Author Archives: Jen

Congratulations to the Most Recent Winners at A Heart Full of Love!


Congratulations to the most recent winners at A Heart Full of Love!

The winner of the Van’s Food giveaway is Tammy Carlson.

The winner of the Home movie giveaway is Karen Drake.

The winner of the Griswold Home Care giveaway is Heidi Embrey.

 

The winners have been notified.  A huge thank you to all who entered!

 

Blog Giveaway Roundup – March 20, 2015

Blog Giveaway Roundup

Welcome to our weekly giveaway roundup! Every Friday, we offer you the chance to share your giveaways. If you love to enter giveaways, be sure to browse the selection below.

Blog Giveaway Roundup

Good luck! If you’ve had any blog giveaway wins this last week, feel free to let everyone know about them by leaving a comment below.

My Tip for a Stress-Free Easter Meal #HoneyBakedEaster

Have a stress-free Easter meal this year with HoneyBaked Ham.  They provide the ham and all the fixings.  You just sit back and enjoy!

Disclosure:  This post is sponsored by HoneyBaked Ham.  However, all opinions stated are my own.

Up until a few years ago, I have to admit that I secretly dreaded Easter morning. Between the egg hunts, the Easter baskets, getting ready for church, and trying to get prep done for the big Easter meal, it was easy to get overwhelmed. I ended up spending so much time in the kitchen getting ready for the big meal that I usually missed out on some of the kids’ Easter fun. It made for a stressful morning. Then when we got home from church, I had to rush to get everything in the oven to cook.   So it ended up being an hour or more before we could eat, which resulted in some cranky, hungry kids.

Something had to change. I wanted to be making memories with my family on Easter, not just watching it out of the corner of my eye as I scrambled to get everything done.  A couple of years ago, I realized that I was going about it all wrong. There was no reason I had to do it all on Easter morning. If I did all the prep work ahead of time, then I could be enjoying the celebration with my family.

Have a stress-free Easter meal this year with HoneyBaked Ham.  They provide the ham and all the fixings.  You just sit back and enjoy!

My secret to getting the Easter meal on the table without missing out on any of the fun? I make all the food ahead of time and use my slow cookers to cook the meal while we are at church. It literally takes 5 minutes to transfer the food to the slow cookers and when we get back from church, I can have our traditional HoneyBaked Ham and all the trimmings on the table in a half hour.

Have a stress-free Easter meal this year with HoneyBaked Ham.  They provide the ham and all the fixings.  You just sit back and enjoy!

We have always gotten our Easter Ham at HoneyBaked Ham. It just wouldn’t be Easter without that tender juicy ham with the sweet and crunchy glaze.  If ham isn’t your thing, HoneyBaked Ham also offers turkey.  Tender and flavorful, their turkey features the same sweet crunch topping that the ham does and you have the option of roast or smoked.  This year for Easter, we plan on getting both ham and turkey.  Both options are equally yummy!

Although you can heat HoneyBaked Ham or Turkey before serving, they recommend allowing it to sit at room temperature for a half hour before serving. I tried that the last time I served it, and we found we preferred it that way.  So prepping the HoneyBaked Ham and Turkey for our Easter meal is super easy. I just remove them from the fridge and place them on a serving platter when I get home from church. I keep it covered until we are ready to eat. It couldn’t be simpler!

Have a stress-free Easter meal this year with HoneyBaked Ham.  They provide the ham and all the fixings.  You just sit back and enjoy!

The past couple of years I have also been getting our side dishes from HoneyBaked Ham. They are just as delicious as homemade, without all the work and hassle. To cook HoneyBaked side dishes in the slow cooker, you first need to thaw them. I usually pull them out of the freezer 2 nights before I want to make them. (My fridge runs on the cold side, so yours may only need one night to thaw.)  On Easter morning all you have to do is put the side dish in your slow cooker on the low setting. I do this first thing in the morning so the side dishes have 5-6 hours to cook. When we get home from the Easter service, the side dishes are fully cooked and ready to serve.  All I have to do is transfer them to a pretty serving dish and put them on the table.

HoneyBaked Ham has a really great variety of side dishes to choose from for your Easter meal. I love that there’s no prep work! We have tried all of them over the past couple of years and they all taste great.  Side dish selection may vary by location, but my local HoneyBaked Ham store currently has sweet potato souffle, green bean casserole, cinnamon apples, and garlic mashed potatoes.

Have a stress-free Easter meal this year with HoneyBaked Ham.  They provide the ham and all the fixings.  You just sit back and enjoy!

This year, we chose sweet potato souffle, green bean casserole, and cinnamon apples as our sides.  The sweet potato souffle is always a favorite of my kids.  They love the streusel topping.  And of course we can’t ever have a holiday meal without green bean casserole!

I found that one HoneyBaked Ham side dish fits well into my smallest slow cooker.  (I believe it the 1 1/2 quart size.)  Of course you will need multiple slow cookers if you choose multiple side dishes, but if you are anything like me, you have multiple slow cookers that all have different features.  Also there are slow cooker models out now that have 3 removable crocks.  That would work really well for holiday meals – just put a different side dish in each crock.

The HoneyBaked Ham side dishes each serve 4-6.  If you are preparing a meal for a larger crowd or you want some for leftovers, I recommend picking up a couple of each side dish and using a larger slow cooker to cook them.

Have a stress-free Easter meal this year with HoneyBaked Ham.  They provide the ham and all the fixings.  You just sit back and enjoy!

And what would a holiday meal be without dessert?  HoneyBaked Ham even has that covered.  (The dessert selection may vary by location and time of year.)  Our local store had a yummy cheesecake sampler.  It has 3 slices of each of 4 varieties of cheesecake – plain, raspberry, chocolate, and turtle.  Yummy!

Want to order your Easter meal from HoneyBaked Ham this year?

Visit  www.honeybakedforyou.com to find a store near you.  I definitely recommend calling and reserving your ham ahead of time.  Most of the year, you can just walk right in and pick up a ham, but Easter is one of their busy seasons.  To ensure they have a ham for you, it’s really best to call ahead.  Then when you pick up your ham, you can also pick up any sides or dessert that you want.

Save money on your Easter meal from HoneyBaked Ham!

Print this coupon and take it to your local HoneyBaked Ham location to save $5 on any purchase of $50 or more.  The offer is valid from March 14 to April 4, 2015 so be sure to print one now so you don’t forget.

Between HoneyBaked Ham and my tip to use a slow cooker to heat the sides,  you can have a delicious Easter meal on the table for your family with very little time or effort.  That means more time to spend making memories with your family this Easter, instead of slaving away in the kitchen.   So tell me…  What tips do you have for spending less time in the kitchen preparing holiday meals?

 

The Longest Ride Movie Trailer

Based on the bestselling novel by master storyteller Nicholas Sparks, THE LONGEST RIDE hits theaters April 10th.  Be sure to check out the trailer.

I know I have said it before, but I am a huge fan of Nicholas Sparks.  So whenever I hear that one of his books has been made into a movie, I know I have to see it.  If you are a Nicholas Sparks fan, you will be excited to learn that his book The Longest Ride will be hitting theaters on April 10th.

Based on the bestselling novel by master storyteller Nicholas Sparks, THE LONGEST RIDE hits theaters April 10th.  Be sure to check out the trailer.

About the movie The Longest Ride

Based on the bestselling novel by master storyteller Nicholas Sparks, THE LONGEST RIDE centers on the star-crossed love affair between Luke, a former champion bull rider looking to make a comeback, and Sophia, a college student who is about to embark upon her dream job in New York City’s art world. As conflicting paths and ideals test their relationship, Sophia and Luke make an unexpected connection with Ira, whose memories of his own decades-long romance with his beloved wife deeply inspire the young couple. Spanning generations and two intertwining love stories, THE LONGEST RIDE explores the challenges and infinite rewards of enduring love.

Starring: Britt Robertson, Scott Eastwood, Jack Huston, Oona Chaplin, and Alan Alda

Directed by: George Tillman, Jr.

If you haven’t seen the trailer for The Longest Ride yet, you can watch it now. I have embedded the video below.

I am definitely going to be seeing this movie in the theater with a group of my friends.  It’s good for moms to have a girls night out every once in awhile!  And what a better way to spend the evening than with a nice dinner and a movie afterwards with a bunch of your friends?

Based on the bestselling novel by master storyteller Nicholas Sparks, THE LONGEST RIDE hits theaters April 10th.  Be sure to check out the trailer.

Want to learn more about the movie The Longest Ride?

Be sure to follow the hashtag “LongestRide” on your favorite social media channels.  You can also

If this looks like a movie you would enjoy, be sure to come back here on March 26th. I will be hosting a fun giveaway that you won’t want to miss.

So tell me… Are you a Nicholas Spark fan?  Will you be seeing The Longest Ride when it comes out to the theater on April 10th?

5 Ways to Get Your Kids to Eat Whole Grains (and a Giveaway)

5 Ways to Get Your Child to Eat More Whole Grains


I think we all know by now that eating whole grains is beneficial for your health.  They can help you feel fuller for longer, which can help you maintain your weight.  In addition, whole grains have been proven to lower your cholesterol and reduce your risk for heart disease.  Despite the many health benefits of whole grains, it can be difficult to get your children to eat them.  If your kids are anything like mine, they may outright revolt if you try to serve them whole grain bread or brown rice.  Over the years, I learned some tricks to make the transition from refined grains to whole grains a little easier.

5 ways to add more whole grains to your family’s meals

Make the switch to white whole wheat bread. I know the first time I tried to give my kids whole wheat bread, they had a fit. The brown color was off-putting and they wouldn’t touch it with a 10 foot pole. However, I quickly learned that there are varieties of wheat that make lighter colored bread.

If you buy bread at the store, look for breads that are labeled “white whole wheat” and make sure that whole grain wheat flour is listed as the first ingredient.

If you make your own bread, use white whole wheat flour, which will result in a finished bread that is more similar to the white bread most kids prefer.  If you make your own bread and grind your own flour, use hard white wheat berries.

Transition to whole wheat pasta slowly.  Whole grain pasta can be a little nuttier in flavor and a little chewier than regular pasta.  If you use regular pasta, start substituting whole wheat pasta a little at a time.  At first maybe use only 25% whole grain pasta and the rest regular pasta.  If your kids eat that without complaint, then up the ratio to 50% whole wheat pasta.

When you are first starting the transition to whole wheat pasta, you might find it easier to use it in dishes that have a sauce that will cover up the color of the whole wheat pasta.

Make the switch from white rice to brown rice.  As with the pasta, you can start by substituting part of the white rice for brown rice and then work your way up to using only brown rice.

Hide whole grains in some of your kids favorite meals.  I am not above getting sneaky to get my kids to eat whole grains.  For example, use oatmeal as a binder in your meatloaf recipe, add some barley to your vegetable soup recipe, or mix quinoa into your taco meat.  Again, start with small quantities and then up the amount as your kids get used to it.

Oatmeal makes a great start to the day.  It will help them feel fuller for longer than regular breakfast cereal and is a great source of fiber as well.  If your kids won’t eat regular cooked oatmeal (like 2 of my picky kids), you can try refrigerator overnight oats or yogurt topped with granola.

New Van's Whole Grain Pasta Side Dishes and Granola Clusters

If you are struggling to get your kids to eat more whole grains, then I have some great news for you.  Van’s has come out with some yummy new pasta side dishes and granola clusters that are chock-full of whole grains.  Our family was blessed to get to try the new varieties and they were a huge hit with my kids.

New Van's Whole Grain Pasta Side Dishes are a delicious way to get your kids to eat more whole grains.

Van’s Whole Grain Pasta Side Dishes

Side dishes can be a great way to get your child to eat another serving of whole grains.  Van’s has three new whole grain pasta side dish varieties – Creamy Herb and Garlic Pasta, Ultimate Cheddar Penne, and Rotini & Red Sauce Pasta.  All three varieties contain at least 28 grams of whole grains and are gluten free.  In addition, these pasta side dishes contain no artificial flavors, no artificial colors, no preservatives, and no high fructose corn syrup.  As a mom who tries to make sure her family eats as healthy as possible, I really appreciate that.

I love that Van’s new pasta side dishes only take 10 minutes to make.  They are great for hectic weekday nights when my kids have evening activities.  The Creamy Herb and Garlic Pasta went great with a rotisserie chicken I picked up at the grocery store.  I had dinner on the table in 15 minutes!

We added some ground beef to the Rotini and Red Sauce pasta to make it a complete meal.  Our whole family always enjoys spaghetti, so this was a great way to turn the side dish into a complete meal.  All we had to add was a vegetable.

It was no surprise to me that my kids’ favorite was the Ultimate Cheddar Penne.  They absolutely love mac and cheese, so they gobbled this right up.

We really enjoyed all three of the new Van’s Whole Grain Pasta Side Dishes.  They will be great to keep on hand for nights when I don’t have a lot of time to get dinner on the table.

New Van's Whole Grain Granola Clusters are a delicious way to get your kids to eat more whole grains.

Van’s Granola Clusters

We were also blessed to get to try Van’s new Granola clusters, which come is 2 different varieties:  Blueberry Walnut and Cranberry Almond.  Both varieties have 12 grams of whole grains.  Like the pasta, the granola clusters don’t have any artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives.  They are also free of high fructose corn syrup.

My daughters really have been enjoying the granola clusters on yogurt for breakfast and also as an afternoon snack. Unlike other granola products which are hard and crunchy, Van’s Granola Clusters are soft and chewy.   Both varieties are absolutely yummy with just the perfect touch of sweetness.

Enter to win three free product coupons to try new Van's Whole Grain Pasta Side Dishes or Granola Clusters. The giveaway is open to US residents only and ends March 19, 2015.

Want to try these new whole grain foods for yourself?  Van’s Foods would like to bless one lucky A Heart Full of Love reader with three free Van’s product coupons so they can try the newest Van’s products. Enter for your chance to win through the Rafflecopter form below. Entry is open to US residents age 18 and older only and the giveaway ends March 19, 2015.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Spring Break Bucket List for Families

are you tired of hearing "I'm Bored Mom" each spring break? A spring break bucket list may be just the thing you need to make the week fun for the entire family.
Are you tired of hearing “I’m Bored Mom” each spring break? A spring break bucket list may be just the thing you need to make the week fun for the entire family. You may have heard of a bucket list – the special things you want to do before you die. A spring break bucket list is a similar idea. It is a list of all the fun things you want to do as a family before spring break is over.

Since we usually take a vacation during the summer, we normally don’t do anything special for spring break. By the second day, my kids are usually whining that they are bored and have nothing to do. This year though, I have a plan! I created a Spring Break Bucket list full of free and fun activities for the entire family – 1 for each day of break. We may not be traveling anywhere, but we are still going to have a great time.

Are you tired of hearing "I'm Bored Mom" each spring break? A spring break bucket list may be just the thing you need to make the week fun for the entire family.

Get the Whole Family Involved in the Planning!

When creating a spring break bucket list for your family, it’s a good idea to get your kids input. After all, you want spring break to be fun for everyone, so everyone should have a say. So call a family meeting and get busy planning!

We discovered that it is a good idea to set some ground rules in advance so the kids know that if they suggest anything too outrageous, it’s going to be vetoed.

Things to take into consideration when planning your Spring Break Bucket List:

  • family finances
  • Dad and Mom’s work schedules
  • the weather
  • the amount of traveling you are willing to do

For example, our family is saving for our big summer vacation at this point in the year. So we told our kids that all activities need to be free or inexpensive as well as close to home.

During your family meeting, let everyone write down 3-5 suggestions. Then each idea is read and discussed. If you have to discard an idea, be sure to let the child know the reason so their feelings aren’t hurt. My youngest daughter suggested horseback riding, which just wasn’t in the budget. But she was ok with us vetoing that idea after we explained that we were saving to go to Disney World over the summer.

It is a good idea to have a mix of inside and outside activities on your Spring Break Bucket List. That way if the weather is bad for a few days, you still have fun activities planned that can be done in spite of the nasty weather.

After you have weeded through the ideas, then it is time to take a vote to decide as a family which ones will be included on your spring break bucket list. Our family picks 7 activities – one for each day of spring break. Then we type the list up and put it on the fridge so everyone can see it. (After spring break is over, be sure to save the list so you can include it in your family scrapbook.)

Are you tired of hearing "I'm Bored Mom" each spring break? A spring break bucket list may be just the thing you need to make the week fun for the entire family.

Need some ideas for your spring break bucket list?  Here are some things we have done over spring break in the past.

  • Go on a Picnic. Pack up a picnic basket, grab a blanket, and head to a local park for a fun afternoon.
  • Go on a Treasure Hunt. Geocaching and letterboxing are both free activities that the whole family can enjoy. Kids love the treasure hunting aspect of these activities and it is a great way to enjoy the great outdoors.
  • Have a Pajama Party. Stay in your pjs all day, snuggle on the couch, and watch movies together.
  • Explore a Nearby State Park. Visit the ranger’s station for a trail map and ask which trails are scenic and appropriate for children. Let your kids take a camera so they can snap pictures of all the sights they see along the journey.
  • Have a Cookie Decorating Party. Grab some cookie cutters and bake up your favorite sugar cookie recipe. Let them cool, then ice and decorate them. After you have each sampled a few, package the rest to deliver to your family, neighbors, and friends.
  • Play Tourist in Your Own Town. Visit a museum, zoo, or other tourist attraction in your home town that you haven’t been to in awhile. Sometimes these destinations may have free admission days for families over spring break. So be sure to check out their website before you go.
  • Have a Craft Party. Spend the day making fun spring themed crafts. A quick search on Pinterest will probably turn up tons of ideas of things you can make. You can also buy a few low cost kids craft kits at your local craft or discount store.
  • Camp in Your Own Backyard. Who says you have to go away to go camping? Pitch a tent in your backyard, make S’Mores, sing some campfire songs, and do some stargazing.

So tell me… Are you doing anything special for Spring Break this year?  Have you created a Spring Break Bucket List of your own yet?

Griswold Home Care Services Helps Busy Moms Care for Aging Loved Ones

Griswold Home Care is the perfect solution for busy moms who need help caring for aging loved ones.

After my grandfather passed away two years ago, I have become increasingly concerned with how my grandmother is going to manage on her own.  She is 84 years old and it is becoming harder and harder for her to get around and take care of simple household tasks.  Yet, understandably, my grandmother wants to remain in her own home and retain her independence.  So I help out whenever I can.  However, I never feel like I am doing enough.  As much as I want to help my grandmother, I also have my own family and home that needs my attention.

A few weeks ago, my grandmother had a health scare and ended up in the hospital for a few days.  After she returned home, it became obvious that she was going to need some outside help.  The medical side of things has been taken care of by the hospital as my grandmother has been receiving frequent home visits from nurses.  However, there are things that aren’t covered by those visits, like cooking and cleaning.

I would love to be available to help my grandmother at all times, but I have three children of my own who keep me busy.  So I can’t be there to help her out as much as I would like.  Fortunately help is available.  I recently learned about Griswold Home Care.  They offer in-home care for seniors that can help ease the burden on family members who are acting as caregivers.

Griswold Home Care is the perfect solution for busy moms who need help caring for aging loved ones.

Griswold Home Care offers non-medical services that can help seniors stay in their own homes and maintain some of their independence.  They offer a wide range of services.

  • Personal care – including bathing, dressing, and grooming.
  • Meal preparation – including planning, shopping, cooking, and washing dishes.
  • Light housekeeping – including making the bed, dusting, vacuuming.
  • Companionship
  • Supportive care – including feeding, bathroom assistance, and ambulation.

I was completely surprised to see how many services Griswold Home Care offers.   They can even help with things like taking care of pets and watering plants.  You can view their complete list of services offered here.  Griswold Home Care will work with you to assess your loved one’s needs, so they can match you with the best caregiver for your situation.

Caring for aging family members is a growing concern for many of us busy moms.  At times there just don’t seem to be enough hours in the day and it can seem completely overwhelming.   It is nice to know that help is available should you need it.  If you need someone to help you with caring for an aging loved one, be sure to check out the Griswold Home Care Office Locator to find the location nearest you.

Enter to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card, courtesy of Griswold Home Care.  The giveaway is open to US residents only and ends March 19, 2015.

If you are a caregiver who is taking care of your family, whether it be your children, aging loved ones, or both, then I have a special giveaway for you.  Griswold Home Care would like to bless one special caregiver with a $25 Amazon Gift Card.  Entry is easy through the Rafflecopter form below.  The giveaway is open to US residents only and ends March 19th, 2015.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure:  I will be receiving a gift card for sharing this information with you.  However, all opinions stated are my own.  A Heart Full of Love is not responsible for prize fulfillment. The prize will be sent to the winner directly from the sponsor.

 

Home Movie Giveaway

Enter to win a Home Movie Prize Pack that includes a $25 Visa Gift Card and a Home Umbrella.  The giveaway ends March 19, 2015 and is open to US residents age 18 and older.

Have you heard about the upcoming film Home?  I have 3 kids at home ranging in age from 10 to 16.  So it can be hard to find a family-friendly film that all of us can enjoy.   If the trailer and clips are any indication, this will be a film that both my teenager and his younger sisters will enjoy.

Every time we see the trailer on tv, my kids first inform me that the alien sounds like Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory (Oh the Alien is voiced by Jim Parsons) and then they inform me that they really, really, really want us to take them to see it when it comes out to the theater later this month.  So we will definitely be seeing Home in a few weeks when it comes out.

About the movie Home

When Oh, a lovable misfit from another planet, lands on Earth and finds himself on the run from his own people, he forms an unlikely friendship with an adventurous girl named Tip who is on a quest of her own. Through a series of comic adventures with Tip, Oh comes to understand that being different and making mistakes is all part of being human, and together they discover the true meaning of the word HOME.

Enter to win a Home Movie Prize Pack that includes a $25 Visa Gift Card and a Home Umbrella.  The giveaway ends March 19, 2015 and is open to US residents age 18 and older.

A little while ago, I shared the Home movie trailer with you. In case you missed that, you can view the trailer here. You can also watch the new clip “Into the Out” below.

Home will be in theaters on March 27, 2015. To learn more about this film, follow the hashtag #DreamWorksHOME on your favorite social media channels and be sure to

Enter to win a Home Movie Prize Pack that includes a $25 Visa Gift Card and a Home Umbrella.  The giveaway ends March 19, 2015 and is open to US residents age 18 and older.

While you are waiting for the movie to come out, you can pass the time with these fun Home games and activities.

Enter to win a Home Movie Prize Pack that includes a $25 Visa Gift Card and a Home Umbrella.  The giveaway ends March 19, 2015 and is open to US residents age 18 and older.

Now for a fun giveaway… One lucky A Heart Full of Love reader will win a $25 Visa Gift Card to see Home in the theater plus a Home Umbrella. Entry is easy through the Rafflecopter form below. The giveaway ends March 19th, 2015 and is open to US residents age 18 and older.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I will be receiving a Home Movie Prize Pack for sharing about this upcoming movie. A Heart Full of Love is not responsible for prize fulfillment. The prize will be sent to the winner directly from the sponsor.

Decorating for St. Patrick’s Day

St Patrick's Day Decorations - mostly homemade or vintage

I love decorating for all holidays, no matter how small. I may not have a bit of Irish in me, but I still enjoy decorating the living room for St. Patrick’s Day. We have a huge Ikea bookshelf and I usually fill one of the rows with my holiday decorations (or in the case of Christmas, it takes over the whole bookshelf!)  Over the weekend, I got out my box of decorations and got busy.  Since the decorations were mostly small-ish, I just pushed the movies to the back of the shelves and put the figurines in front.

St Patrick's Day Amigurumi Leprechaun

I love homemade decorations, so when I saw this cute pudgy leprechaun crochet pattern on Etsy, I had to buy it.  (No affiliation, I just love her patterns!)  The little guy worked up pretty quickly, especially since my husband was out of town last week, so I didn’t have anything to do in the evenings but craft.  The leprechaun is taller than most amigurumi I have made, but I think he is just adorable.

I love all things vintage, so I have been frequenting local antique malls recently looking for St. Patrick’s day decorations to add to my display.  I found a few cute things at Antiques Village  over the weekend.

Vintage St. Patrick's Day decorations

My first find was a little St. Patrick’s Day bell.  I don’t think it’s a Jasco figurine, but it is marked as being made in Japan.  At any rate she’s a little cutie.  I also picked up this leprechaun in a pipe.  The leprechaun is plastic and I think it may be homemade, but it fits in nicely with my display.

Pat Cherished Teddies Figurine

Right as we were getting ready to leave the antique mall, I discovered this “Pat” Cherished Teddy Leprechaun figurine.   I don’t really think this qualifies as an antique, but I was thrilled to find him anyway.

St Patrick's Day Leprechaun Salt and Pepper Shaker

This year I added a St. Patrick’s Day salt and pepper shaker to my collection.  I mostly just collect salt and pepper shakers from places we travel, or vintage ones, but I will occasionally add some fun holiday ones if I really like them.  This particular salt and pepper shaker is magnetic so that the leprechaun and the pot of gold stick together.

St Patrick's Day Leprechauns with a pot of gold.

I made these leprechauns a few years ago with the kids, using this tutorial.  They were so much fun to make! If I get around to it, I would love to make some more and scatter them around the house. I have the little leprechauns displayed with a little shamrock covered pot containing some of those plastic gold coins that you can find in craft stores this time of year.

St Patrick's Day Nutcracker

Last but not least is my St. Patrick’s Day Nutcracker.  I have another one too, but never have found it since we moved.  Maybe if I would ever go through the last of the boxes in our basement…

I still have a few things I want to add, if I don’t run out of time. I want to make a few shamrock doilies for underneath the figurines, but I haven’t been able to find a pattern. I got some green thread cotton over the weekend, so I might have to try to come up with a pattern on my own. I also want to make some plastic canvas shamrocks and make a banner to hang from the top of the bookshelf.

For more St. Patrick’s Day fun, be sure to check out the rest of our St. Patrick’s Day posts or follow our St. Patrick’s Day Pinterest board. So tell me… Do you decorate for St. Patrick’s Day?

Easter Bunny Movies

5 Classic Easter Bunny Movies to share with your family this year.

Remember those wonderful Easter Bunny movies they showed on tv when we were kids? Fortunately they are now available on dvd to share with a whole new generation along with some new ones that are destined to become classics.

We have a long-standing tradition in our house that Saturday night is family movie night. We pop some popcorn, turn off the lights, settle in on the couch, and enjoy a family-friendly film. In March and April, our choice is usually an Easter Bunny movie.

These whimsical movies take me back to my childhood every time. Plus with the great assortment of television specials from the 70’s and 80’s that are now on dvd, I can share a bit of the Easter magic with my own kids. Despite the fact that some of these movies have been around for 30 years or more, my kids love them. I am a total child of the 80’s so it has been so much fun to see my old favorites through my kids’ eyes. This year, we have enjoyed watching the classic Easter Bunny movies like Here Comes Peter Cottontail, along with new favorites like Hop. With such a great assortment of Easter Bunny movies available, why not have a family movie night of your own?

5 Classic Easter Bunny Movies to share with your family this year.

Here Comes Peter Cottontail

“Therefore, I have decided that whoever delivers the most eggs tomorrow, Easter, will be the new ruler of April Valley!” – Col. Wellington B. Bunny

The first Easter Bunny movie we watch each year is Here Comes Peter Cottontail. I dare you to watch it and not be singing “Here Comes Peter Cottontail, Hopping Down the Bunny Trail” for days afterwards! Like most of the classic stop motion tv specials from my childhood, this one was produced by Arthur Rankin and Jules Bass.

Here Comes Peter Cottontail tells the story of how Peter Cottontail comes to be Chief Easter Bunny. The only thing that stands in Peter’s way is the villain, Irontail, expertly voiced by Vincent Price. Peter agrees to a competition with Irontail to see who can deliver the most Easter eggs. The victor will be crowned the new Easter Bunny. Peter is overconfident that he will win, but ends up oversleeping. With the evil Irontail now in charge of Easter, Peter must travel back through time to save Easter. The scenes where he travels back through all the different holidays of the year are my favorite.

While this film is great fun for kids, I like that there are some subtle lessons in there too. For one thing, it shows the danger of arrogance and telling lies. It shows that our actions have consequences that extend beyond ourselves. The film also demonstrates the importance of perseverance when things seem hopeless.

With its fun songs and delightful characters, Here Comes Peter Cottontail is definitely a classic worth adding to your film library.

5 Classic Easter Bunny Movies to share with your family this year.

Hop

“Hey, wait. You’re not surprised I’m a talking rabbit.” – E.B.

“Little man, my best friend is a talking car.” – David Hasselhoff

We didn’t get around to seeing it at the theater, but we made sure to watch Hop as soon as it came out on DVD. Although we rented it first to see if we would like it, I can definitely say this is one worth buying. Even my husband, who dislikes all things cutesy, was laughing at parts of this one. (And the fact that Kaley Cuoco was in it didn’t hurt either!)

Hop is the story of a rather reluctant heir to the Easter Bunny throne. EB would much rather be a drummer in a rock band than take over the role of the Easter Bunny from his father. In fact, he runs off to Hollywood to try to achieve his dream, leaving his father to pick up the pieces. Throw in a charming slacker, played by James Marsden, and a takeover staged by an army of disgruntled chicks, and you have a delightful Easter tale that the whole family will enjoy. My youngest daughter loved it so much, she watched it several times before our rental period was over.

5 Classic Easter Bunny Movies to share with your family this year.

The Easter Bunny Is Coming to Town

Watching The Easter Bunny is Coming to Town is another annual tradition in our house. Another stop action special, it was first shown on TV in 1977. I remember being so excited when this special was on tv every year when I was little. My mom would make popcorn, we would get in our jammies, and the whole family would settle down to watch. Now I can watch it with my own kids!

The Easter Bunny is Coming to Town features Fred Astaire as the mailman who answers letters about the origins of Easter traditions. The story is similar to Santa Clause is Coming to Town, in the terms of the format. You have a narrator answering questions about the traditions and how they came to be. Both stories also feature grumpy town leaders who don’t want to let children have any fun. This leads to the hero of the story finding clever ways to deliver their goodies to the children.

In The Easter Bunny is Coming to Town, the town is ruled by the child king’s evil aunt. Sunny, the Easter Bunny, has to get a bit creative to deliver his dyed eggs and jelly beans to the town, but he eventually wins them over. In the tradition of other Rankin Bass tv specials, it is filled with memorable tunes. The Easter Bunny is Coming to Town has an overall whimsical feel that is sure to delight kids over and over again.

5 Classic Easter Bunny Movies to share with your family this year.

It’s the Easter Beagle Charlie Brown

“You’ll see. The Easter Beagle won’t let us down. ” – Linus

Who doesn’t love Charlie Brown and the Peanuts? My family does, that’s for sure. We have nearly all of the Peanuts holiday specials on DVD, but It’s the Easter Beagle Charlie Brown is one of my favorites. The gang is gearing up for Easter with often hilarious results. One of my favorite parts is Peppermint Patty trying to teach Marcy about dying Easter Eggs. Poor Marcy really doesn’t have a clue! Linus, who was such strong supporter of The Great Pumpkin, is also apparently a believer in the Easter Beagle, much to the dismay of his pals. It is a delightful romp through the Easter season with all your favorite characters along for the ride. This is a must-have for any Peanuts fan.

There may be several different editions of the DVD floating around out there, but our copy also has a special Earth Day episode on it – It’s Arbor Day, Charlie Brown, along with an all-new featurette: In Full Bloom: Peanuts at Easter.

5 Classic Easter Bunny Movies to share with your family this year.

The First Easter Rabbit

The First Easter Rabbit originally aired on television in 1976. With memorable songs performed by Burl Ives, this fanciful movie is a welcome addition to any childrens’ Easter DVD collection.

I have to admit that The First Easter Rabbit is one Rankin Bass TV special that I never saw when I was little. Unlike the majority of their other television specials that use the distinctive stop motion technique, this one features traditional animation.

With a story reminiscent of The Velveteen Rabbit, we discover how the Easter Bunny came to be. The original Easter Bunny starts as a much-loved stuffed bunny owned by a little girl. Like in The Velveteen Rabbit, the girl comes down with scarlet fever and all her possessions must be burned. Deviating from the original story though, the bunny is saved by a fairy. The fairy brings the stuffed rabbit to life to serve as the first Easter Bunny. When Easter is threatened by the dastardly villain Zero, Santa joins the bunny to save the day.

Although I am not quite sure this one is up to the quality of the other Rankin Bass productions, my kids still enjoy it and we watch it every year. I am glad we added it to our collection.

So tell me…  Which of these Easter Bunny movies is your favorite?  Do you have any others I should add to the list?