Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Fool 'em with crazy food!

Tomorrow is April Fool's Day. I usually don't have time to think up clever pranks to play on friends and family, but this year is a bit different. Since its spring break and I'm not driving kids to and from school and activities, I actually have a few moments to plan a little mischief!

My son is a very picky eater, and usually complains about almost every meal. In lighthearted fun, I decided to surprise him (and the rest of the family) with a crazy meal.

Preparing and serving a crazy meal gives your family and friends the gift of laughter and a good time. It also proves that not all gifts need to be wrapped in beautiful paper and tied with a bow. In fact, the best gifts are those born out of your time and creativity.

I've been doing some research online for good food pranks to play on my children. The April issue of Family Fun magazine has some great ideas, including "fish sticks" made with a chocolate wafer cookie and peas shaped from green taffy. It looks so realistic that when my daughter just saw the photo I was uploading for this article, she said "ohh, those peas and fish sticks look good!" Check out the article here.

In fact, Family Fun magazine is gaining a reputation for its realistic looking dinner food made from sweets and other unexpected food items. In previous years they have shown how to make spaghetti and meat balls from buttercream frosting and malted milk balls.

I think I'm going to serve a "backwards meal" tomorrow, using their recipe for cupcakes made from meatloaf. (The pastel colored frosting is really mashed potatoes.) So we will start with the fish sticks and peas featured above, then end the meal with the meatlof cupcake.

Check out this link for some of their other prank recipes.

Some other ideas I've gleaned from the internet:

1)Wormy apple
Cut a small round hole on the side of an apple using an apple corer, then put a gummy worm inside the hole for an unexpected surprise.

2)Buggy ice cubes
Dig into the kids' toy box and pull out a few of those plastic spiders and other bugs they may have collected at Halloween. Wash them well, then put them in ice cube trays. Cover them with water and freeze them. Then pop the frozen cubes into their lunch or supper drinks.

3) Eggs and toast, anyone?
The eggs are actually lemon pudding and lemon curd! See the complete instructions here.

4) Tomato soup
Use frosting (diluted a bit) and add red food coloring. It will be more realistic if you serve it in a soup bowl with crackers!

5) Bacon Cheeseburger Cake
Who knew you could turn a yellow cake mix into a cheeseburger? See it here.

6) Twinkie Sushi
I'm not a fan of raw fish, but even I might be convinced to try these!

7) Moldy Sandwich
Spatulatta has a video that shows kids making this, plus other delectable treats like Kitty Litter Cake and Doggie Do Do Drops

8)Pizza -- or is it?
This website has a nice photo of a pizza made with yellow cake mix for the crust, frosting tinted red for the sauce, red fruit roll-ups cut in circles for pepperoni and olive made with black licorice.

If you try any of these items, please take photos! I would love to post them (along with your stories and credit to you) on this blog.

Our favorite Easter books: The Legend of the Sand Dollar

To end our "Favorite Easter Books" series, I thought I would briefly describe a book that puts a unique spin on an ordinary item -- a sand dollar. You will never look at a sand dollar in the same way after you read this story!

The Legend of the Sand Dollar: An Inspirational Story of Hope for Easter

In this story, eight year old Kerry explores the beach with her cousin Jack. She finds a sand dollar and Jack explains how its markings tell the story of Jesus’ life. You and your children will never look at the sand dollar in the same way after reading this story! The illustrations are delightful too. My children now love telling everyone they meet about the markings on the sand dollar.

Why not create a beach themed Easter basket and include this book? You could use a new sand bucket for the basket. (Use a paint marker and personalize it with your child's name.) Then fill it with sand toys, sunglasses, an inflatable beach ball, a sand dollar (of course), shells, sunblock (the colored kind that kids love to use as body paint), and any other items that your child would enjoy. Don't forget this book!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Our favorite Easter books: The Thornbush

We are blessed to have so many good books available for Easter! I have two more that I would like to tell you about. Today's entry is about a book called The Thornbush; tomorrow we will learn a special story behind the sand dollar.

The Thornbush
This book provides another unique perspective on Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection. It is told from the point of view of a little thorn bush growing near a big palace in Jerusalem. The thorn bush feels sad and neglected because people avoid it, not wanting to hurt themselves with its prickly branches. But one day, a man stops and shows kindness to the little bush. The bush sees how the people mistreat this gentle man. One day, some of his branches are cut off, and a little while later he recognizes those same branches on the head of the kind man. That same man leaves a symbolic little gift on the bush’s blossoms, turning them from a dull yellow to beautiful, multi colored flowers. The water-color type artwork in this book is gorgeous, and the story will enchant adults and children.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Our favorite Easter books -- The Jesus Garden: An Easter Legend

The Jesus Garden: An Easter Legend
This book personally touches my heart every time I read it! It tells the story of the Passion of Christ through the eyes of the flowers and animals in the Garden of Gethsemane. We learn why the robin’s breast is red, why the morning glory blooms only in the morning, how bleeding hearts got their name, and why the dogwood tree has blossoms shaped like little crosses. These are skillfully interwoven into the story of Jesus passion, death and resurrection in such a way that it does not scare young children. The crisp yet gentle illustrations will truly touch your heart, too. This book deserves to become a classic!

Find out more here:

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Our favorite Easter books -- The First Easter Bunny

The First Easter Bunny
I must admit that I moaned when I read the title of this book. I thought “oh no, not another book commercializing Easter and disguising its true meaning.” But I should not have been so hasty in passing judgment, because this is actually a sweet little book that successfully meshes the bunny legend and Christ’s passion and resurrection. Written by a Catholic priest, it tells the story of a rabbit who is the silent observer during Jesus’ last week on Earth. In the story, Jesus himself gives the bunny a special role each Easter. The child-like crayon drawings will especially appeal to young children. My daughter is entranced by the simplicity of this book.

Check it out here:

Friday, March 27, 2009

Our favorite Easter books -- Peter's First Easter

I will continue the series of blog entries about our favorite books with another cherished volume.

Peter's First Easter
This Zonderkidz book tells the story of Jesus’ last days through the eyes of his apostle Peter. That point of view makes the story especially poignant, as it mixes the feelings we all have when we think of Jesus’ brutal death -- the guilt of betrayal, the intense pain of seeing a friend suffer so needlessly, and the devastating sorrow of experiencing the death of a person close to us. At the same time, it is written at a level that children can understand. The story is depicted through the luminous paintings of Timothy Ladwig who also worked with author Walter Wangerin Jr. on the popular Christmas book Mary’s First Christmas.

Find out more about the book here:

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Our favorite Easter books - The Easter Cave

Today I'll continue our series on favorite Easter books by describing The Easter Cave.

The Easter Cave
This book opens with Matthew’s Biblical description of Jesus being placed in the tomb after his death. It then moves on to repetitive prose similar to the nursery rhyme “This is the House that Jack Built.” Each page’s text builds upon the text of the previous page (“This is the cave that the friend gave/This is the bird that crowed near the cave the friend gave..”) It recalls Christ’s passion on Good Friday, then moves through the sorrow of his followers and their surprise on finding the empty tomb on Easter Sunday. Colorful yet simple drawings enhance the book. Recommended for ages 4-7 and especially for emerging readers. However, my nine-year old son enjoys it, too!

Find out more here:

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Our favorite Easter books

Each Easter our children receive a heirloom quality book about Easter to build their personal libraries. My husband and I scour bookstores to find the perfect book. I must admit, we are a bit picky. We are looking for a book with a good story line that will become classic, and art museum quality artwork. Over the next week or so I will share some of our finds; all which have become "must-reads" in our home during Lent and Easter.

If you are looking for a good book to include in your child's Easter basket this year, be sure to check back daily for more ideas.

I will start this series by discussing the book Rechenka's Eggs.

Rechenka’s Eggs
Written by Patricia Polacco, this book tells the story of Babushka, an old lady who lives in the Russian countryside. Babushka is renowned for her beautifully decorated eggs, or pysanky, which win first prize every year in an Easter contest in Moscow. One day she takes in an injured goose, who mistakenly breaks all her decorated eggs. To make up for her error, the goose begins laying a gorgeous decorated egg each day until Babushka has enough to take to the contest. The simple drawings in this book are enchanting with their bright colors and folk art feeling. This book is a subtle lesson in kindness and gratitude, which makes it a perfect Easter gift.

You can read more reviews about this book by clicking on this link:

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Simple fun and frivality on St. Patrick's Day

March 17 around our home is a chance to learn more about St. Patrick. We watch a children's DVD and read a story or two about the saint. Sometimes the kids color a coloring sheet with the saint's outline on it, or we play a homemade bingo or trivia game with tidbits about Ireland. I understand it isn't really Irish, but we also enjoy corned beef and cabbage. For dessert, we might pop into McDonald's and enjoy a shamrock shake. (I know, that's a bit commercial but it has become a simple tradition!)

This year is a bit different. The kids woke up to some commotion in our home. My son discovered that his leprechaun trap had been sprung, and that my jade ring (used as bait) was gone, replaced by a note saying "ha, ha, ya'll never get my pot of gold!"

There are green paper shamrocks scattered around our home -- on the bathroom mirror, on the refrigerator handle, on the door knobs' of the kids' rooms, on the light switch, and on the TV screen. When my son opened the peanut butter jar this morning, he discovered the peanut butter was now green. And their milk mysteriously turned green when it was poured from the jug into their drinking glasses.

There is also green paper confetti scattered over the kitchen table.

The kids (especially my youngest daughter) got a big kick out of this.

Serving unique food can be a fun and inexpensive gift for family and friends on this holiday. In fact, you can create unique items often just with things already in your cupboard. For example, I have a can of Wilton's green Food Mist spray in my pantry. It is simply food coloring in a spray can. Green sprinkles (leftover from Christmas baking) can add a festive touch, too. For example, we will be having green jello for dessert tonight -- made special with a dollop of whipped cream that has been embellished with the green sprinkles. A small bottle of green food coloring can turn almost any white food into something special. My son hates mashed potatoes; I wonder if he would like them better if they were green?

This clever mom even put tiny leprechaun footprints on her children's peanut butter sandwich. She has some other clever food ideas for the holiday, too, so check it out:


(I love her leprechuan template -- cut it out and use it to embellish cupcakes!)

I found some other links to snacks, desserts, salads and other "Leprechaun" themed food for St. Patrick's Day.

Here is a quick shamrock-shaped snack:


How about some Leprechaun latte? (Yes, you can make this yourself!)

Or a Leprechaun Gold Salad?


How about some Paddy's Day Pudding?


Some would say that we are detracting from the real reason for the holiday. But we will return to some of our traditional activities this afternoon, and learn more about St. Patrick then. In the meantime, someone obviously thought we needed a bit more mischievous fun in our lives!

I would love to hear how others celebrate this holiday! Please post some comments with your family's traditions!