The Evolution of Our Family Easter Photos

Saturday, March 30, 2013

It has become a Walkush family tradition to wear coordinating outfits at Easter. I generally make sure to secure the boys' outfits first and then let the colors in their outfits dictate the colors in Ryan's and my outfits. Because children's Easter clothing is more limited in selection, I've found this method to be one that works for us.

At some point, it then dawned on me that "hey, since we're all dressed so fancy pants at Easter, why don't we use this opportunity to take a family photo" - and let me tell you, it has indeed been an evolution.

In 2007, this was the first year that I had this brilliant idea - but this was our somewhat unconventional year for the photos.

Here's Aidyn and me sitting on a stone wall:


Here's Aidyn and me walking into the woods to collect some sticks for him to play with:


And I love this one - it's me swinging Aidyn, and I happen to think that I look like Mama in this photo:


You'll note that Ryan Barrett Walkush played the role of photographer for this photo shoot. He did appear in some of the photos in his very BEST Cleveland Browns Dawg Pound T-shirt. :-/

In 2008, we had just moved into our new house, so we apparently didn't take Easter family photos that year. In fact, when searching for the 2008 Easter photos for this blog post, I found them in a folder labeled "Family Room Renovation" - so I'm guessing if we were renovating the Family Room at that time, there was no way we were going to put too much effort into picking out matching Easter outfits. I bet Ryan Barrett Walkush thought he won!

We did dress Aidyn in a cute outfit that year - here he is hunting eggs among the daffodils with his cousin Charlotte:


In 2009, we had another member in the family, and I certainly was not going to pass up the chance of a family photo again. So, this is the one that we got:


A cardinal rule was broken here, ladies, I was holding the baby in the picture, and that generally makes you contort your body into weird and unflattering shapes. Additionally, and perhaps even more unfortunate, Ryan Barrett Walkush zoomed the camera such that my fierce shoes were not shown. (Live and learn on both accounts - make Daddy hold the baby and always show the shoes!)

In 2010, I think Ryan was getting used to the fact that this Easter photo thing was something he was saddled with, I mean, lucky to participate in:


And besides the kids who didn't want to smile (in any of the photos that year), it looks like we're finally starting to get our act together with this Easter photo stuff. (Note: You can see my shoes in this photo - they're right next to that pinwheel - scratch that part about us getting our act together.)

This is the photo from 2011 - the kids are getting a little better at smiling - and nary a pinwheel to be found:


By 2012, you can tell I've spent some time on Pinterest. In no time, we were able to get both a funny shot and a traditional family shot. No, the lighting's not perfect, but we're not professional photographers (we're definitely learning as we go here . . . .):



And for this year's 2013 photo, we didn't even wait until Easter day. Today's weather was so nice, we wanted to take the photo when we could take advantage of the warm temperature. We got another funny and traditional shot. The lighting is better in both shots - we're starting to get the hang of it!



Note: people who know us probably recognize us much more from the first photo!

Hope this inspires you to make a concerted effort to get those family photos and to keep at it until you get something you love!

Here Comes Peter Cottontail

Friday, March 29, 2013

And we're ready for him!

The house is decorated for Easter. This sign hangs in the kitchen. I found it at Homegoods and was quite pleased with it (considering he's holding cotton - a crop known in the South - I guess that's a nod to his nickname).


The glass front cabinets in the kitchen have also been changed out with pastel serveware, which seems Easter-y. As has been mentioned previously, disregard the 3,000 pound jar of beans. It's too heavy to change out for seasonal decor. :-)


Here's a close up of the three little birds that are beside said 1 1/2 ton jar o' beans. I got them at World Market this year and paid full price for them (I cannot resist birds), but considering it is merely a few days before Easter, I'm sure they are on sale now if you are interested in purchasing your own:


And a closeup of the giant cardboard nesting egg:


Here's the centerpiece in the dining room. Our dining room is red, so for years, I had a hard time decorating in that room for Easter. This year, I was fortunate enough to come across a tablecloth with a floral pattern that had pinks, reds, and yellows in it. That really helped to bring things together.


The eggs are stuffed and ready for the annual Walkush Family Easter Egg Hunt on Sunday. And until we're actually using them, they serve as decor too:


Hippity Hoppity, Easter's on Its Way!

If you remember correctly, the Walkush children like their PEZ as evidenced here, here, and here. So, when I stumbled upon this vintage PEZ Easter ad, I just knew it was too good not to share:


Methinks this ad is creeptacular for the following reasons:
  • The Easter Bunny seems to have only one leg if you look very closely. Sure we can assume the other leg is behind the giant egg, but the leg that's shown just keeps going and going and going - weirdness.
  • The PEZ dispenser that he's holding looks like an actual rabbit!
  • AND Easter Bunny looks more like he's trying to eat the poor live bunny PEZ dispenser than the PEZ he's dispensing. (And even has a twinkle in his eye about it - BOO!) :-(
However, the one redeeming quality about this ad is that apparently, you could still get this creeptacular PEZ dispenser with 2 PEZ paks (that's how they always spelled it - AAARRRRGGGHHHH!!!!) for a mere 25 cents. What value! (Sounds like they were liquidating some bad inventory if you ask me.)

The Seinfeld Chronicles

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Let me just ask you- who on earth doesn't recognize this cast of characters?  That's right- EVERYONE knows Seinfeld.  But I'll bet there are a few things you didn't know about this show.  



Hubbie and I record endless episodes of this classic comedy, and it has become our nightly tradition to watch at least one (if not more) episodes before we drift off to sleep.  Last night, we noticed that the episode we were watching seemed really early in the lineup.  For example, George had hair, Jerry's apartment looked noticeably different from what we've come to know, Kramer had a dog, and they were hanging out at some unknown restaurant.  So we did a little checking, and sure enough, we were watching the pilot episode.  Not to be confused with the episode entitled "The Pilot", this one was simply known as "The Seinfeld Chronicles".

The pilot episode features several differences from the rest of the series. The character of series regular Cosmo Kramer is named "Kessler," although this inconsistency is later addressed in the season 9 episode "The Betrayal". Another regular character, Elaine Benes, does not appear in the episode at all.  The character of Claire the waitress was originally planned as a regular but was dropped and later replaced with Elaine.  The main characters, Jerry Seinfeld and George Costanza, eat at "Pete's Luncheonette", as opposed to Monk's CafĂ©.  Originally, the pilot was to feature George, as well as Jerry, as a comedian. Early versions of the script featured George, named "Bennett," discussing his stand-up performance. However, this idea was abandoned, and George became a real estate broker instead. In the pilot, Kramer has a dog called Ralph, included so a stand-up routine Seinfeld had written about dogs could be used. However, this routine was cut, and as a result Ralph was never explained, and did not appear in any other episodes.  The pilot also features different title music, written by Jep Epstein, which was never used again. 

Interestingly, the pilot was a reference point for various incidents and storylines in later episodes of Seinfeld.

  • The opening scene in which Jerry and George talk about the placement of a shirt button is repeated almost word for word in the final scene of "The Finale", the final episode of Seinfeld (with George remarking about having that conversation before).
  • The process of making the pilot became the inspiration for the main story arc of season 4, in which Jerry and George write a sitcom pilot for NBC called Jerry.
  • Jerry's calling Kramer "Kessler" is explained in "The Betrayal", the "backwards episode" in season 9. This features a scene from 11 years in the past, in which Jerry moves into his new apartment. Jerry calls Kramer "Kessler" after reading his name on the apartment buzzer, but Kramer quickly corrects him.
  • George's philosophy of doing the opposite to his natural instincts reappears in the episode "The Opposite".
  • George has an extra crop of hair in the front, which would later become bald for the rest of the show's run. A flashback in “The Slicer” is set in '89, the year this episode was filmed, and shows George with a full crop of hair at the beach.

And to leave you with one last fun factoid about this episode, Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Elaine) has claimed that she was not aware of the pilot before she became a regular on Seinfeld.  Out of superstition, she has claimed she will never watch the episode. 




DIY: Play Kitchen

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

In this edition of Furniture Castoff Makeover, we are bringing new life to this little number: 


This piece originally had little doors on the front (which I did not approve of and removed right away) and after a few years of looking at this and moving it from room to room, I decided it had a second calling.  On a side note, its sister piece, a hutch, was transformed into a Barbie House. Check out that makeover here. As you can see, I already had some Pinsperation going on.

First, we visited our fave aisle of the Lowes and came away with this awesome green "kitchen-y" paint. Charlotte picked it out and then dressed it up:


We removed the bottom drawer to paint it, and I had Daddy come over to drill a nice little hole for the sink in the top.


The "sink" was a silver bowl that I bought at my favorite thrift store Eplus Thrift. The burners were old cds that I spray painted metallic. Using the same metallic paint, I made the faucet out of a plastic tube that I also picked up at Lowes. 

The curtain was an old baby papoose "carrier"that I had little use for because I had a very large baby. Donna fashioned it into a curtain by cutting it to make it into one long piece of fabric and then hemming. Even these simple sewing projects are beyond me! Since the fabric hung all the way down the front, I left the drawer out.  (However, it may pop back up in another DIY.) You can see that I haven't put the knobs on yet for the stove. That's a Howard project, but I found these cute antique-y ones at The Hobby Lobby.

 I still have a little ways to go on completing this. I think I may also add a back with a few shelves and maybe a phone, but the girls are already taking orders.




50 Dollar Store Items to Fill Your Easter Basket

If you have multiple Easter baskets to fill, you'll appreciate this thrifty list. I have verified that all of these items can be purchased at two of my local Dollar Tree stores, so I would think that they would be available at your local dollar store or at the dollar section of your local Target or craft store.


And, although I'm writing this post at Easter time, I'm also tagging it for Christmas, because hardly any of these items are seasonal, which also makes them suitable for Christmas stockings.


Some of them are boy-specific, and some are girl specific. But most are gender neutral, which will give you the most bang for your buck. Sorry, I just couldn't resist. :-)

  1. Whoopie Cushions
  2. Silly Putty
  3. Big League Chew
  4. Baseball Cards
  5. Stickers
  6. Bubbles
  7. Sidewalk Chalk
  8. Glow Sticks
  9. Jump Ropes
  10. Koosh Balls
  11. Silly String
  12. Play Dough
  13. Army Men
  14. Piggy Banks
  15. Yo-Yos
  16. Grow Capsules (These are capsules with sponge characters in them that "grow" when placed in water.)
  17. Matchbox Cars
  18. Playing Cards
  19. Coloring Books and Crayons
  20. Activity Books (Handwriting Practice, Numbers and Counting, Etc.)
  21. Puzzle Books (Crossword Puzzles, Word Search, Sudoku)
  22. Small Boxed Puzzles
  23. Flash Cards
  24. Storybooks
  25. Pencils and Erasers
  26. Markers
  27. Finger Paint Sets
  28. Colored Pencils
  29. Small Notepads
  30. Hair Bows
  31. Character Shampoo
  32. Bubble Bath
  33. Character Hand Soap
  34. Character Hand Sanitizer in Mini Bottles/Carrying Cases
  35. Bath Poufs
  36. Magic Wash Cloths (These are the ones that are shrunken to a small size and then turn full size when exposed to water – they usually have cartoon characters on them.)
  37. Character Toothbrushes
  38. Toothpaste
  39. Character Floss Picks
  40. Lip Balm or Lip Gloss
  41. Character Bandages
  42. Eye Masks
  43. Nail Polish
  44. Manicure Kits
  45. Sunglasses
  46. Latex Punch Balls
  47. Small Stuffed Animals
  48. Paddle Balls
  49. Brightly Colored or Patterned Shoelaces
  50. PEZ
So if you're not quite finished with your Easter basket or (GASP!) you haven't even started, make a quick trip to the dollar store with this list in hand. You'll be able to fill up that basket in no time. Pair these items with your favorite Easter Candy and the kiddos will be thrilled!

And while we're on the subject of Easter baskets, I figured this handy tip out about four years ago and will share it with you. Easter baskets CAN BE similar to Christmas stockings if you let them.

For the first few Easters, I bought a new basket each year. And what did we end up with? A ton of baskets, pails, buckets, whathaveyou, that Aidyn did not care anything about. So by the time Jaxon was born, I wised up. I bought two very nice baskets on sale at Michaels. And each year we leave them out for the Easter Bunny to "fill up" just like we leave stockings out for Santa. And at the end of the season, they get packed away with the Easter decorations until next year.

It has become our tradition, and the boys are now used to doing it this way. I bet the Easter Bunny would be obliged to fill up any container you leave out for him too! As an added bonus, because EB is filling up a container that you leave out for him, he won't have time to elaborately wrap the baskets in cellophane or bows! He's in and out just like Santa. :-)

Mess Maker, Mess Maker, Make Me a Mess!

Even though we have yet to see anything that comes close to resembling Spring, Spring Break is right around the corner, and everyone in our tiny cabin could use some Spring as well as a break. So we will be seeking it out this weekend at the beach!  

For any car trip, I usually stock up on snacks and drinks. Usually, I just throw the snacks into a reusable shopping bag and perch it atop a small cooler under the baby's seat, since she doesn't need any leg room yet. Then, throughout the car trip, I constant twist and turn and rifle through said bag. This time around, I decided that I would get organized!  Here's what it looks like:


Howard just absolutely loves this certain section of the store. (I don't really know why.) But this is the picnic stuff they put out every year at the DG. Mostly, it's just cheap stuff, but I was able to score a utensil holder with a pop of color and some really tiny snack items that fit quite perfectly into my little holder. I also got some nifty ketchup and mustard bottles and a tiny hand sanitizer.


I'm not sure how much fast food eating we will do in the car because we usually just go in to eat. Still, I thought this was another good idea. These baskets came in a four pack. Paired with a little wax paper and they will be perfect to manage fast food in the car! 


When you have a tiny baby whose favorite vegetable is ketchup, trust me, it makes sense.


DIY: Peeps Easter Wreath

Monday, March 25, 2013

Here's a super simple project for you that's right on time.  That's right- just in time for Easter and just in time to figure out something to do with those Peeps- besides eat them.  



Items you will need: 

Straw wreath (I used a 14 inch one, but you can use any size)
Ribbon (to wrap the wreath and make a hanger)
Peeps (any color)
Clear spray paint
Hot glue gun and glue sticks

Instructions:

1.  Spray Peeps with clear spray paint on both sides and allow to dry.  This part of the project is best completed outside.  This step is optional, but if you plan to keep the wreath for use again next year, you may wish to take a few minutes and complete this step, as it helps to harden and protect those Peeps.

Here's how we did it.  We took the Peeps out of their packages and then lined them up on a cardboard box.  Hubbie sprayed them down good outside and flipped to get the other side once the first side was dry. 



2.  Wrap your wreath with ribbon, and attach with small dots of hot glue, until the entire wreath is covered.  It should look something like this.



3.  Attach your Peeps to the wreath with hot glue, and allow to dry.  To finish, I added a ribbon to hang it with, but I suppose that step may be optional too. 




See, I told you this was one easy project!  And if I can do it, I know you can too.  Enjoy!



Pictures We Didn't Take Before Digital Cameras

Sunday, March 24, 2013

And just how did we ever live without pictures of our food or our feet before digital cameras came along?  Oh, those were the blissfully primitive days of our youth.  We knew of no such fancy things as the digital era that was on the horizon.  

Thankfully, we now all have computers, cameras, and phones FULL of these sometimes less than *meaningful* images.   And thank goodness for it.  Not sure how we ever got along before. 


Can You Say "Technology"?

Saturday, March 23, 2013

If you still need proof that mobile devices have really caught on, take a look at NBC news’ comparison between the 2005 and 2013 crowds gathered at St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City 
to see the newly-selected Pope.

I see one little lonely flip phone in the lower right corner of the 2005 photo.  
My, how times have changed. 




I Said a Hip Hop the Hippie the Hippie to the Hip Hip Hop

And you don't stop . . . .

I don't know for certain that the Sugarhill Gang was rapping about the Easter Bunny in Rapper's Delight, but who am I to say that they weren't? Hey, for all I know "the black, the white, the red and the brown, the purple and yellow" that Wonder Mike was saying hello to were Easter eggs, jelly beans, or Peeps. But, I digress.

Check out this mashup of hip hop/Easter awesomeness:


If you love old school hip hop and you're looking for a wonderful FREE Easter printable. Pop on over to Makoodle.com for this free printable in a couple of different colors and sizes. It will make a cute and quirky addition to your Easter decor!

Nude Eyeliner- a surprisingly easy way to perk up your eyes

Friday, March 22, 2013

I'm always on the lookout for any product that will perk up my eyes.  Whenever I'm tired (almost every morning of every day of my life), my eyes give it away first.   That, and my inability to speak until the first cup of coffee is flowing through my system.  :)

So anything that brightens up those peepers is worth a try.  I recently discovered the joys of nude eyeliner.  As shown here, you use it on the inner rim of your lower lid, and ta da!
an instant picker upper!

It works by reflecting the whites of your eyes, making them look a little bigger and a lot more open.  





Now how's that for instant gratification?  

Wilted Spinach Orzo

Thursday, March 21, 2013

This recipe is both quick and delicious. It's full of flavor, and it doesn't disappoint!


Wilted Spinach Orzo
1, 16 oz package uncooked orzo
1/2 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp butter
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp dried basil
pinch crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup pine nuts
1, 10 oz bag baby spinach
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1, 8 oz package crumbled feta cheese
1/2 fresh tomato, chopped
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta and cook as directed. (Firm or slightly undercooked will work best.) When pasta is finished cooking, drain and transfer to a mixing bowl.
  2. While pasta is cooking, heat olive oil and butter in a large skillet over medium high heat, stirring to blend. Stir in garlic, basil, and red pepper flakes. Reduce heat to medium. Stir in pine nuts and cook until lightly browned.
  3. Add spinach, cover, and cook on low heat for 5 minutes until spinach is wilted.
  4. Toss spinach mixture with orzo, feta, and vinegar. Divide onto serving plates and add chopped tomatoes.

Note: I have made this many times, but this last time, my husband actually tried to eat all of the leftovers in one sitting (after having just finished dinner). I had to talk him out of it so that we would actually HAVE leftovers! It's THAT good. :-)

Have You Ever Seen the Rain?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Coming down on a sunny day?

Well, Creedence Clearwater Revival, of course we have - on any given day in Spring! And in honor of that, I give you the Music to Play for Spring Playlist:


Hope it gets you in the mood for warmer weather and painted toenails. And just like my other playlists (Patriotic, Valentine's Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas) nary a trace of Phil Collins shall be found because, hey, I'm just awesome like that!

You're welcome.

Spring Has Sprung

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Well, it's about that time again.  Another season, another big box of seasonal decor to unwrap and display (and to share with you all too, of course).

I love this time of year.  The weather starts to warm, the flowers start to bloom, we start spending more time outside.  The clocks move ahead and days get longer.
And on top of that, it's Easter time again!

Here's a look at how our house is shaping up for the season.

We'll start first in the dining room.  It's a pretty smooth transition from Valentine's decor to Spring decor for me.  I use the same tablecloth and place settings for both holidays, and just switch out a few decorative pieces.  Here's the link to my Valentine decor if you want to compare.

You might notice that I switch out my candles, and change up the flowers.  I use red candles and roses for Valentine' Day, but switch to creamy colored candles and peonies for Easter time. You will also see a large chalk rabbit nestled into the center piece.  My father-in-law found that at a yard sale for me years ago, and I still use it every year.  The mossy bunnies in the foreground of this photo were a flea market find.  None of these items cost more than a dollar!


Here's the close up of the centerpiece.


Also scattered on this Spring time table are my stack of radish plates that I bought at the Nashville flea market a couple of years ago.  


And my asparagus dish that I think I actually paid full retail price for.  :)  I just loved that little dish.  It just matches my Spring decor so well.  And I love the idea of veggies scattered around the table for Spring.  


Moving along to our sideboard, you will see another pretty bunny and more big fat peonies sprinkled around, and if you look close you will also see an Easter basket nestled off to the side. 


That Easter basket and eggs were one of my Nashville flea market finds last month.  
Two dollars brought the whole lot home.  


Off to the hutch we go next.  Again, I didn't change out much here for this decor.  I added peonies here too, and my blue and white bunnies to the mix.  Otherwise, this is pretty much the same setting that I like to keep out.  You will see my prized jadeite cake stand there, along with my turkey that John bought me.  He stays out year round.  My gravy boat also stays around all year.  We found that in an antique shop in England last year. 


I don't have a full setting of jadeite, or it would be on the table now for Easter.  But what I do have is stacked on one of my hutch shelves.  I love that hen on the nest.  


And here's a closeup of the little embroidered tablecloth they are sitting on. We found this vintage linen in a little shop in Charleston, SC last year.  I thought it looked so much like Nashville, we snatched it up instantly, and it makes a wonderful addition to our home. 


Moving on to the kitchen, you will see that I followed pretty much the same notion of swapping out key pieces to change my existing decor to match the season.  I used the same placemats and dishes as what I previously had out for Valentines.  And you might also see that my Humpty Dumpty cookie jar is still front and center.  But I ask you, what better time for a large smiling egg than at Easter? 


Here's the close up.  He was a find in our favorite little thrift shop in 
Downtown Roxboro a few years ago. 


And here are a few other vintage pieces tucked into my display.  This little planter is a vintage find from Etsy last year.  


As were these little mugs.  I like them hoisted up on my pink jadeite cake stand where they are extra showy. 


These little egg cups are a new addition to the fold for this year.  They are vintage and also came from Etsy.  Fortunately, they came in a set of four, so I now have one for each place setting. 


At Valentine's, I displayed vintage Valentine cards, and I liked the idea of it so much, I thought I could do the same for Easter.  So there you have it.  I really like the way these turned out. 


And back to my fascination with veggies in the Springtime, I give you this vintage cabbage bowl.  It is actually made for serving cole slaw.  Turns out these are pretty popular in the south.  This was another yard sale find, discovered by my father-in-law.  


And one of my favorite items on this table is this giant rabbit.  As you can see, he is also carrying a bunch of fresh veggies, just in time for Spring.  My mother-in-law found this wonderful bunny for me, and I just love, love, love him!


And to round out the tour of the kitchen, both of these items were added last year.  The lamb was purchased in Downtown Franklin right before Easter, at a very nice discount.  :)  The large paper mache egg was a score from a vintage shop in Nashville.  


Here's the close-up.  They are actually nesting eggs.  There are at least eight eggs of various sizes all nested inside, and all with different adorable vintage Easter drawings on them. 


And finally, check out these chicks!  The ones with party hats make me laugh every time I see them.  I have them perched right over our sink, so they are hard to miss.  



So that's the grand tour.  Thankfully, I have no issues with leaving my bunnies, chicks, and lambs out through the Spring (which will mean they are out much later than Easter itself.)  Next stop will be cherry decor for the Summer months.  Not to worry, I see another blog post in my future to feature that for you.  Until then, I hope you are enjoying the start to Spring as much as I am!