Baking with my babes!

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Hey friends! So, if you have been following me for awhile, you know one of our absolute favorite things to do as a family, is bake together!  When we homeschooled last year, every week we baked/cooked something that coordinated with the letter we were learning that week. It was so fun and it’s so amazing getting to teach them baking skills and introducing them to new foods and such a fun way to incorporate learning into our week!  Some things we made were healthy, some not so much, but all so fun to make together! Cooking as a family is my favorite!  When Dad gets involved I love it that much more!  Chris is an insane cook and these girls don’t know yet just how lucky they are to have a Dad with such amazing culinary skills! #happywife!

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Having a house full of daughters is kind of like a dream come true!  I don’t know that I necessarily ever imagined this, but it is truly incredible!  We joke that we’re going to need to remodel our kitchen soon because our house is full of people who love to cook, including my husband who is the best of the best!  But, we probably really will have to… So, if you want to come help remodel our space, let me know:D

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It is so wonderful watching each of our daughters’ personalities develop, and you can see it so much when we bake.  Norah takes baking pretty seriously and wants to get the recipe right.  Charlie pretty much spends the whole time taste testing anything that falls onto the table and Ada just likes to bang spoons and make messes!

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It’s so fun watching them pick out their aprons, their whisk of choice, choosing which ingredients who gets to put in first and probably most of our recipes get extra eggs because egg cracking is their favorite part, next to dough tasting of course!

When my sweet friend Robyn told me she was flying into town from Phoenix and asked if we would want to do some photos, I knew right away that I wanted her to capture us doing one of our favorite things and do a little baking session! Guys, if you live in the Phoenix area, hit her up for photos!  She does it all and her work is so good! But seriously, she does such a great job at simply capturing what’s happening and makes you feel totally comfortable. So, please check her out if you’re in her neck of the woods! I maybe ugly face cried when looking at these because she did such an amazing job capturing the girls’ personalities and the little moments that make up our time spent baking with one another!

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We usually only get family photos done when we have a baby, so like once a year:D But, seriously, this was such a blessing!  Robyn did a little home session for us after we welcomed Ada and I cherish those moments so much! I knew I wanted to do something to remember this special season with these 3 little ladies before their 4th sister arrives, and this was absolutely perfect!  I am so excited to have those moments as our family of 6 beginning, but this was so very special!

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I imagine what life will be like when they’re in their teens and I get so excited! People make lots of negative comments about how terrible it will be, and I just smile because I know it doesn’t have to be!  I am so thankful to get to mother these ladies and when I imagine those years I imagine more coffee dates, more movie nights, more conversations in our kitchen… I know there will be rough moments, but I know none of those will compare to how wonderful the good ones will be!

A little alliteration for you!  Cooking Chocolate Chip Cookies wearing Comfy Clogs with the Cutest Crew!  See, education, education, education! IMG_6269

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Robyn, Thank you so much for the gift of these photos!  We are truly so grateful!  Check Robyn out at RobynRena.comInstagram and Facebook!

Featured Items

Norah’s Dress: RemieGirl

Charlie’s Dress, which she basically lives in: RyleeandCru

Charlie’s Hair Bows: TheLittleDesignCo

Ada’s Romper: ShopTheRabbitandFern

Momma’s top: LoveWinnieJames

Momma’s Clogs: SandgrenClogs

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More than just a Chalkboard

I get a lot of questions regarding our chalkboard and where we purchased it or if we made it how we did it, so I thought it would be a good idea to write a little tutorial and share a little about it!

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When we started educating at home a little more, I knew I wanted a chalkboard to incorporate into our lessons, but wasn’t sure where to get one or where to put it.  Then my handsome and brilliant husband had the idea to make our own! We were new to our home and had a big empty space on our dining room wall that we knew we wanted to fill with something and a chalkboard felt perfect! Also, our 1935 home has plaster and lath walls so hanging heavy stuff can be quite tricky, so we try to avoid drilling into and hanging anything heavy as much as possible in these bad boys. This method was easy and kind on our walls!

We only had to get 2 things! Black chalkboard paint and Pine 1×2’s!  We got both from our local hardware store for less than $20!!! Chris measured and taped off the wall and rolled on about 3 coats of the chalkboard paint. We had an idea of how big we wanted it so we knew what length of 1×2’s to get before we purchased them.  Then he just cut the sides to fit. Once the paint dried, he simply nailed the 1×2’s to the wall!

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We’ve had friends stain their wood dark, use pallet wood or larger planks, use dark green chalkboard paint, paint the entire wall without framing it, make smaller chalkboards, etc.  It’s a super simple and affordable project that can easily be altered to fit your space and personal aesthetic!

 

 

We have used this chalkboard as a centerpiece for Birthday’s, Home Births, Baby Gender Announcements, Going Away Parties for friends, home education, Holiday’s and even recently for an intimate Wedding we hosted for some dear friends…Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

 

I feel like I can’t call this ‘just a chalkboard’  because it has been incorporated into so many special memories and holds so many dear moments for us in our home!

So many meals, special events, laughter and valuable conversations shared with friends, so many teachable moments we shared with our children and things we learned ourselves as parents, even our oldest’s first portrait of me and our family was a chalkboard piece!

So, I hope this was helpful and that you’re inspired to create a special place in your home to be used for all kinds of memory-making moments and events!

 

Q is for Quiche

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetFor those of you who follow us regularly, you know that the little ladies and I like to make and bake something new for each letter we’re learning in home school that week. This past week was Q and as it turns out, there aren’t a lot of foods that start with Q.  Quail, quail eggs, Quesedilla, Quince and Quiche were all I could think of. Probably there’s more, but this was my list.  We decided a quiche would be good, and while I love a sweet onion or delicious dill quiche, momma was craving something real sweet.  So, I googled dessert quiche and the first thing I saw did the trick!  We adapted this French Vanilla Quiche recipe from seriouseats.com and I’m SO glad we did!  Think, sweet vanilla custardy deliciousness baked into a good ol’ flaky pie crust just like grandma’s! Nomnomnomnomnom!

 

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Here’s what you need to make this little quiche baby!

  • 1 Pie crust. You can make your own or do what we did & get a refrigerated or frozen pie crust.  There will be enough custard for one deep dish crust or for two regular sized crusts.
  • 4 whole eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 cups half and half
  • 1 vanilla bean – I learned a little bit about vanilla bean shopping! I looked at 4 places and found that the Private Selection brand at our Dillons grocery store made the least expensive. 2 beans for $10.  I found 1 bean for $9 and the average price seemed to be 2beans for $16. But trust me, it’s worth it!  I’m sure you could use pure vanilla extract if you are unable to hunt down some vanilla beans, but scraping the vanilla from the beans makes you feel cool, and you can decorate the pie with the beans, so there’s that to think about too:DProcessed with VSCO with a6 preset

And here’s what you need do with those ingredients to get this quiche baby ready to put in your mouth! P.S….Don’t eat babies. Eat quiche. We’re making quiche.

  1. Place your oven rack in the middle position and preheat your oven to 375°F. Place your pie crust into your 9-inch pie plate, tucking back edges of crust or making it real fancy nice!

  2. In a big ol’ bowl, whisk together eggs, egg yolks, and sugar until the color lightens up and is real nice and frothy, around 2 minutes. Whisk in flour, then your half and half, scrape all that vanilla goodness out of the vanilla bean and mix everything up real good. Prepare for your kitchen to smell amazing!
  3. Pour your delicious vanilla goodness into your crust. Place pie plate on rimmed baking sheet and bake until egg mixture is puffed and a light gold.  Cook for about about 55 minutes to 1 hour for the deep dish and about 30 minutes for two of the shallower pie crusts . Remove from oven, leave the room, tell your self no for 15 minutes (plenty of time to change into stretchy pants and get some coffee) and then come back, take a pretty picture, top with anything you might like (we did fresh sliced strawberries) and slice it up and eat that quiche!! It is so good warm or refrigerated a few hours later..and then a few more hours after that, a few more after that and even a little after that too!Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

    Enjoy friends!!!

Essential Oil Playdough Fun

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In our home, we make a lot of playdough  In fact, we’ve never actually purchased playdough. Making playdough is super fun, super easy, super inexpensive, the girls love to help make it and there are endless possibilities of how you can incorporate learning into playdough play.

E9144A9B-833F-4A32-AED2-B0B1666B82EF.jpeg Without going into too much detail, essential oils & playdough can be used for some pretty amazing stuff!  While I’m mostly sharing this for the recipe, here are a few benefits!

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We use playdough for both directive and non-directive play, to encourage imagination and creativity, build hand strength, master fine motor skills, strengthen bilateral coordination, to learn skills like counting and measuring, encouraging conversation and even for therapeutic properties like relaxing, reducing stress, anxiety, calming, grounding and reducing anger with the use of essential oils.

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When you add essential oils that are used to stimulate, calm or balance to playdough, you’re creating a whole new play experience that has the ability to strengthen the mind, calm tempers and even strengthen the immune system.

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetWhen you get a chance, research how neural pathways work! It’s amazing how sensory tools like playdough and essential oils can work together to wire and rewire areas in our brain! Just amazing.

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So, the way we incorporate playdough into our learning and our learning into our playdough is by by making and using it on rainy Mondays like today making or making it fit our theme for the week. We try and learn and master a new letter each week. We do crafts, read books, play games and make foods that correspond with the letter we’re learning that week.  Some of the ways we’ve done this in the past is Lavender scented, Lavender colored playdough for the week of L while listening to the song Lavender’s Blue on repeat for 2 hours:D

FullSizeRender (9)You can talk about how the playdough feels, how it smells, how it makes them feel, what they like and even what they don’t like about it. You can incorporate fun playdough tools, thrifted baking and kitchen items, pieces of nature collected outside and many household items to create lots of different ways to experience learning with playdough.

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We’ve done this with lots of letters, colors, music and essential oil blends! We then practice making the letter we’re learning and mold the various items they can think of that start with that letter. I’m always amazed at some of the stuff they come up with… Each essential oil has different impacts on the mood. If we’re needing a little energy, citrus will help. If we need to calm down than lavender helps!

Get creative and have fun! When our letter was P, we made our own Peace essential oil blend, colored the playdough a bit pink, peach & purple (their idea) and the girls made pretend pregnant molds by pressing the dough into teaspoons (also their idea!):D.  They’re kind of still obsessed with all things pregnancy and birth🙌 They almost always make outfits for their barbies, creative foods and animals and they’ve even crafted playdough into jewelry.

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Plus, they’ll play for plenty long enough for you to snap some photos and edit them while enjoying a nice honey latte:D

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We’ve experimented with a few recipes and here is our favorite!

Ingredients:

2 cups flour

2 cups colored water

1 cup salt

1-2  tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

5-15 drops of essential oils of choice

Directions:

  1. You’re going to add all your ingredients, minus the essential oils, in a large saucepan and mix real good until combined.
  2. Once it’s mixed real good, place pan over medium heat. Use a spatula to stir until all your dough turns into a pretty ball. Sometimes we add a little more coloring in this stage until we get the color we want.
  3. As soon as you’re ball is formed, remove from heat and cool on parchment paper. NOTE: Don’t overcook as your playdough will get all dry and gross:( If it seems a little dry, rub your pretty playdough ball down with more olive oil. I usually add another tablespoon just so it’s good and moist. (Worst word ever, but I didn’t know what other word to use.)
  4. Once your playdough has cooled down, add your essential oils and knead until combined and as smelly good as you want.  Depending on the oils I use, sometimes 5 drops is enough and sometime I need 20.  Just play around with your oil blends until you get it how you want.
  5. Voila! Beautiful essential oil playdough! Store in an airtight container for lots of playdough fun! We store our playdough in thrifted air tight glass containers and keep our dough and utensils stored in pretty picnic baskets within their reach so they can take it out to play during free time, which is basically all day:D