Friday

April Fool's Day Treats – You Are Serving WHAT For Dinner?

By Susanne Myers

April Fool’s Day is the perfect day to have fun with the meals you serve. Surprise your family on April 1st with these fun meal ideas.

Fake Hot Dogs And French Fries

Your kids will love fake hot dogs and French fries for lunch this April fools day. Peel a banana and spread peanut butter all over it to give it the appearance of a hot dog. Serve it in a hot dog bun with some strawberry preserve drizzled over the hotdog to make it look like ketchup.

For the fries, peel some apples and cut them into sticks resembling fresh fries. Roll them in a cinnamon and sugar mixture and bake them for 8 to 10 minutes in a preheated 400 F oven. Serve with a side of strawberry preserve as fake ketchup. What a fun lunch.

Fool everyone in the family with these fun dinner and desert ideas. They won’t believe you are actually serving cake for dinner and spaghetti for dessert.

Cherry Cake Or Meatloaf?

Your Family will be in for a big surprise with this meatloaf cake. Prepare your favorite meatloaf and bake it in two 9-inch cake pans. Reduce the cooking time from what you would usually cook it since the meatloaf cake is thinner.

While the meatloaf cakes are baking, prepare some creamy mashed potatoes. Spread a layer of mashed potatoes on one of the cakes and top it with the second one. Use the remaining mashed potatoes to “frost” your cake. Cut a few cherry tomatoes in half and use them to decorate the top.

Serve Spaghetti As Desert

Since your serving cake for dinner, it only makes sense to eat spaghetti for dessert.

Put a slice of pound cake on a plate. Spoon some softened ice cream in a pastry bag with a thin round tip. Pipe the ice cream over the pound cake in a swirly motion to resemble spaghetti noodles. Freeze for about 15-20 minutes to allow the ice cream to harden back up. Top with strawberry jam as tomato sauce and a few coconut flakes to resemble Parmesan cheese.

Don’t Forget The Drinks

Meals like these deserve a fun twist on a beverage as well. Prepare some lemon Jello and pour it into glasses. Add a straw and let it set. It will look just like a glass of lemonade. You can even decorate the glass with a slice of lemon.

Have fun with these creative April Fool’s recipes this April 1st. They are sure to make your family smile. Enjoy!

Want more family friendly recipes and crafts ideas? Visit http://www.dinewithoutwhine.com/info for a sample weekly menu plan your entire family will love and http://www.kinderinfo.com/ for tons of kids craft and activity ideas that are sure to keep your little ones entertained.

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The Last Laugh - Parental Pranks for April 1

By Rob Stringer

The exact origin of April Fool's Day is uncertain, but popular belief is that it began in France with the adoption of a new calendar. In 1582, the Gregorian calendar (still in use today) replaced the long-standing Julian calendar and New Year's celebrations were moved from April 1 to January 1.

People who continued to celebrate the new year on April 1 were labeled "fools" and often ridiculed. This harassment evolved over time, and now "All Fool's Day" is practised in many parts of the world with each country celebrating it in their own special way.

In Scotland, "Taily Day" lasts 48 hours and is devoted to pranks involving the buttocks. The Scots are rumoured to have invented the "Kick Me" sign.

In France, children exclaim "Poisson d'Avril" (April fish) when playing a prank, referring to a young fish which is easily caught.

In Rome, the "Festival of Hilaria" is on March 25 and is also referred to as "Roman Laughing Day".

While children relish tricking us on this special day, why let them have all the fun. Here are some ways for you to trick them:

Replace the cream filling out of Oreo-type cookies and fill with mint toothpaste. Put in lunches or on a plate and watch their faces.

Send a cheese sandwich for lunch, but "forget" to remove the plastic wrapper off the slice. Consider even placing a note inside stating, "Got 'cha!" or "April Fool".

Put some water in a cereal bowl, and place it in the freezer the night before. Offer to get your family cereal in the morning. Put a thin layer of their favourite cereals on top of the ice, and serve.

Or, just before your kids come down to eat breakfast, put some food colouring in the milk. Blue, green, or yellow (it looks like soured milk) - any color will do. Watch them go into total shock when they pour the milk into their cereal or glasses.

Or consider preparing a special April Fool's Day Dinner, where nothing is quite what it appears:

Make your favourite meatloaf recipe and bake in 2 round cake pans. Frost with mashed potatoes that are the consistency of frosting. You could write "Happy April Fool's Day" on the cake with ketchup.

Prepare lemon Jell-O and pour into glasses, insert a straw and let it set up. The Jell-O is the drink and looks like lemonade (watch your kids try to suck it up a straw).

Make "fish sticks" or "French fries" from pound cake. Place on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees until crisp and golden on the edges. Raspberry or chocolate sauce can be served in opaque red plastic "ketchup bottles".

Everybody loves a well-played joke and the infectious squeals of children's laughter. So this April 1, why not try to catch your own "young fish" in a harmless prank and make it a day of family fun. Just remember... don't leave this article on the coffee table. You wouldn't want to give your kids any good ideas.

Rob Stringer, BA, BEd, CPC is an award-winning Educator and Parenting & Personal Success Coach who is passionate about helping people live lives they LOVE! In addition to coaching kids, young adults, parents & families, Rob also appears regularly in magazines across North America, offers workshops & keynotes, and is the host of The Parenting with Intention Radio Hour. To find out more and subscribe to his free monthly newsletter, visit http://www.parentingwithintention.ca/

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It's April - No Fooling!

By Lisa J Smith

On April 1st, how many of us have listened to stories, read an article in the paper or received an email from friends, family or co-workers that was immediately followed by the loud yell of "April Fools!"?

April 1st is the US National holiday for tricks, pranks and other practical jokes. The commonly accepted origin of April Fool's Day or All Fool's Day, involves changes in the calendar. At one time, the New Year celebration began on March 25 and ended on April 1. However, in 1582, King Charles IX accepted the beginning of the New Year as January 1. Those who refused to acknowledge the new date or simply forgot, received foolish gifts and invitations to nonexistent parties. It has evolved into a day of light-hearted trickery and has produced some elaborate and well-known hoaxes.

The United State is not the only country to participate in a national prank day. Several others around the world also play host to a day similar to ours.

• In Iran, people play jokes on each other on April 3, the 13th day of the Persian calendar. It is believed that people should go out on this date in order to escape the bad luck of number 13.

• On April 1st, the French play a game called "April's Fish" and attempt to attach a paper fish to the victims' back's without being noticed. This is also widespread in other nations, such as Italy where "April's Fish" is also used to refer to any other jokes done during the day

• In Belgium, the tradition is for children to lock their parents or teachers out of the house or school, only letting them in if they promise to bring treats the same evening or the next day.

• In some countries, including the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, on April 1st, if somebody pulls an April Fools' Trick after midday, then the person pulling the trick is actually considered the fool.

So, this year, if you can't quite create a believable hoax, prank or joke yourself, you can try taking an idea from some of the countries above. You'll not only getting the benefit of yelling "April Fool's!" to your unsuspecting victim, but you'll also be teaching a little about some different customs as well; and that's no joke!

Lisa Smith has a BA in psychology, & is the Owner of Regionz Kidz http://www.regionzkidz.com/ a multi-cultural infant and toddler clothing line with ethnically diverse characters and designs. She publishes a blog on the Regionz Kidz website that features articles about cultural diversity and children & she is a guest blogger on several other websites and blogs relating to parenting and children's issues. She is also a monthly contributor to Educated Mommy Magazine. You can contact Lisa directly at: lisa@regionzkidz.com

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Monday

Easter Flowers: What to do after Easter

I love to receive flowers at Easter. Freshly cut arrangements look so pretty in crystal vases. If you want to preserve Easter memories, there are a few things you can do with the flowers that you receive so that you can enjoy them for years to come.

Air drying.

The flowers should not be fully opened when you start. Discovering which flowers dry the best will take trial and error. Out of the arrangements I’ve had, baby’s breath, daisies, roses, and carnations look well as dried flowers. Secure them at the end of the stems with a rubber band. Create a hook out of a paper clip and poke it through the rubber band. Hang the flower bunches on a piece of lattice work or the rungs of a plant stand wherever the sun hits your home. It will take several weeks for the flowers to completely dry. When the flowers feel crisp to the touch, they are ready.

Pressed flowers.

Pressed flowers can be used as bookmarks or greeting card decorations. Flowers used for pressing should be healthy and not fully opened where it has begun to lose its petals. You want the flowers to hold together. You can press flowers in books. Make sure to arrange the flower the way that you want it to look after pressing. If this will be a regular hobby for you, dedicate a few books that you won’t need. Place the flower between two sheets of paper such as onion skin and then in the book. Once the flower has been pressed, put other books on top to weigh it down. Pressing takes about as long as air drying.

Replanting flowers.

Read the label information that comes with your plant. Indoor plants should be repotted in a bigger pot before they become root-bound. For outdoor plants, spring is a good time for planting. Use topsoil that is rich in nutrients. Be careful not to upset the root ball when you remove the plant from its original container. Keep the plant watered constantly as it incorporated itself into the soil. Perennial plants are the only ones that should be replanted. They will return every year and add color to your garden.

Make the most of your flower arrangements. There are many ways to preserve your flowers to be used over and over again.

Sunday

Have a Wonderful Easter!

Saturday

Easter Party for Children

Want to do more than the traditional Easter egg hunt this year? Kids love to have fun and play games, so plan an entire party around the Easter egg hunt and make an afternoon of it. Here are some ideas for activities you can do to make your party a hit. And, don’t forget the prizes.

Pin the chick on the egg? Since this is Easter we must tailor the games to fit the occasion. Take a piece of white poster board and draw a large egg on it. Cut it out and pin it to the wall. Give each child his or her own piece of construction paper. Let the children draw and cut out their own baby chicks. When they are done, fold a piece of tape and stick it to the back of each chick. Blindfold each child in turn and let them see who can put their chick closest to the center of the egg.

Word games anyone? On the internet, do a search for Easter word games. They have printable pages like word search and word scramble that are grouped by age. Give a prize to the winner of each word game.

Duck, Duck, Goose! Everyone knows this one. All the children sit in a giant circle. One child will walk behind the others tapping each “duck” on the head until they decide which one of their friends will be the “goose”. The “goose” has to get up and chase the first child. If the first child makes it back to the empty spot without being touched, then the second child becomes the new “duck”.

Easter necklaces. Pre-cut strips of construction paper in pastel colors. Show the children how to make chain links. Fold the paper in a circle, dropping a spot of glue on one end and pressing the two ends together. For each new link, fold the paper in a circle around the previous link so they form a chain. When the chain is long enough to fit over your head when held end to end, add one more link to join the two ends of the chain.

Treat time. Serve snacks like little sandwiches, juice, and a small dessert. For a change, use cookie cutters in the shapes of Easter characters to cut the sandwiches. For the dessert, try making lemon squares. There is a good recipe on www.foodnetwork.com.

You don’t need too many activities to keep children happy at a party. As long as they know it will end with an “egg”citing Easter egg hunt, they will have fun!

Family Easter Meal Classics for a Busy Mom

After the Easter egg hunt, you may be too pooped to prepare a gourmet meal. Are you a mom who is long on things to do, but short on time to get it all done? Make dinner a breeze this year.

Let someone else cook the main dish. Who says that the honey glazed spiral ham has to be cooked in your oven? The Honeybaked® Ham Store is the busiest place on earth during the holidays and Easter is no exception. Let them offer you a good deal on a tender ham or turkey breast sized to fit your family. I would caution you to order early. Last minute orders could be met with disappointment or at least a very long line to wait in. Pick it up the day before or early Easter morning to avoid the crowds. Check the store hours in your area.

Pre-planning is a lifesaver. If you are making whipped potatoes or sweet potato casserole, why not prepare the potatoes ahead of time? White potatoes can be boiled and mashed a day early. Sweet potatoes can be baked a day early also and the ingredients put together and baked the next afternoon. Preparing as much of the meal the day before will put less pressure on you. If good old-fashioned yeast rolls are on your list, try using Parkerhouse rolls. Take them out the night before to let the dough rise.

So, what is on the menu this year? Here are a few classic choices. In the vegetable department, try collard greens or fresh green beans seasoned with garlic. If you choose turkey over ham, then stuffing is a must. To save time it can come from Stove Top® or ask your mother for her time honored recipe for sausage stuffing. Whenever I have ham for dinner, I have to have macaroni and cheese. And, the more cheese it has, the better.

Dessert anyone? Making that chocolate cake or that pecan pie just right takes time that you don’t have. Know a good bakery in town? Pre-order your desserts. To make sure that you had some part to play in the dessert process, buy a gallon of ice cream to accompany the cake and pie.

Take a load off this year. You should be able to enjoy your Easter Sunday, too. Let others do the bulk of the cooking for you this year.

Friday

Easter Pet Gift Ideas: Bunnies

Every Easter, a child wants a rabbit. But, before you hop down that trail to rabbit ownership, check out a few facts first. Make sure that a rabbit is the best pet for you and your child.

What is it? If you are buying just one, then the sex can be either male or female. If you are buying several, consider purchasing rabbits of all one sex. If you want to mix them up, keep the males and females in separate pens to avoid breeding. Two rabbits are cute, but ten rabbits could be a nightmare.

Where will they live? Decide if your rabbit will live inside or outside of the home. Outdoor rabbits need a warm hutch to live in. Place the hutch in a part of the yard where it will be braced against the wind. Indoor rabbits will need a home as well which can be placed in a laundry room.

Doctor visits. Consider a rabbit like a kitten or a puppy—constant supervision is necessary especially if they are an indoor pet that can roam free about the house. Rabbits can acquire hairballs and fleas. They also get bacterial infections common to them that, left untreated, could cause their death. Regular checkups will be necessary.

Handling Rabbits. Rabbits are just as delicate as baby chicks when it comes to their bone structure. Picking them up and walking around with them could be hazardous to the rabbit if they are dropped or jump down from the child’s arms. The shock of the landing could break their backs. If you must pick them up, use the scruff of the neck and avoid contact with their spines if at all possible.

Tender loving care. Rabbits need to be groomed weekly and their food and water changed daily. Creating an enclosed area around the hutch will allow the rabbits to be let out for exercise. Keep them near enough to the house that you can get to them quickly in an emergency. For indoor rabbits, let them roam while you refill their water and food. Keep an eye on them, though. Make sure you know where your rabbit is at all times to avoid any incidents.

Rabbits make good pets if you are willing to commit the time needed to care for them. Make sure that your children know that. If they do, then pet ownership will teach them responsibility, compassion, and dedication.

Easter Pet Gift Ideas: Chicks

Are you considering a pet as an Easter gift for your children? Baby chicks are a popular choice for the season. Before purchasing a baby chick, there are a few things you should know.

Starting Out. Before you bring a newborn baby home, his/her room needs to be made ready. A baby chick is no different. Purchase all necessary supplies beforehand so you will be ready to take care of your pet when it arrives home.

A baby chick needs a warming box. A warming box houses the chick and keeps it warm. You can buy a constructed warming box from a feed and seed store. A light bulb (about 250 watts) can be the heat source. Place a small thermometer in the box to make sure that a temperature between ninety and ninety-five degrees Fahrenheit is maintained. Cover the bottom of the box with shredded paper or untreated wood shavings. The shredded litter will give the chicks traction and help to contain the warmth.

Baby chicks need water constantly. The water should be clean and changed every day. Raising the bowls on a piece of wood will keep the chicks from jumping into the water.

For the first few days, oatmeal, baby cereal, or whole grains can be used as chick food. Grind it up into small pieces. Purchase chick grit also. Grit is made up of small pieces of rock that act as teeth to help the chicks easily digest their food.

Bringing home baby! Birds have delicate bone structures so handling them the right way is very important. Demonstrate to the children how to pick them up and transfer the baby chicks to the warming box. One hand should be placed under the chick’s belly and the other one on its head. Be careful. Those tiny feet may tickle your hands, but resist the urge to fidget. Dropping a baby chick could cause serious injury and/or death. Caring for baby chicks requires more overseeing duties than actual one on one contact. As long as they are warm and have food and water, they can pretty much take care of themselves.

Caring for this sort of pet will place an increased demand on your time. Make sure that the children understand what is involved before you purchase one. If they are committed, then raising baby chicks can be a worthwhile hobby.

Do you Really Hide Easter Eggs?

What’s Easter without an egg hunt? Since I was a tot, the church near my home held an Easter egg hunt every Saturday before Easter. Parents and women’s group volunteers boiled and colored dozens of eggs the night before. At twelve o’clock noon, they walked out of the church hall to hide the eggs. We sat on the floor so we couldn’t peak out the windows. When they were finished, we gathered out front. Once the signal was given, children scattered in every direction in search of hidden treasures.

For the younger kids, hiding real eggs is a rite of passage at Easter. Since the younger ones don’t eat as many eggs, limit the number that you hide. Always keep your boiled Easter eggs refrigerated until shortly before the start of the hunt. Even though they are boiled, long periods at room temperature combined with being hidden outside in the sun, could spoil the eggs. Save the cartons. After the hunt, give each child a big enough section of the egg carton to hold their eggs. Award prizes to the top three egg finders. If a few eggs get stepped on in the hustle and bustle, it’s all in the name of fun.

Older children probably won’t be as interested in an old-fashioned Easter egg hunt. For them, you need something a little more challenging. Hide plastic eggs instead of real ones. Plastic eggs can be filled with coins, candy, small toys, and dollar bills. The hiding needs to be a lot more difficult since more is at stake. Older children will find this particular type of egg hunt fun without being baby-ish.

For any middle school age children who still want to participate, turn the egg hunt into a scavenger hunt. For this idea, the entire game must be thoroughly planned out from beginning to end. Inside each plastic egg, place handwritten clues. The kids can divide into teams. Each team is given the same clue to start. When one clue is figured out, it will lead them to another egg with another clue inside. The team that finds the prize first, splits it.

So, the answer to the question is “yes”. Eggs are still hidden and hunted for on Easter. Get creative to make the experience enjoyable for kids of all ages. Happy hunting!

Thursday

4 Tips To Accident Proof Your Easter Egg Decorating

For kids, dunking plain white eggs into a bowl and watching them turn a different color is almost magical.

Here are a few ideas to help minimize the Easter Egg decorating mess this year.

1. Try stickers.

If you are not attached to the traditional method of egg decorating, this is a way to minimize the muss and fuss during Easter. Stickers make easy decorations. They leave nothing to clean up afterwards. And, there’s nothing tricky about it. Just purchase ordinary Easter stickers and stick them onto the eggs. Presto!

2. Dye eggs at the stove.

Avoid the mess that comes with sitting your children at the table with their own dipping cups. Mix the dye ingredients in a five quart Dutch oven. Wrap an apron around the child. Let the child take the dried boiled eggs and place them in the dye solution. When the eggs are ready, use a slotted spoon to lift the dyed eggs out of the pan. The slots leave less liquid on the spoon which means less liquid on the stove, the floor, you, and the kids. Spoon the eggs back into the carton. Place the cartons in the refrigerator until time to use them.

3. Work on the kitchen floor.

The lower you are to the ground, the shorter the distance a boiled egg has to fall. Spread an old vinyl tablecloth on the floor. Give each child an apron and a pair of exam gloves. The gloves can be purchased from any medical supply store. Gloves allow the children to dip the eggs with their hands instead of a spoon. When they have finished, have them take their gloves off and throw them away.

4. Purchase a ready to use Easter egg kit.

PAAS® has been making egg decorating materials for years. Each year they seem to come up with something that will make the egg decorating process easier and faster. They feature egg wrapping kits which create virtually no mess at all. The pre-formed pattern is ready for the decorator to transfer to the dried eggs. They also offer egg cups with their own dipper so you don’t need spoons at all. You can purchase PAAS® products wherever decorating items are sold, including most grocery stores and craft stores.

Easter Egg decorating is great for everyone, but no one likes to clean up at the end. Make it easier on yourself this year, Mom and Dad. Try these tips for some good clean fun.

Monday

Easter Dessert Ideas and Recipes

Easter reminds me of pastel colors and flowers all around. The sun in the Spring brings a feeling of light to everything around. Let the dessert that you serve be the same way. The perfect dessert should leave you feeling satisfied without weighing you down. The following recipes are favorites of mine. Serve them as the ending to a perfect Easter dinner.

Chocolate Brownie Trifle

One bag prepared brownie mix (family size)
One bag toffee pieces
Two containers of Cool Whip® topping
One large box of Jell-O® instant chocolate pudding
Three cups cold skim milk
Strawberries (optional)

1. Prepare the brownies as directed on the box. Bake them at 350 degrees for the time specified.
2. In the meantime, prepare the instant pudding using the cold skim milk. Refrigerate.
3. Wait for the brownies to completely cool before cutting into squares.
4. If you do not own a trifle bowl use a large square three or four quart plastic container.
5. Assemble the trifle: layer brownies on the bottom, followed by the whipped topping, then the chocolate pudding, and the toffee pieces. Continue layering until all of the ingredients are gone. Leave enough whipped topping to cover the top of the dessert.
6. Add sliced strawberries or other fruit to decorate the top of the dessert. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Easter Sugar Cookies

One or two packages Pillsbury® sugar cookie dough
Cake icing in pink, white, and yellow
Easter cookie cutter shapes (eggs, chicks, bunnies, flowers)
Assorted candy sprinkles
One cup of all-purpose flour

1. Let the dough come to room temperature. Flour a cutting board and roll out the dough to a quarter of an inch in thickness, one package at a time.
2. Take the cookie cutter shapes and cut out the cookies.
3. Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet for seven to ten minutes at 350 degrees (or following the directions on the dough).
4. Allow the cookies to cool before using icing.
5. Decorate the cookies with icing and the candy sprinkles.

The children can help to make the Easter desserts. Let them arrange the cookies on a serving platter and present them to the family members after dinner. Also, serve coffee with the chocolate brownie trifle to cut the sweetness. Both of these desserts are light, but satisfying.

Creating a Healthy Easter Basket

With the rate of childhood obesity on the rise, try something new. This year, buy healthy snacks instead of candy. You don’t have to sacrifice flavor, either. Low-calorie or low-fat doesn’t mean it has to taste bad.

This is one time that toys are okay. According to my kids, you can never have too many toys. An Easter basket is about getting a special treat. No one said those treats had to be edible. Small hand-held electronic games are available at stores like Wal-Mart, Target, and Toys ‘R Us for less than ten dollars. Card games like Yugioh and Dungeon Dice Monsters are winners with kids these days. For the younger set, try dolls or action figures.

Jelly beans versus dried fruit. Jelly beans would be great if it wasn’t for all of the sugar. You can never eat just one or five for that matter. Dried fruit offers nutrition and taste in the same bite-sized portion as jelly beans. Ocean Spray® makes a snack called Craisins®. They are dried sweet cranberry snacks in different flavors. Also, Sun-Maid®, best known for their raisins, makes dried fruit treats including yogurt- and chocolate-covered raisins. My favorite is chopped dates. Kids won’t believe they’re eating something that’s good for them.

Snack size versus regular size. If you add candy to your basket, smaller is better. Choose snack-sized morsels like Three Musketeers® or Peppermint Patties®. These candy treats are lower in calories than other choices. Just add three or four for a sweet treat instead of chocolate bunnies or cream eggs.

Store bought versus homemade treats. We all enjoy going to the store and getting bubble gum and cupcakes, but do you really know what’s in what you are eating? Most if not all marketable treats started in someone’s kitchen. That means they were homemade at one time. Let’s take Rice Krispy treats® for example. The recipe was on the cereal box before they became a pre-packaged item in the store. At home, low-fat ingredients can be substituted to create delicious treats for the Easter basket. When you know what’s inside your food, you feel better about serving it to your kids.

Easter baskets don’t have to be chock full of junk to be fun. Healthy additions make you a better parent without sacrificing taste. Teach children to eat right while they are young so that they develop a lifetime of good habits.

Friday

Three Fun Easter Crafts for Kids

We love to make crafts to give away and display for the holiday season. Here are three ideas to enhance the festivities observed during Easter.

Egg maracas

You will need:
Plastic eggs
Glue
Rice, BB pellets, or marbles
Enamel craft paint
Newspaper
Paint brushes
Bowls of water

Clear a space on the table and cover with newspaper. Each person should have their own bowl of water, a paint brush, and plastic eggs.

1. Choose a filling for the egg.

2. Once the filler has been added, dribble a thin line of glue around the egg opening. Snap the egg shut. Wipe off any excess glue.

3. After the glue dries, let the children choose a paint color to decorate their eggs.

4. Let the eggs dry on the newspaper.



Tissue paper Easter bouquets

You will need:
Tissue paper in assorted colors
Green pipe cleaners (eight per child)
Styrofoam blocks (optional)
Plastic or glass vases
Scissors
Ribbon in assorted colors

Clear a space on the kitchen table and give each child a vase, pipe cleaners, and a pair of scissors.

1. Pick the colors for the flowers from the tissue paper pile.

2. Have the children take several sheets of paper. Roll them up together. Wrap one end of a pipe cleaner around the center of the tissue paper and twist to secure it.

3. Separate each sheet of paper, creating folds. Pull the edges up so that they surround the end of the pipe cleaner. If the paper is too long, cut it down.

4. Continue making flowers until the bouquet is finished. Wrap a piece of ribbon around the flowers.
5. The flowers can now be placed in the vase. If you want to keep them from falling out of the vase, stick the free end of the pipe cleaner into a piece of Styrofoam. Cut the Styrofoam to fit the bottom of the vase.


Easter cards

You will need:
Card stock paper
Markers
Stickers (Easter themes)
Scissors
Glue
Construction paper

1. Cut the paper to the size wanted for the Easter cards. Fold the paper in half. The children can also cut the paper into shapes like eggs or bunny rabbits.

2. Decorate the outside of the card with pictures and/or stickers.

3. Using a marker, have the children write their own special greeting on the inside of the cards.

4. The children can hand deliver the Easter cards to their favorite people in the whole world.

Craft making is doubly fun when shared with family. Make this a regular part of “together” time instead of keeping it just for special occasions.

Easter History and Customs


On Easter weekend, those of the Christian faith celebrate the crucifixion and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. However, the observation of Easter did not originate with Christianity. Read on to learn about the true origin of the holiday.

“Easter” was taken from “Eastre”. She was the goddess worshipped by the Saxon peoples of Northern Europe. They held festivals every year to celebrate the Spring Equinox—the one time during the spring when the day and the night are of equal length. The festivals were believed to ensure the fertility of both the land and its people.

In ancient times, those of the Jewish faith celebrated Passover around this same time of the year. The Passover feast commemorated the Israelite captivity in Egypt under the cruel hand of the pharaoh. The last plague that God sent on the land was that of the death of every firstborn. Blood on the doorposts of Israelite households spared them as the Angel of Death spread through the land.

Christians decided to celebrate what we now know as Easter at this time also. Early followers were persecuted even after Jesus’ crucifixion. As a result, they held their religious observances to coincide with the pagan holidays. They called their remembrance, Easter—a derivative of Eastre. The idea behind the two occasions is different, but they share common symbols and traditions that people still use today.

The Easter egg- The use of eggs in celebration existed long before our modern day observance. Eggs were given and received as symbols of rebirth. Today, eggs are decorated on Easter and hidden for children to find.

The Easter bunny- The rabbit was the symbol of Eastre, the Saxon goddess. The idea of the rabbit as a part of Christian tradition was introduced in colonial days by the Germans. Children are taught that the Easter Bunny brings treats on the night before Easter, much like Santa Claus during Christmas.

The Cross- The symbol of the cross has been associated with Christianity and Easter since the first centuries after Jesus’ death. The cross was a symbol of cruelty throughout the Roman Empire. Today, those who practice Christianity view it as a badge of courage and salvation.

Now you know the origins of the holiday of Easter. Will this knowledge change anything about your observance? Only you can decide if the history of the symbols is more important than the reason you celebrate it today.

Thursday

Inspiring Irish Blessing

From: seestaernli

Monday

St. Patrick's Day Brings Out the Irish Cooking

There is something about St. Patrick's Day that brings out the Irish cook in all of us. At least it seems to have this effect on the women in my family. If you are not of Irish decent it may not have quite this profound effect upon you. If you are, then I'm quite certain you will understand what I mean by this. There's something about revisiting traditions that may have been lost in the fog of coming to a new world and adopting a new way of life that is lifted on this one day of the year. As a result old favorite recipes handed down from mother to daughter over the centuries come out and grand meals are prepared.

If your mother wasn't of Irish decent and you do not have a stockpile of wonderful Irish recipes in your inventory there are a few great websites on the Internet that offer excellent recipes that have already been converted to standard American measurements that will have Irish eyes and any eyes that think they might wish to be Irish smiling once again.

Corned beef and cabbage is a favorite. In our house we add great things like potatoes and carrots to the recipe. This is a great meal because it can be put in the crock pot before the work of the day begins and with very little effort is simply waiting on you to be ready for dinner time. No real effort is necessary in creating an outstanding feast that many will think you've had to miss a parade or two in order to prepare.

Irish stew is another great dish to put on your St. Patrick's Day table. There are also slow cooker or crock pot recipes available for this family favorite if you take the time to search them out. This is a stick to your ribs kind of meal that is very popular in cooler climates for the St. Patrick's Day festivities. This makes a great lunch or dinner for this great day and goes quite well with Irish Soda Bread.

Shepherd's pie is another hale and hearty meal that is a wonderful addition to the St. Patrick's Day festivities. This dish is a favorite among those who have tried it and might just become a staple recipe in your kitchen if you haven't managed to prepare it before. There are many recipes online though I recommend going the path of least resistance and finding the simplest recipe possible.

No Irish meal is really complete without potatoes of some kind on the table. Keep this in mind no matter which meal you cook. There must be potatoes in order to complete the meal or it simply cannot be authentically Irish. This may be a slight exaggeration but you should take a moment to make sure that there are potatoes for this particular event because it's just a very Irish
thing to do.

Of course Irish coffee and green beer are quite often the drink choices for St. Patties day celebrations and they are never a bad choice, provided someone not drinking those drinks is doing the driving. If alcohol isn't your beverage of choice it is definitely not a requirement. However, if you are feeling particularly in line with the green theme of St. Patrick's Day you could make a green milk shake, a green smoothie, green powdered drink mix, or any other green drink that comes to mind. The drinks and even the colors aren't really all that important in the end. It is all in good fun at this point even if it isn't Irish in nature. There are some days when it just pays to be green despite the fact that Kermit still claims, "it ain't easy being green."

Thursday

St. Patrick's Day Fun

by Angela Billings

Have a little "green" fun with the following activities.

Make Irish Toast - Simply get a piece of sliced bread and paint shamrocks on it using a new, clean small tipped paintbrush and water mixed with green food coloring. Then pop it in the toaster and serve when lightly browned.

Make Shamrock Pancakes - Use a heart cookie cutter and cut 3 hearts out of the cooked pancake and form in a shamrock shape.

Make construction paper shamrocks - Cut 3 heart shapes out and arrange them in the shamrock shape and glue on construction paper. It is said that St Patrick used the three-leafed shamrock to explain the concept of the Trinity; which refers to the combination of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. This is said to be one reason for the strong association with St. Patrick's day and name.

Make Leprechaun Traps - give the children boxes, string, ribbons, tape, glue, sticks, wood and other craft materials to help them make a leprechaun trap have children set the traps before going to bed, then while they are sleeping you can leave gold wrapped chocolate coins or something else special in each childs trap.

Angela Billings is a stay at home wife and mother who publishes an online newsletter Home and Family Ezine. Subscribe and receive 10 more St. Patrick's Day ideas in a free downloadable report. http://www.homeandfamilyezine.com

Article Source:
Lady Pens

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