Wednesday, March 27, 2013

An Easter Treat :: Chocolate Bunnies and Peanut Butter Filled Eggs

 Chocolate bunnies are synonymous with Easter. Children’s baskets will be filled with these adorable little hoppers come Easter morning. By lunchtime, they may be missing their ears! So, why not make your own?

Each year, I invite friends over to participate in making Easter treats for their children and for others. This year, we made bunnies, frogs, fireflies, owls, medallions, and even a few peanut butter filled eggs.

For the bunnies, you’ll need a rabbit candy mold, 1 package of candy melts (in your favorite flavor or color), cellophane bags with ties, and either a Wilton Chocolate Pro Melting pot or a handful of icing bags.
Let’s begin:
1. Melt the candy melts. There are several ways to do this. You can melt them in a low-temperature candy melting pot, like the Wilton Chocolate Pro Melt; or you can use and icing bag filled with 8 to 10 melts and heated in the microwave (on defrost) according to the candy melt directions. I have used both ways and prefer the melting pot.
2. Once melted, either gently pour from the melting pot into your mold or snip the tip of the bag and lightly squeeze the chocolate into the mold. Fill your mold to the brim and ensure overall even distribution of chocolate throughout you mold. Clean off any excess chocolate on the mold.

3. Place in the fridge or freezer for 5 to 10 minutes, depending on which works best for you. My freezer did the trick this afternoon. Be careful not to leave the chocolate in the cold too long as it will begin to condense. You can tell the chocolate has set when it is firm to the touch and the chocolate appears to have pulled away from the mold. The cavity will also appear slightly grey.
4. Gently turn the mold over and lightly press down. Slowly! The chocolate bunny should release. If it does not, return the mold to the fridge for a few more minutes.

5. Take the chocolate bunny and place it into a cellophane bag. Then make a place for it in the Easter basket! Make sure the chocolate bunny is not exposed to direct sunlight or heat, as it will melt.

{To make a hollow chocolate egg that you can fill with candies or trinkets, simply fill both sides of a small egg mold to the brim. Allow them to cool for approximately one minute. Then promptly remove them and “dump” the softer chocolate back into the melting pot. Then return the molds into the fridge to completely cool. Gently remove the chocolate shells from the molds. Fill with whatever you please (below is a peanute butter filling recipe). Take a royal icing, in any color, and seal the two halves together. You can decorate them any way you choose! }
Recipe for Peanut Butter Filling:
1 1/2 T. butter
1/2 c. peanut butter
3/4 c. powdered sugar, shifted
Melt butter in a small pot. Add peanut butter and stir until creamy. Gently add powdered sugar. Combine until almost solid; add more powdered sugar if necessary. Allow to cool for 1 hour prior to use.
Your little ones (and even big ones) will love knowing YOU made their chocolate bunny this year! Happy Easter!
Note: Don’t wash your candy molds in soapy water. Simply rinse them out and let them dry. Otherwise, the soap will adhere to your molds and make your future chocolate creations taste odd. Also, if you make any other sugar art (like sugar eggs), do not use these molds for that purpose, as sugar scratches your molds and will change the chocolate texture.
I get my candy molds from Wine & Cake Hobbies in Norfolk, Virginia.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Simple Living :: Taking Time to Live in the Moment

We oftentimes find ourselves busy in the daily routine, with work or household chores. We catch ourselves missing out on the splendor of God's creation, the simple things and watching life unfold around us. We fail to take time to smell the roses, to walk in the rain, and even to feed the birds.

Today, we took time.

 How can you take the time to live in the moment?

Savor the little things - No matter how small, it is the little things that make us the happiest. Feeding the birds was one of the simplest, yet most rewarding experiences we've had in weeks.
Enjoy what you are doing, when you are doing it - Don't think about everything else while you are engaged in the present. All those other things can simply wait. Be in the moment.

If you love it, make time for it - Those things which make us happiest - family, hobbies, etc. - should be top priority. Yes, work/school/chores are important, but let's face it, they certainly don't equate to the fulfillment we get from those things which we love.
Just let go - Life is full of lemons and making lemonade can be tiresome. So, when you end up with a crate of lemons, throw them out and enjoy what you have left.
How do you make time for what really matters?

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Gardening Tip :: Protecting Spring Plants from a Freeze

For most of the areas located in North or East Texas, the National Weather Service issued a freeze warning this morning. We may expect temperatures to dip for the next couple of nights and they could impact your newly planted flowers, vegetables or herbs.

Last week, the Junior Master Gardeners and I planted our Spring garden - tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, potatoes, herbs and more. Not wanting to see our newly planted garden freeze, we went out to cover each plant with a glass jar, otherwise known as a cloche.

A cloche is traditionally a bell-shaped glass jar, but any mason jar will do. You can even use milk jugs or buckets. For taller plants, a pillowcase may be used.

Whichever protectant covering you choose, make sure to have it secured from strong winds and in place prior to temperatures dropping. In the early morning, each cloche must be removed as plants can quickly become over heated. If there are several nights of potential freezing weather, the cloches must be replaced before temperatures fall and removed the following morning.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Experimental Recipes :: Bacon Artichoke Bruschetta


8 slices of cooked bacon (can be cooked in oven @ 350 degrees for
15 minutes)

1 can of Pillsbury Thin Crust Pizza Dough

4 green onions

1 jar (14.75 oz.) marinated artichokes, drained and patted dry

¾ cup chive and onion cream cheese spread

2 egg whites

2 tbsp. Duke's Mayonnaise

1 tbsp. Dijon mustard

4 garlic cloves, pressed

1 pkg (8 oz.) shredded Swiss cheese

¾ tsp. ground black pepper

½ cup grape tomatoes (diced)
Let's begin!

Preheat oven 450°. On a non-stick pan, roll out pizza dough.

Using a food processor, blend artichoke hearts and onions together.

In a separate bowl, whisk cream cheese, egg whites, mayo, mustard, and garlic until smooth. Stir in 1 ½ cups of the Swiss cheese, artichoke mixture and pepper.

Spread cheese mixture evenly over pizza dough. Bake 14 to 16 minutes or until light golden brown. Top with tomatoes, crumbled bacon, and extra cheese.

Serve warm as an appetizer!

I hope your family enjoys this recipe as much as mine did!

Freebie :: Walgreens 8 x 10 Collage Print


Through Wednesday, March 20, 2013, you can get a free 8×10 Photo Collage print from Walgreens. Create your 8×10 collage and use coupon code COLLAGE4FREE at checkout. You can opt to pick it up at your local store instead of paying shipping charges, too.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Life Lessons :: The Constant Gardener

While headed to the park yesterday, my youngest son asked me a question that ended up being a life lesson. Have you ever had those?

Youngest: "Mom, can weeds grow into cars?"

Me: "What do you mean, sweetheart?"

Youngest: "You know, like when I saw a weed growing through a car on TV. Can that happen?"

Me: (Secretly smiling b/c he asked about the reality of things on TV!) "Yes, it can; especially if the car has been sitting in a pasture for a long time. The weeds can take over if we don't keep them under control."

Youngest: "Oh, OK. So, is that why we have to garden all the time? To keep the weeds out?"

Me: "Yes, we must be constant gardeners."

Youngest: "What do you mean?"

Me: "Well, sweetheart, we must always be vigilant in the garden. If we worked really hard one week to keep out all the weeds, but didn't work as hard the next three weeks weeds would be everywhere.  We would have wasted our time and effort. If we are constant gardeners then we can keep most of the weeds out."

Youngest: "Oh. I see."

Epiphany! Here's the life lesson, hold on!

Me: "Just like in the garden, we must be constant gardeners in our lives and in the lives of others. Moms and Dads are constantly gardening their children. We make sure you get all the good things you need and teach you how to keep the weeds out of your life - you know, the bad things. Just like a gardener, we lay your foundation, feed you with morals and values, and watch your grow into a well-rounded and beautiful person. As you get older, you get to be your own gardener or even someone else's gardener. We all have to work hard to make sure the ones we love are growing strong and well. And, when there are weeds, we have to help get rid of them."

Youngest: "That makes a lot of sense, Mom. So, weeds can grow in cars and in us. But, it's not hard to get rid of them; we may just need a little help at times."

I love being a Mom. I love pouring into my children and being their constant gardener.

Just in Time for Spring :: The Tale of Peter Rabbit Unit Study & Lapbook Printables

One of my children's favorite storybook characters is Peter Rabbit. Peter and the rest of Beatrix's creations are timeless classics. Currently, you can download this free unit study and lapbook printables from Homeschool Share. 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Simple Living :: Play is Where Life Lives


I'm often reminded how fortunate I am to spend each day with my boys. To have the opportunity watching them grow in all facets of their lives without missing a moment is sublime. Each day is full of endless possibilities. We work at school and daily chores; we help in our community; we run errands; but, above all, we play.

Life is full of seriousness, drudgery, labor and ado's, but with play, we can continue to smile through those things less enjoyable.

As a child, play is natural. It is how we learn; how we form our ideas; and it sets the stage for our futures. Play can be hands-on, imaginative, physical, spontaneous, deliberate or even contagious. It is the sculptor of our day.

As adolescents and teens, play transforms from a basic need to a hunted desire. A love of baseball or the theatre become our play. We find ourselves more engaged in perfecting it, ensuring our most desired needs are met.

Even when our focus shifts from play to work as adults, our human condition craves it; seeks it out. Play in not absent in adulthood. A gentleman fishing from a pier, a lady painting on canvas and a senior picking flowers while on a walk are all at play. Children are not the only ones privy to its art.

Looking at my boys at play today in their fortress of pines made me question my playfulness. How often do I play in the busyness of life? What activities do I engage in for enjoyment and recreation rather than for a serious or practical purpose?

Play is where life lives.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Texas Festivals :: Spring 2013

Texans sure know how to celebrate Spring! I've shared some of my favorite festivals throughout the state. We will be attending a few of these this year and I hope your family enjoys them as much as we do!

If you go, take pictures and share them with me! I'd love to see what you thought made a festival unique or special.

March 15 - April 7, 2013 Tyler Azalea Trail
Tyler, Texas
  • The trail invites visitors to view over 8 miles of beautiful azaleas, dogwoods, wisteria, and tulips. With a full schedule of events to participate in including a historical home tour, arts and craft show, blues festival, and much more. Estimated attendees - 25,000
March 16 - April 31, 2013 Dogwood Trails Festival
Palestine, Texas
  • The year marks the 75th Anniversary of the festival which features Arts & Crafts, a Kids Zone, Live Entertainment and parade 10am theme: Peace, Love & Dogwoods. Gate charge $1, kids 12 & under free. Estimated attendees - 15,000

April 7 - April 21, 2013 WildflowerCelebration
Fredericksburg, Texas
  • The 13th annual celebrations will be held at Wildseed Farms where visitors can frolic in the Meadows or experience the butterfly gardens. Adults can enjoy the Biergarten. Estimated attendees - 15,000

April 18 - April 28, 2013 Fiesta San Antonio
San Antonio, Texas
  • 100 events, 11 days, 1 Fiesta! Incredible to much to list! Estimated attendees - over 3 Million (you definitely want to have plans before going!)

April 26th - April 28th, 2013 Texas SandFest
Port Aransas, Texas
  • It has become the largest Master Sand Sculpting Competition in the US!!!! SandFest is spread over three days, with a solo and a duo master's contest and one day with over 200 amateur sculptors. Estimated attendees - 100,000 Free to Public. Cost: $3 per person, 12 and under free.

May 3rd - 5th, 2013 General Sam Houston Folk Festival
Huntsville, Texas
  • 25th annual life-skill demonstrations, authentic 19th-century dress, continuous entertainment, hands-on children’s activities. Estimated attendees - 10,000 Cost: $3 on Friday for everyone; $10 good for Saturday and Sunday; $5 for children 5 and under. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Homeschooling in Texas :: New Bills Introduced in 2013

The Texas legislature is in full swing and several lobbying groups for homeschooler rights have introduced bills or are opposing bills for this session. These are important bills and garner the attention of Texas homeschoolers.

If you support them, give your legislative member a call and let them know; if you oppose them, do the same. To protect our ability to homeschool in the state of Texas, we, as educators, need to understand the importance of these proposed laws and their potential impact on homeschooling.

  • House Joint Resolution 45 proposes a state constitutional amendment to protect private schools from regulation from the state and local governments. If passed, the amendment will be submitted to Texas voters on the November 5 ballot for approval.

  • House Bill 462 limits the use of the Common Core State Standards in Texas public schools. HB 462 ensures that school districts are not required to teach the Common Core and prohibits the State Board of Education from adopting the Common Core. HB 462 also prohibits the Texas Education Agency and Commissioner from adopting or developing a student or teacher assessment based on the Common Core.

  • House Bill 704 rejects the Common Core State Standards developed by the Common Core State Standards Initiative in the U.S. Department of Education. HB 704 would prohibit the Texas State Board of Education from adopting these standards, and would limit the use of the common core by school districts and charter schools.

  • House Bill 1374 (Tim Tebow Bill) gives homeschool students the right to participate in University Interscholastic League (UIL) sports. Homeschool students wanting to participate in UIL sports would be required to pay all applicable fees and submit evidence of academic achievement as required of public school students.

  • House Bill 1990 would allow homeschool students who take one or more courses from a public school district to be included in the district's average daily attendance. Currently, each school district determines the level of involvement of homeschooled students in public school classes and activities.
       {Taken from the HSLDA website}

For more information and a video update on the legislative session, please visit here.

Monday, March 4, 2013

A Gardening Review :: The Wonder Grip Gardening Glove

After two days of constant drizzle, I set out to rid my rose bed of pesky weeds, invasive clover and grass runners. With the soil moist, I had optimal testing conditions for my new Wonder Grip Nicely Nimble garden gloves.

I thoroughly enjoyed gardening with the Wonder Grip gloves. The gloves kept my fingers warm and dry through the weeding process, even while the soil was damp and cold. I had excellent grip of my garden tools, as well as maximum finger dexterity. Furthermore, the Wonder Grip gloves did not get bogged down while digging in the wet, sticky clay of East Texas, as do most of my gloves.

During cleanup, I rinsed the gloves while they were still on my hands under a faucet. This was the only time my fingers had a hint of dampness; and the gloves came clean nicely and dried flat.

An added feature of the Wonder Grip gloves are their unknown ability to engage my smart phone's touch screen; many gloves will not allow for the user to answer a call.

I will recommend trying on the Wonder Grip gloves prior to purchasing. In a normal garden glove, I wear a size large, but in the Wonder Grip gloves I needed a smaller size. I believe it could be due to the gloves' stretchable nature.

The only downside I found while using these gloves was right after putting them on. The tops of the gloves rolled down a little, but once in place, solidly hugged my wrist and lower arm.

The Wonder Grip gloves come in a variety of sizes, styles and colors. They have proven durability and a breathable nitrile palm. They are ideal for demanding tasks such as weeding, planting, and tool handling. They can be purchased at local hardware or garden supply stores.

For more information, please visit

{Please see my disclaimer policy in regards to this post.}

Friday, March 1, 2013

Dandelion Moms Project Kindness :: Making a Difference in March


As you all know, I contribute monthly articles to Dandelion Moms, a place for beautiful, strong and resilient moms to gather online. Recently, the Head Dandelion herself, Melissa Northway, started Project Kindness - a simple idea with great potential. Melissa writes, "Much like a dandelion seed that blows in the wind landing at different places – acts of kindness can also be far-reaching. We don’t always know how much a simple act could affect someone’s life."
The best part about Project Kindness is the ease of partaking in the list of activities Dandelion Moms provides and the gratification of knowing you have had an impact on someone's life.

Project Kindness project and activities for March include:

  • Write a nice note to a friend or family member and tell them how much they mean to you.

  • Donate some canned goods for your local food-bank.

  • Bring some treats to your local fire station.

If you complete any of these Project Kindness tasks, Melissa asks you share them with Dandelion Moms on their Facebook Page as well as Twitter and Instagram (make sure to use #dmprojectkindness). You are also more than welcome to post your kind acts (and photos) on Texas Homemaking's Facebook page.

Monthly Goals :: March 2013 & February's Recap

With each new year, I try to change and grow in positive ways to enhance my life and make the most of my time. I usually blog about my weekly goals each Monday, but this year I think I'm going to take away the small goals and work on reaching my larger goals on a monthly basis. We will see how it goes!

March 2013 Goals


1. Build a fence on our newly acquired property. I think we finally have a
    style picked out we can both agree upon!
2. Prep and begin Spring Cleaning - this is a huge goal for the month. Be on
    the lookout for upcoming cleaning posts!


1. Learn how to swing dance with Jake (date night)
2. Take the boys to another archery competition - they did swell last time!
3. Spend time with grandparents
4. Help with my youngest's fashion show project


1. Finish Due Diligence surveys on the museum as well as prepare the 
    Facilities budget
2. Plant the Junior Master Gardener garden for Spring
3. Finalize Spring field trips for homeschool group


1. Continue working on 13 Things to Learn in 2013. This month, I'm hoping
    to tackle learning how to fly fish!
2. Continue writing new posts, finishing blog update, and join Dandelion
    Moms Project Kindness.
3. With the weather warming up, I'm hoping to get in a daily bike ride this
    month as well.
4. Perfect my stress busting technique.

February came and went! I got a ton accomplished and I'm really looking forward to March!

February 2013 Goals


1. Begin designing out my backyard for this year's landscape remodel.
2. Continue filling my freezer with meals for the upcoming Spring.
3. Now that the house is decluttered, go through and repair items on January's list.
4. Get the car detailed and its oil changed. I didn't get it detailed...


1. Learn how to Tango with Jake (date night)! As much as I wanted this to happen, I ended up hurting my back!
2. Take the boys to an archery competition
3. Enjoy Norland day!
4. Create a new therapy routine.


1. Get a Tea Party, Field Trips, and Camping together for our homeschool family.
2. Continue working on the initial build-out of the museum.
3. Build a garden fence; lay our beds out; and start seeds with my Junior Master Gardeners
4. With help from friends, put on a Food Showcase for kids in 4-H. This was a lot of fun! Can't wait to do it again next year!


1. Finish reading Rick Warren's What on Earth am I Here for? and Melanie Shankle's Sparkly Green Earrings for reviews this month. Be on the lookout for a chance to win Melanie's book!
2. Make it a point to spend time with my friend's more this month. I feel January came and went and I didn't get enough friend time.
3. Continue working on 13 Things to Learn in 2013.
4. Update my blog (hopefully a new header), layout new articles, and write some new posts for Dandelion Moms.