Friday, March 27, 2015

DIY Plaster Flowers

I know that I normally share a pottery creation on Fridays, but I often have comments saying that people wish they had access to a pottery studio or know how to make pottery. So, today I thought I would share a project that is (somewhat) like pottery but something you can do at home very inexpensively.

This particular project is to make these beautiful plaster flowers that dry hard and should be treated with care as you would with pottery. The good thing is the project costs are minimal and there is no kiln or wheel involved.

To make these I found some artificial flowers that has thick sturdy petals. I used some roses. Then I took all the other parts off the flowers (all the plastic pieces and stem, etc.) so that I just had the petals.

I mixed together the plaster in a bowl. You need 3 parts plaster to 1 part water typically, but for this craft you might want to make it just slightly thinner to easily coat all parts. It only takes a tiny bit more of water to thin it.

Peel apart the petal layers and start by coating the bottom later first. Place on a piece of wax paper. Continue with subsequent layers of petals and place them on top of each other to recreate the flower. Allow to dry completely before handling. I would allow at least 24 hours. If you move it before everything is dry the thin plaster covering the petals will crack, If you are patient, it will harden very nicely.

Once completely dry, you can paint as you wish or leave plain.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

#ad GIVEAWAY and Review: Costas Candies


I am excited to tell you all about the tour my son and I had to Costas Candies in Owatonna, Minnesota and about the wonderful candies we brought home to review and share with our family (Yup! Already all gone!) You can order yet through this weekend to have it delivered in time for Easter, but the giveaway won't be over until Easter. YES! You heard me right! I am having a giveaway of a 1 pound box of assorted Costas Candies.

I first want to tell you a little bit about Costas. Costas Candies and Restaurant is located in downtown Owatonna Minnesota and has been a family owned business since 1919. There is 2 parts to their business which includes a restaurant that is makes delicious food from scratch and the other part is their candy store and kitchen. When you walk in to Costas the first thing you see is the case full of candy. It's hard to miss all the brightly colored wrappers and the row of chocolate bunnies and ducks.

On our tour, my friend Julie, who owns Costas with her husband and his family, told us all about how each of the different varieties of candies are handmade at Costas. We were able to go back in the candy kitchen (which is separate from the restaurant kitchen) and see just where everything is made and watch some chocolate bunnies being made. The handmade candies they make include Truffles, English Toffee, Buttercremes, Pecan Turtles, Nut Clusters, Caramels and Peanut Butter Cups (a new offering).

Here are just a couple picture of my son looking at some of the candies in the display.  The bottom picture he is pretending to be a candy monster. The truffles and buttercremes were his favorites because he really likes chocolates.

The box of assorted candies was perfect for us because each person in our family likes some different than the other more. My favorites are the English Toffee and Caramels. My daughter is a bit of a sugar fiend and won't turn away any candy, but she gravitated towards the flavored buttercremes. My husband claimed nut clusters and peanut butter cups as his.

It was interesting to watch them making some chocolate (I think these are the ducks in this picture). Pictured on the side of the upside ducks is a machine that continually stirs the chocolate to keep it from hardening so that someone can make candy after candy. All of their chocolate candies are hand dipped and the chocolate bunnies and ducks are hand made by pouring in chocolate to each mold one at a time and tapping it to cover the entire mold and pouring in more when needed and tapping more. Each one of these delicious Easter creatures is made by hand by a person.

Here are some of the chocolate ducks that were just made and are cooling in their molds.

They even have a mold to make this giant chocolate bunny. Can you believe the size of this bunny? It is bigger than my son's head. He couldn't believe the size of this one. I think my kids' eyes would pop out of their heads if they saw this in their Easter Baskets.

These are the warmers for the milk chocolate and dark chocolate. Other than that warming and stirring the chocolate, everything done to make the candies they sell are all done by hand. There is no assembly lines or machines making candy, which makes for a very low environmental impact on the creation of their candies.

They are constantly making different batches of candy because they do no use an preservatives in their candies. Because they do no use any preservatives in their candies, they have a shelf life of of 2 months. But seriously, who is going to take that long to eat the candy. Our 1 pound box barely lasted a week. When you buy candy from Costas you are buying fresh hand made candy that is free of preservatives.

This is the stir stick that they use when making caramels and toffee. They weren't making caramels or toffee when we were there but we did see the huge kettle they make them in and the cement table that they are made and molded on.

My son picked out what he thought his favorite piece would be to sample before we left the store and he picked out a peppermint buttercreme.

Sure enough, he popped that whole thing in his mouth. I think I need to teach him a little bit about savoring and mindful eating.

Costas Candies also makes a basket out of chocolate. My son was in awe of that. He was just amazed that someone could get not only a chocolate bunny and beautifully wrapped (yes, those are all hand wrapped too) truffles and buttercremes, but also a basket completely made of chocolate that all of these delicacies are stuffed in to.

Right now they can ship to anywhere in the United States you want to have chocolate shipped too, but shipping will stop during the summer months when the chocolate will melt and resume again in the fall. Although, you can always walk in to the store and buy some chocolates or caramels or toffee at any time of the year you wan.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

I was given the above mentioned box of candy for the purpose of reviewing it on the blog. All thoughts, opinions and photographs are my own. No monetary compensation was received.

DIY Peep Hair Ties

I can't wait to give these to my daughter to wear them. She has already seen them since I was working on them in front of her, but I am not letting her wear them until closer to Easter. It took me about an hour to make both of these and both of the Peep finger puppets (in the other post from today).

I hand drew using chalk, on the felt, the outline of the peep and cut out 2 pieces of each color. You could use just one piece, but if you stitch 2 pieces together they keep their shape better.

On the top piece, I used black DMC floss and stitched on the face of the peeps. Then on the back piece, I attached the coordinating hair tie. Finally I stitched the 2 pieces together by doing a quick whip stitch.

Handmade Peep Finger Puppets

I am making a concentrated effort to give my kids MUCH less candy this year for Easter, as well as provide them with items that will encourage active outdoor play or using their imagination, or just plain will get used.

My preschool son still loves to play with his puppets (my 3rd grade daughter has recently decided she was no longer interested in them and gave all hers to her brother, which he is excited about).

It took me about an hour from start to finish to make these AND the 2 Peep hair ties I made for my daughter. So, these are a pretty quick and easy project to make for your kids.

I hand drew out a Peep Shape on the felt with chalk and cut 2 pieces of each color. These ended up being about double the size of a regular Peep so that they were big enough to stick a finger in.

I stitched the face on to the front piece. Then I did a quick whip stitch around the edges, closing the sides and around the head. On the bottom I did a whip stitch on each side individually, but not together because you need a place to stick your finger in to.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Wordless Wednesday: Rochester MN Children's Museum exhibits thru June

Do you live in the area and are looking for something fun to do with your kids for Spring Break?

Then I highly suggest checking out the Rochester Children's Museum of Minnesota.

Now through June 7 is the Creativity Jam and it is filled with all the fun Hands-On activities I have pictured here. 

They are only open Wed-Sun, so be sure to plan you break accordingly. 

Admission is only $5.50 a person, so it is very reasonable. Or if you have a membership to another children's museum you can get 50% off. If you have a Deluxe Family Membership to the Twin Cities Minnesota Children's Museum you can get in FREE!

This one exhibit is the Ag Cab Lab and is there until July 12th.

Monday, March 23, 2015

50 Third Grade Level Easter AR Books

I have compiled a list of 50 Accelerated Reader Books that are at the 3rd Grade Level that are Easter themes. I did not include anything that was the about the history or traditions and I also did not include anything that was religious.

Corduroy's Easter Party by Don Freeman
Panda's Easter Basket by Tara Morrow
Piggy Bunny by Rachel Vail
The Easter Egg Farm by Mary Auch
The Great Easter Egg Hunt by Michael Garland
The Little Gray Bunny by Barbara McGrath
Who Hid the Easter Eggs? by Pirkko Vainio

Bunny Trouble by Hans Wilhem
Duck's Easter Egg Hunt by Dawn Richards
Hopper's Easter Surprise by Katherin Siegentahler
Little Bunny's Easter Surprise by Jeanne Modesitt
Peter Cottontail and the Great Mitten Hunt by Laura Norton
The Dumb Bunnies' Easter by Dav Pilkey

Easter Showers by June Eding
Easter Surprise by Amy Ackelsberg
Hide, Easter Bunny, Hide by Udo Weigelt
Marley and the Great Easter Egg Hunt by John Grogan
The Big Bunny and the Easter Eggs by Steven Kroll
The Easter Beagle Returns by Alice Alfonsi

Easter Bunny, Are You for Real? by Harold Myra
Easter Egg Hunt by Sierra Harimann
Easter Egg-Travaganza by Jenne Simon
Humbug Rabbit by Lorna Balian
The Berenstain Bears and the Easter Parade by Mike Berenstain
The Big Bunny and the Magic Show by Steven Kroll
The Easter Bunny Battle by Molly Stewart
The Night Before Easter by Natasha Wing

Cranberry Easter by Wende Devlin
Dora's Easter Bunny Adventure by Veronica Paz
Easter in Harwick by W. Awdry
Teddy's Easter Secret by Gerlinde Wiencirz

Hernri, Egg Artiste by Marcus Pfister
It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown by Justine Fontes
The Berenstain Bears' Easter Surprise by Stan and Jan Berenstain
The Best Easter Eggs Ever by Jerry Smath
The Easter Egg by Jan Brett
The Easter Ribbit by Bernice Chardiet

Chicks Versus Bunnies by Kirsten Mayer
The Biggest Easter Basket Ever by Steven Kroll
The Easter Rabbit's Parade by Lois Lenski
The Story of the Easter Bunny by Katherine Tegen

Chicken Sunday by Patricia Polacco
Olivia and the Easter Egg Hunt by Cordelia Evans
The Little Rabbit by Judy Dunn

Peter Rabbit's Happy Easter by Grace Maccarone
The Easter Egg Haunt by Tom Stone

The Berenstain Bears and the Real Easter Eggs by Jan and Stan Berenstein
The Easter Bunny that Overslept by Priscilla Friedrich (revised edition is 3.3)
The Grumpy Easter Bunny by Justine Korman

Slow Cooker Whole Chicken

It's easy to get a whole dinner meal for your family ready in the morning and have it ready to eat that evening by using your slow cooker, even a whole chicken.

Slow Cooker Whole Chicken
1 large onion, sliced
1 whole chicken
1/2 C water
5 med-lrg carrots, sliced
seasonings to taste (I used 2 blends: lemon pepper seasoning and Wildtree Garlic Galore)


  • Slice onion and place on the bottom of the slow cooker
  • Rinse a whole chicken and place on the bed of onion slices
  • Pour water on top of the chicken
  • Sprinkle your choice of seasonings or marinade over the top of the chicken
  • Slice carrots and put along the sides of the chicken
  • Cook on low for 8-9 hours
  • Enjoy!