Tuesday, December 30, 2008

An Anniversary

On Sunday, Dennis and I celebrated our sixth wedding anniversary. Only 6 years??? It seems a lot longer than that. Dennis and I dated off and on since I was 19. Neither one of us were ready for anything serious at that point and we both had a lot of living to do. We remained friends through two Peace Corps stints, two master's degrees, first teaching jobs and various moves. We have boxes of letters, numerous postcards and a couple of traveling journals to document our friendship and blossoming love. We finally decided that if we were ever going to be together that we needed to be in the same place at the same time. So, I made the move to Arizona, only to be proposed to a month later and married 3 months after that! I have to say that marrying your best friend is worth waiting 8 years for! Thanks Dennis for all of the laughter and love. Love you.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Holiday Favorites #3: Richard Scarry

This year I was paging through the Magic Cabin catalog and I saw Richard Scarry's The Animals' Merry Christmas. The last I checked, this book was out of print and hard to find. I was tempted to buy it for the kids, because I loved this book growing up especially the story about the goat that wore his red long-underwear and played Santa Claus for all of the other animals that lived in the barn. I called my mom because I wasn't sure if our book made the move when my parents moved from my childhood home. Guess what? It did. Now I can read all of my favorite Christmas stories to my kids.
Now I'm signing off for a few days. Merry Christmas, everyone! Have a safe, joyous, fun-filled holiday.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Holiday Favorites #2: Lefse

I grew up in eastern North Dakota in a small town (by small, I mean less than 1,000 people). This town, like most towns in eastern North Dakota and northern Minnesota were first settled by the Swedes and the Norwegians, those hearty Scandinavian people that were accustomed to waist-deep snow, freezing winds and below-zero temperatures. I don't think Scandinavians are really known for their food, except for Swedish Meatballs. However, there is another Scandinavian favorite not well-known in most parts--LEFSE! Lefse is a large flatbread made from potatoes that is rolled out very thin and cooked on a circular griddle and is flipped by a special long-stick. Growing up, we would get our lefse from the elderly women at the Lutheran Church in town and it was the tastiest of treats. Now we get ours from the grocery store from a company called Freddy's Lefse (Why it's not called Ole's or Swen's or Lena's, I have no idea.). Lefse can be served with lutefisk (not that I would touch that stuff). Usually, I just slather a layer of butter and a sprinkling of sugar onto the lefse, roll it up and eat it.
My paternal grandmother would make lefse and once taught me how to make it. Trying to roll out mashed potatoes is one of the most frustrating tasks I've ever had, but we managed to make a batch before I threw in the towel and they tasted wonderful. Luckily, my mom still has my grandma's lefse griddle so one day (when I live in a house that is larger than a shoe box) I'm sure my mom will be happy to let me have it (she's not Scandinavian) and maybe, just maybe, I can teach myself how to make lefse. Until then, I'll settle for Freddy's because it's a holiday tradition that I would hate to do without.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Holiday Favorites #1: Chippers

Every time I come home for the holidays there are a few "musts". You know, the things that you can't get every where and those special little things that make the holidays the holidays. Well, one of my all time favorites are "chippers". Chippers are chocolate covered potato chips and while I've recently started seeing them around in other parts of the country, they've always been a part of my holiday memory. I know that chocolate covered potato chips might sound kind of disgusting, but trust me, they really are divine. They have the right amount of chocolate with a little crunch and a little bit of salt. You can buy them year 'round, but I only eat them at Christmas time. We used to buy them at a little mom and pop candy store in Grand Forks, ND called Widman's. They are still open (alas, no website!), but my parents have since moved from my childhood home and have moved to the big city of Fargo. Luckily, a fourth generation Widman opened a store there so I can get chippers at Carol Widman's Candy Shop and enjoy them without making the drive north. Now, I must go and satisfy my chipper craving!

Our Christmas Greetings 2008

Click to play Merry Christmas 2008 from the Sperles
Create your own scrapbook - Powered by Smilebox
edited to add: I forgot to mention that we send e-cards for Christmas as our way of trying to be a bit greener and a bit more generous over the holiday season. We usually send over 120 Christmas cards, that's a lot of paper considering we always sent a picture and a letter. We save about $150 doing it the e-card way. Then, we take that money that we saved and donate it to Heifer International in honor of our friends and family. This year, the kids picked out a goat, a flock of chicks, and a bunny.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Best Kiss Cookie Recipe

I know that everyone knows the original Kiss cookie recipe. (I have the same recipe at home from Dennis' mom, the year says 1961...) It's a holiday classic and a favorite at our house. However, every time I made this recipe, I thought a) that they are way too sweet and b) that there isn't enough peanut butter. Last winter, I discovered the following recipe over at Penzeys. It's just about perfect; the right amount of sweetness and peanut butter and they're super soft and chewy.

Peanut Butter Blossoms adapted from Penzeys
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), room temperature
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/3 cup granulated white sugar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg
2 TB. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 bag kisses
extra granulated white sugar for rolling

Preheat oven to 375°. Mix together room temperature butter and peanut butter. When blended add white and brown sugar, mix again, then add egg, milk, and vanilla; mix again. Gently stir in flour mixed with baking soda and salt. Chill the dough for one hour or over night. Roll dough into 1 inch balls, roll in granulated white sugar and place on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake about 8-10 minutes, until lightly browned. Place a Kiss in the center of the cookies right away, pressing gently. The cookies will crack, that's fine. Remove from pan, let cool.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

On Holiday

My family and I just finished our trek to the Dakotas right ahead of blustery weather. It seems we're snowed in for now. Anyways, posts will be sporadic the next couple of weeks until we return home after the New Year.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Gingerbread Houses

Eli, Sadie and I made a Gingerbread House from a kit. I was in charge of the frosting, Eli was in charge of decorating and Sadie was in charge of dumping all of the candy onto the floor. It turned out kind of cute. The candy didn't get too excessive. The kids are like Hansel and Gretel now. Every time I turn around they are nibbling at the house!
Last winter my mom (the felt queen) and I put together this little felt gingerbread house. I was inspired by this little number and decided that with my mom's help it would be easy enough to make. I purchased an already made paper mache box in the shape of a house that I just happened to find at Hobby Lobby (sorry I can't find the exact one on-line). We covered the house in wool felt by just tacky gluing it onto the box, added some frosting-like trim and cut out hundreds of candy pieces. It took some time, but it wasn't really that hard. I think it's even cuter than it's inspiration. Plus, I can store all of the pieces inside the house. I love decorating the house and sometimes I even let the kids play with it.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Presents for Teachers

Eli markered up these two wooden ornaments to give his pre-school teachers for Christmas. He is very proud of them and I hope Miss Molly and Miss Lucy love them as much as I do.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Asian Chicken Noodle Soup

The weather has been a bit nippy here in Columbus and nothing is better than soup to warm up my insides. This soup is a favorite around here and graces our table frequently. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

Asian Chicken Noodle Soup adapted from Cooking Light August 2004
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp. grated ginger
2 stalks lemon-grass, peeled**
1/2 onion, sliced
1 carrot grated
2 cups water
4 cups chicken broth
1 large chicken breast, cut into bite sized pieces
4 ounces uncooked pasta (angel hair, ditalini, orzo, little stars, chuck soba, etc.)
6 button mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 lime, cut into wedges
1 jalapeno, finely chopped
2 green onions, thinly sliced

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic, ginger, lemongrass, and onion; sauté 3 minutes. Add water and broth; bring to a boil. Add carrots, chicken, pasta and mushrooms; cook 5 minutes or until chicken and pasta is done. Remove from heat. Let stand 5 minutes. Discard lemongrass. Serve the cilantro thru green onions on the side and add them to the soup right before serving. Makes 8 (1 cup) servings.

**I've never actually made this using lemongrass stalks. Instead I use Gourmet Garden Lemon Grass found in a squeeze tube in the produce section of most well-stocked grocery stores. I squeeze in a good 2 Tbsp.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Coffee Filter Snowflakes

I just finished decorating our windows with these easy coffee filter snowflakes. Yes, you could use regular paper, but coffee filters are already a perfect circle so it makes the job a little easier. Just fold your coffee filter into eighths by folding the circle in half (making sure the rounded edge is lined up with each fold) four times. Then trim away, unfold, and ooh and ahh over your pretty snowflake.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

My Christmas Wish List

I guess the great thing about having a blog is that you can write your Christmas Wish List with the idea that you are showing other readers your current style and interests, but with the secret hope that your husband will read it and buy you something from that list. Ok, that was a really obvious hint wasn't it?

My 2008 Christmas Wish List in no particular order:

A book: Acupressure's Potent Points: A Guide to Self-Care for Common Ailments

A Yoga Fan

This simple necklace

One of these beautiful felted treasure bowls

A pretty serving bowl

A couple of these large re-usable produce/bulk-food bags

Some new winter boots (for all the snow we get in Columbus, Ha ha!)

A roasting pan with rack

Since this is a wish list, some over-priced slippers

While I'm wishing for over-priced items. This, this and/or this sweater from Boden

And since this is a "Wish List", I may as well wish big. Let's go for a camera or a car or heck, even a house (ok, so I'm not moving to Portland and it's a little bigger than what I would want to clean, but check out the great room and the kitchen. Love it.) will do!

I'm guessing I get the books...
What's on your wish list??

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Toddler Christmas Tree

We are in full Holiday mode at our house. The kids are working hard at getting the house decorated and are starting to get into the holiday spirit. Sadie decorated this simple little tree with stickers all by herself. You gotta love projects like that!

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Ornament Christmas Tradition

One of my traditions with the kids is to buy them each a new ornament every year and give it to them the day that we trim the tree. I try to choose an ornament that represents who they are or what they liked that particular year. I write their name and the year on the bottom of the ornament. So, when they grow up and leave home they can have a few ornaments to take with them to put on their tree. I'm hoping that eventually they start looking forward to receiving their ornament and reminisce about the ornaments as they put them on the tree.
This year, I really wanted to get Sadie a moose ornament because whenever she hears one of us coming down the stairs she says, "I hear a moose coming." This is actually the second ornament I got Sadie. The first one was a moose riding a motorcycle. Sadie looked at it, said "That's crazy!" then dropped it on the ground and it shattered into 15 pieces. This one is not as fragile.Eli is into Matchbox Cars. He loves "love bugs" as he calls them and he loves cars with big wheels. This was the perfect ornament for Eli this year!
What are your favorite Holiday traditions?

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Our Advent Calendar

Tomorrow is the first day of December and the kids will get to put their first ornament on the advent Christmas Tree and one new ornament each day thereafter until Christmas. I know it doesn't look like much, but there is history to this Christmas Tree. This was my advent calendar that my mother made (I'm guessing here) around 1980. It's about 18" x 30" made out of felt and shimmery green ric-rac. There are 4 pockets along the bottom, cleverly hidden as snow to house all of the ornaments until they are placed on the tree. She made all of the felt ornaments. There are only 24 ornaments though. I don't know if one is missing or if there were only 24 to begin with. Either way, I think I'm going to make a few new ornaments to replace all of the "Holy Trinity" ornaments.
Tomorrow, the star will go on the top of the tree as that was always the first one to go on and the manger will be the last. Here's hoping that this advent calendar will become one of their favorite Christmas traditions as it once was one of mine.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

No Such Thing As Too Much Turkey: Cuban Picadillo

I love (almost) one pot meals. Meals where the meat and vegetables marry into a superb tasting supper without a lot of fuss, time or major clean-up. That's why stir-frys, casseroles, jambalaya and soup are consumed frequently in our house. This recipe for Cuban Picadillo is easy and super-tasty. I can make the whole meal during nap and it can simmer it's little heart out until it's time to sup.

Cuban Picadillo
1 1/2 pounds ground turkey
1 1/2 cups sliced onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 yellow pepper, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 cup finely chopped carrot
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup green olives (about 15)
2 T. balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper
2 bay leaves
1 can stewed tomatoes
1 8oz. can tomato sauce

1) Brown turkey with a little bit of oil in a dutch oven. Drain and set aside.

2) Saute' garlic and onion until soft 3-4 minutes. Add peppers and carrots cook 3-4 more minutes. Return turkey to pan. Stir in remaining ingredients. Bring to a slight boil, reduce heat and simmer at least 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Serve with rice.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Two Days 'Til Turkey Day

I can't believe Thanksgiving is almost here. I had all of these really great intentions to post several more Thanksgiving activities, but it seems I've almost run out of time. My children have been not-so-interested in "projects" lately. So, I've been playing trucks, hockey,wrestling and tea party instead of cutting, pasting and coloring.
On the home front: My son, it seems, has entered the terrible 3's. It's been pretty stressful around here. He can throw a mean tantrum over socks and coats and seemingly nothing at all. Last night, he pulled his first lay-down-on-the-floor-in-a-public-place-and-refuse-to-leave maneuver. It was really awful and the night only got worse from there. It seems that ignoring all antics and speaking in a really soft voice works well to get Eli under control. Problem is that ignoring and speaking really soft is NOT what I want to do so it takes an immense amount of control on my part to be the mommy instead of joining in and being a 3 year old! Here's hoping that this phase is a quick one.
Did I mention that I'm also potty-training a two year-old? We've been going strong for two weeks now and Sadie's doing great, staying dry most days. Yesterday was the first time she actually told me she had to go pee before the floor was wet, so that was awesome. The big thing is that she's been dry at night numerous times, which is more than I can say for her three year-old brother! I'm really looking forward to being diaper free. I love the Fuzzi-Bunz, but it's time to end the washing of the diapers and move on to big-girl underpants. The only drawback with Sadie using the potty is that it seems my son now thinks he has to wipe his penis every time he pees. **Sigh** One step forward, two steps back...
On the camera front: After much hemming and hawing I decided on the Nikon Coolpix s210 over the Sony Cybershot w-120. I ordered it on Target.com because they have free shipping and, most importantly, the color I wanted so I'll let you know how I like it once it arrives and I get to play around with it a little bit!
I'm hoping I can get on tomorrow to wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving, but in case I don't... Happy Thanksgiving!!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

More Turkeys and Time For A New Camera

I'm pretty sure that hand-print turkeys have been around for about 200 years, but it's a fun activity to do every year. We turned ours into Thanksgiving cards for the grandparents. I already have a hundred of these hand-prints all over my windows and walls so someone else should share my wealth!
On a completely different subject, I think my camera is totally crapping out on me. All of the pictures I've taken in the past week have been really really hazy. I would like a really nice SLR camera, but feel I should just get a point and shoot camera for everyday use and keep wishing for a SLR camera say when we finish paying off our student loans in thirty years. Does anyone have a camera that they absolutely LOVE?? I'd love to hear about it.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Coffee Filter Turkeys

Sorry, about the pictures. I don't know what's going on with my camera...Materials:

  • coffee filters
  • watercolor paint (or markers and a spray bottle filled with water)
  • brown construction paper, cut into a turkey body shape
  • red construction paper, cut into small wattles
  • glue
  • googly eyes (optional)


1) Paint the coffee filters using water colors (or with the markers and spray bottle, like we did when we made butterflies). I don't have the cake water-colors. We use the squeeze-tube kind and add water to it, which works better for the little kids as not everything turns brown. Allow the coffee filters to dry.

2) Fold the coffee filters not quite in half, but so it looks like the turkey has two rows of feathers. Add a little glue to keep the coffee filter halves together.

3) Glue the brown turkey body onto the center of the coffee filter.

4) Add the eyes and the wattle.

Gobble, Gobble!!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Free Rice

Did you know that 25,000 people die each day from hunger or hunger-related problems? Well, here's a small way you can help. Go to www.freerice.com and play a game. For each question you get right 20 grains of rice will be donated to the UN World Food Program. Excellent! My plan is every time I let my children play with food, I'm going to visit the site and answer a whole bunch of questions. Feed my mind and feed the World. What a great idea! You can read more about FreeRice and their mission here.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Yoga With Kids

I'm new to Yoga. It's a whole new world for me and I love it. I practice some at home in the afternoons and sometimes the kids are around to watch. Well, wouldn't you know that the kids just joined right in? Kids are naturals at this stuff. Eli makes up his own yoga moves and gives them silly names, but oftentimes they are actual yoga moves.As soon as the kids started showing interest, I frantically started searching for "Yoga for Kids" books. I found a really great book and dvd combination called Yogakids. It's a Yoga Program for kids developed by Marsha Wenig, a certified yoga instructor.
What I like about the Yogakids book is that it gives parents step-by-step directions to each pose, tells you why it is important, and gives you silly information and other activities to try while doing the pose. It also gives you helpful hints on ways to help your child with the pose, some dos and don'ts and more information on helping your child use yoga during more trying times in their lives. For example, taking deep breaths when you are feeling anxious, thumping their chest when they are feeling sluggish, etc. And Ms. Wenig wants it to be fun and admits that it can get kind of crazy and out of hand and that that is perfectly ok.We checked out the dvds from the library and they follow the book, and have some interesting songs. Eli and Sadie both join along and try the poses that they feel comfortable with and Sadie sings "Namaste, namaste, namaste". Kids learn so fast too. I can tell Eli to get into Cobra, Down Dog, or Lion and he can do it without batting an eye, though his favorite pose is the pose of the child. I have to admit that that's my favorite too.

Monday, November 10, 2008

A New Necklace

Every once in a while, a girl's gotta buy herself some jewelry. Funny thing is, I pretty much never wear jewelry, but I really wanted some kind of mommy necklace. So, I splurged and bought myself this necklace from Lisa Leonard Designs. She has many different pieces of jewelry to choose from but they are all hand-hammered and hand-stamped simple yet beautiful sterling silver pieces. I love my new necklace and I don't just admire it in the box, I actually wear it. Yea for jewelry. Yea for Lisa Leonard!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Sadie's Birthday

Sadie's second birthday has come and gone. I tell you, it's tough being the second child. Do you remember Eli's big birthday party. Well, Sadie only had 3 friends along with their parents over for pizza and **ahem** store-bought cake. And you know what? It was the best birthday party I've ever thrown. I got to enjoy Sadie, her friends and their parents and I was not the least bit stressed out. It was great. I don't think Sadie minded too much either.This is Sadie's birthday crown made from a pattern found in Soulemama's book The Creative Family. This is the second time I've made this little crown. You can see Eli's here. Let's just say that I like the crowns more than the kids do. Maybe next year, it'll be a winner. Every two year old girl needs a tea set, right? Problem is that they are either porcelain which breaks too easily, tin which dents too easily or thin plastic which cracks too easily. So, I looked and looked to find a cute, solid plastic tea set and this is what I found. It's made by a company in California called Green Toys Inc. which makes all of their toys out of recycled milk jugs. Very cool. Plus, I found it on Ebay for half-price, so I got a really good deal on it. I made little sugar cubes with a little help from a friend. She cut out 1/2 inch cubes for me and I painted them white, then added a glitter glaze as the last coat so they're all sparkly like real sugar cubes. I also made the little tea bags out of felt and ribbon. I stuffed them with poly-fill that had a little essential oil on them so they smelled a little bit like real tea. I made a lemon tea bag, mint tea bag, cinnamon tea bag and a berry tea bag. (Though at this point they all smell the same...) And the good news is, after all of that, Sadie loved it. Yea!!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Fall Activity #15: Making Applesauce

We had some apples left from our apple picking, but they were getting a little wrinkly and soft so we made applesauce with them. Eli helped cut the apples and Sadie put my cut apples into the pot. They also helped measure out the spices. I deviated from our usual applesauce recipe and we were all a little disappointed. It sounds good on paper, but is much too rich to eat plain, though I thought it would be really good on icecream. Eli wouldn't eat any, but Sadie ate two bowls full.

Chunky Chai Applesauce from Cooking Light (November 2008)
1/2 cup apple cider
2 pounds Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
Dash of ground cloves
Dash of freshly ground black pepper

1. Combine cider and apples in a large saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until apples are tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in sugar and remaining ingredients; simmer 12 minutes, stirring occasionally until mixture is thick. Cover and chill.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Fall Activity #14: Halloween Counting Books

We got some cute little Halloween stamps from the Target One Spot (which is one of my favorite places to shop) and Eli wanted to stamp all over everything. I decided that it would be a great time to make an easy counting book. I took three half-sheets of paper, folded them in half, and stapled the edges to make a book. I named it a really original name "My Halloween Counting Book" and left a space so Eli could write his name. Then, on the next pages Eli picked the stamp he wanted to use and I wrote the number and whatever was on the stamp: 1 skeleton, 2 pumpkins, 3 ghosts, 4 cats, and 5 aliens. Eli stamped the corresponding number of stamps onto the page:When he was finished, he had a book that he could read all by himself. Plus, he got to do a little math: one-to-one correspondence with numbers, and number recognition. Yea!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Fall Activity #13: Homemade Puzzles

1. Google "Halloween Coloring Page" to find a coloring page. Print the coloring page onto card stock.
2. Color the picture.
3. Cut the picture into puzzle size pieces. This could be 3 or it could be 20 depending on ability.
4. Assemble the puzzle.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Fall Activity #12: Popcorn Cake

Before I post the activity for the day, I have so say that today is Sadie's birthday. #2 is two today. Sadie is a such a sweet little girl. No one enjoys life as much as she does. She warms my heart with her beautiful smile, great sense of humor, and independent spirit. Every day is a joy! I'll post more about her birthday party later, when I don't have "fall activities" to post about!
My mom used to make popcorn cake in the fall when I was growing up. I had kind of forgotten about it until I had a craving for popcorn balls which is basically made out of the same ingredients only is much more time consuming because you actually have to make balls instead of just dumping the ingredients into a bundt cake pan. This recipe is very satisfying. It's sweet and salty and gooey. The perfect treat.

Popcorn Cake

1/4 cup vegetable oil 12 cups popped popcorn (plain, unsalted and unbuttered), about 1 cup unpopped kernels
2 cups M & M candies
1 cup lightly salted peanuts
1 stick unsalted butter
1 pound marshmallows

1. Grease a large tube or bundt cake pan with butter and set aside.

2. In a large bowl, mix the popped corn with the M & M candies and the peanuts.

3. In a small saucepan, melt the butter, 1/4 cup of oil, and marshmallows over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally or just put it in the microwave for about 2 minutes. When melted, pour over the popcorn mixture, and stir to combine.

4. Pour into the prepared cake pan, pressing down to fit. Cover with aluminum foil to keep moist and let rest until firm, at least one hour.

5. To serve, invert the cake pan onto a large cake plate or platter. Shake gently to release. Serve at room temperature.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Fall Activity #11: Paper Bag Monsters

Do you want to know how to scare your dad when he gets home from work? Put on one of these scary paper bag monster masks that you made and jump out from behind the door and yell "BOO!" really really loud. I promise it will work. Honest. Your dad will be really really scared.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Fall Activity #10: Rattlin' Bones

We've been reading a Halloween book called Shake Dem Halloween Bones by W. Nikola-Lisa. My children love this rhythmic book especially because they get to hear their mom turn on her white-girl Eminem rappin' skills. I'm that good. Word. What would my rapping name be? Eminemma? Ha ha ha...
Anyways, we made these bone shakers to shake along with the book. I drew a bone shape on a piece of cardstock and cut out two of the same shape. I stapled around the bone leaving some space so we could fill them, the kids helped me fill them with rice (Yes. I'm a hypocrite.), and I stapled them closed.
Even if you don't have the book, you could sing some "piggyback" Halloween songs (that's fancy teacher talk, for a made-up song that's sung to a familiar tune.) found here or here and shake dem bones along with the rhythm. "I'm gonna shake, shake, shake dem bones now. Shake, shake, shake dem bones now. Shake shake dem bones now. Shake dem Halloween bones." Shooby-dooby-do-wah. Yeah!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Fall Activity #9: Ghost Cookies

My kids dig cookies like every American kid should. And these cookies are pretty darn good. While the kids did help make these cookies, I must admit that it drives me crazy and my patience is normally gone about 10 minutes into the process. If I was smart, I would do most of the work myself and have them do the decorating. Instead, I let them help me: make the dough, roll out the dough, press the cookies and decorate them. This usually means that flour gets all over the floor, something gets spilled, egg shells fall into the batter, they fight over the cookie cutters, and I end up thinking that I will never ever make cookies with my children again. **sigh** Then they end up loving it so much that they run to their dad the moment he gets home from work and say, "We made cookies shaped liked ghosts. Do you want one?" Well, how could I not make cookies with them again? Next time, they can just decorate them.

The Best Rolled Sugar Cookies from Allrecipes.com
1 1/2 cups butter, softened
2 cups white sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

1. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour (or overnight).

2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Roll out dough on floured surface 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut into shapes with any cookie cutter. Place cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets.

3. Bake 6 to 8 minutes in preheated oven. Cool completely.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Fall Activity #8: Lantern Ghosts

I know we just made ghosts yesterday, but I'm going with the theme here. This is an activity for the older kids as there is a lot of straight line cutting. You will need: 1 piece of white construction paper/cardstock, white streamers, 1 white pipe cleaner, scissors, glue, and googly eyes (optional), ruler and a pencil.
1.Fold your paper in half so it is now roughly 4 1/4 x 11. Using a ruler, from the fold in, draw lines about a ruler's width apart stopping about 1/2 inch from the other side.
2. Cut on the lines you just made, making sure you do not cut all the way across.
3. Unfold the paper and connect the long sides of the paper forming a cylinder. Either glue or staple the sides together.
4. Add eyes by drawing them on or you can glue on googly eyes.
5. Glue about 5 streamers along the bottom of the cylinder.
6. Attach the pipe cleaner at the top to make a handle.
You can also use the same lantern shape to make a skull or a pumpkin as seen here.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Fall Activity #7: Paper Plate Ghosts

I admit these ghosts look a little like an octopus, but they really are ghosts. This project is easy enough for a not even two year old to do. All you need is a white paper plate, white streamers, googly eyes and a glue stick. Quick and easy, what more could a mom ask for?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Fall Activity #6: Apple (and other fruit and vegetable) Prints

Did you know that if you cut an apple through the middle (versus through the stem and bottom part) that there is a little star hidden inside? Somewhere there is a story about that... Let me find it... Here it is. Using the apples we picked, I showed the kids the star inside the apple without telling them the story, because I just remembered that now (obviously)! We used the apples as stamps: dunked them into paint and printed them on big sheets of paper (that my husband very wisely pulled from the trash). Because I was making fajitas for supper, they also used pepper tops, lime and onion and some Indian corn (not that I put that into the fajitas) to make prints. My kids love this kind of activity most of all. They don't have to think too creatively, yet it looks kind of cool and they can make a huge mess.I just have to mention something that bothers me with projects like this and others that involve food (sorting beans, stringing Cheerios, etc.). I feel so guilty using food as a manipulative, art supply or toy. While I use food because it is inexpensive and readily available I also know that somewhere in the world (maybe even in my neighborhood) someone would love to be eating what I let my child play with. I wonder what the hidden message is that I'm sending my children? That it's ok to waste food? That food is to be played with? I guess I don't have any answers. It's just something I think about. Sorry to be such a downer. Just makes you want to do apple prints doesn't it!?!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Fall Activity #5: Apple Picking and Apple Pie

This time of year the apples are perfect for picking and the kids love to get in on the action. We pick at a local orchard called Lynd's that has a variety of apples to pick during September and October as well as pumpkins and pears. We went when we could pick Melrose and Suncrisp. The Suncrisp apples are yellow and tart and are perfect for eating and making pies. The kids did not help me make the pie, but they did help me eat it. Apple Pie with Crumb Crust
For single pie crust crust:
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup shortening
1/8 tsp. salt
4-5 Tbsp. cold water

Roll out and put in a 9" pie plate.

For Filling:
6-8 tart apples (6 cups), peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 Tbsp. cornstarch

Combine and spoon on top of the pie dough.

For Crumb Crust:
1/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup flour
6 Tbsp. chilled butter

Combine until resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle over the apple filling. Bake in a 350 degree oven on a rimmed cookie sheet for 50 minutes to an hour or until the top is golden brown. Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Fall Activity #4: Painting Pumpkins

I never promised that these activities were going to be creative! But, well, there you have it: another activity to do with your kids when they are driving you up a wall from all of the loud screeching noises they seem to making lately. I think you could go crazy with this idea: big pumpkins, little pumpkins, stickers, ribbons, googly eyes, or glitter. My grandma taught me that there is no such thing as too much glitter!

By the way, natural cures for mosquito bites include: toothpaste, a paste of baking soda and water, tea tree oil, lavender essential oil, ice, and meat tenderizer.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Fall Activity #3: Leaf Collage

With the leaves we collected from our Nature Walk, the kids assembled this collage by sticking the leaves onto Contact Paper. I suppose they could glue the leaves on paper, but for a 3year old and an almost 2 year old, this is definitely the easiest way to go! We hung it in the window and it is a very cool effect to see the sun shining through the leaves.Totally off subject, why are the mosquitoes so bad in Ohio in the fall? I don't notice mosquitoes all summer long, but now we can hardly go outside. Eli looks like he got into a fight with a hundred of them. He has about 20 bites all on his face, which makes his face swell. His eyes are swollen and he looks awful. I broke down and bought some bugspray yesterday, but I hate putting it on his face. I'm not fairing much better. I itch like crazy. I'm searching for relief. Anyone know of any natural remedies?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Fall Activity #2: Nature Walk and Collection Necklace

Fall days in Columbus are so beautiful. I love this time of year. The weather is perfect: sunny, cool in the morning, warm in the afternoon. It's the perfect weather to take a little nature walk and explore the changing leaves, nuts, seeds and berries. We went to a local arboretum that is just a stones throw from our house and collected leaves (for a project I'll post tomorrow), seeds, acorns and whatever else they found to be interesting, but mostly berries. The kids love berries. I love this little collection necklace that we made by sewing two bowls together. Every time Sadie bent over she spilled everything out of her bowl, so we spent a lot of time picking up the spilled contents of her collection necklace. The necklace is very fragile. Do not wrestle while wearing the necklace. This picture was taken after said wrestling match; it looks a little smooshed and I had to staple it back together. In case you're concerned, Sadie does not have some sort of rash or infectious disease on her arm, she just stamped all over them!

Fall Activity #1: Fall Tree Handprint

Ummm.... Yeah. This is a little late. I meant to get this up yesterday but the forces were against me. After working the whole weekend, Dennis had the day off for Columbus Day so we had family time down in Hocking Hills. I had yoga last night. (yea, yoga!) Dennis was using the computer for school work and writing up job applications and he was up far past my bedtime. Excuses, excuses...
But, better late than never so here are directions for Fall Activity #1: Fall Tree Handprint. Paint brown paint on your child's hand and a little down her arm. Press her hand and arm onto a piece of paper. This makes the tree. Then, she dips her little fingertips into paint and puts small dots on the tree, in the air and on the groun for the leaves. Enjoy!

Friday, October 10, 2008

I'm Back

Hi Two Cups of Coffee Readers! Sorry for the break. It got a little longer than I intended and I even contemplated not starting up again as it has been so nice to do activities with my kids and not have to worry about taking pictures! But, after much thought, and lots of "I never finish what I start" lectures to myself, I'm going to give it another go. As a way of making up for lost time, starting next Monday I'm pledging to do a fall/Halloween activity a day (Monday-Friday) through the month of October. That's 15 activities for you to do with your kiddos. Now, I'm not promising that these will be great, revolutionary activities, but they will be quick and easy! So, stop by often, the coffee's always on!

Also, thank you for your warm thoughts and prayers for my family. My grandfather passed away on September 18, but my grandmother is still holding strong. I'm so glad that I had the chance to visit with them both. It was a hard visit, as I've never seen either of them looking so sick, but it was worth it. My nephew, Reid, was also born while I was visiting. I'm so thankful I got to meet him. I'm his Godmother and was able to be there for the baptism. He's super cute and such a good baby. He even smiled while the priest was pouring water over his head during the baptism.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Taking A Few Weeks Off...

...My grandmother is quite ill. Hospice has stepped in to help. We flew at a moments notice to ND to visit her one last time. She's never met Sadie. We'll probably be here for several weeks. The good news is that my brother and his wife are expecting a baby any day now, so I'll be here to welcome him into the world.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Our Favorite "Go-To" Activity

When the kids get bored, the first activity that comes to my mind is usually cleaning objects with a toothbrush. Ok, that's a total lie. It's usually going outside to play followed by putting on a video if I'm feeling particularly lazy. Luckily, they don't get "bored" too often yet. I don't know why the kids love washing things with a toothbrush so much, but they do. It involves water, soapsuds, a small tool and accomplishing a relatively easy task.
Here's the Sadester washing seashells that we collected from the river. This particular river is totally nasty, so the seashells really needed to be cleaned and probably should have been bleached too:Washing rocks in the pool:Eli's carwash, er' tonguewash: