she was being eaten alive by bugs, a toddler who would not just stay put already, and the three of them who would not stop singing, “pick by the ocean!” To the tune of “Cake by the Ocean.”)

Anywho, we finally made it out of there alive with only moderate yelling on my part and lugged our bounty home to devour. 

Recently, I scored 5 lemons for a buck at our local discount produce spot so I decided the two would be entered into a delicious summery matrimony in the form of ice pops. 

I scanned a few recipes online but nothing stuck out so I created my own and found success! Here’s what I used:

-1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

-1 cup fresh blueberries 

-4 cups of water

-1 cup of sugar

I started out by putting two of the cups of water and all the blueberries in a small pot to simmer for about 10 minutes on medium heat. 

While those were mingling on the stove I squeezed the lemons. Who are we kidding, I outsourced that job to the little people! 


When the blueberries were sufficiently stewed I poured them through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl with the sugar, and dissolved it into the hot liquid.


Once they were sufficiently combined I added the rest of the water and the lemon juice. I was able to make twelve large pops with this quantity of liquid! They took a few hours to freeze but the kids said they were “amazing!”

Explore: Adam’s Point        

Tucked away in Durham, NH is an awesome little spot called Adam’s Point. The trail takes you through a beautiful field, bursting with wildlife and growth, and down to the rocky shore of the Great Bay where you can see many different birds. There are gorgeous views along the way and even an awesome rope swing to play on mid-way down the trail. It is an easy walk, and dogs are allowed!IMG_5424

Make: Penguin Craft

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Add this one to the millions of uses for used toilet paper tubes! These are made entirely out of construction paper and a glue stick with yellow feathers to make our penguins macaroni penguins. We chose macaroni penguins because they are Lucy’s favorite but you could tailor this craft to create any kind that you like!

Fun with Shaving Cream

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Oh the joys of shaving cream! If you are averse to extreme child mess, this photo may get your heart racing. But I assure you, shaving cream play is worth it on so many levels. Just hear me out:

If you have small kids of any age you know what I mean when I say, “one of THOSE days.” No family is immune from those times when everybody is getting under everybody else’s skin, nobody is using patience or kindness, and the aggrevation in the air becomes contagious and toxic. As parents, we know the sources of these days are plentiful: not enough sleep, too much sugar, too much stimulation, not enough stimulation, the list goes on. Whatever the reason, on those toughest of days, shaving cream play is an awesome reset button.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Stock up in advance: You never know when these days are going to hit, so I always like to keep a stash on hand. You want basic white foam shaving cream, NOT gel. I buy the off-brand pharmacy stuff and it usually costs around $1.00-$2.00 per can. I try to keep one can on hand for each child.
  2. Clear the table: We use the kitchen table because it is on a hard floor and no fabric to ruin anywhere near by. You want to find a similar space because this will get everywhere. Don’t try this anywhere carpeted!
  3. Strip Down: My kids usually play with shaving cream in their undies or nude. I don’t think shaving cream would ruin clothes because it is basically just soap but being naked will enhance the sensory benefits of the shaving cream and be that much easier to clean up in the end!
  4. Give each child a bowl: Or a baking pan, or cupcake holders, or as many different dishes you will allow. I like to keep things simple so we usually just do one bowl for each kid.
  5. Set some ground rules: Your kids will probably be looking at you like, “is she really going to let us do this?” Make your boundaries clear. In my house we cannot throw the shaving cream, or touch each other’s faces, and I always remind the little one not to eat it. (She tries to eat in anyway.)
  6. Uncap and go for it: Show the kids how to spray the shaving cream into the pan or bowl and let them at it. I usually have them spray about half the can initially then add more as it loses its foaminess. Once they get going, they will love watching it expand and pile up. Encourage them to go wild. Ask them how it feels on their cheeks, on their arms, on their torso? How much can they hold in their hands? On their nose? Some kids may be apprehensive about it at first but step back and give them time to explore. You’ll likely find that they end up covered.
  7. Enjoy the shift: This activity can often keep my three kids happy for over an hour, sometimes up to two. No matter how cranky they have been, it gets them grinning, and the sensory benefits calm them.
  8. Bathtime: When I feel like the end is nearing, I pop into the bathroom and run a warm bath without bubbles. As the kids finish up, I help them to the tub where they enjoy another calming sensory experience. Already covered in soap, the bath water becomes soapy on its own.
  9. Clean-up: As the kids enjoy their tub I grab a few wet sponges and towels and wipe up the suds. It only takes a few minutes and when I’m done, the kitchen table, chairs, floor, and walls are clean!
  10. Enjoy: So you’ve just entertained your kids for an hour or two for just a few bucks and you’re left with a clean kitchen, clean children, and a fresh start for an otherwise doomed afternoon. I encourage every parent to try this and keep it in your back pocket for those days when you really need a boost. Have fun!

Make: Easter Bunny Banner

  
I was recently at a baby shower with a bunny theme and the Mama to be received a very cute bunny bunting for her nursery. It was not the same but it inspired me to make this easy Easter craft for our home. 

I started by cutting the five triangles out of burlap and then gathered some supplies:

  
Using the cookie cutter as a stencil I painted a pastel-colored bunny on each of the pieces of burlap. 

  
Once dried, I glued on white Pom Pom bunny tails. When the glue was set, I sewed the pieces into a piece of bias tape. The whole process took about 15 minutes if you don’t count the drying times.