The Nutcracker

This was the second year my older boys have participated in a local production of The Nutcracker. Seahawk had a solo as the Toy Soldier during the party scene, and both boys were part of the Russian dance pack during the Kingdom of Sweets in the second act. Here are some pictures of the highlights, including videos of the Seahawk’s dance. (For some reason, the computer isn’t finding the pictures from the second act to allow me to upload them. They still show up on my phone, but aren’t in the folder on when I open it on the computer, so I only have the earlier pictures.)

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Dragonfly was enthralled!

 

Gingerbread Cookies

Will and I talked about doing a gingerbread house with the boys this year, but then thought back to how hard those are to build if you make them from scratch, and how bad they taste if you buy the premade ones that you just decorate. So we decided to do gingerbread cookies instead. I cheated a bit and bought the pouch of cookie mix (just add butter and eggs), and Will picked up a pouch of royal icing and some red and green candies (like M&Ms, except Hershey brand). We also used some gummy bears that we had on hand already, and everyone had a really fun time decorating the cookies.

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Small Fry got help with the frosting, but added the candies all by himself.

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I decorated Dragonfly’s for him, and it was about all he could handle to not eat it before I took a picture!

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Blessings,

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Recipe: Artichoke Pasta

Will was recently at a restaurant by himself, and he ordered something he normally wouldn’t – a pasta dish from a burger place. But he really liked it and decided to have us try to replicate it on our own. Here’s what we came up; he says it’s pretty close, and even if it wasn’t, it’s totally delicious. And the best part is that it works two ways: as a hot dish on its own (it’s a fantastic lunch), and as chilled leftovers in a pasta-salad type of way. The quantities I give will make a huge batch – enough for lunch one day and a side dish the next.

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Artichoke Pasta

2 pounds rotini pasta (or your favorite bite-size)
Approximately 3 cups pesto-Alfredo sauce (we use 2 jars of Classico basil Alfredo)
1 bunch kale
2 cans artichoke hearts, chopped (but not too finely)
3-4 diced Roma tomatoes, or equivalent grape or cherry tomatoes

Bring a large pot of water to boil. While you’re waiting, get the kale ready by removing the leaves from the stems and chopping it roughly.

Add the pasta and kale to the pot together. Cook according to pasta box directions. Drain. (Don’t do what I did on picture day and forget the kale. It’s really much better if you cook it long enough.)

To the same pot, add the sauce, artichoke hearts, and tomatoes. Cook for a few minutes to heat the sauce and gently cook the vegetables.

Add the pasta-kale mixture to the sauce mixture and stir well to combine. Serve hot or chill and serve cold later.

Blessings,

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New Magic Stix from The Pencil Grip, Inc.

IMG_1041We have been blessed to work with The Pencil Grip, Inc. on many occasions, and we love all of their products. Today, I’m here to tell you about something new in their arsenal: Magic Stix markers. My kids (particularly the two younger ones) have had the pleasure of drawing all sorts of different things over the past week or so using these markers, and they love them! They’ve definitely become the medium of choice for the kids in their neverending quest to create more artwork.

Magic Stix aren’t so different from other markers. They come in a variety of colors (packs of 12 or 24). They’re odorless. They’re washable.

But where they really shine is in their endurance. See, they’re guaranteed not to dry out for up to 7 days – with the cap off. That’s remarkable, and something I had a hard time bringing myself to test prior to writing up this post. Finally, I knew that my deadline was approaching and I had to test out that claim. Due to my hesitation, I didn’t let the markers sit for 7 days without their caps, but I did let one of the sit out with no cap for 3 days (well, more like 36 hours over the course of 3 calendar days). And guess what? It worked just as well at the end of that time as it did at the beginning. Check it out:

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I won’t exactly say I was shocked, because I know that The Pencil Grip wouldn’t make the claim if it wasn’t true, but I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that there wasn’t even any difference in the quality of the line. A normal marker would have to have been tossed in the garbage by the time I wrote the first “Day 2” on my test paper. I’m definitely impressed by these!

IMG_1042My only issue with them is that they bleed quite a bit. When your children use them, make sure to have plenty of extra paper underneath the one they’re writing on to save your tables.

You can buy Magic Stix for $9.95 (for the 12 pack) or $19.95 (for the 24 pack) on Amazon – and the 12-pack is on Prime, so if you hurry, you can get them in time for Christmas!

Blessings,

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Puppets

For Seahawk’s birthday, we wanted to get him a “gift that would inspire” rather than just something else to clutter up the kids’ room (since they’re all 4 in one bedroom at the moment). So we found a puppet from a toy store, and we got some books on puppeteering from the library. He had loads of fun with that, and has continued to have fun for the 5 weeks since his birthday. So much fun, in fact, that the other kids wanted in on the fun. Exactly what we’d hoped to accomplish!

After that, Will went online and found a “make your own puppet” pattern, so he downloaded and printed it it, and the boys have been making these puppets for themselves quite a lot since then. It’s really neat to see their creativity flow and how many different puppets they can make from the same pattern. Even Dragonfly is getting in on the action – not of making puppets (since he’s only 2), but of playing with them. He just loves all of the puppets! Will even watched an episode of Sesame Street with him once since then, and he immediately recognized the characters as puppets. That’s something Will readily admits he didn’t understand until he was much older.

So today, I wanted to share a picture of Seahawk with one of the puppets he’s created. The nose is entirely his creation – the pattern didn’t include that.

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Blessings,

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Picture of the Week: Flash!

As you may know, Dragonfly isn’t much of a baby anymore. He turned 2 last month, and now when asked the question, “Are you a baby?” the answer is (almost) always, “No baby. Little boy.” Super cute.

Occasionally the answer changes a bit though. You see, the big kids have been watching the TV show Flash lately, and the little kids are sometimes caught up in the episodes with them. So sometimes, instead of saying, “No baby. Little boy,” Dragonfly will tell me, “No baby. Flash.” And then he runs away. 🙂

To aid in his love of all things Flash, Munchkin made him this little costume that he can wear over the top of his clothes, and then he really is the Flash. He absolutely loves it.

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Blessings,

 

Recipe: Angel Chicken Pasta

One of our favorite things to eat is pasta. It’s easy, cheap, and can feed a lot of people with not too much effort. Finding a good sauce to make is even better. I found this one from AllRecipes a while ago, but I’ve modified it to make it even easier (and quicker!) for my family. The first time I made it for my in-laws, they both raved about how good it was, so I decided I wanted to share my version of the recipe here. I hope you like it too.

These quantities are for my family of 8. Adjust accordingly for your family size.

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Angel Chicken Pasta

Ingredients:

3-4 chicken breasts, diced

1/2 stick butter

2 packets dry Italian dressing mix

1 cup white wine (I use cooking wine since we don’t drink)

2 cans condensed Golden Mushroom soup (Campbell’s brand)

1 brick cream cheese (8 oz)

1 1/2 pounds angel hair pasta

Instructions:

Cook the pasta according to package directions.

Meanwhile, cook the chicken in a touch of oil until no longer pink. Add the Italian dressing mix and white wine and stir to dissolve the dressing. Cook for a minute or two to evaporate the alcohol in the wine. Stir in the soup and butter; heat through. Add the cream cheese and stir until melted and heated all the way through.

Combine the pasta and sauce. Serve with your choice of sides (salad and bread).

Blessings,

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