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Entries from March 2016

Easter 2016

Happy [belated] Easter!

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I had an upset tummy all weekend, so we didn't make it to church or to a friend's house for lunch as planned. Boo! But of course, we still had to get the kiddos all gussied up for pictures and a basket hunt.

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Jack's clothes came from Gymboree, while the girls' dresses came from Burlington Coat Factory. I just love all of them. And the kids, too! ;)

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I didn't want a lot of candy this year, so I filled their baskets [okay, buckets] with fun stuff like Silly Putty, tricky puzzles, and other such novelties.

Easter Day

Oh, and they each got silly face masks with goofy teeth.

Hope you all had a wonderful day with your loved ones!


Sunday Stealing: Easter Meme

Happy Easter!! Link up here if you're playing along today!

Easter Meme

Stolen from: The Archives

1. Five Things I have A Passion For (not necessarily in any order): 


a. My children


b. My husband and our marriage (you're welcome for the gratuitous additions of Chloë & Otto)


c. Food: cooking, baking, eating...

Knit & Crochet

d. Fiber arts: all things yarny, knitty, and as I did here, crochet-y ;)

e. Environmentalism

2. Five Things I'd like to Learn Before I Die: 

a. Another language, aside from English and Spanish

b. How to spin my own yarn from raw fibers

c. Patience in all things

d. Giving up being a control freak

e. The secret to successfully growing plants - I have the blackest thumbs ever!

3. Five Things I say A Lot: 

a. "WTF?!" or "I don't know WTF you're talking about," often to Hubs, who speaks in esoteric military terms after serving 20 years in the US Navy! ;)

b. "LOL." As in, I actually say it like, "lollll." It amuses me to see my teen and tween kids roll their eyes when I do that.

c. Be "nice, kind, sweet, and loving!" is the mantra I preach to my kids, having tried over the years to instill the practice of the Golden Rule in them.

d. "Whatever." Just, whatever, dude.

e. "I love you." I say it all the time, to my kids and Hubs. ALL. The. Time.

4. Five Books and/or magazines I have Read Lately (we'll go with magazines, since books are a far reach for me lately): 

a. Martha Stewart Living magazine is my favorite!!!

b. Family Fun, which I used to devour as readily as Martha Stewart's mag; I do it a little less so now that the kids are older...

c. I really like Prevention; it's easy to read, with lots of short little blurbs that I find helpful in my daily life.

d. Reader's Digest has been my old standby favorite since I found dozens of issues in my grandparents' condo as a wee lassie.

e. People is my semi-guilty pleasure, though I haven't made as much time for it lately.

5. Five Favorite Movies: 

a. Grease, tied for first with:

b. Dirty Dancing

c. Finding Nemo, because I am sooo Dory; I cannot wait until Finding Dory comes out! I am SO there.

d. Ferris Bueller's Day Off is always a fun one.

e. I loooove Steel Magnolias.

6. Five Places I would like to Travel To:

a. Australia

b. Japan

c. Venezuela... and really, all over South America

d. Hawaii, since all I've seen of it is the Honolulu airport

e. The Galapagos Islands


Well, that was fun. I hope you enjoyed the visuals!


Saturday 9: I Don't Know How To Love Him

I missed last week's entry; did you miss me? Link up here if you're playing along this weekend!

Saturday 9: I Don't Know How to Love Him (1971)

Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.


1) This song is from Jesus Christ, Superstar. Though now a beloved classic, the play was controversial when it first premiered. Can you think of something else that originally made people uncomfortable, but went on to be accepted?

Yeah, half the shit I say in a conversation. ;)

2) Jesus Christ, Superstar was originally developed as a "concept album," a collection of songs written to sequentially tell the story of The Crucifixion and Resurrection. Do you remember the first album you bought? Did you download it, listen to it on a CD player, your cassette deck, or record player?

I'm pretty sure the first cassette album I bought was Milli Vanilli's All or Nothing tape. I have no shame; I still love "Blame it on the Rain."

3) When the album's songs were performed live in concert at the Pennsylvania Civic Arena, producers decided to stage it as a play and the rest, as they say, is history. Tell us about a really good idea you've had recently.

This Spring, I have decided to breathe new life into our apartment by using the Japanese Konmari approach to organization and decluttering. We moved here exactly three years ago from two larger houses in Virginia, both with a larger footprint than this teensy space, so we still have a LOT of extra stuff. Anyway, when I got to the "bags and purses" category on the Konmari checklist, I cleaned out all my unused purses and found a gift card that still had $20 on it. Woohoo!

4) Jesus Christ, Superstar is a truly international phenomenon. During a revival tour that began in 2011, it's been a hit with audiences in the United States, Canada, Britain, Ireland, Brazil, Hungary, India, New Zealand, Italy, France, Mexico, Chile, Bulgaria, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Iceland, Russia, Poland, Czech Republic, Greece, Australia, The Philippines, South Africa, Panama, Colombia, Croatia, Bolivia, The Netherlands and Portugal. Besides the United States, which of those countries have you visited?

Of those countries, I have been to: Canada, Italy, France, Mexico, Greece, Panama, and Croatia. You don't normally think of Croatia as a beautiful Mediterranean destination, but I can tell you that Dubrovnik is absolutely beautiful.

5) Peeps are big sellers every Easter. Would you rather have yellow chicks or pink bunnies?

And that is my vote. Ditch the Peeps, and hand me some Cadbury Mini Eggs, please!

6) Jelly beans are also popular this time of year. One theory says they were introduced in Boston during the 19th century. What else comes to mind when you think of Boston?

Oh gosh. I think of the Boston Marathon attacks, baked beans, the Mother Church of Christian Science (which is the religious sect in which I grew up), the Tea Party, visiting there with my mother when I was very small...

7) We've been talking a lot about sweets this morning. The only holiday that generates more candy sales is Halloween. When do you eat more candy: Easter or Halloween?

I try not to eat too much candy on either occasion, but I still do. I bet I eat more on Easter, because of the afore-mentioned Mini Eggs. YUM!

8) Easter lilies will adorn many churches this Sunday. What's your favorite flower?

Another lily: the Tiger Lily is my favorite flower. So much so, that Rob and I named our first purebred German Shepherd Dog after them. She was a good pup.

9) Easter is considered the season of rebirth. What makes you feel refreshed or rejuvenated?

A good shower, followed by diffusing my Young Living Peppermint essential oil throughout the house. Sometimes, I massage some into my forehead, neck, and wrists, too - it really wakes me up!


Thanks for visiting!


Throwback Thursday: Thirteen Years #TBT

Robby & Jack

Thirteen years ago this past Tuesday, we celebrated the birthdays of our identical twin boys, Robert William and Jack River.


Robby, as we have always called him, was the recipient twin in Twin-Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS). The boys had a very rare form of TTTS which develops rapidly during labor and delivery itself. A week prior to their birth, the boys were not significantly different in size. By the time they were born by emergency C-section, Robby was double Jack's size.


Though the neonatologists tried everything to help Robby survive, and our son struggled to improve, he did not live past three days. I will never forget the words I heard that day, when his chief doctor came in to my hospital room to get us quickly: His stats were "no longer compatible with human life." We told our son many things that day, had him baptized, and held him while he breathed his last breath.


Normally, the hospitals wouldn't allow hand prints to be taken - only the feet - lest the babies put their inky fingers in their mouths. This was no longer a concern for Robby, so I was able to get all four prints made.


Making the arrangements proved to be far too difficult for Rob and me to handle, other than selecting his little angel urn. My amazing friend Shana flew in from New York to handle all the other difficult parts, like making some phone calls and helping me rent an electric breast pump so I could continue producing milk for Jack, who spent only a month in NICU. (The boys had been 31-week preemies.)


We had a small memorial service for Robby at the hospital, playing songs meaningful to us and reading the above poem. It still makes me cry.


Jack thrived, meanwhile, despite getting down to a postnatal weight of 2 lb., 10 oz. This little angry guy was a "feed-and-grow baby" in NICU; despite his diminutive size, he was a strong one!


The day we brought him home, we went to church for Easter service. Two parents there, sitting a row in front of us, had identical twin infant girls in carseats. It was almost impossible for me to bear, and I cried through the whole message.


Chloë, our curly girly, was only a year and a half older than her brothers, but they allowed her into the NICU to say good-bye to our "Twin A." Twin B, on the other hand, was her new favorite plaything, and she loved to help me take care of him during the day.


Jack put on a little chub with the help of 22-kcal formula supplementation of my milk. I hated doing it, since I was adamant about nursing my children, but in this case it was definitely necessary!


Our little peanut had a nurse come to the house every fortnight to check his weight, diet, and other stats. He was doing well!


For two years, Jack grew rather steadily. And then he stopped. He was slower to progress in other areas, but he blossomed tremendously with the help of physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and other assists.


This young man, Jack River, is thrilled to join his older sister in the land of teenagerdom.


While, even after 13 years, I tend to be a little bit overprotective of Jack and jump at every cough and sniffle, the wound left by Robby's absence has gotten somewhat easier to bear. I don't know if I will cry tomorrow, the anniversary, but I know I'll feel it in my heart. Our surviving children - Chloë, Jack, and younger sister Sophia - bring us so much joy. Sometimes I wonder what life would be like if we had been able to raise our identical twins, or if we had all four children running around... but that is a thought I quickly shelve for another day, another time.


If you are a parent who has lost a child or children from a multiple birth, please reach out to CLIMB. They were a huge help in getting me through the early years, along with a great deal of bereavement therapy.

Thanks for reading. Happy 13th birthday, boys!


Water Balloon Wars

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If there is one thing kids love, it's a good ol' fashioned water balloon fight. And after spending hours, off and on, filling up the ones I'd recently purchased, my kids were spoilin' to get outside and have exactly that.

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Sophia was surprised to find herself the first target!

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Soon, everybody was wet. I had to yell about 50 times not to aim at me, since I was using my completely NON-waterproof Nikon. (Yes, I planned that, instead of taking pictures with my waterproof phone. Heh heh.)

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We quickly attracted the attention of one of Jack's friends from the neighborhood, Sumari, and I encouraged him to join us. He hesitated - partly because he didn't want to get wet as he planned his attack, and partly because of shyness, I think.

See him inchin' forward, though?

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The sun was starting to set...

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...and Sumari had to make a decision. He decided to play! Yay!

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And the war was ON!

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Uh-oh, check it out: Dad's getting into the game and raiding the water balloon stash!

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Four kids suddenly turned on Rob. Hahaha! And now you see why I brought out the Nikon...

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So, that was fun. Shh, don't tell the kids, but I plan to fill up more water balloons tonight and invite more friends over to join in the next one. Maybe I'll play, too. ;)


Thanks for stopping by!


Wordless Wednesday: Pinto's Farm Visit

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This week, I'm going to be posting pictures from our trip to Pinto's Farm, here in Homestead, Florida, in the agricultural area known as the Redlands. We went for an Easter weekend about 10 days ago, and I've been sadly behind in blogging about it (and in general). There are a TON of photos, so feel free to skim as I plan on letting them (mostly) speak for themselves!

Feeling Wordless today, too? Link up HERE with 5 Minutes For Mom!

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Needless to say, we had quite a bit of fun! Thanks for stopping by!


Saturday 9: See You Later, Alligator

Link up here if you're playing along today!

Saturday 9: See You Later, Alligator (1956)

Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.


1) Crazy Sam's mother is terrified of alligators. Just looking at a photo of one of those scaly reptiles gives her the creeps. Is there a member of the animal kingdom that scares you? 

No. However, I don't like animals to touch me without first gaining my express written position. Unexpected surprised like a bug landing on me are what scare me.

2) Gators are carnivores, but they aren't picky. If meat isn't handy, they'll munch on fruit. Are you particular about your diet? For example, do you try to eat gluten-free, low sodium, etc.?

Yep. I have a high-protein, low-carb, low-fat diet requirement. I can't have more than 40-50 g of sugar per day, and I aim for 90-100 g of protein per day, all told no more than 1100 calories intake daily (although I usually manage about 500-750). I also am pescatarian: I don't eat animals, except certain sea creatures with whom I'm not on a first-name basis. In other words, if I studied them in college or grad school, I simply can't eat them. So feeding me is a challenge, needless to say.

3) In Spain, this song was a hit under the title, "Hasta Luego, Cocodrilo." Say something else in Spanish.

Puedo decir mucho en español. Lo entiendo bien, pero todavía estoy practicandolo, cada día.

4) When this week's artist, Bill Haley, was a little boy, he made a guitar out of cardboard and pretended to play that until his parents got him a real one. Tell us about something you wanted so badly when you were a kid.

I was a kid in the 80s, when Cabbage Patch Kids were all the rage. I got a redhead, but I desperately wanted a black CPK. I begged and begged forever. That Christmas, I got what I wanted so badly; I named her Tiffany Jacqueline. It surprises me now that I was successful in my appeal, given my father's level of racism. I'm kind of proud of him that he was able to get over himself enough to get me one. And I have no idea why I wanted one that badly, but it was probably a bit of foretelling, as I am the opposite of my father in almost all regards including that one.

5) Early in his career, Bill did whatever it took to get the gig. When singing cowboys were popular, the Michigan native pretended to be a cowpoke and renamed himself, "Silver Yodeling Bill." Have you ever fudged on your résumé or fibbed in an interview?

Not that I know of.

6) When his career was going well, Bill was generous and loved to give extravagant parties at his home, which he called Melody Manor. Do you enjoy playing the host?

Nope. I am a lousy host. I'm far too anxious for that.

7) Bill was blind in one eye, the result of a botched operation when he was a child. Since the blind eye wandered and didn't focus, he always wore a curl over the opposite eye, hoping to draw everyone's attention to the other side of his face. What is there about your appearance that leaves you self conscious?

Everything! I am extremely self-conscious; I always have been. But what bothers me the most right now are the blemishes on my face. I'm allergic to the kisses from our chihuahua, Paco, and he loves to sneak in a kiss every time I get near him!

8) On the other hand, what is it about your appearance that pleases you, and that you would never change?


My eyes. I think they're really nice.

9) In 1956, when this song was a hit, Elvis Presley exploded onto the music scene and displaced Bill as rock's top artist. The press and public assumed Bill was jealous of Elvis, but in reality he liked Elvis a great deal. Are you jealous by nature?

No, I'm generally not - though my husband is, quite! :O



On The Subject Of Dyeing... Easter Eggs!

Dyeing Eggs

I know, I know. Easter isn't for 2½ more weeks. But all the memes on Facebook and Pinterest get my craft bug itchin' to do something new, and after all, eggs were on sale!

I may have overbought? That's five dozen eggs, folks - minus the three I broke while hard-boiling them. Oh, don't worry. Those were still boiled and eaten, too!

Now you may say, and rightly so, that hard-boiling isn't necessary because the raw eggs will take dye better than boiled ones. While that may be true, I'm glad I did decide to boil every last egg. Sophia alone must have dropped a half-dozen eggs in the Egg-Dyeing Skirmish of 2016!

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The first undertaking involved about a dozen eggs and a dozen bottles of nail polish. Rob and I ran to CVS, where the cheapest bottles of polish were 99¢ Wet 'n' Wild bottles, also on sale this week for Buy One, Get One Half-Off. Yes, I bought an odd number, which ruined my bottom line, but no signs were on the WNW stuff. Oh well. There were $1.49 bottles of another brand, Eternal, so I snagged up five of those to bring our total to an even twelve and have more color variation for the kids.

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One thing I did not remember to buy was nailpolish remover. Make sure you get it, kids, because this project is messy.

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Jack did not want to participate, as he doesn't like arts and crafts, and he doesn't like being messy. That left the girls and me. I let the lady-babies divvy up the bottles into three groups of four or four groups of three; they chose the latter. For instructional material, I recommend this post on the blog Hello Glow. Or this post, 'cause I'm gonna tell you how we did it. First up: neon green, glittery silver, and tangerine.

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I didn't want to sully any of our good Fiesta dishes, or ruin our towels, so I had to go the dreaded disposable route for this project: paper towels and plastic Solo cups, along with Dixie plates and bowls. We ended up using six different cups for this project, as the girls ended up wanting to change their color combinations after the first go-round. You'll want to fill the cups pretty full with room temperature water. Too cold or too warm, and the nail polish drops right to the bottom and ruins a good time.

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I drizzled the three different colors chosen in the top of the water, and Sophia decided to have the first crack at it. She held the egg at the poles and tried rolling it around in the water. That... semi worked, but it only covered half the egg. I needed to add more paint to the cup and let her dunk the other half.

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Also, unlike us, maybe use breathing masks and do this outside or in a well-ventilated area, because the fumes were noxious. All three of us were complaining, but all three of us were too stubborn to have done anything about it. So take my advice with a grain of salt.

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Chloë chose the next color combination of glittery violet, raspberry, and shimmery gold.

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I also bought toothpicks for spider-webbing the colors together, but as you'll see later, that proved to be an unnecessary purchase. Also, the paint clings to the wooden stick, so it was doubly wasteful. And y'all know how much I truly hate waste!

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Oh yeah, also wear aprons or art shirts if you do this, because drips and dribbles will inevitably happen. And don't do it on your good dinner table unless, like ours, it already needs refinishing. Newspaper is your friend.

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See why the toothpicks are not necessary? For the third try of black, turquoise and purple, I just drizzled the nail colors in different swirly patterns. They pretty much stay put on the water's surface, so there is no worry that they will seep in and blend together.

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However, Chloë liked using the toothpicks, so whatever. Maybe get some if you have multiple kids and want to let them each try doing things her own way.

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Eggs starting to dry on the paper will stick. You could try spraying the paper plates, if you use them, with a little Pam or other cooking spray.

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The fourth color combo of yellow, baby pink and baby blue seemed to go on the eggs the best. It also poured out of the bottles more easily. For 50¢ more per bottle, it might be worth it to spring for a slightly better product.

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On the other hand, glitter did not go on the eggs well. And we emptied several of the twelve bottles of color I bought just for this product, so don't use your good manicure colors. Paws off my Jafra Nail Lacquers, ladies!

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I found our eggs didn't quite have the beautiful marbling off the ones on Hello Glow, but they still looked cool nonetheless. And I liked trying a new technique with the kiddos.

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This egg looked almost floral to me. Do you see it, too?

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One positive attribute of our interestingly-colored eggs: major SHINE factor!

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Sophia complained that her fingers were covered in polish, but she had a lot of fun just the same. Both girls agreed that this was definitely a repeatable process for future generations of eggs.

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Even Chloë, who also does not appreciate getting dirty and who is my perfectionist child, enjoyed this activity. I was mostly there to guide and take pictures, so I liked not having to get dirty myself! In other words, parents of toddlers may want to hold off on this one for a few years.

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After we had a little trouble with getting polish to stick to the eggs nicely, I reread the original Hello Glow blog post. I came back and told the girls to DUNK the eggs straight down and back up again, rather than roll the eggs in the top of the water/paint combination.

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That was the trick; it worked beautifully.

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It also led to even messier fingers!

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Yet another color combo

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Sophie lent a hand to her big sister in smoothing the polish around to the uncovered parts of her egg. Judging by the latter girls' expression, maybe this wasn't entirely appreciated help...!!

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Sophia's finished nailpolish eggs

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Chloë's decorated eggs


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Next up, we tried the shaving cream method of dyeing eggs. You can read more about it here on Crafty Morning.

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For this project, I bought the cheapest can of shaving cream - not gel - at CVS for a couple of bucks, and the old-fashioned McCormick food coloring dropper thingies at Publix. I originally thought we'd use my good Wilton gel food colorings, because I have a ton of those sitting unused, but Crafty Morning specified not to use the gel kind. So I had to sent Rob out for the drops.

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Sophia used an old high-edged cookie sheet for this project, which was fine because I rarely use this one anymore anyway. I let her put drops of food coloring in however much and wherever she wanted it on the shaving cream.

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Chloë used our glass casserole dish, which was also fine since it wasn't permeable and any dyes would just wash off. (The spoons we used to rescue eggs from the first experiment with nailpolish didn't fare so well. I think we had to throw them away?)

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The girls didn't complain as much about their fingers getting dirty swirling around the dye in the shaving cream as they might have if the fingers weren't already covered in nail polish! You could use the toothpicks, or even straws, for this swirling, but it's not as fun!

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Okay, so Chloë wasn't as thrilled with the "fun" of this mess, but she got into it later on, I promise! ;)

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Don't swirl up your colors too much, or the color gets a little muddy, like greenish-brown. Which is not so pretty.

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Also, instead of shaving cream, you could use Cool Whip. You might want to do this anyway if you're prone to licking your fingers mid-project! But since egg shells are permeable, I read that the eggs do pick up the taste of the shaving cream and render them inedible. I don't know, though; Chloë ate several of them today with zero complaints. I haven't tried, because I am allergic to all but the Vegetarian 4 Grain eggs. :\

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So for this project, you just roll the egg around in the dyed shaving cream and then plop the eggs on a dish to dry for ten minutes. Easy-peasy.

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Of course, the eggs are covered with fluffy cream while they're drying, but this will come off later in the process. I let the ladies color as many eggs this way as they desired, and there were still plenty of cream and dye left in their pans for more eggs after that.

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The drying eggs set for ten minutes. I let the girls play Minecraft on their tablets to take a break, while I set the timer on the microwave. I had hope that the eggs would be this vibrant in the end, but...

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Ten minutes later, I had the girls dry off their shaving-cream caked eggs to see the final results.

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Sophia was a bit shocked at how pastel-y pale her egg turned out to be!

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True, some eggs turned out more colorized than others. I'm not sure why this is.

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I liked the cloudy nature of the eggs. Definitely an interesting method of egg-coloring.

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We went through a lot of paper towels for this project, I will say. Maybe 2/3 of a roll?!

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Sophia's finished shaving-cream eggs. Oops, looks like another cracked, dropped egg there on the bottom right. She had the dropsies!

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Chloë's shaving cream eggs, with that purty blue-green one in the center.


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We still had two dozen undyed eggs left over, and the girls wanted to try another method, so I decided to just go the McCormick food coloring route. We used the box and our own minds to make dusty pink, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet. Creative thinkin' there, I know...

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Chloë's beautiful eggs - after only five minutes in the dye baths! White wine vinegar was what we used, instead of regular white vinegar. Maybe that's why they're so bright?

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Sophia had a lot of fun with this project, as did her big sis. In the end, we all had a great time, and I'm glad we decided to forego the PAAS kits this year. Much more fun and creative this way! Have you ever done any of these methods? What's your favorite way to color eggs?

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Saturday 9: FortyFive Seconds

Link up here if you're playing along today!


Saturday 9: FortyFive Seconds (2015)

Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.


1) The very bad day described in this song began promisingly enough. The lyrics tells us, "Woke up an optimist, sun was shining, I'm positive." How did your day begin?

As soon as I woke up, my tummy was rumbling for some tortilla and queso fresco that my friend Veronica brought over. It's so good!

2) This song refers to Monday morning. What's on your plate for Monday?

Other than the usual homeschooling the kids, I have - so far - five mystery shops scheduled for the time before we need to be at the horse farm for Sophie's riding lesson.

3) The lyrics request, "promise you'll pay my bail." Have you ever had to bail anyone out of jail? (Or have you been bailed out?)

No, never, to either question. And I hope that does not change.
4) Rihanna gets top billing in this all-star trio. She says that when she was a little girl, she used to walk around singing "A Whole New World" from Disney's Aladdin. What's your favorite song from a Disney movie?

"Kiss the Girl" from The Little Mermaid
5) Rihanna dated outfielder Matt Kemp when he was with the LA Dodgers. Opening Day is less than a month away. Are you a baseball fan?

Historically, I'm a Mets fan, but it truly does not matter that much to me anymore.

6) Kanye West also sings on this week's song. When he was a little boy, he spent a year in China with his mother. Have you ever lived overseas (as opposed to just visiting on vacation)?

We lived on Guam, in Tumon Bay first and then Yigo, for a brief period of four months in 2002-03.

7) Mr. West is part owner of the Fatburger chain. Do you like grilled onions on your burger?

I don't eat beef, but Elevation Burger makes some stellar veggie burgers. I love grilled onions!

8) This week's third artist, Paul McCartney, is a vegetarian. Think about your most recent meal. Did it include chicken, pork, or beef? Eggs or dairy?

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None of the above. Other than the queso fresco, my last meal was scallops and veggies. Tasty!

9) Paul was born at 2:00 PM on a Thursday. Do you know what day of the week you were born? Do you know the exact time?

I was born on a Wednesday. My birth date is 9/8/76, so it would have been cool if I had been born at 5:43:21... but nope! ;)


Thanks for stopping by!