21 March 2014

Irish Inspiration: St. Patty's Day Mantel DIY Tips

Hi all!
Thanks so much for joining me this week for some Irish inspiration! Hopefully it's given you some ideas for next year's food, decor, and fun! Today I'm wrapping up our journey with my mantle this year. Here's a quick look back at all of our Irish Inspired fun this week...

Fri: St. Patty's Day Mantel DIY Tips (that's today!)

Again, please ignore our terra cotta walls... we've yet to paint our rental home! This month's mantle is a bit small as I threw it together quickly, but hopefully these tips will help you think a little outside the box when creating your next mantle!

 (1) Re-use
Some of you might vaguely remember these fabric-covered trees. That would be because I first used them a few years ago, in my 2012 Mantel. I shared how to make them in that post too! If you want to change things up each year, you could easily just switch out the fabric on something like this. Try and look at the items you have used before and consider using them again or using them in a new way! These trees are also a great way to use up some fabric scraps!

(2) Cards
This may sound silly, but if you've gotten cards from family or friends, well, use them! They're like mini works of art, so why not include them in your mantel! Use all of them or just your favorites. Another way to use cards- go shopping in your local card store/aisle and pick out a few of your favorites. You can throw them in a dollar store frame and you've got instant mantle-worthy art, or you can add some St. Patty's Day cheer to another room and mount them on the wall!

(3) Fillers
Do you have red and green vase fillers for Christmas? Well, if you know where they are, dig out the green ones, throw them in a vase or cup, and there ya go! Easy peasy! If you have any green candles, perhaps of the evergreen variety also leftover from Christmas, dig those out too and add them to your mantel! Even if you're not in the mood for some pine scents, you don't have to light them- just use them for their green color.

(4) Plants
It doesn't get much easier than this- if you have any houseplants that fit on the mantel (or maybe are already on your mantel!) then they'll fit right in! They're already the right color scheme, and they'll add a great organic touch to your mantel vignette.

(5) Use what you've got
Pull out those extra green votive holders and put them up on your mantel. They don't even need to be filled with anything, or just pop a spring-scented candle in there (just make sure they're not too close to anything flammable!). Again, decor from Christmas might be perfect to use again. Also, if you don't have the perfect vase or nice holder, take a look in your kitchen cabinets and see what you DO have- no one said vase fillers HAVE to be used in a vase! I dug out this gravy boat because it was the perfect size to hold all of my fabric-covered balls that I wanted to use. A green and/or yellow or  white/green/orange bowls would be great to add to your mantel!

I hope I've given you some good ideas to work with the next time you're designing your St. Patty's Day mantel or any of your next mantel vignettes! So many of these ideas are good starting points for any great mantel display. Have a fabulous weekend, friends!
God bless,

20 March 2014

Irish Inspired: Crafts for (or with!) Wee Ones

Hey all!
Today I finally got my post up a bit earlier in the day than usual- whoohoo! Before we get started today, have you checked out the other fun Irish Inspired posts this week?

As I mentioned during yesterday's Toddler Gift Basket post, today I'll be sharing two super simple Irish Inspired crafts that you can do FOR or WITH your wee one! Don't feel limited to the "ingredient" list that I suggest either- feel free to add other embellishments, let your imagination go wild!

Tomorrow I'll wrap up our Irish-Inspired week with sharing my St. Patrick's Day mantel! See ya then :)
God bless,

Irish Inspiration: Toddler St. Patty's Day Gifts

Hey all!
So since St. Patrick's Day is such a big deal in our home what with my Irish heritage and all, we do St. Patty's Day baskets, much the same as the whole Easter basket tradition. I thought I'd share our toddler-appropriate gift items, which would really work well for Easter baskets, birthday gifts, or Christmas stockings too! And don't forget to check out the other fun Irish Inspired posts from this week...

Wed: Toddler St. Patty's Day Gifts (that's today!)

Alrighty... and now onto the gift ideas for the wee cuties in your life ;)

(1) Books
We're a big fan of Tomie dePaola around here. He has fun illustrations and a great way of telling stories. Two of my favorite St. Patty's day books are Jamie O'Rourke and the Big Potato as well as Fin M'Coul, the Giant of Knockmany Hill (which she got last year, but would be much more appropriate for toddler age).  There are a great many Irish books out there- do you have any favorites?

(2) Food
OK, so I don't usually condone sweets per say, but this little one takes after her father and is a chocolate fiend already! We try to limit it to just a few small pieces. I hid a few chocolate mints in some green camo Easter eggs as well as some green-foil-wrapped Hershey kisses in a small container wrapped with a yellow tulle bow! Some other non-sugar ideas (which she'll actually be getting in her Easter basket!) would be Happy Baby Apple Kale Super Toddler Bars or Happy Baby Green Puffs (also available in green apple flavor).

(3) Stuffed Animals
Our little one loves her stuffed animals- her collection is already rivaling mine when I was little! Some of her current green stuffed animals were actually passed down from me, like Shamrock the Saint Patricks Bear by Ty. The one pictured is Skully, the parrot from Jake and the Neverland Pirates, one of her favorite shows to watch on Netflix!

(4) Shiny Things
If your little one is anything like mine, anything that flashes or blinks and/or has buttons is golden! The one bracelet we picked up at our local zoo, and the other one has LEDs in it, so it flashes when you hit the button on the side. She loves it! I picked up a whole pack of a few colors- we'll be bringing the extras to Disney World in the fall, so she has something to play with during the evening parades :)

(5) Clothing
Let's be honest- the little ones grow like weeds and are always in need of some new threads! Now is a great time to check out the clearance sections at your favorite stores for next year's St. Patty's goodies! Check your local consignment stores too! The leg warmers shown here I made from women's knee socks last year. The Minnie tee is from Old Navy. The flip flops are for her dress up kit- they were actually a gift for me (she loves wearing my shoes! What wee one doesn't, really? hehe) but I don't enjoy the plastic flip flops so off they went into her stash!

(6) Motor Skills
I didn't actually buy anything new to make this piece of her basket. I rounded up some green pom poms, pipe cleaners, and straws and stuck them in an empty sugar canister. She loves dumping everything out and then putting everything back in- bonus points for getting her to work on her motor skills with this "toy."

(7) Arts & Crafts
I ordered some Crayola construction paper, cut up some white, orange, and green pieces, stapled them together- instant Irish flag coloring booklet! She got some fresh Crayola Pip-Squeak Markers (perfect for little hands) and Crayola Triangular Crayons, but only the green, orange, and white shades for today!

(8) Stickers
This little one just adores anything remotely related to a sticker. She got two variations in her basket this year- first, some adhesive foam shamrocks which came in three shades of green as well as some simple removable office color coding labels in green. Be sure to stick with kids stickers or ones that are marked "removable" or you might be scraping stickers off everything for weeks!

(9) AND (10) DIY Crafts
Check back in tomorrow where I'll show you how to make these super simple Irish-inspired crafts either FOR your little ones or WITH your little ones!

Hope to see ya'll tomorrow, friends :)
God bless,

**Disclosure NOTE:  This article contains affiliate links. 

18 March 2014

Irish Inspiration: Kid-Friendly DIY Wreath

Hey all!
Today I'm back with a kid-friendly craft: an Irish wreath! The whole family can have fun putting this one together :) Please excuse our wall color... we haven't gotten a chance to paint our rental home yet and remove all that terracotta from the wall! Hehe... ok, on to the craft... right after we check out the other fun Irish Inspired posts from the week!

Tues: Kid-Friendly DIY Wreath (that's today!)

I started out with the same wreath base that I've been using for the past two years, you can check out how to make it {here}. In the last move, my envelope filled with all the accessories went MIA, so I had to improvise in a hurry this year. The resulting wreath is simple enough for the whole family to participate in making! I'll walk you through how to make each element of the wreath below...

To finish off your wreath, place shamrock stickers around your wreath wherever you'd like! My stickers are actually foam stickers- the little one got a few sheets of these in her St. Paddy's Day gift basket!!

Be sure to supervise the little ones since this craft does include straight pins and scissors! Hope your family enjoys making their own wreath next year for St. Patrick's Day!
God bless,

17 March 2014

Irish Inspiration Week: GF Irish Soda Bread & Potato Leek Soup

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

How have you all been? I finally uncovered my St. Paddy's Day decor amidst our moving boxes, so all this week I'll be sharing with you St. Patrick's Day inspired decor and recipes, gift basket ideas, and more! So check back each day this week for some fun IRISH inspiration!

Mon: GF Irish Soda Bread & Potato Leep Soup (that's today!)
Tues: Kid-Friendly DIY Wreath
Wed: Toddler St. Patty's Day Gifts
Thurs: St. Patty's Day Crafts with (or for) Wee Ones
Fri: St. Patty's Day Mantel DIY Tips

Today, I have two recipes for you. First up is a gluten-free version of our family's recipe for Irish Soda Bread (originally seen on THIS post), followed by some Potato Leek Soup! Enjoy :)

GF Irish Soda Bread
4 c. gluten-free flour (I prefer Bob's Red Mill)
3 tsp. xantham gum (unless your flour already includes it)
3 TB sugar
1 TB double acting baking powder
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking soda
6 TB COLD butter
2-2.5 c. raisins
2 eggs
1 1/2 c. buttermilk

Heat oven to 350 F. Butter and flour a 2 quart round baking dish, or pre-heat a pizza stone. Mix the first 5 dry ingredients, then cut in the butter. Stir in raisins. Beat eggs slightly in a separate bowl. After reserving 1 TB of egg, stir in buttermilk. Pour egg mixture into the dry mix. On a well-floured surface, kneed the dough 10 times- do NOT over-kneed (this causes the butter to melt, which you don't want). Shape dough into ball and place in baking dish. Cut a cross in the top of the loaf about 1/4 inch deep. Brush loaf with egg reserve and cook for 1 hour 20 minutes.

Potato Leek Soup
4 TB butter
2 medium leeks, sliced (or onions)
2 lbs potatoes, sliced
3 cups milk
5 1/2 c. vegetable stock (or chicken)
1/4 c. chopped fresh chives
1/2 tsp celery salt
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1 c. heavy cream (or light cream)
salt & pepper to taste

Roux (2 TB butter, 2 TB cornstarch)

(1) Heat a 6-8 qt. stockpot and saute butter and leek.
(2) Add potatoes, milk, stock, and herbs. Cover and cook gently for an hour.
(3) Prepare the roux by melting the butter in a small saucepan and whisking in the flour. Let it bubble for 2 mins on med-low heat, stirring constantly.
(4) Add roux to soup to thicken, whisking to avoid lumps.
(5) Cook for 5-10 mins, and then puree the soup with stick blender.
(6) Add cream and gently reheat, but do not boil.
(7) Season with salt and pepper. Serve!

Make it a Crock Pot dish: 
This can be done in the crock pot, which is actually the only way I've ever done it! In lieu of cooking for an hour on the stove, I cook on LOW for 6-8 hours, or on HIGH for 4-6 hours. You can do the first step as written, or skip it completely and just add the ingredients into the crock pot sans sautéing! Step 3 must be done as written. For step 5, I just leave it in the crock pot to blend it, and make sure the crock pot is on LOW when I move onto step 6. After adding the cream, I let it cook for another ~15 mins, and then turn the crock pot to WARM.

** DISCLOSURE NOTE: The above recipe contains an Amazon Associates link. **

06 March 2014

St. Patty's Day Round Up

Hey all!
Sorry for being a bit quiet around here - STILL working on unpacking! It's certainly harder to unpack when you have holidays, a DH who works super late, and a toddler thrown in the mix! I can't wait to share our new space with you soon, and a bunch of projects I have to share too! Anyhoo, onto today's topic...

St. Patrick's Day!!!

The super sweet Annette at Fiber Artsy is sharing 7 Easy St. Patty's Day Craft Projects and is featuring my St. Patty's Day Wreath project! She has such a neat blog, focusing mainly on crafts using fibers of all sorts- check it out! While you're there, see the other awesome projects she's featuring today too, including free lucky printable treat bag tags, paper shamrocks, green fabric flowers, crocheted shamrocks, felt shamrock barrettes, and shamrock hoop art! SO fun and perfect for the upcoming holiday!  

If you're looking for some more St. Patty's Day inspiration, here's a round up of my past posts about my favorite green holiday.  Check back soon and I'll be sharing some of my preparations for this year's St. Patrick's Day too!
(1) St. Patty's Day Wreath with tutorial
(2) DIY St. Patty's Day Mantel Tour with mini tutorials
(3) St. Patty's Day Flag Food Spread with links to recipes
(4) Blessed Shadowbox with link to tutorial