A Food Gift your Child can Help Make | Houston Mom Photographer

Warning…Here is my first EVER…(shameless!) repost of a Christmas DIY Food Gift I posted about two. years. ago…..kind of a long time. A whole new baby has blossomed into a rambunctious toddler in the meantime. And, alas, I still love this Kid-Friendly Christmas-Craft, so here it is…a festive little Blast from the Past!…

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I saw this fantastic idea for making chocolate-pretzel trees on The Artful Parent last week (and, by the way, this blog is AMAZING…a veritable treasure trove of craft ideas for small children). I won’t show detailed photos of the process, because the original post has excellent photos and instructions. I just wanted to share a few photos of O happy at work, making her own version of the craft…

She looks quite serious when she’s focused (…in this case, focused on eating all the sprinkles…)

This was such an easy food-craft for young children. At 2, O was really able to participate and enjoy this. We picked out the supplies together before-hand and I think that also made it fun for her.

Yep, look out, Family…You’re probably getting these in your Christmas Stockings…

Mmmm…sprinkles!…

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Here is what we ended up doing with the pretzel trees that year…

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Around 4 of them per cello bag, with a cardstock free printable gift tag in the cello bag (facing outward, so that if you flip the bag over you see the front of the gift tag), tied with baker’s twine and served up in an Anthropologie “Latte” bowl among a few other homemade goodies. 

Fuzzy photos, but perhaps a fun idea, if you’re looking to make some easy homemade goodies with your kiddos! (Looking at these old photos makes me realize that we should do this with Little Brother too!…Or maybe we’ll make these or these instead!) 

What are you making or enjoying this Holiday Season?

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Halloween | Handmade Costumes, Family & Friends

Let me go ahead and post some Halloween photos right after Thanksgiving!;-)  Really though, I just wanted to share these…A few pics from Halloween Night…

Behold, one of the cutest babies in the world, dressed in her Mama’s vintage “Lochness Monster” costume, with a Cookie Monster Hat. Check out that little tail with a bell…so precious!

Halloween - 0And O with one of her BFF’s, “E”. E’s Mom is incredibly crafty. She sewed the dress using a “Simplicity” pattern, added the stockings and purchased the ears and hands. Incredible! E’s Mom also had the brilliant idea of bringing glow-stick necklaces for the kids, which proved to be very handy after sunset!

O’s Grammy (my Mother-in-Law) made her this very special “Lady Bug Fairy” costume! O had this very specific idea of being a lady bug fairy and I can’t believe how well Grammy interpreted that into an actual costume! It’s incredibly durable, as O uses it for dress-up all the time, proudly running around, proclaiming, “I’m a Lady Bug Fairy! Poof!”.  This was the first year that O (just turning 4 at the time) was old enough to have a strong opinion about what she wanted to dress up as. It is so special (thank you, Grammy!). Halloween - 1Z’s costume is a refurbished version of O’s original Octopus Costume. I just had to dye a new onesie and hat (since the old ones were too small for Z), and I used the same leggings. Unfortunately, I think Z looked a tad feminine (maybe because the legs looked like a skirt) and a few people asked me what “her” name was.;-)Pretty Funny! Next year, Z, I promise, you’ll get your own costume! haha.Halloween - 2

And, can you get a load of little “Daisy Duck” in these pictures? That’s E’s little sister, “A”. Her Mom made her costume too and I love it, right down to the eyelashes on her cap!Halloween - 3My Parents came over for Trick-or-Treating, which was so wonderful! I love this pic of my Mom and O crossing the street on Halloween Night…
Halloween - 4 Group pic on a neighbor’s doorstep!…Halloween - 5As you can see, we stayed out past dark! I could hardly believe it myself. The girls were just loving it! Z tuckered out early with his Nonno. Though still to this day, weeks later, he occasionally knocks on the doors in our house and says, “Tricka-tee”, perhaps expecting candy!;-)IMG_9074-webWhat a wonderful night with fabulous friends & family! And what wonderful costumes, everyone!!

Here are a few pics from a fall festival we attended before Halloween Night… 

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And since I’m posting these right after Thanksgiving, it only feels right to talk about how Thankful I am for living near so many of our Family Members & Friends, for being able to get together on short notice for special occasions like this, for crafty loved ones & handmade costumes, for the chance to see Holidays through the eyes of Little Ones, and so much more!

I hope that you are having a wonderful Thanksgiving Weekend! XX

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A Savory Pumpkin Recipe & Community Supported Agriculture

Have you tried out a CSA before? If you’re not familiar with it, CSA stands for “Community Supported Agriculture”. If you subscribe to a CSA it typically means that you get a box of veggies each week from a local farm for a certain number of weeks, usually one growing season at a time. We are doing a CSA with Wood Duck Farms (near Houston, Texas) and we are really pleased.

We are doing a Full Share, which amounts to quite a bit of food (I often end up having to prep/chop/freeze something during the week). You find yourself adding greens to everything just to get them all used up while they’re at peak freshness. It’s a fun way to cook, and my version of being budget-savvy too, since a generous box of produce each week is approximately $34, less than you would find at a grocery store, I believe, and certainly fresher.

I don’t think I’ve had better onions or tomatoes (note: tomatoes were earlier in the season and onions might be on their way out?) other than on vacation to places where the produce was equally local and fresh (Italy, I’m thinking of you!). The salad greens and micro greens have become a huge treat to me. I’ve learned to love the challenge of cooking with a new vegetable. 

A few weeks ago we received two pie pumpkins in our weekly share and the owner sent an email that week with a suggested recipe for a Savory Pumpkin Bake, an alternative to a pumpkin pie for those interested. It was awesome! I made a few tweaks, based on what we had available, and asked him for permission to post it here…

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Who wouldn’t want a stuffed pumpkin on their plate at dinner time? It makes a pretty presentation. I really thought the kids would love it and, admittedly, they did seem to love the idea of something being presented in a pumpkin, but they weren’t keen on the texture of it. They ate the filling though. Ever since this experience O (who loves to proudly list all of the vegetables that she does or doesn’t like on a regular basis) continues to tell me that she’s sorry, but she just doesn’t like pumpkin (“I do not like green eggs and ham!…”). I keep thinking that we’ll see if that story changes come Thanksgiving, and the delicious pumpkin pies!  

Savory Pumpkin Bake

Ingredients

  • 2 Pie Pumpkins
  • 1/2 Onion
  • 3.5tsp Minced Garlic
  • 2C Toasted Bread Cubes (toast at 350F for 10min max)
  • 1/2C Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 1 tsp. Nutmeg
  • 1/4C shredded Mozzarella or Cheddar (we used Mozzarella b/c we had it on hand)
  • 2 Chicken-Apple Sausages
  • 4 strips of Turkey Bacon

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Cut tops off your pie pumpkins, as if you were getting ready to carve them. Remove seeds and membranes.
  3. Use a fork to poke some holes in the pumpkin "meat" from the inside, so that it will get really nice and tender during the baking process. You can season the inside with salt and pepper.
  4. Cook turkey bacon and sausages in a pan, according to package directions. Set aside.
  5. Saute onion and garlic in the same pan for about 5 minutes, or until onions become slightly translucent.
  6. Cube bread and spread on pan covered with parchment paper. Toast in 350F oven for up to 10min.
  7. Mix cream and nutmeg together in a bowl.
  8. Assemble: Place the bread cubes in the bottoms of the pumpkins (about 1C bread cubes per pumpkin). Top with onions and garlic, meat and cheese. Pour cream/nutmeg mixture over all of the other ingredients and top with the pumpkin stem.
  9. Bake at 350F for about 90min. Check on it often towards the end. You want the pumpkin skin to be slightly wrinkly and you want to be able to easily pierce it with a fork (but don't poke holes through the whole pumpkin, or else the cream will leak out ;-)). You may need a little more or less time, depending on your oven, the size of your pumpkins, etc.
  10. Open the pumpkin lid to let the steam come out and let cool a bit before serving.
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If you happen to have non-meat-eaters in your family, you can roast one of the pumpkins and serve with chipotle black beans and onions, with some sauteed greens and fun spices. The recipe from Wood Duck Farms certainly got me into the idea of cooking meals in pumpkins.;-)

In Houston, we have so many great options for fresh produce…Here are just a few;

1.) CSAs (Wood Duck Farms and Home Sweet Farm are two that I’ve heard about, but here is a great link to other Texas CSAs and Buying Clubs.)

2.) Rawfully Organic Co-Op (We’ve tried this several times and love it! The only thing I don’t love is that a lot of the produce isn’t local. I do believe that they strive to include local items whenever possible though. The prices still beat grocery store prices. And you can’t beat their enthusiasm for fresh, organic produce.)

3.) Farmers Markets (gaining in popularity, and popping up everywhere)…Here is a great (though probably not comprehensive) list of Houston-Area Farmers Markets.*

*Note: Here is also a link to the Urban Harvest website. Urban Harvest hosts a few area farmers markets, offers gardening classes and even free children’s gardening classes at the Saturday Eastside Farmers Market. So cool! 

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The Artful Parent + A Quick-&-Easy Veggie Snack

I have been reading this wonderful book, The Artful Parent, by Jean Van’t Hul…

Artful ParentIt has inspired me to set aside time for Art and Creativity with O&Z more often. My Aunt, who is a wonderful Artist and an Art History Professor (and a Mom) mentioned something a few months ago how, as parents, our creativity isn’t lost but it is simply redirected for a while, as we put creative energy into our kids’ lives. I really like that idea, especially when paired with the Maya Angelou quote above.

So, inspired to have more creativity in our daily lives, we got out these materials the other day…

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…washable paints on paper plates and bubble wrap taped to toilet paper rolls from the recycling bin. O loves when she gets to paint with bubble wrap at her Preschool, so this seemed like a quick and easy project to throw together. One thing I’ve gleaned from the book is to try not to get caught up in planning a perfect project, but to make art projects with the kids simple and frequent. 

Untitled-4Untitled-3 Painting with Bubble Wrap was a new concept to Z at the time, so I enjoyed watching him explore…IMG_7526-Z with paint Before long they started painting their hands to make handprints…and a mess…but it was good fun…

Untitled-6Untitled-7The whole activity lasted 20 minutes tops…just right for a quick afternoon art project.

And, if you’re interested, here’s a super-quick afternoon snack we’ve been enjoying lately (I’m always happy when I can get my kids to eat anything green!)… 

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Quick Zucchini Bites

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • Zucchini, cut into slices.
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • Panko
  • Cooking Spray

Instructions

  1. This is a less-sophisticated version of the Food Network's "Zucchini Parmesan Crisps". We slice the zucchini, spread out on a cookie sheet lined with foil. We spray each zucchini round with a spritz of cooking spray and sprinkle with panko and parmesan cheese. We bake in a 450F oven for 20-25min.

Notes

Adapted from Food Network Recipe (http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ellie-krieger/zucchini-parmesan-crisps-recipe.html).

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{My serious little artist, enjoying her afternoon snack.}

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Turning Two…

Wow. This little guy is turning TWO this week. I guess it’s not so hard to believe, but at the same time, well, yes, it is…
Z and the dollhouse2 …Time is such a funny thing as a parent. All of a sudden SLEEP is such a precious commodity. And watching your toddler entertain himself for 10 or 15 minutes, happily and creatively, can feel like time suspended…

Z and the dollhouseZ usually wakes up before his sister. My husband usually lets me sleep, never complaining. Such a champ! But on this morning, for whatever reason, I got up early with Z and enjoyed a hot cup of coffee while watching him play, with time standing still, until, of course, alarms went off and the craziness of the morning rush began. 

Happy Birthday to my silly, wild, happy-go-lucky, curious, brave little guy. (It may sound corny, but being your Mom is a real honor!)

And because Birthdays make me sentimental, here are a few pics from his first few days…

Newborn Z - BlogZ first few days Love!

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DebbieNovember 7, 2014 - 4:17 pm

Happy Birthday, Zeke!! We love and miss you! Jane, fantastic photos and stories as always! Love you!