Wednesday, November 30, 2011


It was a happy Thanksgiving for us. This pile of shoes make me happy-  full house, lots of family together.  That's enough to be Thankful for this year.  Family, new and old.


On a slightly crafty note, the kids made some some turkey place marker cookies with Gramma. Vegetarian and gluten free- equal opportunity. Not for the diabetics though, I've got nothing for ya.

Gluten free chocolate chip cookies (from a packet) with some chocolate icing, pretzel bits (gf for those that needed it), almond slivers, candy corn, mini chocolate chips on upside down white chocolate chip eyes.

Looking forward to Christmas.  More family, and not just one side.  More family... more treats!  Getting a little hungry thinking about my moms fudge and lemon squares!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

moving on

I finally replaced this guy, courtesy of black Friday.  A 5 dollar iron convinced me there had to be a better way to iron.  Yes, I was ironing with this iron, as is.  It sort of worked.   Sorry old iron, I'm  moving on.

Monday, November 28, 2011

that mom

crud, I'm that mom.  I never understood when my (student's) parents couldn't figure out our lower elementary grade homework.  I'm that mom today. It's only first grade and I don't know my special sounds. 

Apparently, Bee doesn't either.  She was asked to redo this page.  She is a smart gal and can read most anything you put in front of her, so she isn't so focused on the phonic of words anymore.  She can't for the life of her remember which letters make special sounds.  I even searched online and can't figure it out.  First grade is tough!  For me!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Hot turkey and corn- preschool style

As part of our Thanksgiving party at preschool, we played a hot potato style game with a stuffed turkey leg.  I think I saw this in Family Fun magazine, but it could have been years ago.  I am no longer getting it, but did get it for about 7 years.  I tucked this idea away in a file in my brain, and only this year recalled it.  Or I saw it more recently... it's hard to say.  I used to remember things better than this. 

 I made each child a set of fleece oven mitts.  I also worked up a fleece and felt turkey leg and a fleece and felt ear of corn.  We played some peppy music and passed the corn and turkey.  When the music stopped we "gobbled" at the people with the items.  You could certainly have the person be 'out' but this was a party.  No one wants to be 'out' at a party. Especially when you're 4.  When I played at home with Bee and Lou we earned letters to spell hot.  It could certainly be done with any word.

Here they are:  40 fleece oven mits. 

Bee and Lou thought it would be fun to take them to Great Grandma's house when we went for Thansgiving and have everyone play.  I think they got 9  people to play withe them.  We put Grandpa in charge of music and we played and played.  There was lots of giggling, especially from the aunts and uncles.

Friday, November 25, 2011

new clay- easy and sculpty

This clay is all over pinterest and so I assume all over the internet.  That's how I gauge the popularity of things these days, number of pins on pinterest.   It's the baking soda and corn starch clay.  It's a sculpting clay, and not so much a play-dough style, although you've got a good hour before it starts to get a little crunchy. 

It's easy to make and dries really nicely.  

2 c baking soda
1 c corn starch
1 1/2 c water

Cook  all ingredients together.  This takes several minutes, and actually gets a little thinner before it gets thicker.  Stir the whole time.  Mix well in the pan before taking it out, cream it together sort of.  It starts lumpy and then blends really smoothly.  When it's a doughy ball, lay out on the counter and cool until you are able to work it.  Knead several minute until it's cool enough for the kiddos to work.  Sculpt and  let air dry.  We moved to a wire rack the second day.  You can paint it, glaze it, whatever when it's totally dry. 

See photos:  thin.... getting lumpy

thickening up....

Dough ball drying... 

Here's Lou's tray.  He made some tires and we stamped out a possible Christmas ornament.  He also has a trashcan with lid and a headless man.  The head is drying separately. 

Here are mine, a few roses (thanks to my junior high art teacher who taught us how to sculpt roses and pigs) and mostly ornaments.

Here's Bee's: ornaments, a bowl, a bird and next, a few roses (that she made herself).

This must have been a weekend (or sick day!), Bee has weekend hair.  As they have dried, I would suggest making extra pieces if you plan to paint and give them.  A few pieces cracked as they dried.  I can't tell if they were 'tested' for dryness by little hands or they simply dried and cracked.  We also kept a little extra in a baggy to see if it would stay workable for a day or so.  It still seemed nice and workable even after three days.

My small roses dried after a day and a half.  The kids items were a little thicker and some took 3 days to dry.  The kids haven't painted yet but I couldn't wait.  I painted up my roses and hot glued them to a thin fabric braid. 

I'm pretty sure they will brake under the hug of a preschooler some day, but that's alright.  Two of my preschoolers complimented me on it this necklace the day I wore it to school.  So if two preschoolers liked it, I'm pretty sure it's trendy.  If you're four.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

speaking of roasting things

Maybe I was the only one talking about roasting things.  I've been talking a lot about roasting things lately, vegetables mostly, which means I'm slightly boring company, except at dinner when I'm serving the roasted things.  Let me say that I was late to the game in the whole grilled vegetables thing, so it stands to reason that I may just be late with roasting vegetables too.  

It started with some roasted butternut squash awhile back.  It rocked.  rocked.  Then we tried sweet potatoes and carrots, also pretty good.  I saw in a preview on the food network, something about roasted cauliflower.  I tried it that night and hubby said it was the best cauliflower he had ever eaten.  He does not throw around food compliments willy nilly.  The next shopping trip I picked up some broccoli and roasted it too.  Also tasty. 

When I say roasting, all I am doing is cutting  fresh vegetables up smallish, tossing in a bit of olive oil and lightly salting.  Then, they get placed in the oven in a regular 9x13 at about 425 degrees.  The broccoli started to brown quickly, about 15-20 minutes.  The cauliflower took about 30 maybe.  The carrots and sweet potatoes took longer, maybe 40 minutes.  

So, are you a roaster?  Am I really just late to the game?  Whatever- I have found our cold weather substitution to summer's grilled vegetables.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

speaking of drying things

Recently, I shared how we've been drying apples.  Lots and lots of apples. They make a terrific snack to grab and go.  

Hubby, apparently now adventurous with food keeps suggesting other things to try and dry.  So I tried pears.  I tried three times and no matter how long I dried them they were a little hard and chewy.  The taste is great, but they aren't as enjoyable as the apples.

Then I tried pear apples and they turned out better.  The fruit itself looked like an apple but tasted like a pear.  When dried, they were slightly less hard and chewy and tasted like a pear.  I believe that's what is in the lid in the above picture.  I will dry some more in the next batch, but wouldn't do a whole batch of them.  The kids don't choose them over the apples.  I still dried these on the wire rack in the oven at 175 for 10ish hours. 

Then I tried tomatoes.  They taste just like sun dried tomatoes.  I forgot I don't really care for sun dried tomatoes.  They are just so sweet. Too sweet for me. 

I dried them on the wire rack in the oven at 175 for  hours.  I believe there were like half of those hours I was home and I propped the oven door slightly ajar with a skewer for some air circulation.

 I used tomatoes that had turned red indoors from my end of the garden green pick.  They all live in my basement in trays.  

 Still, apples are the favorite (the full method is here).  Next on the list is zucchini.  Actually, here's what's going on the racks today, or as much as will fit.  Zucchini and apple pears and apples.  These apples were only 50 cents a pound!  I tried honey crisp during a recent batch and they were extra tasty. But we decided they were not extra tasty enough to not eat them fresh.  They are far superior to other apples fresh and that's where we're keeping those.  Being triple the cost, we decided you get the most bang for your buck fresh.

I saw drying zucchini on pinterest.  They are from this blog, Walnut Spinney.   It's a blog I want to go back and look at further.  I think there are going to be other great ideas there.

Monday, November 21, 2011

gluten free this and that

 Every family has a treat that whenever you get together, it's there.  Ours is cherry cookies.  They start with a cherry chip or strawberry cake mix.  With my sister recently eating gluten free, I knew there had to be an alternative.  An alternative for her.  I still plan to eat the gluten kind!   I picked up a plain white gluten free cake mix, there were no cherry ones available. 

I was a little worried about messing up a whole box if the cookies didn't work out so I split it and tried two recipes.  First I made pumpkin muffins that I know she liked back when gluten was cool.   They are all over Pinterest.  It's just a cake mix with a can of pumpkin.  Here's what I worked out for the muffins.

Pumpkin muffins
1 c gluten free cake mix (half the box)
3/4 c canned pumpkin
Mix ingredients.  Spoon into muffin cups.  This made 16 mini muffins.  I baked them at 350 degrees for 14 minutes.  I should have sprinkled brown sugar and cinnamon on top prior to baking, but didn't think to do that.  I am not a pumpkin fan so I didn't even taste them.   I made the regular version once and didn't care for those either.  Hubby ate one but said it wasn't really worth it to get up for a second one.   I'm taking them at Thanksgiving, so we'll see if anyone else enjoys them.    Here they are sitting next to the gluten free peanut butter cookies going to Thanksgiving as well.

That left me 1 cup of cake mix to try out what I really wanted to make. 

cherry cookies
1 cup gluten free cake mix
1 T + 1 t vegetable oil
1 T + 1 t cherry juice (from jar of cherries)
few drops cherry flavoring (super concentrated stuff from kitchen specialty store)
1 egg
few whole cherries (from jar)

Mix first 5 ingredients.  Plop onto cookie sheet.  Place a halved cherry on top.  This made 9 larger cookies.  I baked them on a stone at 350 degrees about 12 minutes.  Let cool on sheet for several minutes, then cool on wire rack.  These were good.  These were worth eating!  They weren't the same at the gluten loving ones we usually enjoy, but these will be a fine substitute.  For her.  Not me.  I love gluten.

Here's the regular recipe: 
Cherry Cookies
1 strawberry or cherry chip cake mix (I prefer strawberry)
2 eggs
1/4 C oil  (my aunt uses 1/2 c oil and no cherry juice- to each their own)
1/4 C cherry juice (from jar of cherries)
cherries (from jar)
mix all except cherries.  Plop onto sheet.  Add halved cherry on top.  
Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes. 

My sister isn't wanting us to make a big deal out her eating gluten free, but I'm finding it a fun foodie challenge.  I think it's interesting and I'm all about a special project.  Between gluten free and a vegetarian eater at Thanksgiving this year, I bet my grandma is having fun.  She's a foodie too.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

rainy day

We received the most fun package the other day.  Ok, it's actually been longer ago than was responsible of me to write about since I had happily agreed to write about it.  Regardless, we recieved a fun box from  They feature fun craft ideas all made with easy to find supplies from Wal-Mart.  

They call this the 'rainy day survival kit' because it has easy, open ended supplies and idea sheets.  There were beads, stringing cord, melty beads and melty bead holders. 

Bee got started with the melty beads right away.  Lou doesn't have the patience or finger dexterity or fine motor skills to work well with these for very long. He tends to knock his around as he's working and so do I.  

My fingers are a little big to get in the tiny spacey.  Bee loves it and had the right sized fingers.  She should be a surgeon.  I should get a second job to pay for med school.  Lou made a log cabin out of the popsicle sticks (which aren't called that anymore).  Then Bee and Lou both worked with the pipe cleaners (which aren't called that anymore either), pom poms and googly eyes.  I don't seem to have a picture of these sculptures, but Bee made an owl sculpture and Lou made a snow leopard.  Always a snow leopard. 

I was excited to see magnets and finger paint.  I had some finger paint paper being stored away we were just lacking the paint.  We can always use magnets. 

I think the kids liked the finger paints the best.  I did a lot of reminding  about not mixing the colors, but Lou seems to have learned that well at school this year and didn't need all my reminding... until the end... then it was a free for all.

Bee made a scene.  Lou started that way, and then needed to go abstract.  He gets frustrated when his picture doesn't look very recognizable as what he wants.

We really enjoyed the box of supplies.  I'm all about a craft that is open ended and child directed. While the occasional 'this is supposed to look like this in the end' craft is cute, I try to remember it's all about the process, not the product.  These supplies are all 'kid's crafts' brand and are available in the craft/school supply section of Walmart.  There really are a lot of cute ideas available at their website,  

I first became familiar with them when I shared the crazy glove with 6 fingers,

and they directed me to this cute mouse glove activity.  (Their photo)

disclaimer:  these supplies were sent to me courtesy of Craft Project Ideas but I was not paid for a review.  These statements and thoughts are my own. 

Friday, November 18, 2011

testing testing.

'cause I'm trying to learn new things. 
You want one too, right?  Go here- It's easy peasy:

Ff flamingos- preschool style

I had Ff family day recently.  The other teachers were going more towards being thankful for our family,   but I couldn't find a book I love and I knew my teaching partner was going that direction they next day.  I was ill-inspired.  Then I started thinking flamingos.  

I lucked into this great book at the library.  It's called Flamingo Sunset and is about a family of flamingos.  It talks about how the mom lays the egg in a mud and then both the mom and dad take care of the egg and then how the whole flock helps take care of the baby until it's strong enough to fly.  It's by Jonathan London.  The pictures are really nice too.

Then, I had prepared for each child  a flamingo and a set of 10 feathers. The feathers are programmed with letters A-F. There was a lot of cutting for me this week.  We've been working on ordering 1-10, so I thought we'd try it with letters.  You could take this a bunch of directions; spelling short words, working out number sentences, ordering numbers, etc.

Instead of working through this together, I wanted to see if some could do it on their own.  I had some larger feathers that I laid out in order for the kids to look off if they needed.  Several of the kids struggled, but the same number breezed through it.  Most were able to get the first A B C and D and then looked at the example and fill in a missing or confusing letter.  It's a little chaotic doing it this way, but I hate making the kids who find this a breeze sit and be bored, plus it lets us identify and work one on one with those who are still stuck on A.  Yeah, we had one or two stuck on A.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

pie- preschool style

 Preschool Lesson Plans is featuring one of the little activities I made up for preschool.  It's the counting pie activity. from apple day.  I now have a printable version available back on that apple day post.

Preschool Lesson Plans is one of the places I like to go for ideas, so it's cool that they've got one of my things there.  

If you have preschool people to gather ideas for, head on over, they have lots of cute fall and thanksgiving themed activities right now. 

Monday, November 14, 2011

peanute butter and sugar cookies

My sister is eating gluten free under suggestion from her new doctor and is feeling better than she has felt in years.  She's even been able to stop taking a maintenance type medicine that she has been taking for stomach pain for 5 years!  Awesome. 

A good friend of mine is also 100% gluten free and I've been asking lots of questions since she's already done all the research and hard work to find replacements and substitutions.   I've been trying to find some good easy recipes for my sister, especially with the holidays approaching.  These gluten free cookies are from Real Simple magazine this month and were really just a lucky find.  

Flourless Peanut butter Cookies

2 c creamy peanut butter
1 c packed light brown sugar
1 c sugar
2 large eggs
2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt

 Mix all the ingredients together.  It will make a slightly sticky batter.  The recipe says to use a parchment paper lined baking tray, but I used a baking stone with great luck.  They bake for 10-12 minutes at 350 degrees.  I think mine needed an extra two minutes at least.  They come out deliciously crunchy and chewy in the middle at the same time.  Do your regular cookie routine, rotate trays if your oven likes that.  Cool for a few minutes on the baking tray then transfer to a cooling rack.  

Yum.  Even if you like gluten.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

haste does make waste

I guess it's true, haste does make waste.  I have been collecting wishbones from our chickens all year.  Seriously, last November, I got an idea to make our Thanksgiving place cards using wishbones.  I only had one, so I knew I'd try to collect them all year and have enough next Thanksgiving.   So all year, I've been saving them in a baggie in my craft room.

This evening, I went down to sew and found these scattered remains on the floor.  There were at least 12, this is what is left.

The baggie was torn open. Looks like raccoons.... again. 

In haste, Friday I made a last minute fix on Bee's steamer trunk for her book character costume.  I left the drawer where the glue gun goes open.  Also being stored in that drawer were the wish bones.  I knew the cat liked them and would go for them whenever the drawer was open, but I didn't think about it Friday, in haste.  By Saturday, only three sort of undamaged one remained as well as a handful of scraps. Waste. There are still missing parts, hopefully not in the kitty's tummy.  She couldn't even leave the baggie alone long enough for me to take it's picture. 

Guess we'll try again next year, unless you want to cook a whole turkey or chicken this week and send me your wish bones. 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

it's 1912

I've been MIA for a few evenings. It was for a costume.  Bee had an assignment to present a talking book report in character.  It was to be 1-2 minutes, first person, with no script to read.  Her school does not do Halloween, but shortly after, they do a big costume book character celebration.  They do a costume parade and everyone is in character.

At first I thought, seriously... this is first grade...  no script?  But, she did it.  They all did it.  Every 1st through 4th grader in the school did.  Apparently I did not have my expectation set high enough.  She chose Finding the Titanic, which is about the first ship to find and explore the wreckage of the Titanic.  The middle of the story is about Ruth Becker, a 12 year old girl traveling on the ship with her mom and younger siblings.  Bee chose it, I was steering her towards Ramona Quimby or something less consuming of an elaborate costume.  No luck.

 I thought she'd wear her Christmas dress from last year, it sort of had a 1900's look to it, but she said no way.  She decided this Tuesday before the Friday costume day.  On to plan B. After the kids were in bed, I went through my box of patterns.  I found the perfect 1986 pattern that could be adapted for this project. I think it was in the boxes from my great aunt.  They continue to be a treasure of goodies.  Hoarded goodies.

 Wednesday morning, I let Bee pick from my fabric stash.  I had several pieces of several yards of outdated florals that I got at a yard sale once.  The white 'lace' is the edge from bed skirt fabric from my neighbor.  I've used it to make curtains and Bee's Easter dress.  I used the pattern pieces, but found the directions to be so foreign, I tossed them aside and figure it out on my own.  There were markings on this pattern and verbiage that was super confusing!  I know it's not exactly right, but I did learn a few new techniques.

I got most of the work done on Wednesday and finished it up on Thursday.  We worked up the felt wraps for her ankles to make her black church shoes look like boots and printed off a boarding pass we found in google images.  She had the cute mini steamer trunk in her room to hold doll clothes and we thought it added a nice touch.  She changed her mind at the last minute and didn't carry it in the parade.

Lou and I went and watched the parade.  There were lots of really cute outfits. Most seemed homemade rather than store bought.  There were several Abraham Lincolns,  princesses, and a number of Clara Bartons.  There was a cute Molly Pitcher, several cowboys, a neat Davey Crockett, and a few Soul Surfers. Lou said his favorite costume was a shark and Ruth Becker.
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