Author Archive: ellen

broken crayon craft

The little one has broken a lot of crayons over the last couple of years, and I’ve been collecting the crayon fragments because I figured we could eventually do something cool with them. This melted crayon craft project was just our speed, and our funky multi-colored crayons made great gifts for the kiddo’s friends.

After peeling the paper off of the broken crayons, we put the crayon pieces in a mini muffin pan and baked them at 170°F until they were completely melted (24 minutes). Then we removed the muffin pan from the oven, and decided to quickly stir one of the new melty crayons (a mixture of purple, blue, and pink) to make a special new shade of purple. We left the other crayons alone for a marbled look. Then we put the muffin pan in the freezer for 20 minutes. Next I inverted the pan and the new crayons all came out easily.

Our special purple swirled crayon broke when it came out of the pan, so it’s possible that our stirring before freezing affected that crayon’s structural integrity, but it turned out really pretty. A few of the other crayons broke later on, but that’s not so bad because these crayons are actually easier to draw with when they are broken in half. Overall, this was a fun recycling project to do with a three-year-old!

bunny pancakes

Last year my sister gave me this idea for a cute Easter breakfast and I made it about as simple as possible. I think these bunny pancakes will be an Easter tradition for our family, since they are so easy to make.

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I made banana pancakes using the recipe from my Babycakes Covers the Classics cookbook, and added a little tail made of shredded coconut. Of course, these pancakes are best served with a side of chocolate bunny. Hoppy Easter!

purple cauliflower soup

It’s another purple cauliflower recipe, inspired by my desire to get my purple-loving three-year-old to eat lots of veggies! Good stuff!

denver zoo

We went to the Denver Zoo in early March, and were delighted to find out that an adorable two-day-old giraffe was making its zoo debut that day. We also enjoyed seeing several animals playing with the toys in their habitats, such as the elephant and hippopotamus below.

We watched some amazing big horn sheep and mountain goats climbing on Sheep Mountain, and Bear Mountain had two beautiful grizzly bears.

This is a great zoo with all kinds of animals, but the thing we were probably most surprised to see was a Lego lion sculpture, apparently by the same artist as the Lego sculptures we saw at the McKee Botanical Garden in Florida. These awesome Lego sculptures get around!

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mckee botanical garden

We visited the McKee Botanical Garden in Vero Beach in February. The first thing that we noticed and loved was the huge stick structures, which you can go inside.

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The gardens currently have a special exhibit, Nature Connects: Art With LEGO Bricks. These super cool Lego sculptures will be in the gardens through May 7, 2017.

Our favorite Lego sculptures are shown above. The smallest of these sculptures, the “Pileated Woodpecker,” is made of 4,424 pieces. The largest, the “Monarch Butterfly On Milkweed,” contains 60,549 pieces and has an eight-foot wingspan! These Lego sculptures were so impressive, and the beautiful gardens were the perfect setting for enjoying them.

manatee observation center

During our Florida mini-vacation we visited the Manatee Observation and Education Center in Fort Pierce. When we arrived, we appreciated the manatee artwork on a bench and on the walkway to the entrance.

Inside, there was an optional scavenger hunt for kids, to encourage them to observe the different types of fish inside the building. Our three-year-old loves this sort of challenge, and the possibility of earning a little prize. There were also a few fun crafty activities for kids, and a short movie about manatees and the observation center. The best part of visiting the observation center, of course, is the chance of seeing wild manatees in the creek behind the building. The observation center has beautiful views of the creek and Indian River Lagoon, and we were lucky enough to see three manatees relaxing in the creek!

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Admission to the manatee center was only one dollar per person (!), so I highly recommend visiting if you are in the Fort Pierce area.

vero beach

We went to Vero Beach, Florida in early February to visit my parents and enjoy some warm weather.

Besides the beautiful ocean, sandy beach, and warm pool we had access to, one of the highlights of Vero Beach for me was a little vegan snack shop called Planet Yum. We went there twice and enjoyed vegan soft serve ice cream and milkshakes (the chocolate chai milkshake topped with coconut cream was fantastic), gluten-free waffles, and handmade chocolatey popsicles. Can’t wait to go back!

loveland fire & ice festival

It should come as no surprise that Loveland, Colorado, the “sweetheart city,” is really into Valentine’s Day. Around this time of year, there are charming red wooden hearts with personalized dedications posted on all of the light poles on the main street. And the Fire and Ice Festival is celebrated all over downtown Loveland on a weekend near Valentine’s Day. We enjoyed the festival’s great live music, carousel, carnival games, kettle corn, and of course, ice sculptures.

There was also an awesome community art project that came together throughout the festival. People painted individual smallish sections of a huge mural and the finished sections were mounted on the side of a building, creating a beautiful, funky image of Mona Lisa in Loveland. What a cool idea!

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cauliflower nachos

I’m obsessed with cauliflower nachos! Honestly, they are only a little bit like nachos, but they are SUPER yummy.

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We used almond cheese and added black beans for protein, but otherwise followed the gist of the recipe linked above. And we’ve been making them with purple cauliflower because purple is our three-year-old’s favorite color, and that makes her want to eat them. They go well with salsa, guacamole, and a side of cornbread.

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donut fun

This fall I realized that my poor deprived child was three and a half years old and had never had a donut. This egregious oversight never would have happened if I could eat gluten (or if I could easily get gluten-free dairy-free donuts at any bakery), so we’ve started making mini donuts at home.

Our first attempt was my all-time-favorite, apple cider donuts! We used this recipe and gobbled them all up within about 24 hours.

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Our next donut-making adventure was chocolate dipped plain cake donuts (kid’s choice). The festive sprinkles were also the kiddo’s choice, and she enjoyed doing all of the dipping and sprinkling.

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The donuts were delightfully crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. The plain cake donut recipe and the chocolate dipping sauce recipe are both in Babycakes Covers the Classics (one of my go-to cookbooks). We made a half recipe of the chocolate dipping sauce and still had a bit left over, so I made hot chocolate by mixing the sauce with hot almond milk. So much chocolatey goodness!