Paintings for Kids: Easter’s Most Important Symbol

IMG_6617Bunnies, eggs & candy — oh my!  While I’m all for enjoying the goodies of Easter, a very important symbol get lost among all of the fun aspects of this Christian holiday — the cross!  So for the past 5 years or so, I have made it a point to have my daughters make people cards with crosses on them, to remind them of the most important part of Easter — that Jesus Christ triumphed over sin and death. Here are some of the cards they’ve been making since they first began to draw and paint…

IMG_6635This year they made 8.5 x 11″ paintings and added paper strips for a collage effect, which you saw in the first photo above…

Here is how they did it:
First, my girls added a few drops of water to all of the watercolor ovals on their paint palette (see below) so that the colors would be nice & juicy and ready to use.

Next I used masking tape around the edge of the paper to both (1) adhere the paper to the cardboard so it wouldn’t get all bendy once wet, and (2) to create a 1/4″ border around the edge of the paper. Then I cut pieces of tape and stuck them down for the crosses and hill top (smaller pieces to form the curve). The idea of the tape is to keep the paper white underneath, once you peel the tape off later…


Then I gave my girls both wide, flat brushes and had them brush the whole page with water. Then they started adding paint and letting the colors blend together, making sure they painted right up to the tape edges. We also added table salt to the wettest, most colorful areas of paint. That makes for some fabulous effects when it dries!  Let your kids experiment with this…mine love to!

Depending on what kind of paper you use to paint on (the thicker quality, the better), you may or may not be able to just leave it “as is” once you unpeel the tape. My original intent was that they would turn out like (A) below. Unfortunately some of our paper came up in pieces when we took the tape off. To cover this up, we made hand-torn paper strips that were the same width as our masking tape marks. I am actually glad this happened because I like the extra texture (B) the paper strips added!


Below are how their paintings turned out after all of the paper strips were glued on. The brown crosses were made by dry-brushing some paint onto the strips before they were glued on. I think the white paper stands out the best on the sky backgrounds, though.
IMG_6604Lastly, we glued the paintings onto some bright construction paper which gives it a more “finished” look… My girls kept their favorite one (hey, our house needs decorations, too!) and the others were given away as Easter gifts to family.

IMG_6630I hope you will find the time to make something similar with your child. Here is a link I just found if you would like to further explore meaningful quotes and Bible verses about Easter.

Wishing you & your family a blessed Easter weekend with safe travels and relaxing times…


Mini Gluten-Free Easter Baskets

Easter is coming soon so I wanted to give you this idea for something fun and easy to make with your g-free kids. I have shared this before, but it’s a favorite of my girls, so I’m putting it out there again since it’s a keeper!  🙂

To make them, you will need:
– gluten-free ice cream cones with flat bottoms
– sugared gummy worms
– gluten-free frosting (we used Pillsbury)
– regular size marshmallows
– gluten-free jelly beans
– sweetened coconut
– food coloring

And here is how you make them…

The first thing you do (to make the shorter baskets shown above) is to take a sharp knife and cut off the top portion of the cone, so that it looks like the photo below. It doesn’t need to be perfect since the frosting and coconut will cover the edges… Then you pop a regular sized marshmallow inside the cone and tuck a sugared gummy worm in around the edges, as shown below. This gives you a surface to frost on and keeps the “handle” of the basket snugly in place…

After that, you just frost the top with vanilla frosting (plus a drop or two of food coloring) and then add coconut and three jelly beans. We made four different frosting colors and four matching coconut colors (sweetened coconut with a drop or two of food coloring mixed in) so they were coordinated.

We also discovered something fun afterwards, when we mixed the remaining coconut colors together: rainbow-colored coconut!  Here it is on a full-sized basket, without the top cut off, in case you choose to do it that way. (I just think the shorter ones look more proportional, and this one needs 2 marshmallows inside the cone). As you also may notice, the gummy worm’s pattern makes it look even more like a basket handle when the lined side is facing out like this:

Either way (short or tall) these Easter baskets are sure to be a hit — whether you make just a few for your family, or make a lot for a school party or church brunch. We kept them in an air-tight container and they tasted great even days later.

For more sweet ideas, check out our Chocolate Peeps Eggshells and Muddy Bunnies at this link.

Enjoy and Happy Easter!  ~Katie

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Easter Treat Ideas: Super Simple and Gluten Free!

Ahh….Easter Sunday in the 70’s. Those were the days…Easter bonnets and dresses bought (or made) just for the big day — my whole family dressed in their finest duds. Even before church, my Dad would take home movies of us getting into our Easter baskets and devouring Peep after Peep, foil-wrapped chocolate eggs & jellybeans galore, without my Mom ever saying “That’s enough candy!” (That’s me on the right.)

I can’t imagine letting my own kids get so sugared-up before church (for my own sanity) and I give my daughters a fraction of the candy my parents gave me for Easter, yet I still don’t see a problem with letting kids be kids and enjoying sugary treats once in a while. My family eats quite healthy most of the time, we get plenty of exercise, we take care of our teeth and we aren’t couch potatoes — in fact, we don’t even own one video game!  Therefore, we don’t feel the least bit guilty indulging in making and eating these three yummy Easter treats together. And you shouldn’t either!  🙂

We call our first treat idea “Muddy Bunnies“. We’ve all seen chocolate-dipped Peeps,
but we thought we’d take it a little further and have them sit in the middle of a pile of springtime mud (peanut clusters). All you do for this is melt chocolate in the microwave, mix in peanuts and drop clusters onto wax paper over a cookie sheet. Arrange the Peeps bunny in the middle and spoon some more chocolate around his bottom to make him part of the peanut cluster. Then add sprinkles and set the cookie sheet in the freezer to harden. We also thought they looked cute sitting in these cupcake liners:

Our second idea we wanted to try was “Chocolate Peeps Eggshells“, which turned out to be our favorite. I originally saw the idea for chocolate ice cream shells here but I have no idea why it took me so long to try it. It was so easy! (Feel free to read that article for more details, but I simplified the process a lot, which I will explain below…)

To make these Chocolate Peeps Eggshells, you will need:
•  Melting chocolate
•  Peeps chicks
•  G-free sprinkles or nonpariels
•  Small balloons
•  Waxed paper

The first thing you do is to blow up & tie your balloons, rinse them with water, dry them and set aside. (We used water balloons without any problems, but I have read that a few other people have had issues with these and recommend small, regular balloons instead. It’s up to you.) Next, clear an area in your freezer to fit a small cookie sheet, then cover that cookie sheet with wax paper and set it back on your counter.

In a small-to-medium sized microwaveable bowl (depending on how many of these you’re going to make) melt your chocolate. We aren’t big fans of white chocolate so we used milk chocolate melting disks. Clearly, white chocolate would make a more realistic-looking eggshell, if that is what you are after. We were just after taste! 🙂 Either way, you’ll want
the melted chocolate to be a few inches deep so that you can cover your balloons up
high enough.

Once your chocolate is melted and cooled a bit, just dip each balloon in, tilting it around to cover the sides until you like how it looks. Then you just set it upright on the wax paper and toss some sprinkles on it. After they’re all dipped and sprinkled, just pop the cookie sheet into the freezer for a few minutes until they harden all the way. They will look something like this:

Then you can let your kids have fun popping the balloons! Below is Lindsey (with Morgan covering her ears) just before her needle popped the balloon…

After it’s popped, you will find the shriveled up balloon in the bottom of the chocolate shell. Carefully peel the balloon away from the chocolate and you’ll be left with shells like this:

Then all you do is pop a Peeps chick inside for your finished product. Another idea is to make these into birds’ nests by adding coconut underneath the chick.

The third idea is very simple as well. We call these “Bunny Trail Pops” and we just felt like doing something different than our usual sprinkled chocolate marshmallows. We popped a stick into each marshmallow, dipped the bottom of it in chocolate, set it on waxed paper and stuck bunny candies into it, evenly with one of each color. Again, set it in the freezer to harden. These don’t even need sticks, and you can experiment with any type of g-free Easter candies…

After they have all hardened in the freezer, all of these treats can be kept in airtight containers in your fridge til they’re gone — which won’t be long!    🙂  Enjoy!

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Gluten-free St. Patrick’s Day treats: County Cork Cake Pops, Lil’ Leprechauns and Emerald Isle Cakes

It’s St. Patrick’s Day week….a busy one for families like mine who have Irish dancers jigging their way through shows well past the upcoming weekend. But as the luck of
the Irish may have it — there’s still time to make some festive green treats with your
g-free kids!

In my previous post, I shared some healthier ideas such as a veggie platter in the shape/colors of the Irish flag, and shamrock-shaped pizzas and “Dublin Dragonflies.”

Now, here are some naughty treat ideas….

We attempted to make “County Cork Cake Pops” for the first time last year. (What can I say? Part of the fun of making new things is coming up with fun names for them!)  Here are some finished examples:

3cakepops2Allow me to give you the following tips that we learned, as cake pops are not quite as simple as they say…
(1) Don’t make the balls too big. Once you dip them in the candy coating, it makes them heavy. The weight makes the whole ball slide down the stick so that the stick pops right through the top. Go for a small, super-ball size.
(2) Melt a lot of candy coating…don’t skimp or you’ll be melting it again halfway through the dipping process.
(3) Improvise. If all else fails, make something up. After too many sticks poked up through the top, I tried “blocking” the sticks with these mint nonpariel candies I had. My girls
said they looked like hats so we stuck a few other candies on and called them our
“Lil’ Leprechauns”…

LwLeps2(“Lil” as in “too little to grow beards” even though the truth was “mommy didn’t feel like making beards.”) For those of you Moms out there who are willing to take these leprechauns a lot further than I did: go for it — I could see someone adding candy hair, a beard, more detailed features, etc. I, personally, don’t have the patience or motivation. Especially since my girls thought they were cute enough at this stage.  🙂

For those extra-motivated Moms: I saw other “leprechaun pops” recently: much fancier than mine, from the ultra-creative Jill over at Kitchen Fun With My 3 Sons. So, knock yourselves out!

(4) Another idea is to try them without sticks. They’re even easier to make and eat that way anyhow! We’re calling them “Emerald Isle Cakes” but it’s another thing you can take further than we did…

cakeballsonplate2Can’t you see them as leprechauns’ pots of gold?  Maybe yellow m&m’s for the gold or rainbow nonpariels for the treasure? And shape the cake a little more so it looks like a pot? See what ideas your child comes up with for these little cuties…

cakeballsinhands2These cake balls also easier for kids to help with than cake pops. After these had hardened, I called my girls back down to hold them so you could see their size here.
(They were playing “rock star” or something at the time so excuse the get-ups.)

Directions: For both the cake pops and cake balls, all I did was to mush together what was left of a frosted vanilla cake (about 2/3 of it) from a party the day before. The cake was made with Betty Crocker Gluten Free Yellow Cake mix and Pillsbury vanilla frosting. I didn’t add anything else. Let your kids mush up the cake, roll into tight little balls, then cover with candy coating. I used Make n’ Mold candy wafers for the coating. They were really delicious. To me, they tasted just like “donut holes” that we used to eat before going GF.

If you would like to follow more detailed instructions & tips, here are a few helpful links, which I didn’t see until after I had already “winged it”:

Last, but not least, I want to share (again) this gluten-free coloring page I created for your g-free kid to enjoy. (Print from the link — not from the preview below.)Have you tried anything from my St. Patty’s Day posts?  If so, please feel free to upload a picture of your child with his or her finished product on my Facebook wall. I would love to see it!

New to this site? Be sure to see the photo album of g-free kids and g-free kids’ stuff page.
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Simple St. Patrick’s Day ideas and coloring page for gluten-free kids

dancers2March is always a busy month for our family —
especially since my daughters are Irish dancers.
We don’t have their schedule yet, but it’s sure to be a month chock full of dance shows and 
everything else life brings. 

Despite the crazy schedule, we like to scatter little St. Patrick’s Day treats and symbols
throughout the month, just like we do for Valentine’s Day in February. There are far too many fun things to do with those holidays, than to limit it all to just one day a month. Wouldn’t you agree?

With this first idea (which is nothing original, I’m sure) I just arranged green, white and orange veggies in the shape and color order of the Irish flag. I used snap peas, broccoli, cauliflower, orange peppers and baby carrots. The subtlety of this idea may be lost on little ones, so a mini Irish flag (we made this one w/ markers, paper and a toothpick) helps make the connection.

veggieflagMy girls call these “Dublin Dragonflies.” They aren’t big raisin fans (think “ants on a log”) so I used Snyder’s gluten-free mini pretzels for wings and peanut m&m’s for eyes. If your celery is too narrow, just use plain m&m’s. Those with nut allergies can just substitute Sunbutter and use chocolate chips for eyes…

dragonflies1Another simple idea just involves cutting already-baked, g-free pizza (we use Chebe for the crust) into shamrock shapes with a cookie cutter… what could be easier?

4cloverpizzasFor the pizza below, I arranged Hormel mini pepperoni in the shapes of shamrocks all over the top of the (Chebe crust) pizza. Just watch that your cheese doesn’t get too over-cooked and dark, or your shamrocks won’t stand out enough.

pizza2Next I’ve created a gluten-free coloring page for your g-free kid to enjoy. Please fee free to post a picture of your child with his or her finished coloring page on my Facebook wall!

Here are some other crafty, fun things to do for St. Patrick’s Day:

And to close, here is an Irish blessing — heavily modified, by me, from one found here

“May you have gluten-free bread to do you good,
Gluten-free bread to sweeten your blood,
Gluten-free bread to do you no harm
And gluten-free bread to strengthen your arm.”

Happy St. Patrick’s Day (month) everyone!

Be sure you see the photo album of g-free kids and g-free kids’ stuff page.
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