Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Family That Paints Together Stays Together

What would you do if you had a tiny window of time between school and kids’ activities, a superbly messy house and a bunch of paint? Would you have your kids each paint a big canvas? Me too! What an insane coincidence.

I had the idea the other day to buy some big, white canvases to perk up our living room. The room, for six years, has had a lovely piece of original, framed art and an army of silver-framed kids pictures guarding the mantel. Nice. Appropriate. Symmetrical. Blah.

I devised a solution that would add pizzazz and involve the majority occupants of the casa. We would do a family painting project.

I covered the table with newspapers, set out paint trays and brushes and brought in the artists.

Confessions of a Not-So-Able-To-Let-Go-of-Control-Mom:

I picked out colors of paint beforehand that coordinate with the living room so that the paintings match! Ha ha ha ha ha!

Okay, back from Controlling-Land.

I squeezed out the paint into the trays. I passed out the brushes. I said, “Wait!”

See, we had a theme.

More controlling? Perhaps. But hold your judgment because it was a good theme.

“I want you to think of what family means to each of you and then I want you to paint it.”

Whoa…they just stared at me.

“Can we use words? I mean, can we use the word family?” The youngest needs rules.

“I think you could use the word family," I said. "But really this is about what you think family means.”

The oldest said, “When I think of family, I think of love and when I think of love, I think of peace.”

***At this point, and I kid you not, the other two started singing Kumbaya. I swear, you can ask them. My kids are scary sometimes.***

 I told them that I thought it was very sweet that they were saying such nice things about family because, wow, sometimes it is not loving or peaceful around this place!

The oldest continued on, “Well, when you think of family you think of supporting each other and loving each other and cheering each other on. You keep each other hopeful.”

I literally almost started simultaneously crying and feeling foreheads for fevers. Never fear, the kids quickly fell back into old habits.

“Ummmm, the theme is family, not weird looking hearts.”

“Ha, ha, I drew you with no neck!”

“Those are NOT complementary colors.”

Oh, there are my kids!

They continued to paint and chat and paint some more. The youngest was adorable as she said, “I have no pacific brush for blue, is it okay if I use any brush?” hee, hee, hee!

Hearts and smiley-faces and words quickly filled up the white space. 

When they were done, I was more than proud to place the canvases on the mantel. There was a brief, stressful moment when I realized I had not measured the mantel to see if the canvases fit. The middle child chimed in sweetly, “Bravo! Bravo, Mommy!” and the youngest followed up with, “Yeah, Mommy, great way to start the craft-not measuring.” 

To be fair, they were agreeing with each other about something and we must give thanks for small victories! Now, let’s get back to the moments of special bonding and love earlier. Remember those? Great. We’ll start again.

I put the canvases on the mantel and stood back to admire them. Then I added back a few baby pics to mix it up.

Don’t they look perfect?

I agree!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Baa, Baa, Quack Sheep!

How many times have you asked yourself, why don’t we eat more cupcakes that look like fluffy lambs?

None? Seriously, none? Disappointing.

Actually, I’ve never asked myself that question either. I did run across a great recipe/project idea from the folks at Land o’ Lakes butter that would have helped fill that no-lamb-cupcakes-in-my-life void, should I have had one. Here is their cupcake:

well done, Land o' Lakes people!
I took their recipe and tweaked it a little to address the needs of my own family. Specifically, our abhorrence of all things licorice. Ick. Blech. (Insert sound of disgust and nastiness here_______) In other words, we are not fans. To still allow our lambies to have faces and tails, I decided to use chocolate frosting. Here is mine:

Easter was fast upon us, and so I decided that was perfect timing for sweet lamb-shaped cupcakes. We whipped up a batch of chocolate devil’s food cupcakes in green papers (to look like the lambs were standing in a field of grass) and set them to cool. This also allowed us to avoid the need for lamb legs. We’re efficient like that. Or lazy, whatever.

We planned to take our Easter show on the road to Mimi’s house, after church and lunch, to eat dessert and bond as a family. There was the perfect chance to make lambie cupcakes as a family. Group fun!

The chocolate frosting warmed up a bit on the way to Mimi’s and so it was a little harder to manage than planned. This tweaked our original plan or crafting perfect, sweet lambs. Our new plan became “How crazy and mutant-like can these lambs get.” Very Easter-esque.

 They got pretty mutant-like. A gallery is to follow. I did not participate in the mutant-lamb mutiny. But didn't my sweet lambie look cute?! Lame, I know, but it still tasted good! They all did.
Mutant hubby lamb

We had strawberries and pound cake with the quintessential topping-Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla ice cream for those who wanted options. The middle child asked, very innocently, “Is the strawberry shortcake for people who don’t eat lamb?”


Thieving berries by the youngest!
Many creepy things were overheard regarding the eyeballs of the cupcakes:

“Stop eating all the eyes!”

“I like eating eyeballs!”

“I want more eyeballs on my freaky lamb!”

Wow, I really hope the kitchen wasn’t bugged. I guess we’d know by now.

Any-who, we went through the lamb cupcake factory and came out the other side with a whole flock of very un-Pinterest looking lambs. Even my Uncle made one. Maybe next year, we’ll try mutant lamb cupcakes and they’ll wind up looking normal!

mutant Uncle lamb!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Easter Eggs-Oh, Yeahhhhh!

I have a love-hate relationship with Pinterest. I am sure I have said it before. I am sure I will say it again. I can get lost for hours, staring at pictures of hidden mossy nooks in Irish castles or long, arbor-and-wisteria covered plantation porches in Georgia. I can dream that my garden looks like the four-acre one I found on Pinterest, anchored by a Victorian-inspired chicken coop and surrounded by prolific berry bushes. 

After such lost time, I am mad at myself for squandering the precious moments I could have used cleaning my house (ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! yeah, right!). Sometimes, though, there are projects, recipes or ideas that are practical, fun and creative.

One of those projects that I recently completed was a cooking project. Shop and prep once, and 11 meals are in the fridge and freezer, ready for harried moments when fast food beckons.

I did this on Monday night, chopped, mixed and stirred myself into a stocked freezer. If the recipes taste good, I am starting a new meal plan at the ol’ Evans Casa. The one meal I made and didn’t freeze, the balsamic onion roast, was delicious. I am optimistic about the rest.

Anyway, the reason I delve so deeply into the Pinterest discussion is that it afforded the Fam and I a new Easter egg dying experience. I found an idea to dye the eggs with Kool-Aid. Yup, Kool-Aid. The same Kool-Aid that stains lips, tongues, clothes and fingers. Can’t miss, right?


I went to the store and procured five packets of Kool-Aid in various colors. Much to my chagrin, there were no green or blue varieties in this particular store.

I decided it was not worth an extra store run, but anticipated the comments from my ever-verbal offspring. Oh, well. With gas at $4.00 a gallon and my behemoth sucking down plenty with each trip, I decided to take my chances on the derogatory comments from the younglings.

While a softball practice was winding down and everyone was out of the house, I got a head start on the project and started the eggs boiling. This was not really a good kiddo step anyway.

By the time they got home and cleaned up, there were 24 boiled, cooled and dry eggs sparkling white in a bowl for their pleasure.

“Are you sure they are all the way cooked? Last year they weren’t all the way cooked.”

Why, thank you for remembering, my precious middle child!

“Daddy, maybe you should check and see if they are cooked all the way.”

Ah, the faith of a little child…

My hubby checked the test egg, ignoring my stare, and discovered that the eggs were cooked all the way. Bonus points for me.

I disclosed at this point that we were deviating from the normal dying plan. They all decided they wanted to drink the Kool-Aid instead. I pointed out that it was so concentrated that they would gag and they decided to hold off. Besides, I bought extra to drink for later. More Bonus points for me.

“Where’s the green?”

Ah, the oldest struck an early blow.

“They were out of green,” I said.

“Where’s the blue?”

“They were out of blue.”


The great exhale of the exasperated child. So mournful. So sad. So ineffective.

We had yellow, pink, purple, red and orange. And, I had a secret weapon they weren’t expecting. The white crayon! Four white crayons, to be precise. More on them later.

I filled cups with warm water and they took turns dumping in the Kool-Aid and stirring. Soon we were at the table staring to dunk our eggs. 

I snuck out the white crayon and wrote a message on the side. Then I dunked it in its red bath. I pulled it out and voila! There were words!

“Yours has words on it!” said the youngest in a very excited voice.

“Yeah, she used a crayon,” said the oldest, spoiling the magic.

“Was that crayon non-toxic?” asked the middle child.


The small exhale of the exasperated mother. So small. So sad. So ineffective.

Moving on to full-blown coloring time. The girls all grabbed crayons and started making ghost messages as well as colorful ones. The youngest covered an egg in a riot of crayon lines and several Kool-Aid colors. “Mine’s wicked!” She was very proud.

The middle child was so sweet and diplomatic, as many middle children are wont to be. “We should each make one and give it to the Easter Bunny to keep.” Awwwwww!

My hubby made an egg and then lifted it out of the dye to reveal the design. “Daddy made a baseball egg!”

The youngest dipped hers in red and purple and declared, “I am making a maroon egg for Texas A&M!” Gotta love that kid!

The yellow (lemonade) did not dye the eggs much past a pale, pale lemon color. It also etched the shells and pitted the surface with the extra acid. The youngest declared, “I guess that’s why the yellow doesn’t work very well, because it tastes better than it colors.” Can’t argue with infallible logic.

The oldest was looking at me out the corner of her eyes. “Why are you writing down all the random things we say?”


“I am going to blog about this,” I explained.

“Do you always write down what we say?”

“Ummmm… sometimes,” I said. “Later, when you are all grown up, I will have this wonderful memory to share with you and I want to capture exactly what you all sounded like at this age.”

“Oh,” she said. That was it, back to dying the eggs. I guess it was a good explanation-motherly.

In the end, we had 23 colored eggs, many with ghost messages, many with crazy colors, and all smelling fruity and looking like Easter. We will do this again next year, but I will definitely find green and blue!

Most of our collective bounty!

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