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Zebra Cake For A Safari Party

zebracake2A major part of every party is the cake. This year was no different and I felt ready to step up my game. Bring on the Zebra Cake!  You will have to forgive me on the darkness of the baking pictures. I made the poor choice of starting my baking a 9pm that lead to my laying in my bed at 11 pm listening for the oven timer to ding. Boo. I am glad I did it but I am not a night owl.

So. First things first. You will need a box of Duncan Hines Devils food cake and a box of Duncan Hines French Vanilla. Duncan Hines has the right consistency to spread but not run.

IMG_2668This was my first time using an 8 inch pan. They only had one at the store hence my being up until 11pm baking. I really love it. Strange how an inch makes such a big difference in the look of the cake. Anyway, fix your mixes according the the instructions on the box. Be sure and spray your pan very well. Nothing is worse than a stuck cake. Ack.

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Once you have your mixes ready and pan spayed you will pour 1/4 a cup of one flavor in the middle of your pan. Then follow with the same amount in the alternating flavor. I found two small condiment bowls and designated one for each flavor to keep them from mixing.

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Then you continue until your pan is full and at normal filling hight.

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Or if you are tired and its late it might look more like the one below.

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No worries. Everything turns out just fine.

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So lovely!

 

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Next I want to share this handy tool. I bought this years ago from Ikea in a cake decorating kit but this is my first ever time using it. Feelings= LOVE. No more sloppy steak knife cuts or a leaning cake. Get one. You need it.

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PERFECTION!

Drum roll for the revel!!!

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Yes I actually gave myself a pat on the back while cutting the cake. It was a nice surprise for the kids and I felt like a genius. Really though, it was super easy and you can feel like a genius too. Be sure and check back for the Chocolate Cream Cheese recipe. Oh yes it was good.

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Ps- Inspiration and original instructions can be found HERE.

 

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Three Little Indians

While I can not go back and share with you the patterns( or complete lack of ) and the how to’s, I still want to share my little ones Halloween costumes from last year. It all started with this vintage Indian girl I ran across on Pinterest. I just love her. What better costume for a girl who loves all things nature.

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I worked with a simple dress pattern but modified it for my needs. The dress is made from felt and I painted right on the dress with acrylic craft paint.  The felt is great because you can cut tassels without the fabric fraying. Plus there is no need for any hems. We caught all the spears in a Mardi Gras parade. How convent! Her belt is braided yarn with a wooden bead and feathers from her nature collection.

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For my boys I used the same dress pattern and did a lot of tinkering around until I had a tunic top. For the top I used fleece and for the bottoms some sort of baby blanket material. I would suggest using all fleece. Like felt you can cut right into with no worries about fraying. It can be pretty cold here Halloween night. With the fleece tops there was no need for a jacket.

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Their headdresses are made from craft foam, feathers and some repurposed ribbon. I wish I had DIY pictures! It was pretty easy to make. Their necklaces are braided yarn with a wooden bead and matching feathers.

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The day I took their pictures was perfection. The trail by our home could not have been more beautiful. While some of these pictures are fantastic, others… humm not so much. So to keep it real I would like to share the ridiculousness that occurred when I tried to get all three together.

 Lets all take a moment to laugh at the joys of trying to take three children’s photo together.

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I could go on and on. When I am having a terrible day I just scroll trough the group pictures from that day. One kid in EVERY single picture is doing something ridiculous. Not a single good picture of them all together. Ha! All you can do is laugh.

But seriously, do not try to take wondrous costume pictures on Halloween night. Who needs that pressure?? I highly suggest setting aside some time before or after Halloween night to take your ” all dressed up” photos.

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I hope that this has inspired you for this upcoming Halloween!

Stay tuned for DIY Wild Kratts Power Suits.

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How To Train Your Dragon Party

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Well here I am again blogging! It took about a week for me to come to terms with the fact that for me to enjoy my kids being home 24/7 I had to give up on having a clean house and blogging for the summer. Now the kids are back in school and I have a weird amount of free time on my hands. Weird in that I haven’t a clue what I should be doing. So since I have an actual moment to myself I would LOVE to share with you the awesome How To Train Your Dragon party we had for my oldest!

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My kids love all the How to Train Your Dragon shows. With the second movie coming out this summer it was a total must for the party theme. Also note that this is my daughter’s party. I will say that I found it totally annoying that all the dragon stuff was in the “boy” section of every store. It didn’t help that I was ahead for the all the products to hit the stores. I literally by complete chance found the themed plates and posters at 10:30 pm in a Walmart 30 minutes from my house. It was random and I was the crazy lady talking happily to myself throwing everything into my cart.

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Also I had a friend at the party point out to me that Astride and the Frozen chick look a lot a like. Hummm. Its like a with and without makeup situation.

Anyway. Here is the party in all of its dragon awesomeness!

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I got the idea for the dragon head and tail for a viking boat theme table from From Prince Paperie. It was super easy to make. Just mat board, paint and hot glue. The hardest part was cutting though the mat board.

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Here are some links to the paper products I used. Note that I did not buy any of this online. It was really a magical moment when I rounded that end cap and saw all the dragon stuff.

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All this great stuff comes in a pack and can be found HERE.

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The plates can be found on Amazon HERE. For the table covering I used my Mother-inlaw’s black table cloth with three different color plastic table clothes. I used left over mat board to back some print outs of our favorite characters from the movie.

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For some added fun I made a simple dragon egg hunt. My Mom got me these extra large Easter eggs years  ago and I figured they made perfect dragon eggs. I hid regular eggs around with clues that led to the main nest. Inside were all her birthday gifts from us. She loved it!

So thats it! A dragon party for a girls who loves dragons. I loved how everything came out and my not so  little girl was over the moon. Happy 7th birthday!

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Also if your kid is into the movie you should check out the books! How To Train Your Dragon Books. We got her the first eight books as a birthday gift and I have been reading ahead of her. They are….funny. I actually really enjoy reading them but they do have some slightly crude humor. As an adult I find it pretty funny. They remind me a lot of Roald Dahl’s  books ( Matilda, The Witches, etc. ). Over all pretty fun adventure books.

Happy Birthday to an amazing little viking!

Thanks for checking out my post. Be sure and follow me!

 

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Freezer Paper Shirts and Getting Ready for DISNEY!

To celebrate our 10 year wedding anniversary my hubby and I are taking our little family to Disney World. We will be visiting The Magic Kingdom and The Animal Kingdom. Then once we are done bathing in luxury, we are going to camp on the beach for two nights.( Lord Be with us!!!) To save some cash I have been sweeping Pintrest on money saving tips.

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I found this pin from Dana Made It. I love them! I really like the simple vintage look to them. They are perfect for our day at Animal Kingdom ( yes I plan to dress them safari style).

If you get your shirts from Wal-Mart then they cost less than $5 each to make. When you have to multiply everything by 3 or more it can be pretty pricy. I want to pull out all the stops on our trip but I don’t want to blow loads of money doing it. So less than $15 for three shirts vs. $15 per shirt. Deal. Hand me the paint. You can go HERE to follow the same instructions I followed. ( Plus when their Daddy buys them ice cream and they dribble it all down their front and ruin their shirt on its first wear, I can smile and take a pic and not worry about $45 down the drain. )

I will note that Dana Made It is unsure of where she got her Mickey and Minnie images. BUMMER! They are so cute. Bellow is the one I used for the shirts I made.

 

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I have numbered the order in which I found it easiest to cut out the image. You will be saving the inside eye, both inside mouth shapes and the inner face. So be careful when you cut them out. Also it you do mess up, you can always retrace the messed up part on a scrap sheet and just cut that part out.

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Here is my stencil when cut out. In order to keep the face details in place I covered it with a light cloth napkin. Once they were sealed in place I went over the stencil with the iron directly.  I hit it with lots of steam. IMG_2089 I used the black Tulip paint that she mentions. Worked well. ( Ps- these pics are from a sample I did before I tried this on my shirts. )

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If you have any little bloopers, I used a tiny brush to smooth things out.

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TIP:  If you are making a number of shirts here is how I got them all line up correctly. Fold your DRY finished shirt in half and line up the bottom stitching. Then aline your stencils. It even works when the shirts are different sizes and styles. Or at least it did for me. I am making two same size boy shirts and one girl shirt.

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All done!! Now they have cute new shirts for the trip. Hope this helps you to save some $$ on your disney trip. These would also be a great way to make a birthday party shirt for a Micky Mouse Party.

Disney Here WE Come!!

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Protecting Your Seeds

It is finally time to be in the garden again. How I have missed spending the morning out in my yard! I have had a garden every year for the past 7 summers. Even for the two summers that we were renting I lucked out and had a great spot to garden in our neighborhood community garden. It was in this garden that I came to understand the awesomeness of raised garden beds.

So when it came time for our new garden to be put into our home yard it had to be raised beds. We checked out Ana White to she what she had to offer in the way of DIY.

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We found this! A plan to build cedar raised beds for $10 a box. Perfect. Check out her plans. HERE.

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Here is my garden spot! Our first summer was a disappointment. I unfortunately had poor soil. Check out this post for the examples of what I used to build my soil. HERE

Onto protecting your seeds. After 3 Springs of planting here I have learned that there will be at least one major rain storm. Like 4 inches of crazy rain. It has gotten me every year. The rain washes every single seed away and compacts the dirt. That leaves me back at square one. I think my first summer here I had to put out seeds twice. Yup. Pretty ridiculous.

Then while munching popcorn in my new favorite store Atwoods ( hello free treat for my boys), I see these stacks of $1 coffee bags and it hits me.

The simple answer. Once I plant my seeds I cover them with the split coffee bags. The burlap is perfect. It allows light and water through, but prevents washing out and compacting the soil.  It  keeps me from washing my tiny seeds away when watering and helps prevent the soil from drying out. Also with little ones in the yard it gives them a clear ” this area has been planted” warning. That way someone doesn’t come along and dig around with their little shovel. Genius. Pure simple, cheap genius!

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So I do my planting. Cover the bed.

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Then water the area. You need to wet your burlap once you cover the spot. This helps to keep the wind from blowing it way. It gets crazy windy here.

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The first picture above is from a row of corn that I covered. It was protected from several rain storms we had. The second picture is from an unprotected row of corn. They are literally right next to each other and the wash out in the second was crazy. The first row when I pulled back the burlap was just as perfect as the day I did my planting.

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I keep the burlap in place until I have some good sprouting. Then I just shake out the burlap, allow it to dry if needed. Fold it up and store it away until I need it again.

So there you have it! I hope this helps you in your garden endeavors.

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Grow it! Eat it!

 

 

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Sand Table

So it went from freezing to pretty darn hot in a snap. We are welcoming the warm weather by cleaning out our “tiny house”. The main star in the tiny house is our sand table. It is a pretty simple idea but I just had to share it. We have been happily using our homemade sand table for almost 4 years now.

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Every year I empty the sand table, sand it up and reapply the paint. Here is what our table looks like empty. We used all scrap wood from the trash pile from a house that was being built in our neighborhood. The bottom piece has small holes drilled in it to allow for water to drain, but not for all the sand to pour out.

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Here is why I love this table:

- The kids have to stand to play. Aka. They don’t get pants and shoes full of sand every time they go outside.

- For what ever reason, the urge to pour sand on your head or friend’s goes down significantly. I guess it because you are not rolling in it.

- Its easy to cover. Hello cat poo free sand.

- When covered it makes a nice table for art projects or a picnic lunch.

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For the top we just picked up another piece of scrap lumber off a job site. I like to use the cheap plastic table cloth to cover it. They are waterproof and are easy to wipe clean. Plus they come in fun prints. This oblong table cloth was on clearance from Easter and was so large I cut it in half. So when this half bits the dust I can throw it out and use the other half. Cheap and cheerful!

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For the large toys I store them in a galvanized bucket under the table. Sorry not in pic. The kids seem to have dragged it off in the yard some place…. kids. The galvanized buckets can be $$ but they last forever, while plastic bins in the yard go bad super fast. I will also add that I wouldn’t buy the super fun colored bags of sand. WHY NOT?! Well they are about $7 a bag. Guess what the kids do?  They make a mess with it, pour it out and just generally play.  You already will be yelling ” keep the sand in the sand box”, better to not be upset about the ” wasted” expensive cute purple sand.

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So there ya have it. Our cheap and cheerful answer to the old sandbox.

Happy warm weather y’all!!

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DIY Reading Tent

Two Christmases ago I found this great cardboard castle for my daughter on black Friday for $8. She LOVED it. ( OMG! When I googled for this picture, the price is $38. Geez!) It gave her a great place to hide out in her room. She would also “camp out” in it every now and again. Like I said she loves it.

After 2 years of being in her room and two sneaky brothers it had started to reach its last leg. Not to mention that it is pretty big. I was willing to over look its massiveness until it started to look worn out. I think I asked every time I deep cleaned her room if I could take it out.  No way was the answer.

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I had been looking a different tents for months and months. Nothing was floating my boat. Until I saw this one.

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This is from David and Caroline Parker. I love it. They used the plans from Anna White, but its the front closure that did it for me. We are very familiar with Anna White building plans in this house. Her building plans are awesome. I already had my fabric, paint and bolts. I purchased the 4 foot long pre-cut pieces of wood from HomeDepot.

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The blanket is a play mat I made for her when she was a baby. The bean bag I made a few years ago as well. I had purchased one from Wal- Mart thinking I would recover it. Do you know that it had a  tag with a warning label stating it contained materials known to cause cancer?! Back that thing went in a flash! The lantern is a Japanese paper lantern left over from a party and I got the light cord from Ikea.

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I wanted her to have a safe light source since she will be doing lots of reading in here. So I dug up a left over paper lantern to protect her from the bulb. For a safe way to turn it off and on I found an extra power strip and used safety plugs to cover the extra utlets. Now she can just flip the switch. No plugging or unplugging.

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She is happy and I am happy! The perfect spot for a little girl to hide out and relax.

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My Studio- Part Two

The new floor is in and it feels so GOOD! I finally have my room back. The lingering cat urine smell is totally GONE, the room has the wonderful smell of NOTHING. The scent seems to be gone for Peter Poundstone as well. Once a cat has marked a spot they keep doing it until the smell is 100% gone. Two weeks and no problems. WOOHOOO! There have been some major improvements in the functionality of the room as well. Its all around awesome.

First a look at what it was like before:

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There are still small projects to be done but I am to excited to continue decorating. I want to get to work! So with out further ado here is my new and improved studio!!!

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My work zone!

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This desk was our first ever building project. We had been married for 3 whole months. Brennan was recovering from a near death experience. He was almost hit in the head with a TDU ( submarine trash can) while off loading the sub ( he was once a Naval Supply Officer). He made this table with a very amusing head bandage coving the ear that was nearly sliced off. (AHHH! It was awful. Thank God he was ok. ) He talks about re-doing this table every so often but I love it as it is. Here is why:

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We made the top a shadow box covered with glass. When I get paint on it I can simply scrape it off with a razor blade. Perfect for a messy artist. Plus I get to see happy images while I work. How can you not smile at that those photo booth pictures?!

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IMG_1756I love it and we will have it forever. Its such a great way to display an inspiration board without cluttering up the walls or workspace.
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My husband made these desks for the kids! I still have to find some chairs, put a top coat of clear varnish on and anchor the top to the base. That will all have to wait until after Easter. As is, the kids love their work zone. ( Can you guess what my kids will be getting in their Easter baskets? Fun new drawing tools and fun storage bins. Two birds with one stone.  )

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A round of applause for the wonderful floors that started this room makeover…….

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I am so happy we found these floors. They are lovely, easy to instal and cost effective .

For more info on where we found them check out this POST.

Hope you enjoyed the tour. I will be busy working in my stink free studio if you need me. LOL.

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My Studio- Part One

So this weekend we have been hard at work in the Stoufflet house. What have we been doing? Replacing the carpet in my studio. Our house is only 2 years old and we built it. So why are we pulling out the floor? Well it started with this guy.

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Peter Poundstone. To make a long story short, he has a habit to peeing on the studio carpet. I have cleaned and cleaned. No matter what I do he sneaks up there and does it again. I will say that I never wanted carpet in that room. Why in the world would we have carpet in a room where I paint and let my kids paint? I blame it on the lame lady at our builder’s flooring supplier.  The standard for that room was carpet and all she would show me was hardwood and strange rubber type flooring that would all completely blow our our budget. Lesson learned- you do not have to buy all your flooring from the builder’s chosen supplier.

So after several paint accidents, a naughty kitten and a burn mark from a lamp that was knocked over, the carpet HAD TO GO! The carpet bothers me so badly I can not even go up there. Not to mention the constant wondering of ” Do I smell cat pee? “. So I went to Pintrest looking for some inspiration. I found it with this pin.

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With a tile like ” How To Install Laminate Flooring… for dummies and pregnant women” I HAD to check it out.  Her floor looks fantastic! How about this, I can afford to do it right now. What? She managed to do it while pregnant? Yes!! Please let this be the answer!! I looked up Lumber Liquidators with my fingers crossed and low and behold there was the exact flooring she had used. Not only that but for the same 49 cents a square foot. Thank you Interiors By Kenz you have saved me!

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Major Brand 6mm Donar Oak

I drove the next day to our local store. The color is perfect for the overall feel of our home. We ordered it the same day. One week later 7 boxes were loaded into my van.

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I was shocked at how easily the carpet came up. The hardest part is cutting it and then carrying it down the stairs.

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Once we had the carpet and pad out. I sprayed the floor with Shaklee’s Basic G. Once dry I used Kilts Original Oil based primer to seal any residual odors out. While Shaklee is an Earth friendly product Oil based Kilts is not. Hello. That smell could knock a person out. Wear a mask and open all windows! You can order Shaklee products from my friend at  Mary Organizes. I have been using them for 6 months now and am pleased with the results. Super Earth friendly and safe for your family ( and wallet).

Be sure and stop back by to see My Studio – Part Two!

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Easy Easter Centerpiece

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Welcome Spring! How we have longed to see your face. Spring is hopping into town and soon the bunny will be here. This Easter tablescape is super easy and cute.

I bought this bunny for my daughter’s very first Easter. Every year for 6 years she has graced our table. I always remember the excitement of seeing our boxes of Christmas decorations coming down out of the attic. The happy feelings of seeing my Mom’s key pieces come out of storage. This little bunny and her chicks are one of my key pieces for Easter. When she makes her way out of storage it means the end of Winter. I love that I get to see my 6 year old’s same excitement as the familiar decorations are unpacked.

So saying all that. Our little bunny is just a cute stuffed bunny in a basket with paper grass. Surrounded by her six little chick friends. All atop a simple table runner I made years ago. Easy easy. It makes me happy and all my little pumpkins.

Hope this gives you some ideas for your own Easter tablescape!

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Happy Easter!

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