Easy Pre-School Craft: Birdhouses

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Oh Georgia weather, you’re such a tease. With the jonquils blooming and yesterday’s afternoon warmth I was thinking Spring was officially here, but no, this morning is downright chilly! Come soon Spring, we are ready for you to stay! Aren’t the flowers beautiful though?

Today I wanted to share with you something so easy and fun that your pre-schooler (or probably any kid for that matter) will have fun doing. The other day Preston (my 3.5 year old son)  and I went to my favorite place, Hobby Lobby. One of the aisles we went down had all the little bare wood items. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about, this aisle has wood letters, little boxes of all kinds, small shelves, shapes of every kind…a huge assortment of plain wooden items. Well, Preston found a tiny little birdhouse that he just thought was the cutest thing. It was only a few dollars so I let him get it.

Later that afternoon he was bored so I got out the birdhouse and his paints, covered his little work table with a plastic tablecloth and let him get to work. He probably painted that little house for over an hour and had such a good time doing it. It was a great pre-school craft because it allowed him to practice making decisions–he decided which wood item he wanted, and he got to tap into his creative side and let his artistic juices flow. I feel that letting children develop their imagination and creativity is so important.

This idea may be one you already to do with your little one, but in case you hadn’t thought of it before I decided to pass the idea along. I also loved that it kept him entertained and occupied for so long, this would be the perfect thing to let your child do if you need to work on laundry or clean the house a bit. Since this is an inexpensive activity we will be doing this a lot more often too.

And now I have the cutest little birdhouse painted by my most favorite little guy. Isn’t it darling?

Easy Pre-School Craft: Bird House

I love it sitting here on my front porch, however, the other day Preston saw it out here and got really upset. Apparently he painted it to give to his baby sister for her first birthday. He’s the sweetest child I have ever known.

I brought the birdhouse back inside after I took the photo; it’s just as well though because this was how the porch was decorated for the winter. During the Christmas season in place of the birdhouse was a tiny silver glittery reindeer that was just so cute. Don’t you just love the mix of all the mediums? I think the mason jar with twine wrapped around it sitting next to a mercury glass votive on a modern looking tray with a burlap runner has a fun, interesting look.

However, I need to do some Spring decorating now that April is just around the corner. Maybe, just maybe, after Madison’s birthday on April 4th Preston will let me put the birdhouse back on the porch.🙂

What kind of crafts do you like to do with your little ones?

Healthy, Simple Family Friendly Meals: Meatloaf

One of my passions is cooking, I just love to be in the kitchen. Since I’ve had children though it’s not easy or practical to spend hours in the kitchen just to cook dinner. So, for this season of my life I’m focusing more on meals that are quick to prepare and are kid friendly. Raise your hand if you have a picky pre-schooler in the house? Anyone out there besides me? Finding things my three year old will willingly eat that are healthy is such a challenge. Today I’m going to share a meatloaf recipe that even he will eat {usually}.

{Side Note: Does anyone else think of Will Ferrell in Wedding Crashers yelling, “Maaa, the MEATLOAF!!” whenever they hear the word ‘meatloaf’?…Or is that just me? I’m not even a huge fan of that movie but every.single.time that quote pops in my head.}

Okay, back to the recipe. It’s simple, delicious and juicy. It DOES take a while to cook, but once it’s mixed up and in the oven it’s pretty hands off. Just add a couple of veggies and you’ve got an easy meal that’s healthy and yummy for your family. Some of my favorite vegetables that would work with this are sautĂ©ed zucchini and yellow squash. If your family is a ‘meat and potatoes’ type of family you could whip up some mashed potatoes or for a healthier spin cut up some baby red potatoes and sautĂ© them in a little extra virgin olive oil. I usually season them with some black pepper and some rosemary.

Ingredients for the Meat Loaf:

  • 1-2 Tbsp EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
  • 2-3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 sweet yellow onion
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 3/4 Cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 Cup breadcrumbs
  • black pepper
  • ketchup

Some notes on the ingredients:

I highly encourage you to purchase organic, grass-fed beef when possible as it’s the healthiest option for your family. The majority of grocery stores are selling it now, my Kroger sells is for $7 a pound which I consider a great price.

You can make your breadcrumbs but usually I just use the store-bought breadcrumbs in a can. I don’t know about you but the time I’m cooking dinner always seems to be when the baby is clingy or the pre-schooler is grumpy so I look for as many ways as possible to shave off time spent in the kitchen. Buying the breadcrumbs pre-made is one of those time savers for me.

Did you know that black pepper is an antioxidant? It also has antibacterial effects and promotes digestive health. So, if your family enjoys the taste of black pepper there’s no need to hold back on it. Limiting salt intake is always wise but we don’t have to worry about if we add too much pepper.

Now for the steps:

1. Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees.

2. Add the EVOO to a pan and heat over medium heat.

3. Finely chop the onion and add the onion and garlic to the pan. Cook for a few minutes until the onion is translucent. Stir occasionally while cooking and watch so the garlic does not burn.

4. Take the onion and garlic mixture off the heat and allow to cool some.

5. Mix the beef, milk, egg, salt and breadcrumbs in a bowl. Add the onion and garlic to it. *You can mix the meatloaf together with a spoon, but to be honest I’ve found that it gets better mixed by hand. That’s why you need the garlic and onion to cool a little first.

6. Form the meat mixture into a loaf and put in a lightly greased loaf pan. *I don’t cook mine on a baking sheet, I use the loaf pan because I feel that the meatloaf is more juicy this way.

6. Sprinkle the top with black pepper and put it in the oven. Cook for 40 minutes.

7. Remove it from the oven and lightly coat the top with ketchup.

8. Bake it for 15 more minutes. Let it rest for about 10-15 minutes before serving it.

Well, now you have another easy family-friendly recipe to add to your cooking repertoire. I hope your family enjoys this dish as much as mine does. Bon appetit!

Do you have a kid friendly recipe you’d like to share with me? I’d love for you to include it in the comments.

“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31

Dresser Re-Finish with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint

I can’t believe I haven’t posted since last July! I have a lot of catching up to do on here, I’ve been so busy that I haven’t had the chance to post but I have so many things I want to share. There has been a birthday party, a new house to decorate, a baby shower, recipes to share and a new baby room to decorate.

Today I wanted to share my before and after pictures of the dressers that I re-finished using Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. I’m so pleased with how they turned out, amazed at how easy the product was to use and how fun it was to do!

I love the fact that you don’t have to do ANYTHING to get the piece ready for re-finishing–you don’t have to sand it or prime it or do anything except wipe it down with a rag if it’s dusty.

I re-did the dressers that were in my guest bedroom for use in our second baby’s room (a little girl due in April!); originally they were a very light (almost white) oak with lots of knots in the dressers. When I told my husband that all you have to do is put a couple of coats of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint on to begin and that you don’t have to sand the knots down or seal them he was in disbelief. He really felt like the knots would bleed through, but not with this paint! It’s amazing!

So here’s the before shot (taken from when the dressers were in our old house):

Dressers Before

So to begin I just removed the drawer pulls and wiped the pieces down with a damp rag. I painted two coats of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in her Old Ochre color and let it dry. Later that same day I applied a very, very thin coat of Annie Sloan Clear Wax. She has a special brush and technique that she recommends but I just used pieces of my husband’s clean white undershirts to apply it with. I would rub a little on it in a circular motion and continue to rub it in until only a thin layer of it was left. (You can tell where you’ve applied the clear wax because it slightly deepens the hue of your paint color).

I let that cure overnight and the next day I took sand paper and roughed it up a bit because I wanted the dressers to have a rustic, antique feel to them. I emphasized the corners the most but used the sand paper all over the pieces too. Next I brushed off the pieces to remove any dust particles from sanding.

The final step is Annie Sloan’s Dark Wax. Again, she has a special brush for applying the wax but I just used a straight edged paint brush. I applied it on the piece and rubbed it in a bit with another piece of clean white undershirt. I let the piece cure for a week before putting the drawers back in and putting the drawer pulls back on.

Here’s the final product; I’m very excited about how they turned out! They are going to look great in our little girl’s room.

Dresser After

I did the mirror too on the dresser above but haven’t re-attached it yet.

Dresser 2 After

I definitely will be using this product again!Also, FYI you can’t just buy this paint anywhere, you have to find an Annie Sloan stockist. For me, it’s at Queen of Hearts antique store in Buford, Georgia. You can Google Annie Sloan stockist to find one near you though. Have fun!

So, I’d love to hear if you’ve used Annie Sloan Chalk Paint before? How did you like it?

Shabby Chic Baby Girl Shower

I realized today that I haven’t written a post since sometime in March!…it’s July! Spring and summer just seems to be such a busy time of the year. Although I’m leaving to go to the beach tomorrow and should be packing, I thought I’d do a post about the Shabby Chic Baby Girl Shower that I did in April…or was it May? I can’t remember!

This was such a fun shower to throw and gave me the perfect excuse to go antiquing for more milk glass! I LOVE milk glass and buy it whenever I find it. What about you? Do you have anything vintage that you collect?

For this shower I chose a color scheme of mostly pink and green and other gorgeous pastels. I made a wreath for the door and gave it to the mother-to-be to put on her front door when baby Brooklyn arrived. The letter “B” is just a wooden letter that I painted pink and sprinkled glitter on for a little bling.

I found the most perfect fabric at Hobby Lobby; it was a pack of 5 different fabrics that color coordinated but weren’t too “matchy-matchy”–I used them throughout the party and they really added to the shabby chic feeling I think. The pendants were cut out and glued on twine. The letters were stenciled on with brown paint. Overall I was pleased with how it turned out.

The baby’s nursery is decorated in pink and green owls so I was super excited when I found this cute owl box. At the shower I asked everyone to write a note to baby Brooklyn and put it in the box.

To decorate the room where the food was I made a garland out of strips of fabric; I simply tied them on and then added a little pink tutu and a couple of bibs.

The shower was a brunch so I served Preggo Mimosas which was just a mixture of orange juice and Sprite and in the South you simply can’t have a party without sweet tea!

I thought it would be darling for us to drink out of old fashioned milk bottles but I didn’t want to spend $4 per bottle…so I drank a bunch of Starbucks Frappuccinos (hmmm, is that spelled right?!) and used Goo Gone to get off the label. Then I tied a bit of lace and some twine around them and added a pink straw. So cute, cheap and reusable for another time too!

The menu for this brunch was inspired by Paula Deen. Most of the recipes were from her book, Paul Deen and Friends. I served Praline French Toast casserole, Garlic Cheese Grits casserole, Broiled Parmesan Tomatoes, Sausage Balls with Mustard Dip, Frozen Fruit Cups and a Doughnut Cake.

All of those items are yummy but you’ve just GOT to make the Praline French Toast–it’s amazing! Here’s a link to the recipe. I mean just look at it!

The Frozen Fruit Cups were served on cute little milk glass plates–so excited when I found a set of 5 of these pretties at Queen of Hearts antique store in Buford.

I added pink frosting and sparkly sprinkles to the dozen Krispy Kremes. What could be better than doughnuts with icing on them?

I made a mini version of the fireplace banner as a cake topper and used cute stickers to spell out the name.

Other elements that I feel added to the “shabby chicness” of the party was the burlap table runner and the “Plain & Simple” caddy I had the silverware in.

The favors were simple lollipops; typically I make cake pops as favors for parties but I was a little short on time so I purchased this kit at Party City.

This really was such a fun party to throw. Party planning and cooking are my passions so if you need help with the next shower or party that you’re hosting, please contact me as I would be happy to help. Of course, this only applies to the Greater Atlanta, Georgia area. Simply email me at AnneRains@gmail.com

Have a blessed day!

Cinnamon Crunch Cupcakes

Do y’all love cinnamon and sugar as much as I do? That sweet little combination is one of my favorite things…I love cinnamon toast, cinnamon rolls, cinnamon Toaster Strudel, you get the idea! When I found this recipe for Cinnamon Crunch cupcakes on Pinterest that is made with Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal I knew that I had to make them! Luckily for me (and my waist, hips and booty) we had a dinner with friends coming up that I could make them for…wouldn’t want to have two dozen cupcakes just lying around the house, ya know!

Look at these…don’t they look divine?

These are so yummy and the cinnamon buttercream frosting is so tasty. I don’t like cream cheese usually but this icing is so delicious that if I hadn’t made it myself I wouldn’t have even noticed.

So I know that you’re going to want this recipe too…so scoot over to the Your Cup of Cake blog for a bit (sooo many fabulous cupcake recipes there!). Click here for the recipe: Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cupcakes

*Just a quick tip, add the single cinnamon toast square to the top of the cupcake RIGHT before serving. I made the mistake of just putting it on when I decorated and by the time my friends ate them the cereal was a bit soggy.

Enjoy! Do you have a favorite cupcake recipe you’d like to share? Add it to the comments!

Wedding Portrait Photography Session: Part 3

Okay here’s the last part of the Wedding Portrait Photography session I did for my niece. In case you missed the previous parts, here they are:

Wedding Portrait Photography Session: Part 1

Wedding Portrait Photography Session: Part 2

My niece is so beautiful and it was so fun taking these pictures for her. I enjoy doing Maternity photos, Newborn photos, Engagement photos and Wedding Portrait photos. If you have a need for any of the above photo sessions and are in the greater Atlanta area please email me at AnneRains@gmail.com.