What’s In A Kitchen? Cooking With Toddlers | By Lauren Cop

FOOD. I love everything about it – cultivating, harvesting, preparing, and consuming. I would consider myself a foodie in training. I don’t always eat organic, local, or Avant-garde food – but I do have knowledge of flavor and aim to improve upon my palate daily. Since my husband and I are so into food, we think it is very important that our children understand the importance of nourishment. We consume and grow a variety of foods. One of the easiest ways you can help teach your toddler the importance of good food is through cooking. Cooking is a basis of family life – think about it: most major family events are centered around a meal! What is more fun than having everyone enjoy your food that is prepared by the whole family and not just grandma in the kitchen?

What would give me the notion that I could cook with my toddlers? I mean how could you do anything elaborate with toddlers? Surely you must think I am nuts – but I really don’t know any different. My grandmother put me on a kitchen chair at about two years old and introduced me to cooking. A little back story of my grandmother: she was born during WWII in Germany and came to the United States as an orphan, to be adopted by her aunt and uncle when she was 13-years-old. At every family gathering, she would sit in wonderment – as a girl, she had no idea just how large her family would become. She has 3 children, 9 grandchildren, and 2 great-grands. Grammy (as I call her – Omi to my cousins) always made sure to encourage us to honor your family and be thankful for them because you never know when they will be gone.

With heavy German and Italian roots, family food is very important to us Coppotellis (as with most families). Everyone looks forward to the antipasti, bread, and other home-cooked goodies. Grammy would allow me to help her prep veggies (especially peppers), bread chicken, roll dough, break eggs, etc.… You name it, she would allow me to be a part of the process. She let me taste, smell, and touch everything. Even if it was something that many might consider dangerous for a young kid – she allowed me to be a part of the process. Once I got a little older (late elementary school), she could basically let me be on my own in the kitchen to prepare chicken cutlets or veggie side dishes. I have always enjoyed this special time with her in the kitchen – learning new tricks, talking of family history, and laughing or singing a lot!

SCN_0014{ Grammy and Me – Photo by My Parents }

My other grandmother and her family have also taught me a lot about food. Me-ma (as I call her and Rammy to my cousins) grew up on a farm in Southern Georgia. She is from a large family so it is not surprising that her family has grown to match. She has 3 children, 9 grandchildren, and 2 great-grands with another on the way. I recently attended the Chapman family reunion in Sylvester, GA on the family farm. My grandmother’s 5 siblings were there, along with several cousins of varying generations. As with most family gatherings on this side of the family, most of the women helped in some way in the kitchen.

However, in the kitchen there is a lot going on outside of just cooking – watching children, discussing the family news, checking up on “the game”, and of course all aspects of food preparation. I love being in my grandmother’s kitchen because she is meticulous – about everything! She is precise in her cooking, always done perfectly (even if she claims it wasn’t), and cleans as if nothing ever happened, all while holding on to any of the ongoing conversations and watching the children.

My late Great Uncle Arthur is another family member I must mention in my discussion of my food history. He was an eccentric man who was in the military, taught at Yale, wrote speeches for Kennedy, traveled the world, and was an excellent chef – just to name some of his trades! Every time I went to visit him in his little 1800s guest house in Hell’s Kitchen (yes that’s right a house in NYC) – you felt like you were in Italy. He had a slate patio with a fountain, some meal cooking on the stove, classical music playing, and lots of libations being poured. One of my favorite Christmases was when he and my father cooked homemade gnocchi. He too introduced me to lots of new tastes, smells, and combinations of food! My Uncle made foods come alive with his life stories, combinations of flavors, environment, and love for a good meal.

257101_10150217820902727_300364_o{Great Grand Uncle Arthur Coppotelli | Pic Taken by LAC }

My mother kept a kitchen much like her mother in the fact it was the center of family gatherings. We ate, did homework, danced, sang, and shared passionate conversations in that kitchen. My mother also encouraged us in the kitchen. We made cookies and other meals often throughout our childhood. She encouraged us to make our own meals and decisions about food. My mother tried to make our special meals, school lunches, and even birthday cakes whatever we decided (within reason). My father also partook in the kitchen, on Sundays mostly. He would cook some kind of sauce all day and we would have some kind of pasta that night. I grew up helping make these dishes along with my brothers – which we now all can make based on taste and touch. The kitchen was where all the action was with new faces, friends, and family all coming and going – the heart of the house! At time, my mother would sometimes need to shoo us out of there to get out from under her feet, it was always where my family was and still is located – eating, discussing, loving.

My husband’s family is also very into cooking and have introduced me to new cuisines and flavors. My husband has worked in restaurants and was encouraged as a child (along with his sister Lauren) to do things in the kitchen. He, in fact, does most of the dinner cooking in our home – always trying new dishes, flavors, and making them health-conscious. One of Drew’s favorite activities from his childhood is reading Alligator Cookies and making the cookies from the story. As a gifted and talented teacher and creative mother, my mother–in-law’s kitchen is also very important part of the home. A place for learning, exploring, and enjoying! My sister-in-law, Lauren, has continued this tradition by sharing her artfulness in the kitchen. All of her dishes are gorgeous, tasty, and creative (as evidenced by recent food blogs about fall flavors). Lauren’s food draws people in and holds them together.

scan0008{ Pic of LAC | Photo Taken by Gene Carlisle }

As you can see, kitchens and food are important to me. Although my husband tends the kitchen sometimes more than me – it is our common domain. All 4 of us make meals – smoothies, cookies, breads, dinners, etc.… We all enjoy the smells, taste, and touch of all the ingredients – in addition to helping grow as many ingredients as we can. Everyone preps, cooks, and cleans. We gather, share stories, and create! My children have smelled, touched, tasted, washed, cut, pealed, poured, and measured for prep. They have pushed buttons, stirred, smashed, and plated meals in the cooking process. They have loaded and unloaded the dishwasher, mopped the floor, and put away items. Everyone pitches in and everyone reaps the rewards! The kitchen is the soul of a family to me – and I love that mine is full of life!

Here are some quick tips on helping involve your children in the kitchen:

Preparation: Washing is probably the easiest task. Have them wash vegetables, fruit, or utensils in the sink with a small bowl of water. This way they don’t use too much water and won’t make too big of a mess. They can also help gather ingredients from the kitchen. In addition to tasting, smelling and touching are some of the best teaching opportunities for children. Trust me tasting a little baking soda is not going to kill someone!

Cooking: Some of the easiest things you can do are having them dump and mix ingredients. Sometimes I pre-measure the serving and explain to them how the different measurements correlate. For example, six teaspoons of sugar equals 2 tablespoons. You can also have them set the time and temperature of the oven/microwave. Lastly, you can have them decide on how to arrange the meal on the plate – with some gentle guidance, of course.

Cleaning: Give your child a spray bottle and wipe and let them go to town – or for little ones a small bowl of soapy water and sponge. Who cares if they make a mess – have them help you dry it with a towel. I always dreaded letting my kids play with soapy water – but I use kid safe soaps, and give them some direction and they really do a nice job cleaning!

20151026_112800-1{ Pic of Viv and Noli | Photo Taken by Lauren Cop }

Don’t be afraid to include your children in the kitchen. They can really help you and learn a good deal. Without our kitchens and food, family gatherings maybe wouldn’t be nearly as rich and memorable. Kitchens are the soul of the home and ones that are well-used are well-loved give the most happiness. Share the joy of life with your children, help it grow and prosper – especially through the food in your kitchen.

 

Lauren Cop is a part-time SAHM (Stay At Home Mom) of Irish Twins and Senior writer/editor ciao_laurencop_sig-01of the Olive Shoe Blog. Currently Lauren and her family live in Tallahassee, FL where she helps teach at a local pre-school. A Clemson fanatic, alumni and general sports enthusiast. She loves reading, gardening, food, and traveling. Follow her TwitterInstagram, and Pinterest.

The Olive Shoe | Paperie & Design | Celebrating Creativity and Creatively Celebrating is designed and run by Lauren {LAC} James © 2015 LAC James All Rights Reserved.

Lauren {LAC} James is a Sr. Designer of Product Graphics for an international manufacturing company by day and a creativity crusader, designer, planner extraordinaire, artist and blogger in her “free” time. Follow her and The Olive Shoe on FacebookTwitterPinterest or Instagram! Pleasesubscribe to receive emails, of course, come back and visit again soon!

Please visit the online art gallery {Art by LAC} and Etsy Shop too!

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Reflecting on Gratitude for Thanksgiving | Thankful Crafts for Family Gatherings

Thanksgiving is definitely one of my favorite holidays. It is a wonderful time for family gatherings, gratefulness, and the harvest. Now the history of the holiday is ugly and disgraceful. It is apparent how the Natives in the United States were treated. However – I do believe in the spirit of having a holiday about being thankful, gathering of family and celebrating the harvest.  Growing up, my family always made sure to share what they were thankful for and it became one of my favorite parts of the holiday. I hope to continue the traditions with my children as they grow up. Here are some really great activities that everyone can participate in to evoke the spirit of gratefulness.

This first one was very common in my home growing up. It was so fun to have everyone open a different reason to be thankful that wasn’t their own.

I love how cute these pumpkins are and they would be great to bring out for future Thanksgivings as well.

This pumpkin design is another great tradition.

I love this beautiful thankful tree! It would be great on a mantle or as a centerpiece that could definitely be added to over the years as well.

This thankful tree is also very beautiful but it is definitely more budget friendly than the one previously listed.

I love this easy and simple tradition. It is sure to bring up great memories for years to come.

I love this thankful frame. It is really beautiful and perfect for any household.

I love this thankful board. It is a great way to celebrate gratitude throughout the whole month.

I love how all of these Thanksgiving activities can easily incorporate family into sharing with each other with lots of love as well.  It is so important to share gratitude with your family – it really helps to build strong bonds with loved ones. This is part of the reason why I love Thanksgiving so much. The togetherness and great food are a wonderful recipe for a good time! I can’t wait for our Thanksgiving traditions and I look forward to hearing about yours as well.

Lauren Cop is a part-time SAHM (Stay At Home Mom) of Irish Twins and Senior writer/editor ciao_laurencop_sig-01of the Olive Shoe Blog. Currently Lauren and her family live in Tallahassee, FL where she helps teach at a local pre-school. A Clemson fanatic, alumni and general sports enthusiast. She loves reading, gardening, food, and traveling. Follow her TwitterInstagram, and Pinterest.

The Olive Shoe | Paperie & Design | Celebrating Creativity and Creatively Celebrating is designed and run by Lauren {LAC} James © 2015 LAC James All Rights Reserved.

Lauren {LAC} James is a Sr. Designer of Product Graphics for an international manufacturing company by day and a creativity crusader, designer, planner extraordinaire, artist and blogger in her “free” time. Follow her and The Olive Shoe on FacebookTwitterPinterest or Instagram! Pleasesubscribe to receive emails, of course, come back and visit again soon!

Please visit the online art gallery {Art by LAC} and Etsy Shop too!

 

 

 

Add a Little Sunshine to Your Food | Yellow Food Recipes

Yellow is a fantastic color! It’s a color of lights, brightness, and warmth. It also reminds me the changes of the color of leaves this time of year, curries, and desserts. It also happens to be one of my daughter’s favorite colors. I love to cook food with bright colors so I often find myself cooking with things that are yellow; peppers, squash, onions, turmeric, and lemons of course. I think lemons are my favorite thing to cook with. Yellow foods are also very nutritious and have been known to help with digestion and brain function. I love these yellow recipes and am so excited to share them with you all.

Appetizers – Appetizers are my favorite foods. I seriously could live on a variety of tiny meals. These apps are super yummy with great flavors as well. I am sure you would enjoy them for a variety of occasions.

I love this fresh and delicious salad. Great for a first course!

I love this vegan appetizer:

I love this corn salsa as well:

This salsa is a staple at most of our family’s events:

This could be a great appetizer or side dish:

Entrees – I think it is really easy to get into an entrée rut. Many of these entrees are easy, and can be done on the fly with ingredients you have in your home. I also love the variety of flavors shown as well.

I love a great paella!

This is a great vegetarian dish with fall flavors:

Love this simple and easy dinner:

This is a great entrée and could also be used as a side:

Here is a great one pot dish:

This is one of my favorite chicken recipes:

This is a great slow cooker recipe that I have made for my family multiple times:

Love this curry dish – filling and delicious:

I love a good Mexican casserole and this one is fantastic!

Side Dishes – I love a good side dish. Many times it can really help make or break an entrée. Not to mention that many of these side dishes can also be used as a main dish.

This dish could be great as a side or entree

I love this bright and delicious side dish

This is a great side dish

I love this fall side dish

Here is another great side dish

This side dish would go great with anything on the grill

I love this side dish we make it multiple times a year

This side dish is both beautiful and hearty – it could definitely stand on its own as well:

Soup – It is finally fall and the cool air has finally arrived. These soups are a great addition to the rotation and great to freeze and use later as well.

I love this heartwarming soup:

This is a great soup with lots of flavor:

Here is a great fall dish:

I love this summer soup:

This is a great soup both hot or cold:

I think this is a beautiful and hearty soup:

Desserts – I LOVE fresh desserts. I feel that many times during this season desserts get too heavy. These are a great list of light and refreshing desserts.

I love these cookies – they are super cute and delicious without being too sweet:

These lemon meringues are so cute and delicious!

I love a good curd:

This pie is to die for – fresh and delicious:

I love this quick easy vegetarian dessert:

I love how beautiful these cupcakes look!

Who doesn’t love a dipped pretzel?

A great alternative for a traditional cheesecake:

Sticky rice is always a hit!

Drinks – Can’t have too many fun drink recipes. These are light and refreshing and some that are perfect for the fall season as well.

I love non-alcoholic lavender lemonade!

This drink is so refreshing:

Another refreshing drink that would be good with or without alcohol:

Here is an alcoholic version of the lavender lemonade:

I love a good spicy cocktail!

Smoky whiskey cocktail – yes please!

Who doesn’t love a good sangria

I hope you enjoy these recipes as much as I do. It is so important to remember to cook with color so you can bring in more nutrients and variety to your dishes. Plus, you never know when you will be throwing an event or going to an event that will require a specific-colored food. Let us know how they go!

Lauren Cop is a part-time SAHM (Stay At Home Mom) of Irish Twins and Senior writer/editor ciao_laurencop_sig-01of the Olive Shoe Blog. Currently Lauren and her family live in Tallahassee, FL where she helps teach at a local pre-school. A Clemson fanatic, alumni and general sports enthusiast. She loves reading, gardening, food, and traveling. Follow her TwitterInstagram, and Pinterest.

The Olive Shoe | Paperie & Design | Celebrating Creativity and Creatively Celebrating is designed and run by Lauren {LAC} James © 2015 LAC James All Rights Reserved.

Lauren {LAC} James is a Sr. Designer of Product Graphics for an international manufacturing company by day and a creativity crusader, designer, planner extraordinaire, artist and blogger in her “free” time. Follow her and The Olive Shoe on FacebookTwitterPinterest or Instagram! Pleasesubscribe to receive emails, of course, come back and visit again soon!

Please visit the online art gallery {Art by LAC} and Etsy Shop too!

 

 

 

 

 

An Untraditional Approach To Anniversary Traditions

Anniversaries in my opinion are extremely important. It is a wonderful time to reconnect, reflect, and reunite your relationship with your spouse. People celebrate their marriages in different ways. Some don’t get the opportunity to celebrate at all. This year my grandmother moved out of her home in Florida and I found tons of anniversary cards she had saved that were special to their relationship. It was so beautiful and touching to see so many cards and so much love between them over the years. I can only hope that my husband and I can keep the passion they have over the last 55+ years. As my anniversary quickly approaches, I am getting more and more excited about our anniversary tradition.

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{Photo of our ceremony ~ Photo Taken by Mallor MacDonald}

Traditional Gifts – Most people that I talk to have some pretty regular traditions. Flowers for the wife. Out to dinner, possible drinks, possibly gifts or some kind of date night. My spouse and I definitely fall in line with these traditions pretty often as well. We definitely consider ourselves lovers of a variety of foods. There are also the traditional list of gifts as well which you can find the whole list in the link here. I think the traditional gifts can be fun but definitely difficult sometimes.

Traditional Anniversary Gifts By Year Infographic

Our Plan –  My husband and I have gifted each other some pretty awesome gifts over the years for our anniversary. We have invested in furniture, whole home music system, updates on the lawn, etc… I have successfully been able to surprise my husband with two different meaningful gifts. The first one was having my husband’s Clemson ring replaced when it had lost the gem in the center. The other was for our Anniversary last year I had his wedding band inscribed with “Here There and Everywhere” in honor of the Beatles song that was sung at ours and my in-laws’ wedding. Also, in honor of all the travel and the major move we experienced last year as well. Most of our gifts have been small cost wise or investments – both of which are meant to be meaningful for our future. Which I absolutely love!

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However, our agreement when we got married was that we wouldn’t spend money on lavish gifts for our anniversary. Instead we would save our money and go on a trip once every 5 years. This way neither one of us needs to feel like we need to spend thousands on a gift but get something small and more meaningful. Last year was our fifth anniversary – but with the move to a different state we decided to put it off for a year. So… this summer we are going to SWEDEN!! I couldn’t be more excited!! We had tossed around a bunch of ideas – Colorado, Thailand, Central America, – but we ultimately decided on Sweden because of Drew’s family heritage and it will be a great getaway from the humidity of the Florida summer. I love our tradition because this is something we can plan for our future together and make some wonderful memories just the two of us!

Finding your significant other is no easy task! It takes most of us many times before we find that partner in life. Therefore when you do find that person, you should celebrate the continuing of the relationship with romance and remembrance. However you and your partner choose to celebrate, make it memorable and important to you both. I am so thankful to have found my person in life – I would not be who I am without him. I will keep you posted on our upcoming trip to Sweden as well!

Lauren Cop is a part-time SAHM (Stay At Home Mom) of Irish Twins and Senior writer/editor ciao_laurencop_sig-01of the Olive Shoe Blog. Currently Lauren and her family live in Tallahassee, FL where she helps teach at a local pre-school. A Clemson fanatic, alumni and general sports enthusiast. She loves reading, gardening, food, and traveling. Follow her TwitterInstagram, and Pinterest.

The Olive Shoe | Paperie & Design | Celebrating Creativity and Creatively Celebrating is designed and run by Lauren {LAC} James © 2015 LAC James All Rights Reserved.

Lauren {LAC} James is a Sr. Designer of Product Graphics for an international manufacturing company by day and a creativity crusader, designer, planner extraordinaire, artist and blogger in her “free” time. Follow her and The Olive Shoe on FacebookTwitterPinterest or Instagram! Pleasesubscribe to receive emails, of course, come back and visit again soon!

Please visit the online art gallery {Art by LAC} and Etsy Shop too!

Invitation to Inspiration | Little Pumpkin Party

It’s fall y’all!

Pumpkin spice, pumkin pie, pumpkin patches… pumpkin everything! They sure are festive and fun, with so many creative possibilities!

I’ve compiled some ideas below to accompany three (below) of The Olive Shoe’s “Little Pumpkin” party invitations – which could be converted to baby showers, adult soirées, or even fall themed bridal showers or business events!

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{Click any of the above images to shop! Click on any of the below images to take you to their site. Such cute, creative, pumpkin ideas!!}

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Crushing on these party pumpkins from Handmade Charlotte!! …and this high chair banner is just precious. Love the use of the tractor incorporated with the pumpkin theme from Raw Edge Sewing Co.

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..and of course there’s one incorporating pink, too. Love the fresh and festive look!

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This is the perfect little cake topper for a pumpkin party from Glitter Party Co. on Etsy, and comes in MULTIPLE colors to fit any party color scheme!

I absolutely love these paper lantern pumpkins – I do love a paper lantern – from Martha Stewart. 

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ANNNNNNDDDDD this cute pumpkin guest book from Southern Living.

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I love this idea (colors could be changed to suit any shindig) for a by-the-door decor.

This is a fun game idea for kids that may be a little older: a pumpkin patch stomp game. Thanks for posting, Pop Sugar! 

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Paint plain ol’ orange pumpkins to incorporate other decor colors, like blue or khaki!

And of course, it’s not a party without cake! I might just have to try these chocolate pumpkin cupcakes from Just A Taste. YUM!

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Tag #theoliveshoe on social media with your pumpkin party ideas or post your comments below! We’d love to hear about your pumpkin party! (Or any other party!)

Thanks for stopping by!

*Featured Image Credit: Kate Max Stock

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The Olive Shoe | Paperie & Design | Celebrating Creativity and Creatively Celebrating is designed and run by Laure {LAC} James © 2016 LAC James All Rights Reserved.

Lauren {LAC} James is a Sr. Designer of Product Graphics for an international manufacturing company by day and a creativity crusader, designer, planner extraordinaire, artist and blogger in her “free” time. Follow her and The Olive Shoe on FacebookTwitterPinterest or Instagram! Please subscribe to receive emails, and of course, come back and visit again soon!

Please visit the online art gallery {Art by LAC} and Etsy Shop too!

Other popular posts by LAC:

 

75 Halloween Songs That Are Sure To Make The Monsters Boogie Down

I love music. It permeates all aspects of my life. My husband and children are ALWAYS in perpetual song – shopping, car, in the office, on the throne, etc. – not to mention countless other family members who are both singers and musicians. So for us, there are no events without an element of music. Halloween should be no different. When I decided to start writing this list, I had a vague idea of where I wanted to go… next thing I knew I was about 50 songs in LOL. I was pleasantly surprised with how many great songs there were out there! I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

{ Love these “Cinderella Pumpkins” Photo Credit : Kate Max Stock Photos }

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{Love this Halloween pumpkin treat container Photo Credit : Kate Mack Stock Photo}

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{Finally this is how i envision the sceen when listening to these songs Photo Credit : Kate Mack Stock Photo}

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I hope you enjoy these songs by some great artists!

I have been listening to this list on repeat and it makes me so happy and excited for the upcoming Halloween events I have planned with my children. I hope that you enjoy this playlist as much as I do as well. Please feel free to comment or message us with more suggestions! We would love to hear from our readers!

Lauren Cop is a part-time SAHM (Stay At Home Mom) of Irish Twins and Senior writer/editor ciao_laurencop_sig-01of the Olive Shoe Blog. Currently Lauren and her family live in Tallahassee, FL where she helps teach at a local pre-school. A Clemson fanatic, alumni and general sports enthusiast. She loves reading, gardening, food, and traveling. Follow her TwitterInstagram, and Pinterest.

The Olive Shoe | Paperie & Design | Celebrating Creativity and Creatively Celebrating is designed and run by Lauren {LAC} James © 2015 LAC James All Rights Reserved.

Lauren {LAC} James is a Sr. Designer of Product Graphics for an international manufacturing company by day and a creativity crusader, designer, planner extraordinaire, artist and blogger in her “free” time. Follow her and The Olive Shoe on FacebookTwitterPinterest or Instagram! Pleasesubscribe to receive emails, of course, come back and visit again soon!

Please visit the online art gallery {Art by LAC} and Etsy Shop too!

Going Gaga for Gourds | Let’s Hear It For the Squash

Ok I am making a confession – I seriously LOVE all gourds in particular the squash varietal! Gourds are typically defined as “any one of several types of fruits that have a hard shell and that are used for decoration and not for eating” according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary. Squash is “any of various fruits of plants (genus Cucurbita) of the gourd family widely cultivated as vegetables” according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary. This time of year is my favorite because not only do we get to decorate with gourds but there are plenty to eat and use creatively. Not only are these plants nutritious for you but are so easy to use in different crafts for kids. Listed below you will find why I love these fruits and I hope you will have a newfound appreciation for them as well.

Growing – I have found that growing gourds is one of the easiest things I have been able to grow. Yes they are prone to bugs and need to be pruned regularly – but it is very rare that I can’t get a single seed to grow. Also they grow in almost every growing zone. Listed below you will find several links to help you grow gourds in your region. And remember as I have talked about in other blog posts – growing is trial and error. You wouldn’t lose anything by trying.

Nutrition – Squash and gourds are extremely good for you. They are packed with vitamins, minerals and other health benefits as well helping the immune system and cardiovascular health. They are typically extremely low in calories, sugar, and fat content as well. Listed below you will find some nutritional information on different types of gourds and squash.

Traditional Uses – Gourds were used for all kinds of things in ancient times. They have been used for decorative or ritual pieces, bowls, or a part of nutrition. Especially in the Americas, gourds played a huge role. I was privileged enough to work on an archeological dig in Peru where we found several decorative gourd bowls, some of which people were buried alongside of them. Gourds are one of the oldest domesticated plants so it is no wonder that they have found their way into so many societies. Listed below you will find several article discussing traditional uses for gourds.

Crafts – There are so many crafts you can do with gourds – as evidenced by the ancient peoples in the previous links. The obvious that many people already do is pumpkin carving and painting. But why stop at pumpkins! They also can make great stamps or even bird houses. Really, the opportunities are endless for the creativity with gourds. Here are some great links to crafts you can complete with your littles.

  • Gourd Stamping – Note I like to use the top cross section of Acorn Squash because it looks like flowers!

Decorations – Well since it IS autumn you will definitely need to create some awesome centerpieces, wreaths, and other decorative items with some gourds. Especially because you can literally leave these decorations out from September harvest, Halloween, and thru Thanksgiving. Listed below you will find some great links for tips about decorating with gourds!

Colorful Gourds and Pumpkins

  • 30 Gorgeous Fall Wreaths – Now this one doesn’t include a TON of gourd ideas but the ones they do include I think are stunning

I love DIY fall wreaths and this neutral one is so beautiful!

Recipes – Now what would fall be without those fall flavors. And in all reality, gourds do not need to be eaten just in the fall. Many are eaten in the summer as well – which include zucchini and watermelon. But since we are in fall many more people are eating squash. Here is a great list of how to prepare different types of squash for great food and flavor year round.

Chickpea, Spinach & Squash Gnocchi

Silky Pappardelle with Zucchini Ribbons

Melon with Yogurt and Pistachio-Sesame Brittle

So as you can see gourds and not just important to me but to many other people throughout history and our society. They can be grown, eaten, crafted, used for ritual, or as décor. They are great for so many things!! I especially love this time of year because I am not the only one who seems to have developed a gourd obsession. So let’s all take time and be thankful for these gourds that are so important to our lives and history. And what better way to thank a gourd then by eating or crafting with one! So go ahead and get busy – I know I will be!

 

Lauren Cop is a SAHM (Stay At Home Mom) of Irish Twins and Senior writer/editor ciao_laurencop_sig-01of the Olive Shoe Blog. Currently Lauren and her family live in Tallahassee, FL where she helps teach at a local pre-school. A Clemson fanatic, alumni and general sports enthusiast. She loves reading, gardening, food, and traveling. Follow her TwitterInstagram, and Pinterest.

The Olive Shoe | Paperie & Design | Celebrating Creativity and Creatively Celebrating is designed and run by Lauren {LAC} James © 2015 LAC James All Rights Reserved.

Lauren {LAC} James is a Sr. Designer of Product Graphics for an international manufacturing company by day and a creativity crusader, designer, planner extraordinaire, artist and blogger in her “free” time. Follow her and The Olive Shoe on FacebookTwitterPinterest or Instagram! Pleasesubscribe to receive emails, of course, come back and visit again soon!

Please visit the online art gallery {Art by LAC} and Etsy Shop too!

From Beast to Beauty: Taming Our Overgrown Landscape

My husband and I share a great interest in gardening and landscape. This is one of the main reasons we wanted to buy this house. In our previous homes, we had to do a lot of work to rework the landscape of the properties. We were both so thankful to find a property that needed minimal work. The front was stunning, had a great patio, and a lovely fish pond with a water feature. However the back was terribly overgrown and needed a lot of attending to. My husband and I tossed a bunch of ideas around – but the solution was more than I could have dreamed!

First Looks and Issues – When we first went to the backyard it wasn’t so bad. But it definitely needed a major haircut. There are hydrangeas, monkey grass, ferns, cast irons, magnolias, palms, camellias, tea olives, and gardenias – all of which are stunning and I love having these plants back there. But there was also tons of blackberry vines, poison ivy, Carolina creeper and several other invasive weeds as well. The overgrowth became overwhelming and became a snake and armadillo haven.  My husband and I wanted to make room for a future outdoor kitchen, seating area, fire pit, and overall add to our entertaining space.

{Picture Taken by Lauren Carlisle: Before picture of the backyard}

{Picture Taken by Lauren Carlisle: Picture of the backyard after overgrowth was cut}

Walkway Troubles – When we first bought our house there was a massive live oak tree (4ft in diameter) that was growing into the foundation of the house. We had to have this tree cut down – but our tree service was willing to cut us cross sections of the trunk and leave us some limbs to use for a future walkway. We also collected some wood from friends and neighbors as well. We began to put the walkway down right away. We ended up having to pull it up more than once but we eventually got the overall look we were going for and couldn’t be more pleased with the outcome. It has certainly become the center of our backyard for entertainment and conversation. I love looking at the walkway because I think it pays homage to a beautiful tree that we wished we didn’t have to take down.

{Picture Taken by Lauren Carlisle: Building and finishing of our walkway}

Rocks and Patio – With the fear of constant overgrowth and needing to keep up with the maintenance, my husband and I decided that we really needed to make an outdoor patio of some kind. We went back and forth about what the best option would be. We ultimately decided that our best decision would be to cover the entire backyard with gravel and to put together a paver area that would ultimately hold a fire pit. Putting together this area was backbreaking work. We moved 24 tons of gravel via wheelbarrow and placed the pavers ourselves as well. However the result is stunning, requires minimal maintenance, and really adds to our entertainment area to our home.

{Picture Taken by Lauren Carlisle: Continued work on the patio area}

{Picture Taken by Lauren Carlisle: Finished Product… For now)

Future Improvements – With all the improvements we have done to the yard of course there is always a plan for more. The first will be to install a fire pit and update one of the hammocks. Even though we live in Florida, fire pits are always fun and useful.  We also hope to add in an outdoor kitchen complete with grill, outdoor oven, smoker and prep station. My husband and I basically live outdoors so it makes sense for us to add an out an outdoor kitchen for entertainment and cooking purposes. From there the potential is endless!

Firepit Inspirations

Outdoor Kitchen Inspirations

Working outdoors makes me feel so happy. The sun in my face, heavy lifting, sweat, tears, and sometimes blood can be difficult. However, seeing such a drastic change makes all the sacrifice worthwhile. We have already made great use of the space. My kids basically live in the hammock. My husband and I were able to observe the solar eclipse from the backyard. We also have entertained friends there as well. We intend to set up a projector on certain occasions for football game viewing out there as well. I can’t wait for all the future memories we will make in our newly renovated backyard!

Lauren Cop is a SAHM (Stay At Home Mom) of Irish Twins and Senior writer/editor ciao_laurencop_sig-01of the Olive Shoe Blog. Currently Lauren and her family live in Tallahassee, FL where she helps teach at a local pre-school. A Clemson fanatic, alumni and general sports enthusiast. She loves reading, gardening, food, and traveling. Follow her TwitterInstagram, and Pinterest.

The Olive Shoe | Paperie & Design | Celebrating Creativity and Creatively Celebrating is designed and run by Lauren {LAC} James © 2015 LAC James All Rights Reserved.

Lauren {LAC} James is a Sr. Designer of Product Graphics for an international manufacturing company by day and a creativity crusader, designer, planner extraordinaire, artist and blogger in her “free” time. Follow her and The Olive Shoe on FacebookTwitterPinterest or Instagram! Pleasesubscribe to receive emails, of course, come back and visit again soon!

Please visit the online art gallery {Art by LAC} and Etsy Shop too!

Orange You Glad for Orange Foods

The color orange has permeated my life which has caused a strong attraction for me. All of the schools I grew up in had orange for their colors. I wore an orange senior prom dress and had orange as one of my wedding colors. My front door is even orange and I married someone who loved orange just as much as I do! Because of my love for orange, I also love to eat orange foods this time of year. Especially since it’s football season (Go Clemson Tigers!) and also almost fall and Halloween as well. Not to mention, most orange foods are also extremely heathy as well. Here is a great list of recipes with some fantastic orange colors and flavors.

Appetizers/Side Dishes – Side dishes and appetizers are always needed. If it’s for a meal, party, or Wednesday night dinner there is always a reason to have some good appetizers or side dishes. I often find that my side dishes get dull after a while. These dishes are sure to spice up the meals and your taste buds.

I love how beautiful and fresh this side dish tastes!

This dish reminds me of a soup that my Mom used to make around Thanksgiving that I adore:

I love this recipe because it is tasty and delicious:

Refrigerated pickles are amazing!

 

This is a great appetizer or side dish:

Here’s a great, simple, quick soup:

I love this roasted squash recipe because it is so adaptable to other types of squash:

Yummy kumara cakes!

I love this salad: it’s bright and delicious!

I adore the versatility of this dish:

How about this breakfast idea – great flavors to warm you up on a cold morning:

I made this the other night for dinner and it was a great crowd pleaser:

Main Dishes – Orange main dishes are so fun and delicious. It doesn’t have to always be carrots either. There are plenty of other orange foods as well! Not to mention they are perfect for a tailgate, Halloween or thanksgiving meal.

I love this recipe for vegan BBQ:

This recipe looks absolutely delicious and perfect for fall:

I LOVE these tacos:

This recipe is delicious and perfect for the upcoming fall season:

I love this turkey chili!

A delicious take on a taco:

I love how delicious and cute this dish looks!

This is a fantastic salmon recipe:

This is a fantastic shrimp recipe:

Cocktails/Mocktails – Now as I have said before the BEST parties have a fun cocktail or mocktail to go with the fantastic dishes. Orange drinks can be used so many times throughout the year and with multiple themes as well. I hope you will try some of these amazing drinks the next time you throw a get together.

I love this smoothie and it will surely please any pumpkin lovers:

Here’s a great, fresh take on an Arnold Palmer:

I love this drink because it is also an immune booster:

This smoothie is fantastic too!

Unique flavors and mocktail potential (sparkling water instead of champagne) make this a winner:

This cocktail is perfect for the holidays:

A great cocktail sure to please any whisky lovers:

I love this spin on a classic cocktail:

This cocktail just oozes fall flavors!

I love how light and fresh this cocktail tastes:

A Halloween inspired screwdriver – yes please!

Here’s a great new twist on a Moscow Mule to add color to your summer:

I love this spin on a mojito as well:

Desserts – In addition to a fun drink, you always need something sweet to finish the night off as well. Now people don’t ALWAYS eat a ton of dessert nowadays – but many still look for something small and delicious before leaving for the evening. Many of these desserts are great for any event you could be planning.

I love this dessert!

This is great for a dessert or breakfast:

I love this dessert – it’s so cute and can be used throughout of the year!

This dessert looks incredibly delicious:

A scrumptious spin on a traditional brownie:

This dessert is soo yummy and will become a regular in my home:

Who doesn’t love a great fudge recipe?

Halloween + popcorn = winning.

Adorable and delicious:

My husband loves monkey bread and I can’t wait to try this kind with him:

When I first started looking for orange recipes, I wasn’t sure what I would find. I am seriously surprised and excited to try so many of these new recipes (several of which I have tried this week). I hope that you will find some great inspiration for your upcoming orange-themed get together! And remember to cheer on those Clemson Tigers in the hopes we reach another National Championship!

Lauren Cop is a SAHM (Stay At Home Mom) of Irish Twins and Senior writer/editor ciao_laurencop_sig-01of the Olive Shoe Blog. Currently Lauren and her family live in Tallahassee, FL where she helps teach at a local pre-school. A Clemson fanatic, alumni and general sports enthusiast. She loves reading, gardening, food, and traveling. Follow her TwitterInstagram, and Pinterest.

The Olive Shoe | Paperie & Design | Celebrating Creativity and Creatively Celebrating is designed and run by Lauren {LAC} James © 2015 LAC James All Rights Reserved.

Lauren {LAC} James is a Sr. Designer of Product Graphics for an international manufacturing company by day and a creativity crusader, designer, planner extraordinaire, artist and blogger in her “free” time. Follow her and The Olive Shoe on FacebookTwitterPinterest or Instagram! Pleasesubscribe to receive emails, of course, come back and visit again soon!

Please visit the online art gallery {Art by LAC} and Etsy Shop too!

Fun and Creative Painting Activities For All

My children and most children I have met LOVE painting activities. They are great for inspiring creativity, sensory understanding, and motor skills. In the past, I had run out of different painting activities – so I created a great list of ideas so that way I wouldn’t run out again. These ideas are great because they using different textures, brushes, and other creative ways to paint as well!

Textured Paint – I love this idea that paint doesn’t have to be just fluid! There are so many ways that children can paint without using actual paint. When my children were really little I used food products like kool-aid and died yogurt. Here are some other great ideas as well!

Puffy Sand Paint – perfect for our school which has a sandy playground!

I love this idea for post rainy days!

Fun, messy and edible – YUM!

What kid doesn’t love to play with ice? This is perfect for one of those final hot days of summer!

Love the way this type of paint turns out!

This fizzing art activity is great for science and art alike!

This puffy paint recipe is awesome and easy to redo over and over!

Creative Paint Brushes – There is no reason you have to use just brushes, sponges, or fingers. There is so much out there that you can use as brushes that will also create some amazing pictures as well. What is especially nice is most of these objects can be found around the house or are free!

I love this idea with a rolling pin!

I love this idea for pendulum art!

I love this leaf print idea – especially with the fall leaves coming we could make some lovely projects!

I love this print activity because citrus is so beautiful and perfect for making a masterpiece.

Love these natural paintbrushes! Cheap easy and creative!

Another great way to paint with minimal clean up!

Love this painting activity. Definitely would require help for the younger kids.

This is great and takes some time as well – so the kids will stay entertained. #parentingwin

I love this activity! Who doesn’t love to use a hammer?

These are another great set of DIY paint brushes:

Pointillism is great and will continue to develop the more the kids are able to practice.

Other fun activities with paint – There are so many ways to enjoy painting. Here are some other fun activities that will help keep us from these bored rainy days!

I love how cool this activity looks and would make a great gift for family.

Makes a pretty sun catcher! -- 29 of the MOST creative crafts and activities for kids!

I love this tissue transfer art project! Not exactly paint related – but it looks like a water color masterpiece!

I love this paper twisting activity!

Not quite the time of year… but we are not too far away yet…

This is a great idea for kids to create some really fun creations!

I love this idea because it also keeps the kids active!

I really love this activity because it helps teach colors and has no mess! Make sure to TAPE the top closed to prevent leaks!

Love this idea because you can create all different designs with tape and stickers as well!

Squish art is also super fun as well!

Painting is seriously my children’s favorite activity – but sometimes it can be hard to keep them focused if they are doing the same old thing. I also am not really into constantly purchasing kits from the craft store when there are so many great mediums and objects lying around the house. I hope you found this list as inspiring as I did! And don’t fret – the mess won’t last, but those memories will! Happy painting everyone!

Lauren Cop is a SAHM (Stay At Home Mom) of Irish Twins and Senior writer/editor ciao_laurencop_sig-01of the Olive Shoe Blog. Currently Lauren and her family live in Tallahassee, FL where she helps teach at a local pre-school. A Clemson fanatic, alumni and general sports enthusiast. She loves reading, gardening, food, and traveling. Follow her TwitterInstagram, and Pinterest.

The Olive Shoe | Paperie & Design | Celebrating Creativity and Creatively Celebrating is designed and run by Lauren {LAC} James © 2015 LAC James All Rights Reserved.

Lauren {LAC} James is a Sr. Designer of Product Graphics for an international manufacturing company by day and a creativity crusader, designer, planner extraordinaire, artist and blogger in her “free” time. Follow her and The Olive Shoe on FacebookTwitterPinterest or Instagram! Pleasesubscribe to receive emails, of course, come back and visit again soon!

Please visit the online art gallery {Art by LAC} and Etsy Shop too!