Friday, January 31, 2014

Easy Sweetheart Tarts

    I remember when I was a child, I wasn't a huge fan of pie filling but I loved the crust.  I used to try and sneak little tiny pieces off the edges of the pie. After my Mom discovered my love of pie crust, she saved the bits of dough that were left over when she made pies.   She rolled the dough out, added a bit of jam on one edge and rolled them tightly into tarts for me.  I loved those tarts!  I decided to make a variation of my Mom's tarts with the Sugar Snaps.  We made Sweetheart Tarts as a fun Valentine's Day activity.

Sweetheart Tarts:

You will need:
  • Refrigerated Pie dough
  • Jam or Jelly
  • Confectioners Sugar (optional)
  • A little water in a cup for sealing tarts
  • Heart shaped cookie cutter
  • Fork (optional)
  • Oven
  • Rolling Pin (or substitute drinking glass)

     Preheat oven to 350 degrees (325 degrees for convection oven).  Roll out one circle of pie dough to make it a little bigger. Have your children cut out hearts using the cookie cutter.  Cut an even number of hearts as two hearts will be needed for each tart. Have your child spoon a little jam or jelly into the center of half the hearts.  Then with a finger dipped in water, moisten the edges of the hearts with the jelly.  Then press a heart on top of each heart with the filling, making a tart.  If desired, crimp the edges of the tart using a fork.  The Sugar Snaps had fun with this step and it was good for fine motor coordination.  We had some tarts with large crimp marks and some with crimping only on the edges (depending on how zealous they were about crimping.)  Bake for about 15 minutes or until they are golden brown. Once they come of the oven, dust them with confectioners sugar if desired.  I saved a spice container, cleaned it out and filled it with confectioners sugar so that the Sugar Snaps could shake it on themselves once the tarts were cool.  We have made a couple of batches of these and we discovered that Greg loves this dessert. I may need to make him a personal batch for Valentine's Day! I hope you enjoy making these with your family or students.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Baptism of our Newest Niece

     Last Sunday, we attended the Baptism of our newest niece Katherine.  We feel honored to be Godparents for Katherine and her big sister Emma.  Greg's parents (Nana and Papa) were noticeably absent from Katherine's baptism.  They were both present and healthy for Emma's.  Katherine's baptism brought back memories of the Sugar Snaps' baptism.  Nana was very ill. We hoped her health would take a turn for the better so that we could have their baptism in the church with Greg's childhood pastor.  She never regained her health so they were baptized by her bedside while she was in hospice care at home. She said that she could go in peace after witnessing their baptism.  Papa passed away suddenly about one year later.  We miss them so much and are saddened that the Sugar Snaps were too young to get to know them and they never had the chance to meet Katherine.
Baby Katherine
Grayson, Capri, Xayden and Ryder

After the Baptism at Nana's bedside
     Emma gave Capri some of the Princess dresses she had outgrown last weekend.  Capri was so excited that she jumped up and down for joy. She could not stop smiling when she tried one of the dresses on.  
     Emma is two years older than the Sugar Snaps and Katherine is almost three years younger.  It is a big difference when they are this age but it will seem like they are the same age when they are older.  We hope they will become close friends.  We are all doing our best to keep the memories of Nana and Papa alive for the six of them. 
      Have you had special occasions in your family lately?  How do you keep the memories of loved ones alive for your children?  I would love to hear from you.  I read every comment.  

Friday, January 10, 2014

Outdoor Photo Shoot

     We did a photo shoot with Mia of Mia Z Photography before Christmas which was a lot of fun.  The Sugar Snaps were full of energy and we are always amazed that Mia is able to capture moments despite that.  At this age, they just want to run around and she runs right after them and captures their expressions. As a Mama of twins herself, she is great with kids and is incredibly patient.  I will share some of my favorites.

All photos below are by Mia of Mia Z Photography:




 They look like they are starring in a preschool musical comedy...

I love when they hold hands.

     As always, it was a lot of fun spending time with Mia of Mia Z Photography.  We are amazed by how fast the Sugar Snaps are growing and changing and we want to take every opportunity we can to capture their childhoods on film so that they can see what they looked like when they are older.  Have you done any family photo shoots lately? I you have any tips on getting preschoolers excited about taking photos, we'd love to hear them!  So far, it has involved us doing wild antics to get them to look in the right direction (from babyhood on). 

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Easy Egg Carton Ice Cube Snowman

     We rarely have snow in this part of Southern California. Lately, the temperature has been in the sixties and seventies. The Sugar Snaps love snowmen which are throughout the house in our Winter decor. I wanted them to experience a snowman activity that felt cold to the touch. We have done pulled cotton snowmen in the past which is fun but lacks the chilly sensory experience. I save all our egg cartons for crafts and activities and, as I gazed at one of the egg cartons, I envisioned a frozen snowman. I was not sure if it would work or not. Luckily, it did.

Easy Egg Carton Ice Cube Snowman:

You will need:
  •  Recycled Foam Egg Carton (or Ice Cube tray)
  • 5 Raisins
  • 1 Small piece of carrot cut in a triangular shape
  • Freezer

      This is about as easy as it gets.  As you can see from the picture below, add water to the ice cube tray and then drop the raisins and carrot in position for the snowman.  Freeze until solid and then pop out the cubes and arrange on a plate for a fun snowman activity.  If you wish, you can put the pieces on a plate out of order (or sideways) so that your little ones can put the snowman together like a puzzle.  The Sugar Snaps were instantly in love with our frozen snowman.   They played with him until he melted away.


     I love that they were able to share one ice cube snowman and play together. Have you tried making ice cubes in a foam egg carton?  What projects have you been doing this Winter? I'd love to hear from you.  As always, your comments are welcome.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Family Time at the Gardens

     We have been lucky to have gorgeous weather here in Southern California.  We decided to take advantage of it while Greg is still off of work.  One of our favorite things to do is visit local gardens.  Greg and I have done that since we were dating and we have taken the Sugar Snaps from pregnancy onwards.  The thing that was the most strikingly different this time is how independent they've become.  It was not at all crowded so we let them run ahead of us.  They got lots of exercise and are clearly bonded as siblings and friends.  It tugged at our heart strings to watch them enthusiastically run along (while keeping up with them). Their exuberance also amused other people who were spending time in the gardens.

The Sugar Snaps peered into a small pond

 at tiny fish masquerading as leaves.

 They explored a vintage cart with large intriguing wheels.

 We all admired this gorgeous tree shedding the last leaves of Fall in the first days of Winter.

Hearts of fresh Camellias peeked out of the ground, perhaps from a recent wedding.  

 At one point, the Sugar Snaps decided to spontaneously hold hands. We melted.

       It was a fun day.  It was nice for me to feel healthy again after my recent scare.  Greg and I are both a little anxious about starting our regular routines now that we have that scary question in the backs of our minds (what if it happens again?).  Many people have a TIA and never have another one, while for others it is like a small earthquake forecasting a bigger quake ahead.  Hopefully that was my first and last one.  What have you been doing with your families this Winter? Do you live in a climate  like ours or are you experiencing cold and snowy weather?  If you or someone in your family has had a health scare, how did you get back to feeling like things were normal?  I'd love to hear from you.  Please feel free to share in the comments.
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