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The Procrastinator’s Guide to Easter

26 Mar

Dyed Easter Eggs

I’m a total procrastinator. Why do something now when it can be done later? This allows me to do something right now that I want to do. Like watch something on my DVR. Don’t hate. You know you do it too. So it should come as no surprise to you that I haven’t planned a thing for Easter.

Scratch that.

I do have one thing done. Hershey was so kind as to send me an Easter Basket full of delicious candy. Which I received and put up in my closet so the kids won’t see it.

Hershey's Easter Basket

So what do us procrastinators do about yet another holiday? It seems like this one is a big one for a lot of families. We tend to downplay most holidays and just do something small. My kids will most likely wear their purple Christmas dresses (I purposely bought them in a spring-ish color so they could wear them multiple times) and we will most likely have a meal together. What else is on my procrastinator’s list? Well have a look. Here are some last minute, easy ideas to celebrate Easter with your kids. Over achievers need not apply here. This is for us simple and sweet folks.

1. Die Easter Eggs Die!

IMG_2106

Um, ok that’s meant to be dye. I love homophones. And yes I had to look that word up because I don’t actually know all that English jargon by heart, even though a good friend of mine is a high school English teacher. Sorry Kris.

Ok, dyeing Easter Eggs! Yes, I know this one may be obvious. It may sound messy. It does not have to be. I found a good tip over at Parent Hacks to use a muffin tin for the dye. It works spectacularly. We did this activity last night while my husband made dinner. And by “made dinner” I mean he followed the directions on the back of a hamburger helper box. He’s totally gourmet that way. So it took all of 15 minutes. My finger tips are still slightly green. You gotta make sacrifices folks.

2. Easy and cheap Easter Basket

Easter Basket

I’ve already admitted to you that I received a basket chock full of candy from Hershey. So you could say I’ve already cheated a little. But I have two kids. The smaller one, the 18 month old, will NOT find it humorous if the 3.5 year old gets candy and she doesn’t. She has just learned recently how to slam her hand down and say “NO!” which makes me laugh every time. I anticipate the absence of her Easter Basket candy would not only solicit a few “NO!” hand slams but also a knock down, drag-out wrestling match between the two girls over a peanut butter egg. This, you might think, would be hilarious and probably get 10,000 views on You Tube. I may do it for that purpose. However, having a second Easter Basket to introduce after the viral wrestling video shoot would probably be a good idea.

Ok, you know how I am about spending on useless crap. So here is what I plan to do… use pirate’s booty as the grass. Reuse a basket from last year. Purchase some frosted sugar cookies from the bakery section (you know the kind that have a ridiculously perfect look to them even though you’re sure they’ve been sitting out for 2 weeks?) and split a bag of the candy up between the two. Voila! They will be so excited.

I wonder if I should have a jello pool ready for the toddler wrestling match? Hmm. Probably not. Ok. I’m just joking people. Mostly.

I know a lot of people will make a huge deal about Easter Baskets. If you want some ideas from the Hershey site you can view a video here with ideas from mommy bloggers. I feel like such an a**hole mom when I hear all the work they put into it. We just find simple and small works best for us.

3. Easy Easter Egg Hunt

Those plastic eggs drive me batty. Not only do the egg halves linger around my house forever with no visible match, they also are incredibly painful to step on when you’re trying to rush to the bathroom to pee because you just sneezed. (Yes, I’m 6 months pregnant. Yes this is a problem only us preggos have. Suck it.)

The easy Easter Egg Hunt is the one that is done inside your house with wrapped chocolate eggs. You take a bag of chocolate eggs, preferably a kind that you enjoy because, let’s face it, you are going to eat most of them eventually, and you hide them around your house.

This is what my parents did for us when I was a kid and I remember it being awesome. My sister and I used to sleep in the living room with hopes of spying the Easter Bunny in the night hiding the eggs. For my sister, she’s an incredibly smart engineer by the way, this actually happened and to this day she swears she saw the Easter Bunny’s foot. Mmmm hmmm. For me, it was more about knowing where to find the eggs. I sleep like the dead so I never gained any advantage. It was still fun. And we ate the rewards! No ridiculous plastic eggs lying around.

4. Easter Dinner

If you’re attending a family dinner and have to bring something, I would suggest volunteering to bring the rolls and a dessert. Rolls can be purchased pretty cheaply and dessert can be break and bake cookies! Or if you feel ambitious (why are you reading this post if you’re ambitious?  Get out of here you overachiever!) Then I suppose you could make something awesome like Dirt Pudding. It is great for crowds and I promise you people will ask you for the recipe. It’s easy to throw together last minute too. (side note: I do NOT put it in a flower pot or serve it with a shovel. 9×13 lasagna pan works great but we’ve already established that you’re a brown-noser so go ahead with the shovel just don’t do the gummy worms that some people do. That just ruins it.) Another one I’ve seen done really easily is put cans of corn in your crock pot with a stick of butter and a stick of cream cheese. It is ridonkulous.

If you’re like us, and you don’t live near family, then you’re doing Easter Dinner all by your lonesome. This still does not have to be hard. Roast Chicken is always my favorite for Sundays and looks incredibly hard but is actually ridiculously easy. Mashed potatoes and a vegetable, like green beans, are also done pretty quickly. Make a sauce with the chicken drippings and voilà! Serve with something fun like milk with a little food coloring in it or pink lemonade.

Here’s my Roast Chicken recipe for you:

Take a roasting chicken. Slather it in olive oil and rotisserie spice. Cut a lemon in half and shove into the cavity. (Remove the giblets obviously). Put in the oven at 400° for 1 hr. If you want the full tutorial there are tons out there. Everyone has an opinion on how to do this. I find it is best to just keep it simple.

There. Dinner is done. Sit back and reap the rewards in the form of back rubs and “hooray for mom!” bursts. Or, if you’re like us, do the awkward clean-up dish dance with your husband and hopefully retire to the couch while he cleans up.

Did I cover everything? Good. Now go back to the DVR.

Disclosure: I was invited by Hershey’s to create an Easter basket online and have it sent to me. I did not turn this opportunity down because, hello?, free candy. They did not ask me to post about it or compensate me in any other way. You can view their site here: CelebrateWithHersheys.com

Obligatory Gifting is Out of Control

6 Dec

pile of gifts

Holiday time means family, giving and togetherness… for some. For others it means uncomfortable dinners, inappropriately drunk uncles and awkward conversations with relatives you barely know. Regardless of your experience, I guarantee that holiday time means a hit to your wallet. You may be OK with this. You may even love it. I do. I admit it. The feeling of searching high and low for the perfect gift for my mom or my sister makes me so excited. Then seeing them open it on Christmas Day and have the delighted reaction I anticipated is so awesome. I even love putting together little gifts to show my appreciation my kids teachers and our neighbors.

But here is the problem.

IT IS OUT OF CONTROL.

Let me tell you a story. The other day I picked up the newsletter from my child’s preschool. Usually this contains pertinent dates of school closings, teacher of the month awards and reminders to wash hands when you enter the room. However, this particular newsletter also contained an entire section dedicated to giving to the teachers. Apparently the staff had all typed up lists. Oh, and there were copies available to us. Wait. What?

I’m not a Scrooge. I get it. You should show your appreciation. Don’t get ahead of me yet.

Lists? The pressure to give to every person you possibly encounter already exists. Articles pop up this time of year talking about the proper increases to your tips, suggestions for how much to give service people like doormen, house cleaners, etc. I usually scoff at these and pass them off as guides for the insanely rich people who live in penthouse apartments on Park Ave in New York City. They can afford to give their doorman $100 to say thanks. I can’t. (Forget that I don’t have a doorman… but I wish I did. Wouldn’t that be fun?) I’m lucky if I can spend that amount on my own kids.

Wait. what?

Are you feeling pity for me now? Don’t. It’s not that I can’t afford to spend money on my family. It’s that we place the importance of our own financial future ahead of this one day. We set a strict budget every year and agree on that amount. If I am able to save in one area then I can afford to spend a little more in another. It limits our exposure to the snowballing gifting pressure.

Let’s say, for example, that I were to give in to the pressure of the school newsletter and buy gifts for all it suggested…

  • 2 Teachers per child’s room x 2 kids = 4 teacher gifts
  • 2-3 Floaters that attend to the rooms = 3 additional teacher gifts
  • 1 Cook
  • 2 front office staff
  • 1 music teacher

That’s a total of 11 staff members. Each has a list. Mostly it includes restaurants and stores they enjoy. So if I were to buy them each a $25 gift card to their restaurant, I would be spending an additional $275 this Christmas.

Friends, that is a quarter of my total budget.

Instead, this year they will get a small goody bag with candy in it and a nice note. Think I’m horrible yet?

Now that let me suggest that these teachers were simply filling out a form that was given to them. I don’t believe any of them expect anything. In fact, I am quite sure some of them found the exercise of filling out the form to be silly. However, I do believe that the school was responding to some requests by other parents for lists, etc. I think they made the choice to do the lists.

Someone needs to just say no.

So here is what I do. I try to focus on the purpose of the gift. I want to express my sincere gratitude for all the hard work that the staff puts in throughout the year. Yes, it is their job. Yes, they are paid. However, I believe the love behind their efforts is invaluable and for that, I am grateful.

Here are my suggestions to help you beat the out of control gift giving fever:

  • Set a total budget first.
  • Make the list of the people you’d like to buy gifts for.
  • Set individual budgets being careful to stay within the total number you’ve set.
  • Research sales and coupons to help you save on those gifts.
  • If possible, ask others to pitch in on a group gift. This allows you to still purchase the large item without blowing up your budget.
  • Evaluate every gift and make sure you’re not giving out of obligation but it is really coming from a place of gratitude.

Have fun shopping!!

Classroom Valentines + FREE Printable!

6 Feb Valentines Day Classroom Cards

My daughter, Bug, as I affectionately call her, goes to “school” aka daycare disguised as preschool. She loves it. They teach her far more than I would ever know to even try to teach her and I think the social aspect of it has been great for her shy personality.

Holidays of course the school always does a little party. Inevitably her cubby is always chock full of little baggies of gifts from her classmates with overly ambitious mothers. I always struggle with this for a few reasons…

  1. Bug is only 2.5. She likes gifts but quickly forgets about them. I ate most of her halloween candy for her because she forgot about it by the next day.
  2. Why waste the money?
  3. Am I a good mom or a bitter, horrible witch?
  4. What is something small an inexpensive that will satiate my need to feel like a good mom?

So I came up with the idea (inspired by my pinterest addiction) to just give a small card with one piece of chocolate or treat on it. Download a blank version here: Valentines Day Classroom Postcard Blank. Print it out and slap on a Dove Chocolate or one of these Marshmallow Hearts I got at Walmart (6 for $1).  Voila! No more guilt!

Use what you have – Wrap in Aluminum Foil

20 Dec

Christmas Tree with Aluminum Foil Wrapped Presents!

Some years ago when the Mr and I were freshly married he had an idea. “Why don’t we wrap our presents in Aluminum Foil? It’s shiny, cheap, recyclable and best of all it can be compacted into a tiny ball once you’re done ripping it off the gift.”

Naturally I scoffed at the idea. I think I attributed his silly idea to his lackadaisical attitude towards gift-giving and thought that anyone who really cares about gift-giving wants the gifts to LOOK pretty.

So that year, he did it. He wrapped all his gifts in aluminum foil.

Well let me tell you it was a hit! Every year since then we’ve wrapped in Aluminum Foil and it’s now become our trademark look. Oh, I get a little liberal with it now and then by decorating with ribbon or special tags. But the basic theme is still there and now everyone in our family knows which gifts are from us.

As a part of my “use what you have” charge, I’ve shoved a large roll of aluminum foil into my baggage to wrap presents with once we get to our parents houses.

Ever thought about doing this? You should try it… and not just because you ran out of the expensive stuff… because it’s actually quite fun.

Merry Christmas and happy gift wrapping!

Homemade Goodie Bags – Great Gift in a Flash!

18 Dec

Need an inexpensive, fast gift to give neighbors, co-workers and anyone else left on your list? I know it’s not original but I find that a bag of goodies is one of the best gifts. Instead of just making the same old standard here are a few fast recipes to try! Give me an hour and you’ll have a bag worth of goodies that’ll have the Mr hanging around for scraps.

Use my free printable bag topper and you’ve got a fantastic, good lookin bag o’ goodies! Oh and did I mention that these are all crazy easy and delicious… and fast?

Cake Batter Bark (I think this could stand to get more cake batter put into it so don’t be shy to be liberal with the yellow cake mix if you wish!)

Break & Bake Cookies – So if they make tollhouse dough all ready for you… why would you ever make it yourself??? I use these all the time, ask my neighbors.

Chocolate-Caramel Pecan Clusters – a spin off of turtles… but easier.

White Chocolate Popcorn w/ M&M’s – this is my favorite snack to take to parties, why not make little bags?

Chocolate Dipped Pretzel Rods and/or marshmallows - crazy easy but are so good! Love the salty/sweet

Donut-Hole Snowballs – I kind of just want to make a batch of these for myself… aren’t they pretty??

Free Printable Bag Topper for Christmas Holidays!

18 Dec

The best gift ever is one that you make (in my opinion… well actually unless what you make is a box of rocks… that would NOT be the best gift ever) and here is a little gift from me this year. A FREE printable bag topper.

Make some goodies… like cookies or peppermint bark and put them in a 4×6 cello bag. Chop off the excess top part of the bag and fold this baby over and voila!

Download the bag topper below:

HolidayBagTopperHouseholdHero

Go make some break & bake cookies like these and give them to all your neighbors. Now you’re the hero of your household AND your whole block. Next step… world domination.

(Please be respectful and don’t post this as your own work. For personal use only, not commercial. Don’t sell it and make money off my generosity… you won’t like me when I’m angry)

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