Wednesday, February 19, 2014

DIY {Natural Mint} Grasshopper Hot Chocolate

Living here in China has introduced us to a lot of new foods, and also given us a new appreciation for some common ones that we didn't use before. In the past here we have come to love natural mint leaves.

You can't buy mint or peppermint extract here, so we use it sparingly, but we all love the taste of mint. You can buy big bunches of mint in the markets very inexpensively though, so we have found all kinds of new ways to use pure mint leaves.

We love chocolate and mint together. This natural mint hot cocoa is a decedent, yet refreshing treat.

Homemade Natural Mint Hot Cocoa By the Cup

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 large handful of fresh mint leaves
  • 1-2 Tbsp cocoa
  • 1-2 Tbsp sugar
  • Dash of vanilla and/or salt if desired
  • Whipping cream for topping if desired (and additional mint leaves for making the cream mint flavored if you wish)

  1. Wash and dry the mint leaves well. Tear and bruise leaves slightly to bring out the most flavor. Place in colander inside of a bowl.
  2. Steep the mint leaves in the milk for several hours up to overnight. (Alternatively, because this is a hot recipe you can heat the milk with the mint leaves in it to bring out the mint flavor faster, and then strain after heating, but the best flavor is achieved with slow, cold steeping.) Also steep mint leaves in cold whipping cream for several hours to overnight if you want mint flavored cream.
  3. Strain the leaves out of the milk, pressing to get the full flavor.
  4. Heat milk in microwave or small saucepan, until just bubbling around the edges (not a rolling boil).
  5. Remove from heat and add remaining ingredients, adjusting to personal taste.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

DIY Strawberry Granola Yogurt Parfait

If you are looking for a simple, healthy, yet still special breakfast for for Valentine's or Sweetest day (or any day for that matter) these Strawberry Granola Yogurt Parfait are perfect. Simply layer strawberries, yogurt, and granola in jars or other pretty individual dishes.

Super special without being super sugary. Homemade granola and yogurt work great of course, but if you bought these items pre-made this breakfast would be super easy to make as well.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

DIY Valentine's Day Treasure Hunt

Last year to make the boys Valentine's day a little more exciting my husband and I worked together to give them a treasure hunt. There were three small presents (one of which was edible play dough which was a huge hit), and they had to follow clues to each one.

My husband because he is awesome with writing poetry and just words and rhythm and rhyme in general, made the clues each a short poem.

The whole process of reading poetry, deciphering clues, running and searching all over,\and unwrapping each thing made the actually tiny gifts much more exciting.

Friday, February 7, 2014

DIY Human Love Letter Valentines

Last year we made a really fun digital Valentine, turning our cute little boys into human love letters. We had our boys lay down on the floor on a play mat and had them become letters and a heart. We got them to formed the  letters I {heart} U. XO

My fabulous husband then put together all of the images on a repeating play mat background he created to spell out. I {heart} U. XOXO

He used Gimp (a free open source program) and cut out all of them really carefully and I thought the results were really great.

You could use a different photo editing program of course or just put a series of photos together without cutting the figure out digitally.

Whatever way you make your human love letters the recipients are sure to love this unique Valentine.



Cute boys.

I {heart} U. XOXO

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

{Free Valentine's Day Ebook} Growing in Love: Garden of Charity Family Devotional

Updated February 9, 2015: My Husband and I are now offering our Family Devotionals through our educational site Greenfield Education. We are giving away the PDF version of Growing in Love from February 9-15, 2015

Our family has been really blessed by intentionally celebrating God's truth during the holidays. Our kids really enjoyed our Thanksgiving and Christmas books, so we decided to put together a Valentine's Day book as well.

Our children's excitement and anticipation of the coming holiday builds with our family time focused on the holiday's theme, and we like that they are learning valuable lessons along the way. You could even use this devotional as a seven day countdown to Valentine's day if you wish.

Our Growing in Love: Garden of Charity Family Devotional looks at what true Agape love really means through readings, songs, discussion questions, activities, and even decorations.

Here is an excerpt from the introduction:

We all love our families and friends, but it can be easy to act unloving. Our kids squabble over the silliest minutia. I find it all to easy to become impatient with my kids when they have the audacity to need attention when I am doing something as important as working, as necessary as making dinner, or, worst of all, during what I like to think of (or thought of before motherhood) as the self-evident and unalienable a right as sleeping. It is all to easy to think the worst of people or expect the worst out of the situation, rather than believing and hoping the best.

None of us can love perfectly. Only God can because God is love and because we are not God. However, we can choose to be intentional about allowing God to work in us to love more.

This short book is our way of studying true Agape love as a family. This book covers the Charity Chapter (First Corinthians 13:4–8a).

We have also created a variety of printable resources to go along with this short book.
  • Printable hearts and flowers with the attributes of true love so you can make growing in love bouquet or garden
  • Decorative printables for your home
  • Half-page and quarter page printables can even be used as greeting cards
Updated February 9, 2015: My Husband and I are now offering our Family Devotionals through our educational site Greenfield Education. We are giving away the PDF version of Growing in Love from February 9-15, 2015. 

If you prefer to read it in the Kindle format it is also reasonably priced on Amazon, with a link to download the accompanying free printables.

We hope this book is a blessing and help to your family and wish you a lovely Valentine's Day!

DIY Conversation Heart Cookies

We can't buy conversation heart candies here in China so I thought it would be fun to make conversation heart cookies instead.

I saw the cute conversation heart cookies that Martha Stewart made and decided to make my own version with my "low tech" cooking equipment. Her's look prettier, but I didn't have to pay $25 for a cookie stamp to make these (even if it were possible to buy it here), and these cookies are fun and get the job done.

You can even invite your kids to help you make these. Most kids love to cut out sugar cookies and paint on the icing.

Do be sure to let the sugar cookies cool completely before icing and the icing harden completely before adding words, stacking, or serving for best presentation.

Homemade Roll Out Sugar Cookie Recipe

  • 3 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup butter or margarine softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • Milk (if the dough is too dry)
  1. Cream together butter and sugar.
  2. Beat in eggs and vanilla.
  3. Add dry ingredients, incorporating flour about 1 cup at a time.
  4. If the dough is too dry add milk one tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is reached.
  5. Chill in the refrigerator a couple of hours or overnight. I did find that with all real butter though I had to let the dough soften up a bit after chilling it overnight.
  6. Roll small sections of dough at a time to 1/4 inch thick. Cut into shapes with cookie cutters and place on an ungreased baking sheet.
  7. Bake at 400F for 6-8 minutes, until edges just begin to brown.

Powdered Sugar Icing Recipe

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2-3 Tbsp milk
  • Food coloring
  1. Place powdered sugar is a small mixing bowl and add milk a Tbsp at a time until a nice consistency. Stir until smooth. Add food coloring if desired.
  2. Drizzle or paint cooled cookies a solid color with a food safe brush. Sprinkle with sugar or sprinkles if desired.
  3. Allow to harden for at least 1 hour before carefully painting words of your choice on the hearts. (Obviously shorter is better as far as word choice for these cookies.)
  4. Allow to harden again at least 1 hour before stacking or serving.


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