Growing Out On A Limb


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Easter Basket from Felted Sweater

When I went looking for Easter baskets, all I could find were those woven baskets in pastel colors or cloth baskets that were choking in a disney character of some sort.  Okay, so I may have been tempted to buy a Thomas basket but I didn’t see one and didn’t see anything else I liked, which brought me to making my own.

This is made out of a felted cable-knit sweater.  Just a circle cut for the bottom, and a longer piece for the walls (tip: measure the circumference of the bottom piece using a piece of yarn!).  I folded over the top and cut a slit on either side so I could slide the handle in and button it all on.  I thought about adding some embroidery thread to make it a little more spring-y but I liked this simple look a lot so I left it alone.

I realize Oliver will probably want something a little more exciting when they’re older but this should do him for a few years?

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Easter

<Insert curse words about computers.  And computer viruses.>

We had a lovely Easter.  Here are some highlights.

A little quality time with Aunt Ali.  We had a great time visiting with nannys and grampys and aunts and uncles too!  And now I wish we had taken more pictures!

We watched a couple cousins work on their cupcake skills…

See?  Mad cupcake skills…


We did an easter egg hunt on Sunday morning that was received with rather light excitement.  He recognized the kinder eggs but had to be coaxed to find the rest  and didn’t realize for a while that the plastic eggs even had candy inside!  Next year I’m buying three dollars worth of candy and hiding empty eggs.  I’m sure he would be just as excited!

Emery’s contribution to the egg hunt was drool…

What a great weekend but wow, those busy family-filled weekends tire me out much more now that I have to manage two kids.  I’m still recovering!


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Simple Fishing Game

For a while now, I have had a simple fishing game bookmarked in my favorites as a crafty project to make for Oliver.  I’ve seen them all over crafty blogland, where the “hook” is a magnet and the fish are made of cute fabric scraps and have magnets somehow attached or sewn inside.  I have always thought Oliver would get a kick out of it but it is a bit too time-consuming for this mommy of two.  For now, at least. 

So when I saw this even simpler fishing game, I jumped in and made it in ten minutes (maybe less).  It probably took me more time to get the supplies together than it did to assemble them.  Just twist a few pipe cleaners into fish shapes, glue a magnet to the end of a string, and tie the string to the end of a stick.  Simple, right? 

 

Oliver played with it for a good 20 or 25 minutes before getting tired of it.  It’s a great way to practice counting and, if you make the fish in different colors, you can also practice colors so I think this is something I’ll be able to bring out on rainy afternoons for quite a while! 

Papa, we’re practicing for the summer!


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Sweet Potato Fries

I think we finally have this right. 

Cooking the best sweet potato fries at home is not about the recipe but about the method.  The issue is the flipping – they do fine until you need to turn them or get them off the pan.  Suddenly they’re a big mushy mess and don’t finish cooking properly. 

The solution is a bit more time consuming but definitely worth it:  The potatoes are laid out on a cooling rack so they can cook on both sides at the same time (thus no need to flip).  That’s it!  So simple and obvious that you just want to groan for all the sweet potato mush you’ve eaten before! 

And there are lots of options for spices.  We like a roasted garlic and peppers spice mixture but we’ve also tried chinese five spice.  For a sweeter spin, use cinnamon alone or mixed with a bit of sugar. 

1.  Slice sweet potatoes into fries that are about the same size. 

2.  Toss potatoes in a bit of vegetable oil, just to coat, and spices.  (I like to do this well ahead of time so I’m not rushed at supper.  I put everything in a large plastic bag, squish it around, and store in the refrigerator until I’m ready). 

3.  Cover a baking sheet in foil.  Place a metal cooling rack on top.  Place the sweet potatoes on the rack so they aren’t touching each other.  I can usually fit the fries from two good-sized potatoes on one rack. 

4.  Bake at 450 degrees until they’re starting to brown and can be pierced with a fork. 


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Easter Cookies

Last Thursday, Oliver and I made cookies.  Simple sugar cookies but we rolled, we frosted, we sprinkled.  And then we took them to share with his daycare friends and to our gym the next day.  Apparently they were a hit! 

He liked using the cookie cutters…

And rolling (or trying to)…

I thought the hook would be the easter sprinkles but he just wanted to dump those out and eat them.  Towards the end he played in the frosting.  Thankfully he didn’t realize he could eat it or he might not have come down from the sugar rush in time for bed!   

What 2 to 5 year old wouldn’t love to munch on these?

And this is where little brother was perched for the decorating portion of our cookie experiment.  So helpful! 


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Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

I found this recipe one night last week when it came upon 4:00 (okay, closer to 4:30) and I still had no idea what I would make for supper.  I started opening cupboards and spotted a butternut squash that I had planned to just roast.  Why not try a squash soup? 

This recipe, found here, is another puree soup.  I love that the cinnamon is used in stick form (and that I actually had some).  The cinnamon flavor was a bit surprising but not overpowering and made the soup nicely sweet.  Even Oliver dipped into it a little bit! 

INGREDIENTS

2 Tbsp olive oil

1/2 cup onion, diced

1/4 cup celery, diced

1/4 cup carrot, diced

1 cinnamon stick

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

4 cups stock (I used vegetable)

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1 1/2 cups roasted butternut squash

1/2 cup half-and-half

Optional, to serve:  1/4 cup mascarpone cheese and/or 2 Tbsp toasted pumpkin seeds

DIRECTIONS

Roast butternut squash.  (The original recipe has a separate roasted squash recipe that looks really great but I cut into 1-inch cubes, tossed in oil, salt, and pepper, and roasted at 450 degrees until I could pierce it with a fork). 

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until hot.  Add onion, celery, carrot, and cinnamon stick.  Saute until soft, about 10 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper. 

Add the stock and coriander.  Bring to a boil.  Simmer for several minutes.  Stir in squash, then simmer gently about 10 minutes, to let the flavors meld.  Discard the cinnamon stick. 

Puree the soup.  Reheat gently.  Add the half-and-half.  Adjust seasoning.