It’s the week before Easter 2020 and we are in the middle of a global pandemic when my kids ask me if we are going to decorate eggs for Easter. Since we are currently quarantined in NYC due to covid and we didn’t have that many eggs to spare, I needed to get creative. Luckily I had some fast setting concrete in my shed and some balloons in my cabinet. This can work with Plaster of Paris too.
What you need:
– Quick set cement
– stick (for mixing)
– somewhere to hang the balloons after they are filled
Mix the quick set concrete with some water in a bucket. Not to thick or watery. It should be easy to mix and pour into a funnel.
Once the funnel is inserted into the balloon, you can start adding the cement. When balloon is filled to the size you want, tie the balloon and hang.
To move the drying process along, I poked a tiny hole at the top of the balloon with a pin. It took a little over an hour to dry completely. Once the cement is hard, you can cut the top of the balloon and peel the balloon off the cement egg.
The top of my cement eggs were a little too pointy so I had to sand down the tops. If you tie the balloons properly before they dry you can probably avoid this sanding step. If not then just wear a mask and gloves to sand.
Once the eggs are completely dry, paint them white with a gesso or primer (a few coats of gesso/primer).
Now the kids have eggs to decorate. Problem solved.
My family has been using essential oils for about three years. My husband diffuses and I prefer them topically or used as an ingredient.
Melaleuca (Tea Tree) goes into my daughters hair gel everyday before school to keep the lice away. My sons ears and neck (NOT the ear canal) are rubbed with a combination of lavender and melaleuca to ease his ear infections. Rosemary on my elbow decreases the pain I get from tendinitis. We also use Doterra’s deodorant, Onguard concentrate for cleaning sprays (even cleans the grease off the stove) and Onguard Beadlets (help fights school germs). Essential oils have saved me from a cortisone shot in my hip, numbing elbow pain and countless sore throats (2-3 drops of Onguard on a spoonful of honey).
I also love cooking with essential oils. One drop can add a lot of flavor to a dish. Some of my favorite kitchen oils are lemon, lemongrass, oregano, peppermint, wild orange, grapefruit and rosemary. It’s important that the oil is pure, especially when using them internally. One drop of pure lemon oil in a glass of water tastes like a real lemon bec it is a real lemon. If the oil has any fillers, the lemon water won’t be as vibrant.
There are a lot of essential oil companies, so do your research. I prefer DoTerra oils. They harvest their oils when the plant is at its peak and from regions of the world where the plant is flourishing. They take great care when processing their oils and I find Doterra to be of high quality. Whether you use doterra or another brand, just make sure the oil is pure.
Below are some cooking ideas using essential oils. Start with one drop and use your judgement. Taste test when you can and use your nose when you can’t. Most of these only need 2-3 drops. I’ve found when using oils in broths or in recipes with long cooking times, its most flavorful when added at the end.
Lemon or orange essential oil in pancake batter (kick it up with poppy seeds and ricotta cheese)
Lemon or orange oil in cake batter (add shredded carrots for more vitamins)
Orange, lemon or grapefruit oil in marinades for seafood, chicken or pork
Lemon, oregano and rosemary oil with garlic powder, salt and pepper in meat and seafood marinades.
Lemongrass oil in broths, crock pot and marinades
1 drop of peppermint and lemon oil in tea to clear your sinuses (add local honey to the tea and to help with your allergies)
1 drop of lemon oil in a glass of water to flush out your liver
1 drop of grapefruit oil in water to help burn fat
1 drop of orange in water
I make and sell essential oil holders which can be hung on the wall or placed on a tabletop. These holders make it easier to organize the oils room by room. You can purchase them through my Etsy site or email me.
I am also a Doterra Wellness Advocate, so if you’re interested in purchasing doTerra essential oils click on my official doTerra sub-site www.mydoterra.com/OilsOnline
Making playdoh was daunting at first, but I bit the bullet and found it was pretty easy to do with the kids. My daughter helped every step of the way and even took the video.
This recipe makes approximately 4 “play doh” containers worth.
2 cups flour
1 cup salt (fine not coarse)
4 teaspoons Cream of Tarter
2 cups water
2 tablespoons cooking oil
Mix the dry ingredients in a separate bowl – Flour, Salt and Cream of Tarter. Then in a saucepan, add water, oil and food coloring. Slowly add the dry ingredients into the saucepan, mixing as you pour. Cook over low to medium heat until a solid ball forms (3-5 minutes). Remove the play dough from the saucepan and let it cool. Do not undercook because it will be sticky and do not overcook because it will crumble.
Be sure to store the playdoh in an airtight container.
I’ve been making bagel chips for years. I usually make a sweet batch and a savory one. These bagel chips are dangerous because before you know it, you’ve eaten 3 bagels in a sitting. You’ve been warned.
Below are recipes for both sweet and savory. I use the herb combination below because its what my friends and family prefer, but get creative and experiment with other herbs.
What you need:
Bread Knife or Serrated Knife
Large Mixing Bowl
Savory Bagel Chips
1/2 cup Oil (I use Grape seed or Olive oil)
1 teaspoon Oregano
1 teaspoon Basil
1 teaspoon Rosemary or Thyme
1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Black Pepper
Sweet Bagel Chips
1/2 cup Oil (I use Grape seed or Olive oil)
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
2 teaspoon Sugar
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
The secret to these chips is cutting the bagel thin which is why I suggest using a bread knife. Rest the bagels on a cutting board and slice lengthwise.
In a small bowl mix together the oil, oregano, basil, rosemary or thyme, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Then slowly pour the herb oil over the bagels turning the bagels as you pour.
Place a layer of chips onto a baking sheet, making sure not to overcrowd the baking sheet. Put the bagel chips in a 350 degree oven. Keep a close eye on the chips and occasionally mix and flip the bagel chips until crispy, approximately 10 minutes depending on your oven. Take the bagel chips out of the oven once they are crispy and let cool. Continue this process until all bagel chips are cooked. 6 bagels may take a few rounds in the oven.
My Mac ‘n Cheese is one of my daughters favorite dishes and lucky for me she has no idea there’s squash in it. The yellow squash blends in beautifully with the cheese because of its color and mild flavor. I try to put as many vegetables in recipes as I can without my kids realizing, so I put 2 cups of cooked squash. You can use as much or as little squash as you want.
2 Cups of Dry Pasta (I usually use small shells or elbow pasta)
1-2 Cups of Roasted Squash (Butternut or Acorn Squash work well)
2 Tablespoons of Butter
2 Tablespoons of Flour
1 Cup of Milk or Almond Milk
1 Cup or 8 oz of Cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
First preheat the oven to 350 degrees and poke a few holes in the squash with a knife. Place the squash on a baking sheet and cook until soft (a knife should softly go through easily), it takes about 45 mins to 1 hour.
Cook the pasta as per box directions in a pot of boiling water with salt. Be sure to stir the pasta every once in awhile so it doesn’t stick together.
In another saucepan, add 2 tablespoons of butter over low to medium heat until completely melted. Then slowly add 2 tablespoons of flour and whisk immediately. Keep whisking the flour and butter over low heat for approximately 2 minutes.
When the butter and flour mixture is smooth, slowly whisk in 1 cup of milk. Continue whisking until the mixture is completely combined, smooth and there are no clumps. Then add the squash. Cook and stir for about another minute or two and then add 1 cup of cheese (you can use more than one type of cheese or more cheese than 1 cup if you prefer). By the time the cheese is completely melted, the pasta should be ready. Strain the pasta and add it to the cheese sauce.
Molded crayons are an easy, fun craft to do with the kids. You can mold crayons into any shape using a tin cupcake or cookie pan. I’ve tried using silicone baking pans, but this method didn’t work very well. The kids can participate every step of the way which makes it an easy craft to do with them. These crayons are wonderful class gifts for Holidays and birthdays.
Crayons (Crayola melts and writes the best)
Tin cookie or cupcake pan
First, take the paper off all the crayons and place the crayons into your pan. Be sure to put enough crayons in the mold so they are not too thin (2-3 crayons in each mold). I use a razor blade to cut the paper which makes it easier to remove, but when the kids help, they enjoy ripping into the paper.
Bake the crayons low at approximately 220 degrees until they are completely melted. My oven takes approximately 8-10 minutes, but each oven varies.
Let them cool completely and the crayons will easily pop out of the molds.
I’ll start my first blog with a recipe. What I like to call “sneaky veggie Belgian waffles”. This is the easiest way to get my kids to eat their vegetables. They are clueless about vegetables in their breakfast treat.
Tip: double the recipe and freeze. When you need a quick breakfast you can pop it in the toaster.
At the end of the recipe, I added a vegan alternative which I had to make one morning because I ran out of milk and eggs. They were delicious and the kids couldn’t tell the difference.
YAM, CARROT & ZUCCHINI BELGIAN WAFFLES(makes approximately 5-6 waffles)
2 whole yams
2 cups shredded zucchini
2 cups shredded carrots
2 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
1 teaspoon Nutmeg (optional)
1 teaspoon Ginger (optional)
1/4 cup sugar or maple syrup or agave (any sweetener of your liking)
2 eggs (or 2 Flax eggs – recipe at the bottom)
2 cups milk (or almond milk)
1/4 cup oil
1 teaspoon vanilla (optional)
First preheat the oven to 350 degrees and poke a few holes in the yams with a knife or fork. Place the yams on a baking sheet and cook until soft (a knife should softly go through the yam), it takes about an hour. While waiting for the yams to cook, shred the zucchini and carrots (approximately 2-3 zucchini and 5 carrots depending on the size of the vegetables). When yams are fully cooked and cooled, mash and mix with shredded zucchini and carrots.
Set aside the vegetables and start mixing dry ingredients together.