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A Trip To Paris At Home

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Alright. I’m not gonna lie to you.  When we got the call yesterday morning at 6:30, I groaned. I did.  I’m pretty sure I whined shamelessly.  It went a little something like this: “Seriously?! Again?! AH! That is the fourth time in seven days. You’ve got to be kidding me!’

Yeeeeeeeeep.  Here in the snowman capital of the world we had ANOTHER snow day. Sheesh!  With subzero temperatures verging on fifteen below, I guess I can see why they thought it necessary to cancel again. But, really, could they have asked me first? I have orders I am behind on, not to mention dishes, housework and Downton Abbey!

Alas, though, I gave in and accepted that all of that would have to wait. Again.

A very sweet friend sent me some tea in the mail and I caught a glimpse of it sitting on the side table while aforementioned tantrum was transpiring. It was so charmingly called “Breakfast in Paris” tea. Ah! Breakfast in Paris, I thought to my little ol’ self. If only……

The best part of being a parent, in my opinion, is that I really don’t have to act like an adult all the time and I have a great excuse for it: I’m just being a good mom!! If I want to take the whole day and pretend that I am strolling the streets of Paris, shopping and visiting the Louvre and sitting in cafes admiring the Eiffel Tower, then by golly I will! You know….for the sake of the kids….

Here is the schedule for our day.  We started by listening to the “French Traditional” station on Pandora to set the mood. Then, I taught the girls the three French words I actually know: Bonjour, Au revoir, and Merci. Of course I used a very obnoxious and completely off accent all day and called the girls Mademoiselles.

We put the kettle on and used our finest china, pretending that we were taking our tea and breakfast in a street café.  We imagined it was sunny and warm and there were birds chirping (or at least I did. The girls kept contradicting me saying, “Nu-uh, Mom. There are no birds. It’s cold!”).

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Then we made crepes using this yummy recipe. I did add a little canned pumpkin for nutritional benefit as well. We filled them with jam and fresh fruit. We sipped tea and talked in accents and dreamed of a warm morning in Paris gazing at the Eiffel Tower.

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After breakfast we took a stroll down a street lined with blooming flowers (or really took a walk up to our second story bathroom) to the “salon” where we had French manicures and did our hair in French braids.

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Then, alas, because the house and messy kitchen sadly won’t clean itself we pretended to be French maids. The kids weren’t really buying it, but we had to stay in theme, right? 😉

Then we went “shopping” at the Le Petit Closet (again, insert me in French accent, “Oh yes! Dis is da finest Fraunch boutique in all of Par-ie.” And the girls groaning, “Mooooom. It’s our closet!!”) We put on our finest duds and put on a fashion show.  I draped a tablecloth over the door as a backdrop. Verrry hip this year on the Paris runway. Then we struck some serious and very chic poses. Do you see the pure diva sass I’m dealing with here, people?!

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Before lunch, we took virtual tours of the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower. They both have A-M-A-Z-I-N-G sites with 360degree views. On the Louvre’s site you can click on paintings and statues and such and get a larger view of them and information about them. You can see the museum room by room. I was IN LOVE! Je T’aime, Louvre! They also have a whole wing dedicated to Egyptian history which was a great opportunity to tell the girls about the ancient Egyptians and what they believed and how it differs from what we believe as Christians.  It turned into a little theological/Bible lesson. Bonus.

After all of that, we took a tour of local attractions via our very own, personal tour guide, Pinterest. Do you know there is a trampoline bridge over the Seine?!!! WHAT?!! That alone makes me want to visit the city of love for real!!! Did I say yet that I like to act like a kid sometimes?

 Then for lunch we had veeeeeeeeery authentic French cuisine: French (garbage) fries. Hey! I did crepes, alright?

Then we strolled to what I would like to pretend was an outdoor theater in the park and watched the movie “Madeline” (on Netflix).  It’s a story about a little French girl in Paris who is trying to save the girls’ home where she lives. Cute.

After the “theater” we had pumpkin lattes (DECAF!) with chocolate on a veranda overlooking the Seine river.

Then I about collapsed from exhaustion. Who knew touring Paris could be so tiring?

So I made the girls rest for a few minutes while I prepped for our next item on the venture.  I told them we would paint pictures of the Eiffel Tower (because, honestly, you can’t go to Paris and NOT do something artistic, right?). So I googled a silhouette of the Tower and then traced it onto a piece of watercolor paper. Then I used some handy dandy rubber cement and painted over the silhouette.

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You can also use art masking fluid but it is WAAAAAAAAY expensive and a bottle of rubber cement is only a couple of dollars and change and does the job nicely.  I told the girls to paint all over the paper in any colors they so desired.

While they worked I serenaded them because that’s what they would do in France, right? Artists need mood music to get the creative juices flowing. In this case, “Fire and Rain” by James Taylor because that’s pretty much all I know at this point.

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Then when it was done and all dried and the masterpieces were created, I took an artist’s eraser and rubbed off the rubber cement revealing the tower beneath it and voila (as the French would say).

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We ended the day with French onion soup for dinner (which I would not recommend. I don’t believe it’s really French or a favorite with kids). Lesson learned.

All in all, it was a pretty romantic day….for me at least! A couple of times Ev said, “This is the best day EVER!” So I think they enjoyed it as well.

Disclaimer: I do always like to have a reality check though, for those of you who might think this was all kittens and unicorns and kittens riding on unicorns and are tempted to be discouraged. It wasn’t all sunny. I did plenty of scolding in my French accent, the girls didn’t dig all of my ideas, and at one point I just threw my hands up and really scolded…in clear English….and SUPER loudly. It was fun, but not perfect, even in Paris!

Here is a FREE printable in case you feel inspired to do your own stay-cay vacay to Paris!

Revoir, mes amours!

paristicket

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Mini Quiches and Monkey Bread

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It’s another snow day! With sub zero temperatures and three girls with serious cabin fever, we are huddled inside and declared a pajama day. Baking just felt like the right thing to do.

I’ve been trying to teach the girls how to bake and cook a little bit and days like today are the perfect opportunity for teaching and bonding….. And eating.:)

I will never forget my first home ec class in seventh grade. We made monkey bread. To this day, I remember how to make it without cracking a recipe book. So yummy and perfect for a day like today. I altered it a bit because nothing I make every tastes the same way twice because I don’t use measurements.

The mini quiches were also just thrown together, but super easy and delicious. With both recipes, the girls were able to help a lot. They whipped eggs, cut butter, sprinkled cinnamon and sugar and ripped up spinach. And they taste tested, of course.

Without further ado:

Mini quiches

3 eggs

1/4 cup milk

Chopped spinach and tomatoes

Shredded cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375f. Spray mini muffin pan with oil. In small bowl whip together ingredients and then pour evenly into pans. Bake in oven for ten to twelve minutes until they are poofy and cooked through.

Monkey bread

1 can biscuits

1 cup sugar

Cinnamon

1 stick butter

Preheat oven to 350f. Grease the bottom of a round baking pan. Rip up biscuits into small round balls and place in bottom of pan. Cut butter and place on top of biscuits. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Bake in oven for 10-15 minutes or until cooked through and no longer doughy.

Finally, eat and keep warm!

I’d love to hear your snow day activities!

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Pumpkin Pie Latte

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Happy fall, Y’all!

Don’t you just adore the falling leaves crunching underfoot, the crisp air stirring up rich aromas of freshly carved pumpkins and smoky chimneys? There is something supremely poetic and romantic about the Fall. It’s a time for snuggling under warm, thick blankets and reading a good book on a rainy day or swinging on the front porch with hot apple cider on a warm, sunny afternoon listening to children giggling as they stomp home from school. AAAAAAH! It’s the epitome of coziness!

The Fall is the perfect time for hot drinks! So I came up with this really simple, yet divinely delicious recipe to enjoy on this fine Autumn morning while I read my Bible with two faithful pups curled at my feet.

Confession time: I’m not a huge fan of coffee or pumpkin pie! But, together, they make a heavenly combination. Confession #2: This is also a throw together recipe. I rarely follow any recipes to a T because I like to “create” with whimsy rather than follow recipes that squash the creative juices. That’s how I roll. So, bear with me. I will tell you what I put in this and give you an idea of how much I added of each ingredient, but I’m leaving it up to you to really make your own concoction to entice your own taste buds. So, here goes:

-Freshly brewed coffee (I filled my mug up about half full)

-canned pumpkin (I added about a tablespoon)

-Sweetened Condensed Milk (for me a teaspoon)

-Milk (I used skim and filled the rest of my mug with it)

-Cinnamon (just a dash in the coffee and some sprinkled on top of….)

-Whipped cream (optional but highly recommended. You taste buds, if not your waist, will thank you)

Mix all together, with whipped cream on top, and relish with pleasure while reading a gripping novel, taking a lovely stroll down a leaf strewn lane, snuggling with a companion, or enjoying the glory of God’s creation.

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DIY Recipe Book

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I cook much like my mom.  She was always an awesome cook. She had the magical way of opening her cupboards, seeing what she had, and throwing together something delicious with nothing more than a can of vegetables, a hot dog and a potato. It was amazing. I somehow inherited her knack for cooking this way. The downside to this, is many times we have sat down and oohed and awed over something divinely delicious (more when my mom is cooking than me) and have no idea how it turned out. I have asked her for recipes  before but she can’t really duplicate it more than saying, “You know…it’s a little bit of this, a dash of that….”

I don’t know how impressed my kids are really with my cooking, but I hope someday they will want to duplicate something I make  because it tastes like home and comfort to them. My girls are always eager to help in the kitchen (which, as any mom or dad knows isn’t always the most helpful thing) but instead of shooing them out, I decided to start giving them “cooking lessons”. We strap on our aprons, put on our imagination caps, sometimes we talk with an accent, and pretend that the girls are in my cooking class at some fine culinary institute and I teach them. I let them help me measure things out and stir things up.  It doesn’t really ever go as smoothly as all that and we are being candid here, but more often than not it’s fun and a good way to connect with them and teach them something valuable at the same time. 

During this little experiment, it has also helped me to realize the value of measurements. I usually just throw a dash of this and a spot of that into the pot, but when they are helping, I rely on measurements so they aren’t dumping six cups of baking soda into something when only a half a teaspoon is necessary. Hence this idea came to me!

When I was a little girl, my grandmother gave me this recipe book for kids and I still treasure it as one of my favorite gifts ever. I still use it for the yummy coffee cake recipe in it.  I figured my girls, too, might appreciate one of their own but with family recipes in it that are of my own variation or ones that my mother or grandmother or aunt would concoct.

So, we went to the Dollar Tree and got these little journals that I used for this father’s day project.

The girls asked me to draw pictures of them on the front as chefs, which I did with Sharpies then let them color them in and decorate as they preferred. 

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Then, we wrote our first recipe in the book, homemade spaghetti sauce. They drew a picture of spaghetti on the opposite page. And we cooked.

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I’m all about starting new traditions with my kids! Hopefully this will be one that sticks. What are some fond traditions you have with your mom?

 

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Chocolate Turtles

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This was going to be on my “Christmas Craft/Recipes” list if I wasn’t shlacking so much! Anyway, it does earn the right to be on my Christmas Craft/Recipe list because I only make this once a year. For starters it is DE-LISH!! I could eat all of it in one sitting. It also makes superb Christmas gifts! This recipe made about 40 turtles and then I also had enough caramel left over to fill a 9×11 pan 1/2 thick. I would love to take credit for this recipe myself, but alas, I cannot. I must give credit where credit is due. When I got married, my mom gave me a recipe book from a flea market she picked up with all kind of old-fashioned, honest to goodness down home recipes. It has been my favorite and most well-loved book by far. So, here it is:

For the caramel:

2 cp sugar

2cp light corn syrup

2 sticks butter or margarine (NOT OIL SPREAD)

1 can sweetened condensed milk

Cook sugar, syrup and butter in heavy saucepan over medium heat to a full rolling boil. Slowly add condensed milk, stirring constantly until it reaches 242 degrees F.

Lightly grease cookie sheet and cover with pecans. Drop caramel by spoonfuls over nuts while still warm. Let stand until set. Melt chocolate chips or wafers in double boiler (or if you are like me I learned from my mom to use a small sauce pan and boil water in it with a metal bowl on top and melt the chocolate on there). Dip caramels in the chocolate and let set until firm.

Lastly, enjoy and try to share them! Wrap and give away with love. ❤

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Princess Cake

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This is Nora. Isn’t she cute? I took this picture when she was five. That was yesterday. Today she is six and my heart is broken!!! How in the world did this happen?! From five to six, just like that. Anyway, thankfully she is not too old yet that she requested a princess cake for her birthday. We scrounged Pinterest together, oohing and aahing over all of the princess cakes. I need to add that last year, my other daughter, Evie, also requested a princess cake for her birthday and I will show you the horrifying pictures of that later (if you are faint of heart, I suggest you turn back now or skip that part).  It was a complete and utter disaster. I naively thought, “Ah, what is there to it but shoving a Barbie in a cake.” As you will see in the pictures, it shows. Anyway, this year I did some massive research to try to redeem myself. First off, I made fondant for the cake using this surprisingly easy method I found on Pinterest.  It really only took me about ten minutes to make. I made it purple and I wish I had taken the time to do more colors, but that is a moot point. Anyway, then I carefully used this method to make the cake (also found on Pinterest) and painstakingly took pictures of each step, until my defective camera card erased them all. I baked the cake first, though, in this large measuring cup because I thought it would be the perfect form for a bell skirt.

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A little disclaimer thought, when using this method, it took (in the words of Squints) FOR-EV-ER, and the outside is dry while the inside was a little doughy. Live and learn, I guess. Still, this is what I had to work with and there was no going back. So, I started trimming off the edges of the cake (as seen in the cornerhouse blog) and used chocolate frosting as my mortar, so to speak, to paste the cake onto the bottom half of the doll’s body. This Tianna doll, FYI, I got at Walmart for only $5. I was pretty proud of that, and thought I would mention it. Anyway, I had pictures of this as well. Just imagine a doll plastered with crumby pieces of cake all of the bottom half of her body.  Then, I rolled out the fondant and went to work adding the bodice and sleeves.

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Be sure that when you roll out your fondant you use powdered sugar to keep it from sticking to the cutting board.  Once I had the bodice and sleeves attached the way I wanted to, I rolled out one long, skinny piece for the skirt. I just wrapped it around and attached it to itself in the back, then cut off any excess from the bottom of it.

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What I love about fondant is that it is like working with edible clay, so it’s easier, IMHO, to work with. After that was done, I used a clean, dry cloth to brush off what excess powder I could and went about embellishing it with edible pearls (only one dollar at Walmart) and some icing with a rosette tip.

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This part was fun and fairly easy. Anyway, here is the finished product.

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Now, I understand when you compare it to the ones in the other blog, she blows me out of the water. But, when you compare it to this catastrophe from last year:

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…..it ain’t too bad.

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Healthy 2 Minute Apple Crisp

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I have been trying to eat a little healthier lately and am not much for eating breakfast because I want to get started with my day and not bother making much for breakfast. So I came up with this: healthy and easy. Oh yeah-did I mention it was yummy?? How many recipes can boast that?

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