Fill Those Easter Eggs With A Better Easter Candy {free Easter word search printable and giveaway}

This Easter candy post has been brought to you by YumEarth.  All opinions are mine.

Easter CandyEveryone knows that my first choice for candy for the boys is YumEarth.  We've used it for all of the major holidays, in the homeschool treasure box, and even in last year's Easter eggs.  The boys all have a sweet tooth and while moderation is important, I think it is okay to let them splurge and be kids once in awhile.  I just prefer to give them the best candy, with best possible ingredients.

Here is a chart to help you differentiate between the different types of YumEarth candy:

yumearth

The boys are always excited to see a bag of YumEarth candy because they know it will be delicious!  I think the older boys love Sour Beans the best and Baby Brother really enjoys YumEarth fruit snacks.  They will definitely be in this year's Easter eggs.  Grab some today from Walgreens or Amazon.  Check out the YumEarth website for more information.

Make sure to enter to win some YumEarth candy in the Rafflecopter form at the bottom of this post, but first, check out this adorable Easter word search…perfect for family get togethers, Easter morning, or a homeschool activity.  Just click on it to open up a printable PDF.Easterwordsearch

Easter Candy Giveaway

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Easter Gift Ideas for Families to Enjoy Together {giveaway, too!}

Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.  Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.  All opinions in this Easter gift ideas for families post are mine.

EasterGiftsFamilies

If you have been to any retail store in the past month, you have surely seen the plethora of Easter themed gifts for kids.  Chocolates, candy, stuffed bunny rabbits, shirts, Easter baskets, and more.  All of this is fun, for sure, but I like to include the entire family so we can all enjoy our time together.  Five gifts that would be great for family togetherness and fun follow:

1. Raised garden bed kit (or any garden themed item) – gardening is a great way to involve the whole family and get outdoors this Spring and enjoy God's creation!  There is nothing more satisfying than preparing the ground, planting seeds, and watching a garden full of delicious vegetables and fruits grow.

Easter gifts for families

2. Zoo passes – we absolutely love having a family zoo membership!  We can go any time and spend as much time as we want and we do not feel like we have to stay all day to get our money's worth.  The boys love animals and every time we go, there are new surprises!

3. Picnic basket – eating outside is super fun for the boys.  The times we get to have a picnic is very special, so having a dedicated picnic basket would be such a fun surprise!

4. Tickets to a movie or show – We don't get to the movies very often, but there are many great plays, musicals, and shows to choose from where we live.  Pick an age appropriate movie or show to attend and you will create some great memories with the kids!

Easter stories

5. A good book about the true meaning of Easter – Easter Stories: Classic Stories for the Holy Season is a collection of classic tales that bring Jesus to the forefront.  Each story was selected for the spiritual value and literary quality.  Authors such as C.S. Lewis, Leo Tolstoy, Selma Lagerlof, Oscar Wilde, Elizabeth Goudge, and more are included in this 383 page book.  

When we received this book, I was excited to begin reading a story each night to the boys.  The Captain has been captivated with these read alouds and hangs on to each word.  He particularly loved a story by Laura E. Richards entitled "The Coming of the King," about a group of kids who want to clean their dirty playground because a king is coming by.  The comparisons and thought provoking details of each story are just wonderful and we have really enjoyed reading this book together!  Read more about this great collection at the Plough website.

EasterStoriesgiveaway

Enter to win a copy of this great book in the Rafflecopter below.  Good luck!

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Easy Dot Art Shamrock Craft For Kids – St. Patrick’s Day

 

Easy Dot Art Shamrock Craft for Kids

Crafts are something that we all can agree on in this house.  The boys are excellent about coming up with their own crafts, but sometimes they need a little guidance to get started.  They love these Do A Dot Art! markers that Grammy gave to them and so I drew a shamrock (doesn't have to be perfect!) and let them dot around it.  The box says to only dot the markers, not drag them, so that adds another level of patience and skill to their crafting.  They seriously use these for everything.  We have made letters, their names, different drawings, and now these shamrock craft paintings.  They turned out really cute!

Materials needed:

Easy Dot Art Shamrock Craft

Directions:

1.  Draw or print an outline of a shamrock.

2.  Have child dot the marker all around the outline, then fill in the inside with green.

3.  Create a rainbow pattern with remaining colors (red, orange, yellow, blue, purple) and create a rainbow "behind" the shamrock.  We made two lines of dots for each color, then repeated the colors until there was no more white space showing.  

4.  Let dry (it doesn't take long) and display for St. Patrick's Day!

Shamrock craft
Easy Dot Art Shamrock Craft for Kids

To extend your child's learning, here are some fun St. Patrick's Day books for kids!

 

*contains affiliate links at no extra cost to you*

Kid Friendly Valentine’s Day Activities

Kid Friendly Valentine's Day Activities

Valentine’s Day is a special day of the year whether you are young or old.  It’s a day to celebrate love and friendship.  Jennifer Carver, of Spaceships and Laser Beams, is here to share some kid-friendly ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day.

Relationships are important to children, just as they are to adults.  Allowing children to acknowledge the special people in their life is a great way to help them celebrate the day.  This can be accomplished in a variety of fun and festive ways.

Idea #1:  Arrange a Valentine making station.  Gather blank greeting cards, envelopes, Valentine’s Day themed stickers, colorful trims in red, pink and purple, buttons and scraps of paper.  Create a crafting station with printables, scissors, glue, adhesive and plenty of markers and pens.  Help the children make a list of special friends and family members they’d like to remember on Valentine’s Day.

Idea #2:  Organize a service scavenger hunt.  Children enjoy doing small acts of service to show love. Have your children brainstorm a list of appropriate tasks they can do to show love for others.  Some ideas include:

·        Making a sibling’s bed.

·        Taking flowers to their teacher.

·        Dropping off a treat on a friend’s doorstep.

·        Coloring a picture for a grandparent.

·        Giving a friend a present.

·        Making cookies or candy for a neighbor.

Idea #3:  Plan a “heart attack”.  No, not that kind of heart attack.  This kind of heart attack involves creating a copious variety of paper hearts on which the children write down favorite memories or thoughtful words to describe the individual (or family) being “heart attacked”.  Once the hearts are created and filled out, the children carefully attach them to a neighbor’s or teacher’s windshield or doorframe as a fun surprise!  The finished product looks like a bunch of hearts staged an attack.  Consider this a nicer alternative to the toilet papering days of old!

Idea #4:  Visit a nursing home.  If you live close enough to a nursing home, take older children to visit some of the residents who might be lonely.  Take a Bingo game (you can print free versions off the internet) and boxes of conversation hearts to use as game markers for a fun Valentine’s Day themed twist.  Residents will love the visit!

Idea #5:  Decorate Valentine’s Day themed cookies.  Children love cookies, especially when they are in charge of decorating them!  Bake or buy a batch of your favorite sugar cookies.  Line and fill a muffin tin with cookie toppings like sprinkles, cinnamon hearts, sanding sugar and chocolate chips for decorating.  Fill disposable frosting bags with tinted frosting.  Then, let the kids go crazy decorating cookies to eat and share with friends.  Set aside a plate or two of cookies to wrap up and take to someone of the children’s choosing.  This could be a great friend, wonderful teacher or lonely neighbor.

What are some of your kid-friendly Valentine’s Day activities?  Add your own and make it a day your children will not soon forget!

 

*contains affiliate links at no extra cost to you*

Happy Valentine’s Day, Curious George! Banana Valentine Craft for Kids

One of the boys' favorite book characters is Curious George.  How can you resist this lovable, mischievous little monkey?  One book we like to read this time of year is Happy Valentine's Day, Curious George!

banana valentineI love crafts that the boys can create on their own, and this is definitely one of them!  Enjoy making this valentine craft for kids as you prepare for the fun day!

valentine

Supplies:

 
  • Yellow felt
  • Yellow construction paper
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Pen
  • Markers

vdayCollageDirections:

  1. Print out or freehand a banana and peel on yellow construction paper.
  2. You or your child cut out the banana and peel. 
  3. You will then want to help your child carefully trace the shapes on to the yellow felt. The yellow felt will serve as a backing to the banana and will make the valentine more durable. The yellow felt will also work as the banana’s peel as you continue to assemble your valentine.
  4. Cut out the shapes on the yellow felt. For this job, you may want to take the reigns since felt can be a little tricky to cut. 
  5. Once you have everything cut, it is time to start the fun part – putting it all together!
  6. On a flat surface, glue the construction paper banana shape onto the felt version. Then, on top of the construction paper banana, glue the felt banana peel.
  7. Use glue to tack down the edges of the peel so it looks as if the banana has been peeled down. 
  8. Once everything is glued down, take either a thin tip marker or pen and write your chosen valentine's day message. 
  9. Finally, use a brown marker to draw a heart, or even a monkey if you’re feeling ambitious, in the space between  your valentines message and your child’s name.
  10. For an extra special valentine, attach the handmade banana to a copy of Happy Valentine's Day, Curious George! or any other Curious George favorites!

Valentine’s Day is such a fun holiday. There’s candy, candy, oh and more candy, but a homemade valentine craft makes it all so much more special for you and your little one!

Banana vday

 

 

*Contains affiliate links at no extra cost to you*

Light & Delicious New Year’s Eve Snacks

New Year's Eve Snacks

The last two months have been a whirlwind of traveling, celebrating, shopping, and EATING!  Before the boys' birthday party, I was on a "healthy eating plan" and had lost some weight, but with the tempting foods of the season, it was very hard to practice healthy eating and moderation.  While I think we did a good job, there was definitely some unhealthy eating going on.  I kept that in mind when creating this collection of snacks for our annual New Year's Eve party.  Let's be honest….we will eat whatever is available on nights like this, so why not have healthy options available?  Sometimes I eat just to stay awake, so it's better to eat real food than some of the other NYE traditions.  All of these recipes are easy to pack up and transport to your New Year's Eve party, too!  

Finger Foods

Healthy Popcorn – Musings of a Modern Hippie

Spicy Maple Cinnamon Pecans – This West Coast Mommy

Quick & Easy Mini Bruschetta – Three Different Directions

No Bake Cranberry Pistachio Energy Bites – Grace and Good Eats (pictured)

Eggplant French Bread Pizza -Simmworks Family Blog

Veggie Pizza Appetizer – Simmworks Family Blog

Candied Nuts – Turning the Clock Back

Gluten Free Nanaimo Bars – This West Coast Mommy

Homemade Potato Chips – Thrifty Jinxy

Chicken & Tomato Meatballs – Thrifty Jinxy

Kale Chips – Ann's Entitled Life

Matbucha – Ann's Entitled Life

Oven Roasted Parmesan Green Beans – Ann's Entitled Life

Lemon-Herb Deviled Eggs – Brittany's Pantry (pictured)

Three-Ingredient Tomato, Broccoli, Cream Cheese Bites – Couponing for Freebies

Apple and Cheese Quesadillas – The Thrifty Couple (pictured)

Watermelon Lime Party Bites – Driftwood Gardens

Fruit Cups – See Mom Click (pictured)

Apple Bacon Arugula Bites – Thrifty  Northwest Mom

Panko Chicken Nuggets

Coconut Chocolate Candy

Dips, Spreads, and Salsas:

Avocado and Greek Yogurt Dip – Turning the Clock Back

Easy Creamy Onion Dip – Thrifty Jinxy

Black Eyed Pea Hummus - Mama Likes To Cook (pictured)

Sweet Pepper Cream Cheese Dip – Mama Likes To Cook

Dragon Fruit Salsa – Mama Likes To Cook (pictured)

Easy Veggie Spread – Brittany's Panty (pictured)

Black Bean Salsa – Brittany's Pantry (pictured)

Watermelon Pico de Gallo – The Thrifty Couple

Cowboy Caviar – Housewives of Frederick County

Fresh and Easy Homemade Guacamole – See Mom Click

Mexican Fiesta Black Bean Hummus – Two Healthy Kitchens

Peanut Butter Silk Pie Dip – Two Healthy Kitchens

Italian Cannelini Hummus – Two Healthy Kitchens

Queso con Carne without Velveeta

Tomatillo Salsa

Chocolate Cheesecake Fruit Dip

Other:

Mango Shrimp Ceviche – Confessions of an Overworked Mom (pictured)

New Year's Eve Snacks

If you happen to attend a party that is well supplied with New Year's Eve snacks, make sure to pack yours in Glad® food protection.  Glad® MatchWare is great for stacking in a reusable shopping bag, easily setting up at a party, and then just popping the lid back on and bringing back home.  Then, you can limit the number of dishes and nothing goes to waste.  Wake up late on New Year's Day (if you're so lucky!) and snack on your party leftovers for a mid morning brunch.  Nothing beats that!

Near Year's Eve snacks

Visit the Glad website to enter the Food Fairy Tale sweepstakes. You could win a $2,500 grand prize by sharing your Food Fairy Tale! 

 

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Glad Food Protection. The opinions and text are all mine.

Upgrade Your Camera In Time For Christmas at Best Buy

The reviewer has been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card and/or received the product/service at a reduced price or for free.

Christmas is only a few days away!  I think I have all of our gifts bought, but something I always forget is the camera!  Pictures of the most exciting day of the year should not be neglected.  There are so many great options to upgrade your camera or camcorder so you can capture all of the wonderful memories in high quality.  Not sure what the best option is for you and your family?  Best Buy can help.  

These three cameras from Nikon, Sony, and Samsung all come equipped with built-in Wi-Fi so you can instantly share your high quality photos.  

Sony #HintingSeason#CamerasatBestBuy

Sony Alpha α6000 Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera

·         A compact system camera with the World’s Fastest Autofocus

·         This Sony Alpha A6000 features a 24.3-megapixel, Exmor APS-C CMOS sensor that makes it easy to shoot scenes in stunning clarity. Built-in Wi-Fi lets you share stored content across devices.

·         Also available in White or silver

Samsung #HintingSeason

#CamerasatBestBuySamsung Galaxy Camera 2

·         A digital camera that allows you to shoot, share, and use Android Apps

·         This Samsung Galaxy 2 digital camera's 16.3-megapixel, 1/2.3" BSI CMOS sensor allows you to capture sharp images and high-definition video footage. The 4.8" touch screen simplifies operation, and built-in Wi-Fi makes sharing stored files easy.

Nikon #HintingSeason

#CamerasatBestBuy

Nikon D5300 DSLR w/18-55mm VR Lens

·         A DSLR with built-in Wi-Fi so you can capture high quality photos and share them instantly

·         This Nikon D5300 DSLR camera comes with an AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II lens that enables you to capture sharp photos and video footage. Optical image stabilization helps prevent blurring to ensure image clarity

·         Also available in red or gray

#CamerasatBestBuy

Visit the Best Buy Holiday Gift Center to see more great cameras, whether you’re giving as a gift or upgrading for yourself.

So…what's on YOUR wish list?

 

Homemade Christmas Gak Recipe (Scented With Thieves Oil)

Homemade Christmas Gak

Christmas will soon be here but until then, there is a lot of time to fill!  Kids who are out for the holidays plus parents who have a lot to do to get ready for the big day means that we have to pull a few tricks out of our hats.  Here is a fabulous DIY for something the kids love and can spend hours creating with!  Homemade Christmas gak is perfect for preschoolers (who aren't tempted to eat stuff) all the way through adults who love to play with squishy gak.  And, it can be scented to smell like Christmas with thieves oil or cinnamon spice.  

Ingredients:

  • two 4 oz bottles of Elmer's school glue
  • one tsp Borax
  • food coloring (we used green and red, but the red only turned out pink so I abandoned it)
  • warm water
  • 3-4 drops of Thieves oil (I use Eden's Garden) or a few dashes of cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Pour both bottles of glue into a bowl.
  2. Fill each empty bottle with warm water, shake them up to get the rest of the glue off, and then pour into the bowl with glue.
  3. Add food coloring.  (It took a LOT of green food coloring to get the color in my picture, and like I said the red was just pink forever, so I gave up on that.)
  4. Fill a cup with 1/2 cup of warm water.
  5. Add 1 teaspoon of Borax to the warm water (not the glue mix yet) and mix well until it is dissolved. 
  6. Pour the Borax/water mixture to the bowl of glue/water mixture and stir with a wooden spoon.  Then ditch the wooden spoon and mix with your hands.  Keep at it until it is all mixed well and it is all the same color.
  7. Let the kids have at it!  Bring out cookie cutters, pizza cutters, rollers, anything to make it more fun!
  8. Store in a jar when done.

Notes:  *The thieves oil might make it harder to mix well, but keep at it and it will turn out fine.  *Remind kids to not put the Gak in their mouths and to wash their hands after playing with it.  *If the kids get it on their clothes like mine did, (because doesn't everyone love to SIT on their Gak? Ugh!) just immediately pick off any that you can and rub with warm water and then wash.  It came out well and didn't stain, but with the food coloring and oil, it made me a little nervous.

Homemade Christmas Gak is a great way to pass the time during snow days and would make a great, inexpensive gift or stocking stuffer!

12 Festive Family Beverages – Yummy Non-Alcoholic Drinks For Christmas!

This non-alcoholic drinks post was brought to you by Foodie.  All opinions are mine.12 Festive Family Beverages

 

Check out 12 Festive Family Beverages

by Gena at Foodie.com

The holiday season is a time for delicious food and family time.  My guys all love the delicious drinks of the season, from hot chocolate to cranberry drinks.  I have made a Foodie collection of 12 tasty drinks to satisfy and intrigue all of your family members this season.  They're all non-alcoholic so even the littles can enjoy them (but it would be easy to add alcohol if that's your wish!)  I have collected these recipes because they're all a bit different, but yet festive and traditional.  Some are served warm, some cold, but all are full of the flavors of the season.  Enjoy!

Save Money by Making Mini Layered Chocolates for Christmas Gifts!

This mini layered chocolates shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #TasteTheSeason #CollectiveBias

Mini Layered Chocolates #TasteTheSeason #CollectiveBias #ad

Every Christmas, I like to give homemade gifts to neighbors, teachers, and friends.  I do not like to give the traditional gifts like fruit cake and dipped pretzels, although they are delicious.  I just don't want to risk giving something that they have already received.  I personally love bite sized mini foods, so I thought about making these yummy mini layered chocolates for gifts this year.  I really had a blast making them, as you can individualize each piece and make them all different.  Plus, it is a great way to save money when you need to buy gifts for a lot of people and homemade gifts are always enjoyed!

I was able to pick up all the ingredients that I needed at Walmart on a quick shopping trip.  Everything that I needed was in the baking aisle or on the special holiday endcap.

IMG_4056

The ingredients I needed for the chocolate candy were Baker's semi-sweet and German's baking chocolate, Baker's angel flake sweetened coconut, Kraft caramel bits, pretzel sticks, sugar, and I already had the silicon baking mold with the gingerbread men at home.
#TasteTheSeason #CollectiveBias

I wanted to make the coconut more of a "butter" so I put it in the food processor for about five minutes until it had a smoother consistency.  

#TasteTheSeason #CollectiveBias

Then, I followed the directions on the Baker's baking chocolate for melting it in the microwave.  I melted 1 1/2 bars (not squares, but entire bars) of semi-sweet baking chocolate and stirred, then added 1/3 cup of the coconut that I had pureed in the food processor, along with 1/4 cup of sugar and mixed well.  This mix was brownie-ish and oh so yummy!  I spooned about 1/2 – 1 tsp of the mix in each mold and pressed it down.  To harden it a bit, I popped it in the fridge for about 20 minutes.

Mini Layered Chocolates

After that, I melted some Baker's German's sweet chocolate bar and also the caramel bits and just played around with making different layers in the gingerbread boy molds.  I even made some that were just sweet chocolate and caramel, which were definitely the smoothest mini layered chocolates and the Captain's favorites.

#TasteTheSeason #CollectiveBias

I love the variety of the little gingerbread men layered chocolates.  The Captain has a tree nut allergy, or else I would have put some nuts in there, too.  I did make a few with pretzel sticks and those were my absolute favorites.

It was very simple to pop about 5-6 mini layered chocolates in a small Mason jar for a gift!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Ingredients and Supplies needed:

  • Baker's semi-sweet baking chocolate, 2 bars
  • Baker's German's sweet baking chocolate, 1 bar
  • Baker's angel flake sweetened coconut
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • pretzels, nuts, cranberries, and any other add-ins you would like! (optional)
  • silicone molds of choice
  • small mason jars and/or treat boxes for packaging gifts

Directions:

  1. Pour a half of a bag of Baker's angel flake sweetened coconut into the food processor and run for 5-10 minutes, stopping and stirring every minute or so, until a smoother texture is achieved.
  2. Melt 1 1/2 whole bars of Baker's semi-sweet chocolate in a microwave safe bowl according to package directions.  (Check and stir every 30 seconds until melted.)
  3. Mix coconut "butter" and melted chocolate in a bowl, along with 1/4 cup of sugar until well combined.
  4. When cooled, press 1/2 – 1 tsp of mixture into bottom of silicon molds.
  5. Place molds in refrigerator for about 20 minutes to harden and set. 
  6. Then, add in a layer of crushed pretzels, nuts, cranberries, etc to various molds for variety.
  7. Melt Baker's German's chocolate bar in the microwave, checking and stirring every 30 seconds.
  8. Pour chocolate into various molds.
  9. Melt Kraft caramel bits (watch closely!) and pour in various molds, as well.
  10. If you want to make a layer of German's sweet chocolate on top of the caramel, make sure to refrigerate for 10-20 minutes to firm up before adding in the last layer.
  11. When all molds are filled, refrigerate for an additional 30 minutes and then pop them out and into your mason jars or treat boxes.
  12. Deliver to your recipients and watch their smiles erupt!

Note:  You probably need to advice your recipients to keep the chocolates cool so they won't melt.  You shouldn't need to keep them in the fridge, but that may not be a bad idea.  Also, make sure to note any allergies (dairy, coconut, nuts, etc).

 

Mini Layered Chocolates #ad #TasteTheSeason #CollectiveBias

What is your go to holiday treat that you enjoy making for gifts?  

If you need more inspiration, visit the Cooking Up Good website. It has recipes, sweepstakes, loyalty programs, coupons and more! What's not to love? If you're looking for a new dinner idea or a chance to win some awesome prizes, be sure to check it out!

Mini layered chocolates