Saturday, October 31, 2009

virtual costume parade

Go check out the virtual costume parade at Make it and Love it. We are close to the bottom in a whole group of cute kids!

Today's Post is here: Stew and witches fingers

stew and witches fingers

I love the stew at Smokey Bones. I'd love it more if it wasn't so spicy. This is the closest recipe I have come across and isn't a lick spicy. I suppose you could add whatever hot sauce or spicy ingredient spicy loving people use. I don't even know. It cooks in the crock pot all day and smells yummy. 
1 large can crushed tomatoes
1 roast (beef) of your choice (or stew meat)
1/2 t salt
1 T sugar
3 T tapioca (this comes in a little box in the pudding section)
carrots diced up (About 1 c)
celery diced up (about 1/2 c)
corn (about 3/4 cup)
diced up onion (1/4 c ish)

The kids helped me whip up some witches fingers which are just bread sticks with almonds for fingernails. Pretty spooky.

Friday, October 30, 2009

bats and job shadowing

This was my last week of job shadowing. Next week, they let me lead the class myself.

This week was bats. It's hard to be fall without being outright Halloween. Here is the counting song from today. I was thrilled to find one that didn't involved witches or gouls. It is from this site. I had trouble with Lou last week getting upset sharing the pieces to the felt board. It was rather embarrassing. Today we just used our hands for the counting. This worked much better.

Little Bats
1 little bat was trying to behave.
He hung upside down from his feet in a cave.
Another bat flew in, and said, "How do you do?"
The second joined the first, and then there were 2!
2 little bats were trying to behave.
They hung upside down from their feet in a cave.
To help pass the time, they sang "Do re me"
Another bat joined the song, and then there were 3.
3 little bats were trying to behave
They hung upside down from their feet in a cave
From their cave perch, they looked down at the floor,
A new bat joined the game, and then there were 4.
4 little bats were trying to behave.
They hung upside down from their feet in a cave.
One little bat zoomed inside and did a dive.
He stayed to take a rest, and with him there were 5.

Here's the craft from today. It's a little finger puppet bat. We'll be doing less 'pattern' projects in the upcoming months.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

speaking of bones

Mr. Bones two days ago reminded me that we had another bone thing to share. When Bee was the leader for preschool recently and the letter of the week was Dd, we made and brought in dinosaur bones. The kids called them dog bones, but either way it started with Dd. We used our soft pretzel recipe and just made them in the shape of bones. We served them up with some dddd dip too. I just mixed up some sour cream and cream cheese and shredded cheddar with a splash of Worcestershire sauce. It wasn't bad, but a few kids didn't want to eat it. One kid even swore he was allergy to such dip and might get rashes. I've heard of that before... at my own home... it usually involves spinach.

The bath makes them look pretty sloppy, but is necessary. I tried it once without and they were not nearly as pretzel like.

2 ¼ t yeast
1 ½ c warm water
2 T brown sugar
1 1/8 t salt
1 c bread flour
3 c flour
Knead well. Let rise 1 hour.
knead again. Divide and shape 12 large pretzels. Before placing on baking sheet, dip in bath.
2 c warm water
2 T bkg soda
Rise 20 min. Bake 450° @8 min.
Butter and salt (kosher) tops if desired 

When it's the kids leader day, the parent stays and brings snack. I was surprised when the director said we could bring homemade treats, I think most places ask for store bought goodies now. The kids made a cute Dd doughnut paintings and wore hats from krispy kream. Nice and healthy. Here's Bee's doughnut, already safely inside a clear page protector and in her binder. The sprinkles don't stay on well and the kids kept eating them off the floor.

Lou got to stay and he just went along and did everything the big kids did. I was pleasantly surprised since he is so shy. Next month Bee is leader on Hh day. She wants to make hands. I have an idea.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

new respect for preserving

I have been so intimidated by the thought of canning. That and quilting are two things that seem just a bit out of reach. Determined to begin conquering my fear of canning, I checked out two books about canning and read as much as a could online. In the end, I went with the method and not so much a recipe from any of those sources. It was more work than I thought, but not in itself difficult. Next year, I'm doing vegetables from my garden, which does not exist yet.

I did 2 batches. Here is 1/4 bushel from the orchard. It's 10 pounds. I bought 1/2 bushel (20 pounds) for $12.00 there, not sure what that would be in the grocery. It's fun to pick apples and I like shopping from the farmer. Keeping it local you know. I went with a mix of gala, jonathan, and rome beauty- no real rhyme or reason.

All the apples were washed, peeled, cored and chunked. I cooked them on the stove in my large stock pot for about 30+ minutes and then used the immersion blender to make them into apple sauce. We ended up canning a jar of applesauce, but not in this batch.

Then, all the applesauce was transferred to the ol crock pot. The kids added a few shakes of nutmeg and a cinnamon. This cooked ALL day long, really it was like 10 hours. It needed stirred at least once an hour, more often the longer it cooked. The most important thing is to leave the lid propped open with a spoon to let the steam leave.

After 10 hours, I used the immersion blender again. There was a lot of taste testing too.

Here's where I did some learn as you go stuff. I boiled the jars and lids to sterilize them. Then I filled the jars and wiped the tops of the jars really well. Next, the lids went on and I loosely added the rings. This was all really hot and done pretty quickly.

Back into the boiling water they went. All those apples and I only ended up with 2 full jars! I know you are supposed to have a special larger pot, but I used my regular large stock pot. They need 1-2 inches of water taller than the jars. I boiled them 15 minutes. There was water all over the stove as the boiling went crazy and my oven burners aren't level.

Out they came and onto a towel to cool.

I realized that these big jars were taking up too much of my now precious apple butter. There was too much apple peeling to only get 2 big jars. I went back to the store and found some smaller ones. So, the first batch got 2 large jars, the second batch gave us 1 jar of applesauce and 4 smaller jars of apple butter.

This day of apple butter making did keep us close to home for the day, but luckily there were leaves to be raked and jumped in. They were the first of the year for us and only the second time the kids the jumped in leaves.

I love the expression on Bee's face here, but also on Lou who is running to the pile.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

mr. bones

He's one of my favorite school crafts. Mr. Bones is our craft for the nature center in a few weeks when we talk about bones. Since this craft is also Halloweenish, I thought we'd share now, in case anybody wanted to make Mr. Bones this week.

He takes 1 piece of construction paper (or 12x12 would be better)

12 q-tip tips (6 q-tips)

13 full q-tips

elmers glue

1 skull shape cut out of a piece of white paper

He is assembled pretty easily as the picture shows.

In third grade, I used this guy with my body systems unit. He was kind of a fun end of the chapter craft. My students always loved to do art projects (this isn't really art, but close enough) and while they did go to art once a week at school, most did not get many opportunities at home to do any art. When I taught 2nd grade, I used this guy as one of the centers for my fall party. There's a story there.... I caused a small scandal amongst my hallway my first year for throwing an unauthorized party. who knew? (and frankly, who cared!) You could have kids write stories about their bone friend, write a biography, write letters to him or from him... there are a number of reasons/excuses/rationalizations one could use to make this guy under the heading of a educational experience. It's a project I will do again I am sure.

Monday, October 26, 2009

owl day- I'm moving on up

I'm moving on up in the volunteer world. I signed up to volunteer at the nature center in our area in late August. There was somewhat of a process to go through just to read some stories to some 2-3 year olds. I am now job shadowing. This week was owls. Our program is short, 30-40 minutes. We start each session by rolling the big ball around and saying out names. Then we do a touch box to set the theme. We share several stories, do a little song or rhyme, then do a craft. It's pretty simple. Often, a real animal is brought in or some type of object is passed around. This week we had the nature center's barred owl named Luna brought in.

Here is the little counting rhyme and flannel board activity I found online at Everything Preschool. It's one of my favorite resources for poems, songs, and rhymes to go with a theme.

The kids then made an owl face puppet.

After class today we had a planning meeting and planned crafts and activities for the rest of the year. I think I was a little to forward/pushy in the meeting, because as I looked back at the plans, we went with my craft ideas for almost every week. hmmmm.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

feeling well

This fall we have been fighting off all the germs that Bee brings home from school fairly well. We all take an extra dose of Vitamin C via a gummy vitamin and we eat our yogurt with those live cultures and drink our OJ.

When anyone feels the tiniest bit of a sniffle or dry throat, we all spend a few days drinking elderberry tea. In FL, we had the greatest little herbal apothecary shop, Baileys Naturals, that sold dried herbs, teas, oils and such, including dried elderberries. The owner and herbalist was so knowledgeable about how to use the herbs and oils, and just what to take when. When we ran out of our dried elderberries recently, we went searching. (Our old shop does sell them online, but I needed them today!) We were not able to find any anywhere in town. We finally did find some elderberry syrup. As it turns out this syrup is really what I was boiling the elderberries down to, just a whole lot cleaner, easier and faster.

This syrup is fantastic! I will be getting more and picking some up for my sister who is doing student teaching stuff right now. We have been adding some to our tea each day. My kids love to have tea with me and think it's such a special treat. We sweeten our tea with a bit of honey from the co-op in our old area and some agave nectar. I am almost out of honey, but have a new local source all lined up. I have read that local honey helps with local allergies so we will happily switch sources. My friend Amanda says her parent's honey this last season is the best she has ever tasted. I can' t wait to pick mine up!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

da da da-da (that's the bridal march tune)

Bee's costume is finally done. She's a blushing bride. She is going to be a warm bride, I lined the dress in fleece! I forgot that we might have some indoor Halloween events to go to, so the poor kids might be pretty warm.... but come Halloween night they will be toasty and not need a winter coat stuffed under their costume!

I hope I am never asked to make another wedding dress. My sewing skills were tested here and did not prove to be great. This silly thing needed altered a dozen times and it is still not the fit I was looking for. Bee was done though, so here it is.

She also wanted a long draggy part (the train) so I made one that velcros on. I am worried that it will get stepped on or just be too much, so at least we have the option to remove it. She wanted a long veil like mommy had, which was longer that my train. We settled on this length, it seemed more manageable. She dug around in her dress up clothes box and even found a ring. Poor Lou had to play groom all afternoon!

Friday, October 23, 2009

refreshing treat for teachers

Back in August there were some super cute ideas for teacher gifts, sort of a welcome back to school, let's have a great year kind of gift. As a teacher who often got dollar store Christmas mugs as gifts, I have a great appreciation for thoughtful (useful, tasteful, and occasionally yummy) homemade gifts. I mentally filed this one away and thought it would be a cute thing for us to take the day we had snack at Bee's school.

I guess I didn't bookmark it, so unfortunately, I don't know where this idea came from, although I know it is not my own. If you have seen it somewhere and know, or it was your idea, I'd love to give you credit, please let me know.

Time to raid your scrapbook or crafting paper scrap box. For each, I used one piece of 10 x 3.5 inch paper (that will be the long hanging piece), a coordinating 3.5 x 3.5 piece (that will be the front color piece), a coordinating circle 1 11/16 (to go behind the letter), a typed letter/or letter sticker (you could also just write "Thanks" or something cuter like "you deserve a refreshing break," etc) cut in a circle 1 1/4 inch.

Take the long piece and cut out a circle to hang on the water bottle (I used 1 1/4 and it is just big enough). then fold that back to make a crease about 3/4 inch past the hole. Also, fold it up at the bottom 3.5 inches. This will make the pocket.

Glue the letter to the colored circle. Glue these two pieces to the front piece. Glue all of this now to the blank folded side at the bottom of the hanging tag. I put a thin strip of glue on the insides of the pocket too, then used a tiny hole punch and two small brads. Insert the packet of flavoring and hang on the water.

Give to your favorite teacher and watch as they enjoy the fact that it is not a Christmas mug or an angel made of hot glued shells, or a bouquet of fake dusty flowers.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

new boots- a sunny fall day

When my mom was down watching the kids while hubby and I ran far far away/ had an anniversary weekend trip, they kids got new boots. When we had a sunny warm(er) fall day, I grabbed the camera and took some pictures of said boots.

I'l have to dig around for the picture of my brother in a cat halloween costume and his cowboy boots, because everytime I see a little guy in cowboy boots, that's what I think about.

Apparently, these are ballet boots?

While the kids were eagerly posing (especially Lou), I took as many pictures as they would let me!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

nursing cover

I'm not saying I condone the use of a nursing cover (I don't eat with a blanket over my head, do you?), but when I saw a friend's pretty cover, I decided that it would make a really nice gift for two other friends with nursing newbies. Perhaps if I had had a pretty cover, I would not have been harassed (ok, so that's extreme) by the waitstaff (ok, just one guy) at this horrible (but it was really yummy) seafood restaurant in Indy.

Bee weaned about half way through my pregnancy with Lou and Lou weaned back in February. Much to my hubby slight (well hidden) displeasure, we nursed wherever and whenever. There are probably more than a few times I would have used a pretty cover though. Once though, I nursed Bee at the zoo just feet away from a mama chimpanzee while she fed her babe too. She made eye contact with me and seemed just sure what was going on. It was a super cool moment.

This one has a removable clip. This lets the user clip the strap to a blanket or something else if this is in the laundry. I made the ribbon extra long so that it can be adjusted as needed. Since I don't have nursing tot right now I wasn't able to figure out the appropriate lengths, etc. The bottom cuff has a nice pocket for discreetly storing those lovely nursing pads.

I have never worked with boning, but it was really easy to use in this project. It really is a nice feature. It allows the mama to keep an eye on baby and vice versa.

I can't wait to deliver these goodies to my friends. It's been awhile since I've held a wee little one.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

worms for dessert

I knew my two would love this worm for dessert idea I saw at The Idea Room. I thought it would go nicely with spider web nachos.

The nachos are just layers of your favorite nacho or taco ingredients, black beans, taco meat, guacamole, salsa, cheese, onions and tomatoes served with some type of tortilla shell or chip. The sour cream web is put on with sour cream in a baggie with the corner cut off. I cut my whole a bit big, but we could all still tell it was a web. This was gobbled up by everyone!

The worms for dessert were much more labor intensive, but well worth it. They were creepy and slimy and super yummy.

Here are the directions:

100 bendy straws (place bendy part down in the cup)
A large cup or empty juice containers with the top cut off.
1 box (6 oz) raspberry jello (that's the large box
3 envelopes of unflavored gelatin (4 come in a box, so 1 box will work)
3/4 c heavy cream
3 cup boiling water
15 drops green food coloring

Boil the water. Add the jello packets. Let this mix cool a little, about 20 minutes in the fridge. Add cream and food coloring. Mix well.

Put the straws (bendy side down) in a large cup or orange juice carton. Pour in the mix. Cool for several hours or overnight. At least an hour before serving, remove from straws. Run a few straws at a time under hot running water (for 2-4 seconds). Gently push the worm out of the straw. Wiggle it out a bit. Let the worms chill for for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Well earned R and R

Hubby and I spent the weekend kid free at my aunt and uncle's lovely cabin in Alabama. It was a bit of a drive, but I had forgotten how much easier it is to travel without kiddos in tow. My mom cam to stay with the kids for this very first overnight (two nights at that) with out mommy and daddy. I think they had as much fun as we did, possibly more since Chuck E Cheese and the mall carousel were involved. Next time the kids are going with us though because we kept saying, Bee would really like to go fishing too or Lou would have loved the boat.

I am not drinking wine here although it looks like it. I just needed a glass. I haven't had wine since the embarassing 'puke on my shoes in the parking lot of some random bar in front of my new collegues' insident of 2002. Teachers like to celebrate the end of the week. anyway.

It was unseasonable cold, but I don't think we minded a bit. We got to have a fire in the fireplace the whole time. We brought enough warm clothes that we were able to bundle up and take the canoe out one morning.

It was great to see my aunt and uncle and visit a bit. Both of my cousins were in town too. We had not seen them for 8 years and now hubby and I have seen one of my cousins twice in two months.

The makings for a good weekend- My sister said it sounded boring, but I had a stack of reading material (back issues of Real Simple and Southern Living) and some crafty stuff to work on. I bought new knitting needles so I can knit in the round and with some direction from my aunt, I have a new project. It might take all winter!

Hubby's blackberry was turned off for the first time ever! How nice not to hear every alert of every email, text, incloming call and appointment reminder. Forget about the kids, that in itself was peace and quiet!

This angus farm was just down the road and I thought the round bails of hay were just really pretty out in the fields. (Maybe they are not called bails if they are round?)

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