Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Colorful Eggs

A week since the last post - where has the time gone? I can say one thing for certain, the older Grace becomes the faster the days seem to fly by.

With Easter just around the corner we decided it was time to dye our eggs. Since it was such a beautiful day, Grace completed the project outside (and yes, she was wearing her pajamas). Here are some pictures:

Now we have an assortment of rainbow colored eggs - perfect for a Spring centerpiece!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The County Fair

Grace and I headed to the Sarasota County Fair this afternoon. The admission was free and the weather was perfect - what more could we ask for. Here's a few pictures.....

And what fair experience would be complete without observing at least one pig race? Good times I tell you, good times!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Spring Decorating

Our house is officially decorated for spring - two days late according to Grace since "the first day of spring was Saturday, not today". In addition to pulling out the box of springy decor we made a banner for our mantle.

For the banner we traced six different cookie cutter shapes onto textured watercolor paper, then cut them out. Before lunch we sat outside and painted the shapes with watercolors - which was so relaxing for both of us. Once dry, Grace attached the string and viola, it was ready for the mantle.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

First Day of Spring

Welcome Spring - we're so glad you're here!

Friday, March 19, 2010


Preparing dinner these days has been a bit challenging due to Grace being in gymnastics three evenings per week. Since we weren't used to attending activities in the evening, this change to our routine was quite an adjustment for us. Two months into this new schedule of ours, I'm happy to report that we've found our rhythm again.

On the days that Grace has gymnastics a meal is made in advance, usually in the late afternoon. After Dean arrives home from work he places the dish in the oven and prepares a veggie. When Grace and I get home, the dinner is ready and the three of us can eat a home-cooked meal together - which is perfection in my book.

Lasagna was this evening's prepared in advance meal.......

I'm so glad that we found a way to make dinner work without becoming take-out junkies in the process - although I'm sure Grace wouldn't have complained if she ate Chick-fil-a or a Hot "n" Ready pizza several times per week!

Oh by the way, she actually ate a piece of lasagna - amazing but true.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Our Irish Feast

This evening we had an Irish themed dinner to celebrate St. Patrick's Day (per usual, I work tomorrow so we're a day early). Grace and I spent the afternoon in the kitchen preparing the meal - Shepherd's pie, Irish soda bread and "clover" sugar cookies.

Please use your imagination with the cookies. We were unable to find a four leaf clover cookie cutter, so we had to use what we had on hand. Next year I'll be sure to buy a cookie cutter early so we can have "real clover cookies" verses the stemless three leaf version in the photo above.

Don't forget to wear green tomorrow!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Flipping at the Park

This afternoon we headed to Bayfront Park so Grace could participate in "Flip for Funds", a fundraiser that benefited our local YMCA. Grace, along with many other members of the gymnastics team (Grace joined the "team" in late January and loves every minute of her three practices per week), flipped in the grass while onlookers watched and dropped donations into a coffee can. I'm not sure how much money was raised, but I can say for certain that the girls had a great time.

And as a side note, Dean and I celebrated our eleventh anniversary today - hooray for us!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Making Jam

After picking eleven pounds of strawberries a bit of jam making was in order. This was our first attempt at making jam and utilizing the process of canning. Surprisingly, things went relatively smoothly, with me learning a wealth of information in the process.

I won't share the recipe we used since I was a bit disappointed in the jam's final consistency - it ended up being too thin. Thankfully though, it tastes delicious and will be great as a topping for ice cream, pancakes and our favorite cheesecake (which I plan to make Saturday).

After an afternoon of sorting, rinsing, slicing, blending (oh how Grace loves to use the immersion blender), boiling and canning we have eight half-pint jars of strawberry "jam" - with a sticky kitchen to prove it!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Strawberry Pickin'

We headed out east this morning to pick strawberries at Hunsader Farm. It was our first visit to the farm this season and to be honest I was worried that we'd missed the u-pick strawberries all together. But due to the cold weather and overcast skies this winter the crop was just beginning to ripen - so thankfully, we weren't too late.

Once Grace and I signed in at the farm stand we headed out to the fields. While picking Grace informed me to only choose the "reddest and juiciest" berries since they make "the bestest jam". After an hour of picking our box lid was overflowing and had become a bit difficult to carry, so we called it a day and had the fruits of our labor weighed.

Now we're dreaming of how to use the nearly eleven pounds (this is the largest amount that we've ever picked at one time) of berries sitting upon our kitchen counter. I see many delicious desserts and a bit of canning in our near future - hooray for strawberry pickin' season!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Monday Afternoon

The sun is shining, the sky is vibrant blue, our windows are open and my orchid is in bloom. All signs that it's going to be a wonderful week!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Art Class

Today was Grace's first day in a children's art class offered at The Ringling College of Art and Design here in Sarasota. She was all smiles lugging her tote, which was filled to the brim with art supplies, to the classroom. Once in the room she discovered that she was "high up like a birdie" (the classroom was on the fifth floor and had large windows that overlooked trees) and had her own desk - both made for exciting times I tell you.

Each of the five classes in the session will focus on a different topic. This week was drawing. The instructor had them draw animals using different types of pencils - drawing, charcoal and colored. Grace was so excited to show me her sketch book when I arrived to pick her up. Her drawings included a giraffe, penguin, schnauzer and a woolly mammoth.

Dean and I can't wait to see what she creates in the weeks that follow!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A Handmade Birthday Present

With the holidays and Grace's birthday being so close together it makes gift giving a bit challenging. You see, Grace isn't one of those children who seems to want everything that she sees in a store or catalog (you may remember her short list for Santa this past year). When we asked her what she wanted, her response was always, "I don't know". So this left Dean and I in quite a predicament.

After a bit of brainstorming I came up with the idea of giving her a pair of dolls (Grace had occasionally requested a handmade doll of her own since helping me make dolls for a Craft Hope project) and a bed for them to sleep in. Dean seemed to like the idea, so I went to work - making dolls and their clothing (patterns here), mattresses, pillows, quilts and a little schnauzer (pattern here). The bunk bed was handmade too, not by us (well, Dean put it together), but by a craftsman in Maine that sells on Ebay (found here).

Thankfully, Grace enjoyed her handmade birthday gift. She can often be found incorporating the dolls into her daily play - which without a doubt makes her Mama's heart smile!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Turning Five - Disney Style

The finale to Grace's busy birthday week was a visit to Disney World. Cold weather and illnesses aside, we had a wonderful time. Here are some of the pictures....

....All smiles while helping Daddy roll the luggage to our hotel room.

....Ready to take a bite of her dream birthday dessert, "The Volcano", at the Rainforest Cafe.

....On a chilly boat ride from our hotel to visit Legoland at Downtown Disney, where she spent some of her birthday money.

....Getting a big hug from White Rabbit, one of the characters from "Alice in Wonderland".

It's fabulous to turn five, especially when you're celebrating at Disney World!